Monday, November 18 – “Jesus replied, ‘You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God.’” (Matthew 22:29) So many questions: What happens when I die? Why am I here? All of which require an answer. Nobody can simply live in the “I don’t know”. All of us must fill the void and answer these questions. Jesus isn’t condemning anyone with his statement. Jesus is simply stating a fact that none of us know the answer to these and other questions without knowing Scripture and the power of God. Yet, even without this vital information, all of us will still answer these questions. The problem then becomes the fact that our answers are incorrect. This incorrectness is what Jesus is pointing out. There is a big difference between having an answer to your question and having the correct answer to your question. The former will lead to confusion, disillusionment, frustration and countless other negative consequences. The latter will lead to peace and completeness as you begin to see how everything fits together and how God is working in and through it all.
Tuesday, November 19 – “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows” (Galatians 6:7) I remember my mom telling me, while I was growing up, that “It will all come out in the wash”. As a child I never truly understood this sentiment, but my mother’s words gave me an odd sense of comfort. They gave me the understanding that there is something bigger than myself out there and all I needed to do was to stay the course. This is what Paul is talking about in this letter to the church in Galatia. Obviously, they are troubled because it appears that people in their community, that are mocking God, seem to be profiting. All the while, those who treat God with the proper reverence are struggling. Paul’s words are like my mother’s. “It will all come out in the wash.” God cannot be mocked. Those who seem to be profiting today by being evil will get theirs eventually and vice versa. Just keep on keeping on and let God worry about what people reap.
Wednesday, November 20 – “See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ.” (Colossians 2:8) There is nothing wrong with getting out into nature to recharge your batteries. Just know that your “spirit animal” and your “nature worship” is to bring your closer to Jesus, not replace Jesus. There is nothing wrong with practicing meditation. Just know that you are meditating to bring yourself closer to Jesus, not replace Jesus. There is nothing wrong with pursuing a higher education. Just know that your higher education is to bring you closer to Jesus, not replace Jesus. There are so many things in this world that want to replace Jesus in your life; so many philosophies, so many human traditions, so many elemental spiritual forces. Test everything in your life to see if it brings you closer to Jesus or if it seeks to replace Jesus. Don’t stop doing what you do, simply change your focus and purpose for doing what you do.
Thursday, November 21 – “Be careful, or you will be enticed to turn away and worship other gods and bow down to them.” (Deuteronomy 11:16) The question is not if other “gods” exist, but if you worship other “gods”? Notice that these are small “g” gods, meaning they are important to you, they have power in your life, but they aren’t the one true God (big “G”). If you aren’t careful you will replace your worship of big “G” God, with your little “g” gods. How do you know if this describes you? Answer these three questions: What consumes the majority of your money? Into what do you invest most of your time? What are you trying to achieve when you use your talents? If you ever want to know what someone truly believes, simply follow them around and watch what they do. You will serve your little “g” gods as opposed to the one true big “G” God with your time, talents and treasures, if you aren’t careful. So, as our verse for today directs you, be careful.
Friday, November 22 – “Do not be misled: ‘Bad company corrupts good character.’” (1 Corinthians 15:33) We frequently summed this verse up to our kids as “Garbage in, garbage out”. Meaning, that the company you keep, the music you listen to, the books you read, the shows you watch and whatever or whoever you allow into your life and mind will directly influence what you do. We all need to pay attention to our influencers. We all need to pay attention to that which we are allowing to feed our minds, bodies and spirits. Like sugar, some things and people taste really good and they are addicting. Yet, in the long run, they are bad for us. This weekend, take note of your influencers. Pay attention to the music you listen to, the movies you watch and the people you hang out with. Do they build you up and bring you closer to God? Would you continue to do the same things and hang out with the same people if Jesus was with you all weekend?
Monday, November 25 – “And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying ‘This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.’” (Luke 22:19) Many times we pray to God for things that we don’t have and we forget to take time to thank God for all that we have received. Thank God for your daily bread (or whatever food you eat today). Thank God for your home, for the air in your lungs, for the people in your life, and for all the aspects of the life that you get to live today. Don’t simply thank God for what is, thank God for what will be. Jesus thanks God for providing the bread for this Passover meal, but he also thanks God for what this bread represents. It represents who Jesus is and what he will do. The bread represents the potential that is Jesus. Today, thank God for the potential that is you. Thank God not only for providing your home, but also for what having a home gives you the potential to do. Thank God not only for the air in your lungs, but also for what having air in your lungs gives you the potential to do. And on and on.
Tuesday, November 26 – “Jesus said to the woman, ‘Your faith has saved you; go in peace.’” (Luke 7:50) Here is something to be thankful for. You aren’t saved by some magical spell that you must memorize and practice. You aren’t saved based on how good you are. You aren’t saved because you come from the right family. You are saved by grace through faith in Jesus. Faith in Jesus unlocks the door to salvation, to healing and to the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit. No magic wand needed, no special training in a far-off boarding school, no advanced degrees needed. Everything has already been accomplished by Jesus through his death and resurrection. All you need to do now is believe. Your belief unlocks the door to a world of possibilities. Everything you seek – peace, healing, love, grace, forgiveness – are all waiting for you, gifts freely given. All you need to do to access these and a world of other gifts, is to believe in Jesus.
Wednesday, November 27 – “Jesus said to him, ‘Receive your sight; your faith has healed you.’” (Luke 18:42) Which came first, faith or sight? Like the proverbial chicken or egg, it is faith that must come first. You cannot see until you believe that you can see. How many times have you launched something toward the trash can and at the very last moment, before it leaves your hand, your brain thinks, “I am going to miss the trash can”? Low and behold, you miss the trash can. Nothing can or will happen unless you first believe. Faith is a powerful force in the universe. Just ask George Lucas who made famous the concept of “The Force” through Star Wars. Faith must come first, just as the chicken had to come first. Without faith, without believing that we can, nothing would be possible. You don’t have to be taught how to have faith, but you do need to constantly monitor into what or who you are placing your faith. For that faith will directly affect the possibility of you.
Thursday, November 28 – “The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.” (Luke 2:20) Have you ever heard that something was true and then later actually experienced that it was true? No matter if the truth is something big like salvation through Jesus or something little like that road is a short-cut? The reaction is still the same. Your reaction is joy. There is nothing as joyful as realizing that something, anything, is true in this mixed up world of ours. When someone keeps their word, when directions are correct, when the deal is really that good, joy is what you experience. What is a proper reaction to joy? Hold it all in, share it with nobody, pretend that it never happened and that you are not prone to wild fits of unadulterated joy. Of course not. You shout it from the mountain top. You celebrate all of the joy in your life and through your celebration you give someone else the permission to believe and experience joy for themselves.
Friday, November 29 – “Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven – as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.” (Luke 7:47) If you want to know what someone believes, follow them around for a while and watch what they do. If you believe that all of your sins have been forgiven, even the sins you have yet to commit, you will love differently than someone who believes that they have to earn God’s love by being perfect. If you believe that all things are possible for those who believe you will make different decisions in your life than someone who believes that life is only about what you can get and what you can keep. If you believe that your life is eternal and heaven is waiting for you, you will live differently than someone who believes that this life is all there is. This weekend, take an inventory of your actions and see what they reveal about your true beliefs. No judgment, simply an honest evaluation. Remember, God will never be real to you until you are real with God.