Perspective | Trapped
MONDAY— “Get away from me, Satan! You are a dangerous trap to me. You are seeing things merely from a human point of view, not from God’s.” Matthew 16:23
“Well, I just think…” “Well, I believe…” 21st century America is in love with its own opinions. The internet allows us to investigate even the most outlandish ideas and then hook up with people who think like we do. Social media gives us a platform for those ideas, while the snowflake culture dares anyone to disagree. So we can get pretty inflated with our own opinions and even apply them to scripture. After all, we got 30 “likes,” shares, and retweets, so surely God is impressed with our views. Peter did not have the internet, but he had the same kind of thinking. “Jesus, stop talking like that!” he said. “I don’t think a loving God would ask you to be crucified. MY God would never do things like that!” Jesus had to set him straight.
How many times do we react like Peter did? We learn a difficult, unpopular truth and think, “A loving God wouldn’t send anyone to hell…” “MY God doesn’t care who we love. Love is love, right?” Jesus’ shocking answer to Peter should cause us to take a second look at our own way of thinking. Jesus called Peter “Satan,” not because he had morphed into the devil, but because his viewpoint came straight from Satan’s playbook. The idea sounded good to Peter, but it was opposite what God had said. How many of your opinions sound good to you but are opposite of what God says? Do you filter your values and viewpoints through God’s word or through someone else’s (including you own) opinion? Check the Bible and let Jesus set you straight.
Final Thought: How many views have you adopted because they sound good instead of filtering them through God’s word?
Prayer: Jesus, please check my heart like you did with Peter. What attitudes, values, and behaviors have come straight from Satan’s playbook? Help me learn to filter everything I think and say through your word. Please, set me straight. Amen.
TUESDAY— “For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” Matthew 7:13-14
The superhighway was smooth, straight, and had 8 lanes. Roses and honeysuckle vines lined the edges. In the distance, a golden city sparkled in the sunlight. Glamorous people strolled happily along with a Bible under one arm and an Osteen book under the other. They were confident they were headed for heaven but in no rush to get there. They listened to the latest worship band and discussed religion, politics, and their kids’ soccer schedules. They even invited others to join them because who wouldn’t want Jesus on their team! They’d prayed one prayer and BOOM! Life was good and heaven was ahead.
Each in turn passed a hand-lettered sign that read, “Eternal Life: This way.” An arrow pointed to narrow, rocky path that led around a steep, bramble-covered mountain. Each paused to consider the sign, then they shook their heads. “Nah, that can’t be right. God wants me to be happy and this road makes me happy. God wouldn’t create such an unpleasant path for His children.” So, with renewed confidence they stepped back onto the highway and smiled at the gleaming city in the distance. They did not know until it was too late that the city was only a mural and this road ended in a 50-ft. drop. Jesus had not built this road, Satan had. Jesus was waiting on the other side of the mountain to escort His true children the rest of the way.
Final Thought: Which road are you traveling? Don’t fool yourself. The stakes are too high.
Prayer: Jesus, which road am I on? Am I really following you or a Christianized version of myself? Am I willing to take that narrow road if it means I must change my opinions and lifestyle? You’re worth anything I must give up. I choose you. Amen.
WEDNESDAY— There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death. Proverbs 14:12
“I can’t believe in the God of the Bible, it just doesn’t make sense. Like those miracles in the Old Testament. Seriously? That couldn’t happen. It defies logic. I think science explains the universe.” That’s the mantra of the new-and-improved atheists. They’re smart, educated, and skeptical of anything they can’t see and prove. There might be a Higher Power, somewhere, but they’re not banking on it. Science and reason are their gods. If intellect cannot take them there, then forget it.
God gave us an intellect and we should use it to its fullest extent. But intellect cannot take us everywhere. Consider it this way: If you wanted to get from New York to London, you cannot go by train. Trains can take us across the continent and let us enjoy the ride. But if you want to get to London, you will have to use some other form of transportation. And if we want to get to God, intellect can only take us so far. Intellect helps us understand what God is like, but getting close to Him requires another form of transportation. Faith takes us where intellect cannot go. Because God is Spirit, we can only know Him in our spirits. However, once we’ve surrendered to Him, He renews our intellect so we can understand things that used to seem impossible.
Final Thought: Intellect is great, but if you want to get to God, you will need to use another form of transportation.
Prayer: Lord, have I substituted intellect for faith and rationalized my skepticism of your word? Please forgive me. My brain is no match for you. You are God, not me. If you said it, I believe it even when I don’t understand. In Jesus’ name, amen.
THURSDAY— …many…believed in him… but they loved human praise more than praise from God. John 12:42-43
“Can you be a Christian and_____?” Our world challenges Christianity by filling in the blank with its favorite sins. Some want to know, “Can I be a Christian and practice homosexuality? Live with my lover? Get drunk, stoned, or high with my friends? Hate certain people groups?” What would you put in the blank? Whatever we put in the blank is our functional god. We may profess Jesus, like some in Israel did, but when we qualify our allegiance, we have named another god. That blank is our real god.
Our current culture has declared mob-think as its god. We are sucked into whatever hot button issue is screaming for attention and feel compelled to add our voice so people will know we’re “woke.” The truth is, we’re afraid of rejection. If we don’t go along the mob, they turn on us and label us: Homophobe. Misogynist. Transphobic. Legalistic. Part of the problem. Many leaders in Jesus day secretly believed in Him, but chose mob-think instead. They may have believed He was who He said He was, but they were conveniently absent when the deal was made with Judas. They stayed silent when the mob demanded crucifixion. They may have hoped their mental agreement with Truth would be enough to save them. It wasn’t. It still isn’t.
Final Thought: Whose praise do you live for? Your life choices will declare your god to everyone who knows you.
Prayer: Jesus, would I have been among those who silently believed your message but let mob-think determine my destiny? I want your praise to be my motivating force. It is costly to stand firm for your truth, so give me courage to stand with you. Amen
FRIDAY— Trust in the Lord… and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him… Proverbs 3:5-6
-“That new guy you’re with is hot!” Meghan exclaimed. Beth grinned sheepishly. “Yeah, he is. He’s an atheist, but so nice. I’m a little nervous to bring up my faith, so I don’t talk about it. As long as we don’t get into religion, we get along great.”
-The promotion had finally landed on Greg’s desk. His heart began to dance but stopped when his eyes fell on the shady requirements. What? Really? He’d never done that. Didn’t want to start, but maybe he could ignore his conscience for this once-in-a-lifetime chance. He wouldn’t ask God about it because surely the Lord would agree Greg shouldn’t pass this up.
There are so many ways we choose to follow our own understanding instead of acknowledging the Lord. When we’re about to nose-dive into sin, we don’t want God anywhere around. We convince ourselves that we know what’s best for us this time, so why not go ahead with it. God will get over it, won’t He? Instead of trusting that He knows what He’s doing, we lean on our own understanding. So how do we acknowledge God in all our ways? Acknowledging God is not always verbal. We acknowledge Him when He is the first one we consult in every decision…when our lifestyles match our words… when it’s His praise we’re seeking, not popular opinion… when we’re prepared to share our faith if God opens a door… when we obey even if it doesn’t make sense… when it’s hard. God promises that when we do, He will help us navigate around Satan’s traps.
Final Thought: In what areas of your life are you NOT acknowledging God? Those are the traps Satan has set for you.
Prayer: Father, take inventory in my life. What areas have I kept off-limits to you? I don’t want to be a fool and get trapped by my enemy. I surrender those areas to you. I will acknowledge you in all my ways so you can direct me. In Jesus’ name, amen.