What if it Had Been Tuesday?

Today’s Journey Through Scripture Readings: 1 Chronicles 28-29; John 9:24-41

26 They questioned him: “What did he do to you? How did he heal your eyes?”

27 He replied, “I already told you, and you didn’t listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you want to become his disciples too?”

28 They insulted him: “You are his disciple, but we are Moses’ disciples.29 We know that God spoke to Moses, but we don’t know where this man is from.”

30 The man answered, “This is incredible! You don’t know where he is from, yet he healed my eyes! 31 We know that God doesn’t listen to sinners. God listens to anyone who is devout and does God’s will. 32 No one has ever heard of a healing of the eyes of someone born blind. 33 If this man wasn’t from God, he couldn’t do this.”

34 They responded, “You were born completely in sin! How is it that you dare to teach us?” Then they expelled him. (John 9:26-34, Common English Bible).

In a sermon not too long ago, I talked about how we love the acronym, “TGIF, Thank God it’s Friday.” When Friday rolls around we are ready to get away from the office of the plant or the whatever it is we call our work (of course if you are self-employed or in one of any number of other professions, there is no Friday or at least there isn’t a day that matters in the same manner. If you work in retail or the food industry, you work when the boss puts you on the schedule. One day is just like any other, whether it is Tuesday or Sunday.

Still, most of us love TGIF so much, a restaurant chain named their eateries after the letters. It might not be as effective if we were talking about Tuesday. Friday means the end of the grind. Friday means time off. Friday means being able to play with the kids. Friday means being able to relax.

But what would you say if I told you that our happiness isn’t based on a day of the week? Really, it’s true. According to a major university study (sorry, when I write these I never know the direction they will take when I start out and today I don’t have the source with me), we are not measurably happier on Friday than we are on Monday or Tuesday.

Today’s lesson from John is a continuation of yesterday’s lesson from John, the healing of a man who was blind from birth. The Pharisees are furious over it, presumably because Jesus healed the guy on the Sabbath.

It makes me wonder, would they have been happy if Jesus healed the guy on a Tuesday? Without question, it would have taken at least part of the Pharisee’s argument away. But I think Jesus really did care that it wasn’t Tuesday. He was, in my humble opinion, quite happy this did happen on a Sabbath. In his Gospel account, Mark tells us, “The Sabbath was created for humans; humans weren’t created for the Sabbath…”

As far as the Pharisees, I think they were a bit happier it happened on the Sabbath because it did give them an argument to use with Jesus, or so they thought. What they really wanted was for Jesus to play by their rules, regardless of what day he was doing something.

For Jesus, this wasn’t about the day of the week, it was about bringing grace and wholeness, the ability to live a full life to a man who had never known what a full life is like. That is something that was and still is central to what Jesus taught. People come first!

Does that mean we should ignore the Sabbath? Of course not. We honor the Sabbath when we can, but where people are concerned, they come first because, “The Sabbath was created for humans, not humans for the Sabbath.”

There is one more thing, this is something the Pharisees actually did get right. They accuse the now former blind man of being “…born completely in sin.” They did get that part right. He was born completely in sin. But, so were they. So are we. Every human born of the face of this earth, save one, has been born a sinner. And that is why we all need grace. Grace isn’t just for those Jesus heals, God heals. Grace is something for you and for me. Grace is something we can have at no cost. And that grace, it changes everything. It changes it regardless of the day. Be it a Tuesday or the Sabbath, when we experience grace as the blind man experienced grace, God just changed our lives. Then maybe, just maybe, we might be a little more committed when the next Sabbath or even the next Tuesday comes around.

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

With Joy and Thankfulness,
Keith

Copyright 2018, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

 

 

The Things We Don’t Understand

Today’s Journey Through Scripture Readings: 1 Chronicles 25-27; John 9:1-23


13 Then they led the man who had been born blind to the Pharisees.14 Now Jesus made the mud and smeared it on the man’s eyes on a Sabbath day. 15 So Pharisees also asked him how he was able to see.

The man told them, “He put mud on my eyes, I washed, and now I see.”

16 Some Pharisees said, “This man isn’t from God, because he breaks the Sabbath law.” Others said, “How can a sinner do miraculous signs like these?” So they were divided. 17 Some of the Pharisees questioned the man who had been born blind again: “What do you have to say about him, since he healed your eyes?”

