3 DEC: RIGHT ATTITUDE

Do not gloat when your enemy falls. Proverbs 24:17

READ EZEKIEL 25:1-7; MATTHEW 5:43-48

The Akan people of Ghana have a proverb: “The lizard is not as mad with the boys who threw stones at it as with the boys who stood by and rejoiced over its fate!” Rejoicing at someone’s downfall is like participating in the cause of that downfall or even wishing more evil on the person.

That was the attitude of the Ammonites who maliciously rejoiced when the temple in Jerusalem “was desecrated and over the land of Israel when it was laid waste and over the people of Judah when they went into exile” (Ezekiel 25:3). For spitefully celebrating Israel’s misfortunes, the Ammonites experienced God’s displeasure, which resulted in grim consequences (verses 4-7).

How do we react when disaster befalls our neighbor or when our neighbor gets into trouble? If she is a nice and friendly neighbor, then, of course, we will sympathize with her and go to her aid. But what if he is an unfriendly, trouble-making neighbor? Our natural tendency may be to ignore him or even secretly rejoice at his downfall.

Proverbs warns us: “Do not gloat when your enemy falls; when they stumble, do not let your heart rejoice” (24:17). Instead, Jesus tells us that we show His love in action when we “love [our] enemies and pray for those who persecute [us]” (Matthew 5:44). By so doing, we imitate the perfect love of our Lord (5:48). 

REFLECT & PRAY 

Lord, open my eyes and my heart to be honest about my attitude toward those who are unkind or unfair to me. Fill my heart with Your love, Lord, and help me pray for them.

Love your neighbor as yourself.

2 DEC: SMOOTH LIKE GLASS

“On the day when I act,” says the Lord Almighty, “they will be my treasured possession.” Malachi 3:17

READ 1 THESSALONIANS 5:23-24

Early 20th-century residents of Fort Bragg, California, disposed of their trash by throwing it over a cliff and onto a nearby beach. Cans, bottles, tableware, and household garbage accumulated in huge, disgusting piles. Even when residents stopped depositing trash on the beach, it remained an embarrassment—a dump seemingly beyond reclamation.

Over the years, however, wave action broke up the glass and pottery and washed the rubbish out to sea. The pounding surf rolled and tumbled the glass fragments in the sand on the ocean floor, frosting and smoothing the surface and creating gemlike “sea glass,” which it then deposited back onto the beach. The surf created a kaleidoscopic beauty at which visitors to Glass Beach now stare in wonder.

Perhaps you feel as though your life has become a dump—a mess beyond hope. If so, you need to know that there is someone who loves you and waits to redeem and reclaim you. Give Jesus your heart and ask Him to make you pure and clean. He may tumble you a bit, and it may take time to smooth away the rough edges. But He will never give up on you. He will make you into one of His jewels! 

REFLECT & PRAY 

Lord, when we have nothing left but You, we are right where You want us. You can use any situation for Your glory and our good. You never give up on us. Help us to relax in Your love.

God loves us too much to let us remain as we are.

1 DEC: JESUS' NAME

You are to give him the name Jesus. Matthew 1:21

READ MATTHEW 1:18-25

According to a New York Times article, children in many African countries are often named after a famous visitor, special event, or circumstance that was meaningful to the parents. When doctors told the parents of one child that they could not cure the infant’s illness and only God knew if he would live, the parents named their child Godknows. Another man said he was named Enough, because his mother had 13 children and he was the last one! There’s a reason for everyone’s name, and in some cases it also conveys a special meaning.

Before Jesus was born, an angel of the Lord told Joseph, “[Mary] will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21). Jesus is the Greek form of Joshua, which means “the Lord saves.” In that day and culture, many children would have been named Jesus, but only one came into this world to die so that all who receive Him might live eternally, forgiven and freed from the power of sin.

Charles Wesley wrote these words we often sing as Christmas nears: “Come, Thou long-expected Jesus, born to set Thy people free; from our fears and sins release us; let us find our rest in Thee.”

Jesus came to turn our darkness into light, to transform our despair into hope, and to save us from our sins. 

REFLECT & PRAY 

Heavenly Father, in Jesus we see Your loving purpose and boundless grace. We humbly acknowledge Your Son as the One who came to save us from our sins.

Jesus’ name and mission are the same—He came to save us.

30 NOV: BOOK OF LIFE

Rejoice that your names are written in heaven. Luke 10:20

READ LUKE 10:17-24

At the Kenya Airways check-in counter, Lawrence presented his passport for verification. When the agents searched for his name on their manifest—the document that lists names of passengers—his name was missing. The problem? Overbooking and lack of confirmation. His hope of reaching home that day was shattered.

