Stealing From God

Today’s Journey Through Scripture Readings:
Joshua 7-9; Luke 1:21-38

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The Israelites did a disrespectful thing concerning the items reserved for God. Achan was the son of Carmi, grandson of Zabdi, great-grandson of Zerah. He was from the tribe of Judah. He took some of the things reserved for God. So the Lord was furious with the Israelites.

Joshua sent men from Jericho to Ai, which is near Beth-aven to the east of Bethel. He said to them, “Go up. Scout out the land.”

So the men went up and scouted out Ai. They came back to Joshua and said to him, “There is no need for all of the people to go up. Two or three thousand men could go up and strike Ai. Don’t make all of the people bother going there. There are just a few of them.” So about three thousand men from the people went up in that direction. But they fled from the men of Ai. The men of Ai struck down approximately thirty-six of them. They chased them from outside the gate as far as Shebarim. They struck them down on the slope. Then the hearts of the people melted and turned to water (Joshua 7:1-5, Common English Bible).

OK friends, I apologize. I dropped the ball today. Last night I was trying to get Sunday’s sermon done. I worked on it until 3:00 this morning. I started working on this post but was just too tired. I intended on getting up and finishing and honestly, I forgot. It was not until 9:00 tonight. So, I am trying to get it posted and then one ready for tomorrow. For those who are following the “Journey Through Scripture” passages, sorry I am putting more on you in a single day.

Several years ago, the church I served at the time, had a break in. One end of the building, it housed our pre-school, the thieves went in, found cans of shaving cream in the preschool office and left trails of shaving cream all over the preschool. There were other things contributing to the mess, but make no mistake, it was a mess.

Meanwhile, down at the opposite end of the building where the church offices were located, there was plenty of mischief and worse. To gain access to the office the door was kicked in. Because it was a hollow-core door, they left a hole in the door. There was a mess in the main church office. They didn’t leave a mess in my office but they did make their presence known. The monitor for my computer was left face down on the desk, not a big deal but I was pretty upset when I looked in one particular corner and immediately noticed my guitar was gone. It wasn’t the best guitar in the world, but it was a guitar none the less. And, it was MY guitar, it was my stuff.

Other things were taken as well but, this was my stuff and I wasn’t very happy about it. If you know me, you know I love my guitars. I kept an eye on the pawn shops to see if my guitar made an appearance. It didn’t.And, while I love my guitars and I wasn’t happy about losing my stuff, I wasn’t devastated by it either. Somebody took my stuff and I wasn’t happy about it.

Achan took God’s stuff!!! What is more, God wasn’t happy about it. Further, as the Israelites move forward to attack Ai, they underestimate their enemy and fall to them. Joshua prays prostrate before God.

God says in essence, they lost the battle because Israel committed evil in the eyes of the Lord, taking God’s stuff. Before all is said and done, Achan admits his guilt.

I have trouble with this story. The only grace here is, only Achan and his family were killed. Though God was angry with Israel, God gave them grace. Achan, on the other hand, was stoned to death and burned. I understand the need for punishment but a capital offense? It seems to me to be a bit strong.

The thing is, we see far more evidence of grace in the New Testament than in the Old. In the Old, there is more judgment. There is more punishment. It is much more difficult to see God’s love.

Regardless, God does love us. Grace is given to us. But, we also have to know, just because grace is present, it does not relieve us of the consequences of our actions. We hope for grace. We should expect consequences.

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

With Joy and Thankfulness,
Keith

Copyright 2018, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved.

P.S. I made it for March 21st with 8 minutes to spare!

Author:

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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