He replied, “He’s a prophet.”

18 The Jewish leaders didn’t believe the man had been blind and received his sight until they called for his parents. 19 The Jewish leaders asked them, “Is this your son? Are you saying he was born blind? How can he now see?”

20 His parents answered, “We know he is our son. We know he was born blind. 21 But we don’t know how he now sees, and we don’t know who healed his eyes. Ask him. He’s old enough to speak for himself.” 22 His parents said this because they feared the Jewish authorities. This is because the Jewish authorities had already decided that whoever confessed Jesus to be the Christ would be expelled from the synagogue.23 That’s why his parents said, “He’s old enough. Ask him.”


I’ve said it before and I will say it again, “Math was invented by demon possessed people who are out to drive us all nuts.” Why do I say it? Because it’s true (that last part was for my wife who says, “Math is your friend.” I would say she is nuts but then again, she married me, that confirms it). Really, I say it because I don’t understand it. My late mother-in-law used to tell me that I had to have missed something early on and just never caught up. I guess she could be right.

There are many things I don’t understand. I also think computer printers are demonic. As long as they work and do the job they are supposed to do, we get along fine. When they fail, however, I usually get upset after I mess with it for a while and then get frustrated with it until somehow I happen on the problem/ Well that, or I call Cindy to come fix “her” printer. The computer, I’m fine with that (well, most of the time). Printers are a different story altogether.

I know plenty of people who think the computer is the same problem. Why are we like this? We are afraid of what we don’t understand.

In today’s lesson, I would argue that the Pharisees behave in much that way. They don’t know how Jesus does all his miracles. They say as much. “Some Pharisees said, ‘This man isn’t from God, because he breaks the Sabbath law.’ Others said, ‘How can a sinner do miraculous signs like these?’ So they were divided.”

When the Pharisees couldn’t understand, they reached for what they did know, Jesus was working on the Sabbath! I ask you this, good reader, how much work is it to mix a little dirt with some water, not a lot of dirt and water, to make enough mud to cover a man’s eyes. I guess it is better to let someone who has always been blind continue to be blind.

In the Pharisees, we find a group with no love, a group with no compassion. The thing to me is, they knew the law. The knew the law well. That knowledge would have included what they asked of Jesus, what was the most important commandment and agreed with Jesus that it was love. How quickly we sometimes forget.

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

With Joy and Thankfulness,
Keith

Copyright 2018, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

I Am

Today’s Journey Through Scripture Passages: 1 Chronicles 22-24; John 8:28-59

28 So Jesus said to them, “When the Human One is lifted up, then you will know that I Am. Then you will know that I do nothing on my own, but I say just what the Father has taught me. 29 He who sent me is with me. He doesn’t leave me by myself, because I always do what makes him happy.” 30 While Jesus was saying these things, many people came to believe in him. (John 8:28-59, Common English Bible).

Have you ever wondered how times a certain word or phrase is in the Bible? It wasn’t too long ago you could find out how many times a single word was in the Bible by looking at a concordance. For example, the word money is in the Bible 169 times. That doesn’t count the times other words are used like say, denarius.

The word love is in the Bible 792 times. If you wanted to know, you broke out your trusty old concordance and look your word up and get your answer. There are four words in Greek we translate to love. It doesn’t break that down for us.

But, if you wanted to know how many times love and money were in the Bible? the only way to know was to sit and count it by hand. Today, not only is it easier with a computer, it is faster than you could look in a concordance and get the answer for one word. Oh, by the way, love and money are in the same verse in the Bile eight times.

What got me started to think about all this was our passage above. “…When the Human One is lifted up, then you will know that I Am..” You will know that I Am.” Those two little words, three letters, four characters if you count the space, say a great deal.

When I saw “I Am,” my first thought went back to God and Moses having a conversation. Really it was more God giving Moses instructions and Moses giving God excuses as to why Moses couldn’t carry out God’s instructions. Specifically, God had told Moses to go and gain the freedom of the Israelites slaves in Egypt. Moses asks God, “What if they ask your name.” God simply replied, “I Am who I Am.” And yes, that would count twice when the computer counted it.

God had to get the divine role into the thick-headed Israelites (our heads are just about as thick) as God was pulling them out of Egypt. In the first five books of the Bible alone, you can find “I Am” 151 times. Many of the times “I Am” is there it would be followed by “the Lord your God.” Yes, as in, “I Am the Lord your God.”

