Sunday, March 26, 2017

God's Chosen Instruments

March 26 (Acts 9:13, 15)

But Ananias answered, “Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much evil he has done to your saints at Jerusalem.”  But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel.  (ESV)

The 1980s saw the heyday of hair metal music.  Bands like Stryper, Bon Jovi, and Whitesnake filled arenas, but few could rival W.A.S.P. for vulgarity, both in lyrics and stage shows.  So imagine my surprise when I read that W.A.S.P. lead singer and guitarist Blackie Lawless had surrendered his life to Christ.  He stated in a 2015 interview, “My faith centers on Jesus Christ and The Bible and nothing else,” and the band’s song “Golgotha” crescendos to a chorus line that cries, “Jesus, I need you now.”

Friends, this is just one of countless stories of lives transformed by Jesus Christ.  Pray for the owners and patrons of the adult bookstores and strip clubs that you drive by.  Pray for the politicians that you skewer in private conversations and social media.  Pray for the members of ISIS that are even this day “breathing threats and murder” as Saul once did.

Do you have the board game or the app “Holier Than Thou?”  I do, and I love to play it.  I love to shake my head with my friends as I lament this or that in our culture.  I love to make snarky comments in complete safety against the ills of our day.  It makes me feel as if I am doing something, a true soldier in the culture wars.  Nonsense.  You know what would really make a difference?  Hitting my knees in prayer.  Can you just imagine what would happen when some of the vilest, most violent people in the world cry out, “Jesus, I need you now,” with each and every one of us?

Thank You for saving me, Lord.  Thank You for healing and continuing to restore the broken places in my life even as You lead me toward eternal life with You.  Today I stand boldly before Your throne on behalf of those who are bringing death and destruction and sin to our world.  As their names and faces come to mind, I lift them to You.  Make them Your chosen instruments to carry Your name before the world.  In the great and might name of Jesus, amen.

Copyright © 2017 by Steven R. Perkins

Sunday, March 19, 2017

A Lie From Hell

March 19 (1 Corinthians 12:15)

If the foot says, “I am not a part of the body because I am not a hand,” that does not make it any less a part of the body.  (ESV)

Be honest.  You really didn’t do anything to help, did you?  The rest of the team is just being nice when they say you played an important role, but we know that is not true.  It really would not have mattered if you had not been there at all.

Sound familiar?  It is the lie straight from the pits of hell that every single one of us hears.  It is the lie that says you are not good enough, do not do enough, and are unwanted.  Now look at that lie through the clear light of truth that we find in Scripture.  We are one body in Christ, and each of us has a role to play.  Just as it would be ridiculous for a foot to worry that it cannot grip a baseball the way a hand can, so it is needless for us to worry about our lives in comparison with others’.

Make no mistake.  This is not the feel-good message we hear in our culture, which is a narcissistic, self-idolizing attempt to make ourselves feel like number one.  You have worth because you are a child of God.  What you do with the gifts He has given you has value because they are His gifts, and He did not bestow them randomly or without purpose.

Father, I often hear that voice telling me that others are better or that I have not really done anything of importance.  Speak to me through the Holy Spirit and draw me back to the truth of Scripture whenever a lie from the enemy seeks to gain entrance into my heart.  Thank You for redeeming me by the blood of Jesus Christ and for equipping me to do what You want me to do in this life.  May my service always be pleasing to you.  Amen.

Copyright © 2017 by Steven R. Perkins

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Thirsting For God

March 11 (Psalm 63:1)

O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you;
    my soul thirsts for you;
my flesh faints for you,
    as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.

Do you desire Him as you desire nothing else?  Do you long for Him?  Can you not wait to get into His presence?  I have tried many things to escape from the pressures and pains of life…movies, television, books, free phone app games whose appeal lasts for a couple of weeks before I need to find a new one.  Many have tried other, more destructive things.  There is nothing that satisfies like time in the presence of God.

How do I know that?  I know it for the same reason that the psalmist knew it.  He goes on to say in verse 7, “for you have been my help, and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy.”  He speaks from experience.  If even one time in your life you have experienced the help, the love, the support of Christ Jesus, then you have reason to sing for joy.  Chances are, you have tasted of those blessings more than once.

So, stop.  Right now.  Just stop for a few minutes and soak in His presence.  If you need help getting there, read all of Psalm 63.  Read it slowly.  Let Him speak to you.  Hear the words of Scripture or hymns or praise songs well up in your heart.  There is no self-medicating activity that comes close to restoring your soul.

Oh, Lord, You have been so good to me.  I have often strayed from You, but You have always been there for me, loving me, seeking me even when I was looking somewhere else.  Draw the eyes of my heart to Your glorious face.  I want to be filled with the holy presence of my Lord Jesus, in Whose name I pray. Amen.

Copyright © 2017 by Steven R. Perkins

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Successful Or Godly?

March 5 (Deuteronomy 13:1-3)

If a prophet or a dreamer of dreams arises among you and gives you a sign or a wonder, and the sign or wonder that he tells you comes to pass, and if he says, “Let us go after other gods,” which you have not known, “and let us serve them,” you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams. For the Lord your Godis testing you, to know whether you love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul.  (ESV)

You have a flat tire.  What do you do?  You could call roadside assistance for a tow.  You could put on your spare.  You could use a patch kit you keep with you.  You could run across the highway, sneak into a neighborhood, steal a tire from someone else, return to your vehicle, hold up another motorist at gunpoint, force him to put the stolen tire on your car, and go on your merry way.  There is nearly an infinite number of ways to do anything, but which one is right?

A method that leads to success may not be one that honors God.  A popular, tried and true way of doing something, one that everyone else thinks is a good idea, may not be what God wants.  We live in an increasingly godless age.  Strategies and programs in our schools, our businesses, and our governments may indeed produce results and get success, yet do they honor God in the process?  Worse still, is there some aspect of them that actually leads people away from God?

Hopefully we try to make decisions for our lives based on scriptural principles.  But what about out in the world?  Will we follow the plan that the board or committee comes up with, even if it stands opposed to His word?  What if it is our supervisor’s idea?   What if it is the way they have always done things in our child’s school or sports team?  Will we love God more than a successful idea?

Jesus, there are so many things that look good and seem right.  May the Holy Spirit guide me to see which ones truly are.  Help me to have the strength to do what is right the way You did when You stood up to the leaders of Your day, even though it cost You Your life.  Amen.

Copyright © 2017 by Steven R. Perkins