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.

[Apr 09]--Wanting the Right Thing

1 Sam. 8:1-5, 19-20

One of my favorite books of all time is The Screwtape Letters by C. S. Lewis. This book is the fictional series of letters from a demon to his subordinate on how to corrupt a man’s soul. His advice, given from the perspective of our Enemy, is quite insightful. One of the points that Screwtape makes in his letters is that Satan is not creative. God is the only one who creates anything, including pleasures, and the Enemy’s “research department” has yet to produce a single pleasure. The only thing that our Enemy can tempt us with is something good that God has already created, but in the wrong way, in the wrong time, or with the wrong person. For example, Satan can’t create sexual pleasure, so what he does is offer it at the wrong time or with the wrong person.

That temptation is displayed quite profoundly in today’s passage. The people went to Samuel and requested (actually demanded) a king. Was the request for a king a bad thing in and of itself? Let me answer by acknowledging first off that there are several biblical scholars who say yes. I understand their reasoning, but based on passages like Deut. 17:14-20 (which assumes that they would eventually get a king) and the last verse of Judges (which seems to suggest that not having a king was a bad thing), I respectfully disagree with them. So assuming that having a king would not be an intrinsically bad thing, what was God’s problem?

I think that there are two very good reasons for God’s reluctance. First, note a repeated phrase: “like all the other nations.” That phrase alone would've set off alarm bells in Samuel’s mind, and it alone would be sufficient to deny their request. Since when was it supposed to be their goal to be “like the other nations”?! The whole reason why God had rescued them from Egypt, led them to the Promised Land, and given them the Torah was so that they could be different from the other nations.

Second, I believe that their timing was lousy. We're not sure if David was  alive at this point, but if he was, he wasn’t ready yet. So in order to show them the folly of not listening to him, God did the worst possible thing he could've done: He gave them what they wanted. All they cared about was a warrior to lead them into battle (notice that there’s no mention of a desire for a king to bring spiritual renewal and unity), so he gave them a king who physically towered over them. They were totally willing to settle for Saul as their king, while David was waiting in the wings. Presumably if they'd just be willing to wait until the Lord's timing, then David would come up when called and they would've spared themselves a lot of grief. All speculation of "what ifs" aside, my favorite aphorism still is true: No one ever did things God's way who ended up regretting it. And the converse is true as well: Everyone who didn't do things God's way ended up suffering bad consequences. 

The point I’m making here is the value of waiting on God’s timing. It is entirely possible to want the right thing for the wrong reason and at the wrong time. We might be willing to settle, but instead we should commit ourselves to, as my youth minister once put it, “never settle for anything less than God’s best.”

Father, that’s my commitment. I am NOT interested in anything other than your best. Let’s do things your way.

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