Devotions

Author Archives: Ken Perry

The Red Pill or The Blue One?

Imprisonment and Doubt #5  November 24 The Red Pill or The Blue One?

In 1999 a movie took the Box Office by storm. It spawned a franchise that grossed over 3 billion dollars in revenue worldwide. The basic premise is this: Thomas Anderson is a computer hacker who goes by the name Neo and is considered by Morpheus (the leader of the rebels) to be ‘the one,’ the one that will save them from ultimate destruction by the sentient machines of The Matrix.  As the movie progresses, it becomes apparent that many people doubt whether Neo is the one. They have placed their hopes of a future without being controlled by the machines firmly on Neo’s shoulders and as time goes on, and he does not overthrow the machines in the time frame they have set in their minds, the question of Neo’s ability comes forward. The question of “are you the one?” starts to make it around the ship. They begin to doubt whether they were correct in placing their trust in Neo. They were correct by the way.

Solomon said in Ecclesiastes 1:9 that there is nothing new under the sun and we see that here because this plot line was played out in reality over 2000 years ago. It is the early part of Jesus’ ministry, and John the Baptist has been imprisoned by King Herod for rebuking his sin. Like many people, John was probably confusing Jesus’ coming to establish a new kingdom to mean He would spearhead the overthrowing of the Roman government, thereby freeing the Jewish people from the oppression and tyranny of the harsh Romans. To the point, John the Baptist in Matthew 11:3 (NLT) sent his disciples to ask Jesus, “Are you the Messiah we’ve been expecting, or should we keep looking for someone else?” Just as in the Matrix movie, they were asking “are you the one?”

Some commentators believe this is John asking the question to help clarify the doubt of his disciples. Others say this is John’s frustration of being imprisoned and not being able to do what he was called to do, coupled with the misunderstanding of Jesus’ purpose. Either way, we see some real-life doubt creep into the lives of some devoted followers. Have you ever been there? Have you ever started to doubt God? Maybe something you were told, or some promise you claimed but was taking too long to come true made you question whether or not you could trust what Jesus said to you. I know I have.

So, let me share from experience a few verses that can help in these situations. 

Isaiah 55:8 (NLT) says, “‘My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,’ says the Lord. ‘And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.’”

Doubt creeps in when expectations are unmet. We need to understand that we cannot fit God into our mold and try to make His plans conform to ours. We must work hard to fit into His plans. Not only are His thought higher than ours, but His timing is also perfect. 2 Peter 3:9a tells us, “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness…” and Philippians 1:6 (NLT) says that He is faithful to complete the work He started in us. “And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue His work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.”

So, when doubt and fear creep in, when frustration rears its head, when you begin to question whether or not God is hearing your cries and listening to your heart, when you think God’s plan for your life is never going to happen, be reassured. Please remember that His plans and purposes are high above ours, His timing is perfect, and the work He began in you will be completed. Stay close to Jesus and do not allow the toothless words of the enemy to cast a shadow of doubt on the greatness of the Word that comes from a Father who loves you dearly.

Ken Perry 

Assistant to the Reach Pastor

Fallen – His End #4

Devils and Demons | Ding Dong The Witch is Dead and Rosebud Was His Sled
Ken Perry | Assistant to the Reach Pastor

Spoiler alert! I cannot stand those words. They mean that some long-awaited outcome is about to be revealed and if you do not want to know how it turned out, you had better walk away, close your ears, or turn the channel. It happens all the time with movies. If you do not catch the opening night, you run the risk of knowing how the movie ends just by walking down the street. It happens all the time with sports. I know of many guys who record an event only to be “alerted” by the text of a well-meaning friend or they receive an update because they forgot to turn off the notifications tab on the news feed. I have told myself never to be that guy. Never be the guy that spoils the outcome for someone else. With that said, I still feel compelled to tell you the ending to the best-selling book in history…The Bible says that Satan gets defeated in the end!

To make a great book, you need a protagonist (the main character) and an antagonist (the main character’s chief adversary or opponent). Satan has been God’s antagonist from the very beginning. The Bible is not just history, it is His Story, and in Genesis 3 we see his start. Genesis 3:1 records the fall of man and guess who is there? You got it, Satan himself in the guise of a serpent, “Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made.”

We know he was created, and we also know his purpose. 1 Peter 5:8 tells us, “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” His only purpose is to either keep you from accepting the Lord as your Savior or to draw you away from the relationship you already enjoy with Christ Jesus. What we sometimes gloss over, or forget in the midst of trials, is that Satan loses in the end. Do not be deceived or dismayed brothers and sisters, he gets what is coming to him. I am a guy that likes to see justice meted out immediately. When the person speeds by at 90 mph, I want to see the red lights of Michigan’s finest close behind. When someone breaks the law, I want to see them in handcuffs soon after. I think we all want to see the bad guy get his due. Thankfully, the God of all justice, the judge over all, the great I AM will bring the final judgment to Satan. Revelation 20:10 says, “And the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulpher were the beast and the great prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.”

