Your Mina

Today’s reading is Luke 19.

“Lord, your mina has made ten minas more.” Did you catch that? The servant didn’t say, “Hey Lord; look what I did with your mina.” As far as the servant was concerned, the mina did the work. This explains the fatal flaw of the third servant. The servant’s problem was not that he didn’t believe in himself. The problem was he didn’t believe in the Lord’s mina. He thought the success of the business depended on himself. So, he did nothing. The other two believed the success depended on the Lord’s mina. I know I have a lot to learn from these servants. How about you?

Tomorrow’s reading is Luke 19.

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Scandalous

Today’s reading is Luke 17.

We often think of sin as scandalous. However, the real scandal is not simply committing sin, but prompting someone else to sin. I am actually making a bit of a play on words here, but be aware that the word translated “temptations to sin” in the ESV (“stumbling blocks” or “offenses” in others) is the Greek “skandalon.” Our modern word for “scandal” comes from this word that meant to cause someone else to stumble. No doubt, in the modern sense of the word, when we are caught in egregious sin, that is a scandal. But be aware what is truly scandalous is when we play a part in tempting others–whether in how we talk, walk, dress, behave, where we go, making fun of people for their standards, chipping away at the resolve of others, not taking into account their weaknesses and conscious scruples. All these are truly scandalous. Let us avoid every hint of scandal and lead others to honor, glorify, and obey God.

Tomorrow’s reading is Luke 17.

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King of the World

Today’s reading is Luke 4.

Satan tempts Jesus to worship Him, but Jesus is not tempted by worshiping Satan. There is nothing about worshiping Satan that by itself is tempting. No, Satan tempts Jesus with the kingdoms of the world. However, the temptation was not actually being king of the world. God has already promised that to Jesus (see Psalm 2). The temptation is becoming king of the world, but avoiding God’s pathway. I don’t think Satan understood the plan of God. I don’t think he had foreseen the crucifixion. But he saw Jesus had left the throne of God and come into the world. He could see God’s way to the throne was awful for Jesus. Satan was supposedly offering Jesus a ticket back to the throne room of God. Whatever God’s plans for Jesus might be, Satan was saying he would give up without a fight and Jesus could bypass anymore hardship. He would just hand over the nations of Jesus would worship him. He could quit this whole incarnation and any other terrible thing God had planned for Jesus if He would just bow down. What a temptation! And isn’t that just how Satan does it. He offers us the easy way. He promises life, joy, peace if we will just take the shortcut. But Jesus knew better. The shortcut wasn’t worth it if it meant worshiping someone other than God. The same is true for us. The shortcut isn’t worth it if it means surrendering to someone other than God. Sure, Satan was probably lying. He always does. Sure, he promises the moon, but only gives dirt. That, however, is really beside the point in this story. Jesus chose the hard path because it was God’s path. God is the only one to be feared, reverenced, obeyed, and worshiped. Oh, how sad it makes me to think of the times I have failed at this even after learning better. But Jesus shows us the way to victory. No matter the past, follow His way today. Praise the Lord!

Tomorrow’s reading is Luke 4.

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Grace is NOT Permission to Sin

Today’s reading is 1 John 3.

Whenever someone starts explaining that we are saved by the grace of God through our Advocate, Jesus Christ the righteous and not through our own good works, someone else begins to fear that we are giving permission to pursue sin. Not at all. In fact, John’s first letter is a great demonstration of that. We read yesterday that if we sin, we have an Advocate with the Father in Jesus Christ. We don’t have to fear that if we sin, we are lost. However, in today’s reading, John explains that if we take that as permission to sin and pursue sin and continue in the ongoing practice of sin, we are not the elect, saved of God, but are children of the devil. The grace and advocacy of Jesus is the power and strength to pursue righteousness despite our failures, it is not the permission to pursue sin despite God’s will. God’s grace offers nothing to those looking to get away with sin. It offers everything to those longing to overcome it. What are you longing for today?

Tomorrow’s reading is 1 John 4.

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Nothing on My Own

Today’s reading is John 5.

Wasn’t Jesus God in the flesh? Wasn’t He the one who created the universe and everything in it? Absolutely. Remember John 1? But He says, “I can do nothing on my own. As I hear, I judge.” He says, even He didn’t do anything by His own authority. He came in the Father’s name. That is, He did what He did, He taught what He taught based on the authority of the Father. If Jesus Himself, God the Son, God Incarnate only acted from the authority of the Father, shouldn’t I? Shouldn’t we? Doing something because I searched deep within myself is not seeking the Father’s authority. That is just seeking my own authority. God is the authority. I need to listen to Him through His Word and simply do what He has authorized. That is how Jesus lived. That is how we need to live today.

Monday’s reading is John 6.

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Confess & Conform

Today’s reading is Titus 1.

I almost hate to use the word “conform” because there are so many negative connotations to “conformity” in today’s thinking. However, whether we will admit it or not, we all conform to something. We all fill some mold, whether we conform to Christ or to sin, we conform to something. And Paul warns us. There are plenty who confess Jesus, but refuse to conform to Him. They know the right words to say, but they deny those words by their actions. These, Paul declares, are “detestable, disobedient, unfit for any good work.” In other words, even what seemingly “good” things they do are not actually good. Their “good” works are defiled by their conformity to sin. We must not only talk the talk, we must walk our talk. Certainly, we will all fail. We will all stumble and fall as we walk. But our confession of Christ is supposed to change our lives to conform to Christ. If our confession doesn’t produce greater conformity, our confession is useless. Confess today, certainly. But let your confession lead to Christlike conformity.

Tomorrow’s reading is Titus 2

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The Impartiality of God

Today’s reading is James 2.

Have you ever noticed that while God through James encourages impartiality among His people, He actually demonstrates it Himself? Don’t give preferential treatment to the rich, James instructs. Then, while explaining a faith that works, he highlights how God justified both Abraham and Rahab. He justified them in the exact same way, through a saving faith that works. Abraham was a man; Rahab a woman. Abraham was the father of the Hebrew nation; Rahab was a gentile. Abraham was the father of the faithful; Rahab was a prostitute. Of course, I don’t know Rahab’s financial situation, though I have no doubt she lost pretty much everything in the destruction of Jericho; Abraham was very rich. These two were very different in many ways, but they were similar in the one way that matters. They were both guilty sinners in need of justification. And God justified them both in exactly the same way. Abraham didn’t get preferential treatment because he was a rich, Hebrew, man. Rahab didn’t get preferential treatment because she was a poor, Gentile, woman. In like manner, don’t expect preferential treatment from God. He won’t justify us because of the color of our skin, the size of our bank account, the purity of our lineage, the makeup of our gender. No matter who we are, a faith that works is the only faith that works. If we want to be justified, we need a saving faith that works. That is the impartiality of God.

Tomorrow’s reading is James 3.

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