Blessed… Prophecy Fulfilled

Now when Jesus heard that John was arrested, he went to Galilee. He left Nazareth and settled in Capernaum, which lies alongside the sea in the area of Zebulun and Naphtali.  This fulfilled what Isaiah the prophet said: Land of Zebulun and land of Naphtali, alongside the sea, across the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles, the people who lived in the dark have seen a great light, and a light has come upon those who lived in the region and in shadow of death. From that time Jesus began to announce, “Change your hearts and lives! Here comes the kingdom of heaven!” (Matthew 4:12-17, Common English Bible).

Wow! We are only four chapters into Matthew’s Gospel and counting the one here, there have already been seven occurrences of  words similar to, “This is the fulfill the words of prophecy.” Jesus has barely gotten started, there have been no disciples called, there has been no preaching, there has been no miracles. Yet we have already heard from the prophets seven times. It might just make some people think that someone was trying to tell us and the many generations between us and Jesus something! Inquiring minds want to know!! I know, cornball line. I just couldn’t help myself.

Without question, prophecy fulfillment in each case is at least part of the equation. Part of it also is a matter of practicality. In chapter 1, a virgin becoming pregnant. It fulfilled the prophecy but there was no other way to remove original sin from the life of the Messiah.

Then in chapter 2, Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem did fulfill prophecy. The birth needed to happen in Bethlehem to confirm the tie to the lineage of King David. Later in the chapter the fleeing to Egypt might have been to fulfill the prophecy of God’s son coming from Egypt but it also met a much more practical need. Jesus couldn’t even begin ministry if he was killed as a young child.

I could go on with each of the other prophecies but I don’t think its necessary. You can go back and read them and draw your own conclusions.

In the case of our lesson today, Jesus needed a base of operations. I think he had a pretty good idea where at least a good chunk of his disciples were going to come from, they were fishermen on the Sea of Galilee. Why not make their home your home base. Additionally, as we can see in chapters to come, Jesus really couldn’t have made Nazareth the home base, people weren’t going to accept him there. He had to pick another place.

Jesus also knew, if he were arrested, as the lesson tells us John had been, his ministry, in the way it had to play out, would not have been possible if he was sitting in jail. Any number of people could have identified Jesus with John the Baptist. And, if you think that isn’t a big deal, in the days of the Roman Empire people were arrested for less. Innocent until proven guilty didn’t exist in those days.

 There are a couple of conclusions I draw from these fulfilled prophecies. First, if we are to see the words of the prophets played out in succeeding history or in the future, we first have to know the words of prophecy. I have heard a number of folks say over the years, “We are a New Testament people. We don’t need to study the Old Testament.” That might sound good but it is wrong. We need to study the Old Testament because God had a great deal to say in those pages.

Second, I think God not only was speaking to those in the Biblical era but speaking to us as well. For me, what these fulfilled prophecies do is, show that God and the Word of God can be trusted. Just as God fulfilled and is fulfilling the prophecies of old and God was with those people, God can be trusted to be with us too.

Is there a place where you see God fulfilling prophecy today?

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

Joy and Peace,
Keith

Copyright 2017, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved.

Blessed… Go Away!

Then the Spirit led Jesus up into the wilderness so that the devil might tempt him. After Jesus had fasted for forty days and forty nights, he was starving. The tempter came to him and said, “Since you are God’s Son, command these stones to become bread.” Jesus replied, “It’s written, People won’t live only by bread, but by every word spoken by God.” After that the devil brought him into the holy city and stood him at the highest point of the temple. He said to him, “Since you are God’s Son, throw yourself down; for it is written, I will command my angels concerning you, and they will take you up in their hands so that you won’t hit your foot on a stone. Jesus replied, “Again it’s written, Don’t test the Lord your God.” Then the devil brought him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. He said, “I’ll give you all these if you bow down and worship me.” Jesus responded, “Go away, Satan, because it’s written, You will worship the Lord your God and serve only him.” The devil left him, and angels came and took care of him (Matthew 4:1-11, Common English Bible).

Sometimes I think all of us feel like the guy in the picture above. We’ve got the devil sitting on one shoulder whispering in our ear and absolutely nothing on the other side. We are left feeling completely alone. It’s not a place any of us want to be.

