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.

[Feb 16]--Valuing His Image

Exodus 20:13

This command might be, for most people, both the easiest and hardest to obey. The vast majority of us have never physically committed murder, so we might be tempted to move on to the next one. Of course, if we’re familiar with Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, then we see that we aren’t off the hook just because we've never pulled a trigger on someone. First we’ll deal with some modern misinterpretations, and then we’ll examine how the Lord Jesus understood it.

The first question a modern person might ask is “Does this outlaw capital punishment by the state?” The short answer is no. Anyone who has claimed that it does probably has never read the rest of the Torah. In fact, the very next chapter in Exodus explicitly orders capital punishment for at least four crimes, and you can make the argument for two others (killing a slave and causing a miscarriage). There are some biblical passages which one can use to argue against the death penalty, but this isn’t one of them.

How the Jews interpreted this verse is a classic study in legalism. The way that they interpreted this command (and which Jesus seeks to correct) was that as long as you didn’t physically kill someone, you weren’t guilty of breaking it. Then along came our Savior to rectify this misunderstanding: Every physical murder started with a thought. God is not just concerned with our actions but with the thoughts and attitudes which lead to those actions. The attitudes that he condemned were both unjustified anger and the degrading of another person’s dignity as created in God’s image. The word Raca was an Aramaic term of contempt, literally “empty head,” or roughly equivalent to “stupid idiot.” This passage probably doesn’t say that calling someone foolish is necessarily a bad thing (Paul did it in Galatians), but what Jesus seemed to be warning against is a mind-set of disregarding the infinite value of an image-bearer. This is why the Lord's commands to Noah post-flood include capital punishment for murder: Because we are made in God's image, the ultimate crime of taking a life requires (at least in some circumstances) the ultimate punishment.

Based on the context in Jesus' sermon, the anger which we need to avoid is settled anger or bitter resentment, not simply being angry at someone. To summarize, in order to follow his instruction, we need not only to avoid physical murder, but value the image of God placed on every person we meet.

Lord Jesus, your word is pretty disturbing at times. Change me, please.

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