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.

[Aug 17]--Mindset

            I don’t know if it’s something I just naturally have, or if it’s something that the Lord has planted in me in later years, but one of the things I love about Scripture is its perfect balance. I’ve long professed my love for what I call “tension verses,” those verses or passages in which glorious truths are held in tension with each other.
            I think probably the best one of these-and the most important—is faith and works. According to Ephesians 2:8-10, we’re saved by grace through faith [in Christ] for good works. Our position in Christ is eternally secure (based on who Christ is and what he’s done), and there’s absolutely nothing we can do or not do that can change that. But our position will affect our condition (if you’re not sure about what I’m talking about with those terms, see here).
            That’s what Paul is expanding upon here. His main focus isn't telling us how we should live. He’s delving into how our position in Christ affects how we think which will eventually affect how we act. Let me ask a very clarifying question here: Can you please point out to me a command in today’s passage? Look carefully. You won’t find one. All of these—and again, I can’t overemphasize how important this is—are declarative statements,not imperative statements.
            This passage has a series of declarative statements, facts we need to know about how our position in Christ is going to affect us. Here’s a summary, starting with the bad:
            Those without the Spirit:
  • “have their minds set” on what the “flesh” (the sinful desire) wants.
  • are on a road that leads to death
  • has a mindset that’s hostile to God. It’s not loving, and it’s not neutral.
  • cannot submit to God’s way of doing things. It’s not just that they don’t want to, but they cannot do so even if they wanted to.
  • cannot please God
  • do not belong to Christ (which is really the root of all this)
But those who have the Spirit:
  • “have their minds set on what the Spirit desires”
  • have life and peace
  • have the Spirit living inside of them
  • belong to Christ (which really leads to all the rest of this)
  • have the Spirit giving them life right now, and
  • have the promise that the same Spirit who raised our Savior from the dead will likewise raise us up someday

            Quite a contrast, huh? Couldn’t be starker. But there are a couple of points I need to emphasize here. First and foremost, the term used by the NIV (“have their minds set”) can be unintentionally misleading. As the scholars with the NET Bible put it “What is in view here is not primarily preoccupation, however, but worldview. Translations like ‘set their mind on’ could be misunderstood by the typical English reader to refer exclusively to preoccupation.” They also point out that “The Greek term. . . does not refer to one’s mind, but to one’s outlook or mindset."
What Paul is saying is that if we belong to Christ, he'll start to change the way we view things. As we mature in him, sin will look less appealing. And he. . .oh wow. . .he becomes more precious and attractive. And that even filters down into how you see everything else in between. Even supposedly neutral things will take on a somewhat grayer hue compared with your Savior. And this way of thinking and looking at things will filter down into how you act.
Now, do we still fall? If all you had of Scripture was this passage, you might think “Man, I must not be saved after all! Sure, I try to love Jesus, but my mind and my thoughts and my perspective and my speech and my lifestyle. . . how could I be saved with all this mess in my life?” Based on the rest of Scripture, we know that Paul is talking about a general direction of life, not a once-and-for-all change, just like John does in his letter. The man who wrote the book of Romans freely admitted that he wasn’t where he needed to be.
Let me end this on a positive note—really, you don’t get more positive than this. The same Spirit who put breath back into the lungs and started the heart beating again in Jesus’ dead body. . . lives inside you. Right now. And when our Lord returns, this same Spirit will do the same thing to your body that he did to Jesus. So don’t lose hope. Don’t give up. Please.

Lord Jesus, I do belong to you, and I do love you, and your Spirit lives inside me to change me from the inside-out, from inside my mind and thoughts and mindset out to my fingers and toes and tongue. But I show that way too little. By your grace, I want to see more evidence of this. Please. 

[Aug 16]—What We Couldn’t Do. . .

