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.

[Aug 03]—Timing Is Everything

Romans 4:9-15

            Of course you’ve heard the aphorism which makes up the title, right? With the right timing, there are few limits to what you can accomplish. But that little saying stuck in my mind as I read today’s passage in completely different context.
            It’s really difficult to overstate how important circumcision was to the Jews of the 1st century (and to today’s Jews who take the Torah seriously). It was the mark of being God’s people. The very idea that the Lord would accept someone as one of his “people” without being circumcised would literally never have occurred to a Jew. And the notion that these uncircumcised Gentiles could be accepted before the Almighty on a level equal with the Jews? You can practically visualize them foaming at the mouth. Even Jewish believers, who'd supposedly been saved by faith in Yeshua as Messiah, had some real trouble with this, which is why we had the first major controversy which led to the first official church council which authoritatively settled the issue.
            Paul is making the argument that we’re saved by grace through faith in Christ alone, apart from any works of the law. Jews revered Abraham and considered him their father, both physically and spiritually. Therefore he takes pains to show from vss. 1-5 that Abraham’s—the father of the Jews, considered to be probably one of the most righteous men who ever lived—relationship with the Lord was not based on his performance at all but solely based on that he believed God’s promises: “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.”
            But what about circumcision? The Lord told Abraham to have himself and his household circumcised, and he obeyed. Didn’t it mean anything at all? Was Paul completely discounting it?
            Paul answered that question with another (clarifying) question, and that’s where today’s title comes in. When was Abraham considered righteous before God? This encounter in which Abraham is declared righteous is in Genesis chapter 15. When was circumcision instituted? In chapter 17
            This is the pattern, and this is so important for us to understand. It is vital. Abraham was declared righteous before God, and then Abraham demonstrated this obedience through the rite of circumcision.
            Faith/justification/salvation/adoption comes first, then comes demonstrated obedience. This is what I was talking about when we discussed your position versus your condition in Christ.
            In vss. 13-15 Paul expands his point on the all-important timing issue: God’s promises came first, then the Law. Once again we see the pattern, both for the Old Covenant believer and for the modern one: First come God’s promises and our faith in him, then comes demonstrated obedience. We’re saved first, then we demonstrate that we’re his children by obeying him. We're saved by grace through faith for the purpose of good works. 
            Abraham was justified/declared righteous long before he was circumcised, and several hundred years before the Law of Moses was given. Therefore he’s the spiritual father of all who believe. If you’re Jewish and you believe in the Messiah, then Abraham is both your physical “father” and your spiritual father. If you’re a believing Gentile (which is most of us), then Abraham is your spiritual father.
             I really want to hammer this home, because if you get this point, it’ll clear up so much confusion on a host of issues, and it’ll guard you against error and heresy and false teaching: First comes salvation by grace through faith, then comes demonstrated obedience. Keep that simple statement in mind, and you’ll save yourself a lot of trouble.

Father God, I certainly believe in you, but I really need to follow Abraham’s example and demonstrate obedience like he did: promptly and decisively. By your grace. 

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