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.

[Jan 17]--Calling Things By Their Right Names

Isaiah 5:18-20

Do you know what a euphemism is? I’ve always loved those, haven’t you? We used to call them “garbage collectors.” Now they’re “sanitation engineers.” There’s a whole industry out there called “Political Correctness” that takes unpleasant realities and makes them sound a lot better.

I think that this one verse could solve so many problems in our society. Let’s take politics for a moment. How often have you wished that a person running for office would speak plainly? It’s not “revenue enhancement.” It’s “tax increases.” “Collateral damage” is another way of saying that a military operation has (hopefully accidentally) killed civilians.

It’s pretty often that people use language not to make their meaning clearer, but to obscure it. We can laugh about it at times, but today’s passage shows that the Lord considers callings things by their proper names to be pretty important.

The prophet pronounces God’s judgment (that’s what “woe” means) upon people who call evil good and good evil. Telling people what they needed to hear, that was “bad.” Telling people what they wanted to hear, that was “good.” Can we have some examples that I think are applicable in the modern day?

Let’s take the issue of abortion. Have you ever noticed that the people who advocate the practice (or at least want it legal) never actually mention the word? They use words like “choice” or “reproductive rights,” or "women's health," but rarely (if ever) actually use the term “abortion.” Another word you’ll never hear them use? “Child.” Or “baby.” If they ever have to talk about what's in the mother’s womb, they always refer it as a “fetus.”

Or take it into the realm of religion. If you tell someone that the only way to get into Heaven is by placing your faith in Jesus Christ, that’s being “judgmental,” or “shoving your religion down my throat.” If you tell them that the God who created us also has expectations of us, then you’re not “showing love.”

If you’re a believer and you’re feeling smug right now, don’t be. Christians can be pretty fuzzy on their terms as well. Here’s my favorite one: Using the term “mistake.” I'm sure you've heard it (or said it): “We all make mistakes.” My friend, if you accidentally substitute a “9” for a “6” in adding up expenses on a spreadsheet, that’s a mistake. If you plan to pick up milk in the grocery store and forget to do so, that's a mistake. If you lie to someone, that’s not a “mistake.” The Bible has several words for it: “rebellion,” “transgression,” “iniquity,” but the most common one is “sin.” It’s not a mistake. It’s not an error. It’s sin. Literally it’s “missing the mark,” like aiming an arrow at a target and missing it. God has a standard (which is perfection), and you missed it.

Jesus did not die for my mistakes. He did not bleed because of my innocent errors. He died because of my nasty, rotten, stinking, filthy sin. I need to call it what it is.

But I don’t want to end on a negative note. Jesus doesn't forgive mistakes. He forgives sins. He knows all about all the nasty things I’ve thought and done, and he forgives it all for the asking. But just like with Alcoholics Anonymous, you can’t do anything unless and until you admit you have a problem. And it all starts when you call things by their proper names.

Lord Jesus, please point out any areas of my life that are harboring rebellion. Help me to call it what it is, and accept your total cleansing. Thank you.

[Jan 16]--Exalted by What?!

Isaiah 5:11-17

If there’s one thing I think most Americans have no problem with, it’s the idea that God loves them. I know it’s the popular stereotype out there of a lost person who’s so burdened by guilt that they can’t fathom that he actually cares about them. Now, I grant you that there are people in the world who actually do feel weighed down by guilt and who have a deep sense of having offended the Almighty. But I think we’ve got the concept of the love of God down pretty well, for the most part.

We’re so used in this country to thinking of him as our buddy. That’s why I think it’s so important to read the entirety of the Bible, not just the parts we like. That’s also why it’s so important to read the prophets. If you can read the prophets and come away thinking of God as Santa Claus, then you haven’t been reading the same books I’ve been reading.

Of course, if you’re familiar with the prophets at all, then today’s passage sounds like a lot of others you might read in that section of the Bible. The Lord is angry with his people, he’s going to punish them, here’s how he’s going to do it, etc. But there’s one particular phrase I want to focus on in today’s passage, because it revolutionized my thinking about God, and I’m hoping it might do the same for you.

Read vs. 16 again, slowly. God will be exalted by his justice. Think this through with me, will you?

You’ve heard of The Purpose Driven Life? Great book and concept, by the way. But what about the Purpose-Driven God? What’s God’s purpose? What’s most important to him? Saving people? Showing them love? Well, that is important to him, but that’s only a means to an end.

The ultimate purpose of everything that God does is to gain glory for his name. Now, before you squawk at that and say “Well, that’s pretty vain and self-centered!” let me remind you of something. He actually deserves every ounce of glory that he gets. If all the angels and all humanity and all of creation bowed down to him and proclaimed how wonderful and great he is, it would only be what he rightly deserves.

So why was I saved? Because he loves me? Well, that’s part of it, but not the main or most important part. The reason I was saved was so that my salvation might glorify him. In Heaven, he'll be able to point to me and say “That’s how merciful and powerful and loving and gracious I am!” He can (and does) take the worst of sinners--what he finds in the bottom of the sludge of humanity--pulls it out of that mess, cleans it off, and turns what he finds there into a new son or daughter.

But that’s not the only way he gets glory. He's also glorified by his justice. His holy and righteous name is exalted by his justice.

Please don’t misunderstand me. If you’ve read this for any length of time, you know I believe that God doesn’t want anyone to perish but all to come to repentance. He wants all people to be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth. God takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that he turn from his ways and live.

But that doesn’t change the fact that his punishment of sin shows how holy and righteous he is. I don’t know if he’ll ever do this, but picture this with me: He'll be able to point to someone in Hell and say “THAT’S how much I hate sin!!!” People in Hell will get precisely what they deserve, and that also displays aspects of his character which deserve to be honored and praised.

So how does this affect me? Because he could've chosen to glorify himself only through the punishment of sinners. But he's chosen--just on his own initiative--to also glorify and lift up his Name by pulling lost sinners out of the mess we’ve made for ourselves. He's sovereignly chosen to being glory to his Name by turning damnable rebels into adopted children and heirs.

Aren’t you glad?

Yes, I am. Thank you. All praise and honor and glory and thanks belong to you. To you alone.