When temptation shows up, it can be something difficult for us to deal with. I personally think it is even harder to deal with temptation when we are all alone. After all, there is no one there but us. No one will know the difference. It becomes easy to justify. It becomes easy to rationalize.

Wouldn’t it be so easy if we could copy Jesus’ words and say, “Go away Satan…” and we would be relieved of our temptation? I don’t know about you, but it rarely happens that way for me. The temptation might be there in the beginning but it isn’t really strong. Yet the longer I sit with it on my mind, the more difficult it is not to fall victim. Oh, but if I could just say go away and the temptation would be gone from my heart and mind. It would make life so much easier.

I have a few suggestions that might help here. When I quit smoking more than 30 years ago, while watching television or some other thing that occupied my mind but not my hands, I found things to do with my hands other than smoke. Unfortunately one of them was to eat and I am still dealing with the consequences of that temptation. Still, in the evening I try to keep my hands busy in order to not eat. I do find it effective.

If what you are dealing with is more of a mental temptation or something that might not be a temptation with your hands, take your mind somewhere else. Watch a movie. Read a book. Play with the kids or the grandkids. Whatever it might be, get your mind off of what tempts you. It may not last forever but it might just get you through.

In the end, however, temptation is a spiritual problem. Keeping your hands busy or getting your mind on something else might be helpful but in the end, you will have to deal with the temptation on a spiritual level. In our lesson today, Jesus dealt with temptation through His knowledge of Scripture. For every temptation Satan threw at Jesus, Jesus had an answer with Scripture. Another way to overcome temptation could be that book you read in the example above, make it the Bible. But in addition, having Scripture readily at hand comes down to studying Scripture during times when we are not being tempted. In so doing, when temptation comes at us, we are prepared.

One other help I would mention is prayer. God may not take the temptation away, but God may well help you find a way to endure.

In closing out today’s post I would also like to remind you, temptation can come, perhaps even at its strongest, when we are on top of that spiritual mountain. Remember, in the chapter we just finished yesterday, Jesus was baptized. We turn the page and find him being tempted. We should never think that once we become Christians or once we find our way to the mountain-top, that we leave temptation behind. It would be nice if it worked that way. Unfortunately, it just doesn’t.

What tempts you most? How do you overcome your temptations.

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

Joy and Peace,
Keith

Copyright 2017, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

Blessed… Beloved

At that time Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan River so that John would baptize him. John tried to stop him and said, “I need to be baptized by you, yet you come to me?” Jesus answered, “Allow me to be baptized now. This is necessary to fulfill all righteousness.” So John agreed to baptize Jesus. When Jesus was baptized, he immediately came up out of the water. Heaven was opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God coming down like a dove and resting on him. A voice from heaven said, “This is my Son whom I dearly love; I find happiness in him.” (Matthew 3:13-17, Common English Bible)

Those scratched on words in the picture above and left are how so many of us feel during life. I can’t begin to tell you how many people have sat in my office over the past 25 plus years sharing their feelings with me and I heard some of the very words above in those conversations. It is truly heartbreaking.

I have heard stories that included physical, emotional and sexual abuse. I have heard stories of spouses leaving, not because there was anything wrong with the other spouse, but because they believed they found someone better. I’ve heard about the other spouse abusing the kids. There have been people who were wrongfully terminated from their jobs. I’ve heard tales of abuse from the kids. I have listened as people told me of having done some “wrong, bad things” and because of that, they were unlovable. All of these people shared something in common. They all believed they were at fault because of what happened to them. They also all believed because of what they had done or thought they had done, there was no way that God could possibly love them. Plain and simply put, they are wrong.

Imagine being at the Jordan River on that day some 2000 years ago when Jesus came to John the Baptist wanting to be baptized. John was there baptizing those who repented of their sin. Then along comes Jesus, someone John knew to be the Messiah, someone John knew had committed no sin, wanting to be baptized. John also knew his place as a sinner in the world. That is why John says to Jesus, “I need to be baptized by you, yet you come to me?”

John recognized something he had in common with those people, as well as many others I have talked with, he wasn’t worthy of what he was being asked to do. And yet, it was Jesus who was asking him to do this. Jesus was saying, in essence, “Hey, give me this one, baptize me today.” John realized that by His words, Jesus was making John worthy of the requested action.