Romans 8:1-4

            What’s the magic word in studying Scripture, the one word which I’ve harped on over and over and over, the one word that will save from a host of errors and dangers and half-truths? Context, context, context. We’ve meditated on the glorious truth of verse 1: If we've placed our faith in Christ and have demonstrated this faith by committing ourselves to doing things his way instead of our own, then there is no condemnation for us. But Paul goes on from there.
            Why is there no condemnation for us? Because of what Christ did and because of what the Spirit has done and is doing. Let’s look at it more closely, because this is very important.
            There is no condemnation. . . because Christ Jesus died on the cross and rose again and ascended into Heaven. He paid the penalty for my sin, taking my sin upon his back along with the attendant wrath from the Father. He rose from the dead, to (among other things) display God’s “stamp of approval” on his work. And he left this earth. . . why? So that he could send the Spirit back down to us.
            Now the Spirit, sent by Jesus, is applying Christ’s work in us. He’s God’s instrument (so to speak) in bringing people to faith in Christ. He grants us both the desire and the power to be obedient and pleasing to the Father. When we turn away from his ways, he moves us back into fellowship with himself. All of this is summed up in verse 2. Through Christ “the law of the Spirit”—referring to his power—has set you free from the law of sin and death.” Sin has completely lost its power to condemn us, and through the ongoing work of the Spirit it loses its power to control us as well.
            Then Paul sort of backtracks a bit to what Christ did, or to be more precise to what the Father did through Christ. As was his habit, he presents a “before and after” picture. Before Christ, the Law was all we had. It was a wonderful set of rules; in fact, it was the best set of rules humanity had ever had up to that point. Paul already confessed that the law was (and is) “holy, righteous and good.”     
            But here he says that the law was “powerless” to save us. Now, we need to be very careful here. Paul is crystal clear that the problem was not the law. As Pogo once famously declared, “We’ve met the enemy, and he is us.” He says that the law was powerless to save us because it was “weakened by the flesh,” or “sinful nature” as other translations put it. The problem was not the rules; the problem turned out to be the rule keepers, or more precisely the rule breakers.
            But what the Law could not do, what we could not do because of the love of evil in our hearts. . . God did. He sent his Son in the likeness of sinful humanity in order to be the ultimate sin offering. Paul later says that “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” No, Jesus never sinned. But he came in the likeness of sinful humanity to be our sin substitute.
            What does it mean that God “condemned sin in the flesh”? When Jesus was on the cross, he experienced the full condemnation of the Father. All the wrath that was due us was poured out on him, and nothing was spared. His righteous anger against our sin was completely satisfied, which is why our Savior could proclaim that “It is finished,” or "paid in full."
            And what’s the result? What’s the ultimate purpose here? This was done “in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.” Here, in this short sentence, we have both our position in Christ and our condition in Christ. As far as God’s court is concerned, the righteous requirements of the law are fully met in me. In other words, as far as God’s court is concerned, I'm fully meeting the righteous requirements of the law. My righteousness is Christ, who not only never sinned but who perfectly fulfilled the Father’s will and always did what pleased him.
            But there’s another half to this verse, which talks about our condition. At first glance, it might seem to contradict what Paul has been saying about salvation through grace. Just four verses above he says flatly that there is no condemnation for anyone who’s in Christ Jesus. But here he says that the righteous requirements of the law are fully met in us, “who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.” We need to think clearly here. This is not saying that if you don’t walk according to the Spirit that God will “unforgive” you; otherwise, verse one makes no sense. It means that one characteristic of God’s true children is that—in the main course of their lives—they will walk in the Spirit. Remember: Your position in Christ will affect your condition. If there’s no evidence that you’re living in the Spirit then you have no right to assurance that you belong to Christ
            Whew! Do you see why I’ve been just a tad reluctant to tackle this chapter?

Lord Jesus, what I could never do, because of the love of sin in my heart, you did. You took on a human body, took on our sorrows and pains, and took my sin upon your back. I know all this, and I believe it. What I want to see is more evidence of how this is affecting the way I think, talk, and act. By your grace, that’s what we both will see.