March 25

"It is written," he said to them, " ‘My house will be called a house of prayer,' but you are making it a ‘den of robbers.' " —Matthew 21:13 (NIV)

It was the most unlikely place to learn a lesson about Holy Week. I was shopping at an outdoor flea market, admiring what I thought was an antique cast-iron doorstop—a stately colonial lady holding a bouquet of flowers in her pristine gloved hands. But as I ran my fingers over her blue antebellum dress, something didn't feel quite right. The edges of her dress were too rough, not worn smooth by the passage of time. She wasn't as heavy as the old pieces I'd examined before. And her paint job was nearly perfect—too perfect, it seemed, to have survived nearly a century of slamming doors.

I left the doorstop and resumed my stroll through the market. As I made my way through the booths, I overheard a conversation between two antique dealers about the growing problem of reproductions infiltrating the antiques market. Cast-iron toys and doorstops, pottery, graniteware, advertising signs—you name it, and there's a fool-the-eye imitation to trap the unknowing. But there is a way to avoid being taken in by con artists, I learned as I listened more closely: Study the real thing, not the fake.

Looks can be deceiving, but as I seek to understand, Jesus will surely purge my life of all that isn't His, just as He drove those money changers from the temple. Today, I'm asking Him to rid my heart of the lies that separate me from Him, the doubts that tell me there is no purpose to my suffering. The way to victory is not to learn everything I can about the den of robbers in my path. It's to get to know God—through the reading of His Word and prayerful communion with Him—so I can always recognize the real thing.

Dear Lord, yesterday, today and forever, You are "the real thing." Help me to discern Your truth in the midst of the counterfeits.

—Roberta Messner