Sunday, November 26, 2017

Rest In A Busy Season

November 26 (Matthew 11:28)

…I will give you rest.  (ESV)

Now begins the final push of the year.  Students push toward final exams.  Stores push year-end sales.  With a sudden burst of anxiety-fueled energy, we push to accomplish all the things we think we must as the year shrinks to weeks and then days and then minutes.  Wouldn’t you just like to tell the lot of it to talk a long walk off a short pier?

Jesus knows that the deepest desire of your heart, the deepest need of your soul right now is for peace.  And He knows you will need it again tomorrow and the next day as the busyness of the world like a riptide tries to pull you under.  That is why when He offers rest to all who come to Him for it, the Greek word literally means “I will stop you again.”  Jesus does not always want to advance your plans.  Sometimes He wants to stop you because He knows that is what you need most.

And why do you need that?  Because of the truth of a verse like this.  “Be still, and know that I am God,” Psalm 46:10.  So accept that in this season of high demands it can all wait.  Truly, it can.  Then go to Jesus and ask for His rest, which He promises to give you.  Not only will it bring restoration to your mind, body, and spirit, but you will come to know God even more.

Jesus, please help me keep my eyes on you.  From the things I want to the things I feel forced to do, there are so many demands on my attention, and I am not strong enough on my own to hold them off.  Stop me, yet again, and let me rest in You.  Amen.

Copyright © 2017 by Steven R. Perkins

Sunday, November 19, 2017

True Thanksgiving

November 19 (Colossians 2:6-7)

Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.  (ESV)

There are many things for which we give thanks as we gather with family and friends on Thanksgiving Day, yet none is more worthy of our gratitude than the gift of life from God through Jesus Christ.  Are we grateful for the nation in which we live?  Yes, but our citizenship in heaven is more to be prized.  Are we grateful for material blessings?  Yes, but of greater value are the treasures that moth and rust cannot corrupt and that thieves cannot break in to steal.  Are we grateful for the relationships that form the fabric of our lives?  Yes, but no relationship is closer than the one we have with our heavenly Father through Christ Jesus, by whose blood we are His adopted brothers and sisters and co-heirs with Him in glory.

Friends, reflect on these blessings of immeasurable value when you are with others this week.  If they, like you, have become new creatures in Christ, they will join with you in thanksgiving for that which matters most.  If they do not know Jesus, it is an opportunity for you to testify to all He has done for you.  And would you not be deeply grateful if by this time next year they joined you in that same thanksgiving?

Lord, my deepest thanks go to You.  I could never list all the individual blessings of my life, both in this world and in the next, but I can acknowledge their source.  May the words of my mouth, the actions of my hands, and the thoughts of my heart be ever directed in thanks to You, my Savior, Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Copyright © 2017 by Steven R. Perkins

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Our Hope, God's Pleasure

November 12 (Psalm 147:11)

But the Lord takes pleasure in those who fear him,

     in those who hope in his steadfast love.  (ESV)

God wants you to trust Him.  He wants you to put your faith and hope in Him.  He wants you to look to Him all the time and for everything.

This is utterly contrary to how we truly think.  We can recite this verse and nod in agreement all we want, but we live our lives as if it said, “But the LORD takes pleasure in those who work hard and do everything for themselves, in those who don’t bother Him and prove their love for Him by getting all their tasks done perfectly and on time.”  You can pretend around others, but is that not how you often think?

Now here is the part that makes my heart soar.  God loves it when you trust Him!  He takes pleasure when you put your hope in His steadfast love!  Do you want to please God?  Stop fearing the things of life and putting your hope in your money, your abilities, and the systems of this world.  Put all your eggs into one basket and focus entirely on God.  He loves it when His children do that!

Father, You know how much I need to trust You and how often I put my hope in other things.  I am coming to You now with my weakness.  I try to do and control it all.  You know I can’t, and I know I can’t, but I try just the same.  Break the grip I have over my life so that I may offer it up to You with open hands.  In the name of my Lord, Jesus, the perfect model of trust and obedience, amen.

Copyright © 2017 by Steven R. Perkins

Sunday, November 5, 2017

The Center of Our Faith

November 5 (1 Corinthians 15:19)

If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.  (ESV)

Does God help us in our daily struggles?  He most certainly does, and it is Jesus Himself who teaches us in the Lord’s Prayer to ask our Father for our daily bread, but there is much more to Jesus and His work than that.  Too often we treat Jesus as little more than a genie in a bottle, a cosmic magician to make all the bad stuff go away or a divine Santa Claus to give us the stuff we want.

If this is the be-all, end-all of our faith, than our faith is pretty shallow indeed.  Our hope in Jesus is not merely that He will help us get through the day, although we do hope that, but that we will be raised to new, eternal life with Him after we have died.  And yes, friends, we are going to die.  It may be easy to forget that or not to think about it in the modern world where countless painkillers line the shelves of the store and we have sufficiently tamed the forces of nature to live comfortably most of the time, but we will die, and our hope in Jesus is for resurrection.

Isn’t that thought amazing?  Doesn’t it pull your head up from the stack of bills to be paid, the homework to be done, and all the frantic getting and spending that consumes our lives?  You can live forever along with and by the power of the resurrected Jesus Christ.  That is the true center of our hope and faith.

Jesus, You have blessed us beyond measure with the gift of eternal life.  Forgive me when I am interested in You only for what You can do for me right now.  You truly are much more to me than that.  May the promise of life forever with You be the center of my faith and therefore of my life.  Amen.

Copyright © 2017 by Steven R. Perkins