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 07]--What Was Wrong With The Pharisees? Part Two

Matt. 23:13-15

Why does God hate hypocrisy so much? Why did Jesus speak so strongly against the Pharisees? Today’s passage gives us some more insight.

What is it that angers God, that really gets him riled up? Well, sin will do the trick, but there’s something that might even get him even more upset. If we sin against him that’s bad, but if we keep others away from him, that’s far worse. Not only did the Pharisees not accept the Truth, but they did everything within their power to keep others away from salvation as well. The most dangerous thing in the world is to stand between God and someone who's honestly seeking him.

One of the strange things about this modern age is the value placed upon zeal. It matters very little what a person does, whether the impact from their lives has been positive or negative, as long as they really put their “all” into it. Everyone supposedly wants to "make a difference." As someone pointed out to me several years ago, however, Hitler “made a difference.”

Now the Pharisees were certainly zealous about what they were doing. Zeal in itself is not a bad thing. In fact, it’s a huge asset, but only if pointed in the right direction. Paul, who was “a Pharisee, descended from Pharisees,” was very zealous before he encountered the Christ on the road to Damascus. When he was converted, did Jesus change Paul's personality to reflect less zeal? Of course not! The Lord took all that zeal and just channeled it into his service.

Why is this important? Because zeal in the wrong direction is worse than a merely sinful lifestyle—It brings others down with you. Jesus said that the disciples of the Pharisees were “twice as much a son of hell as [they were].” These converts were actually better off before the Pharisees got to them.

Here are some hard lessons for me. I’m not a naturally zealous person. I’m better than I used to be, but the Lord has had to work on me with that. I’m pointing in the right direction, but no one ever accused me of being a fanatic on anything. Now, the Pharisees were doing more harm than good, but can I actually learn something from them? Do I “travel over land and sea to win a single convert”? Do I even cross the street?

I know that I’m in God’s kingdom, but am I inviting others to come in through the door after me, or am I “[shutting] the kingdom. . .in people's faces”? Brennan Manning once said "The biggest cause of atheism is Christians who acknowledge Jesus with their lips and deny him with their lifestyle.”

My Lord had some really tough words for the Pharisees, but a lot of what he’s condemning them for is sounding awfully--uncomfortably--familiar. How about you?

Lord Jesus, please, please, please—may every word I speak, every action I take, draw other people towards you instead of away from you. Make my life a clear reflection of you, of your holiness, your grace, and your love.

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