Sunday, February 26, 2017

To Do Only God's Will

February 26 (Numbers 22:18)

But Balaam answered and said to the servants of Balak, “Though Balak were to give me his house full of silver and gold, I could not go beyond the command of the Lord my God to do less or more.  (ESV)

I love things that are bold and in your face.  It’s why I like aggressive music by bands like Stryper, King James, and Chaotic Resemblance.  It’s why I like the strong rhythm and rhymes of Alexander Pope’s poetry and a basketball game with run-and-gun action that goes down to the buzzer.  It’s why I have always admired people like Balaam.

Messengers from Balak, the king of Moab, approached Balaam to ask him to curse the Israelites, and this was his answer.  I love his quick, uncompromising response.  Notice, however, that he does not say, “I will not go beyond what God says,” but rather, “I cannot do it.”  For Balaam it is no longer a matter of choice.  He stood on the command of God and could do no other.

I don’t know about you, but I think too much sometimes.  Should I do this?  Should I do that?  Would it better if I went one way or another?  How wonderful it would be to walk so closely with God, to feel the slightest impulse of His will, to love Him so deeply that it was simply not possible to do one thing more or less than what He wanted.

Lord, I pray no less sincerely by using the words of another, but your servant and poet John Donne simply said best how I feel.

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 usurp'd town to another due, 
Labor to admit you, but oh, to no end; 
Reason, your viceroy in me, me should defend, 
But is captiv'd, and proves weak or untrue. 
Yet dearly I love you, and would be lov'd 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 © 2017 by Steven R. Perkins

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Staying At God's Side

February 19 (Numbers 9:22)

Whether it was two days, or a month, or a longer time, that the cloud continued over the tabernacle, abiding there, the people of Israel remained in camp and did not set out, but when it lifted they set out.   (ESV)

Have you ever watched toddlers and little children when they are with their parents and away from home?  They may run around in the house and hang from the ceiling, but when they are in unfamiliar places, surrounded by really big people, they cling right to mommy or daddy.  If mommy turns down an aisle at the store, the child’s little legs are quick to follow, and daddy’s hand means safety and comfort when crossing a parking lot.

So it was with the Israelites as they left Egypt for the land that God had promised them.  He revealed His presence in a cloud, and this verse depicts the absolute trust these people had for Abba, their Father.  As long as the cloud stayed, they stayed.  Whether it was for a couple of days, or a month, or more, their agenda to get where they were going was not more important than being with and following God.  They moved only when He did.

As for me, I like speed.  I want to get where I want to go yesterday.  That’s why this is such an important verse.  Do I attempt to drive God with my agenda, or do I surrender to Him and let Him lead me?  Am I in search a hurry to achieve this or that or to alleviate some pain in my life that I rush out into the darkness in search of my own solutions?  I want to be like the Israelites.  I want to be like a toddler before my Abba.  I want to move when He moves, stay when He stays, and always be with Him.

Father, too often I act as if I am a rebellious teenager, certain that my way is best and hell-bent to follow after it.  That’s foolish, and I know it.  Lead me back to innocent trust in You.  May I never stray from Your side.  Amen.

Copyright © 2017 by Steven R. Perkins

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Sharing What God Has Done

February 12 (Exodus 13:8)

On the seventh day you must explain to your children, “I am celebrating what the Lord did for me when I left Egypt.”  (ESV)

Do you ever share with your family or friends what the Lord has done for you?  I was thinking about this recently.  People in the Bible are forever sharing stories about the past.  For many of them, they were sharing stories that were not directly they own as they passed on the stories that had obviously been handed on to them by their ancestors.

What do your family and friends know about you?  Many of my friends and most of my family know how I met my wife.  They know where I went to college, where I have lived, and some of the things I have done.  I wonder how many know about the time in seventh grade when I went back into the locker room to pray because I was not a strong swimmer and God comforted me.  I wonder how many know about the time in high school when He spoke to me and gave me my calling.  I wonder how many know the times when my wife and I contemplated a move and He directly answered our questions or provided for our needs.

You have a story with God just as the Israelites did, and it is not a story to keep hidden.  It is one to be celebrated with family and friends, for not only does it give God the glory He deserves, but it may just strengthen or plant the seeds of faith for someone else’s story.

Father, call to my mind the times when You have been involved in my life.  Let me see Your hand in my life’s story.  I want to celebrate You and Your amazing love for me and I want others to know about it.  In the name of Jesus, Who walks with me daily, I pray.  Amen.

Copyright © 2017 by Steven R. Perkins

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Staying Close To God

February 5 (Hebrews 3:13)

You must warn each other every day, while it is still “today,” so that none of you will be deceived by sin and hardened against God.  (ESV)

There was a time when you were healthy and in shape.  For me it was probably when hair metal was new and MTV was young.  You may be incredibly fit right now, and if so, good for you.  Know this, though.  It may not last.  You will go through a sedentary season.  You will drift into bad eating habits and the next thing you know, you will have to start that workout plan and diet all over again.

The same is true for those who follow Christ.  We are overwhelmed with His love and grace and would do anything for Him.  We read our Bible daily, pray regularly, and praise Him throughout the day.  And then those little compromises start.  I can watch that show, check out that website, indulge in that bit of gossip.  After yielding to anger or greed or pride enough times, my heart hardens, and God seems a million miles away.

How close are you with God right now?  If there is a distance between the two of you, look at your life.  Have you fallen into bad habits?  Remember, He doesn’t move.  We do.  Fortunately, we can always turn back to Him, and a distance of a million miles is crossed in an instant when we accept His love and forgiveness and renounce the sin in our lives.

Lord, I do not want to become hardened against You.  Show me the places where I have let sin creep into my life.  Show me where I have willingly sinned and help me get back to a life lived in and for You.  Truly, You are my everything.  In the name of Jesus, my Savior, amen.  

Copyright © 2017 by Steven R. Perkins