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.

[Sept 02]--Paying Taxes (Our Favorite Subject)

Matt. 22:15-22

I know it’s probably going to anger some people, but I do have some sympathy for (some) IRS agents. We all know that we have to pay taxes to pay for government to function, but none of us relish it. I’m sure that a lot of IRS personnel are honest and nice people, but the popularity of their job usually ranks around the bottom, along with politicians and used-car salesmen.

But as unpopular as taxes and the IRS are today, they’re embraced with a hug and kiss compared to how the Jewish people saw them during the time of the Gospels. At least we can say that we’re living under a government that we’ve chosen, and if the taxes are too high or unfair we can work to change that. But Israel was held captive by the hated Roman government, and she had absolutely no choice in how she was governed. Every penny collected in taxes was used to support an oppressive system that held them under its boot. Tax collectors, who were Jews hired by the Romans, were commonly assassinated as collaborators. So do you start to get the idea that the Jewish people hated taxes?

So along came the Pharisees and the Herodians with the specific intention of “trapping [Jesus] in his words.” They asked a simple moral question, and either a “yes” or “no” would get him in trouble. If he said yes, then the people would despise him as a Roman sympathizer. If he said no, then they would accuse him before the Roman officials as promoting sedition (a capital offence). In case you didn’t know, by the way, the Herodians were supporters of King Herod. The Pharisees, ardent nationalists, would normally loathe them, but when it came to Jesus, these sworn enemies were perfectly happy to work together to oppose him.

Also notice how they try to “butter him up” in order to throw him off. Beware of flattery! We make a grave mistake if we think that persecution and trouble are the only weapons in the Enemy’s arsenal. What was it that brought down Samson--the armies of the Philistines? No, the flattery of a woman. What was Hezekiah’s final downfall? Was it due to the Assyrian army who marched against him? No, it was the flattery of the Babylonian ambassadors. As J. C. Ryle put it, Satan is never so dangerous as when he masquerades as an angel of light, and the world is never so dangerous to the Christian as when it smiles.

So what was Jesus’ answer? “Give to Caesar what is Caesar's, and to God what is God's.” What a perfect response, completely confounding them in their efforts! But this raises some questions which we need to examine.

What belongs to Caesar? According to Romans 13:1-7, we should obey all authorities which are over us, whether we agree with them or not. All authority has been put in place by God, and the person in authority is God’s servant. Does this mean that God agrees with everything the authority does? Of course not! Just read the books of 1 and 2 Kings to see plenty of examples of his displeasure at kings. But it does mean we need to change our outlook of government and all other authorities which are over us. And yes, this means paying the taxes we owe.

But what belongs to God? Well, Scripture tells us that he deserves first loyalty. If the state tells us to disobey God, there’s no question as to whom we obey. But today’s passage raises an interesting point. Jesus requested a coin and asked them what image was inscribed on it. So the coin belongs to Caesar because his image is stamped upon it. So what about us? Whose image do we bear? What’s implied here?

Lord Jesus, my first and ultimate loyalty goes to you. I belong to you, twice over. You created me, and you redeemed me. Please help me to live like it.

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