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.

[Jan 19]--God’s People vs. The Gentiles

Genesis 16:1-16

When reading the Bible, it's always a good idea to keep in mind the context of the culture and society in which these people lived. In the Middle Eastern culture of about 2000 B.C., childlessness was considered to be just about the worst thing to happen to a married couple, especially the wife (who usually measured her worth and value by how many children she bore). To have a child (preferably many children) to carry one’s name was estimated to be a greater treasure than all the gold, silver, and material wealth one could accumulate.

Also, it must be noted that Sarai’s proposal wouldn't be as outlandish to ancient readers as it would to us; in fact, she was only suggesting a solution common to that time period. Yes, in her mind it'd be better for her husband to sleep with another woman and produce a child than for her to remain childless.

However, this is a great example of how God’s word and values must stand in judgment of our culture, not the other way around. When Jesus was asked about the propriety of divorce, he directed his listeners right back to the first two chapters of Genesis as our ideal to follow: one man united with one woman for a lifetime. Abram obviously was aware of this original pattern, and as the spiritual leader of the home, when his wife forwarded this idea his next words should've been, “Honey, I love you so much and I understand how hard this is for you, but we're doing things God’s way, not our way.”

Of course, it’s a common male fantasy to have more than one woman in one’s bed, but you certainly don’t find any sanction for it here. It's true that many of the biblical heroes had multiple wives, and you don’t often find the Lord specifically condemning it during the Old Testament time. It's also true, however, that in every instance where polygamy is recorded (not some, not most, but every single time), you have strife in the home. Sticking to God’s original plan for the home is not just moral, it’s wise.

Sadly enough, there are no real heroes in this story, but the closest thing we’ve got to one is Hagar, a female slave who was probably bought while Abram and his family stayed in Egypt. Apparently she had some concept of God, but she would be considered a Gentile, outside of God’s promises and covenant. It's particularly sad when the behavior of the Lord's people doesn’t compare favorably with “Gentiles.” But in this instance, the Lord (who always has a soft spot for underdogs) intervened and showed how he could redeem even the worst of situations. The message here is not that he condones bad choices, but when we turn to him in repentance he can redeem them and turn them into blessings.

Father God, I thank you for an unerring guide to get me past all the mistakes of my culture. Help me to judge my culture by your word, not the other way around. Help me to stick to your plan for the home, because I’m certainly not going to come up with something better.

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