Sunday, November 25, 2018

Representatives of Jesus

November 25 (Colossians 3:17)

And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father.  (NLT)

Cut someone off in traffic?  Tell a dirty joke?  Waste your money on things you don’t need?  Do it all in the name of Jesus.  Visit certain websites?  Watch certain movies?  Share certain things on social media?  Do all that in the name of Jesus, too.

Are you becoming uncomfortable yet?  You should be.  It would be the pinnacle of blasphemy, and in some instances sure indication of demonic activity, to do certain things in the name of Jesus Christ.  Your pet sin may not be on that list, but whatever it is, call it to mind right now.  Does it not make your skin crawl to think of saying, “I am about to do this in the name of the Lord Jesus?”

Yet, for those who have surrendered their lives to Jesus, that is what we do each and every time we do or say anything.  We are God’s ambassadors on earth.  There is nothing we can do or say or even think apart from that reality, and it makes a useful test for us when deciding whether or not engage in a particular activity.

Jesus, when I look at my life for what it is, Your representative on earth, I am filled with shame and grief over all that I have done and all I have not done.  It also makes me even more grateful than ever for Your love and forgiveness.  Help me not to move carelessly through life, doing and saying whatever comes to mind, without first realizing that all I do reflects on You.  Renewed by the power of Your grace, may I be the true salt and light You have called me to be.  Amen.

Copyright © 2018 by Steven R. Perkins

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Blessed When Ridiculed

November 18 (Matthew 5:11-12)

“God blesses you when people mock you and persecute you and lie about you and say all sorts of evil things against you because you are my followers.Be happy about it! Be very glad! For a great reward awaits you in heaven. And remember, the ancient prophets were persecuted in the same way.”  (NLT)

People may tell you that you are privileged as a Christian, especially if you are living in the West.  They will say that yours is the dominant religion, that vacations from work are often based on your holidays, and that the world of commerce is all about you, especially as we head toward Christmas.  Now, ask yourself this.  How comfortable do you feel talking about your faith?  Will you share the good news that salvation is found only in Christ and in no other religion or religious figure?  Will you speak against sins like abortion while sharing the love and forgiveness of God for those who have experienced it?

For most of us the answer is no, or at best a hesitant yes.  We see what happens to people in social media for speaking the truth.  Perhaps we have directly experienced mocking and evil comments.  And of course, we don’t want to ruffle feathers at work.  We have to show up tomorrow and work with these people.  What if our comments make that uncomfortable?

Friends, Jesus said that when we live for Him, which includes speaking His words, we will indeed make people uncomfortable.  They will lie and say all kinds of things about us, but guess what?  You are in good company.  The same, and far worse, has happened to the saints throughout the ages, to say nothing of our Lord Jesus Himself.  Hebrews 12:2 reminds us, “Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne,” and He promises that you have a great reward in store as well.

Lord, strengthen me against petty fear.  Grant me the boldness and courage to be Your faithful servant in all the works to which You call me.  In all things, my model is Jesus, who endured the horror of the cross for me.  Amen.

Copyright © 2018 by Steven R. Perkins

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Soul Satisfaction

November 11 (Psalm 42:1)

As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God.  (ESV)

In the sixteenth century, Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina composed a motet based on this verse.  It is called “Sicut Cervus” from the first two words of the Latin translation, and as one person commented on this recording of it on YouTube, “This might be the most beautiful three minutes in the history of forever.”  I agree, and it is certainly one of my favorite pieces of music.

Anyone can appreciate Palestrina’s composition and enjoy it thoroughly, but those who have tasted the pleasure of God know that there is something deeper and richer to it and to this verse.  There is a reason man’s relationship with God has inspired art and architecture, drama and dance and music that have become the crowning achievements of the creative aspirations of the human race.  That relationship, when rightly ordered through the grace of Jesus Christ, is satisfying at the deep level of our souls.  It is glorious, wonderful, magnificent, and filled with peace attainable nowhere else.  It is loving and welcoming.  It is home.

Do you know that?  Or rather, do you feel that?  If you have tasted even once that deep intimacy with God, you know there is nothing like it.  If, however, it seems like words on a page or something that others have experienced but not you, that may just be your soul’s longing for the one thing that can truly satisfy it.  And just as a deer always finds water to slake its thirst, so God will always be found by those who truly seek Him, for they will then know that He has been seeking them.

Lord, I need You more than water or sleep or food.  I need You more than the air I breathe.  Draw near to me as I draw near to You.  Fill my soul and restore it to life in a dry and thirsty land.  Amen.

Copyright © 2018 by Steven R. Perkins

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Power To Walk In New Life

November 4 (Romans 6:4)

We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.  (ESV)

Guess what?  You don’t have to be afraid anymore.  2 Timothy 1:7 says we have been given a spirit of power, love, and self-control, not one of fear.  You don’t have to wonder if anyone loves you, or sit around convinced that no one does, because God has made it quite clear that He loves you.  Want proof?  Read Romans 5:8.  You don’t have to sin or remain stuck in darkness or run around in circles of confusion.  You really, truly don’t.

And yet so many of us do.  In one way or another, we are not walking in newness of life.  We sense that something is off, that something is just not right.  Let’s be honest.  No prisoner, having been pardoned from jail, will try to sneak back into his cell.  It is highly unlikely that you want to live in pain and suffering, apart from the renewed life that is your birthright as a baptized child of God.  It is, however, more than likely that God’s great enemy and ours, Satan, will try everything to lead you back into bondage.

God knows this and is at your side the moment you call.  In fact, in both the Old Testament (Joel 2:32) and the New Testament (Romans 10:13), He gives a powerful promise that everyone who calls on His name will be saved.  So, what are you waiting for?  You are a born-again child of God.  Why resort to old ways, why give in to habits you hope will make you feel better but never do, why be led astray by the lies of demons?  Cry out to your Father in heaven for help.  Weep and wail with Him.  Read the Bible verses that you know contain truth.  Walk in the newness of life that is yours.

Lord, may the Holy Spirit bring to my mind the lies that I have been accepting from the enemy as true.  As Paul taught in 2 Corinthians 10:5, I bring those thoughts captive to You.  Free me from their bondage that I may walk in the newness of life that is already mine in Christ Jesus.  In His name I pray, amen. 

Copyright © 2018 by Steven R. Perkins