Devotions

Author Archives: Ken Perry

Irony

Prince of Peace | Devotion #3: Irony
Ken Perry

Irony is a situation or writing that is strange or funny because things happen in a way that seems contrary to what you would normally expect. Some examples of irony might be these:

  1. The Bible is, among other things, a written code of conduct for Christian living and the irony is that it is the most shoplifted book in America. 
  2. A Charlie Brown Christmas is a program essentially about the over-commercialization of the holidays, and the irony is that it gets cut in length each year to make room for more commercials.
  3. William Eno is the inventor of the stop sign, traffic circle, one-way street, and the crosswalk and the irony is that he never learned how to drive.
  4. Jesus Christ is described in the book of Isaiah as the Prince of Peace; the irony is that the mere mention of His name causes more contention and division among people than any other. You would be hard-pressed to find a more polarizing figure in all of humanity.

In Isaiah chapter 26 verse 3 we read these words, “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts you.” A relationship with God gives us “The peace that passes all understanding.” It is a peace that transcends all that people have conceived or imagined. 

We read the word “peace” and often ascribe a meaning in alignment with groups and individuals being calm and tranquil, yet the reality is that even the most peaceful looking people are still in utter chaos if they do not have the deeper meaning of the word peace which is brought about by being restored to God. As sinful beings, God can have no part with us. The Bible tells us that darkness and light cannot coexist and it is only through the shed blood of Christ and the remission of sin that a person can be in unity and harmony with God. 

I had the pleasure of serving the church as the assistant to the Reach Pastor and each day I got to see how the Lord uses The River Church to minister to lost and broken people. I got to be on the front lines as this church “reaches” into prisons and jails to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ to men and women that can give nothing in return. They are people who are so desperate to find peace in the midst of chaos and hope where there is no hope. Romans 5:1 says, “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” It is only through a right relationship with God that we can have peace with Him. 

It is no wonder then why the Apostle Paul was so fervent with his words in 2 Corinthians 5:20 (NKJV), “Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God.” 

It is pure irony that people shun a relationship with God in an attempt to find peace and yet the One they are pushing away is the only One in whom true peace can be found. If you are lost, be reconciled today. If you have strayed, be reconciled to a right relationship today. I want to leave you with the words from the purveyors of sage advice around the country, the bumper sticker, “No God, No Peace- Know God, Know Peace.”

Intentional

Grow | Devotion #4: Intentional
Ken Perry

“Growth,” think about that word for a moment. What images does it bring up in your mind? If you are like me, pictures of your childhood come flooding into memory. I remember my dad taking the training wheels off of my bike and the exhilaration of finally being able to ride with the big boys. I remember moving from tee ball to swinging at a pitch thrown by an adult. I am brought back to milestone school graduations like fifth grade, eighth grade and what seemed like an eternity for most of us, twelfth grade (Thankfully, the pictures are locked away somewhere).

Each passing year brought that “joy-filled” trip for new school clothes because you just did not fit the old ones anymore. Thankfully, I am built differently than my brother, so hand-me-downs was not an option. I would be willing to bet you that your memories included snapshots of different times in your life also. Day by day and week by week we grew until one day we stopped. Our physical growth process has a natural ending designed in each of us by God as we are fearfully and wonderfully made. 

There is, however, another kind of growth that should have no end. In 2 Peter 3:18, the Apostle exhorts the beloved, “Grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.” Our spiritual growth as Christians is not a suggestion; it is a necessity. 1 Timothy 4:7 (NLT) says, “Do not waste time arguing over godless ideas and old wives’ tales. Instead, train yourself to be godly.” There is discipline involved. It will not happen on its own.

The Apostle Paul wrote this in Philippians 3:12-13 (NLT), “I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.” Think about this for a moment. When Paul wrote these words, he is in a Roman prison toward the end of his life. He is a very mature Christian, yet he tells them he has not arrived. We are to grow, we are to train, and we are to press on no matter what stage of life we find ourselves. 

If spiritual maturity is the goal of every Christian, then with all humility, we must be teachable people. We must be willing to ask the hard questions that demand honest answers. Am I in the same spot spiritually as I was last year? How have I grown since becoming a believer? If asked, would others say they see growth in me? If the answers are less than you would want, then by all means, decide to become proactive in your growth. Maybe you can join a Growth Community where you are exposed to more mature believers. Perhaps you can download a reading plan that takes you through the Bible in a year. Whatever it is, decide to intentionally pursue knowledge of God and a stronger relationship with Him. It is a lifelong endeavor that bears much fruit. Make spiritual growth a priority in your life and be able to say, like Paul, I have pressed on and attained the Heavenly prize. 

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.



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