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 26]—Foul-mouthed Priests

Malachi 2:1-9

            God’s system of leadership and authority is really really different from the way the world and other religions work. For example, I’d like to contrast the God of the Bible with Allah of the Koran. Mohammed was his prophet, so over and over you see in the Koran and in other stories how Allah told him that he (Mohammed) wasn’t under the same rules as the rest of humanity. For example, Muslims are officially restricted to (at most) four wives, but Mohammed—so conveniently—was told by Allah that he could have as many wives and concubines as he wished.
            This is completely the opposite of God’s system as stated in the Bible. Nowhere do you see leadership given special privileges. Nowhere do you see leaders given a pass under a different standard from what the hoi polloi are under. Quite the opposite: Over and over and over God makes it clear that his standards for leaders are far more stringent than for the common people. I could cite dozens of examples, but here’s one you might have missed. I have to give R. C. Sproul credit for this one. In the Torah God accuses the people of Israel of rebelling against his directions and leadership “ten times”—which might be literal or just a way of saying “too many times to count.” For these crimes, they were excluded from entering Israel and were sentenced to die out in the desert. Moses, their leader, is recorded to have screwed up one time. One time he lost his temper and flagrantly disobeyed the Lord’s express command. For this one screw-up, he was also sentenced to never enter the Promised Land, to die 40 years later on the very borders. For this one transgression, he was given the same punishment as the people who'd transgressed on multiple occasions.
            That’s illustrated in today’s passage. Malachi—under the inspiration of the Spirit—has a lot to say in condemnation of his society. The entire nation—or the majority of them—were turning away from the Lord. But first off he starts with the priests. These were the spiritual leaders. They were the main representatives for the people before the Lord. But more than this, they also, in a sense, represented the Lord before the people. They were expressly commanded to teach the people his ways, his teachings in the Torah. They were to pronounce the official blessings of the Lord on the people in his name.
            But they were completely failing his expectations. As such, the Lord said that he would “send a curse” on them, and “curse [their] blessings.” If a leader screws up, the blessings he’s supposed to convey turn into curses. What were they doing wrong?
            By implication (in contrast to their ancestor Levi), they weren’t teaching the people God’s ways. We already know from the 1st chapter they were accepting unacceptable sacrifices from the people. This showed a disregard, a total despising of God’s name, in stark contrast to Levi who revered the Lord and “stood in awe of [his] name.” Levi “turned many from sin.” They “caused many to stumble.” Levi believed and followed God’s standards, which apply equally to the king all the way down to the lowest peasant or slave. They showed “partiality in matters of the law.”
            And the Lord was very very angry at this. They had publicly flouted his standards, and he would return the favor by publicly humiliating them. They would learn to regret playing these games with the Almighty. As we mentioned yesterday, “God cannot be mocked.”
            So what should we take from this? I think this passage says something to leaders. If anyone reading this has been called into a position of spiritual leadership, take care. His standards for you are, if anything, higher than for those you lead.
            But if you’re saying “But I’m not called to any type of leadership in the church,” then number one I’d question that premise. I’m pretty sure God’s called you into some type of leadership in some area. But leaving that aside for a moment, if you are a believer in Jesus, you are a priest. Peter said so: “[You] also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” Every true believer represents God before men, and men before God. So all this stuff we’ve talked about? Yes, it applies to you too.

Father God, it is an awe-inspiring, rather frightening responsibility to which you’ve called me. I so desperately need your empowering grace here. Please. 

[June 25]—Shut the Doors!

Malachi 1:10-14

            It’s a sad thing, of course, when an evil government shuts the doors of a church. If you keep informed of how believers are persecuted in countries around the world, you ought to know that this is one of the most obvious signs of a crackdown.
            But what if God were to tell us to shut the doors of a church? Or if he called upon volunteers to shut them? If you’ve read today’s passage, you might have been startled by the first few words in it. The Lord is asking for someone—anyone—to have the guts to go ahead and shut the doors of the temple!
            Why would he do this?
            Once again, this calls for thinking clearly. We need to be careful here. Outside of Christ, none of our offerings or worship is acceptable to him. Everything we are and do is tainted by sin. It infects everything, including our worship. And the God we want to worship and with whom we want a relationship is completely holy. He can't abide the presence of sin, and he can’t accept the worship of sinners. Our offerings and worship are only made acceptable by going through Jesus.
            But that wasn’t the issue here. This wasn’t a case of imperfect sinners trying to worship the Lord as best they could under his grace (which is what we’re trying to do). Like we mentioned yesterday, they were playing games with the Almighty. They were flouting his commands, which openly demonstrated their attitude towards the whole enterprise.
            This attitude was also expressed in their murmurings. When it was time to offer sacrifices again, they would sigh to themselves and say “Well, time to get it over with. Again.”
            Why was he taking this so seriously? Why was this so important to him? Well, his Name deserves all the glory and honor. In Heaven, where every person or angel there will render perfect worship and ascribe all glory, honor, praise, thanksgiving, etc., to the Lord, that will only be what he deserves. He deserves the best. Quite frankly, he deserves better than our best.
            But there’s more at stake here than we realize. One day—hopefully I’ll live to see it—the Lord’s name will be worshiped all over the world. God promised it here: “My name will be great among the nations, from where the sun rises to where it sets. In every place incense and pure offerings will be brought to me, because my name will be great among the nations.” The apostle John echoed this—In his vision of Heaven, he saw assembled before the Throne “every nation, tribe, people and language.” It will happen.
            How will it happen? What’s God’s timetable for this? I don’t know.
            But I know one thing: When the Lord's people treat his Name with contempt by offering half-hearted worship, that’s not the way to do it. That’s a very large reason why he cares so much about this.
            His plan is to literally take over the world. He will not rest until all his elect come to saving faith in him. And remember the insight I got from John Piper: Missions and evangelism exist because worship doesn’t. When you’re sharing the Message of Jesus with people who don’t know him, in a very real sense you’re recruiting worshipers to join you.
            He will be glorified--one way or the other--among the nations. And if he has to salvage his reputation by shutting the doors of a church, he'll do it. Apparently as far as he’s concerned, no worship is better than half-hearted or hypocritical or going-thru-the-motions worship.

Father God, your Name is very important to you. I want it to be important to me. I don’t want it to come to the point of you shutting doors. Let’s not get to that point, shall we?