The computer doesn’t tell me how many times both words are capitalized. That would probably make it even more clear how many times we see this name for God. But, we know the occasion that is our lesson today is one of those times. There should be no doubt, Jesus is alluding to “I Am” as a name for God. “When the Human One is lifted up, then you will know that I Am.” It doesn’t say, “…then you will know that I am the Son of God.” It doesn’t say, “…then you will know that I am your friend.” It doesn’t say, “…then you will know that I am a duck.” It simply says, “…then you will know that I Am.” in other words, “…then you will know that I am God.”

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

With Joy and Thankfulness,
Keith

Copyright 2018, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

A Peeping Tom Story?

Today’s Journey Through Scripture Readings: 1Chron 19-21; John 8:1-27

The legal experts and Pharisees brought a woman caught in adultery. Placing her in the center of the group, they said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of committing adultery. In the Law, Moses commanded us to stone women like this. What do you say?” They said this to test him because they wanted a reason to bring an accusation against him. Jesus bent down and wrote on the ground with his finger.

They continued to question him, so he stood up and replied, “Whoever hasn’t sinned should throw the first stone.” Bending down again, he wrote on the ground. Those who heard him went away, one by one, beginning with the elders. Finally, only Jesus and the woman were left in the middle of the crowd.

10 Jesus stood up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Is there no one to condemn you?”

11 She said, “No one, sir.”

Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you. Go, and from now on, don’t sin anymore” (John 8:3-11, Common English Bible).

I never thought about it before tonight. How did the Pharisees and legal experts actually catch the woman caught in the act of adultery? Unless her husband caught her, this story gets pretty creepy in a big hurry.

It is evident that the Pharisees and legal experts were out looking for just this kind of situation. Much like when they asked if it was lawful to pay taxes to the emperor back in Matthew’s Gospel, they wanted to trap Jesus.

If Jesus said, “Yes, go ahead, she sinned a sin that calls for punishment by death. Go ahead, stone her.” They can claim Jesus to be a hypocrite. He says love, mercy, and grace are most important but where are all those things now? Would this woman not deserve the things Jesus promised?

On the other hand, if he says, “No, it really isn’t that big of a deal. Let her live.” Now he isn’t being a good Jew because he is not following the law of Moses. Once again the Pharisees think they have him right where they want him.

In a lot of ways, the Pharisees are a lot like Wyllie Coyote of Saturday morning Bugs Bunny cartoon fame. He always thinks he has the Roadrunner right where he wants him and then something happens and his plan backfires and he ends up falling into his own trap. Undeterred, the coyote goes right back to work on the next plan that will allow him to catch the Roadrunner.

Though far-less funny (our kids have no idea what they are missing by not seeing real Saturday morning cartoons) the Pharisees keep trying to trap Jesus. They also, like Wyllie Coyote, continue to fail at every turn.

Jesus stoops down and begins to write in the sand. No one really knows what he wrote except him and the Pharisees and the legal experts. That has never stopped Bible scholars and commentators from speculating. Some say Jesus started writing their sins in the sand. After writing a few, he says let he who is without sin cast the first stone and then resumes writing their sins in the sand. One by one, the crowd leaves until only he and the woman remain.

The other popular explanation among scholars and commentators is that he wrote, “Where is the man.” A person cannot commit adultery alone. It takes two. And yes, they brought someone to Jesus who had committed a sin so great, it called for one of the worst deaths the human creature has ever devised. That being said, the man had committed the same sin. He would deserve the same punishment. Where was he?

But, as I was reading this story, I started to think, how did they know? Were they out there violating the woman’s constitutional rights protecting her from an illegal search? Of course I just but still, short of going into the house searching for the problem, or peeping in the windows (either would be creepy), how would they know? So, perhaps he wrote, “How do you know?” Or maybe, even better, he wrote, “What were you doing in her bedroom?”

Make no mistake, the woman did sin. Jesus never denies that, and, in fact, he actually says as much when he says to her, “Go and sin no more.” Her sin did not excuse the man involved from his sin, nor did it excuse the Pharisees and legal experts from the sins of their hearts.

This story, at least to me, is first and foremost a story about hypocrisy. I find it interesting that the Pharisees were trying for the possibility of calling Jesus a hypocrite only to be called out for the very same thing when their plan falls apart.

I am reminded of the old saying, “Be careful when you are pointing at someone else as there are three fingers pointing back on you.”

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

With Joy and Thankfulness,
Keith

Copyright 2018, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

Who Am I

Today’s Journey Through Scripture Readings: 1 Chronicles 16-18; John 7:28-53

16 Then King David went and sat in the Lord’s presence. He asked:

Who am I, Lord God, and of what significance is my family that you have brought me this far? 17 But even this was too small in your eyes, God. You have spoken about the future of your servant’s dynasty and have chosen me as an important person, Lord God.

18 What more can I say to you for honoring your servant? You yourself know your servant. 19 Lord, for your servant’s sake and according to your will, you have done this great thing in order to make all these great things known.

20 Lord, no one can compare to you, no God except you, just as we have heard with our own ears. (1 Chronicles 17:16-20, Common English Bible).

“I was the only person ever to serve as governor of two states as well as in Congress from both. My Indian name was ‘Coloneh’ but they also called me “The Big Drunk.” I was first a Protestant then a Roman Catholic and then a Protestant again. Who Am I?”

“I was one of the twelve disciples. I am only mentioned three times in the Bible, each time I am bringing someone to meet Jesus. One of those three walked, with Jesus, on water. Who am I?”

It’s a game many of us played as children. I even wrote a sermon  using the idea once when I was preaching on Jesus’ question to the disciples, “Who do you say I am?”

I always loved that game when I was a kid. I guess I still do but if I was actually to play the game I think I would make the clues considerably more difficult.

That is the way we often think of the question when we read “Who am I?” But there is another. It is the way Casting Crowns means the term in their popular song by the same title. The song says, in part:

Who am I, that the lord of all the earth
Would care to know my name
Would care to feel my hurt?
Who am I, that the bright and morning star
Would choose to light the way
For my ever wandering heart?

Who am I, that the eyes that see my sin
Would look on me with love
And watch me rise again?
Who am I, that the voice that calmed the sea
Would call out through the rain
And calm the storm in me?

I think King David would agree with their words. Part of today’s Journey Through Scripture readings is “David’s Song of Praise.” He begins it the same way. “Who am I, Lord God, and of what significance is my family that you have brought me this far?” David asks a really good question.

Who am I that God would care about me? Who am I that God would call me? Who am I that God would bless me in so many ways? Who am I…

I think I hear it more often in a still different way. “Who am I to deserve the destruction of my home in a tornado?” “Who am I to deserve this illness?” “Who am I to have to put up with this ungrateful person?” I can think of about ten parents and a whole bunch of kids in Santa Fe Texas right now that could ask the same question. The list of those who am I questions could go on almost as long as the who am I questions that are part of that kid’s game. Do you think you don’t hear those questions? Try it this way, “Why me?”

Don was a member of one of my churches early in my ministry. I never knew Don when he was well. He died shortly before I moved away. Don told me once, “When I first got sick I used to ask the question, “Why me?” (It could have been who am I to get sick?” Then one day, it dawned on me, “Why not me?”

David asks the question, “Why do you give me more than I deserve?” I think sometimes we ask the question, “Why don’t you give me what I deserve?” Friends, I really don’t think any of us want that.

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

With Joy and Thankfulness,
Keith

Copyrigh 2018, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

 

Before It Destroys Us

Today’s Journey Through Scripture Readings: 1 Chronicles 13-15; John 7:1-27

25 Then David, along with Israel’s elders and the captains of the thousands, went with rejoicing to bring up the chest containing the Lord’s covenant from Obed-edom’s house. 26 Since God had helped the Levites who were carrying the chest containing the Lord’s covenant, they sacrificed seven bulls and seven rams. 27 David wore a fine-linen robe, as did the singers, all the Levites who were carrying the chest, and Chenaniah, the leader of transportation. David also wore a linen priestly vest. 28 So all Israel brought up the chest containing the Lord’s covenant with shouts of joy, accompanied by the blast of the ram’s horn, by trumpets and cymbals, and playing on harps and lyres. 29 As the chest containing the Lord’s covenant entered David’s City, Michal, Saul’s daughter, looked out the window. When she saw King David leaping and dancing, she lost all respect for him (1 Chronicles 15:25-29, Common English Bible).

