Devotions

Author Archives: Ken Perry

Ananias

Lesson Fourteen | Devotion #2: Ananias
Ken Perry

Did your parents have to tell you twice to do some things? Mine sure did. It was usually regarding chores, and I cannot recall specifically the reason I did not do whatever it was on the first asking, but it was probably due to laziness. Maybe I thought they would forget, but they never did.

In the book of Acts, we read of three men named Ananias. Acts chapter 5 records one that was struck dead for lying to the Holy Spirit and Acts chapter 23 has Paul appealing before a high priest with the same name. However, in-between we find another Ananias recorded in Acts chapter 9. According to Paul, in fact, this Ananias was a “devout man according to the law, having a good report of all the Jews” (Acts 22:12 KJV). Perhaps his devout character is what allowed him to be uniquely used by God.  Acts 9:10-19 records the story for us, “Now there was a disciple at Damascus named Ananias. The Lord said to him in a vision, ‘Ananias.’ And he said, ‘Here I am, Lord.’ And the Lord said to him, ‘Rise and go to the street called Straight, and at the house of Judas look for a man of Tarsus named Saul, for behold, he is praying, and he has seen in a vision a man named Ananias come in and lay his hands on him so that he might regain his sight.’ But Ananias answered, ‘Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much evil he has done to your saints at Jerusalem. And here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on your name.’ But the Lord said to him, ‘Go, for he is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel. For I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name.’ So Ananias departed and entered the house. And laying his hands on him he said, ‘Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus who appeared to you on the road by which you came has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.’ And immediately something like scales fell from his eyes, and he regained his sight. Then he rose and was baptized; and taking food, he was strengthened.”

Did you read it? In verses 11 and 15 the Lord tells him to “go.” Granted he was being asked to lay hands on the notorious Saul of Tarsus, a man who according to verse 13 was doing evil to the saints in Jerusalem. I think I would have hesitated also.  Ananias, just like me in my youth, complied on the second asking and are we not glad he did. What a life after conversion Paul led. The result was that he had the honor of being used to remove the scales and preside over the public profession of the inward change that occurred in Saul, whose name became Paul. Oh, I am sure that God’s plan would have been accomplished with or without Ananias, but what a privilege it was, and is, to be used in the plans of God.

I came to realize that my earthly parents did not mean anything bad when they asked me to do my chores. They were simply teaching me lessons that were crucial to my development as a productive member of the family. What a parallel we have when we think of how our good, good heavenly Father wants to make us productive members of His family as well. We would do well to learn the lesson quickly that listening to God the first time He asks, is always a good thing.

How quickly do you comply with God?

What lessons are you struggling to learn because you resist the asking from God?

Please remember dear Christian, God always wants the absolute best for us His children. Listen, obey, and think of the privilege it is to be used by God for His purposes.

Eli

Lesson Seven • Devotion #1: Eli
Ken Perry

“The cobbler’s children have no shoes.”

I had heard that phrase before and had a vague idea as to its meaning.  It is the same sentiment behind why the plumber’s house has water leaks or the auto mechanics personal cars are held together with Duct Tape and chicken wire. Business strategist Nicholas de Wolff captures it this way, “It has been my experience that the statement refers to the tendency to excel at providing services to the “outside world,” while neglecting to observe that their immediate intimate ecosystem (family, self, home, friends…etc.) is in need of said services.”

As we continue with the world changers, we read of a man that portrayed just that. Eli was privileged to be both the high priest of Shiloh and the second to last Israelite judge. He was a good man tasked with the responsibility as the supreme religious leader. The high priest had to be bold and unafraid to rebuke and hold the people accountable to the standards God set forth. He exercised proper authority over the people, yet sadly failed to exercise the authority needed to reign in his children. He provided his service to the “outside world” as Wolff stated but neglected to provide the same authority to his “immediate intimate ecosystem.”

