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 21]—Birth Pangs (really really strong ones)

Gen 3:17-19; Rom. 8:19-21

            Remember when we tackled the book of Job and then got into a study of why bad things happen in this life? One of the main reasons (for bad things) we discussed was the fact that this world is not what God created it to be. Let’s look at it.
            Like much of Paul’s writings, he packs 10 pounds of meaning into a five pound bag of words. He’s talking about the glorious benefits of our salvation in Christ: past, present and future. And before he talks about us, he takes the broader view of all creation and gives us insight into how our sin affected it.
            I’ve hammered this home again and again, especially at the beginning of year one, but it bears repeating: You cannot understand the rest of the Bible, nor life, without knowing, understanding, and believing the first three chapters of the Bible. Let’s focus on the second part of that statement for a moment. A few months ago as of this writing, a major hurricane battered the Northeast U.S., leaving a lot of people homeless and devastated. Every year we read of earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, droughts, etc., which destroy peoples’ homes, livelihoods, and even take lives. Why do these things happen?
            Well, the ultimate reason anything bad happens at all in this life is because of sin—maybe my own personal sin or someone else’s—but there’s something more to it.  When he was created, Adam was put in charge of the entire world. He had a perfect world in front of him: He had no experience of disease, pain, hardship, or death. But then he (and his wife) chose to disobey their Creator, and in that moment. . . everything changed.
            Bringing sin into the world had a lot of effects, but the one in today’s passages is the effect it had on the physical creation. Adam was head over physical creation, but only so long as he was under the headship of the Lord. Once he rebelled, creation rebelled under him as well. That’s why creation doesn’t work the way we like. That includes everything from mosquitoes biting us to earthquakes and floods which kill thousands.
            But there’s a further aspect of this we need to consider: This was a terrible thing for creation as well as us. Our sin negatively affected the world, which in turn negatively affects us. Genesis quotes God as saying that he would curse the ground for Adam’s sake. We have to experience horrible things in this world, but so does everything else. We get frustrated, sick, hurt, and dead, and so does everything else.
            But Paul’s passage add a whole new light to all this. The coming of Jesus changed everything. That's why Paul doesn’t call the condition of our world a curse, but birth pangs. Think about that. A woman in birth is in incredible pain (or can be), worse than almost anything she can undergo. When God told Eve she would bear children in pain, he wasn’t kidding. But her pain has a purpose. She produces a child, and (ideally) she says at the end of it that it was all worth it. Her pain on one end is more than balanced by the joy she has when she looks upon her newborn. And in this world, the only way she could completely avoid the pain would be to not get pregnant. So in that way, her pain is completely necessary to the end result, the child.
            The Lord subjected the creation to frustration. Why are you or anyone else frustrated? The only reason anyone gets frustrated is if they know of something better. The reason why creation is “frustrated” is because deep within it, there’s an unconscious echo of what it once was, an intuitive knowledge that this is not the way it’s supposed to be, and a whisper of what one day will come. Just like us.
            He subjected it to frustration in anticipation of liberation. Liberation of who, or what? Well, as God’s children, one day we’re going to be liberated from these sinful bodies and souls, cleansed, and given brand new ones which will never wear out. We get liberated, and creation will be “brought into” that. Which we’ll discuss more tomorrow.
            In the meantime, let’s focus on the fact that—just like us--this world is not what it was, nor is it what it should be, but it also isn’t what it will be. When you see the “birth pangs,” take heart.

Father God, it’s really heartbreaking to read and see people and all creation broken in front of me. But I know that the reason it’s so frustrating is because I know that there’s something better—behind us, and in front of us. Help me be patient. 

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