Sunday, October 25, 2015

A King's Response To Trouble

October 25 (Isaiah 37:14)

Hezekiah received the letter from the hand of the messengers, and read it; and Hezekiah went up to the house of the Lord, and spread it before the Lord.  (ESV)

What do you do when you get bad news?  When I learn of something tragic, a horrible illness striking close to my family, for example, I go straight to prayer.  When it is a problem with the computer or an issue at work, I tend to, as my mom used to say, run around like a chicken with its head cut off.  Perhaps the opposite is true for you.  You may give God your daily troubles, but fall apart over the big stuff.

King Hezekiah received a letter from the King of Assyria that threatened the kingdom of Judah in no uncertain terms.  To Hezekiah it must have seemed like turning around to find to find a hulking, ten-foot giant standing behind him about to drive him into the ground with a club.  So what did this king do?  Did he go first to his war council?  Did he run and hide?  Did he fly off to battle?  He laid the letter before the Lord and prayed.

There are certain things that cause you stress and distress.  They may be big or they may be small, but there are just certain aspects of life that throw you off your game.  When those things come your way, consider not responding to them at all until you have spread them before the Lord.  As a faithful follower of Christ, you will respond in good time, in God’s time, and your response will be so much better when it has been guided by the hand of the Lord.

Father, it is my nature to respond to things quickly.  I feel the demands of people and the pressures of life clamoring for an immediate response.  Today I give You each of the matters demanding an answer from me.  Help me to give no answer but what I hear from You.  Amen.

Copyright © 2015 by Steven R. Perkins

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Seeing As Jesus Sees (4 in a series of 4)

October 18 (Matthew 28:19-20)

Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.  (ESV)

For the past three weeks, we have looked at the absurdity of blaming non-Christians for not living as Christians and of thinking purely human solutions will ever bring lasting change to the problems of our day.  We also saw the Christian logic of Paul that led to the inescapable conclusion that we must tell others about Jesus.

Now let’s get personal.  I have gone out to eat at a restaurant not of my choosing simply because a friend wanted to go there.  When we are in relationships with people, we like to do the things that they want to do.  If we take Jesus seriously and if we take seriously our relationship with Him, then His final words to us must inspire all we do.  We must go out to those who do not know Him and tell them about Him.  We must teach His teachings.  We must baptize, both literally and by bathing everything we do, say, and think, not just in the privacy of our homes, but out in the world, in the reality of Who He is.

Our pastor frequently says that the world is dying faster than we are making disciples of Jesus.  It does not have to be this way.

Lord, I need courage.  Give me the boldness to share my faith in both word and deed.  Help me not to waste my life by keeping the greatest news of all time a secret.  In the name of Jesus, Who was not ashamed to die for me, amen.

Copyright © 2015 by Steven R. Perkins

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Seeing As Jesus Sees (3 in a series of 4)

October 11 (Romans 8:14)

How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?   (ESV)

It is easy to fault others for not living as Christ followers, but that is absurd when they are not, in fact, followers of Christ.  It is easy to reach for exciting solutions to the problems of our day, but that is absurd if those solutions are not rooted in the wisdom and strength of God.  What, then, are we to do?

It is not an option for Christians to sit back and throw stones at those who sin, but do not know God.  It is not an option for us to sit back and do nothing about the problems that plague our society and our world.  Paul lays out the only logical conclusion when confronted with these twin issues.  We must tell people about Jesus.

As much as I love Him, I often want to do the exact opposite.  I do not want to get drawn into an argument.  I do not want people to stop liking me.  I do not want…you name it.  This is nonsense, my friends.  As a follower of Christ, I have and should want no option.  I must tell people about the true life now and in the world to come that is available solely through Jesus Christ.  If I do not, then I cannot be frustrated by the sinful lives of those who do not know Him and I cannot be surprised when the human solutions to our world’s problems fail yet again.

Father, I know in my head what will help my friends and the world around me, their surrender to and relationship with Jesus.  Grant me the ability to ignore myself and all my fears and hesitations so that I may be a bold messenger for You.  In the name of my Lord, Jesus, Who hesitated for nothing, not even death, amen.

Copyright © 2015 by Steven R. Perkins

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Seeing As Jesus Sees (2 in a series of 4)

October 4 (Isaiah 31:1, 3)

Woe to them that go down to Egypt for help; and stay on horses, and trust in chariots, because they are many; and in horsemen, because they are very strong; but they look not unto the Holy One of Israel, neither seek the Lord!  Now the Egyptians are men, and not God; and their horses flesh, and not spirit.  (KJV)

I want to get things done.  When I have a task in front of me, I just want to get it done now.  Right now.  I also have numerous broken items around our house showing the wisdom of that approach.  This is what happens when I rely solely on my own understanding and strength to accomplish things.

In last week’s devotion we saw it was a mistake to think that people who do not follow Christ will live as if they do.  It is equally a mistake to think that problems can be solved by purely human means.  For some of us, the only tools in our box are political efforts, financial resources, and government programs.  These are certainly good tools and can be used to accomplish much, but if these are the only tools we have, then we will never solve the problems that matter most.

Not a day goes by when we do not read about this or that effort to address this or that problem.  We must look at all proposed solutions to see if they are really just a trip to Egypt, a trusting in men and horses rather than in God.  If the solutions we are considering are purely human, they will have a short-lived effect at best.  If they are rooted in God’s strength and wisdom, they are guaranteed to produce the only kind of effects we truly want.

I read too much news, Jesus.  I get far too caught up in the ideas and plans of people.  Keep me grounded in You and Your word so that I may first of all discern clearly Your will and then be able to evaluate truly the solutions to the problems around me.  In Your name I pray, amen.

Copyright © 2015 by Steven R. Perkins