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 21]—Visions

Amos 7:1-9

            Apparently the Lord’s patience with Israel was quickly running out. The Lion had roared, the formal charges had been made, judgment was coming. The Lord gave Amos three visions which give us a lot of insight into how he deals with us and our sin issue.
            God had declared earlier that he doesn’t do anything without notifying his prophets in advance. Of course this is speaking hyperbolically, but the point is still valid: He reveals what people need to know. Therefore, no one has an excuse.
            But there’s another reason (besides warning people) why the Lord reveals his planned judgment to his prophets. He revealed this in order to invite his prophet to intercede for sinful people. Amos was following in a grand tradition that included Abraham (the first man listed in Scripture as a prophet), Moses, an unnamed man of God, Elijah, Elisha, Isaiah, and Jeremiah.
Literally interceding means to “stand in the gap,” which is the phrase that the Lord used with Ezekiel. Between God and sinful people there’s a grand canyon called sin. The prophet acted as a “go between,” for the two parties. He represented the Lord to the people by proclaiming the word revealed to him. But he also represented the people to the Lord, pleading their case, especially when they’re about to be destroyed due to their sin.
In today’s reading, the Lord gave Amos three visions, all related to each other. The first was one of the most terrifying to people of that era, actually in any era except to modern residents of the West. Locusts, as we mentioned before with Joel, usually mean a lot of people were going to slowly starve to death—a particularly unpleasant way to die. In his vision, Amos saw the land picked clean, meaning the marauding insects got everything.
So he cried out to the Lord. Notice some things about his intercession. First, he addresses his Master as “Sovereign Lord,” denoting a healthy respect for the Person with whom he was speaking. He asked God to forgive them, but notice that he doesn’t appeal to the people’s goodness or righteousness. No, he appeals to God’s compassion. Israel looked with pride on her accomplishments and conquests which supposedly she’d done herself, but the prophet acknowledged how weak and defenseless they really were.
Also take note—this is very important—the Lord doesn’t exactly give in completely to his request. The prophet pled with the Lord to forgive, but the next verse says he “relented” and said “OK, this particular judgment won’t happen.” That’s it. He makes no promise to forgive them.
The next vision reinforced the second, although this time it seems to be describing more of a quick judgment instead of lingering starvation. Again the prophet respectfully begged the Lord to relent, and once again he did. Just like Jonah, Amos knew that he’s “a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity,” and once again he demonstrated this.
But then we see something very different from the first two visions. The Lord showed him a wall and a plumb line. And if you’re not sure what that is, don’t feel bad because I had to learn about it as well. It’s a tool that people used to build walls and other structures, consisting of a long string and a weight. You held the string at the top of the wall and let it dangle, and by comparing the plumb line to the wall you could tell if the wall was built straight or crooked.
Unlike the other times, the Lord didn’t merely threaten a national calamity that affected people indiscriminately. This time, he was very specifically comparing their behavior to an objective standard. Obviously this is a symbol of his revealed word—in their case, the Torah. Also in this case, the prophet didn’t try to intercede. The Lord’s written  word was final, literally.
So I see three things this passage teaches us: 1) God’s reprieves are not pardons, 2) His people are called to intercede between him and lost sinners, and 3) His judgments are not capricious or based on a whim, but are a reasoned comparison between his standards--as laid out in his word--and our performance.
So, whom are you going to pray for today?

Father God, it's amazing to me that you invite me into your throne room and use my poorly worded prayers as you reach out to sinners. Wow. 

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