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.

[Mar 28]--“Putting Out The Fleece”

Judges 6:33-40

I'd like to think of myself as an amateur theologian, so bad hermeneutics, even in the service of a good cause, really irks me. In this case, when Scripture is used out of context and the end result is confusion among Christians, I have even less patience.

The phrase “putting out the fleece” is used by a lot of well-meaning believers, including some who are close to me. What they usually mean is this: I need to make a decision, and God’s word doesn’t give me clear direction. I’ve thought about it, and I still don’t know what he wants me to do. Therefore, I’m going to put out a little “fleece” for him. I’ll pray something like “Lord, if you want me to do X, then please do Y. If you don’t do Y, then I’ll take that as a sign that you want me to do Z instead.” Then they go forward based on this prayer and God’s “guidance.”

Remember what we said about narratives? They only tell us what happened, not what should've happened. Moses is one of the men I most respect in history, but just because he did something, that doesn't mean that God wants me to always follow his example. Even if Gideon was completely obeying the Lord when he did something, that still doesn't mean that God wants me to follow his example exactly. We must interpret narratives by didactic (teaching) portions of Scripture, such as Paul’s letters or general commands by Jesus in the Gospels.

Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s take a look at the context (there’s that word again!) of Gideon’s “fleece test.” An angel appeared to him, and this would be about as direct as the Lord could get. Not many people actually get direction from an angel of God himself, but this didn’t satisfy Gideon. He destroyed the local idols in his hometown, and this was good, but then the real test came. The Midianites actually noticed him, and the gathering armies of bloodthirsty killers (several times his numbers) caused him to panic. He asked for one more sign that the Lord was truly with him. Then that still wasn’t enough. He asked for just one more sign after that! “No really, God, if you just do this one more thing for me, then I’ll truly believe that you’ve sent me and that you’re going to do what the angel said.”

Please don’t misunderstand me. I'm not saying that the modern pattern of “laying out the fleece” (in the second paragraph above) is necessarily anti-biblical. It might be that the Lord is gracious and will show someone a sign like that. But what modern people are doing is not the equivalent of what Gideon did. The equivalent of Gideon's actions would be something like “Lord, do you really want me to avoid having sex outside of marriage? Maybe you could show me a sign to show me what your will is on committing adultery.” I remember my dad talking about seeing a preacher on TV. This guy claimed that Jesus appeared at the foot of his bed and told him to “Make disciples of all nations!” My dad scoffed, “So how many times does he need to tell you?” I submit that Gideon’s “fleece” strategy showed a lack of faith, not a humble seeking of God’s will. I'm not implying that I'd do any better, but that doesn't excuse asking for a "fleece" when the Lord has already made it clear in his word what you're supposed to do.

When it comes to things he’s made clear in his word, we don’t need to ask again. That's sin masquerading as humility. But when it comes to questions that aren’t so cut and dried, then we can talk about other means of getting guidance. In fact, we can talk about that tomorrow.

Father, when your word is clear, may my obedience be resolute. I need understanding from your Holy Spirit, but more than that I need your power to obey the parts I understand perfectly. Please help me.

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