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.

[August 10]--The Spirit at Work: Anointed and Led

Matt. 3:13-17; Mark 1:12-13

Like we said yesterday, the Incarnation is a glorious mystery that should lead to worship, and the Spirit was the One sent by the Father to initiate the process. For about thirty years, the Son of God walked among humanity, and most people had no idea who he really was. Presumably he took the job of his adopted father Joseph, and quietly waited for his Father’s timing.

Then finally the day came for him to reveal himself to mankind. His cousin John was baptizing crowds of people in the Jordan, and he joined them. He approached John to be baptized like everyone else, and the Baptizer’s reaction was pretty unexpected. Somehow the Spirit made it clear to him that this was the One they were waiting for, and he tried to dissuade Jesus from being baptized: “I need this from you, and you’re coming to me?”

What was Jesus’ response? Basically you could paraphrase it as “This is the right thing to do. This is the Father’s plan, and we’re going to stick with it.” In order to be our Savior, he had to not only keep from disobeying the Father; he had to actively choose to obey him in order to—for lack of a better term—store up the righteousness we need.

Now here’s where the Spirit’s work comes in. Have you ever wondered why Jesus is called “the Christ”? Strictly speaking, it’s not a name; it’s a title. The word “Christ” or “Messiah” literally means “anointed one.” When a king or priest was inaugurated into his new position, they traditionally poured oil on his head. This was roughly equivalent to a president placing his hand on a Bible while taking an oath of office.

But there was no oil poured on Jesus’ head here. He was anointed by the Holy Spirit, just like Isaiah prophesied. The Holy Spirit came down on Jesus’ head, and at that moment he became the official Messiah. He’s the One chosen by God the Father to be our Savior and fulfill all the promises he'd made prior. This was completed by a public acknowledgement and official “stamp of approval” by the voice of the Father himself.

Now here’s where it gets really sticky. Right after the certification and pubic approval by the Father, Mark’s Gospel tells us that the Spirit “sent” him into the desert to be tempted by the Devil. Quite frankly, this might be too soft a term. This is the same Greek word which the Gospel writers used to describe the driving out of demons (like here). In other words, the Spirit strongly pushed our Savior out from civilization and into the first encounter with the Enemy of our souls. The same Spirit who anointed him and thus proclaimed him to be the Messiah now sent him into combat with his greatest enemy.

I get two applications out of this. First, this is the pattern for our Savior. He took on human flesh with all its frailties and weakness, and he laid aside his privileges and rights as God’s Son. He obeyed his Father’s instructions, and apparently these instructions and leading were through the Holy Spirit, at least in this case.

Of course, this is definitely the pattern for us as well. As believers, this is one of our greatest privileges of being God’s redeemed children: His Spirit lives inside us and leads us where we need to go.

Second, we need to keep in mind that the Spirit might lead us directions we might not be inclined to follow. His paths are counterintuitive at times. He never tempts us, but sometimes the road map he gives us can bring us under assault from our Enemy. At those times, it might even seem like we’re alone and unguarded. Take comfort. Although it may feel like it at times, he never ever ever leaves us unguarded. We’re the precious jewels in his crown! Would you leave something that valuable unsecured for some thief to snatch? What do you think?

Spirit of wisdom and understanding, your ways are not my ways, and your thoughts are not my thoughts. They’re much higher and better. Please give me listening ears and a soft heart.

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