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.
For some years now, I’ve felt God’s call on my life to cross-cultural international missions. So what does that mean? If you’ve been involved in Evangelical circles, then you might have heard the term.
There’s actually a little bit of controversy concerning the concept. One of my favorite singers of all time is Keith Green. If you’ve never heard of him, then here’s his Wiki page. I hold him in such high respect it’s not even funny. Near the end of his life (just before he was killed in a plane crash), he took up the cause of international missions. He questioned the conventional understanding of missions as something that you need to be “called” into. His famous line about this: “Jesus commands us to go; it should be the exception if we stay.”
The man did have a point. Some of our Lord’s last words before he returned to the Father was the Great Commission: “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” This is not limited to a small segment of the Church who’s been called into it. If you’re a believer in Christ, then you've been called to this.
My friend, I wish more believers made the error of being too zealous for missions. I wish we had problems like that. However, I do have to slightly disagree slightly with his interpretation. Today’s reading is the quintessential passage on a calling to missions. And it isn’t something we just see in the book of Acts. Paul uses the phrase “apostle to the Gentiles” or some equivalent multiple times in his epistles.
So what do we mean by this term? What do we mean when we say that someone is “called” into missions? It’s usually defined this way: There are lots of people groups who have little to no exposure to the Good News, at least in a way they can understand and relate to. In order for that group to be evangelized, there have to be believers who can cross cultural lines to reach them. This takes a certain set of talents, skills, and spiritual gifts. Not everyone is gifted in this way.
I look at this issue similarly to evangelism. The gift of evangelism is something which is given to some (not all) believers. They have special abilities to present the Good News in an appealing way to a lost world. Of course the most prominent modern example is Billy Graham, but there are others rising to take his place.
But just because some have the gift of evangelism, does that mean the rest of us don’t have to worry about it? Um, no. Read the passage in the preceding paragraph that mentions the gift of evangelism, and you’ll see their main job is to equip us to evangelize. Every believer is called to be ready to share the Good News with those around them. This might just entail testifying to others about what Christ has done for you.
It’s a similar situation with missions. The Great Commission is for all of us. But some are called to cross cultural lines to bring the Good News to groups of people who don’t have it. If you don’t have that gift, are you off the hook? Of course not. You can support that work through your money, encouragement, and especially prayers. Yes, I do believe that’s more important than money.
Lord Jesus, where do you want me to go? What do you want me to do? Wherever and whatever, the answer’s “yes.”
What type of attitude should Christians have towards the world? Should we be optimistic or pessimistic? There’s a case to be made for both sides. Our Father is Lord over all. There’s not a molecule in the universe which is not under his authority. He claims all, and owns all. When bad things happen they do so because they fit into his plan. As I’ve noted before--citing the cases of Joseph, Moses, and of course the Passion of our Lord--God doesn’t just accomplish his plans in spite of the Enemy’s best efforts. He accomplishes them because of the Enemy’s best efforts.
But there’s a dark side to knowledge of the world as well. John tells us that “the whole world is under the control of the evil one.” Anyone who needs convincing of the doctrine of human sinfulness only needs to pick up a newspaper—sorry, I’m showing my age: They only need to read a news feed off the Net.
When I read today’s passage, I have mixed feelings. First off, we need to acknowledge that today’s story is not typical. Unfortunately, most bloody dictators die of old age rather than direct divine intervention like this.
But incidents like this do happen, and some tyrants fall violently, even if by human hands rather than by invisible ones. Hitler is the obvious example. You can also read about some of them in the books of Kings and Chronicles.
Do I wish that God intervened more directly in human affairs? Part of me does. I read about human rights violations in places like Iran or Saudi Arabia or North Korea or China. I know that there are siblings in Christ right now who are being imprisoned and tortured. I know that there are plenty of blasphemers and false teachers and opponents of the Good News who are leading people astray.
But there’s another part of me that wants him to hold off. Why? For the same reason that Scripture gives. Why doesn’t the Lord just step in give people what they deserve? “He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” Every moment that he withholds judgment is a chance to for you to repent.
For the time being, he’s working behind the scenes. He usually doesn’t operate out in the open like he did during the Exodus or the time of Joshua. He works through his Church to plead with people to receive his Son before he finally decides to step in.
But every once in a while he gives all of us a little reminder like he does here. The Jewish historian Josephus tells us that Herod endured horrible pain for five days before he died. Yes, Herod died because he didn’t give glory to God. But he also stands as a neon sign to each one of us: “Unless you repent, you too will all perish.”
Another lesson we can learn from this is found in vs. 24: “But the word of God continued to increase and spread.” Herod murdered James at the beginning of chapter 12. He could imprison the messengers all he wanted. But eventually he died, and the Message continued to spread. The enemies of the truth come and go. They strike the Bride over and over. But the word of God continues to increase and spread.
So when you see injustice in the world and the Church being struck, take heart. Our Father really is in charge, and he really does know what he’s doing.
Father God, I trust you. I praise you that all of your enemies will one day be destroyed. But I also thank you that you prefer to destroy your enemies by turning them into your beloved children. I can certainly testify to that.