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.

[Sept 21]—To The One. . .

            Well we did it. We got through 16 chapters of the book of Romans. As I’ve stated before, if you held a gun to my head and told me to pick my favorite book of the Bible, it’d have to be this one. Let’s see what Paul has to say to them (and us) in these last few verses.
            I know that I ended yesterday’s verse with vs. 20, so I guess I shouldn’t include it with this one, but I love it too much to exclude it. He starts with a wonderful promise (“The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet”), then with an intended blessing: “The grace of our Lord Jesus be with you.” That’s the essence of the Good News—God’s unmerited favor shown towards us through Jesus Christ. Sorry if you've heard this before, but someone told me a long time ago that grace stands for “God’s riches at Christ’s expense,” and that’s a great way to put it.
            He takes a moment to send greetings from the people who are living and working alongside him. There are just a few that I’d like to note: Timothy (whom he considered a son, about whom he said “I have no one else like him), Tertius (who was Paul’s amanuensis for the letter), and Gaius (with whom Paul and others were staying).  Even though he wrote the letter under the inspiration of the Spirit, behind him were countless servants who (humanly speaking) made it possible.
            Per usual, Paul squeezes 10 pounds of theology into a five-pound bag. These last three verse summarize (or at least touch upon) the main points of Romans. What do we learn about God and ourselves?

·         He is able to establish us. That means we’re safe and secure, not just safe in the arms of Jesus, but as safe as an arm of Jesus. Even though we might fall from time to time, we don’t fall very far or very long. Not because of our strength (duh!), but because of his.
·         He establishes us “according to” the Good News about Christ. It’s in line with, and empowered by, the Message. This Message “is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes.” It’s how God saves us, not just from the penalty of sin, but from the daily power of sin, and ultimately from the very presence of sin.
·         It was a “mystery hidden for long ages past.” Remember, the word “mystery” isn’t referring to something we figure out on our own like a detective novel. No, it’s something so deep and so beyond our understanding that any human endeavor to unwrap it only ends up in frustration. It’s something that God’s hidden from us, but has now revealed it to us.
·         Tense is important: It was hidden, but now it’s been revealed “through the prophetic writings by the command of the eternal God.” There are lots of things that we’re never going to figure out about God, such as the nature of the Trinity, the human/divine nature of Christ, how his sovereignty interacts with human choices, etc. But the Good News of Christ has been revealed to all humanity—at least in the sense of being available to all—and is now being spread to the furthest reaches of the earth. We certainly don’t understand everything about our salvation, but we know enough. 
·         Why was the Message given to us? Why were we saved? Well, yes, God loves us and didn’t want to see anyone perish. But another big reason—which we tend to overlook—is obedience.  Depending on how you translate it, you could render it “the obedience that comes from faith,” (which is certainly biblical) but literally it says “the obedience of faith,” meaning that the Message is not just an offer to be accepted but a command to be obeyed (like here).
·         The Greek language didn’t have parentheses, but if it did, Paul would've used them. He started verse 25 by saying “Now to him who is able to establish you. . .” and finally closes his thought in vs. 27 by answering who this “him” is: The only wise God. To him be glory forever and ever through Jesus Christ. It all started with him in eternity past, it’s sustained by his grace, and the end of it is to give him glory through his Son forever and ever. That’s what it’s all about.

Father God, what else can I add to this? It all started with you, and everything rolls back around to give you the glory you deserve. With everything I am and everything I do, I want to add to that chorus of glory. In Jesus’ name. 

[Sept 20]—Division, Wisdom, and Victory

            As you might have noticed, we’re wrapping up the book of Romans with just a few short verses to go. Remember when I said that Paul started out with the “heavy” material and ended the book with slightly lighter fare? Well, I misspoke: Maybe I should have said “heavi-er” material, because even in these “housekeeping” type of verses, there’s plenty to absorb and digest.
            I’ve mentioned this before, but I really think that the common nostalgia lots of Christians have for the 1st century church is a bit overdone. Human nature hasn’t changed, and God certainly hasn’t. All of the problems we see today are pretty much the ones the church struggled with 2000 years ago.
            Case in point: Paul warned about false teachers and pseudo-Christians who’d snuck in and introduced bad teaching, which had caused division in the church. Sound familiar? He tells the rank-and-file believers reading this to stay away from them. Don’t listen to their “smooth talk and flattery.” This was a danger back then, and it’s a danger now.
            That brings us to something that the modern American Christian desperately needs to hear: When it comes to God’s truth, ignorance is not bliss. Paul tells them in vs. 29 that he wants them to “be wise about what is good, and innocent about what is evil.” Not ignorant. Innocent.  Jesus was referring to this distinction when he told us to “be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.” According to vs. 19 in today’s passage, these con-men are targeting “naive people,” so by not being discerning you’re opening yourself up to deception.  
            Keep in mind that bad teaching does more than lead individual Christians astray. It also tends to divide churches. Christians who should be united in the truth instead bicker over issues that should've been settled long ago. And the Devil watches and laughs.
            So what does it mean? It means when someone presents some teaching that sounds new, you need to carefully examine it in the light of what God’s word says. And if it doesn’t match up, then drop it. Don’t indulge in it.
            And near the end of this book, he presents a glorious promise right after these warnings. False teachers will always be with us, but ultimately the source of all their “teaching” will find himself under the boot. Of course, we know that at the end of history as we know it, the longstanding war between Satan and our Lord will culminate in Satan being tossed into the Lake of Fire. And I can see why that’s part of what Paul’s referring to here.
            But I think we can experience some of that ultimate victory right here and now. When he told the believers in Rome that the God of peace (ironic title considering the rest of the verse) will “soon” crush their Enemy beneath their feet, I don’t think he was just talking about the end of the Age. When we’re discerning about good and evil--listening to the good and shunning the bad--that’s a good way to put the Enemy under our feet right here and now. He sometimes attacks frontally, but most of the time in the Age his most dangerous weapons are lies.
            And of course covering all of this is God’s grace. We desperately need his grace—his unmerited favor-- to discern truth from lies, turn away from these lies and towards our Father, and to crush our Adversary beneath our feet.
            If we listen to our Father, we can’t lose.

Father God, it seems like I constantly need my ears unplugged and my heart softened. Help me to be deaf to the Enemy, listening only to your voice.