Sunday, January 28, 2018

Anchor In A Stormy World

January 28 (Ephesians 4:14)

…so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.  (ESV)

“It’s new, so you should buy it!”  “It’s backed by the latest research, so you should believe it!”  “People smarter than you have come up with it, so you should accept it!”  Pretty much since the first person improved on the wheel by putting two of them on an axle and attaching them to a vehicle, people have sold and gone after the latest thing.  In the case of the smartphone, this has been a good thing.  Look at other items in your neighborhood garage sales and…not so much.

It’s one thing to spend money on the latest and greatest, but when we fall in with trendy thinking, we run the risk of serious damage to the way we live.  As Christians, people who have accepted the gift of God’s saving grace through Jesus Christ and are living transformed and transforming lives, we are blessed to have a rock of stability in the howling winds of our age, winds that blow all the more fiercely in this time of instant communication.  That rock is Jesus Himself.  He never changes, and through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, we have God’s words to us in the Bible.

It is natural to go after what is new, and after you have read the Bible, you may seek something else.  God does indeed inspire other Christian authors and speakers, and we can draw much from them, but we must always be anchored in the words of Scripture.  They are unchanging and keep us grounded in what can be a confusing age of ideas that sound good, but are false.

Dear God, sometimes I think life is just about You and me.  I forget that the faith I hold has been rooted in Your unchanging word for more than two thousand years.  Keep my mind from being distracted by ideas that seem good simply because they are new.  Open my heart to the eternal truths of Scripture so that I may remain unshaken in my service to You.  In the name of Jesus Christ, Who is the same yesterday, today, and forever, amen.

Copyright © 2018 by Steven R. Perkins

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Focusing On God

January 21 (John 21:21-22)

When Peter saw him, he said to Jesus, “Lord, what about this man?” Jesus said to him, “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow me!”  (ESV)

You want guidance from God, but can’t seem to hear His voice.  You want to believe in His promises, but struggle do so.  Do you want to know why?  It’s because you have every noisemaker in your soul turned up to full volume.  Think about it.  How many times does someone in your family complain that someone else is not listening?  How can they with the TV, radio, and computer blaring?

One of the loudest and most distracting noises for me is the voice that says, “What about this man?”  It is the voice that draws my attention to what someone else has and makes me question God’s provision for me.  It is the voice that calls out the suffering of others and makes me doubt God’s love.  I absolutely love how Jesus responded when Peter was distracted by that same voice.  “What is that to you?  You follow me!”

God constantly snaps His fingers as if we were fidgety children in class.  It is as if He is pointing at his eyes and saying, “Hey!  Over here!  Pay attention!”  If you want to hear from Him, if you want to live a life built on solid trust in His promises, You have to stop looking at this and listening to that.  You must regularly shut out the world and focus on Him.

Lord, You know I love You, but You also know how easily distracted I can become.  Help me develop habits of stillness that will allow me to focus on You.  In the name of Jesus, Who kept His eyes on You even while hanging on the cross, amen.

Copyright © 2018 by Steven R. Perkins

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Where Do You Go First For Help?

January 14 (Psalm 118:9)

It is better to take refuge in the Lord

     than to trust in princes.  (ESV)

We are born into a story already well under way.  As a result, we assume and expect that the structures in place around us have it all together and exist for our benefit.  This is a reasonable perspective of parents for an infant to hold, but we often maintain it long afterward and extend it to teachers, coaches, and business and government leaders.  Even our casual conversations challenging the leaders around us are based on the idea that they should be able to meet all our needs and solve all our problems.

Friends, this is not even remotely realistic.  Yes, God often works through other people and sometimes intervenes directly in our lives, but we must always start by going to Him.  He may then direct us to someone or lead another person to speak into our situation, but the help comes from Him.  He is our refuge.

Sometimes my first thought is to email friends.  In my worse moments I try to handle problems myself or simply seek refuge in my own turbulent thoughts.  This, however, is more than a mistake.  It is a missed opportunity.  God wants us to take refuge in Him and to come to Him for the help we truly need.

Father, it is such a deep part of my approach to life to try to do things on my own, and because of that earth-bound outlook, when I do seek help, it is often not from You.  I confess and renounce that approach right now.  May my first call for help always be to You.  May You, and nothing else from which I have ever tried to get strength, be my refuge.  In the name of Jesus, Who has cleared the way for me to come freely to You, I pray.  Amen.

Copyright © 2018 by Steven R. Perkins

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Enjoying Joy

January 7 (Ecclesiastes 2:26)

For to the one who pleases him God has given wisdom and knowledge and joy….  (ESV)

Everyone experiences sadness, and even Jesus wept, but those who follow Christ do not need to stay there.  In fact, to disregard the gift of joy is, well…consider the parable of the talents that Jesus told in Matthew 25.  Jesus made it clear that God expects His people to use the gifts He has given them.  We usually talk about this in the context of making full use of talents and abilities in the service of others, but this applies to all gifts, including the gift of joy.

One of the easiest things to do is complain.  How often do you get drawn into gripe sessions at work?  How often do you huff and puff about mundane responsibilities around the house?  How often is your casual conversation filled with criticism about this, that, and the other thing?  There is indeed much in the world that is wrong, and acknowledging it is often a first step to doing something about it.  Yet going about your daily life mired in the complaints of the world?  Not only does that make for a less than attractive witness to the Christian life, but it also cheats you of the pleasure of one of God’s gifts to you.

I whistle.  I love to whistle.  In fact, I can frequently be heard at work whistling a song, and when I am in the car or at home, well then it is time for full-throated singing!  How do you unwrap God’s gift of joy?  How do you play with it?  Enjoying joy is one of the most delightful things we can do, and since joy is a gift from God, we are actually called to make use of it.

Lord, thank You for the joy You have put in my heart!  I will sail it like a kite full of praises to You and wield it like a sword against the darkness that seeks to overwhelm me.  In those moments when I cannot find joy, uncover it for me so that it may blaze forth in me and to those I meet.  In the name of Jesus, I pray.  Amen.

Copyright © 2018 by Steven R. Perkins