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.

[Dec 05]—Friends of Jesus

            Now we come back to John’s Gospel (finally). But once again I’m faced with such an iconic passage, packed with so much “meat,” that I hardly feel like I can do it justice.
            Several years ago, when we had President Bill Clinton, I remember how he came from Arkansas and brought along with him a lot of close supporters and confidants. They were called “Friends of Bill,” or “FOB's,” to show that they'd been a supporter and adviser when he was just a governor in Arkansas. Now they were considerably moving up the political scale, advising the President of the United States, coming in and out of the White House and having vastly more influence and power than they ever had back in Arkansas.
            Now Jesus offers to us the title of “Friends of Jesus.” What do we know about this elite group, how do we join, and what are the benefits?
            Of course, right now, FOJ’s don’t seem to have a lot of influence most of the time.  They’re out of power, often mocked and persecuted, and most often aren’t seen occupying halls of power (America being the blatant exception at times).
            How do we join this group? By loving Jesus and by loving fellow believers.
            And how do we love Jesus, or at least show our love to him? By doing what he says. By following his instructions.
            I don’t know when I noticed this, but I find it slightly ironic. John’s Gospel is the only one of the four in which Jesus explicitly links obeying him and loving him: "If you love me, keep my commands." and then we read “You are my friends if you do what I command.” And what is the only command in John’s Gospel? “Love each other.” I thoroughly believe that the other Gospels are accurate records of Jesus’ commands as well: Love your enemies, freely give just like you’ve received, turn your cheek, etc. But here in his Gospel (written by “the apostle whom Jesus loved”), John only lists one command of Jesus.
            And what are the benefits?
            Well, first and foremost, we know that Jesus laid down his life for us. I believe in a sense he laid down his life for the entire world, but in a special and intimate way, he laid down his life for us, his friends. And of course, as often quoted, "Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends."
            For the second benefit, I’d like to remind you of one of the father of the faithful: Abraham. He was called God’s friend, and the Lord included him in on things which no other human knew on earth. When God was planning something, he said to himself, “I’d better include Abraham in on this.” In the same way, we have intimate knowledge of what Jesus is doing. Does this mean that we know everything that our Savior is doing? No. And of course there’s a sense in which we’re still God’s servants. But that’s not what he calls us. He calls us his friends, and we have the "inside scoop" of his plan and purpose. And there’s more to this than mere knowledge of facts. A servant is told what he needs to know, and nothing more. A Master of a servant doesn’t bare his heart to his servant, at least not normally. But Jesus has, to a large degree, opened his mind and heart to us.
            And finally we have the third benefit: Lasting fruit which leads to answered prayer. He chose us to be his friends, and thus we bear fruit. The interesting thing is that we would tend to think the reverse—We pray for fruit, and then the Father gives it to us. And I’m not saying that doesn’t happen. But here fruit precedes answered prayer. Why? Because as his friends, we have more intimate knowledge of his plans and purposes.  So of course you’re going to see more answered prayer: What you’re asking for is more in line with what Jesus wants. That’s what he means by asking “in [his] name”; it doesn’t mean tacking on “in Jesus’ name” on the end of your prayers like a lucky rabbit’s foot or a four leaf clover.
            You see, it’s all linked together: Jesus’ friends 1) Remain in him, 2) Are pruned by the Father, 3) Get answered prayer, 4) Obey Jesus’ commands, 5) Bear lasting fruit, and 6) Love fellow believers. You can’t have any one of these without the other five. It's all a package deal. 
            So how’s about you? How’s about me? Can I call myself a friend of Jesus?

Lord Jesus, I know that you call me a friend, but often I don’t act like one. By your grace, I want to be known as your friend, and I want to demonstrate all the marks of that title. 

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