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 18]--Going Beyond the Call of Duty
Today we wrap up the first chapter of the Sermon on the Mount, and what a standard to meet here! There are a lot of commands in Christianity which are duplicated in other religions, such as the prohibitions on murder, adultery, theft, etc. But there's no equivalent to this in any other religion or philosophical system. The closest you’ll find to it is the pacifism in some Eastern religions, such as advocated by Mahatma Gandhi. But nowhere else are followers commanded to love their enemies like Jesus does here.
Now, as always, let’s look at some background for this passage, which might avoid misunderstandings.
• Slapping on the cheek probably doesn’t refer to threatening someone’s life, but more of a personal insult.
• As far as giving to someone who asks you for something, this needs to be taken into the context of the rest of Scripture, which is just as inspired as these verses are. Christians are to always promote love in their giving, and Paul commanded us not to give to someone who can provide for themselves. This is for the sake of both the receiver (who becomes dependent) and the giver (who no longer has the resources to give to more worthy causes). To enable someone to continue a self-destructive lifestyle by giving money to them is not loving them.
• Roman soldiers could command a civilian to carry his personal equipment for one mile, and the Jews were famous for measuring out exactly one mile and dropping their packs without giving one extra inch of service to the hated Roman oppressors. But Jesus came along and commanded his followers to “go the extra mile” (yes, this is where the phrase came from).
Do you want to be like your Heavenly Father? Every true Christian does, right? Then one way you can be like him is how you love the unlovely. I heard someone say there are three ways you can treat someone who mistreats you. Imagine if someone purposely damaged your car. You can say “Damage my car, I break your face!” Or you can say “Damage my car and I won’t do anything.” Or finally you can say “Damage my car and I’ll wash yours.” You can tell from this passage which one Jesus wants us to say.
So how do I do this? It’s one thing to forgive someone who slapped my face, it’s another to forgive someone who really, purposefully, maliciously set out to hurt me. Well, aside from the standard answer of “through the power of the Holy Spirit,” there’s at least one practical solution which Jesus mentions here: praying for them. I’ve experienced this myself: I was really angry with a co-worker who seemed to “have it in for me.” I felt absolutely no love or compassion for her, nothing but self-righteous anger, even bordering on hatred. Then I started praying for her, and my Lord started changing my attitude towards her. I thoroughly believe that it’s impossible to continue to pray for someone and also continue to hate them. Either one or the other will drop away. As you spend time talking to your Lord about your enemies, he starts to let you see them with his eyes. He’s in the process of conforming you to his likeness, and you won’t look like him until you do this. Like I said, pretty high standard, huh?
Lord Jesus, there's absolutely no way I can do this without your help. Please change me. I want to see the people around me with your eyes. Your eyes of compassion, your eyes of mercy. You're so quick to forgive me, and you expect me to do the same to others.