When the baptism was done, Jesus heard God speak saying, “This is my Son, whom I dearly love; I find happiness in him.”

As we will see down the road, eventually Jesus will die on a cross. He died so we might have life. He died to make us worthy. God loves each of us so much, that God would die for each of us.

All those folks, whether they were right in the situation or not, whether they were the perpetrator or the victim, in themselves, because they are all sinners, just as we all are sinners, are in themselves unworthy of the love God has for them. But, at least for we who believe, Jesus makes us worthy. We are a beloved child of God.

I may not be right about this, but I like to think I am, when we accept God’s love for us, I think all of heaven hears, “This is my child whom I dearly love. With this child, I am well pleased.”

What have you done that makes you believe you are unworthy? Guess what, Jesus died for you too. Because of that death, you, a beloved child of God are made worthy.

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

Joy and Peace,
Keith

Copyright 2017, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved.

Blessed… On Confession

In those days John the Baptist appeared in the desert of Judea announcing, “Change your hearts and lives! Here comes the kingdom of heaven!” He was the one of whom Isaiah the prophet spoke when he said:

The voice of one shouting in the wilderness, “Prepare the way for the Lord; make his paths straight.” 

John wore clothes made of camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist. He ate locusts and wild honey. People from Jerusalem, throughout Judea, and all around the Jordan River came to him. As they confessed their sins, he baptized them in the Jordan River. Many Pharisees and Sadducees came to be baptized by John. He said to them, “You children of snakes! Who warned you to escape from the angry judgment that is coming soon? Produce fruit that shows you have changed your hearts and lives. And don’t even think about saying to yourselves, Abraham is our father. I tell you that God is able to raise up Abraham’s children from these stones. The ax is already at the root of the trees. Therefore, every tree that doesn’t produce good fruit will be chopped down and tossed into the fire. I baptize with water those of you who have changed your hearts and lives. The one who is coming after me is stronger than I am. I’m not worthy to carry his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. The shovel he uses to sift the wheat from the husks is in his hands. He will clean out his threshing area and bring the wheat into his barn. But he will burn the husks with a fire that can’t be put out” (Matthew 3:1-12, Common English Bible).

John the Baptist, this wild looking guy with a really strange diet, is at the Jordan River, preaching and baptizing folks. His message was repent and change your heart! When most folks came they confessed their sins and John baptized them.

Enter the Pharisees and the Sadducees. These were often portrayed as the bad guys in Scripture. It is important for us to remember, however, that these were the most religious people of their day. They knew the Scriptures. They knew the law. And, they tried to live their lives in a way that showed their world just how religious they were. That tends to sound pretty good. The problem was, they read too much of their own press. They really weren’t as good as they thought they were and while the worked to follow the letter of the law, they often would forget the intent of the law and people got hurt because of their interpretations. That is not what God had in mind.

All too often we are more like the Pharisees and Sadducees than we want to admit. When I directed a youth mission camp program a few years back, I would tell the kids I was the camp Pharisee. It was my job to enforce the rules. Fortunately for me, that isn’t the kind of Pharisee John was talking about in our lesson for today.

As I read and re-read this lesson as well as others in the Bible, I have come to understand that confession is an important part of the conversion experience. Confession is also something we Protestants have lost over our history. What do I mean? I’m glad you asked.

For most of Church history, Christians went to their priest and shared their sins with the priest. They believed that the priest then interceded with God on their behalf. Roman Catholics and those of the Eastern Orthodox traditions still believe this way.

In the Protestant Reformation, one of the doctrinal changes to occur was an understanding that we, as people of faith, didn’t need our priest to intercede with God on our behalf. As Christians we can approach God and carry out our own confession.

While an accurate understanding, their is still something important we lost, actually two things. First, there is something important in the ear actually hearing what we are saying in our heads. I believe words are important and we need to hear those words. For most of us, almost all our private, personal prayer is done silently. This would include our confessions. We don’t actually “hear” ourselves when we make confession. Often times I think our subconscious believes that, because we didn’t hear it, we never actually said it. I know Jesus said, in essence, what we think, we also live. On the other hand, God gave us ears and we need to hear!

