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