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God of Jews Only???

Today’s Journey Through Scripture Readings: Psalm 54-56; Romans 3

21 But now God’s righteousness has been revealed apart from the Law, which is confirmed by the Law and the Prophets. 22 God’s righteousness comes through the faithfulness of Jesus Christ for all who have faith in him. There’s no distinction. 23 All have sinned and fall short of God’s glory, 24 but all are treated as righteous freely by his grace because of a ransom that was paid by Christ Jesus. 25 Through his faithfulness, God displayed Jesus as the place of sacrifice where mercy is found by means of his blood. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness in passing over sins that happened before, 26 during the time of God’s patient tolerance. He also did this to demonstrate that he is righteous in the present time, and to treat the one who has faith in Jesus as righteous.

27 What happens to our bragging? It’s thrown out. With which law? With what we have accomplished under the Law? 28 No, not at all, but through the law of faith. We consider that a person is treated as righteous by faith, apart from what is accomplished under the Law. 29 Or is God the God of Jews only? Isn’t God the God of Gentiles also? Yes, God is also the God of Gentiles. 30 Since God is one, then the one who makes the circumcised righteous by faith will also make the one who isn’t circumcised righteous through faith. 31 Do we then cancel the Law through this faith? Absolutely not! Instead, we confirm the Law. (Romans 3:21-31, Common English Bible)

Jose Altuve, second baseman of the Houston Astros, has already begun doing something that not that many years ago, I would have thought would be impossible. I truly didn’t think it would be possible for another person to replace Craig Biggio as the best second baseman in Astros history.

Craig Biggio was a great player. Make no mistake about that. Being the first Astro to enter the Hall of Fame as an Astro speaks volumes about his abilities and his career. But, as great a player as Biggio was, he never won a league Most Valuable Player award but Altuve has. Altuve also has won the Hank Aaron award for the best hitter in the league. Both have Gold Glove awards and Silver Slugger Awards though Biggio does have more, but he played longer. Altuve also owns a Babe Ruth Award given for the best post-season performance.

I could go on, but I won’t. Here is my question. Does baseball exist just for Jose Altuve? Of course not, that would totally throw away what players like Biggio have done. Again, there could be a long list of players. In fact, every player who has ever played the game, is currently playing, or ever will play can claim the game exists for them too. But, they are not all. The game exists for coaches, broadcasters, stadium employees, owners, trainers, and the fans. Baseball isn’t just for one player, no matter how good he might be. Baseball is for everyone.

Our lesson today rightly makes the same claim about God, just not in those words. Paul asks an important question of the Romans. Is God just the God of Jews? (v. 29) Paul answers his own question. He says that God is also the God of the Gentiles. I think Paul would agree, God is God for all people.

Here is the proof. Jesus told the disciples to, “…go into all the world and make disciples, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit…” (Matthew 28:19, CEB). At that time, there were not Jews everywhere in the world, but that was Jesus’ instruction, go into ALL the world… If others in the world were only the God of the Jews, who would Jesus tell the disciples to go into all the world to make disciples?

In the end, God is the God of all people. God loves all of God’s people. And, it is God’s desire to have a relationship with all people. And, why not? God wanted a relationship with the likes of us.

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

With Joy and Thankfulness,
Keith

Copyright 2018, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

Just the Readings

Today’s Journey Through Scripture Readings: Psalm 87-88; Romans 13
Journey Through Scripture Readings for 8/14: Psalm 89-90; Romans 14
Journey Through Scripture Readings for 8/15: Psalm 91-93; Romans 15:1-13
Journey Through Scripture Readings for 8/16: Psalm 94-96; Romans 15:14-33
Journey Through Scripture Readings for 8/17: Psalm 97-99; Romans 16
Journey Through Scripture Readings for 8/18: Psalm 100-102; 1 Corinthians 1
Journey Through Scripture Readings for 8/19: Psalm 103-104; 1 Corinthians 2

 

Friends I am sorry to have to do this but in getting ready for school to start I am overwhelmed. I have to have six-weeks of lesson plans complete by Friday. I am also starting an interim pastor (that isn’t what the official term is, but that is what it amounts to) this Sunday. Something has to give for time. The blog needs to be it. So, for the next week or so, I have to take a break. The readings for the rest of the week are posted above.

