September 11 - 16
Monday, September 11 – “For God’s gifts and his call are irrevocable.” (Romans 11:29) You can’t escape God. Yes, you can make the choice to ignore God. But even in your ignoring you’re still not escaping God. You’re merely refusing to acknowledge that which is in you and all around you. Like refusing to believe in oxygen, but still breathing in and out 22,000 times a day. God has called you and has gifted you. You are right here, right now, for a reason. And the only way that you will ever discover that reason is by being connected to other people, just like you, who are doing the exact same thing. Being a follower of Jesus means more than simply believing in Jesus. It also means being connected to others, who are following Jesus.
Tuesday, September 12 – “We want each of you to show this same diligence to the very end, so that what we hope for may be fully realized.” (Hebrews 6:11) Being a follower of Jesus isn’t a once-and-done deal. Went to church, got saved, bought the T-shirt. Being a follower of Jesus also isn’t only a Sunday morning deal. Being a follower of Jesus is who you are. Day in and day out; work, school, with friends and all by yourself, who you are. Who you are when nobody is looking and who you are when everybody is looking, kind of deal. That requires diligence on your part. It won’t come naturally. And it requires connection. For nobody can be that diligent all on their own.
Wednesday, September 13 – “And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” (Romans 5:5) Have you had your hopes dashed? Has somebody let you down? Now you’re here reading that you’re to hope in God. And you just can’t imagine hoping in anything or anyone ever again. Welcome to the club. Yet, how would you feel if someone you just met refused to believe in you, just because they have been hurt in the past? The very nature of hope is not judging your future by your past. Yes, you will get burned again in the hope that you place in other people. Yet, the message for today is this: You’ll never get burned when you put your hope in God. But you will never believe it, until you try it.
Thursday, September 14 – “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” (Philippians 2:3-4) Did you notice that these verses are written in the plural? This isn’t a message to an individual. This is a directive to a community. As community, don’t only think of yourselves. As community, value others above yourselves. As community, don’t just look to your own interests, but to the interests of others. If you want to truly embrace hope in your life, you must get over yourself. You must start thinking of others. For it’s only in the service of others that you will find your hope fulfilled. For in this service to others, there will be someone serving you!
Friday, September 15 – “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.” (1 Thessalonians 5:11) You know how to do this. You know how to encourage others and you know how to build others up. You’ve done it before and you can do it again. This is one of those weird rules of reality – If you want people to do something for you, start by doing it for others. If you want encouragement, encourage others. If you want to be built up, build up others. I know it sounds counter-intuitive, but it works.
Saturday, September 16 – “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing.” (Matthew 23:37) These are the words of Jesus as he entered Jerusalem, riding on a donkey on Palm Sunday. Jesus was headed into Holy Week and his eventual death and resurrection. Yet, even in the midst of all of this, Jesus looked upon Jerusalem with longing and sadness. “If only” was Jesus’ perspective. Even after three years of abuse, mistreatment and condemnation at the hands of the religious leaders in Jerusalem, Jesus still longs for them to be saved. This is our hope. Not in the people of Jerusalem. But in the one who looked upon Jerusalem with sadness.