Sunday, April 24, 2016

How God Speaks

April 24 (Jeremiah 36:17-18)

Then they asked Baruch, “Tell us, please, how did you write all these words? Was it at his dictation?”  Baruch answered them, “He dictated all these words to me, while I wrote them with ink on the scroll.”  (ESV)

Do you ever laugh at things you read in the Bible?  This is one of the more amusing passages for me.  Baruch is the scribe for the prophet Jeremiah and after he delivers Jeremiah’s words to the king’s officials, they ask how he came to write them down, and his response is as simple as it gets.  “Well, Jeremiah spoke, and I took out ink and scroll and started writing.”  I have to believe that Baruch was thinking, “How else do you think it happened?”

Human beings are odd creatures.  We try to explain away with natural explanations the miracles and mysteries of God and we look for the strange and the supernatural in the most mundane affairs.  Yes, God spoke to Moses through a burning bush, but He also spoke through a guy who just sat taking dictation from his friend.
I love elegant, leather-bound books, but notes from students scribbled in pencil have touched me deeply.  Don’t overlook the simple, everyday means that God uses to speak to you.

Father, You richly and lovingly speak to us through Your holy words that form our Bible and through direct encounters with Your Holy Spirit.  You also, through the Spirit, inspire others to speak into our lives words of support, encouragement, direction, rebuke, and edification.  May we miss nothing that You say, even when it comes through the humblest of means.  In the name of our Savior, Jesus Christ, amen.

Copyright © 2016 by Steven R. Perkins

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Tuning Out And Tuning In

April 17 (Exodus 3:4)

When the Lord saw that he turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.”  (ESV)

It is spring and it is election season, which means that in the green lawns and fields near us are the budding colors of nature and campaign signs.  The one whispers to get attention, the other screams like a carnival barker.

God does not yell.  He does not raise His voice.  He does not give the hard sell or come on strong.  This does not mean that He does not communicate with us in extraordinary ways.  He does, as He did by setting a bush on fire and not letting it be consumed.  Moses could have passed by, but he recognized the burning bush as something worth noticing and turned aside from the business of his day, and when he did, God spoke directly to him.

I know what I am about to say has a touch of irony since you are reading this in an email or on a blog post, but consider a fast from technology or social media.  It may be just for a day or after a certain hour, but try it.  Turn aside from the clamor that screeches for your attention.  Turn aside and look and listen actively for God.  You know perfectly well that if your child or best friend came looking for you, you would make time for him or her.  That is what you are to God, His child and His friend.  Do you think He will do any less?

Jesus, it has been too long since You and I just spent some time together, and that is on me.  I am the one who has let other things get in the way between us.  I want to hear Your voice again.  I want to hear what You want to say.  As I enter this period of quietness, I am eager for You to speak to me…

Copyright © 2016 by Steven R. Perkins

Sunday, April 10, 2016

God Loves You...Really

April 10 (1 John 4:16)

So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us.  God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.  (ESV)

Nobody Knows You When You’re Down and Out” is a blues standard dating back to 1923 and covered by everyone from Bessie Smith to Eric Clapton.  There is a reason it is a musical standard.  It speaks the truth.  Our world is based on performance, evaluations, and productivity.  If you have something to contribute, great, but if not, get lost.  We see it in sports, business, education, government, and even in relationships.

Now set that aside and listen to a man who walked and talked with Jesus.  John knows something different.  He knows about love, not greeting card love and certainly not the perverse carnival of self-centeredness that passes for love in popular culture.  Real, true, sober, no-frills, honest-to-goodness love is what God offers through Jesus.  That love dwells within us thanks to the Holy Spirit.  It is a love that grounds you, protects you, comforts you, directs you, strengthens you, supports you, encourages you, nourishes you, nurtures you, calls you, inspires you, challenges you, rebukes you, corrects you, and draws you ever closer to its source, the God of the universe Who sacrificed His life so you could live.

Do you seriously think that kind of love is contingent upon how productive you are or even upon how good you are?  The kind of love John is talking about is so far beyond our comprehension and our sins that it triumphed over death.  Come on, now.  Do you really believe that God does not love you?

Father, it is easy to believe that You do not love me when I listen to the voices of the world, the voice of my enemy, and even my own voice.  Yet when I listen to You and the words You have spoken through Scripture, the message is clear.  You really do love me.   Thank You!  Help me to walk and talk, to breathe and think in nothing but the love You have shown me in Christ Jesus, in Whose name I pray, amen.

Copyright © 2016 by Steven R. Perkins