Eli’s sons were not good boys. The Bible even goes so far as to call them worthless (probably not something you would want to be written about your kids for the rest of history). Eli delighted in the Lord’s service but lacked parental authority. In 1 Samuel 2:22-25 we have this account, “Now Eli was very old, and he kept hearing all that his sons were doing to all Israel, and how they lay with the women who were serving at the entrance to the tent of meeting. And he said to them, ‘Why do you do such things? For I hear of your evil dealings from all these people. No, my sons; it is no good report that I hear the people of the Lord spreading abroad. If someone sins against a man, God will mediate for him, but if someone sins against the Lord, who can intercede for him?’ But they would not listen to the voice of their father, for it was the will of the Lord to put them to death.” It seems that Eli only reasoned with his sons rather than rebuking them as he should have. He was faulty for honoring his children above the Lord. Like many of us, maybe he was more interested in maintaining a relationship with his family rather than honoring the Lord with his calling.

How many of us are going to be as guilty as Eli? How many of us will lack the righteous indignation to call out sin and rebuke it with the fervency it needs? My prayer is that whether we are dealing with our biological families or the family of God, we would be willing to, with the love of Christ, deal appropriately with it and them.

And remember, always be sure your children have shoes.

Judah

Lesson Three | Devotion #4: Judah
Ken Perry

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Does it not seem as though there is a little bit of these three in all of us? We strive towards doing good yet realize the wickedness in our hearts causes us to sin on a daily, no wait, hourly basis (probably more like every minute). Good intentions met with a bad heart make for an ugly sinner. The Apostle Paul describes the sentiment when he says in Romans 7:19-20, For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.”

When we look into this world changers series and do a flyover of Judah’s life, I feel like he was the same. We see glimpses of the good in him, like when he speaks up for his younger brother Joseph after being thrown into a well by his siblings. We also see it when he offers himself to that same, now unrecognizable Joseph, years later as the substitute or ransom for his youngest brother, Benjamin. He had good intentions for sure.

But we also see the bad in him and are reminded of our predisposition to sin. Judah would eventually become the leader of the tribe of Judah. The lineage of Jesus traces back through him. He had his family members Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (maybe you have heard of them) from which to learn. Great examples of godly men, yet we see his failures and character flaws when we read of him sleeping with what he thought was a temple harlot that turned out to be his daughter-in-law, Tamar. He marries a Canaanite woman, which might not seem like a big deal, but look at Malachi 2:11 to see that it was frowned upon, to say the least. Judah has been faithless, and abomination has been committed in Israel and in Jerusalem. For Judah has profaned the sanctuary of the LORD, which he loves, and has married the daughter of a foreign god.” Side note for further consideration: Genesis 38:1 tells us that he met the daughter of Shua when he departed from his brothers. He left his support system and accountability system to do his own thing. Not a good idea, but one we make more often than we care to admit.

The ugly truth of Judah’s example is that we have these same flaws. We want to do good for God, yet the flesh often will win the battle. The great news is that God has already won the war. Minor setbacks will happen and yet, paraphrasing Isaiah 61:3, God makes beauty from ashes. He can take our failures and turn them into triumphs, sometimes despite ourselves. You have probably heard it before, and I believe I have said it as well: one of the best things to remember is that we war and battle and struggle FROM a place of victory not FOR victory. Walk in His strength, not on your own. Let us learn from Judah’s mistakes and abide in Christ. Stay close to God, and He will stay close to you.

Ready | How?

Ready | Devotion #6: How?
Ken Perry

In school, I was always fascinated with the English language. Physical education was my favorite class by a good margin, but I remember liking English fairly well, too. Do not get me started on math class though, I dreaded it and was very glad to only need two years to graduate.

One thing that plagued me in English was how to use proper punctuation. I always wonder about commas, colons, semi-colons, and does the period go before or after the quotation mark? To this day, I am still a bit confused. Thankfully there are people much smarter than me to proofread these devotions and catch my mistakes and run on sentences.

You might be wondering what punctuation has to do with this devotion. My only goal is to use it as an illustration. As we have been going through this Encore series, we have explored the topics of Recognize, Believe, Obey and now Ready. The Ascension of Jesus Christ is the Scripture passage being used. The work of Christ in redemption rests on four truths that are essential to being a Christian. 1. Jesus was born of a virgin and lived a sinless life. 2. He paid for our sin by His death on a cross. 3. He conquered death through His resurrection on the third day. 4. He ascended into Heaven where He now sits at the right hand of the Father constantly interceding on our behalf. He is alive forevermore!

