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.

[May 16]--Transforming Grace

Titus 2:11-14; Phil. 2:12-13; Gal. 5:22-25

Today we finish our study on soteriology (why are you applauding?), and I’m going to wrap it up with a short discussion on God’s part in sanctification. Remember that sanctification is the process in which we become more like Christ in the way we think, talk, and act. We’ve gone over our part pretty extensively, and it's not rocket science: Spending time alone with God in reading his word and prayer, utilizing the church, and taking the practical steps you need in order to avoid sinful habits. But what’s God’s part in all this? What does he do?

Well, we know that he uses trials and discipline to grow us, but what does he do on the inside of us? The interesting thing is that there isn’t a lot in Scripture about this. There’s some, but not a lot of details. Quite frankly, the above passages were what I could find. Let’s take them one at a time. Before I go any further, however, I have to acknowledge that a lot of this material comes from Transforming Grace by Jerry Bridges, which I can’t recommend highly enough.

The Titus passage is one of my favorites in all Scripture, since it summarizes Christian belief so concisely. There’s not a lot that isn’t mentioned here: God’s grace in salvation, our sanctification, the Blessed Hope (I love that phrase), and why Jesus came in the first place and what’s his grand purpose for us. But I want to focus on one thing in particular here. Paul first talks about God’s grace that’s appeared to all men in bringing salvation. But what does he say next? That “It” teaches us to say “no” to the wrong things and “yes” to the right things. What’s “it”? The pronoun refers back to “grace.” In other words, the same grace that saves us also teaches us to be holy. There's saving grace and then there's sanctifying grace. When you were saved, more than just a transaction occurred. The Holy Spirit came to live inside you; this is one of the greatest gifts that the Father has given us, and now that Gift is working inside you and instructing you in holiness. This is grace that--in contrast to saving grace--we can grow in.

What do the verses in Philippians tell us? We are told to work out (not “for”) our salvation. The salvation that’s inside you is supposed to overflow into the physical world so that others can see it. What’s the Force behind this “working out” process? It’s God (in the Holy Spirit) who gives you both the motivation (“to will”) and the strength (“to act”) according to his purposes.

If you’ve been a Christian for any length of time, then you know what I’m referring to. You’re tempted to do something wrong, and there’s a voice inside you that says “You shouldn’t do that.” Or someone in need is in front of you, and this voice says “Step forward and help that person.” My friend, that’s not just your conscience telling you that. It’s the Holy Spirit moving within you, causing you to want to be obedient.

And Paul says that God is moving within you to act as well. When you don’t feel like doing more service, or you don’t think you can resist that temptation any longer, you can. The same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead (think about that power) now lives inside you, and he'll give you the strength you need.

And it’s the Spirit that produces fruit as well. Fruit is not formed by the tree “trying harder” or “putting more effort into it.” If the tree has the proper amount of water, sunlight, and nutrients from the soil, it’ll produce the fruit that its genetic structure determines. As we “keep in step with the Spirit” (which is our part again), he’ll produce the fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

How exactly does he do this? I don’t know, but I do know that he uses the means of our cooperation. As we do our part, he’ll do his. And over time, you (and other people) will see a change. And you’ll be amazed at what his transforming grace can do.

Father, thank you for your Spirit who’s changing me. I’m not what I should be, but I’m not what I used to be, and I’m not all that I will be. Please give me what I need to change.

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