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 18]--Why Did Jesus Tell Parables?

Matt. 13:31-35

Before we get into the question asked above, we might want to define the term, and also set some ground-rules. The term “parable” comes from two Greek words which mean “to throw alongside.” If you have an object lying on the ground, and you toss something next to it, that’s what’s described here. The idea is comparison. That’s why Jesus started many of his parables with the words “The kingdom of heaven is like. . .”

But just like with narratives, we have to exercise some caution. First, a parable is not an allegory. An allegory is a story in which every character symbolizes something else. Character X represents a concept like freedom, while character Y represents some other concept like sin. In a parable, by contrast, not every character has to symbolize something. Another thing to keep in mind is that parables illustrate, but they’re not a source of theology. You have to go the didactic (teaching) portions of Scripture (like the Sermon on the Mount or a letter from Paul) to know how to interpret a parable.

So why did Jesus use parables? Well, part of it is because of the atmosphere in which Jesus was teaching. There was speculation all over the place about the Messiah. Many (if not most) Jews believed that the Messiah was going to be a great military leader who would liberate Israel and kill all the Roman soldiers. His audience included enemies, namely the religious leaders, who would constantly be listening for any talk that might be interpreted as seditious or rebellious, so they could hand him over to the tender mercies of Roman executors.

But another reason was one that Jesus gave, so there was no misinterpretation. Read this carefully, so that you can experience the full impact: “The secret of the kingdom of God has been given to you. But to those on the outside everything is said in parables so that, 'they may be ever seeing but never perceiving, and ever hearing but never understanding; otherwise they might turn and be forgiven!'” He told the crowds parables specifically so that they would not understand what he was saying!

Why would he do this? Because he was looking for quality, not quantity, of followers. The casual listener, the curious attendee, the fence-sitter, the miracle-and-wonders seeker, he had absolutely no interest in gaining, at least in the long term. Of course he cared about them--he didn't want any of them to perish, but all of them to come to repentance--but ultimately he was seeking people who were committed. If they actually made it past the idle-curiosity stage, then he'd take them to a whole new level.

So what about the church today? Are we concerned about what Jesus is concerned about? What’s more important, getting rear ends in seats on Sunday mornings, or seeing real lives being changed by the Good News?

Father God, I want to realign my priorities with yours. Please, renew my mind and change my agenda.

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