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 08]--What Was Wrong With The Pharisees? Part Three

Matt. 23:16-24

In the third part of why Jesus had such a problem with the Pharisees, we need to learn something about oaths. It’s not something we think much about, except when someone swears to tell the truth in court. Why does someone do this? What does it mean to raise your right hand and swear to tell the truth, “so help me God”? Why do Presidents put their hand on the Bible when they’re taking an oath of office?

When someone takes an oath like this, they’re doing more than just saying “I promise to do this.” They’re bringing God into the situation, asking him to be a witness that the one swearing is telling the truth and will keep the promise. If the oath is broken, then he invites the Lord to come in and punish him appropriately.

So why was Jesus bringing up the issue of oaths? Because the Pharisees were splitting hairs in order to get out of what they were promising. They would say “X doesn’t really mean anything, but if I swear by Y then that’s something important!”

When someone does something like this, they’re being dishonest, but they’re also being forgetful. Whenever two people are talking, there’s an unseen listener, someone who's recording every word. Whether I mean to or not, I’m bringing God into the conversation. If I swear by “the altar” then I’m swearing by the One to whom the altar is dedicated. If I swear by “the temple” then I’m swearing by the One who dwells in it. If I swear by “heaven,” then I’m swearing by the One who sits on the throne there. I might think that I’m somehow leaving God out of it by only swearing by inanimate objects, but I’m not. Remember, every word of every conversation is being recorded, and if I claim to be a follower of Jesus then I need to be the type of person who has a reputation that my “yes” means “yes” and my “no” means “no.” I shouldn’t have to swear on a stack of Bibles to get someone to believe what I’m saying.

The second part of the passage is related to the first. The Pharisees, as someone once described to me long ago, were experts at “majoring in the minors.” They'd strain out with a cloth any gnats (the smallest unclean animal) from their water while swallowing a whole camel (the largest unclean animal). What God considered less important, they fixated upon. What God considered more important, like “justice, mercy and faithfulness” was completely left in the dust.

Does this mean that outward expressions of devotion, like tithing, are not important? Um, no. Verse 23 is pretty specific. Nothing here lets us off the hook when it comes to demonstrating our faith. If my heart is right with him, I will show it in acts of devotion. If I don’t, then something’s wrong. But this does serve as a warning that it’s easy to focus on outward expression and have a heart that isn’t right with God.

So how’s your speech? Do you have the reputation as someone who can answer a simple question with “yes” or “no” without a bunch of caveats and asterisks? Have you forgotten that he’s listening? Or have you put on a show for people, straining out a gnat while swallowing a camel?

Lord Jesus, your word is like a surgeon’s scalpel, cutting and healing at the same time. Please change me, from the inside-out. I so desperately need that.

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