Sunday, March 27, 2016

Living the Alleluia

March 27 (1 Peter 2:24)

He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.  (ESV)

Christ the Lord is risen today!  Alleluia!  But why?  Why alleluia?  Why the celebration, the triumphant music, the unbridled joy?  We may have some family gatherings, but they are nothing like Christmas.  Familiar chocolate candies are wrapped in pastel colors, but there are no weeks of parties and vibrant decorations on and in businesses and homes.  Why alleluia?  What is so special about Easter?

Easter changed nature itself.  Death, the undeniable and unavoidable common experience of all living things, was stripped of its power when Jesus left the tomb.  You and I deserve to die.  Not only was death the destiny of all human beings, but we deserved to be separated from God forever because of our sins.  Yet Jesus took each and every sin of yours and mine with Him to the cross and left them in the grave when He walked out that Sunday morning.

So what does alleluia look like?  Is it tiny chocolates in pastel foil?  Jesus died so that we might live to righteousness.  Our greatest and best act of celebration is to live fully and richly, not in any way we choose as if our will and our rights were still paramount, but in the way of our risen Lord.  Christ the Lord is risen today!  May my life be the alleluia!

With all that I am and all that I have, I praise You God, one Lord, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit!  Glory to You forever in all that I say and do!  Thank You for the immeasurable gift of love and grace and forgiveness in Jesus!  I accept it, all of it, and give it back to You in my life, lived to righteousness.  Amen.

Copyright © 2016 by Steven R. Perkins

Sunday, March 20, 2016

God Is Working Through You

March 20 (2 Corinthians 9:8)

And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.  (ESV)

Almost all of us have programs or apps running in the background that we have forgotten or were completely unaware of.  Sometimes I will check my phone and find apps operating that I have no recollection of opening.  Do you realize that God is always at work in your life, whether you realize it or not?

In a quite stunning away I came face to face with this recently.  Omitting the details, I will simply say that God showed me very clearly how He has been using my calling as a teacher to work in lives in ways I could not possibly have imagined, and I needed to see that.  I needed to have this peek behind the scenes, and He was gracious enough to give it to me.

When you question your calling or the value of your work or just call into question what you are doing with your life, consider this verse.  God is at work in all things and at all times so that you may abound in every good work.  If you have surrendered your life to Him then He is at this moment working through you.  What more could anyone want?

Father, I have doubts sometimes about what I am doing.  Am I truly doing all that You have called me to do?  Confirm Your calling in me.  Show me how Your purposes are being accomplished in my life so that with confidence I may run my race to the finish.  I pray this in the name of Jesus, Who for the glory set before Him endured all things, even the cross.  Amen.

Copyright © 2016 by Steven R. Perkins

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Do You Love Him?

March 6 (John 21:15)

When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?”  (ESV)

Jesus asks Peter if he loves Him more than the other disciples do because in Matthew 26:33 Peter had claimed that he did.  Jesus could well ask us the same question, but He might mean it differently.  If He asked it of me, He would likely gesture toward my job, my writing, my responsibilities, my time on the Internet, my time watching television, my time reading other books.  “Do you love me more than these?”

How many things get between us and our Lord?  At times there are so many I can barely see Him.  Do I truly love Him more?  If I did, then a log of how I spent the hours of my day would probably look very different than it does.

Look back over one day and ask where Jesus was in each of the things you did.  Was He a part of your dealings at the bank, the gas station, or the grocery store?  Was He involved in your business?  Could you see Him when you came home and relaxed?  We may want to answer with Peter that we love Jesus more, but our actions may suggest otherwise.

The prayer this week is John Donne’s Holy Sonnet XIV.

Batter my heart, three-person’d God; for you
As yet but knock; breathe, shine, and seek to mend;
That I may rise, and stand, o’erthrow me, and bend
Your force, to break, blow, burn, and make me new.
I, like an usup’d town, to another due,
Labour to admit you, but O, to no end.
Reason, your viceroy in me, me should defend,
But is captived, and proves weak or untrue.
Yet dearly I love you, and would be loved fain,
But am betroth’d unto your enemy;
Divorce me, untie, or break that knot again,
Take me to you, imprison me, for I,
Except you enthrall me, never shall be free,
Nor ever chaste except you ravish me.

Copyright © 2016 by Steven R. Perkins