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.

[May 06]—The Sin of Gaza

Amos 1:6-8

            Next the Holy Spirit caused his servant to turn his prophetic eye towards Gaza. You’re probably familiar with the Philistines from the book of Judges (that’s who many of the Judges, like Samson, fought), and Gaza was one of their main commercial centers. Ashdod, Ashkelon, and Ekron were the other three main cities of Philistia.
            Apparently some men made a business out of raiding villages in southern Judah and selling their captives to neighboring Edom. For this sin, the “one that broke the camel’s back,” the Lord was going to do to them what he did to Damascus: He would set fire to their walls and their fortresses, the military resources in which they placed their trust. He'd destroy their king, the national symbol of their might.
            We’ve discussed slavery before, so I won’t go too much into the moral issues that are involved. Let’s just go over a few of the basics: The Lord hates slavery, not least because it degrades the image we all bear. To treat someone who bears the image of God Almighty like an animal or a thing is to completely disregard this truth. His ultimate plan has never been for anyone to be held as slaves and thus be treated as animals or things.
            True, once again we have to face the world as it was and is, not as we’d like it to be. Slavery has always been a sad reality of human existence. However, most people in slavery back then were captured as prisoners of war. It’s certainly far less than God’s ideal for humanity, but if a nation went to war against a nation, what was it supposed to do with the survivors? Much of the time the choice was to let them go (and see them come back in the next battle), keep them as slaves of some sort, or kill them.
            But as bad as keeping slaves as prisoners of war was, this was far far worse. These were slave raiders. They invaded villages and kidnapped people to be sold into slavery, which actually is a lot closer to American slavery than most of what you read about in the Old Testament.
            What about today? Slavery is outlawed worldwide, thanks mostly to the Bible (the rallying text of abolitionists for more than 200 years). Those countries which do practice it in secret certainly don’t advertise that fact to the world. All of humanity finally realizes—at least in theory—how wrong it is to buy, sell, and own people like animals or things.
            But have we really learned this lesson? Have we really understood the impact of this radical statement: “Every single person is created in God’s image and bears his mark, and thus is to be treated with dignity and respect according to that truth.”?
            What about a multi-billion dollar industry of pornography which sees women and men as things to be bought and sold? What about legalized prostitution which sees nothing wrong with selling a girl’s body? Trust me, the vast majority of women and young girls who are prostitutes are not in this sick industry willingly.
            Christians might legitimately disagree about the role of government regarding personal behavior. But even if we disagree on the legality of things like prostitution and pornography, can we at least agree on the degrading nature of it, that it treats precious creatures who bear his image as things, something to be bought, sold, used, and discarded?
            Truth is painful, sometimes, isn’t it?

Father God, I can’t claim total innocence in this matter. I try, I really try to keep my thoughts pure before you. May my thoughts and my eyes bring honor, glory, and pleasure to you. 

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