Good, Pleasing, Perfect

Today’s Journey Through Scripture Readings: Psalm 84-86; Romans 12

12 So, brothers and sisters, because of God’s mercies, I encourage you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice that is holy and pleasing to God. This is your appropriate priestly service. Don’t be conformed to the patterns of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds so that you can figure out what God’s will is—what is good and pleasing and mature.

Because of the grace that God gave me, I can say to each one of you: don’t think of yourself more highly than you ought to think. Instead, be reasonable since God has measured out a portion of faith to each one of you. We have many parts in one body, but the parts don’t all have the same function. In the same way, though there are many of us, we are one body in Christ, and individually we belong to each other. We have different gifts that are consistent with God’s grace that has been given to us. If your gift is prophecy, you should prophesy in proportion to your faith. If your gift is service, devote yourself to serving. If your gift is teaching, devote yourself to teaching. If your gift is encouragement, devote yourself to encouraging. The one giving should do it with no strings attached. The leader should lead with passion. The one showing mercy should be cheerful.

18 If possible, to the best of your ability, live at peace with all people.19 Don’t try to get revenge for yourselves, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath. It is written, Revenge belongs to me; I will pay it back, says the Lord. 20 Instead, If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him a drink. By doing this, you will pile burning coals of fire upon his head. 21 Don’t be defeated by evil, but defeat evil with good. (Romans 12:1-8, 18-21, Common English Bible)

Dottie was my encourager. There have been others who have filled that role too. She was part of my life during a particularly difficult period of time. For two years, it was a rare day that Dottie didn’t find a way to communicate with me, oftentimes just to see how I was doing.

Mary had a gift of service. When I pastored a particularly mission-minded congregation, rarely did a mission team, particularly a medical mission team leave our parking lot that Mary (a nurse by training) was not part of the group.

Carol led our confirmation class in one congregation. The class lasted a full year. She met with them every Sunday. She loved every kid that was a part of her classes. She even took them on a week-long retreat to a place in Arkansas where the kids could get a small taste of how many people in the world have to live.

I have known many over the years who not only gave, they did so quietly, without fanfare and for each of them, there were no strings attached. There have even been a few like Hazel I knew I could call on when there was a real need in the congregation, either for the church or for particular people, and they would open their checkbook and simply ask, “Pastor, how much do you need.”

I truly believe all these people were living sacrifices. They are or were people pleasing to the Lord. They lived out their service to God, to others, and to the world, and they were, without question, transformed to God’s will. They were, in the words of other translations, “…good and acceptable, and perfect.” They were not only a living example for me, they were each a blessing in my life. I know they were for all who knew them. Many of you fill that role as well. Don’t stop serving. Don’t stop being a blessing. Don’t be defeated by evil, but defeat the evil of this world with the good that God has placed in you.

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

With Joy and Thankfulness,
Keith

Copyright 2018, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

So Very Tired

Today’s Journey Through Scripture Readings: Psalm 81-83; Romans 11:19-36

23 When Jesus got into a boat, his disciples followed him. 24 A huge storm arose on the lake so that waves were sloshing over the boat. But Jesus was asleep. 25 They came and woke him, saying, “Lord, rescue us! We’re going to drown!”

26 He said to them, “Why are you afraid, you people of weak faith?” Then he got up and gave orders to the winds and the lake, and there was a great calm.

27 The people were amazed and said, “What kind of person is this? Even the winds and the lake obey him!” (Matthew 8:23-27, Common English Bible)

I am tired. My first week working as a teacher (during in service) has been tiring. I knew it would be. Still, I am at least a bit surprised by just how tired I am. I was actually concerned about my drive home but it was actually just fine. And, I still have more than four weeks of lesson plans to finish this weekend! That is something I have to get used to doing. Never having to do them before, it is pretty difficult.

I decided to by-pass the Journey Through Scripture passages again today. I really wasn’t hearing anything from them anyway. I probably wasn’t hearing anything from them because of just how tired I am tonight (As I write this it is Friday night).

