Friday, December 23, 2016

A Lion At Christmas

December 25 (Revelation 5:5)

Weep no more; behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered….    (ESV)

Many of us will see nativity sets under our trees today or on tables amid candles and cards.  Often those sets will have a sheep or two, for the shepherds were there to welcome their Lord as a baby.  The sheep are also a reminder of the gentle love of our Savior, Who is the Lamb of God.

Yet this Lamb is also a lion, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, spoken of in the last book of the Bible as the One Who has conquered.  And what has He conquered?  He has conquered everything…sin, death, separation from God…and every other ill that has sprung from the attempts of Satan to bring harm to God’s creation.

So what are you waiting for?  Laugh, celebrate, and sing loudly for joy!  Joy to the world, the Lord is come!  Let earth receive her king!  Let every heart prepare Him room, and heaven and nature sing!

Lord, I am so grateful to You this Christmas Day!  The gift not only of eternal life is mine through Jesus, but the gift of life to the full, as it was meant to be, with You.  Glory be Yours this day, Lord, from the depths of my heart and in all I say and do.  Amen.

Copyright © 2016 by Steven R. Perkins

Sunday, December 18, 2016

The Lamb of God

December 18 (John 1:29)

Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!  (ESV)

It is the central truth of the world.  Earth was visited by One not of this planet, yet this planet was of Him.  In fact, Earth is not only of Him; it is His.  And He did not come for sightseeing.  He came to redeem and to claim.  He came to take away the sin of the world.

If that is not the focus of our minds and hearts, our calendars and checkbooks, at this time of year, then we have let department stores and popular media shape our lives more than God.  Incredibly, God will let that happen.  The image of Jesus as a lamb has a twofold reminder for us.  He is the perfect sacrifice to take away our sin, but He is also humble and gentle.  He will not force the gift of His love and grace on anyone.  It is free to all, but He will not make us take it.

This week leading to Christmas will be full…full of last-minute tasks to complete and things to buy, houses to clean, food to prepare, emails and texts to make travel arrangements, excitement and anticipation about being with family and friends.  These are the moments to savor and with which we make the memories that form the beautiful tapestry of our lives.  Yet in our thoughts, our prayers, and our conversations, we do well to remember that this baby came to die for us.  We owe Him absolutely everything.

Jesus, You are my all and all.  You knew me before I was born.  You loved me, Your creation, enough to be born a helpless baby and to die for me.  Your love has continued my whole life, in moments I could see and in times I could not.  May You be honored this Christmas not by my decorations, but by my faithful obedience to You.  Amen.

Copyright © 2016 by Steven R. Perkins

Sunday, December 11, 2016

The Christmas Dragon

December 11 (Revelation 12:3, 4)

I saw a large red dragon with seven heads and ten horns, with seven crowns on his heads.  He stood in front of the woman as she was about to give birth, ready to devour her baby as soon as it was born.  (ESV)

Does the nativity set under your tree come with a dragon?  It should.  We focus a lot on gentle Jesus, meek and mild, but we rarely acknowledge the dragon that showed up at His birth.  We sing of the wise men and we talk of the shepherds keeping watch over the flocks that night, but the dragon is curiously absent from most of our Christmas stories, plays, and songs.  Then again, we do remember, at least sometimes, the threat of King Herod, so perhaps we are at least faintly aware that something serious, something dangerous is connected with the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes.

The birth of Jesus was both an earthly and a cosmic event, which stands to reason since He is both God and man.  As a result, His birth was opposed in both realms, by Herod on earth and by Satan in the heavenly places.  Make no mistake here.  Satan is not a cute Disney dragon.  He is the ancient serpent who deceived Adam and Eve and is the inspirer of abortion, genocide, racism, hatred, murder, lying, theft, abuse, and every evil we have ever experienced.  And that is the beast that stood ready to devour the Christ child.

It is a king you have represented beneath your Christmas tree.  It is a cosmic warrior who defeated death that is being portrayed by a plastic baby doll in the Christmas play.  It is the incarnation of more power and love and grace and truth than our small minds can comprehend that Satan wished to kill from the beginning and who looks today into your eyes as He says, “That one is mine.”

O Lord, my God, You have my allegiance and my life.  All that I am, all that I have, and all that I do is Yours.  Today I ask for nothing, but give to You once again my everything.  Amen.

Copyright © 2016 by Steven R. Perkins

Sunday, December 4, 2016

The Authoritative Words of Jesus

December 4 (Luke 4:32)

[A]nd they were astonished at his teaching, for his word possessed authority.  (ESV)

Do you take the first hit on the first page of a Google search, or do you go a bit deeper?  Is a .com or a .edu extension a better guarantee of accuracy?  One of the first things I do when reading a non-fiction book is to check the bibliography.  What sources does the author cite?  One of the biggest challenges in the Information Age is knowing which news source is telling the truth. 

With Jesus there is no question.  He speaks with authority because He is God.  He does not speak opinion, what is popular, or what He has heard from others.  He does not even speak what has been well researched and documented in peer-reviewed journals.  He is the great I AM and He needs no further credentials.

Is He challenging you to change some aspect of your life?  You should do it, for He has the authority to tell you right from wrong.  Is He calling you to serve the Kingdom in a particular way?  Don’t hesitate, for He has the authority to place claims on your life.  Is He telling you that, contrary to everything you have heard or have felt from others, God loves you…that He really and truly loves you?  Then fall back into those loving arms and rejoice, for He is telling the truth.

Lord, open my heart that I may hear accurately and speak truth to the deepest parts of my soul.  I stake my confidence on You and Your words alone.  In the name of Jesus, Who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, amen.

Copyright © 2016 by Steven R. Perkins