The episode reminds us of another kind of manifest—the Book of Life. In Luke 10, Jesus sent His disciples on an evangelistic mission. On their return, they happily reported their success. But Jesus told them: “Do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven” (verse 20). The focus of our joy is not merely that we are successful but that our names are inscribed in God’s book.

But how can we be sure of that? God’s Word tells us, “If you declare with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved (Romams 10:9).

In Revelation 21, John makes a breathtaking description of the Holy City that awaits those who trust Christ. Then he writes, “Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life” (verse 27).

The Book of Life is God’s heavenly manifest. Is your name written in it? 

REFLECT & PRAY 

Father in heaven, thank You for the gift of Your Son, who promised to prepare a place for us. Thank You too, that You are preparing us for that place.

God opens the gates of heaven to those who open their hearts to Him.

29 NOV: AT STUNTED TIMES

You are my help and my deliverer. Psalm 40:17

READ PSALM 40

C. S. Lewis and his older brother, Warren (Warnie), endured several terms at Wynyard, an English boarding school for boys. The headmaster was a cruel man who made life unbearable for everyone there. Decades later, Warnie wrote in his understated dry wit, “I am now sixty-four and a bit, and have never yet been in a situation in which I have not had the consolation of reflecting that at any rate I was better off than I was at Wynyard.” Most of us can recall a similar dark and difficult time in our lives and be grateful that we’re better off now than we were then.

Psalm 40:1-5 records a low point of David’s life when he cried out to the Lord who rescued him. God brought him up from “the slimy pit” and “the mud and mire” and set his feet on a rock (verse 2). “He put a new song in my mouth,” David says, “a hymn of praise to our God” (verse 3).

But deliverance from depression and despair are seldom one-time events. Psalm 40 continues with David’s renewed plea for God’s mercy, lovingkindness, and truth to deliver him from his own sin and the threats of his enemies (verses 11-14).

Along with David, we can say at every low point, “I am poor and needy; may the Lord think of me. You are my help and my deliverer” (verse 17). 

REFLECT & PRAY 

How does recalling a low point in your life encourage you to trust God for His help today? 

The One who holds the universe will never let you down.

28 NOV: LOOK AT THE MIRROR

Everyone ought to examine themselves. 1 Corinthians 11:28

READ 1 CORINTHIANS 11:23-34

Long ago, before the invention of mirrors or polished surfaces, people rarely saw themselves. Puddles of water, streams, and rivers were one of the few ways they could see their own reflection. But mirrors changed that. And the invention of cameras took fascination with our looks to a whole new level. We now have lasting images of ourselves from any given time throughout our entire life. This is good for making scrapbooks and keeping family histories, but it can be detrimental to our spiritual well-being. The fun of seeing ourselves on camera can keep us focused on outward appearance and leave us with little interest in examining our inner selves. Self-examination is crucial for a healthy spiritual life.

God wants us to see ourselves so that we can be spared the consequences of sinful choices. This is so important that Scripture says we are not to participate in the Lord’s Supper without first examining ourselves (1 Corinthians 11:28). The point of this self-examination is not only to make things right with God but also to make sure we are right with one another. The Lord’s Supper is a remembrance of Christ’s body, and we can’t celebrate it properly if we’re not living in harmony with other believers.

Seeing and confessing our sin promotes unity with others and a healthy relationship with God. 

REFLECT & PRAY 

Dear Lord, help me to be more concerned with the reflection of my heart than with my physical reflection. Change me through the power of Your Spirit.

When we look into the mirror of God’s Word, we see ourselves more clearly.

27 NOV: HELP FROM THE OUTSIDE

God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything. 1 John 3:20

READ JEREMIAH 17:7-13

On a business trip, Benson had just settled into his hotel room when he heard an unusual noise. He stepped into the hall to investigate and heard someone yelling from a nearby room. With the help of a hotel worker, he discovered that a man had become trapped in the bathroom. The lock on the bathroom door had malfunctioned and the man trapped inside started to panic. He felt like he couldn’t breathe and began yelling for help.

Sometimes in life we feel trapped. We are banging on the door, pulling on the handle, but we can’t get free. We need help from the outside, just like the man in the hotel.

To get that outside assistance, we have to admit that we are helpless on our own. Sometimes we look inward for the answers to our problems, yet the Bible says “the heart is deceitful” (Jeremiah 17:9). In truth, we are often the source of our problems in life.

Thankfully, “God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything” (1 John 3:20). Because of this, He knows exactly how to help us. Lasting heart-level change and real progress with our problems originate with God. Trusting Him and living to please Him means we can flourish and be truly free. 

REFLECT & PRAY 

Heavenly Father, I humble myself before You. I can’t solve my problems on my own. Please help me to seek Your help and perspective.

God helps those who know they are helpless.