Sunday, May 28, 2017

Joy In Hardship

May 28 (Habakkuk 3:17-18)

Though the fig tree should not blossom,

     nor fruit be on the vines,the produce of the olive fail

and the fields yield no food,the flock be cut off from the fold

     and there be no herd in the stalls,yet I will rejoice in the Lord;

I will take joy in the God of my salvation. (ESV)

It does not always work out the way we want.  Sickness comes.  Death takes a loved one.  Accidents happen.  Loss occurs.  Lies, betrayal, and pride take their toll on us, even when we have done what is right.  The Christian faith, more than any other program of thought or philosophy, is a realistic way to handle the inevitable setbacks and hardships of life.

Christians rejoice in the Lord and take their joy in the God of their salvation.  They do not ignore suffering or pretend that it is less painful than it is, but in times of sickness, we find joy in the Lord.  In death we rejoice in Him.  In every moment or extended seasons of distress, we praise Him and find our life and hope in Him.

How is that possible?  Why should we respond to difficulties in this way and not in the countless ways the world offers?  It is simple.  This is what Jesus did.  He faced execution for what He had not done, and yet He kept His gaze focused on His Father.  And He is the One Who came back from the dead and offers His power to all Who accept Him.  When it comes to tragedies of my life or even the daily discomforts, I am going to do what He did.

Lord, You are the source of my joy.  In You I live and move and have my being.  I can find life nowhere else, so help me to stop seeking it there.  May I be valiant in hardship because of You, the source of my salvation.  Amen.

Copyright © 2017 by Steven R. Perkins

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Courage To Be Faithful

May 21 (Acts 16:21)

They advocate customs that are not lawful for us as Romans to accept or practice.  (ESV)

The time is coming and may in fact be here in some places when speaking the truth and truths of God may be illegal.  It already breaks certain unwritten, social laws.  What will you do?

Paul had commanded a demon to leave a slave girl, and her owners claimed damage to their business and had Paul arrested.  Don’t focus on the demon or the issue of slavery.  Notice that business owners were claiming an act done in faithfulness to and in the power of Jesus Christ was bad for them economically.  Can you imagine the same thing being said today?  Of course you can.  Increasingly it seems that living as a follower of Christ is incompatible with work in schools, business, and government.  What will you do?

Paul did not think.  He did not weigh his decision or ask for the input of friends.  He turned around and commanded the demon to leave the girl and was thrown into jail for it.  Yet because of that, a jailer and his family were baptized into the family of God.

Father, give me the courage to be faithful.  In my work, with my friends, and in my daily interactions with people, may I be the salt and light that Jesus wants me to be.  In His name I pray.  Amen.

Copyright © 2017 by Steven R. Perkins

Sunday, May 14, 2017

A Mother Once Stood

May 14 (Luke 2:35)

and a sword will pierce through your own soul also…  (ESV)

A mother, grief stricken, just stood,
Eyes full of tears next to a cross
On which was hanging her son.

Through her soul, groaning and with him
Sharing his despair and grieving
A sword has already passed.

It is Mother’s Day in the United States, a day to celebrate all that mothers mean in our lives.  Mothers not our own have blessed us, too.  Mothers of friends, the mother of our spouse, mothers we will never meet who reared their children well to become the neighbors and co-workers we love…we are grateful to them all.

Yet no mother in the history of the world has given us more than Mary, the mother of Jesus.  As a scared young girl engaged to be married, she gave herself to the will of God to be the mother of His son on earth, and the angel said all nations would call her blessed because of it.  And then she bore what no mother should have to bear.  She stood beside the cross and watched as her son, her boy, willingly died for the sins of the world, including ours.

Today is a day for remembering mothers.  Take a moment and remember what one mother endured so God’s plan for your salvation could be fulfilled.  If you like, listen to the exquisite Arvo Pärt rendering of “Stabat Mater,” whose opening verses are above ( Words begin at the 4:05 mark).  We have much for which to be grateful to mothers, many mothers, not just our own.

Father, You have blessed me with many mothers, women who helped shape my life both directly and indirectly.  Thank You for their words and their work.  May You bless richly those who are still here and welcome with love those who have gone home.  In the name of Jesus, Who died and rose again for all mothers and fathers and children everywhere, amen.

Copyright © 2017 by Steven R. Perkins

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Live Boldly In Christ

May 7 (Isaiah 50:7-8)

But the Lord God helps me; therefore I have not been disgraced; therefore I have set my face like a flint, and I know that I shall not be put to shame.  He who vindicates me is near.  Who will contend with me?  Let us stand up together.  Who is my adversary?  Let him come near to me.   (ESV)

It is foolish to court trouble, but it is also cowardly and, dare I say it, unchristian to flee from it in fear.  You follow the Lord.  You have acknowledged before God and men that Jesus is your savior.  The Holy Spirit dwells within you.  That is a powerful biography, and it is yours.  So what does it mean?

For one thing, it means God is your helper and you will not be disgraced.  You can set your face like flint and be bold.  In fact, you can say to your troubles and fears, your obstacles and difficulties, “Bring it on!”  It means that you can face anything…anything…in complete confidence that you have the strength you need and it is not your own, but that of the Lord your God.

There are advantages in this life to following Jesus, you know.  The Christian life is not just about what happens in eternity.  Oh, you may be persecuted for it and suffer more mightily than those who revel in their sin, but unlike them, you have genuine power and a true reason for boldness.  So get out there and live like the son or daughter of the living God that you actually are!

Lord, I have lived too timidly.  Worse yet, I have sometimes confused timidity with humility and gentleness and mistakenly believed it was what You wanted.  Forgive me.  Help me to go forth boldly, contend with all that opposes me, and do all in the strength of Jesus Christ, in whose name I pray.  Amen.

Copyright © 2017 by Steven R. Perkins

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