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.

[July 14]--Hatred and Murder

Matt. 5:21-26

When Jesus said that he didn’t come to abolish the law but to fulfill it, one thing (among others) which he might've meant was to reestablish the true meaning of the Law. The command not to murder is one of the Ten Commandments, and he certainly didn’t come to correct the law itself. But what he did intend to do was correct our misunderstanding of it.

People would hear the command and think “Well, I’ve never pulled a knife on someone, so I’m fine.” Not so fast. What Jesus is saying here is that God is concerned with our heart attitudes as well as our physical actions. There was never a murder committed with the hands which didn't originate in the heart.

But we need to clear up some misunderstandings here. Is Jesus saying that hatred of someone is just as bad as physical murder? I don’t think so. There are degrees of punishment in hell, and there are levels of accountability, so there are some sins which are worse than others. Any sin is enough to send someone to hell, but not all sin is equal in God’s eyes. The thing we need to keep in mind is that God takes any sin much more seriously than we do. Any sin, any failure of perfect obedience on our part is--in the words of R.C. Sproul--cosmic treason.

But what we need to do, instead of just being concerned about physical action is to constantly reexamine our attitudes towards the people around us. The word Raca is an Aramaic term of contempt, roughly equivalent to calling someone an idiot. And of course Paul called the Galatians foolish, so it’s not so much the term itself that Jesus is warning against. I believe that he’s warning against disregarding the image of God found in every human being. It’s the contempt in your heart which you mutter under your breath when someone cuts you off. It’s truly desiring harm to come to someone who's harmed you. It even extends to squabbles within the church. When a dispute arises, we need to work for reconciliation decisively and quickly, knowing that we need to do this before we dare to come into our Father’s presence in worship.

So you see, it’s much more than merely not hating someone. The standard is much higher than merely avoiding fantasizing about harming someone. God wants us to recognize that every person we meet--no matter how boring or annoying--is stamped with his image, and is precious in his eyes. Only then can we claim that we’re following these instructions. I don’t claim to perfectly obey it, but with his grace I’m trying. How about you?

Lord Jesus, help me to see that person not with my own self-interest, but with your eyes of love, compassion, and mercy. They're precious to you, valuable enough to die for. May my words, deeds, and thoughts reflect this.

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