Sunday, July 15, 2018

The Immediacy of Jesus


July 15 (Matthew 8:10)


When Jesus heard this, he marveled and said to those who followed him, “Truly, I tell you, with no one in Israel have I found such faith.  (ESV)


One day a Roman army officer, a centurion, came to Jesus to ask Him to heal his servant.  Jesus said He would go to the centurion’s house, but the officer replied, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof, but only say the word, and my servant will be healed.  For I too am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. And I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes, and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes, and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.”

We often focus on the humble, straightforward faith of the soldier, but look at Jesus’s reaction.  He smiles and laughs, “I like this guy!”  Jesus deals directly and likes it when others do the same.  He is face to face, eye-level with people.  He is immediate, meaning there is nothing in the middle, nothing to get in the way between us and Him, which is only right since He is our mediator, the one who connects us with God the Father.

How often do we play it subtle?  How often do we go for the backdoor, roundabout, non-direct way of doing something?  We weigh options, consider consequences, balance plusses and minuses.  Now, be honest.  Doesn’t that get wearisome?  Seriously, how many of our interactions with others and even with God Himself could be described as plotting and scheming?  Jesus is immediate, and He wants us to be the same.

There is no point in sugarcoating this, Lord, because You know it all anyway.  I spend way too much time figuring the angles.  Help me to approach life and the people in it…help me approach You…in a straightforward way.  I want to be more like that centurion.  I want to be more like You.  Amen.


Copyright © 2018 by Steven R. Perkins

Sunday, July 8, 2018

One Who Truly Knows

July 8 (Matthew 7:29)


for he taught with real authority—quite unlike their teachers of religious law.  (NLT)


We all know blowhards and braggarts.  They are the ones who like to give us the scoop, the real deal, the skinny on how things actually are.  They have been there, done that, and are more than willing to give us all the answers.  Then there are those who have expert opinions on everything because they have studied it all.  They have the ins and outs, the trivia and the minutiae about anything you want to know.  Yet there is something about the knowledge and advice from both types of people that rings hollow.

And then there are the people you just know are telling it like it is.  They may say it differently than others and maybe even in opposition to the policy manual, the company line, or the official statement, but there is just something in what they say and the way they say it that makes you know they are giving you the truth.

That was Jesus.  He spoke with authority.  He cut through all the layers of this, that, and the other thing and got straight to the point.  Others may have talked about God, but He was God and actually knew what He was talking about.  Once people heard Jesus speak, they knew He was telling the truth and wanted to hear more.  They didn’t want to hear from anyone else, which leads to the question…why would you?

Jesus, with so many voices coming at me from newspapers and books and radio and television and websites and social media, to say nothing of friends and family, it is easy to accept things that are not true.  Help me to hear Your voice and listen to what You have to say, for Peter was right.  You have the words of eternal life, and I have come to believe and know that You are the Holy One of God (John 6:68-69).  Amen.


Copyright © 2018 by Steven R. Perkins

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Don't Worry...Really?

July 1 (Matthew 6:32)


your heavenly Father already knows all your needs.  (NLT)


Don’t you hate it when people tell you not to worry about something?  Telling someone not to worry is often something we say when we really do not know what else to say.  It’s like saying, “How are you?” to someone at the grocery store.  We aren’t really interested in the response and certainly don’t want to get into a long conversation.  We just want to get the milk and get home.

Part of the reason being told not to worry can seem irritating is that the person saying it cannot help us with what worries us, and we both know it.  Jesus, on the other hand, offers us no mere social nicety.  He does not give us a platitude.  In Matthew 6:25-34, He tells us not to worry, He points out how God cares for the needs of His other creatures, and then He makes it quite personal.  He looks His disciples in the eye and says, “Your Father in heaven knows what you need.”

Do you honestly think your Father does not know what you need as well?  This isn’t about sucking it up and pushing your worries down so deep no one well ever know just how scared you really are.  This isn’t about blithely saying, “I’m a Christian, so I guess things will work out.”  This isn’t about a system of faith or religion at all.  It is about a person.  God is a person.  He is your Father.  He knows you…yes, you.  He knows what you need.  He is aware of your situation.  And He is the one telling you not to worry.

Father, help me to keep my focus on You and Your promises when I grow nervous about the problems and demands that face me.  Help me to look not to my own resources or even the kind assurances of others.  I know You work through such things, but it is always You providing the actual help and answers.  And thank You, Jesus, for reminding me of that.  Amen.

Copyright © 2018 by Steven R. Perkins