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.
Isaiah 53:10-12; Rom. 1:1-4; Rev. 1:12-20
So what can I say about the Resurrection that I didn’t say before? Last year we went over what a difference this one event made—and continues to make--in our lives. So this year I thought I might look at it from a different angle. What was going on “behind the scenes”? Scripture only sparingly parts the curtain into the spiritual realm, but it does give us some hints.
First, I noticed this a couple of days ago when we looked at Isaiah 53 concerning the Passion. Look carefully at the first phrase of vs. 11, and ponder that for a moment. Let me open a window into our Savior’s mind as he rose up from the tomb. I don’t know what else was going through his thoughts, but this one thing I know that he was thinking: “It was worth it.” Stepping out of Heaven and away from the worship of angels. Squeezing himself down into a human body. Living in poverty. Having to look upon the suffering and sin around him. Tiredness. Hunger. Thirst. Temptation. Frustration. Arrest. Betrayal. Mockery. Slander. Torture. Agony. Forsaken by the Father. Death. All of it was worth it: “After the suffering of his soul, he will see the light of life and be satisfied.”
And what else? The Romans passage tells us something else about this event that you might not have considered. According to vs. 4, Jesus “was declared with power to be the Son of God by his resurrection from the dead.” Now obviously he was God’s Son before then. There never was a time in which he wasn’t. But the Resurrection proclaimed who he was. The Father placed the stamp of approval, so to speak, on the Son through this. That’s why when Jesus saw his apostles, he could say that “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” Even before the Ascension, the proclamation had already been made official in the spiritual realm. To the human eye, nothing had changed. But to the assembled powers in Heaven and in Hell, everything had changed.
And finally we turn to the passage in Revelation. What picture of Jesus do you have in your mind? I grew up with a picture of a “meek and mild” Jesus who was as gentle as a lamb. In fact we had a literal picture of him like this at the church where I grew up, as a mural on the wall. I don’t know exactly what he looked like while he was walking around Galilee. I do know this, however: He certainly doesn’t look like that now. Read again the description of what John saw on the Island of Patmos.
On a side note, this is a great source of comfort to me, believe it or not. Quite frankly, I fear for the future of the church, especially in America. There are so many things that are wrong with her, sometimes I don’t know whether to laugh or cry. But then I read this, and it reminds me of something. The churches are being held in the hand of the Living One, the One who was dead and who’s now alive. Again, to human eyes, the situation is grim, and nothing has changed. But behind the scenes, everything has changed.
So what’s my main point here? What’s the word that runs through all these different passages? Victory. Over the grave. Over the Enemy of our souls. Over your sin and mine.
And the wonderful corollary to this? His victory is yours and mine. Today in part, and tomorrow in full. Someday--perhaps sooner rather than later--what’s been going on “behind the scenes” will spill out into the world in which we live. And I can’t wait. Can you?
Lord Jesus, all authority in heaven and on earth has been placed under your feet, which is right where it belongs. And that includes me.
1 Cor. 15:3-8
Yesterday we ended the book of Daniel with a reference to evangelism. Daniel said that those who “lead many to righteousness [will shine] like the stars for ever and ever.” I think that’s a great segue into a subject I’ve been wanting to bring up for some time, namely evangelism. Of course, this isn’t a full course like Evangelism Explosion or anything like that. But I think I’m qualified to teach a short primer on it.
Today we’re going to talk about the need. Now, before you check out and say “Thanks Keith, but I know that people are going to Hell. What I need is to be able to witness to them,” you might be surprised by what I have to say on it.
Before we get to the surprising part, let’s get to the stuff you’re expecting me to say. Yes, there is a Hell. Please read the passage from Revelation again.
It's real. It's eternal. Once you get in, you’re never leaving. Is it literal fire? Here’s my answer to the question: If it isn’t literal fire like we understand fire, it’s worse. God has a tendency to use human terms that we can understand in order to convey spiritual reality that we haven’t experienced.
And everyone who doesn't have faith in Jesus Christ is going there. Any family that you have who’s not a believer. That really nice Jewish doctor who treats your mother. The kind Buddhist who’s polite to you in the grocery checkout line. This is what the Bible unambiguously teaches. You might disbelieve it or dispute it, but that's what it teaches.
Another reason? Please forgive me for stating the obvious, but I think we tend to forget it: Our Lord commanded it. The passage from Matthew is one of the most famous in the Bible, at least for those who take commands from the Lord seriously. The same God who told us “Don’t steal,” “Don’t commit adultery,” and “No other gods besides me,” also told us to go and make disciples of all nations. This is not an option.
The third reason is one you might not have thought before. In a man-centered culture, this escapes a lot of Bible-believing Christians. I heard it from John Piper, but I’m sure he’s not the one who originated it. Here it is: The glory and honor of God. Every person who's not believing in--and submitting to--Christ is depriving the Lord of the rightful glory and honor that belongs to him.
That’s the conclusion I draw from the Ephesian passage. Why were you saved? Was it mainly for your sake? Was it out of compassion for you? Yes, he has compassion for you. Yes, you’re a beneficiary of all this. But you were not saved for your own sake. You were saved in order to bring glory to the One who saved you. See how many times Paul mentions this here: “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. . .” “for the praise of his glory,” “to the praise of his glory.” This is why you were saved. Not to be too crude about it, but in a sense your purpose of existence and in salvation is to be. . . a living trophy. Forever and forever and forever my every being and action will be to praise and honor and magnify and worship and give credit to my Savior.
And he deserves it. Every bit of it. Every moment of it.
And the flip side of this, obviously, is that every person who’s out there who’s not part of this is depriving God of what belongs to him. That person is a thief.
That’s what I’d like to have as my main motivation, by the way. Compassion for the lost is a wonderful thing. If a believer is fervently witnessing because he doesn’t want anyone to go to Hell, I certainly don’t want to do anything to discourage him. And it is an issue of obedience to Christ’s explicit command. But most importantly, above all, I want my Savior to get what he deserves.
Lord Jesus, you deserve it. Every part of me, and every part of everyone else. You deserve the honor and praise and worship and thanksgiving. What can I do to help that along?