April 3 - 8
Monday, April 3 – “To the pure show yourself pure, but to the devious you show yourself shrewd.” (2 Samuel 22:27) Devious means: showing a skillful use of underhanded tactics to achieve goals. Shrewd means: having or showing sharp powers of judgment; astute. Basically, God is calling you not to be gullible. Understand that there are people out there playing a game, in order to achieve their own goals. In other words, there are wolves out there who are dressing up in sheep’s clothing. Being filled with grace and compassion doesn’t mean that you can’t still be shrewd. God gave you the gift of reason and you honor God when you use it.
Tuesday, April 4 – “I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and innocent as doves.” (Matthew 10:16) There’s an impression out there that followers of Jesus must be door mats, push-overs and weak. Yet, that isn’t the picture we have in the life and ministry of Jesus. Yes, Jesus showed boundless compassion and never-ending grace. But he was also shrewd as he called out the wickedness in human hearts. He was able to do this because he was innocent, like a dove. Maybe we struggle to be “shrewd as snakes” because we aren’t “innocent as doves”? Maybe we, as followers of Jesus, have created the whole door mat, push-over, weak reality, in order to compensate for the fact that we aren’t “innocent as doves”?
Wednesday, April 5 – “What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.” (Ecclesiastes 1:9) Lately you have heard a more positive spin on this truth: If we don’t learn from our past, we are doomed to repeat it. Well, Solomon was a little more pessimistic. It had been his experience that we are doomed to repeat the past. For we live as sin-stained people, in a sin-stained world. You might not prescribe to this belief yourself, but you have to admit that us humans keep making the same mistakes over and over again. Maybe different circumstances, but still the same old bigotry, violence, waste, excess, greed and power grabs. On the eve of the betrayal, arrest, trial and crucifixion of Jesus, it’s appropriate to be a little pessimistic.
Maundy Thursday – “The chief priests and the teachers of the law heard this and began looking for a way to kill him, for they feared him, because the whole crowd was amazed at his teaching.” (Mark 11:18) The fear of losing political power was at the root of Jesus’ death. How many stories can you tell about the fear of losing political power causing an injustice to occur? How many times have you made decisions in your life for the sole purpose of preserving some sort of political power? How many times have you kept quiet in the face of injustice? How many times have you taken a position, simply to preserve your power and privilege? Today, are you willing to own the fact that you are no different than the chief priests and the teachers of the law? Today, are you willing to do something about it?
Good Friday – “But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God.” (Acts 5:39) These are the words of Gamaliel, a highly respected Pharisee, as he addressed the Sanhedrin. They were considering killing Jesus’ apostles. Oh, what our world might be like if all the religious leaders of Jesus’ day had held this very same opinion. Yet, this opinion can only be held by someone who isn’t in it for political power or privilege. As Janice Joplin once sang, “Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose.” Gamaliel was free. For he knew that we all had nothing left to lose and everything yet to gain, by letting Jesus’ apostles live.
Saturday, April 8 – “But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to where he was baptizing, he said to them: ‘You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath?’” (Matthew 3:7) These are the words of John the Baptist. I’m going to share with you some facts about vipers as you contemplate this verse for yourself this weekend. The female viper conceives through her mouth. After which she bites off the head of her mate. Later, when baby vipers are ready to be born, they bite through the mother’s side and she dies. Then the whole process starts over again, with a new generation of vipers.