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 21]--Introduction: An Orderly Account

Luke 1:1-4

Well, we’ve done the Gospels of Matthew, Mark and John, so there’s only one left by my count. Full disclosure: After John, this is my favorite of the Four. Let’s talk a little background for a bit, shall we? Before we do, let me just submit an apology to anyone reading this if this is old news for you.

Luke was a “doctor,” and a close companion of Paul’s. He went on Paul’s journeys and mission trips. Starting around Acts chapter 16, you might notice that the narrative goes from third person plural (“they”) to first person plural (“we”) which we take to mean Luke joined Paul’s party at that point.

But this is the unique thing about Luke: He’s a Gentile. Paul in one of his letters distinguished Luke from the Jewish people accompanying him (Paul). On a (partial) side-note, the word unique does not mean “unusual.” It means “one of a kind.” Luke’s the only Gentile among two-dozen authors of the Bible who’s not Jewish. So if you have a problem with Jews, you’ve got a problem with your Bible.

His background really shines throughout both of his works (this Gospel and the book of Acts). His Gospel emphasizes Jesus’ care for and ministry towards the Gentiles, along with others often regarded as outcasts in Israel, such as Samaritans, women, children, tax collectors, and “sinners.” And of course his second book takes this emphasis and kicks it into overdrive.

The Gospel (and Acts) are both dedicated to “Theophilus.” Who’s this? Literally the name means “lover of God.” Most scholars think it’s a Roman official (“most excellent”) who was a believer but who didn’t want to “come out” as a Christian just yet. So Luke used this pseudonym for him.

Today’s passage is a great study in “tension” regarding the inspiration of Scripture. Who wrote the Bible, God or men? Peter gives us the most complete answer when talking about the prophets: “though human, [they] spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” The word “carried along” was used to describe what wind does to a sail.

So men wrote it down, but they were led and guided to do so--from beginning to end-- unerringly by the Holy Spirit. But today’s verses add something interesting to the mix. Without detracting at all from the authority of Scripture, Luke makes it clear that he used human means to accomplish what he set out to do. He didn’t just sit up in a room somewhere in a trance and have all this transmitted into his head. Just like a journalist, he went out and interviewed witnesses, collected what they said, and arranged it in an orderly fashion for us to read. The fact that he was highly educated likely aided in making this "an orderly account.'

None of this subtracts one iota from what we believe about the inspiration of Scripture. In fact, if anything, it adds to the credibility. If Luke (or some other author) was making this up, wouldn’t he claim to be an eyewitness himself? But Luke makes no such assertion.

Here’s one other thing that you might not have known. It’s pretty obvious that Luke presents a lot more material about the Nativity than any of the others. Assuming that this is based on eye-witness accounts, that would mean that one of his primary witnesses was Mary, the mother of our Lord.

Why did he write this? Yes, he wrote it to teach us about Jesus. A lot of his material is unique to his Gospel. But the main purpose for his work is stated in the last verse: “so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught.” You’ve heard some things about Jesus, and now we’re going to differentiate fact from fiction. And the things which you’ve already heard about the Savior which were true, we’re going to reinforce them. Come to think of it, that’s a good purpose for this blog. I sure hope I succeed.

Lord Jesus, in everything I do and say, I want to draw others to you. Either closer to you as believers, or into your presence for the first time. Could I have that, please?

[June 20]--You Can’t HANDLE the Proof! Part Five: Some Last Witnesses

1 Cor. 15:1-8

Today we’re wrapping up the evidence I’ve gathered for the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. To summarize, we’ve examined 1) the huge rock and Roman soldiers which were placed in front of the tomb, 2) the fact that the primary witnesses would not have been allowed to testify in open court, 3) the fact that none of the disciples (among the Eleven or any others) were expecting the event, and 4) each and every one of the disciples were willing to die for the faith, something they would have to know was a lie if the event didn’t take place.

That brings us to today’s passage. If you know the book of 1 Corinthians, then you know that Paul had a unique relationship with the Corinthian church. Like any parent of a rebellious teenager, he simultaneously wanted to hug them and strangle them. His first letter to them is a litany of problems. Chapter fifteen is where he deals with some people who were actually denying the general resurrection of believers (which will happen when Christ returns). The point he’s leading up to is that if resurrection is impossible, then Christ hasn't been raised either.

But he starts out the chapter with a simple restating of the Good News in order to lead into all that. He presents four propositions which are literally essential to our faith. People use the term essential to mean "really important," but that’s not what I mean here. I mean these four things make up the essence of the message, like the essence of water is made up of hydrogen and oxygen. On these the Church stands or falls. That’s why he calls them “of first importance.” They are: A) Christ died for our sins, B) he was buried, C) he was raised from the dead, and D) He was seen by witnesses.

What I’d like to focus on today is his list of witnesses here. We’ve seen some of these people before, such as Peter and the apostles. But he lists some others as well which should interest us.

First he just casually mentions that at one point Jesus appeared to over 500 believers at one time. We’re not sure when this actually occurred, since there’s nothing that happens to be recorded in the Gospels which would definitely match that description. But the very fact that he just casually mentions it is noteworthy, since he also says that while a few of them are dead (“fallen asleep”), most of them were still alive when he wrote this. You might've heard of mass hysteria, but there’s nothing we’ve ever seen which could explain over 500 people experiencing the same illusion at the same time.

Second he points to James. This isn’t the apostle (and brother to John), since that James would've been one of "the Twelve" Paul alluded to earlier in the passage. No, this is referring to the half-brother of Jesus. Please keep in mind that none of Jesus’ (half) brothers believed in him before the Passion. In fact, on at least one occasion they came to forcibly take him away because they thought he was crazy. But later on, this same James became a pillar of the church, the leader of the first church council, and the author of one of the books of the N. T. (yes, that James). What happened? It’s explained in today’s passage: “Then he appeared to James.”

And finally we have the climax of this short list. Say whatever else you like about him, Saul of Tarsus was never a fence-sitter when it came to the message of Jesus Christ. He was violently opposed to it, going from house to house and hauling Christians out of them to put them on trial. In fact, he was on his way to Damascus in order to find more Christians to arrest and kill when he met Someone. He met the risen Lord Jesus. And the #1 enemy of the church became its #1 spokesman. He was the last witness to be presented, but he’s one of the strongest.

So what does this mean to us? Well, I don’t really have anything that you haven’t heard before. But here’s one thought to leave you with. In another letter Paul tells us that the same Spirit who raised Christ from the dead now lives in us. Think of the power that it took to breathe life back into the dead body of Jesus. And know that this very same power lives inside of you. Pretty amazing, huh?

Lord Jesus, you are amazing. I thank you that your life, your power, your victory is now mine as well. Now, what’s next?