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 15]--Judas

Matt. 26:14-25

History is sadly ironic at times. Next to Peter, this man has got to be the most famous of Jesus’ disciples (unless you count Paul, who wasn’t one of the original Twelve). He’s been the subject of countless psychological studies, and with good reason. Why would he do this? What could possess a man to do it?

First, we need to get some side-issues out of the way. Since I don’t believe that Christians can lose their salvation, I don’t believe that Judas lost his. Obviously this would mean that the man was never saved to begin with, since Jesus called him “doomed to destruction.” This'd also mean that he preached, taught, and performed miracles (including driving out demons), all while being unsaved and a pawn of the Enemy. Let’s take a lesson from this: Do not be impressed by a preacher who claims to heal sickness and perform miracles. Maybe he can—but that’s no indication that he’s right with the Lord.

So why would Judas do this? There are several theories out there, some more credible than others. Some scholars link his last name with the sicarii, a band of Jewish nationalists who assassinated any collaborators who cooperated with the hated Roman government. The theory goes that since Judas was a zealot, he agreed to join Jesus’ band (remember, he was hand-picked by Christ himself) only because he thought that Jesus was going to be the political and military conqueror who'd smite their enemies and free Israel. Once it became clear that Jesus wasn’t going to be that type of Messiah, Judas planned to betray him, possibly in order to force Jesus’ hand and turn some of the miraculous power he’d displayed as a show of force against Rome. I do admit it has some appeal to it, but it does seem to be reaching. Others, pointing to the fact that he was pilfering the treasury of Jesus’ ministry, think he was simply looking for some more money.

I don’t think we know exactly why, and we won’t until Eternity. We do know that Satan “entered” Judas, but just like in our discussion of Joseph’s brothers, there’s no indication that Judas was not responsible for his own actions. God planned it, Satan influenced him, but Judas had a decision to make, and he made the wrong one.

“The one who has dipped his hand into the bowl with me” just heightens the guilt. In ancient Middle Eastern culture (as today), to share a meal with someone was a sign of friendship and trust. John’s account notes that Jesus handed this piece of bread directly to Judas, probably as a last private appeal of love.

So did Judas perform an unpardonable sin? Leaving aside all questions of predestination, if Judas had asked for forgiveness, would Jesus had granted it? Of course he would. 1 John 1:9 promises that if we confess, he will forgive, cleanse, and restore, and it has no conditions on the heinousness of the sin. Moses, David, and Paul were all murderers whom we’ll meet someday in heaven. As someone pointed out to me, the problem was that Judas ended up looking up to the wrong tree. One tree was one of final regret and condemnation, while the other one promises mercy and forgiveness, no matter what we’ve done.

So what does this mean for us? First, we need to examine ourselves to make sure we’re really in the faith. For about three years, Judas had eaten with, slept next to, performed miracles in the name of, and had spent his lifetime with the Lord Jesus. But in the end, for whatever reason, he turned his back on all that. I thoroughly believe that he's the quintessential example of the unsaved church member, who's heard tons of sermons, heard plenty of Bible teaching, and who's even served in leadership positions but who has no personal relationship with the Savior.

Second, this passage should put a nail in the coffin of a disbelief in eternal punishment. If there were no such thing, or if there was an end to hell’s agony, then there is no way Jesus could have said about Judas “It would be better for him if he had not been born.” That could be the personal epitaph of everyone who has died outside of Christ, but it'd make no sense if the ultimate fate of the lost is annihilation and oblivion.

The bad news is that there is a real place called hell. The good news is that no one has to go there. Our Lord Jesus bled and died a horrible death to redeem us out of that horrible place. From the darkness of Judas’ soul let’s turn our focus to the Man who loves us and who'll one day gather us to himself.

Lord Jesus, I know that sometimes I’ve sold you for much less than 30 pieces of silver. And you keep forgiving me, and cleansing me. Please help me, change me, and remake me.

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