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 9]--The Spirit at Work: Unique Conception

Matt. 1:18-23

So we’ve looked at how the Holy Spirit has been at work as God’s agent on earth since the creation. He was involved in the unique, intimate creation of mankind, in some mysterious way breathing into that lump of dirt and bringing it to life. He was behind every judge and every prophet. Every inspired (“breathed in”) word which a prophet uttered came from the Spirit. Now we come to the earthly life of Christ, and we’re going to see over the next few days how the Spirit was involved in every single major aspect of our redemption.

I really have to be careful here, because the Incarnation of Christ is a true mystery which the church took almost three hundred years to clarify. A word here needs to be examined further: “mystery.” When we use that term in the theological sphere, we aren’t referring to anything like you read about in detective novels. When we hear the word, we normally think of something that needs to be solved. We don’t know or understand X, so we need to keep probing and asking questions until we get a complete answer.

But that’s not the case here at all. When we talk about a “mystery” in this context, we’re looking at something so deep and so beyond our understanding that any human endeavor to unwrap it only ends up in frustration. Of course we want to understand it as best as our puny minds can allow, but we have to come to a realization sooner or later that we’re Aborigines trying to grasp nuclear physics. Actually that’s not a good analogy, because the Aborigine can eventually—with the right information and training—grasp the concept as well as any Westerner. But we could ponder and investigate a mystery in this sense for a million years and still never really wrap our heads around it. There are three of these mysteries we encounter in Scripture: the nature of the Trinity, the Incarnation, and the relationship between human will and divine sovereignty. Anyone who comes up to you and claims to fully grasp these things? Run the other direction.

We aren’t going to completely unwrap this mystery, and we aren’t supposed to. The proper response to something like this isn’t a scientific inquiry, but worship. Glory in the supposed contradictions. Kneel at the feet of the One whom we’ll never figure out. As I heard long ago, if I could completely understand him, I’d be him.

So we get to the Incarnation and the Spirit’s part in that. In some unknown fashion, the Holy Spirit entered the body of Mary and fertilized an egg within her. That egg became a fetus. No male bodily fluids involved. The fetus grew within the body of Mary to become a full-grown baby. How did the Spirit accomplish all this? Beats me. That’s why we call it a. . . well, you know.

So why is this important to us? It’s found within verse 23. In fact, the inscrutability of the Incarnation is found within these few verses, and this in particular captures the tension perfectly. Jesus had Mary’s DNA inside his body. He might've physically resembled her. He was fully human, with all the human frailties and weaknesses which we have, with the exception of sin.

But we have to remember the other part as well. He was conceived by the Holy Spirit. The Spirit—again—was the agent of the Father on earth. He was the instrument by whom the Son came into the world. And because of this, one of the names of Jesus captures this wonder for us: God with us. He’s God, and he’s with us. Not just visiting for a time, like he did on Sinai. No, he was, and is, permanently joined with human flesh. He is God with me. He’s God with you. He’s the forever bridge between humanity and God.

And the Spirit was the One who started the ball rolling.

Lord Jesus, I think this is a wonderful time, once again, to imitate Job for a while. Let me close my hands over my mouth and ponder this for a bit.

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