Sunday, November 29, 2015

The Constant Care and Presence of Jesus

November 29 (Genesis 28:15)

For I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.  (ESV)

Our son and I were hiking in a sandstone canyon carved by the melting of glaciers in western Indiana.  I had pulled out my phone to take a picture of one glorious scene when I surprisingly received a bit of signal, and text messages started pinging through.  My friend’s wife had just been diagnosed with cancer.

It had been easy to revel in the splendor of God’s creation and to feel His goodness and love as we hiked the snow- and ice-covered trail beneath a brilliant, crisp, November sky.  But now?  We stopped and prayed together for our friends, but we before continuing on the trail, we talked about how some people are crushed by the trials that come to all of us, Christian and non-Christian alike, and how they can be led to question God’s love and even His presence.  I recalled this verse and others, and we talked about the sureness of God’s care for us, even, or especially, in moments when we do not feel it.

Illness.  Accidents on the highway.  Incurable diseases.  Losses of any kind.  Yes, we want to focus on Advent and the approach of Christmas.  There are lights to be hung and holiday preparations to be made.  Yet the very reason we celebrate the birth of one baby in a way we celebrate no other is because He was living proof of today’s verse.  Is He the One you cling to when the twinkling lights go out and the pains of life set in?

Every word.  Every breath.  Every act.  Every step.  All my life.  In my death.  Jesus.  Amen.

Copyright © 2015 by Steven R. Perkins

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Trusting The Love of God

November 22 (Psalm 13:5)

But I have trusted in your steadfast love….  (ESV)

The Bible is unrelentingly realistic and unrelentingly hopeful, and one of the most wonderful words in all of Scripture is the conjunction “but.”  Not one of our ancestors in the faith portrays a silly, pie-in-the-sky attitude as if everything is or should be rosy all the time.  To have such a view or expectation of life would be a special kind of ridiculous.  We have pains, challenges, and difficulties.  Just look at your last week or think of the week ahead.

But.  Too many people stay stuck in the problems that come to us all.  Those who truly know God can say, “But….”  From King David to Jesus, those who not only know about the love of God but who dwell richly in that love can say confidently, even in the midst of the worst tragedies, that they will trust in Him.

This is not a sappy self-help notion that you can read, nod at approvingly, and then go on doing things your own way.  Seriously, stop for a moment.  Acknowledge with the Father Who loves you the issues that are plaguing you or causing you fear.  Lay them before His feet and then boldly, as if shouting in the face of hell, proclaim that you will trust His love no matter what.

Lord, today I take charge of my fears and the problems that are before me by letting them go.  I place them in Your hands, confident that You have far greater ability to handle them than I do.  Whether they are dealt with today or I must pray this pray again and again, I am confident in Your love, a love that was proved forever by the work of Jesus, my Savior, in Whose name I pray.  Amen.

Copyright © 2015 by Steven R. Perkins

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Jesus-The Hope of Paris and The World

November 15 (John 14:6)

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

I saw a meme on Facebook in the wake of the terrorist attack on Paris.  It urged people not to pray for Paris because religion was the problem.  Those of us who are ignoring this advice are not praying for Parisians because of religion.  We are praying because Jesus Christ is the only hope the people of Paris have.

There is a darkness in the world.  Because of it, many are blinded to the truth and have lost their way.  There are not multiple solutions to this problem, to be chosen from by whim or personal preference.  There is but one answer, one hope.  It is the only man in history Who is God...Jesus Christ.

It is always a time for love, whether we are living in the wake of a tragedy or going about our daily affairs.  And love, in its purest form, is Jesus.  Now, and always, it is time for those who know Him personally to share Him and His love, not a secular, diluted, and perverted form of Jesus and His love.  Such relational evangelism will, as it always has, transform lives.

Lord Jesus, comfort the afflicted, lead to repentance and restoration those who afflict, and inspire those who are neither to use the grace of their current circumstance to share the good news about You.  Amen.

Copyright © 2015 by Steven R. Perkins

Sunday, November 8, 2015

The Existence of God

November 8 (Romans 8:38-39)

For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers,  nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.  (ESV)

I love falling in love all over again.  Today, for example, I saw my wife moving through the house and did a double take.  I couldn’t help embracing her and telling her how beautiful she is.  The same thing happens when I look at certain pictures of our children or gaze on them as they sleep.  I am overwhelmed with a renewed sense of what I have always known, that I love them more than anything.

Our pastor recently delivered a message about the existence of God.  Did I really need to hear that message?  I have committed my life to Jesus Christ and strive to follow hard after Him daily.  Was there any doubt in my mind about the existence of God?

The sad fact is yes.  Yes, I needed to hear that message because, yes, despite more evidence than would fit in a dump truck, I still allow the world’s pressures to cause me to doubt God’s love, His grace, His provision, and His forgiveness.  As our pastor walked us through what I already knew, the most wonderful thing happened.  I fell in love again.

Lord, You are more real than my own hand in front of my face.  Strengthen my faith so that I may see with the eyes of my heart, relying less on my physical senses.  Even in those moments when I become faith-blind and cannot see You, may I cling to the truth that nothing can separate me from You.  In the name of Jesus, Who bridged the great divide for me, amen.

Copyright © 2015 by Steven R. Perkins

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Leaning On the Everlasting Arms

November 1 (Isaiah 46:4)

And even to your old age I am he; and even to hoar hairs will I carry you: I have made, and I will bear; even I will carry, and will deliver you.  (KJV)

A glass of your favorite cold beverage on a summer day.  A mug of hot chocolate on a winter morning.  A steaming shower or bath after working your muscles to the point they ache.  Collapsing into your own bed after a long, exhausting trip.  There are just certain things that in restoring the body restore the soul as well.

When I read this verse recently, it had a similar effect.  Sometimes I just need to be reminded that God has me.  He was with me when I was a child, He is with me in middle age, and He will be there when I am old.  He made me, and because of that He will carry me.

Man, oh man, do I need to hear that.  If you are living in, oh, I don’t know, say this very year, then you are by default stressed and exhausted.  It comes with the territory of modern life.  What a gift to step back, just for one brief moment, and realize that the hubbub of daily existence can go take a long walk off a short pier.  God has your back, and that is the only thing that matters.

Father, thank You.  Thank You for Your loving arms that support me, embrace me, comfort me, guide me, protect me, and defend me.  I love just being in the warmth of Your embrace.  I love You.  Amen.

Copyright © 2015 by Steven R. Perkins