Sunday, August 26, 2018

Jesus The I Am

August 26 (Mark 6:50)

They were all terrified when they saw him. But Jesus spoke to them at once. “Don’t be afraid,” he said. “Take courage! I am here!”  (NLT)

I have yet to find an English version of the Bible that translates this verse literally.  When Jesus walks on the water, and His disciples are quaking in fear, He does not say, “It is I.”  He says simply and directly, “Have courage.  I am.  Don’t be afraid.”  Even the New Living Translation, which comes as close as any to the actual Greek of the verse, adds the adverb “here.”
When Jesus comforts His friends with “I am,” He means something far more than what people usually mean when they say, “Don’t worry.  I’m right here.  I’ve got this.”  He is announcing His presence as God.  He does not need to say anything else about Himself.  He doesn’t need to add that all will be okay or that He has everything under control.  Like a clap of thunder in the midst of the storm they were experiencing, His “I am” is a declaration of sovereign authority in their midst.  
And it is an earth-shaking declaration in the middle of your life, too.  Too often we take our own ideas of what it means to be meek, mild, and loving and transfer them to Jesus, which results in our seeing Him as something less than He is.  Instead, we must see that Jesus the Almighty, Who can stop the forces of nature with a word, chose to confine Himself to the weak body of a human being so that He could do what all of us never could with all our collected might, turn back the very force of death itself.

May my prayers come to You in faith, Lord, confident that You are the Almighty, the One Who can handle all my fears.  In the name of all-powerful Jesus, amen.

Copyright © 2018 by Steven R. Perkins

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Bad, Mad, or God

August 19 (Matthew 26:28)

For this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.  (ESV)

It has long been noted by philosophers and theologians that there are only three possibilities when it comes to Jesus.  He was either bad, mad, or God.  In other words, He either knowingly lied in the statements He made, was utterly insane, or was in fact God.  After taking only a quick glance at the many loving acts He performed, most people readily dismiss the claim that He was bad.

But was He insane?  Imagine what would happen if you or I sat with friends at dinner, poured wine for everyone, and then said, “Oh, by the way, the wine you are drinking is my blood.  I am going to give it up as a sacrifice to cover people’s sins.”  Someone would start calling 911 under the table.

Yet we know that the words He spoke at the last meal He shared with His friends on earth were true.  Shortly after He would be arrested and executed.  His blood would indeed be poured forth, and when He returned alive to those same friends and many others, He confirmed what He had been saying all along.  Instead of being the raving of a madman, the words of this verse are perhaps the most beautiful and powerful of any ever spoken, for they state boldly and succinctly the gift of life that Jesus offers to all, a gift that could only be offered by God.

Thank You, Lord, for the gift of life in Jesus Christ!  There are no words to express adequately my gratitude and awe.  Your death and life have made my life possible.  And since words are insufficient, may my actions serve instead, as I seek always to do only what You call me to do.  In the name of Jesus, my risen Lord, amen.

Copyright © 2018 by Steven R. Perkins

Sunday, August 12, 2018

When A King Thinks Of Others

August 12 (Matthew 22:4)

Again he sent other servants, saying, ‘Tell those who are invited, “See, I have prepared my dinner, my oxen and my fat calves have been slaughtered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding feast.”’  (ESV)

A king was giving a wedding feast for his son, yet when he sent his servants to gather those who had been invited, the guests blew off the event.  They had other, and obviously in their minds better, things to do.  That is simply stunning.  How do you blow off the king?  And how many kings have you ever heard of who would take such a snub lightly?  A typical, even reasonable, royal response would have been, “I am your king!  Get yourselves to the party right now!”  A different response might have appealed to the emotions of his subjects.  “It would really mean a lot to my son and me to have you there.”  Yet that is not what this king does.

This king sends his servants out a second time to remind the guests of all that has been prepared for them!  He wants them to know what they will be missing if they do not attend.  Unbelievable.  In the face of inconceivable rejection…royal subjects are actually defying their sovereign…this king is still thinking about what is best for his people.

And Jesus tells this story as an illustration of what the kingdom of heaven is like.  The king in this story is no earthly ruler.  Indeed, for no human would ever act so graciously.  No, this king represents God.  Even when we reject Him, His first thought is for us and all that we will miss if we are not in a right relationship with Him.  If you think God is out to get you for each mistake, think again.  He truly does want what is in your best interest, and that it is for you to be in the closest relationship with Him.

Father, I so quickly tell others which political candidate or elected official is best and give them a list of reasons why.  May I be even quicker to tell others of Your amazing love for them and how You have loved me beyond merit or measure.  In the name of Jesus, Your Son and my Savior, amen.

Copyright © 2018 by Steven R. Perkins

Sunday, August 5, 2018

All In For Jesus

August 5 (Matthew 21:43)

Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people producing its fruits.  (ESV)

No coach worth his or her salt will put up with star athletes not showing up for practice.  It doesn’t matter how talented they are, they will lose their spot on the team to those willing to put in the time and do the work.  The same goes for business, and, it would seem, for the kingdom of God.  From the parable of the tenant farmers (Matthew 21:33-41) to the parable of talents (Matthew 25:14-30), Jesus makes it quite clear.  God expects us to use what He has given us to accomplish His will.

But wait.  Aren’t we saved by faith and not by works?  Yes, but this isn’t about salvation.  This is about what should be normal life between the God Who loves you and Whom you claim to love.  It’s a pretty shallow relationship with anyone if we are just in it for what we can get out of it.  If we really do love God, we will want to be involved in our Father’s work.

What are you good at?  What do you enjoy doing?  Do you realize that God gave you those talents and that passion for a reason?  He wants you operating at the max in joy and freedom as you serve His kingdom purposes in the ways that only you can do.  I know, I know.  You’ve got bills to think about and deadlines and…, but just stop for a moment and dream the way you used to.  What would it look like if you went all in for God the way you were meant to do?

Father, I get a thrill of excitement when I think about throwing myself headlong into Your kingdom work.  And then the voices of so-called reality start calling me back.  Help me to ignore the lies of the world and listen only to Your clear voice in Scripture and the true voice of the Holy Spirit.  May all I do…all of it…be in the name and to the glory of my savior, Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Copyright © 2018 by Steven R. Perkins