The second thing we lost is, telling someone else makes things more real as well. I am not saying here that you need to come to me or your pastor. What we do need is to come to a trusted spiritual friend, someone who will tell us that we are wrong, pray for us and hold us accountable. We need a person who will come to us and ask us how things are going with living out our confession. When we don’t follow that, it can become extremely difficult to live our lives as confessing people of faith.

I don’t know if the Pharisees and Sadducees made confessions when they came to John the Baptist at the Jordan. As I read our lesson I have an understanding that they did not. Hence, John’s comments about being children of snakes and the need to make fruit that shows changed hearts and lives. That really is what repentance is all about, confessing and turning away from our sins. It is pretty easy to tell with the reactions of the Pharisees and Sadducees in the verses of the Gospels that at least for most of them, they just weren’t ready to confess, repent and produce fruit showing changed hearts and lives.

Do you have a confidant you can confess to and who will hold you accountable? What do you need to confess?

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

Joy and Peace,
Keith

Copyright 2017, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

Blessed… There’s No Place Like Home

After King Herod died, an angel from the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt. “Get up,” the angel said, “and take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel. Those who were trying to kill the child are dead.” Joseph got up, took the child and his mother, and went to the land of Israel. But when he heard that Archelaus ruled over Judea in place of his father Herod, Joseph was afraid to go there. Having been warned in a dream, he went to the area of Galilee. He settled in a city called Nazareth so that what was spoken through the prophets might be fulfilled: He will be called a Nazarene (Matthew 2:19-23, Common English Bible).

I enjoy going places. When I was eleven, my parents took my sisters and I on a trip covering most of the western United States. I saw some of the most beautiful places in the country. I loved Crater Lake in Oregon. San Francisco is an absolutely beautiful city, particularly if you can look past Alcatraz. The Grand Canyon is magnificent. I also saw places I am in no hurry to see again. I wasn’t at all thrilled looking at the remnants of a forest fire while driving (well, my dad was driving, I was riding in the back seat) through Idaho. And. I am in no hurry to go back to the Petrified Forest.

Fast forward a few years and there were two canoe trips in Canada and a white water trip down the Guadalupe River. I have seen the Scottish countryside and the Fjords in Norway.

There have also been some of the strange things in life. On a trip to California two years ago I saw snow on top of palm trees. That was weird. The WI-Fi password at the hotel in Roswell New Mexico that was “UFO2014” or something like that.

We don’t always like the travel we make. Take Mary and Joseph for example. They couldn’t have been thrilled with their forced vacation to the thriving metropolis of Bethlehem. Yet that was a dream vacation compared to their next trip. As we have talked about the past couple of days, Herod was after their newborn baby boy, Jesus. Herod wanted the King of the Jews dead. That caused a second forced vacation, this time to Egypt so they could save the life of their son and God’s Son.

No matter how long I am gone, I am always glad to get home. Sometimes home means something different than it does at others. When I was in the Navy, being home might have been being back to Norfolk after a cruise. At other times being home meant going home to Pasadena on leave. Today it is much the same. Sometimes going home means going to the parsonage in Sweeny and at others it means going to the condo Cindy and I own in Lufkin. It is the perception of home.

Depending on who the commentators and Biblical scholars are that you read along with who wrote the Gospel you happen to be reading, Joseph may or may not have been from Nazareth before Jesus was born. I feel pretty certain, when Mary and Joseph made it to the safety of Egypt, it felt like that could be home, at least for a while. Still, when the opportunity came to return to Israel, they made the journey. Matthew makes it sound as though Mary and Joseph had lived elsewhere and settled in Nazareth to avoid yet another threat against Jesus. It would be a recurring theme in his life.

When ever I returned home, in whatever that sense might be, I absolutely understood Dorothy’s words from the Wizard of Oz, “There’s no place like home.” I feel pretty certain Mary and Joseph felt the same way.

We may all feel like that in a physical sense when we have been away. Yet in a spiritual sense, we can be at home anytime. We are at home anytime we are in the presence of the Father. Mary and Joseph seemed to stay in the presence of the Father. And, for their efforts, the Father guided them each step of the way so they would know where they needed to be.

The same can be true for us too. We can enter into God’s presence at home of away when we pray, when we go to worship, when we fellowship with other believers, when we study the Scriptures and many other ways. Then, when we enter into God’s presence, we go to our real home once again.

How do you go home? How do you enter into the presence of God.

