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 25]--Forgiveness

Matt. 18:21-35

I have to confess that this is one of my favorite parables in all the Gospels. It’s a wonderful indication of how our Lord was able to pack so much meaning into just a few short verses.

I saw a sign outside of a church once that said “Marriage is the union of two forgivers,” and that’s true of all human relationships. We all sin, we all struggle with a sinful and selfish nature, and if two people spend any amount of time together they’re going to have something to forgive. Most people, believer and nonbeliever, readily admit that we need to forgive each other, but where Christ takes us to a whole new level is in not only why we forgive but where is the upper threshold of forgiveness.

Peter asked his Master about this issue, and actually he was being pretty generous by the standards of his day. Most rabbis taught that you were required to forgive up to three times, but he offered up the number seven. Jesus’ answer, in effect, brings us to a completely different attitude altogether. In effect, Peter was asking how much “debt” someone could enter in our ledger, and Jesus told us to throw the ledger out. He’s not telling us to forgive 77 times (or 490 times, depending on your translation). He 's telling us to stop counting.

Remember when I talked about parables, and warned that not everything in a parable corresponds to something symbolized? Well, that rule doesn’t apply here, because you can easily see how every character symbolizes something else. The king is obviously God, and the unmerciful servant represents us, at least how we tend to be. None of us could ever pay him back the debt we owe, and all of us as believers have had our slates completely wiped clean.

And of course the forgiven servant went out and found a fellow servant who owed him just a few dollars, and treated him in the exact opposite way he had just been treated. Did you notice that the second servant’s appeal is almost word-for-word the same as what the first servant had said to the king?

What does the prison symbolize? Some people (wrongly, I believe) try to make the prison out to be hell, but I don’t think so. I believe that the Bible is pretty clear that you can’t lose your salvation, and it does make sense for it to be something else. Have you ever met someone who couldn’t forgive, who was still holding onto some hurt or slight or offense from years ago? Did they seem happy to you? Any joy there? Any peace? I would nominate them as the most miserable people on earth. The worst prisons on earth are those without any physical walls.

So now we have two very good reasons to forgive. The first is an appeal to what’s right. My friend, if you’re a believer, if Christ has forgiven you your sins, then you have no right not to forgive. I promise you, no matter what they did to you, it’s nothing compared to what you’ve done to the heart of our Father. And the second reason? Pure self-interest. You'll have no joy, no peace, and no true fellowship with your Father until you let it go.

I realize that I may be talking to someone who has a lot to forgive. I’m not talking about “You dented my car.” Maybe it’s “You stole my innocence as a child,” or “You murdered my family member.” I'd never presume to tell you to forgive that person, but Jesus does. You might not feel you can, but you can. With his strength, his power, his Spirit, you can. Quite frankly, it’s not really an issue of “can” but “want to.” Some people actually want to hold onto the anger, the bitterness, the hate. Please don’t be one of them.

Lord Jesus, I have absolutely no right to hold onto this anger. You forgave me, and that’s reason enough. Please help me, give me the strength, and the desire, to do this.

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