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.

[April 28]--The Worship of Fools

Ecc. 5:1-7

Let me ask you a question. If you worked in a nuclear power plant, do you think you’d approach the reactor with a certain amount of respect? Do you think you’d keep up with the stats and different readings that you need to keep it from blowing sky high? Do you think you’d pay attention to the instruction manuals which tell you what you need to know?

If so, then I would contrast that with how we approach the Almighty in worship. He’s a lot more dangerous than a nuclear reactor, isn’t he? As N.T. believers, especially as influenced by American culture, we take such a lackadasical attitude towards him. We’re so used to treating him as our buddy, someone we can “hang with.” Today’s passage has a word for those who approach him like that: Fool.

Now I can hear the objections right now: We’re not in the Old Testament times any more! We’re under grace now! Jesus has made the way for us into the presence of the Father! All of this is true, and I’m glad it is. When Christ died, the veil in the temple which seperated the Most Holy from humanity was torn in half, from top to bottom. Most of the book of Hebrews emphasizes this point.

But that doesn’t mean we can take him lightly. He hasn’t lowered his standards of holiness one iota. He's still sovereign God, and we need to respect that.

And how would that be worked out on the practical level? If we’re supposed to “guard our steps” when we enter into worship, either alone or with others, what does that mean? Does it mean we cower in fear? Of course not. If I would summarize Solomon’s counsel on worship, it would all go under the heading of “listen a lot more than you talk.” And there are two good reasons for this.

First, it keeps you from a good amount of foolishness. Notice how the “the sacrifice of fools, who do not know that they do wrong” is contrasted with listening. If you listen to God’s word, it’ll tell you where you’re screwing up. If you’re there to make noise, then you can’t be listening. As we see in Proverbs, if you talk long enough, eventually you'll say something foolish or even sinful. And if there’s an area of disobedience in your life, then God isn’t going to be impressed with your sacrifice. In fact, he detests them. This includes any money you put in the plate along with any prayers that you offer.

Second, it’ll keep you out of rash commitments. Naturally if the Lord is calling you to make some sacrifice for him, some act of service, then you’d best be doing it. But if you’re too busy talking and not listening, then you can end up making a promise that you can’t keep. And Solomon says that it’s better that you keep your mouth shut than to write checks you can’t cash. There could be some really bad consequences if you do that. If you make a vow to him, then you need to keep it.

Obviously this needs to be kept in context. Does God not want us to pray? Does he not want to hear from us? Of course he does. He told us to come to him and present our requests to him. That means speaking to him. But I find that’s it a very good thing to practice some silence when you come into his presence. Stop praying, stop talking, and listen to him. Read his word and let it soak into you. Stand (or sit) in awe of God for a few moments. Then talk.

Again, we need balance. We’re not coming like slaves before a harsh master, or like prisoners who are waiting for a condemnation from a judge. But we are coming before our Father who deserves respect, awe, and godly fear. Don’t be a fool.

Father, I’m so sorry for the times I’ve entered your presence with such casualness. So many times I need to follow Job’s example and slap my hand over my mouth. In fact, let me do that right now.

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