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.

[July 02]--Jesus and Beelzebub

Luke 11:14-23

When it comes to the “spiritual warfare” movement, I try to find a biblical balance between extremes. Some Christians (particularly of the Charismatic or Pentecostal persuasion) see demonic activity under every rock and in every shadow. If my car breaks down, it’s because it’s possessed by an evil spirit. If I’m sick, it’s because I have demon on my back. Others, as characterized by my own denominational background, tend to regard any treatment of this subject as crazy talk, and act as if all demonic activity stopped right after the Bible was completed.

The Bible, as always, presents us with a corrective to both parties. Yes, there’s spiritual warfare which goes on “behind the scenes” and of which we’re completely unaware. There are angelic and demonic forces which influence the world in which we live. But that’s not our main concern. It certainly isn’t the main concern of the N.T. Once you get out of the Gospels and Acts, there’s very little mention of what we'd call “spiritual warfare.” What’s the main focus of the Epistles of Paul, John, Peter, etc.? Simple, mundane things like loving and obeying Christ. Focusing on him and what he told us to do. Telling others about him and helping them to grow closer to him. There’s very little--and absolutely no commands--on facing down Satan and his minions, except through such mundane means as sharing the Good News with the lost, keeping in close communion with the Savior through prayer and the word, helping each other obey the Savior, etc. That’s how you hurt the Enemy. There’s not one word about us seeking “power encounters.”

Having said all that, today’s passage provides us with some good “behind the curtain” information. The first words of Jesus here have the distinction of being quoted by Lincoln. He was referring to America when he quoted Christ, making the point that a nation can’t stand for very long if it’s divided as ours was, and he was absolutely correct. Was he misusing Scripture by taking it out of context? I don’t think so, since the main principle still stands. And of course the same principle applies to any organization, including and especially a church.

Jesus’ argument was that if his power was coming from Satan, then Satan has a problem. Christ’s ministry was working against his interests. Christ was releasing people from Satanic bondage, not binding them further. This wouldn’t make any sense.

The second part of his defense was the exorcisms by disciples of the Pharisees. If Jesus’ actions were powered by Satan, then those others were illegitimate as well. In fact, if these are the same ones mentioned in Acts chapter 19, then Jesus’ exorcisms are far more legitimate.

By the way, it’s interesting to note that Jesus uses the same exact phrase (“finger of God”) that Pharaoh’s magicians used when confronted by the miracles done through Moses. I think the Master used this deliberately, since that was another time in which Satan’s power and God’s power collided in a real “power encounter,” with similar results.

Then Jesus comes to a very meaningful analogy for us. In case you didn’t figure it out, Satan is the “strong man” who guards his possessions. And Christ wasn’t kidding when he used this term for the Enemy of our souls. He’s far stronger than you and me, and in any direct confrontation between him and me, there’s no contest. Peter calls him a “roaring lion,” and there’s a special term for a fight between a lion and a man: lunch.

But the good news is that we aren’t meant to face this Enemy, at least not in our own strength. The “stronger” one is not me. It’s the Lord Jesus Christ. In a sense, this is what he came to do. He’s invaded Satan’s “house,” and he’s attacked, taken away the “armor,” and is in the process of taking and dividing up the “spoils.”

That’s you and me, by the way. We belonged to our own Enemy, and now Jesus has come to claim us as his own. With every soul who trusts in and submits to Christ, Satan’s kingdom shrinks.

So how do we apply this? Well, there’s one in the last verse. There’s a world war going on all around us, and there’s no Switzerland here. There’s no neutral territory and no neutral souls. As C.S. Lewis put it, every square inch of this universe is claimed by the Enemy and counterclaimed by Christ. Two questions—both for me and for you: Which side are you on? Which side are you helping most?

Lord Jesus, I belong to you. I know it and you know it, but my actions don’t show it all the time. I want my banner flying in the breeze, not folded up in a box. And with your help, it will.

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