Return to Me… Mercy and Grace

16 Then those revering the Lordeach and every one, spoke among themselves. The Lord paid attention and listened to them. Then a scroll of remembrance was written before the Lord about those revering the Lord, the ones meditating on his name.
17 On the day that I am preparing, says the Lord of heavenly forces, they will be my special possession. I will spare them just as parents spare a child who serves them.
18  You will again distinguish between the righteous and the wicked, between those serving God and those not serving him (Malachi 3:16-18, Common English Bible).

When I read the lesson for today my mind goes to a few other lessons. Verse 16, “Then those revering the Lordeach and every one, spoke among themselves. The Lord paid attention and listened to them. Then a scroll of remembrance was written before the Lord about those revering the Lordthe ones meditating on his name,” made me think of 2 Chronicles 7:14, “… if my people who belong to me will humbly pray, seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, forgive their sin, and heal their land.” I do realize this isn’t quite the same the same thing. Still, the people are humbling themselves before God and the scroll of remembrance, at least to me, could be a written prayer on their part. I also think that when we “meditate on His name,” we are in prayer. As we read through the remainder of the lesson we can see evidence of mercy and grace, “I will forgive their sins and heal their land.”

When I read verse 17, “On the day that I am preparing, says the Lord of heavenly forces, they will be my special possession. I will spare them just as parents spare a child who serves them,” I thought about a passage that is the exact opposite from this verse. I thought about Genesis 18:23-33. This passage is Abraham begging God to not wipe out Sodom and Gomorrah and the destruction that followed in chapter 19 when God couldn’t find ten righteous people. Mercy and grace are part of God’s nature, even though none deserve it. But, mercy and grace do not remove the consequences of unrighteous behavior. But, if we choose the path of God, God will may us God’s “special possession” in spite of how we may have lived before. That is the very definition of mercy and grace.

Then there is verse 18, “You will again distinguish between the righteous and the wicked, between those serving God and those not serving him.” The words “distinguish between,” make me think of The Parable of the Sheep and the Goats,” Matthew 25:31-46. In that passage, God separates (distinguishes) those who are righteous, those who serve God by serving others, from the unrighteous, those who fail to serve God and others, most likely because their focus is on themselves. The righteous receive mercy and grace, while the unrighteous receive eternal punishment.

The lesson makes the identity or the righteous, those who revere God and meditate on His name, very clear. For them, there will be an eternal reward.

I want to be among the righteous. Lord, have mercy.

With Joy and Thankfulness,

Copyright 2017, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved



Spirita Spiro (Esperanza for "Spirit's Breath) is rather new in my life. But the blog is not. I began writing a blog several years ago. It lived under the title, "The Pastor Ponders." Over the years I have tried several different names and "The Pastor Ponders" always seemed to fit best. I am trying again with Spirita Spiro. For 27 years I was a full-time pastor in the United Methodist Church. This year, August 2018, I semi-retired (I can't actually retire quite yet) and began teaching social studies. It is something I have always wanted to do and if I was going to do this, I needed to make it sooner rather than later. So, I made the move. I thought with the career change there also needed to be a name change to the blog and other things, such as spiritual direction. Spirita Spiro is my attempt to share some of my thoughts. I often share what I am thinking with my dog "Bishop," but he keeps his thoughts to himself. He will even go to sleep sometimes while I am sharing my thoughts with him. The truth is, if it doesn't involve getting his ears scratched, his belly rubbed or some kind of treat, he really doesn't care. I will say this for him, he never argues with me or tells me I am wrong. So, I decided to share some of my thoughts with whoever might come across this blog in their ramblings around the Internet. I live with my wife Cindy and our little dog in Lufkin, Texas. I spent the past 27 years as a full-time United Methodist pastor. Most recently I served as pastor of First United Methodist Church in Sweeny, Texas. I have also served United Methodist congregations throughout East Texas including rural Madison County (Elwood UMC), Lovelady (First UMC) and Kennard (Center Hill UMC), Canton (First UMC), rural Smith County (Mt. Sylvan UMC and Union Chapel UMC), Grapeland (First UMC), Tyler (Pleasant Retreat UMC), Santa Fe (Aldersgate UMC), Freeport (First UMC) and Oyster Creek (Oyster Creek UMC), Diboll (First UMC), and now Sweeny (First UMC). My wife Cindy and I have been married for over 40 years. We have two grown sons. Wayne and his wife Nikki and all our grandsons (Kaleb, Noah, and Jaxon) live in Southern California. Christopher and his wife Morgan and both our granddaughters (Jenna and Natalie) live in Tyler Texas. I enjoy preaching and all aspects of preaching from research to writing to the actual preaching event. I also love writing, reading, playing the guitar as well as a bit of drawing. I have spent quite a bit of time over the past two years working with paracord on various projects, mostly prayer ropes I usually give away. I sing bass with a local barbershop chorus called The Coastalaires. I have also recently begun doing a little wood carving. I also enjoy playing with Bishop, something he likes a great deal better than listening to my thoughts. I hold an Associate of Applied Science Degree in Business Data Processing, specializing in Microcomputers from San Jacinto College in Pasadena, Texas, a Bachelor of Science in Political Science with a minor in History from Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, TX, a Master of Divinity from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX and a Doctor of Ministry from Carolina University of Theology. When I was a student at Carolina, the school was in Iron Station North Carolina. They have since relocated to Manassas Virginia (Yeah, go figure, a school named Carolina geographically in Virginia). This blog is mostly devotional writing, but there are other things here too. Just about every week I will either post my sermon manuscript or a video of the worship service. On occasion, I will post something I see in society. Occasionally I write a short story, a poem, or a song and will post it here too. I will say this, my motivations for writing this blog are really selfish. I write it to get what I am thinking out of my head and onto something a bit more permanent. They say, after all, once something is on the internet it never really goes away. Still, I hope you enjoy reading it. And, should you desire, you can one-up Bishop and actually tell me what you think. Who knows, it might generate a bit of discussion between you and me and anyone else who might make their way here. With Joy and Thankfulness, Keith Sweeny, Texas May 2018

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