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.

[March 17]--“Don’t Be Like This Guy!” Part Three: The Fool

Prov. 1:7; 29:11; 17:10; 26:11; 19:3; 28:26

The last couple of days we’ve looked at a couple of men who are supposed to be “warning shots” to us (“He gets shot and that’s a warning to the next guy”). We studied the mocker and the simple man, and today we’re going to examine the type of man who’s mentioned most frequently in the book of Proverbs, the fool. A cursory word search tells us that the book of Proverbs mentions him around 72 times. Actually I could have picked several more verses for today, but I pared them down to six. He’ll crop up some more as we delve into more specific topics.

So what do we mean by the term “fool”? Like the term “simple” from yesterday, we have to go beyond the common definition. We mentioned this back in January, but it bears repeating: Notice the footnote at the end of 1:7. The term in Hebrew is not talking about someone who’s intellectually deficient, but someone who’s morally deficient. He’s made a conscious decision not to do things God’s way. He might not be as openly rebellious and defiant as the mocker, but as we’ll see he’s going to end up in a place that’s not pretty.

So what do we learn about him from these verses? In 1:7 he’s contrasted with someone who fears the Lord, and he despises wisdom and. . . .discipline. So here’s one characteristic: he’s undisciplined. He doesn’t like to be “tied down” to a schedule or responsibilities.

Second, and this is linked to the lack of self-discipline, he has no self-control. He “gives full vent to [his] rage.” If he’s mad about something, then he makes sure the whole world knows about it. We’ll talk about appropriate anger at another time, but for now we need to understand that his anger is obviously not under God’s control, or anyone else’s.

Third, from 17:10 and 26:11 we discover that he doesn’t learn from his mistakes. Wise people listen to a good rebuke, but it takes a lot more to get the attention of a fool. And he keeps making the same mistakes over and over. I love my dogs dearly, but they have some pretty disgusting habits. However, they’re just going off instinct, and the fool has no excuse.

And speaking of excuses, he makes plenty of them for himself. Doesn’t 19:3 really describe a lot of people? Someone smokes like a chimney or drinks like a fish and gets angry at God when their body’s health starts to break down. They sleep around and are surprised when they get an STD. They make poor financial decisions and wonder why they’re always struggling to pay their bills.

But there’s hope. If you read the description of this man, he might seem more familiar than you might find comfortable. All of us find ourselves walking in his footsteps more often than we care to admit. So what’s the cure? The last verse hints at something we’ve been saying all along. Quit trusting in yourself. You don’t have the resources to really change from the inside-out. Don’t be like the dog that keeps on going back to. . . the same old habits again. Cast yourself on the Lord’s mercy and grace, first to forgive you and then to change you. He’s waiting.

Lord Jesus, I'm so foolish at times. Please forgive and make me like you. I want to walk in wisdom, and to get to know you better.

[March 16]--“Don’t Be Like This Guy!” Part Two: The Simple

Prov. 14:15; 22:3; 8:5; 1:32

Yesterday we looked at the mocker, so today is Mr. Simple’s turn. Unlike the first man, this one has some hope. He hasn’t completely turned away from God’s ways, but he has some major problems, as we’ll see.

So what do we mean by this term? In English the word's not always pejorative; we sometimes say that someone has “simple” tastes (as opposed to refined or ostentatious ones). Politicians will often try to present themselves as having a “simple man” background, by which they usually mean lower to middle class. But the term here has absolutely nothing to do with one’s place on the economic or social scale.

Here it's used for someone who doesn’t think clearly about the issues and dangers of life. Another word might be “na├»ve.” They aren’t evil, and they don’t consciously set out to rebel against God. But because of the world in which we live, and the sinful tendencies we’ve inherited, they’re going to eventually drift onto a self-destructive path unless there’s some direct intervention. Let’s look at some characteristics of this guy, and then we’ll briefly discuss the prevention/cure for his ailments.

The first word that comes to mind when Solomon holds him up for study is “gullible.” He believes whatever he hears, and fails to put the latest rumors to the “smell” test: Does this make sense? Another proverb tells us that “In a lawsuit the first to speak seems right, until someone comes forward and cross-examines,” which obviously applies in nonlegal settings as well in the courtroom; in other words, critically examine what you hear, and hold it up for skeptical scrutiny. This is especially serious when it comes to spiritual matters. How many immature Christians have fallen for heretical nonsense because they heard it from a man who has “Reverend” or “Pastor” in his title?! In journalism school they have a famous slogan: “If your mother tells you she loves you, check it out.” That goes double for anything that any preacher or pastor says from the pulpit.

The second word that should be stamped on this man’s head is “unprepared.” We need to follow the example of the Boy Scouts and “always be prepared” for what lies ahead of us. Take for example a man who has a severe drinking problem. He wants to be sober and turn his life around. So would it be wise for him to be hanging around bars and “friends” who are pressing drinks into his hand? If you know that you have a problem with a certain form of temptation, then you’re following in this guy’s footsteps if you fail to take precautions against what you know is coming.

On a personal note, the verse above has a special significance for me. When I and my future wife were courting, 22:3 was our "slogan" verse when it came to our dealings with each other. We both knew what type of temptations we faced in the sexual arena, and we made an agreement with each other that we were going to do things God's way instead of what our feelings or hormones told us to do. We didn't go into my house together unless someone else was there, we mostly met in public places, and made a conscious choice not to give any opportunity to the temptation to indulge in something we'd regret later. And it worked: By his grace, we were both complete virgins on our wedding night.

So what’s the cure/prevention for this man’s problem? Well, the third verse advises him to “gain prudence.” And where do we get that? Well duh, from wisdom! Prudence is one of the characteristics of wisdom which are listed in the first chapter, remember? And how do we get wise? Well, we said it before: We have to develop a deep and abiding relationship with the Source of all wisdom. But a big part of that is reading his word which he’s given to us. That’s the best resource for seeing beyond appearances and into what’s really going on in the world

Folks, this isn't a game. This is not an option. The final verse for today warns us that the “waywardness of the simple will kill them.” Remember, left to ourselves--just drifting along in life--we'll inevitably end up on a path that’ll wreck--and finally end--the life that God’s given us. The only way for us to avoid it is to consciously decide--by his empowering grace--that we’re going to do things his way, no matter what.

Yes, Lord, I will. I don’t trust myself, I trust you. Thank you for your grace which not only forgives but keeps me from falling in the first place.