We all get tired. While this isn’t the most tired I have ever been but it has been a long time. Four very early mornings and one early morning have taken their toll. I also feel pretty sure you know what I mean. You have probably been there too. There aren’t many people I know who haven’t felt like they were just trying to go through the motions because they were so tired.

Jesus knew what I am talking about it. In our lesson, Jesus is sleeping on a boat while riding out a storm. We sometimes don’t think about Jesus getting tired, but when we read today’s lesson, he obviously did. We don’t think about him getting tired because Jesus was fully divine. We tend to forget Jesus was also fully human and even if the divine didn’t get tired, the human certainly did. But, don’t forget, on the seventh day (of the creation) God rested. If God rested, it must be that God also got tired.

So next time you are tired, remember, Jesus knows what you are feeling. He got tired too.

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

With Joy and Thankfulness,
Keith

Copyright 2018, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

 

 

I Will Not Give-Up on You!

Today’s Journey Through Scripture Readings: Psalm 79-80; Romans 11:1-18

13 People were bringing children to Jesus so that he would bless them. But the disciples scolded them. 14 When Jesus saw this, he grew angry and said to them, “Allow the children to come to me. Don’t forbid them, because God’s kingdom belongs to people like these children. 15  I assure you that whoever doesn’t welcome God’s kingdom like a child will never enter it.” 16 Then he hugged the children and blessed them. (Mark 10:13-16, Common English Bible)

Well, tonight is one of those nights that my mind isn’t wrapping around the Journey Through Scripture passages (It is actually Thursday night as I write this). It is most likely because I am pretty tired tonight. But, more on that tomorrow night.

As I know some of you do, I read several people in my devotion time. One of them, actually the only one I ever read written by someone I don’t know personally. The devotional title is “The Daily Huddle,” and it is written by Dr. Joe Pettigrew (You can read Pettigrew’s devotion below this post). Pettigrew is involved with a men’s ministry called “In the Zone.” He is also co-author with Soccer Hall of Fame star, Kyle Rote Jr. of a book, Living Life In The Zone, A Forty Day Study for Men.

On Wednesday I attended a workshop with all of my new colleagues from Center High School that was primarily focused on teaching English language learners, but much of what the presenter had to say gave us some excellent tools for teaching any student.

Those tools came back to my mind this morning when I read Dr. Pettigrew’s devotion. Wednesday our presenter said,

You are important.
What we are studying is important.
You can do this.
I will not give up on you!

I liked what he said yesterday but at the time I didn’t really give any thought about its potential meaning beyond the context of English language learning students. As I have thought on both the speaker from Wednesday’s workshop and Dr. Pettigrew’s devotion I can’t help but think there is something here that, as people of faith, we should be working to convey to the world. To paraphrase, how about this:

You are important.
What we are doing is important.
You can do this.
I will not give up on you.

It is just a slight change, just one word. We aren’t always studying, but we do spend a lot of time doing something. That one-word change, changes the context from something a few might be doing to something we all should be doing.

Dr. Pettigrew, in his devotion, talked about children. To me his words and the words from the workshop, while fitting children as both the writer and the speaker point out, it seems to me they fit all of us, all of God’s children. Yes, “You are important, What we are doing is important. You can do this. I will not [and neither will God] give up on you.”