16 As the Ark of the Lord came into the city, Saul’s daughter Michal looked out the window. When she saw David jumping and dancing in the presence of the Lord, she hated him.
23 And Saul’s daughter Michal had no children to the day she died. (2 Samuel 6:16, 23 New Century Version).

“…she hated him.” Those are some strong words for one’s wife to say about a husband. Some wives of the Biblical period when marriages were, at least as often as not, arranged for the benefit of the parents rather than the feelings the bride and groom might have had for each other, might actually have something to complain about. Michal loved David, at least for a while (see 1 Samuel 18:20).

Why would she hate David so? I love the Common English Bible. It is my favorite translation but, sometimes I just don’t like the way the translators brought the Greek or Hebrew into English. This lesson is just such an example. Common English says, “She lost all respect for him.” There is a huge gap from hate to lost respect. There are plenty of people for who I have little if any respect. That does not mean I hate those people.

What Michal has going on here is far deeper. Michael had plenty of opportunities to watch two kings in action, first her father and then her husband. She had seen Saul govern and had drawn her conclusions about what kingly behavior looked like. With this incident, David dancing and leaping before the Lord in celebration of the Ark of the Covenant’s return to the seat of the Israelite government.

The writer never says how David was dressed as this scene plays out, but Michal does. “With what honor the king of Israel acted today! You took off your clothes in front of the servant girls of your officers like one who takes off his clothes without shame!” I am not sure if this means David was actually naked or if it means with what he was wearing and how he was acting, he may as well have been naked.

For whatever the reason, Michal now hated her husband. The writer never comes out and directly puts together a relationship between Michal’s hatred and her lack of children. The implication, however, is certainly there.

The conclusion left for us to reach simply says, hate destroys us. If you remember back when we discussed the birth of Samuel, women gained their identity first from their father and then from their husbands. But, everything is tied to the birth of their children, particularly their male children. A woman without a child was nothing.

Hate is a strong emotion. That Michal destroyed herself with her hate is telling. It says to me, we must find a way to overcome any hate in our lives before we destroy ourselves.

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

With Joy and Thankfulness,
Keith

Copyright 2018, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

With a Heavy Heart

I had planned that I would continue the Plain Jane sermon series this morning. I had also thought I would teach the children a little about Pentecost during the children’s moments. When I woke up this morning I knew I didn’t have either in me. My mind was full of Jared Black and all the other students of Santa Fe High School along with two substitute teachers who were killed on Friday. This really hit close to home. I served as pastor at Aldersgate United Methodist Church in Santa Fe, TX for three years. Though I have been gone for a number of years when something like this happens you quickly realize the depth of your community ties. I baptized Jared while I was there. The news of his death was quite a surprise.

In the end, I ended up talking to the children about confirmation and preaching a sermon of sorts about what I was feeling in the aftermath of the Santa Fe shooting.

The video from this morning’s service is below.

Scripture Readings from Sunday Worship

130 I cry out to you from the depths, Lord
my Lord, listen to my voice!
    Let your ears pay close attention to my request for mercy!
If you kept track of sins, Lord
    my Lord, who would stand a chance?
But forgiveness is with you—
    that’s why you are honored.

I hope, Lord.
My whole being[a] hopes,
    and I wait for God’s promise.
My whole being waits for my Lord—
    more than the night watch waits for morning;
    yes, more than the night watch waits for morning!

Israel, wait for the Lord!
    Because faithful love is with the Lord;
    because great redemption is with our God!
He is the one who will redeem Israel
    from all its sin. (Psalm 130:1-8, Common English Bible)

 

Where could I go to get away from your spirit?
    Where could I go to escape your presence?
If I went up to heaven, you would be there.
    If I went down to the grave, you would be there too!
If I could fly on the wings of dawn,
    stopping to rest only on the far side of the ocean—
10         even there your hand would guide me;
        even there your strong hand would hold me tight!
11 If I said, “The darkness will definitely hide me;
        the light will become night around me,”
12     even then the darkness isn’t too dark for you!
        Nighttime would shine bright as day,
        because darkness is the same as light to you! (Psalm 139:7-12. Common English Bible).

Above all, show sincere love to each other, because love brings about the forgiveness of many sins. (1 Peter 4:8, Common English Bible)