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 05]--Of Hypocrites and Sparrows
You might have heard this phrase before applied to various contexts, and it certainly applies to today’s passage: “Comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.” That actually summarizes pretty neatly the Bible’s approach to people in different circumstances. Within these twelve short verses we see a plethora of good instructions, along with a lot of what I call “tension” passages--those in which two opposite Biblical truths are held in tension in order to provide the perfect balance for us.
At this point in Jesus’ ministry, the crowds were multiplying and supposedly he was more popular than ever before. It was at this juncture that the Master decided to warn the disciples about hypocrisy. Apparently when more people are paying attention to you--and are applauding you--is a great time to fall into this trap. I’ll insert a short reminder here that “hypocrite” is from a Greek word meaning “mask.” When you’re unknown, you don’t have to worry about wearing a mask, but once your name starts getting “out there,” that popularity becomes more important than truth-telling. So be on your guard.
And what’s a good motivation for guarding against hypocrisy? Because there will come a day in which the mask is removed for everyone to see what it’s hiding: “There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known.” You might fool the crowds for now, but you won’t forever. One way or another, you’ll be exposed.
Why do people become hypocrites? Because they’re afraid of what people might do to them or say about them. But the worst they could ever do would be to kill your body, while God could do much worse. This is not a warning about losing your salvation (since the Bible doesn’t teach that you can lose it), but it’s a warning to us to set our priorities correctly. Don’t be afraid of people; fear God instead (in the right sense).
By the way, this passage is a great reason to know your Bible comprehensively and not just bits and pieces. Matthew 10:29 records where Jesus used a similar but slightly different phrase: “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care.” Apparently merchants selling little birds commonly had “sales” going on. If you bought two sparrows, it cost you a penny. If you bought four sparrows for two pennies, he would “throw in” one as a bonus. The poor lone sparrow, not even worth half a penny, was certainly not remembered. Except by the Father. He sees all. He knows all. And even the forgotten sparrow is not beneath his notice.
Please note that this is meant as both an encouragement and a warning. If you’re doing “shady” things that wouldn’t stand the harsh light of day, be assured of this: “You may be sure that your sin will find you out.” And if you’re faithfully serving the Lord, trying (however imperfectly) to do what’s right and you’re not getting the recognition you deserve, be assured of this: The God who even remembers the “leftover sparrow” has not forgotten you either.
And of course the real acid test of hypocrisy/truthfulness comes when the name of Christ falls in popularity (as it inevitably does) and it becomes the smartest thing in the world to keep quiet or even disown the name. We’re saved by grace through faith, not by proclaiming ourselves as Christians. But one way you can tell if you are saved is by openly and unashamedly associating with the name of Jesus when it costs you to do so. If you can’t do that, then maybe you need to reexamine whether or not you really belong to him.
If you do this—stand up and be counted a follower of Christ when it’s not popular—then you have a special promise. When you’re brought before authorities or other hostiles, you won’t need to worry about what to say, because he’ll put the words in your mouth. Please note the exact phrasing here: “When you are brought before synagogues, rulers and authorities. . .” not “When you’re responsible for a sermon or a Bible study and didn’t take the time to prepare beforehand. . .” Any preachers or teachers out there who try to claim promises like this are out of luck. Not that I’ve ever done anything like that, of course. . .
Lord Jesus, am I hiding behind a mask? Please create in me a pure heart, oh God, before it becomes necessary to bring everything out to the light of day. Please.