Is that not great news? The Bible tells us that Satan is the god (little g) of this world but according to John 16:33 we are to take heart because Jesus overcame the world. We get to go into our battles, our struggles, our chaos at work, our minefield of the family. We get to go into everything fighting FROM victory not FOR victory. Those two words, from and for, make all the difference in the world do they not?  Jesus already won the battle; it was finished in the completed work of Christ on the cross of Calvary. Please remember that the next time you are faced with something that seems too tough to handle. Remember we have a God in Heaven that has gone through everything with which we are tempted and struggle. Remember Hebrews 4:15, “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.”

God is victorious, Satan is defeated, and those who call on the name of Jesus get to walk in newness of life knowing the outcome of the greatest story ever told. There is great confidence in that knowledge my friends. Have an amazing day!

Sharables – Testimony

Sharables – Testimony
Ken Perry | Assistant to the Reach Pastor

Time sure flies when you are having fun. With that said, I cannot believe it has been 32 years since I made a decision to accept Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. Sometimes I think I should be further along in my faith, but there is a great assurance in the fact that I know I am right where God wants me to be.

Testimony is defined for us this way, “A public recounting of a religious conversion or experience.” That is it, nothing flashy or earth shattering. Just our retelling of the single most important moment in our Christian lives. For some, this conversion comes as a realization that the particular path they were headed down was going to be a dead end, that the choices being made were not turning out the way they had planned. We know this experience as a “Rock Bottom” conversion. The reality of the situation so confronts a person that they understand they cannot do life under their power anymore. There is a desire for spiritual intervention, and the only way to do that is to allow God to have total control of their lives.  As the title suggests; however, that was not me. 

I grew up in a loving middle-class home. That is not to say we did not have our fair share of issues, but I did have everything I needed and most things I wanted. My dad coached many of my sports teams and for most of my adolescence, my mom stayed at home to raise my brother and me. I began wrestling in high school and started dating the stats girl (probably in the hopes that my scores would improve). Before long, she asked if I would like to go to a youth group event at her church. I had gone to church as a kid… well, a truer version would be that I was put in the back of the station wagon and made to go to church with my mom and her friend. I had no other experience with the church up until I was asked to youth group at 15.  I said yes because I wanted to be with her but did not realize the impact it would have on me.

Two things happened that night.  First, I saw that the Youth Pastor was my wrestling coach. You might say no big deal, but it showed me you could combine the worlds of athletics and religion which was a new concept that helped as I started processing Christianity. I did not have to give up what I loved to do to come to Christ. The second thing was that I felt an amazing energy created by this group. I had felt the energy coming from crowds before (there is nothing like wrestling in front of a packed gymnasium) and it truly can be electric. This was different, though. I saw every type of person from my high school in that room. Silly teenagers that we were, we had to keep up our personas on campus, but at this youth group, I saw barriers broken down and kids having a great time worshipping Jesus together. I can not help but think of the book of Esther when I think back to this group… “for such a time as this.”

That group became my life. Sure, I still played sports, but the group of friends that came from this time was so much more important. They had the effect of cementing my heart to Christ before I even became a believer. After about a year of listening to the messages I came to the biggest realization of my life, and this is what I want you to grasp dear brothers and sisters. No matter where you come from, what you did, rock bottom or not, we are all separated from God by sin (Isaiah 59:2) until we ask Him for forgiveness and accept Him as our Lord and Savior. I was no better than the drug dealer, thief, adulterer, or murderer. The degree of sin was different according to the world, but God does not grade on a curve. He only sees the heart and mine was just as wicked according to Jeremiah 17:9, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” Unless I made a decision to follow Him, I was eternally lost.

So, that is what I did at the ripe age of sixteen, I settled the separation issue once and for all, and as you can imagine, it was the best decision of my life. Not everything has been rosy and right, but let me encourage you with this, it is not supposed to be. John 16:33 clearly tells us, “in this world you WILL have tribulation(trouble). But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

When the world knocks us down, like the big bully that it is, we have an advocate that is bigger than anything the world can throw at us. If you are on the fence about this thing called Christianity, settle the separation issue today. If you have strayed from God like many of us have, take a note from the prodigal story and realize you are better off being a “hired hand” in the Kingdom rather than a “king” in the world. Come back to Christ while there is still time. Personal experience tells me you will not be sorry you did.

