Sunday, September 17, 2017

Jesus The Light

September 16 (John 1:5)

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.  (ESV)

On a sunny day as light streams through the windows, it is impossible to see the light.  It illuminates everything.  You are surrounded by it, and because it is impossible to be apart from it, it is not possible to see it truly.  Now consider the brilliance of a star in space.  It blazes fiercely, defiantly against the darkness, and while the darkness may surround it, it cannot overcome the light, but rather retreats and dissipates as the rays press ever outward.

The oldest Christian hymn outside the Bible is Phos Hilaron.  It dates to just over 200 years after Jesus and opens by calling Him “O joyous light.”  Now think again about the stars in the far-flung galaxies of space.  Call up an image of the unending blackness and the lights that pierce it.  Jesus is the light that created those stars.  He traveled the infinite distance from heaven to become flesh and shine upon earth as no star could ever do.  And that supreme, powerful, creative light is a joyous one.

The word hilaron in the title of that ancient hymn gives us our word “hilarious.”  Yes, Jesus is the hilarious, wonderful, joy-filled light of everything!  Radiance, explosive radiance that literally takes over darkness…that is Jesus.  That is your Savior and God, my friends.

Oh, Jesus, I can hardly express my joy when I think of You, when I truly ponder all that You are.  In the words of another great hymn, “Be Thou my Vision, O Lord of my heart.  Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art.  Thou my best Thought, by day or by night, waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light.”

Copyright © 2017 by Steven R. Perkins

Sunday, September 10, 2017

When You Can't Feel God

September 9 (Matthew 27:46)

And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”  (ESV)

I have no faith that my wife loves me, nor that my children do for that matter.  At least I have no faith in their love when I am with them, for they make it abundantly clear in an infinite number of ways.  My faith in their loves kicks in when I am not in their presence, when I cannot see or hear them or feel their tight embraces.  It is rather like the lights on the instrument panel of my car.  When it is dark, those lights come on, but when there is sufficient natural light, they dim and go away.

I could hope that you would feel the love of God all the time, but you won’t.  Jesus Himself did not feel it as He cried out to His Father on the cross, so you can take it to the bank that there will be times when you cannot feel His presence or may even begin to think that He has abandoned you.  This is the time for your faith.  You keep going.  Yes, you keep going in the practices of the Christian faith even when it feels like one gigantic farce.  Yes, you keep praying and keep reading the Bible even when it feels like a waste of time.  Yes, you keep attending worship even you when feel like a fraud and are not even sure you really want to worship a God Who seems not to care about you.  That, my friends, is what it means to live in faith.

Even the challenging cry of “My God, my God, why have You forsaken me,” is a cry of faith, for though it may feel as if it is being hurled into emptiness, it is being heard on the far side of the dark.

Father, hear my prayer.  I am struggling right now, and it is hard to take even one more step.  I don’t even know what to ask of You.  I can only hope that You know my heart and know what is best.  I can only hope that You will direct my steps and bring me back into the light.  I long for Your presence, even as Jesus longed for it as He hung on the cross.  Restore me to life, Father, even as You did Him.  In the name of Jesus, I pray this.  Amen.

Copyright © 2017 by Steven R. Perkins

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Unite My Heart

September 2 (Psalm 86:11)

unite my heart to fear your name.  (ESV)

We have become a new species.  We are no longer homo sapiens, Latin for “wise human being.”  We have become homo crazyicus distracticus, or “crazy distracted person,” itself a branch of homo modernicus, “modern man.”  In fact, talking about how distracted we are and weighing the benefits and the drawbacks of our tech-dependent, interconnected society, has become a commonplace.  You know it as well as I do.  Your heart and mind are like a glorious, stained glass panel that has been shattered into a million jagged fragments.

I need to pray this one part of Psalm 86:11 over and over again, for I am at my best when my heart is united and focused on God.  I long for those moments when it is.  I truly do.  Yet there are just so many things pulling at my attention, from genuine responsibilities to the blinking lights of distracted temptation.

Friends, many of us have entered a state where it is almost impossible to marshal our thoughts into anything like coherence.  We simply cannot slow down or shut out the noise.  Fortunately, help is just a cry away.  Pray the words of this verse and notice their purpose.  We cry to God to unite the pieces of our distracted hearts not just so we can have a few moments of peace, although that is a pleasant benefit, but to focus more clearly on Him.

Father, unite my heart to fear Your name.  I am struggling to do this on my own.  I want to be with You, to sit in Your presence, and to hear Your voice, but I just cannot shut out the noise of life.  Unite my heart to fear Your name.  I pray this in the name of Jesus, my Lord and Savior, amen.

Copyright © 2017 by Steven R. Perkins