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.

[Feb 21]--The Agenda

Isaiah 66:18-24

           So now we come to the last words of Isaiah the prophet. Regarding the man, we should note that according to tradition, he was sawn in two by King Manasseh, dying a martyr’s death. He comforted others with his words from the Almighty; we can only hope they were a comfort to him as well.
          If you’re familiar with Isaiah’s work, then you might have missed something from our study: Where’s Jesus? The prophet had a lot to say about the first coming of the Messiah, so why haven’t we looked at that? We’re going to. Over the next week or so we’re going to see what Isaiah and other prophets had to say about the first arrival of the Messiah. But that starts tomorrow.
          Before the prophet left this earth, he had a few more words to say to us about God’s ultimate plan. Lots of people wonder what the Lord's will is for their lives, and a few people actually claim to know it: “God told me to tell you this.  . .” I myself am very careful about phrases like that, since God takes a rather dim view of anyone who speaks in his name who’s not authorized to do so. The Bible’s last verses have a stern warning to anyone who adds to it.
          However, where God makes his agenda and will plain for us from his word, we’re remiss if we don’t tell people about it. You want to know what his will is for your life? I can tell you right now. Listen very carefully, lean down close so I can whisper it in your ear—His will for your life is. . . to glorify his name through your life. What’s his plan for the nations? You guessed it: To glorify his name among all the different peoples, cultures, societies, etc.
          Now, you might be asking, how exactly is he going to work all that out, either in your personal life or on the international scene? Let’s take it on the personal level first. We know he wants to bring glory to his name through your life, and he will, one way or the other. But what about the details? That’s different for every person. Ask for his guidance and wisdom, obey what he’s made clear from his word, seek counsel from godly siblings if you need it, then go forward with what you desire. As long as you keep the “main thing” the “main thing,” you’ll be fine.
          How do we interpret passages like today as far the “big picture” goes? Are they completely fulfilled now by the work of the Church, or will they literally be fulfilled when he returns? Good Christians debate that issue. I have my interpretation of it, but does it really matter? He’s made his ultimate purpose clear. If it is literally fulfilled later, does that let us off the hook from trying to recruit worshippers right here and now? Of course not.
          Jesus' last instructions for us before he returned to his Father leave no wiggle room: “[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.” I don’t care how you interpret the book of Revelation, that’s not rocket science or brain surgery. Someone once said “It’s not the parts of the Bible that are hard to understand that bother me. It’s the parts which are crystal clear which disturb me the most.”
          And based on Isaiah’s very last words to us, I have to present a warning. He describes in dreadful detail what happens to those who end up on the wrong side of history from God’s perspective. If this sounds like a description of Hell, it is. Someone might read this and say “Oh, it’s not talking about eternal torment. It just says that the worms and fire never die.” Let me ask you something. Who’s a better interpreter of Scripture: Some guy with letters behind his name, or Jesus? He quoted these exact verses when describing hell. He wasn’t kidding about it.
          I’m not doing this to depress you. Am I mentioning it to frighten you? Well, that depends. If you don’t belong to Christ, then you should be scared. You have every reason to be scared. Why not do something about it?

Father God, I know what your will is, at least the important parts. It’s not knowledge that’s the problem. It’s doing what I know I need to do, what you’ve made crystal clear. By your grace, I want to do it.

[Feb 20]--What’s Impressive To God?

Isaiah 66:1-2

          I remember several years ago when I was a church planter working in Wills Point, Texas. My partner and I visited several pastors of churches in the area, mostly to ensure they weren’t threatened by us in the community. I distinctly recall meeting one pastor, and he was really friendly with us. He took us to the new sanctuary they had just finished constructing, and was obviously very. . . does the word “proud” fit? I’m trying to be charitable here, but there’s no way getting around my conclusion that he was bragging about the magnificence of his new building. And I came close—oh, so very close—to responding by saying “This really is a beautiful building. Too bad it’s all going to be dust and ashes some day.” The missed opportunities!
          I think of that story every time I read today’s passage and others like it. What do I mean by other passages? Well, look at the dedication of the original temple. The builder of the original temple, King Solomon, had no illusions about his magnificent structure: “But will God really dwell on earth? The heavens, even the highest heaven, cannot contain you. How much less this temple I have built!”
          Even during the time of the Old Covenant, during the time when God met people inside of buildings, and you could actually point to a structure and say “That’s the ‘dwelling place,’” the most insightful believers knew that God doesn’t really live inside a building. As Solomon said, the heavens can’t contain him. As Isaiah said in today’s reading, Heaven is his throne, and earth is his footstool. The idea of men building a “house” for God is pretty laughable.
          What about the New Covenant? Does God have a temple today? Of course he does! It’s the Body of Christ collectively and each believer individually. The word “church” in all the New Testament always refers to a group of believers, never to a physical building.
          Now, does this mean that I’m against church buildings, or sanctuaries? No. We have to meet somewhere, and a church building is as good a place as any. I'm not opposed to it.
          But am I in favor of spending a lot of money on a building which will be dust and ashes someday? Well, I can’t find any Scripture against it as such, so I’m not going to judge other believers on stuff which the Spirit failed to mention in his word. But I’m not too comfortable with going overboard with it. Where that line is, is something I’d have to think about.
          I do know this for sure, however. As today’s passage makes clear, God is—and always has been—impressed with things that we aren’t. We’re impressed by an imposing and beautiful building, while he’s impressed with “those who are humble and contrite in spirit, and who tremble at [his] word.” The nobody, the “has-been” or “never was” can easily be someone who catches his blessed attention. All they have to be is someone who’s humble, contrite (sorry about their sin), and who trembles at his word. And friend, let me tell you something: If someone trembles at God’s word, they won’t tremble at the sight of a building, or much else for that matter.
          I think all of us need to examine our priorities, and reexamine them on a regular basis, especially if we live in a rich country like America. Are my priorities his? Forget a moment about being negative about worship centers. Are you humble? Do you have a keen sense of who God is and who you are in comparison? Are you mourning the sin in your life? Do you tremble at his word?

Well, Father? What about it?