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.

[Aug 04]--What Was His Message?

Matt. 3:1-12

Yesterday’s passage mentioned that John the Baptist was a prophet (in fact, the first one in about 400 years), and today’s reading demonstrates that pretty effectively. Despite some peoples’ image of a prophet as someone who predicts the future, their main job was not to be fortune-tellers but to present God’s message to people, which sometimes included prediction but often didn’t. Most of the time, prophecies fell into two main categories. If the people were disobedient to God’s law, then the prophet pointed this out to them. And if they were going through terrible times, he could also provide the Lord's message of comfort. From reading about John today, you can probably guess what type of message he usually relayed.

By the way, what does the Bible mean by repentance? Literally the Greek word means to "change one's mind," but in context of what the Bible says about it, it means so much more. Basically  the Scriptures use it in the sense of a change of mind which ultimately results in a change of lifestyle. If someone is heading due east and they make a u-turn and go due west, that’s repentance. We need to repent when we come to Christ, pledging ourselves to abandon our old way of life to follow him (see here, among many other passages). But we also need to repent as believers when we find ourselves in disobedience to him--read through the letters to the churches in Rev. 2-3 and see how many times you see the word “repent.”

You can see that concept of "change of mind leading to a change of life" here in today's passage. Notice that John called for “fruit in keeping with repentance.” If someone claims to have repented but isn't demonstrating any change in lifestyle, then this belies their assertion.

Another thing I find very interesting in his message is his complete rejection of salvation by heritage. Many Jews thought they were on good terms with the God of Israel simply because they were physical descendants of Abraham. In fact, there was a common perception that Abraham was standing at the gates of Hell, checking every person about to pass through to see if they were circumcised, and sending them up to Heaven if they passed his personal inspection. To this, John’s response was absolutely not!!!

Baptism was not original with John. When a Gentile wanted to convert to Judaism and follow the one true God, he was baptized to symbolize his new life. But what made John so different was that he was baptizing everyone, because everyone was out of sync with God’s standards and needed repentance. As you might guess, this was pretty scandalous—the notion that (gasp!) even practicing Jews needed to get right with the Lord.

And why did they need to repent, especially now? Because the Messiah was on the horizon! He was almost here! Later we’ll talk more about how John viewed himself in relationship with Jesus, but for now we’ll just point out that he was all about pointing people to the One who was coming after him. According to John, the Messiah was coming, and he (the Messiah) was about to separate the wheat from the chaff. The way people harvested wheat was to toss it into the air. The wheat would fall to the ground while chaff--useless pods which looked like wheat to the casual eye--would be blown away by the wind. The Coming One was going to do this with humanity, and all of us needed to be on the right side of the coming separation.

Lord Jesus, these are hard words from your servant, but they come right from your heart. Is there something of which I need to repent? Something that’s separating you from me? Whatever it is, please show it to me and let’s deal with it. Right now.

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