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

Joy and Peace,
Keith

Copyright 2017, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

Blessed… Case of Evil

When the magi had departed, an angel from the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Get up. Take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod will soon search for the child in order to kill him.” Joseph got up and, during the night, took the child and his mother to Egypt. He stayed there until Herod died. This fulfilled what the Lord had spoken through the prophet: I have called my son out of Egypt. When Herod knew the magi had fooled him, he grew very angry. He sent soldiers to kill all the children in Bethlehem and in all the surrounding territory who were two years old and younger, according to the time that he had learned from the magi. This fulfilled the word spoken through Jeremiah the prophet:

 A voice was heard in Ramah, weeping and much grieving.  Rachel weeping for her children, and she did not want to be comforted, because they were no more (Matthew 2:13-18, Common English Bible).

It’s happened again and again throughout history. Herod was by no means the first. He also, certainly was not the last. In our lesson today, when Herod gets tricked by the magi and he can’t seem to find his way from Jerusalem to Bethlehem and the object of his fear and scorn, a tiny baby escapes to Egypt, he takes his anger out on innocent children. He took the lives of baby boys in hopes of eliminating the child he perceived to be the treat to his power.

Some thirty odd years later there was another tyrant. Caligula came to rule the Roman Empire. He, by his own admission, ruled from a model of fear. His motto was said to be, “Let them hate, so long as they fear.” Caligula took wives from husbands. He had incestuous relationships with his sisters and even went so far as to prostitute them. His sexual appetite was never ending. He wanted so much luxury in his life he had a barn made of marble for his horse. In the end, his need to be surrounded by the best of the best brought not only burned through the sizable inheritance left by his predecessor, it also brought crippling taxes and more. Caligula’s mismanagement and policies brought on numerous conspiracies and tensions. He was assassinated after only four years in office.

Fast forward 1200 years and you find Genghis Khan. By 1206, because of his military genius he was the ruler of Mongolia. Khan and his armies swept through China and all Asia from the Pacific to the Black Sea. He also occupied most of eastern Europe. Kahn makes this list because of the cruel and inhumane treatment of the vanquished. Much of the time, under his orders, the defeated was slaughtered, across the board.

Ivan (IV) the Terrible was the first Czar of Russia. He pronounced his first death sentence when he was only 13 years old. As Czar, under the guise of hunting down traitors among the Russian nobility, Ivan went on a killing spree. Not only did he kill the “guilty” without trial and without proving guilt, he often killed their families and friends. He would dream up the cruelest and most painful ways to die possible. Ivan was married seven times. It is believed he personally killed two of his wives as well as his oldest son.

Then there were two in the 1930s a 1940s, Joseph Stalin and Adolph Hitler. Without counting those who died as a direct result of combat in World War II, Stalin and Hitler were responsible for the deaths of millions. Most all of us know that Hitler was responsible for the deaths of six million in Nazi concentration camps. Stalin was even worse. Estimates are, in Stalin’s Gulag system between 14 and 40 million Russians died essentially at Stalin’s hand.

There are more I could have included. Names like Henry VIII of England, Maximilien Robespierre of France, Augusto Pinochet of Chile, Pol Pot of Cambodia and Kim Jong Il of North Korea also fall into this category. I could go on but I think you get the idea.

In the story that is our lesson today, Herod feared that he would lose his power to this tiny baby people were already calling the King of the Jews. Even had it been Jesus’ mission to militarily remove Israel from Roman control, it would be decades before Jesus would have been old enough to lead Israel in this work. Herod had nothing to worry about, but fear was left in front of him. He feared the loss of his power and reacted out of that fear.

Writer John Steinbeck said, “Power does not corrupt. Fear corrupts… Perhaps the fear of loss of power.” That was Herod’s reaction. It might well be the reason for the others too.

Most of these tyrants had absolute power. Lord Acton said, “All power tends to corrupt and absolute power tends to corrupt absolutely.”

We have heard a great deal of the past couple of months about the “peaceful transfer of power.” Tomorrow that process will again come to its fruition. Seeing this process completed many times in my life, it causes me to be thankful to live in a country where no one person has absolute power.

