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A WORD FOR TODAY, September 18, 2023
“As therefore you received Christ Jesus, the Lord, walk in him, rooted and built up in him, and established in the faith, even as you were taught, abounding in it in thanksgiving. Be careful that you don’t let anyone rob you through his philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the elements of the world, and not after Christ. For in him all the fullness of the Deity dwells bodily, and in him you are made full, who is the head of all principality and power. In him you were also circumcised with a circumcision not made with hands, in the putting off of the body of the sins of the flesh, in the circumcision of Christ, having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead. You were dead through your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh. He made you alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, wiping out the handwriting in ordinances which was against us. He has taken it out of the way, nailing it to the cross. Having stripped the principalities and the powers, he made a show of them openly, triumphing over them in it.” Colossians 2:6-15, WEB
Penn and Teller are my favorite illusionists. They have a television show called “Fool Us” where magicians and other illusionists are invited to perform their best tricks before them and an audience. The guest wins when they are able to fool Penn and Teller, they receive a trophy and a chance to perform in Las Vegas with the stars. The illusions are amazing; the show’s host and audience are easily fooled.
It is never quite so easy to fool Penn and Teller. They have performed many of the same illusions during their career, they not only know how it is done, but they also usually know where they should watch to catch the trick. See, magic is not something paranormal or supernatural, but is a manipulation of the natural. The illusionist knows how to misdirect your attention so that you will miss the moment that they switch the card or replace the watch. They make you watch one hand while the other is making the illusion happen.
One of the things that make Penn and Teller unique is that they explain their tricks as they perform, giving the audience a peak into the reality of “magic.” Some other illusionists don’t like the way they work because they think it takes the mystery out of the performance. The thing is, at the end of the act I’m usually more confused than I would have been if they had just done the trick. They use code language when talking to the performer during the show and Teller often draws a diagram to show how they believe the trick was accomplished and then he destroys the piece of paper. They don’t want to ruin the illusion for the audience or give away the secrets. They feel very bad for catching the trick because the magicians are excellent performers. “We would love to take you to Las Vegas, but...”
During one episode, they (Penn, since Teller doesn’t talk) gave a long explanation of how they believed the illusion was done. “We are so sorry; we’d love to see you perform in Las Vegas.” The magician, however, told them they were wrong. “That isn’t how I did it.” The guys were thrilled! “Good! We want you to come to Las Vegas!” Even with their vast knowledge, Penn and Teller can be fooled.
We must be very careful as Christians living in this world. Too many of us are like the audience at a magic show, easily fooled by the manipulation and tricks of the performer. We don’t see the card switch or how the illusionist replaced the watch, and we are amazed. It gets much harder to fool us when we spend time in prayer and God’s Word because we learn the tricks of the devil; we know what is happening in both hands, so we don’t miss the trick.
We have to remember, however, that the devil is sneaky and no matter how much knowledge and experience we have, like Penn and Teller, we can still be fooled. Their show is for fun and to give excellent performers and a wider audience. For us, however, being fooled can be deadly. We can fall into the temptations of the world without even realizing that we are doing so and we can be led down the wrong path. Most of all, we must keep our eyes on Jesus, who is the Savior and defender of our lives. He will protect us from the tricks of the devil and keep us on the right path. He knows they ways of the devil better than the most faithful Christians; He is worthy of our faith and trust.
A WORD FOR TODAY is posted five days a week – Monday through Friday. The devotional on Wednesday takes a look at the scripture from the Revised Common Lectionary for the upcoming Sunday. A WORD FOR TODAY is posted on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/pages/A-Word-for-Today-Devotional/339428839418276. Like the page to receive the devotion through Facebook. For information and to access our archives, visit http://www.awordfortoday.org