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.

[Sept 03]—(The Right Kind Of) Zeal


            What do you think of when I describe someone as “zealous”? Is it a mostly positive or negative image? Today we’re going to take a look at Paul’s admonition to “never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.” It’s a short verse, but the subject of zeal is one that’s worth examining on its own.
            I guess it’s not a word we use very much nowadays, but a rough equivalent that people do use would be “passion.” Like “tradition,” your reaction to that word would tell me a lot about you, and I could make a reasonably good guess about how old you are. If you instinctively react positively to the word “passion,” then you’re probably 40 or under. If you react to “passion” with suspicion, then you’re probably over 40, or possibly were raised in a more politically conservative household.
            The word “passion” in this and in most Pauline contexts is zelon or some permutation thereof. Literally it’s “boiling,” used either literally or figuratively. Paul uses the word, by my count, 6 times: Romans 10:2, here, Galatians 1:14; 4:17 and 18, and Phil. 3:6. If you look at the references, you’ll see that most of the time, he’s talking about Jewish legalists, either the ones he was fighting throughout his ministry over the purity of the message about salvation in Christ, or the one he used to be before he encountered Jesus. Galatians 4:17-18 are particularly interesting, in that he uses it in a bad context in vs. 17 in talking about the legalists (being zealous in their perversion of the Message), but in the very next verse he says that “It is fine to be zealous, provided the purpose is good, and to be so always, not just when I am with you.”
            “Provided the purpose is good”: I think that’s the key. Another clue is found in Romans 10:2: Paul says that Jews of his day were “zealous for God, but their zeal is not based on knowledge.” Zeal, or passion if you prefer, is fine—actually it’s necessary--provided it’s pointed in the right direction. Boiling is great, but it’s like fire in general: Within the proper confines, channeled into the right direction, it’s absolutely necessary for our walk with Christ. Outside its proper confines, given free rein to do as it pleases, it’s an incredibly destructive force.
            Your zeal has to be based on knowledge. Knowledge of what? Knowledge of the truth found in God’s word, of course. I’ve talked about this before, so please forgive me for repeating myself some, but this is something this generation has got to hear. Your passion needs to be based upon the truth as found in the Bible. That means intensive study of the Scriptures has to be the foundation of your zeal, the boiling in your bones. If you’ve ever heard someone say “It doesn’t matter what you believe, as long as you’re sincere,” then they’ve fallen into a trap.
            “Zeal without knowledge” is the root of much evil in this world, and it was behind the crucifixion of our Lord Jesus, and according to the book of Acts it was behind most of the persecution of the early church. It was what motivated Saul of Tarsus to go from house to house to round up Christians.
            But it was this same zeal which led Saul to go to Damascus to arrest more Christians, and when he met the Lord Jesus on that road and became a believer, then an interesting thing happened. When the Lord grabbed a hold of his heart, did he (the Lord) mitigate or lessen in any way that same zeal? Absolutely not! No, the Lord turned him in the right direction and set that zeal loose. The same passion which led Saul to arrest believers in the Way now led him to preach that same Way on street corners and in synagogues and on Mars Hill and in prison to his jailers. 
            If you’re like me, your main danger is not so much passion in the wrong direction; it’s apathy in going in the right one. Way too many of us, especially after we’ve been believers for a while, tend to let our passion for our Savior to cool. We’re not hot for him, and we’re not cold (in opposition). No, we’re lukewarm. And that’s not good. Not at all.

Father God, I see the need. I need so desperately to reclaim that “boiling” I once had for you. By your Spirit, set my heart aflame with passion for you. Please, please, please. 

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