Over history the world has seen many tyrants come to power. At least one still is. It is my hope and prayer for the world that when he is no longer in power, there will never be another. That is my idealist side talking. In reality, we can look at history and see, at least in this way, history has repeated itself several times. The realist side of me knows, until Jesus’ return, there will be tyrants and those who suffer at their hands.

Are there other tyrants who come to your mind?

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

Joy and Peace,
Keith

Copyright 2017, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

https://www.rt.com/news/world-most-notorious-tyrants/

 

Blessed…A Road Traveled Less

After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in the territory of Judea during the rule of King Herod, magi came from the east to Jerusalem. They asked, “Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We’ve seen his star in the east, and we’ve come to honor him.” When King Herod heard this, he was troubled, and everyone in Jerusalem was troubled with him. He gathered all the chief priests and the legal experts and asked them where the Christ was to be born. They said, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for this is what the prophet wrote:

You, Bethlehem, land of Judah, by no means are you least among the rulers of Judah, because from you will come one who governs, who will shepherd my people Israel.”

Then Herod secretly called for the magi and found out from them the time when the star had first appeared. He sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search carefully for the child. When you’ve found him, report to me so that I too may go and honor him.” When they heard the king, they went; and look, the star they had seen in the east went ahead of them until it stood over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were filled with joy. They entered the house and saw the child with Mary his mother. Falling to their knees, they honored him. Then they opened their treasure chests and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Because they were warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they went back to their own country by another route. (Matthew 2:1-12, Common English Bible)

Having never ridden a camel before, I am not about to say what it would be like to make the journey of the magi. I think the closest I could come would be riding horseback. Without question I don’t know what camel back riding would be like but it really doesn’t look very comfortable.

I do have some limited knowledge of what it is like to spend a few hours on horseback. Admittedly I was much younger then and I carried significantly fewer pounds around my mid-section. Even with what knowledge I have, it is difficult for me to imagine driving a herd of cows to market during the days of the old American west.

Let’s just face the simple facts as they are, if I have a distance to travel I am going to get in my car to go. If I am really in a hurry I might fly. If I want more of an adventure I might catch a bus or a train. There is no doubt, I will not be making the journey on a camel or even a horse.

The Bible doesn’t say from where the magi actually came. In my research I found speculation for any distance from Babylon (about 900 miles) to The Forbidden City in China (some 4400 miles away). Assuming 25 miles per day that would mean the magi traveled between 36 and 176 days to reach Jesus and worship him. That is between just over one month to just under six months of riding on a camel just to see a baby.

Earlier in my career I served congregations in Lovelady Texas and Grapeland Texas. In between Lovelady and Grapeland is the county seat, Crockett Texas. One day something clicked in my mind. These three towns are 13 miles apart. It is thirteen miles from Lovelady to Crockett and another 13 miles from Crockett to Grapeland. That same 13 mile theme goes south from Lovelady to first Trinity and then another 13 miles to Riverside. Going east from Crockett it is 13 miles to Kennard.

So what is my point? Each of these towns have a United Methodist Church either in the town itself or not far outside the town (I was pastor of the church in Kennard too. It is not far outside town). So, these churches are thirteen miles apart. It is my guess that the location of the towns had more to do with the railroad than anything. With the exception of Kennard, the Union-Pacific Railroad connects each town. But the churches, these churches were strategically located at a reasonable distance for horse travel, either on horseback or carriage, for a family to travel between home, church and back again.

When you think about the magi, they traveled between one and six months to go and see Jesus. To spend time with God and the body of Christ, for residence of East Texas in the days of the Old West was an all day affair. Both were a real sacrifice that was made willingly.

Today, most all of us have cars that reduce travel time considerably. For many of us, it isn’t close to thirteen miles between churches. At most, going to church isn’t a sacrifice of more than a couple of hours. Yet many people, and a number that continues to grow, won’t make the small sacrifice. For the magi, it was worth it. For the residents of old East Texas, it was worth it. It makes me wonder why a small sacrifice is so difficult for so many of us to live out. It makes me wonder, would the magi and the settlers of the old west question our faith? Would they ask, “Hey, what’s your problem?”

God expects us to be about worship and fellowship with the Body of Christ. Jesus said, “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much…” (Luke 16:1oa, New International Version)

What would happen if God expected even more from us? I think God does.

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

Joy and Peace,
Keith

Copyright 2017, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved