OK, here's the plan (if God is willing):

1) Every day will be a new devotional. I have enough devotionals for every day for three years

2) Also as I can, I'll be posting on my new political blog (see bottom of page).

Some other housecleaning:

A) If you'd like to just get new postings sent to your email, just submit your address in the box on the left just below. There's just one possible downside, though. Occasionally I'll add a music video at the end that's relevant to the devotional, and you won't get them in the email sent to you. If I add a video though, I'll make sure to mention in the posting, so you'll know to come to the site to see it if you'd like.

B) I actually finished writing new blog posting for the TAWG at the end of 2016. So what I'm doing now is at the beginning of every month, I'll move the earliest month from 3 years ago ahead so that a "new" posting appears every day. That's why you won't find any postings for January 2014, for example.

C) When I started this Blog, I was using the 1984 edition of the NIV, and that’s what I linked to on the Biblegateway site. However, in 2011 Zondervan updated its edition and thus reworded a lot of the NIV translation. Therefore, all the links which went to the 1984 edition now redirect to the 2011 edition, which often has slightly different wording. Thus, part of my editing process has been to update my Scripture quotes in my postings. But I might have missed some, in which case you might see my quote in the posting as a little different from what comes up when you click on my citation link, since that redirects to the 2011 edition on the Biblegateway site. It's a good thing that we realize that the work of translation never ends, but it can be a kind of a pain on a site like this. If you see any difference in verbiage between my quote and what shows up as a link on the Biblegateway site, or if you hover over a link and it has "NIV1984" at the end of it, please notify me and I'll correct it.

D) I can't believe I have to say this, but here goes. At the end of every posting is a suggested short prayer that has to do with what we discussed. This is actually what I've prayed when I finished writing it. In no way am I asking you to pray the exact verbiage of my suggested prayer. It's just a springboard for your own prayer, nothing more. Quite frankly, I've never been a fan of praying rote prayers written by someone else. As with everything else I do here, to the degree it helps, great; to the degree it doesn't, chunk it.

As always, thank you so much for reading, even if it's to read one post. God bless.

[June 24]--Simeon’s Song

Luke 2:21-35

I have another confession to make. We’re allowed to have favorite Scripture verses, right? I know that all Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, correcting, etc., but that doesn’t mean I can't like certain passages more than others. And today’s reading is my favorite of the four songs in Luke. It’s called the Nunc Dimittis, because like the other three it’s named after the first two words in the Latin translation: "Now you dismiss. . ."

Before we get to the song, here are a couple of notes about the context. Mary and Joseph were not sinless, but they did try to obey God’s law as best they could. Forty days after a male baby was born, he was to be presented to the Lord and a sacrifice was to be given. Since during the Passover the Lord had spared the lives of all Israel’s firstborn, then every firstborn of every type belonged to him. If it was an animal, then that animal was to be sacrificed and offered to God. If it was a child, then an animal was offered in his place.

Please also note the type of sacrifice that Jesus’ parents made. It was a poor person’s offering, so this is an indication of their economic level. Jesus could have (and should have) been born into the richest palace built by man, but the Divine plan chose a poor family.

Then we get to Simeon. There wasn’t a single godly Jew in Israel who wasn’t eagerly awaiting the Messiah. I love the phrase which Luke assigns the Savior: “The Consolation of Israel.” They'd been waiting soooooooooooooo long for God’s promises to be fulfilled, and now they were about to be consoled by the living fulfillment of those promises. And Simeon had been given a promise which every faithful Israelite would've loved to receive. He knew that he wouldn’t die until he had seen the Messiah in the flesh. And every morning he woke up and probably asked himself “Is it today, Lord? Will I see him today?”

Now we get to my favorite part of this, the song itself. The same Voice which had given him the promise now whispered in his spirit “This is the One.” Probably his parents were standing there wondering why this old man was crying as he held the baby.

“You made a promise, and now you’ve kept it. Now I can depart in peace.” He'd heard about God’s salvation on Sabbath-day sermons. He'd read about God’s salvation in his holy word. Now he held God’s salvation in his arms. What was Jesus’ name again? “Yahweh saves.”

And what was hinted at in the first two songs now is brought to full bloom. He’s the Consolation of Israel, but he’s so much more. God has prepared this little baby in the sight of all people: white, black, Asian, African, rich, poor, Jew, Gentile, man, woman. He’s the glory of Israel: Everything that national Israel was supposed to be and failed, he is. But most important (to you and me, unless you’re Jewish), he’s the light to the Gentiles. We’ve been sitting in darkness, but now our Light has arrived.

Then Simeon finished talking with God and now had a few words to say to his mother. Her Son would cause the rising and falling of many in Israel, meaning that everyone would stand or fall based on their relationship with him. And he would be a sign that would be “spoken against,” which would reveal the state of everyone’s heart who encountered him. Your spiritual state would be exposed by how you reacted to the Messiah.

And now for the final heartbreak. I imagine he gently points to her chest as he makes his final, dark prediction: “And a sword will pierce your own soul too.” I'd suspect that these words would echo through her mind over and over as she was forced to watch her own Son hanging on a cross.

You can probably guess the application. Simeon’s song, even more than the others, is particularly meant for me. I’m not Jewish, so I’m a “wild branch” who had to be “grafted” into God’s “tree.” When Simeon was singing, he was singing about you and me. As he’s weeping for joy, we’re in his vision. Aren’t you glad?

In celebration of that, here's Ron DiCianni's painting Simeon's Moment. Notice the outline of the world behind him.


And per usual, here's a great song by Michael Card for the occasion: "Now That I've Held Him In My Arms."



Lord Jesus, you’re not only the Consolation of Israel, you’re mine as well. Thank you so much for claiming me out of darkness and into your glorious light. Who else can we bring into this?

[June 23]--Zechariah’s Song

Luke 1:67-79

Yesterday we looked at the Magnificat, Mary’s song as recorded in Luke. I forgot to mention this, but there are four songs in Luke, each one of them a work of beauty. Hers is the first, then there’s Zechariah’s, then Simeon’s, then the angels’ on the night of Jesus’ birth.

Today we’re going to briefly examine Zechariah’s song, otherwise known as the Benedictus. The reason it’s called this is the first word in the Latin translation: “Blessed be” (“Praise be” in the NIV).

There’s a little bit of irony here. Zechariah was a priest, and he finally got his “number” called in order to offer incense in the temple. When he finished, he was supposed to step outside and offer a blessing on the people. Instead, because of his lack of faith in the Lord’s promises, he was struck mute. Now, once his tongue is loosened again, he offers an inspired benediction.

Like Mary’s song, Zechariah’s is chock full of Old Testament allusions, and sounds like it could fit right into the Psalter. Here are a few notes I’ve made:

The term “horn of salvation” is a common Old Testament phrase (like here). The horn was a symbol of strength and power, and the authors used it as shorthand for the Lord intervening on their behalf. They were in desperate need of salvation, and God stepped in to provide it. It wasn’t John the Baptist, but the One for whom he was preparing Israel, who was the ultimate fulfillment of that phrase. We were just about as bad off as you could get, and our Savior God was finally going to step in do something about it.

His first emphasis in the song is national salvation, the fact that the Messiah’s coming will signal his rescue of Israel from all her enemies. That won’t be completely fulfilled until his Second Coming, but just like the O.T. prophets, he combined the two comings into one (we’re going to get more into that next year, God willing).

Notice how both Mary’s and Zechariah’s songs have a common theme in them: God is now acting to fulfill his promises made to Abraham. For example, the Lord had promised their fathers that through Abraham all the nations would be blessed, and this is the beginning of that.

Notice the ultimate purpose of this Redemption. The Messiah was coming, and he was just over the horizon. He was coming to save us. Why? Was it just for our sakes? No! The reason why he was doing all this was so that “to enable us to serve him without fear in holiness and righteousness before him all our days.” You were saved, not primarily for your benefit, but so that you could serve your Redeemer.

Then we get to John the Baptist’s role, the son of this song's composer. It’s the natural thing for a father to exalt his son above everybody else, but Zechariah--under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit--knew that his son, as great as he would become, would always be under the shadow of One greater. As we saw last year in our study of John the Baptist, that man’s whole purpose in life was to point people towards Messiah Jesus. Any glory or accolades or concern about his own honor was immediately directed towards his Savior. He would be a “prophet of the Most High,” in fact the last in a long line of O.T. prophets.

John was there to prepare people for the coming of Jesus. One of the ways he did this was to present the message of salvation and the forgiveness of sins. That’s our main problem summed up in one word: sin. That’s what separates us from God in this life, and that’s what sends us into an eternity of darkness.

But John was also there to present the Savior. That’s the “rising sun” who came down “from heaven.” He’s going to “shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the path of peace.”

I know we saw this last year when we looked at the Baptist, but it bears repeating. John’s mission is ours: To prepare people to meet Jesus, warn them about our main problem, and present the Savior to them. Am I doing that? Are you?

Lord Jesus, in everything I do and say, I want to do that. Please give me singleness of purpose.