Here is the connection. To gain a clearer picture, and just for fun, maybe we can look at those truths as punctuation marks. His life can be represented by quotation marks. The Bible is the spoken Word of God, and Jesus’ life is obviously depicted. His death is the period. Sin was defeated, end of the sentence (think about that one). His resurrection could be the comma. When we see a comma, we take a breath because there is more to come. His ascension might be the exclamation point. It is the ultimate mic drop of the encore. Pastor David Jeremiah said Jesus was “completely and finally demonstrating that His atonement forever solved the problem sin created.”

Jesus walked this earth physically for forty days after the resurrection. He was seen multiple times and at one appearance by over 500 people. These appearances convinced His disciples, beyond any doubt, that He had risen from the dead. He had accomplished the purpose set before Him from the foundation of the earth, and now He ascends to the Father. Acts 1:9 says, “And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, He was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight.” Hebrews 12:2 adds,Looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

That is glorious news! The very thing that we as believers want most, to be in Heaven with our Savior, has been accomplished by Jesus. Did you know we will be “lifted up” as well? “Harpazo” is the Greek word used 13 times in the New Testament and its translation means to be “caught up or lifted up.” The bottom line is that we are to be ready. How do we do that? Hebrews 12:1 tells us that we are to run this Christian race throwing off the hindrances and sin. We are to run with perseverance “fixing our eyes upon Jesus” who ran the perfect race before us. Here is an important point to remember, without the ascension, there would be no Holy Spirit by which we are convicted of sin, convinced as to our need for a Savior and, according to Lamentations 1:16, comforted to the point it relieves our soul. Christ had to leave (ascend) for the promise of the Holy Spirit to take place.

There is no order of importance with these truths. Of utmost importance, though is that you believe them. If you are reading this and have not asked Jesus to be your Lord and Savior, please refer back to the four truths mentioned in the second paragraph. Believe them and ask Jesus, the only One with the power to save you from eternal separation, to come into your heart. Are you ready?

Timing is Everything

Delivery on Time • Timing is Everything
Ken Perry

I am a fan of history. I get it from my father, I am sure. It was my favorite subject in school as well. Unfortunately, I think its lessons and importance are somewhat lost on the younger generation. It is well said that those who do not learn from it, will repeat it and we can see the fallout of that today. I enjoy the period of the Civil War and look forward to the time when I can travel to cities such as Boston, Cambridge, and Philadelphia to soak in the rich history, if those evidences still exist, that formed our great nation. One such story is of a herald of sorts whose name is Paul Revere. Popularized in Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s 1863 poem, The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere, we see a loyal patriot risk his life to warn the colonial militia of the impending invasion of the British troops. He was also instrumental in forming an early warning system so effective that people in towns twenty-five miles away knew of the Army’s movements while they were still unloading the boats in Cambridge Harbor. Although he is wrongly credited with saying, “The British are Coming” (he actually said, “the regulars are coming out”), it is important to note that an alarm raised by three riders allowed the Patriots to push the British troops back to the Harbor. Think about it, all that without GPS and iPhones. It goes beyond saying that timing was indeed everything.

The Bible is not just history; it is the present and future telling of His-story. In Isaiah 40, Isaiah is speaking to the Israelites as yet future exiles. As David Jeremiah states in his commentary, “God still cares for them and intends to deliver them…and renew their broken covenant relationship. To facilitate reconciliation, God announces that He will send His Suffering Servant to atone for their sins.” In verses 3-5 we read of another Herald, “A voice cries: ‘In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord; make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low; the uneven ground shall become level, and the rough places a plain. And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.’” He alludes to the custom of a prince that would send men before him to prepare the way in which they were planning to pass. It is a prophetic warning of the perfect timing of the coming of our Lord seven hundred years later. God’s people had a broken relationship with Him. Separation was caused by sin. Through Isaiah, God was calling them to repentance, leading to reconciliation, resulting in a relationship.

Is that what God is calling you to today? Are there impassable paths that need to be made straight in your life? Are there hills and valleys that need to be leveled? Call on the one true God that sent His Son, at the perfect time in His-story, to reclaim that which was lost in the garden. Claim for yourself that which was won on Calvary, a new beginning of a reconciled friend.

The timing is perfect, and the time is now.



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