Sunday, July 30, 2017

A Heart Of Pain Or Healing

July 30 (Matthew 12:34)

For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.  (ESV)

Much, if not most, of what many, if not all people do comes from pain.  Somewhere along the way we have received deep wounds to our hearts, and we have learned how to respond to diminish the pain.  We become the life of the party or we lash out to hurt others.  We control every aspect of our lives or we avoid all responsibility as we hide in addictions.  Much that is good and much that is bad stems from the damage to our hearts, our core selves.

Perhaps this is why God talks so much about the human heart.  Throughout the Bible God calls us to love Him with all our hearts.  He wants to create in us new hearts, ones that are healed from the wounds out of which we try to live life on our own terms.  It is why He is not interested in all the good things you may do if the reason for doing them is not pure.

This is not an excuse, of course, for sinful behavior, but can give us pause when others are acting in ways we do not like.  They may well be acting from a place of deep pain.  At the same time, we must look at our own hearts to see how much of what we do on a daily basis stems from brokenness or from healing.  If the essence of who you are is proceeding from a response to pain, ask the Holy Spirit to reveal the wounds that caused it and then take them to Jesus.  He knows what it is like to be wounded, both physically and emotionally, and He can make you whole again.

Jesus, I have learned so many ways for dealing with the pain in my life, yet I am tired of seeking and taking my own medication.  Show me the deep wounds of my heart, Lord, that I may present them to You for healing and restoration.  Restore my heart and fill it with Your love and grace so that all I do and say comes from You and not my pain.  Amen.

Copyright © 2017 by Steven R. Perkins

Sunday, July 23, 2017

God Our Ransom

July 23 (Psalm 49:7-9)

Truly no man can ransom another,

     or give to God the price of his life,

for the ransom of their life is costly

     and can never suffice,

that he should live on forever

     and never see the pit.  (ESV)

I cannot die to save you, and you cannot die to save me.  We can do many things to serve each other and may even rescue each other’s life on earth, but you cannot ransom me, and I cannot ransom you from eternal death.  Each of us is too valuable for that.

Are some dots starting to connect?  Stay with the logic here.  If no human being alone can ransom another human being, yet Jesus ransomed us with His life so that we might indeed “live on forever and never see the pit,” then Jesus was not merely human.  He was God in the flesh.  Now let that one sink in.  Jesus is God, which means He always was God, is God right now, and always will be God.  Jesus is God.

Jesus is not a self-help guru.  He is not the author of some really neat motivational quotations.  He is God.  Jesus is not your magic genie to grant each wish.  He is not one more good teacher among many.  He is God.  He could snap His finger and all of creation would be on its knees.  Instead, He suffered and died so you could live forever.  It is no wonder that Thomas cried out, “My Lord and my God!

Lord Jesus, may Your praise ever be on my lips, my life a living sacrifice to Your glory.  May I seek to praise You more than seek something from You.  May my life’s work be your honor.  Amen.

Copyright © 2017 by Steven R. Perkins

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Can You Live Your Faith By Hiding It?

July 16 (Matthew 25:25)

[S]o I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here, you have what is yours.  (ESV)

In one of his standup routines, comedian George Carlin talked about how he plots an exit path on an airplane in case of an emergency.  He said he identifies the people he can step on, knock over, and push out of the way so he can get out and help others.  The humor, of course, comes from the absurdity of doing something bad just to have the opportunity to do something good, yet how many of us live life this way?

Perhaps you have found a way to serve God with the talents He has given you.  As time goes by, however, you find that you must keep quiet about certain issues or lend your support to that which is not Christian just to be able to do what you had thought was so good.  At what point do you become like the comedian, participating in that which is wrong in an attempt to do what is right?  When do you become like the man in the parable of the talents that Jesus told, effectively burying your gifts and your calling in the ground?

Each moment of every day, you face a choice to do one thing or to do another.  Stop turning your life into a chess game in which you are trying to determine what to do right now by looking twelve moves into the future.  Do what God is calling to you at this moment and let Him worry about the next move.  Jesus Himself said not to worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow has its own decisions for you to make.  Do what is right and what is right in front of you right now.

Father, help me to live my faith out loud, not as a show, but as a light and witness because I cannot see anything else with my eyes fixed unwaveringly on You.  Help me to cease being afraid of my passion for You unleashed, but rather help me to yield fully to it.  In the mighty name of my Savior, Jesus Christ, amen.

Copyright © 2017 by Steven R. Perkins

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Bold As A Third Grader

July 9 (John 14:6)

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.  (ESV)

He is one of the cutest little boys in the group my friend and I shepherd at church.  His face is full of animation, and he loves to talk about basketball and play air hockey in the youth room.  He is about to enter third grade, and his response to our discussion about obedience blew me away.  As we talked with the boys about obeying God in different situations, including telling others about Jesus, this young man offered what for him was clearly the last word on the matter.  “If people don’t believe in God, they will go to the devil place.”

I loved it!  He stated the truth in the bold, matter-of-fact, bottom-line way that only a child will use.  Yet it did give me pause.  What happens to muddy the waters for adults?  Why do we shy away from bold declarations?  It is no wonder that Jesus asked that adults bring little children to Him and proclaimed that it was to such that the Kingdom belonged (Luke 18:6).

Of course, that is the key.  It is not that only children have the qualities Jesus is looking for, but only those with the perspective of a child.  Children seem to understand clearly that if X is right and Y is wrong, you should tell people about X to avoid Y.  It really is that simple.  There is no greater right than Jesus Christ, and there is no greater tragedy than spending eternity in hell separated from Him.  Do your friends and family know that?

Lord, help me to cast off the foolish social concerns of adulthood.  Create within me a childlike innocence and passion for what is right.  Make me as bold as a third grader when it comes to telling people about the offer of life in Jesus Christ, through Whose name I pray, amen.

Copyright © 2017 by Steven R. Perkins

Sunday, July 2, 2017

The Fire of Jeremiah

July 2 (Jeremiah 20:9)

If I say, “I will not mention him,

     or speak any more in his name,”

there is in my heart as it were a burning fire

     shut up in my bones,

and I am weary with holding it in,

     and I cannot.  (ESV)

Your relationship with God is personal, but it must not be private.  People will tell you that it is fine for you to believe whatever you like in private, but your beliefs must not make their way into the workplace or the public square.  This, however, is impossible to achieve.  If you believe that you must not talk about Jesus in public and therefore do not, you have just brought that belief into your public life.  If you know that you must talk about Him openly and do, then that is the belief that guides you.

Jeremiah spoke much that was unpopular with the people of his day.  They rejected his message and rejected him, even putting him in prison.  Yet Jeremiah says that if he decides enough is enough and will not speak of God further, there is a fire in his heart and in his bones that will not let him remain quiet. 

If you are a follower of Christ, you have no choice but to share His good news with others, nor should you want to do otherwise.  If you truly believe that His love and sacrifice have resulted in your eternal life with God, if you truly believe that the Holy Spirit within you guides and leads you, why would you even want to keep that to yourself?  The very opposite of being rude and insulting, it would be selfish and monstrous not to share what you know to be true with everyone you meet.

Lord, kindle in me the fire of Jeremiah.  I am hesitant sometimes to talk about You with others for fear of offending someone.  May I be led more by Your love than I am by fear.  May the fire Jeremiah felt blaze in my heart and in my bones so that I have no choice but to share Your good news with everyone in my life.  In the name of Jesus, Who was not ashamed to die in my place, amen.

Copyright © 2017 by Steven R. Perkins