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

With Joy and Thankfulness,
Keith

Copyright 2018, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

From “The Daily Huddle” by Dr. Joe Pettigrew
“He took the children in His arms and placed His hands on their heads and blessed them.”
Mark 10:16
I recently read of a restaurant owner who instituted a policy that wouldn’t have been well liked by Jesus. Instead of letting young children dine at his restaurant, he announced he was banning little ones under six years old from the upscale restaurant. He indicated that he wouldn’t allow the young customers because he feels they’re bad for business.
Like that restaurant owner, Jesus’ disciples seemed to believe children might be bad for the business of the kingdom of God. But parents brought their children to Jesus so He could touch them. The disciples, thinking that children were socially powerless and unimportant and should not be wasting Jesus’ time, rebuked the parents and tried to keep them away from Jesus (Mark 10:13). Jesus became indignant with His disciples (Mark 10:14).
Jesus rebuked them because they failed to realize that there are no outcasts or unimportant people in the kingdom of God. In fact, Jesus used children (eager and dependent) as the perfect example of how everyone should receive the kingdom. Then Jesus took the children into His arms and laid His hands on them—a visible means of conveying God’s blessing on their future lives (Mark 10:16).
Thought of the Day:  Eager to get on with the business of life, we sometimes have little time for the tiny people who do not wield political, social or financial power. But, as followers of Jesus, we’re called to see them as gifts from the hand of God, to welcome them in Jesus’ name and to remove obstacles that prevent them from coming to Jesus.

 

If you would like to subscribe to “The Daily Huddle,” follow the link below and sign up. It is free and will arrive in the inbox of your email bright and early, or whatever time you get up.

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The Proclamation

Today’s Journey Through Scripture Readings: Psalm 77-78; Romans 10

Moses writes about the righteousness that comes from the Law: The person who does these things will live by them. But the righteousness that comes from faith talks like this: Don’t say in your heart, “Who will go up into heaven?” (that is, to bring Christ down) or “Who will go down into the region below?” (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). But what does it say? The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart (that is, the message of faith that we preach). Because if you confess with your mouth “Jesus is Lord” and in your heart you have faith that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.10 Trusting with the heart leads to righteousness, and confessing with the mouth leads to salvation. 11 The scripture says, All who have faith in him won’t be put to shame. 12 There is no distinction between Jew and Greek, because the same Lord is Lord of all, who gives richly to all who call on him. 13 All who call on the Lord’s name will be saved.

14 So how can they call on someone they don’t have faith in? And how can they have faith in someone they haven’t heard of? And how can they hear without a preacher? 15 And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, How beautiful are the feet of those who announce the good news. (Romans 10:5-15, Common English Bible).

The past couple of days I have talked some about struggles I have had with the texts from Romans we have read. Such is not the case today. Here is a part of Scripture where I have no trouble placing my faith.

I may struggle over passages talking about whether Jews or the sons of Ishmael will gain the Kingdom. I have no problem at all with the idea that “All who call on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

I have had one person challenge my beliefs in recent months. I made a pastoral statement this person didn’t agree with and accused me of not believing a basic Christian tenant, of preaching and teaching something other than Christian orthodoxy. In the statement, I made they completely missed what I was saying and doing in my statement.

For me at least, the long and short of it is, we can struggle with the things Scripture says. I think those struggles don’t bother God. I am pretty sure that they do bother us more than they bother God.

What does matter to God is, our ability and our willingness to proclaim Jesus Christ as Lord. I don’t know if God has made a way for others to obtain eternity with God. I struggle with the idea that a God who, by the Bible is love, turning away people who love God but have a bit of a different understanding than I. What I have no trouble with is, “All who call on the Lord’s name will be saved.”

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

With Joy and Thankfulness,
Keith

Copyright 2018, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

A Poor Comparison, But it Works

Today’s Journey Through Scripture Readings: Psalm 74-76; Romans 9:16-33

16 So then, it doesn’t depend on a person’s desire or effort. It depends entirely on God, who shows mercy. 17 Scripture says to Pharaoh, I have put you in this position for this very thing: so I can show my power in you and so that my name can be spread through the entire earth. 18 So then, God has mercy on whomever he wants to, but he makes resistant whomever he wants to.

19 So you are going to say to me, “Then why does he still blame people? Who has ever resisted his will?” 20 You are only a human being. Who do you think you are to talk back to God? Does the clay say to the potter,Why did you make me like this? 21 Doesn’t the potter have the power over the clay to make one pot for special purposes and another for garbage from the same lump of clay? 22 What if God very patiently puts up with pots made for wrath that were designed for destruction, because he wanted to show his wrath and to make his power known? 23 What if he did this to make the wealth of his glory known toward pots made for mercy, which he prepared in advance for glory? 24 We are the ones God has called. We don’t come only from the Jews but we also come from the Gentiles. (Romans 9:16-24, Common English Bible)

In today’s lesson Paul makes a comparison and his comparison is a rather interesting take on Scripture. “Then why does he [God] still blame people? Who has ever resisted his will?”

