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.

[Dec 11]--Kindness

Matt. 12:15-21

Sorry, couldn’t come up with any catchy title—If you’ve read this for a while, you know that titles are my weakest suit. This is one that also needs some explanation, but that’s what I’m here for!

Kindness is the second of the aspects of love which Paul uses in his classic description of the great virtue. That’s because kindness is an essential element of it. Here once again I turn to MacArthur’s definition, since it crystallizes it so well: “Tender concern for others, reflected in a desire to treat others gently, just as the Lord treats all believers.”

I thought about it for a bit, and decided that today’s passage gives the best illustration of what we’re talking about. Matthew was addressing the collision between the Jews’ popular expectations concerning the Messiah and who Jesus actually turned out to be. He knew that if word got out about him prematurely, then that could precipitate a confrontation between him and the religious leaders and/or Rome, and that wasn’t his plan. He wasn’t there to set up a physical kingdom (this time around). Instead, his agenda was to establish a spiritual Kingdom, and part of that was showing kindness to the “least of these” in society.

Verse 19 addresses his aversion to a political agenda, but verse 20 is what I really want to focus on today, because it’s such a beautiful picture of what he came to do, and most of us miss it because we’re not familiar with that time period. You know what reeds are, right? Those tall hollow things that grow in shallow waters. People of that time commonly cut a piece off and used it as a musical instrument, commonly like a flute by shepherds. Over time, it was worn out and useless, and since they were a dime-a-dozen, most people threw them out and promptly replaced them with a new one. A “smoldering wick” was a candle wick in its last stages before it burned out. Of course, the most natural thing in the world is to just snuff it out, since it was on its last legs anyway.

My friend, can you think of any better description of how the world treats its own? Ask the person nearing retirement age who’s replaced by a younger employee because the company is looking for “new blood.” Ask an aging female movie star who used to get male blood pumping and who now doesn’t get any calls from her agent because she’s “over the hill.” Think of the people in nursing homes who are abandoned and forgotten by their families, who are just waiting to die.

That’s how the world treats people, but it’s not what Jesus does. He looks at the ones who are worn-out, considered useless and ready to be thrown out and replaced, and instead of casting them out, he gently picks them up, cleanses them from their past and finds vital use for them in his Kingdom. That’s his kindness in action.

Once again, we need to be careful about how we approach this. Although the world isn’t kind at times, it does sometimes overemphasize this virtue over others like truth. Remember that in Paul’s description of love, he tells us that it “delights in the truth.” Yes, you can make a case that it’s kind to protect someone from unpleasant realities. But that’s not the full picture of love. All of us at times needs some "tough love," right? So sometimes the kind thing is not the loving thing.

However, in spite of how the world overemphasizes this at times, that doesn’t negate the fact that it is an aspect of the Fruit of the Spirit. As we grow closer in our relationship with Christ, sometimes the work he does on us is to “smooth” some of the “rough edges” so that we’re more considerate of others’ feelings. Some people have a more natural gift in this area (like my wife), while others (like me) need Christ to work on us some more.

So how about you? Do you need the Spirit to work on you as well?

Lord Jesus, I praise you because that’s what you do with people. I thank you because that’s what you’ve done with me. Please guide me with your Spirit to be as kind to others as you are with me.

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