God or Money #1 – U-Haul behind a Hearse

God or Money #1 – U-Haul behind a Hearse
Ken Perry | Assistant to the Reach Pastor

There is an old bumper sticker that says “He who dies with the most toys wins,” but have you ever seen a funeral procession followed by a trailer full of the deceased person’s stuff?  The culture we live in is, by and large, consumed by money and the accumulation of stuff. If one car is good, two must be better. The 50-inch plasma screen is no longer sufficient for the Xbox, Nintendo, or Wii, better get the 70-inch HD LED. Keeping up with the Jones’ has become a very costly endeavor. The facade of wealth lays just in front of the cracked veneer we have created and allowing it to crumble would cost us what… friendships, status, position?

One of the most misquoted verses in the Bible is 1 Timothy 6:10, “For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs. This verse is often quoted as “Money is the root of all evil.” While that may be popular, it is certainly wrong. The Bible never declares that money is evil; in fact, there are many verses that extol the benefits of money. Psalm 112:3 when speaking of the man who fears the Lord says that “wealth and riches are in his house, and his righteousness endures forever.” Genesis 13:2 tells us that Abraham was “very rich in livestock, silver, and gold.” Even wise Solomon, who asked for wisdom instead of riches, was blessed by God with riches that “surpassed all the kings of the earth” (1 Kings 10:23).  God often blesses those who seek Him first. It shows Him what position He has in their lives. (Let me pause for a second to say that if you are struggling with finances, it does not mean you have placed God in an inferior position in your life. Please refer back to our devotion series on trials and what they are meant to produce in us.)

The real issue here is whether you have things; or rather do your things have you? Matthew 6:24 tells us, “No one can serve two masters. For either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money. Notice what the verse does not say.  It does not say if you are super spiritual, go to church three days a week, and memorize the Bible backward you might be able to serve both. In 25 versions of this passage, it is very clear; you CANNOT serve God and money.

Matthew 6 19-21 gives us a clear picture of what our motivation should be, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.Quite simply, money is a tool. It is neither good nor bad. The same dollar can be used to buy illegal drugs, or it can be used to build an orphanage. It all depends on the heart of the user.

Let me refer to the top paragraph. I am not saying that if you have those things, you are doing something wrong. Remember we have a good Father in Heaven that loves to bless His children. I am saying, however, that if the motivation behind the money is to have more stuff, then we should really consider where our heart and treasure really are. Are you trying to serve two masters? Joshua said it best, “Choose this day whom you will serve…as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” God is ultimately interested in the position of our heart, not in the thickness of our pocketbook.

Christ #7 – Three Words that Changed the World

Christ #7 – Three Words that Changed the World
Ken Perry | Assistant to the Reach Pastor

Extra, Extra, Read all about it! King of the Jews’ tomb is empty!!!

That would have been the shouted headline of the day if papyrus boys existed in the first century. The town would have been buzzing with the news of Jesus’ resurrection. The truth, though, is that the rulers did not want the news to get out. They knew what Jesus predicted His death, burial, and resurrection and in Matthew 27:62-64 we read of the religious rulers asking Pontius Pilate to have the tomb sealed to prevent that from happening. Silly boys, they did not know that death could not hold Him, and no grave could contain Him.

Modern day Christian congregations around the globe repeat these three words every Easter Sunday…HE IS RISEN!  Which is followed by the familiar retort of “He is risen indeed.” As if saying these words is a secret password whispered to each other in passing.  The simple fact is that no three words have ever changed the world like these have, and we should be shouting them from the hilltops every day.

Central to our Christian faith is Jesus dying on a cross and being buried in a borrowed tomb, yet crucial to our faith is the belief in His resurrection three days later. If Christ did not rise from the grave, then our faith is in vain. The apostle Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 15:17-19 (NLT), “And if Christ has not been raised, then your faith is useless and you are still guilty of your sins. In that case, all who have died believing in Christ are lost! And if our hope in Christ is only for this life, we are more to be pitied than anyone in the world.”

Hebrews 12:2b (NLT) says that we are the joy for which Christ went to the cross and that He is NOW seated at the right hand of God. Notice the present tense. He is still there ever interceding on our behalf.  We have the hope of Heaven because of the resurrection. We have the hope that we will see our believing loved ones again because Jesus rose from the dead. We live a life, according to Scripture, to the best of our ability because we know there is a God in heaven who loves us and we cannot wait to see Him. All of this and more were made possible by the Father sending His Son to earth to pay the penalty for our sin. He gave everything to a people that can give nothing in return. The words of Elvina Hall echo in my ear. She wrote, “Jesus paid it all, all to Him I owe, sin had left a crimson stain, He washed it white as snow.”

Oh Christian, won’t you take time this day and think of the “all” that Jesus paid for you. Think of the immense price of God’s only Son when contrasted by the nothing we have to offer in return. It should bring us to our knees in sorrow, but to our feet in joy for that which awaits us in Heaven because of the resurrection of our Savior Jesus Christ. Thank you, Jesus!



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