It seems to me to be a reasonable question but Paul doesn’t think that is the case. “You are only a human being. Who do you think you are to talk back God?” Well, Paul was right, we are only humans. We make mistakes. We do sin. We are in need of God’s grace. Yes, Paul is absolutely correct here. And, I have no business talking back to God, none of us do.

Paul then uses a metaphor to bring his point home. Does the clay say to the potter,“Why did you make me like this?” Doesn’t the potter have the power over the clay to make one pot for special purposes and another for garbage from the same lump of clay?

Paul’s metaphor has a bit of a flaw. The clay says nothing to the potter, not because the clay sees the potter as superior, but because the clay, an inantimate object, lacks the ability to speak to the potter at all!

What Paul does show in this metaphor is the good news that God is filled with mercy. God uses that mercy to make a way for we who believe to worthy of the Kingdom. On our own we are lacking. But with God’s grace, we find something more, something we call grace, something that is ours because of the promise of Almighty God.

When we can’t do for ourselves, God can and God does for us. And, it seems to me that any metaphor Paul might have chosen would be weak, because where could we ever find something that speaks to us and does for us anywhere close to what we find with our loving God.

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

With Joy and Thankfulness,
Keith

Copyright 2018, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

 

A Place of Struggle

Today’s Journey Through Scripture Readings: Psalm 72-73; Romans 9:1-15

But it’s not as though God’s word has failed. Not all who are descended from Israel are part of Israel. Not all of Abraham’s children are called Abraham’s descendants, but instead your descendants will be named through Isaac. That means it isn’t the natural children who are God’s children, but it is the children from the promise who are counted as descendants. The words in the promise were: A year from now I will return, and Sarah will have a son.

10 Not only that, but also Rebecca conceived children with one man, our ancestor Isaac. 11 When they hadn’t been born yet and when they hadn’t yet done anything good or bad, it was shown that God’s purpose would continue because it was based on his choice. 12 It wasn’t because of what was done but because of God’s call. This was said to her: The older child will be a slave to the younger one. 13 As it is written, I loved Jacob, but I hated Esau.

14 So what are we going to say? Isn’t this unfair on God’s part? Absolutely not! 15 He says to Moses, I’ll have mercy on whomever I choose to have mercy, and I’ll show compassion to whomever I choose to show compassion.

When I am honest with myself, I really struggle with today’s passage from Romans 9. As much as I love Romans 8, Romans 9 is that much of a struggle for me. We read, “Not all of Abraham’s children are called Abraham’s descendants, but instead your descendants will be named through Isaac.” Paul is clearly alluding to Ishmael. He also says that Isaac’s children are children of the promise.

I struggle here because in Genesis 17:20 we read, “As for Ishmael, I’ve heard your request. I will bless him and make him fertile and give him many, many descendants. He will be the ancestor of twelve tribal leaders, and I will make a great nation of him.” God is promising Abraham that God will make a great nation from the descendants of Ishmael and then destine them all for damnation? When we read in 1 John that God is love, I have a hard time reconciling these two passages is difficult for me to do.

I understand what Paul was saying here. Paul’s intent clearly is an to attempt to bring at least some of the Jews into the fold of Christianity. And, Paul is right, God, being omnipotent can bring anyone God wants into the Kingdom. God can show mercy when God chooses and the opposite is equally true.

For some of you, this may not be a struggle at all. I am truly glad you can. And, when I am face to face with God, perhaps then, I can get an explanation I can better understand. In the meantime, I have to satisfy myself with the knowledge that because of faith in Jesus Christ, I am a child of the promise. Might those children of Ishmael be part of that promise too? From what I can see, it doesn’t look too likely, but in the end, the really good news is, it isn’t my call and it isn’t your call. God alone will decide who is and who is not a child of the promise. Can we really ask any more than that?

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

With Joy and Thankfulness,
Keith

Copyright 2018, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved