In Broad Daylight

Today’s Journey Through Scripture Readings: 2 Samuel 12-13; Luke 16

 

Why have you despised the Lord’s word by doing what is evil in his eyes? You have struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword and taken his wife as your own. You used the Ammonites to kill him. 10 Because of that, because you despised me and took the wife of Uriah the Hittite as your own, the sword will never leave your own house.

11 “This is what the Lord says: I am making trouble come against you from inside your own family. Before your very eyes I will take your wives away and give them to your friend, and he will have sex with your wives in broad daylight. 12 You did what you did secretly, but I will do what I am doing before all Israel in the light of day.”

13 “I’ve sinned against the Lord!” David said to Nathan.

“The Lord has removed your sin,” Nathan replied to David. “You won’t die. 14 However, because you have utterly disrespected the Lord by doing this, the son born to you will definitely die.” (2 Samuel 12:9-14, Common English Bible).

David, the guy after God’s own heart, the guy that knew God would help him whip up on the Philistine version of Shaq, Goliath, shows he is like the rest of us, he too has feet of clay.

First David has an affair with the wife of one of his soldiers. There is a line of theological thought that says it wasn’t an affair but instead, it was David being even more sexually inappropriate and in essence using his power to force Bathsheba into the illicit affair. Think about it, it isn’t beyond the realm of possibility. After all, he is the king and she was just a woman. As I’ve said before, I am not trying to be controversial when I say that. Women were little more really than the purpose for which David used Bathsheba. Well, that and rearing a family, hauling water, cooking, making clothes… shall I continue?

Then to make matters worse, when Bathsheba’s husband wouldn’t cooperate in David’s efforts to cover things up, David sent him into battle and to his death. He may not have murdered the poor guy, but he may as well have done so.

I remember one Sunday I preached on David and Bathsheba. After the service, a man met me at the door. “Preacher! I don’t know why you thought you had to preach that sermon. We don’t have any murderers and adulterers in our church!”

I wanted to answer, “Are you sure?” but I let it go. In reality, I was a lot more concerned that he completely missed the point and I am sharing this little side story with you because I don’t want you to miss it too. This isn’t about murder and adultery. Yes, those two sins are present. Of that, there is no doubt. But, this isn’t about some specific sin, it is about sin, period. David had committed sin and tried to sneak around about it. He tried to cover it up. He did it secretly. And God said, through the Prophet Nathan, “What you did, you did in secret. What I am about to do, I will do in broad daylight so everyone will see it.”

So much of the time when we commit sin, we try to keep it a secret. We try to cover it up. What God does, God lets the who world to see.

In the end, things sound bad for David. God knows his sin. God says punishment is coming. David’s child with Bathsheba is going to die. But, God says to David, “You aren’t going to die.” Further, before the Journey Through Scripture passages for today close, Bathsheba and David will celebrate the birth of another son, Solomon who will lead God’s people Israel.

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

With Joy and Thankfulness,
Keith

Copyright 2018, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

And When He Came to His Senses…

Today’s Journey Through Scripture Readings: 2 Samuel 9-11; Luke 15:11-32

 

17 When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired hands have more than enough food, but I’m starving to death! 18 I will get up and go to my father, and say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. 19  I no longer deserve to be called your son. Take me on as one of your hired hands.” ’ 20 So he got up and went to his father.

“While he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was moved with compassion. His father ran to him, hugged him, and kissed him. 21 Then his son said, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I no longer deserve to be called your son.’ 22 But the father said to his servants, ‘Quickly, bring out the best robe and put it on him! Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet! 23 Fetch the fattened calf and slaughter it. We must celebrate with feasting 24 because this son of mine was dead and has come back to life! He was lost and is found!’ And they began to celebrate (Luke 15:17-24, Common English Bible).

For the first time since starting Journey Through Scripture, today I actually had to make a difficult decision regarding the text on which I would write. Both the Prodigal Son and David and Bathsheba (2 Samuel 11) are great stories. Further complicating things, once I decided which text would be my focus for the day, I had to further cut it down. Which one of the sons do I focus on or do I ignore them both and talk about the father.

Well, by this point it should seem fairly obvious which way I went. We are talking about the Prodigal Son and the first of the two sons, but you can’t talk about either of them without talking about the father.

At the point where I pick up the story, the younger son has taken his share of the inheritance and blown it all in what we will just call “wild living.” Having nothing left and thinking going home was not an option, he hired himself out to a pig farmer. There is little that could be worse for a Jew than being a pig farmer. And, if there was anything worse to eat than pork (I’m not saying I agree, about pork, I still love a good bacon-cheeseburger. I am talking about to a true, faithful Jew) it would be the slop fed to the pigs. And, the Scripture says, he was ready to eat that.

Then one day, he came to his senses. Hopefully when any of us are acting and thinking in a way that, let’s just say, isn’t to smart, we come to our senses as the son did in this lesson. He thought to himself, “Here I am starving to death. My father’s servants eat better and are treated better than this. I know I can’t go back expecting to pick up where I left off. I blew that chance when I left . But, if I go back, perhaps my father will hire me back as a servant. Whatever things may have been before, they were always better than this.” And, he heads for home.

How can you not love the father in this great story. “While he was still a long way off…” His father knew what was going to happen and he allowed his son to make the mistake. Too many parents today, don’t let their children make their own mistakes. The father in the story did. When my boys were still at home I would count myself in that number,

But, while he allowed him to make the mistake, he also knew one day he would come back and he was watching the road for the return of his son. Even when the son was a long way off, the father saw him and new it was his son. He ran to his son. We guys may not have tried this much, but running with a long skirt isn’t so easy. It would require raising the hem above the ankles, something men didn’t do in those days. It violated societal norms and yet, for his son, he did it anyway.

The son had his speech ready. “Dad, I am a sinner. I am unworthy of being your son. But please, let me come back and just work for you.”

For his part, the father would have none of that. In essence, the father said, “You can come back, but it won’t be as a servant! It will be as my son.” And with that, the father threw a barbecue that any Texan would be proud to throw.

Friends, there is a word for that. GRACE. We have talked about it a bit already. Grace – God’s unmerited favor. There is nothing the son did to deserve what his father was doing for him. He couldn’t buy the position, he had no money. He couldn’t expect to borrow from it. He couldn’t take it or otherwise rob his father of it. It could only come as the free gift from his father. It was more than he deserved. It was more than he could pay back. It was more than his fair share. Remember, he had already received his share of the inheritance. There was nothing else he deserved, legally or otherwise, and yet his father gave to him anyway. That is grace.

Just like the son, we too receive grace. It is more than we deserve and it is more than we could take or borrow or anything else. God gives it to us out of God’s love for us, God’s greatest creation. You and I receive the gift of grace, God’s unmerited favor.

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

With Joy and Thankfulness (For that grace),
Keith

Copyright 2018, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

Follow the Instructions

Today’s Journey Through Scripture Readings: 2 Samuel 6-8; Luke 15:1-10

 

Once again David assembled the select warriors of Israel, thirty thousand strong. David and all the troops who were with him set out for Baalah, which is Kiriath-jearim of Judah, to bring God’s chest up from there—the chest that is called by the name of the Lord of heavenly forces, who sits enthroned on the winged creatures. They loaded God’s chest on a new cart and carried it from Abinadab’s house, which was on the hill. Uzzah and Ahio, Abinadab’s sons, were driving the new cart. 4 Uzzah was beside God’s chest while Ahio was walking in front of it. Meanwhile, David and the entire house of Israel celebrated in the Lord’s presence with all their strength, with songs, zithers, harps, tambourines, rattles, and cymbals.

So David went and brought God’s chest up from Obed-edom’s house to David’s City with celebration. 13 Whenever those bearing the chest advanced six steps, David sacrificed an ox and a fatling calf. 14 David, dressed in a linen priestly vest, danced with all his strength before the Lord. 15 This is how David and the entire house of Israel brought up the Lord’s chest with shouts and trumpet blasts (2 Samuel 6:6-10, Common English Bible).

So David went and brought God’s chest up from Obed-edom’s house to David’s City with celebration. 13 Whenever those bearing the chest advanced six steps, David sacrificed an ox and a fatling calf. 14 David, dressed in a linen priestly vest, danced with all his strength before the Lord. 15 This is how David and the entire house of Israel brought up the Lord’s chest with shouts and trumpet blasts.

16 As the Lord’s chest entered David’s City, Saul’s daughter Michal was watching from a window. She saw King David jumping and dancing before the Lord, and she lost all respect for him.

It was to be a huge political coup. The Ark of the Covenant had been in the possession of the Philistines since the battle in which both of Eli’s sons were killed and after which Eli himself died (1 Samuel 4). Shortly after due to conditions blamed on the Ark, the Philistines put the Ark on a cart pulled by a couple of cows which headed straight to Israel (1 Samuel 5-6). For a short period of time the Ark was in Beth Shemesh, then a little later found a more permanent home in Kiriath-Jearim. It remained there until David came to power. Now David wanted to bring the Ark to Jerusalem.

 

It was important for David to bring the Ark to Jerusalem because it would give his government legitimacy. For the Israelites, the Ark of the Covenant represented the real presence of God. Where the Ark was, God was. So David wanted, perhaps it would be better to say needed, the Ark to be in Jerusalem.

David and his army traveled to Kiriath-Jearim, placed the Ark on a cart and started back for Jerusalem. When the cart’s wheels went through a rut in the road, one of David’s men, Uzzah, reached his hand out, touching the Ark. The lesson says that rose God’s anger against Uzzah and he was stricken dead on the spot. Of course, that upset David, who of us wouldn’t be upset. He left the Ark in the possession of Obed-Edom. When Obed-Edom was blessed by having the Ark, David decided to try again. This time the Ark was carried by some of David’s men, using poles designed specifically for the purpose. This time they were successful and David danced and praised the Lord as his men brought the Ark into Jerusalem.

So, why, when Uzzah was trying to do something good, did God strike him down? It wasn’t so much about Uzzah (try telling that to Uzzah, Keith) it was about the handling of the Ark. Back in Exodus, when God gave instructions to the Israelites how to transport the Ark. It was to be carried by hand using poles designed for the purpose. Nowhere did God ever say it was permissible to carry the Ark in a cart. It was a lack of attentiveness to the details and Uzzah paid the price. When it comes to serving God, you’ve got to follow the instructions.

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

With Joy and Thankfulness,
Keith

Copyright 2018, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

 

 

Dream Home

Today’s Journey Through Scripture Passages: 2 Samuel 3-5; Luke 14:25-35

10 David grew increasingly powerful, and the Lord of heavenly forces was with him. 11 Tyre’s King Hiram sent messengers to David with cedar logs, bricklayers, and carpenters to build David a palace. 12 Then David knew that the Lord had established him as king over Israel and that his kingship was held in great honor for the sake of his people Israel. (2 Samuel 5:10-12, Common English Bible)

If you have ever watched HGTV you can quickly see person after person wanting their dream home. For some, that means buying an old house and completely renovating it. For others it means building something new, from scratch.

As you watch you also see many different kinds of people. For some it is a large house with all the amenities. For others something more modest is the plan. For some it is a single family home and for others a townhouse or condo (for me it is the condo).  There people with large families and people with no family, at least no family living with them. There are people who insist on a green footprint while others are nowhere near as concerned about the world environment as they are about their personal living environment.

As David got ready to build the King’s palace, he would have quickly found, had it not been for the generosity (and probably wanting to curry favor with the new King of Israel who at this point was a world super-power) of Hiram, King of Tyre. David was building his dream home, or at least that is what we might guess.

Make no mistake, David earned this. He had defeated Goliath. He had a hand in defeating many of Israel’s worst enemies. For his trouble, the jealous Saul kept him either on the run or out of the country in hiding. With all David had done for Israel, he then was unable to even see his family without taking his life into his own hands.

In today’s journey through Scripture readings, we read of David going through bitter conflict with Saul’s family. For them, it didn’t matter that David was God’s choice. For those who crave and covet power it never matters if there is sufficient reason for walking away from the source of power. They want to take control of all that is around them. Saul’s family was no exception.

Even once David is able to bring resolution to the conflict with Saul’s family, things still weren’t peaceful around him. David had to deal once again with the Philistines. Some enemies, it would seem, just will not go away. The Philistines were just such an enemy for David. He had dealth with them as a boy, he dealth with them during the time he served Saul, he dealt with them at this point and he would deal with them once again.

But, once David defeated them on this occasion, at least for a time, Israel enjoyed peace from her enemies. That meant it was time for “House Hunters” Israel. David, with the help of Hiram, built his dream home, a palace built for a king. That would only make sense. Finally, David, after close to 20 years, was King of Israel and a king deserves a palace.

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

With Joy and Thankfulness,
Keith

Copyright 2018, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

Abner Rolls the Stone

No one could believe what was happening down on earth. All the angels in the Kingdom of heaven were worried about what they saw unfold down below.

It was a very sad Friday. The angels saw Jesus arrested. He was judged by the Jewish high council. Sent on to Ponitus Pilate, then Herod and then back to Pilate who, in the end agreed to allow Jesus to be crucified.

They made Jesus carry his cross. When they reached the place where they crucified him, the soldiers nailed Jesus to the cross. There he had died. He was placed in a tomb with a giant stone in front. The Son of God, Jesus, was dead.

A small family of angels sat at dinner. They didn’t talk very much. After what happened that day they just didn’t feel much like talking. Then, finally, Abner spoke.

“Dad, it has been such a bad day, so sad. I don’t understand. Why did Jesus have to die? It was so mean.”

“You are right about that, son,” said his father, Gabriel. “It is a very, very sad day. Many people, and angels, here in heaven and on earth, have cried a lot today. But, ever since God created the world, He has let people decide what they will do. Sometimes they make good choices. Sometimes they make bad choices. This does not seem to be a good choice.”

“I just can’t believe it happened,” said Abner’s older sister Carmen. “It seems like it was just last week that my choir sang at his birth, and now he is dead.” “So is God mad at all those humans?” asked Abner.

“I think right now, God is just sad. I think God knew this was going to happen but he hoped it might be different. Like all of us, God cried a lot today,” said his father.

“I knew God was sad when the world went dark today. It was sad and it was spooky,” said Abner’s mother.

“Yeah, it scared me.” said Abner’s other sister Eleanor.

“Jesus did so much for people down there on earth,” said Abner. “He healed sick people. He gave blind people back their sight. He fed them when they were hungry. He

tried to teach them a happier, better way to live. Then they killed him.”

“I don’t think they really knew what Jesus was trying to do,” said Carmen.

“You are right about that,” said their father.

“Dad,” asked Abner, “God has punished the people on earth before because they were bad and mean. This is the worst thing they have ever done. How do you think

God will punish them this time?”

“Abner I don’t really know,” said Gabriel. “I just don’t think I would want to be a human living on earth during the next few days. If God wants to punish people it could be bad. It could be really bad.”

As the family left the dinner table, Abner said, “I guess we will have to wait and see what happens.”

The next day, when Gabriel came home he called out, “Abner! Abner! Are you here? I need you. It’s really important.”

“Hey Dad,” said Abner as he ran into the room. “You seem excited. Is something on fire? What’s up?”

“God wants you to go with me and two other angels down to earth tonight. I am not sure why. I was just told we have to meet up with the other angels at the park tonight and that we would probably be gone all night,” said Gabriel.

“All night?” asked the young angel’s mother.

“That’s what I was told,” said Gabriel. “I don’t know why or what Abner, me and the others will be doing.”

“If that is what God wants,” Abner said, “I will be there. I am ready to go, whatever God might want us to do.”

“Well, you aren’t leaving without eating a good dinner first!” replied his mother.

“Go get cleaned up while I make you something to eat.”

Two hours later, Abner met up with the other angels. Gabriel sent Abner ahead while he went to learn what they would do that night. Abner was surprised to find that the other two angels at the park were his two best friends, Remo and Zeke.

“What are you guys doing here?” asked Abner.

“When our dads came home today they said for us to be here. We were supposed to meet you and your dad, and that your dad would know what we would need to do.”

“Well, Dad has gone to find out,” said Abner. “He should be here in a few minutes.”

Then, just as Abner finished talking, Gabriel flew into the park.

“Well, our job tonight,” Gabriel said, “we are to go move a rock down on earth. I am not sure why we need to move the rock. God just said we would understand when the job was done. He picked the three of you because you are young and strong.”

“OK,” said Abner, “but I’ve never heard of angels moving rocks before, normally we would help people.”

Remo and Zeke quickly agreed.

“Well, angels don’t question God,” said Gabriel. “We just go and we do the things God asks us to do. I think we need to get going. Just like God wants people to do His will, God expects us angels to do what He wants us to do too. Let’s fly.”

The four angels then flew from heaven to earth ready for the job God had given them to do.

When the angels arrived on earth, they found themselves looking at a huge gigantic rock.

“How are we ever going to move that rock?” Zeke asked Gabriel. “That thing is

HUGE!”

“I am not as worried about the rock as I am about the Roman guards that are standing around the rock,” said Remo.  Those are some scary looking dudes.”

“Both of you guys are right,” said Abner. “But remember what they taught us in school. With God everything is possible and God will give us whatever we need to get the job done when we follow God’s will. Isn’t that right Dad?”

“Everything all you guys are saying is true,” said Gabriel. “The rock is huge. The guards are scary. And, with God on our side we will get the job done.”

Just then, one of the guards saw the four angels. “Who goes there?” shouted the guard to the angels. Then the guards rushed toward the small group of angels.

“There are more of them than there are of us,” shouted Zeke.

“What are we going to do?” asked Remo.

Just then one of the guards was right by Abner. Abner reached out his hand and touched one of the guards. As soon as Abner touched him, the guard fell to the ground and was sound asleep. That guard was quickly followed by another. Abner reached out and touched him too. Like the first guard, when Abner touched the second guard, he fell to the ground and went to sleep too.

“Wow!” yelled Abner. “Dad, Guys, just reach out and touch them with your hand.

When you do they will fall asleep.”

“Thanks, Abner,” said his father. The three started touching the guards around them, and just as had happened for Abner, the others fell asleep.

“Well, I guess we didn’t need to worry about the guards,” said Abner.

“Yeah, that was a pretty easy problem to solve,” said Remo.

“That is true my friend,” said Zeke. “We solved one problem, but we still have another problem to work out and it is HUGE!”

“You are right about that Zeke,” said Gabriel. “I am just not sure how four of us are going to push such a big rock out of the way. Why don’t we just get behind it and push. Maybe it will roll out of the way.”

The four angels got behind the rock and they started to push. They pushed and pushed and pushed. The rock would not move.

“Are you pushing as hard as you can Zeke?” asked Remo.

“Of course I am pushing hard Remo,” said Zeke.

“OK guys,” said Gabriel. “We will never get the job done is we spend our time arguing. We need to work together. What if we took that long stick over there and tried to pry the rock out of the way?”

“It’s worth a try,” said Zeke. He went over and picked up the large stick. They stuck one end under the rock and tried to pry the rock out of the way. It just wouldn’t move.

“I thought the guards were going to be hard,” said Remo. “This rock is what is really hard. Will we ever get it to move.”

“Let’s all take a break and think for a minute,” said Gabriel. “Surely we can come up with a plan that will work.”

“I’m all for that,” said Zeke as he went over to another, smaller rock and sat down. Remo and Gabriel went over to join him.

Abner had stayed quiet through all of the conversation. He wasn’t talking. He was just thinking.

“I think I may have to go back up to heaven,” said Gabriel. “This rock is just too big. I think we are going to need more help.” Zeke and Remo nodded their heads. They thought Gabriel was right.

Abner heard his dad even though he wasn’t paying a whole lot of attention.

Something was bothering him.

“Abner!” said his father. “Come over here and rest for a minute. You need a break too. We all need a break. Don’t worry. We will figure it out. We won’t let God down.”

“I know, I know,” said Abner. I will be there in a minute as he looked around. He was thinking. “What is bothering me? We are missing something. What are we doing wrong? What is it?” Then Abner remembered.

Abner knelt down in the dirt. The others thought he was going to sit down right there. “Abner, why don’t you come sit with us?” asked Remo.

Abner waved off his friend and continued to kneel in the dirt. “Abner,” Zeke

Abner Rolls the Stone

started to say, but Gabriel stopped him.

“I think Abner might be on to something,” said Gabriel. “He is kneeling in the dirt because he is going to pray.”

“God, you sent us here to move this giant rock. You only sent four of us. That means four angels is all we need to get the job done. Four is all we need if we do it right, if we do it with you. Give me the strength we need to move the rock, O God. Amen.”

Abner stood up from the dirt and walked to the huge rock. He started pushing. “Abner,” shouted the others. “Wait. We can help” shouted Remo and Zeke.

“You are going to hurt yourself trying to move that huge rock by yourself,” said his father. “You need help.”

“No, I won’t,” said Abner. “With God, I can do anything.”

Abner kept pushing as the other three angels walked toward him. Then the stone started to move. It rolled an inch. Then two. Then five. It rolled a foot and then two feet. Abner kept pushing and the rock kept moving. Soon the rock started to roll and it moved completely out of the way.

“Wow Abner,” said Remo. “You are super strong.”

“No,” replied Abner. “I am not any stronger than you guys. And, I know I’m not stronger than my Dad. But I remembered, with God, all things are possible. So, I prayed that God would give me the strength to move that rock.”

“That’s right Abner,” came a voice from inside the cave.

The voice soon got the attention of the small group of angels. The younger angels became scared again. Gabriel had a pretty good idea what was going on now.

“It’s OK boys. God said when the stone was moved we would understand.” “Well,” said Zeke. “The stone is moved and I still don’t understand.” “Neither do I,” agreed Remo.

“I think I do,” said Abner. “Is this Jesus’ tomb Dad?” “I do believe it is,” said Gabriel.

“You are right,” said Jesus as he reached the entrance to the tomb. “It is my tomb.”

“But, but, you are dead,” said Zeke.

“I told people before,” said Jesus, “I would rise on the third day.” “Now you have,” said Abner.

“I have,” said Jesus. “And with the help you four have given me, I can show the world  have risen. Thank you for rolling away the stone Abner.”

“Wow. This is so cool,” said Remo. “Can we do anything else to help you

Jesus?”

“Well Remo,” said Jesus, “There is one more thing. I have to go to Galilee. Abner, since you got me out, I need you to stay here. There will be people coming to prepare my body for final burial. I need you to wait for them. Ask them ‘Why do you look for the living among the dead?’ Tell them, ‘He has gone ahead to Galilee just like he told you he would.’ Tell them to go and tell the disciples and Peter that I will meet them there.

“As for you Gabriel, Zeke and Remo, go and watch over the road from the city

Abner Rolls the Stone

and see that the women have no trouble getting here but don’t show yourselves if you don’t have to do so,” Jesus said. “Now, let’s all go.”

And, Gabriel, Zeke and Remo left, flying of toward Jerusalem. Jesus stood with Abner.

“Abner, thank you for your work and remembering how important it is to pray when we are going to do something big. Your prayer helped you move the stone. By moving the stone you helped me. That is good work.” Jesus said.

“Thank you Jesus,” said Abner. I will tell the women what you said when they get here. I won’t let you down.”

“I know you won’t Abner,” Jesus said. “Bye for now.”

“Bye Jesus,” said Abner as Jesus walked away. When Jesus was out of Abner’s sight, he climbed up and sat down on top of the rock he had moved a few minutes before.

Abner remained there for perhaps a half hour. Angels have trouble keeping track of time. God’s time isn’t the same as human time and angels work more on God’s time. Then he heard voices coming toward him. He waited, then he saw the women coming toward the tomb. His father, Zeke and Remo flew just above the women, out of sight.

Suddenly Abner’s face began to shine like the sun and his clothing became very white as the women came to the tomb.

“You don’t need to be afraid,” Abner said to the women. “I know you are looking for Jesus. He’s not here. He has risen just like he said. Now, go back to the city and tell his disciples and Peter to go to Galilee and they will find him just like he said. You can go with them to Galilee too. He gave me this message to give to you.”

So the women turned around and started back to Galilee. Abner joined his father, Zeke and Remo and watched over the women as they were returning to Jerusalem. Suddenly Jesus appeared and began to talk with the women. The women dropped to the ground and worshipped Jesus. The angels saw Jesus help them to their feet.

Jesus then said, “Go quickly and tell the disciples to come with you to Galilee and I will see all of you there.” The women got to their feet and ran toward Jerusalem. Jesus then looked up at the four angels, giving them a wink and a wave, then he was gone.

The assignment was over for the angels and they returned home. There were lots of stories to tell about what happened to Abner, Gabriel, Zeke and Remo. All of them shared their adventure with their families.

A few days later Gabriel came home. “God was really pleased with the work you and your friends did when you rolled away the stone,” Gabriel said. “You now have your first permanent assignment.” The women that Zeke, Remo and I watched over, you three are their angels. You are too watch over them. And Abner, your special assignment is to watch over Mary the mother of Jesus. She is very special and God wants you to personally see to her care. Do you think you can do it?”

“Dad, with God beside me, I know I can do anything.”

Copyright 2017, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

You Lie, You Die

Today’s Journey Through Scripture Readings: 2 Samuel 1-2; Luke 14:1-24

 

“How do you know,” David asked the young man who brought the news, “that Saul and his son Jonathan are dead?”

The young man who brought the news replied, “I just happened to be on Mount Gilboa and Saul was there, leaning on his spear, with chariots and horsemen closing in on him. He turned around and saw me, then he called to me. ‘Yes, sir,’ I answered. ‘Who are you?’ he asked, and I told him, ‘I’m an Amalekite.’ He said to me, ‘Please come over here and kill me, because convulsions have come over me but I’m still alive.’[a] 10 So I went over to him and killed him, because I knew he couldn’t survive after being wounded like that. I took the crown that was on his head and the bracelet that was on his arm, and I’ve brought them here to you, my master.”

11 Then David grabbed his clothes and ripped them—and all his soldiers did the same. 12 They mourned and cried and fasted until evening for Saul, his son Jonathan, the Lord’s army, and the whole house of Israel, because they had died by the sword.

13 “Where are you from?” David asked the young man who brought him the news.

“I’m the son of an immigrant,” he answered. “An Amalekite.”

14 Then David said to him, “How is it that you weren’t afraid to raise your hand and destroy the Lord’s anointed?” 15 Then David called for one of the young servants. “Come here!” he said. “Strike him down!” So the servant struck the Amalekite down, and he died.

16 “Your blood is on your own head,” David said to the Amalekite, “because your own mouth testified against you when you admitted, ‘I killed the Lord’s anointed.’” (2 Samuel 1:5-16, Common English Bible)

The television character House, on the television show by the same name said, “Everybody lies and Everybody pays a price.”  It is essentially a true statement. But, in my limited knowledge of House, he seems pretty cynical to me. First of all, I am not convinced that everybody lies. That being said, I am convinced that everybody who does lie pays a price for it.

In today’s lesson from 2 Samuel we see David, for the first time, as King of Israel. No, he has yet to be crowned but, the people will quickly make it clear that David is King. The people of Israel could make the age old chant, “Long live the King!”

David becomig king was not the problem in this story. The problem is a young man who wants to build himself up in the eyes of the king so he tells a lie, not knowing he would die for the effort. David, unknowingly kills the young man because he believes, by what the young man said, the young man himself, killed King Saul, the Lord’s annointed.

Much of the scriptures that end 1 Samuel feature David hiding from Saul. But, though Saul trys to kill David, David never really raises a hand in anger at Saul. Why? Saul was the Lord’s annointed, and that annointing was something David believed he should respect.

One more thought occured to me as I was writing. The young man disrespects Saul, Jonathan (who he also found dead), David, and the actual crown of Israel, the office of the king.

The young man learned an eternal lesson. You lie, you die. In reality our in our society you don’t really have to worry about losing your head as it were just because you lie. But, the lie can ruin a profession, and it can ruin relationships. When we lose our profession and our relationships, we may be physically alive, but we lose our life as we know it.

I pray for all of us that our nose won’t start growing and we learn the tough lesson, the truth, as the old saying goes, will set you free.

Have a great day in the Lord.

With Joy and Thankfulness,
Keith

Copyright 2018, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

The Race: On Your Mark

Trying something new this week. Instead of the manuscript version of Sunday’s sermon, here is the video of Sunday’s service. Let me know what you think in the comments.

12 So then let’s also run the race that is laid out in front of us, since we have such a great cloud of witnesses surrounding us. Let’s throw off any extra baggage, get rid of the sin that trips us up, and fix our eyes on Jesus, faith’s pioneer and perfecter. He endured the cross, ignoring the shame, for the sake of the joy that was laid out in front of him, and sat down at the right side of God’s throne. (Hebrews 12:1-2, Common English Bible)

18 As Jesus walked alongside the Galilee Sea, he saw two brothers, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew, throwing fishing nets into the sea, because they were fishermen. 19 “Come, follow me,” he said, “and I’ll show you how to fish for people.” 20 Right away, they left their nets and followed him. 21 Continuing on, he saw another set of brothers, James the son of Zebedee and his brother John. They were in a boat with Zebedee their father repairing their nets. Jesus called them and 22 immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him. (Matthew 4:18-22, Common English Bible).

The video below is the full worship service. If you desire to see only the scripture and sermon you can forward to 23:35.

Leave No Man Behind

Today’s Journey Through Scripture Readings: 1Samuel 30-31; Luke 13:23-35

 

When the Israelites across the valley and across the Jordan learned that the Israelite army had fled and that Saul and his sons were dead, they abandoned their towns and fled. So the Philistines came and occupied the towns.

The next day, when the Philistines came to strip the dead, they found Saul and his three sons lying dead on Mount Gilboa. They cut off Saul’s head and stripped off his armor, and then sent word throughout Philistine territory, carrying the good news to their gods’ temples and to their people. 10 They put Saul’s armor in the temple of Astarte, and hung his body on the wall of Beth-shan.

11 But when all the people of Jabesh-gilead heard what the Philistines had done to Saul, 12 the bravest of their men set out, traveled all night long, and took the bodies of Saul and his sons off the wall of Beth-shan. Then they went back to Jabesh, where they burned them. 13 Then they took their bones and buried them under the tamarisk tree at Jabesh, and they fasted seven days (1 Samuel 31:7-13, Common English Bible).

In truth, I have no idea if the Israelites of Saul and David’s era knew concept of “No Man Left Behind). Many of us (I was one until I started researching from this post) believed wrongly that the saying had its origins in the various branches of the US military which in one form or another has held it as part of the policy (a part that, historically we haven’t done all that well in keeping over the years). Still the intentions are good. I first heard the saying while in Navy bootcamp. It wasn’t said for the Navy as a whole. I think everyone on a ship understood that if a ship goes down there is a pretty good chance we are going to leave some sailors behind no matter how valient the efforts to save them might be. I heard it said  tied to the Navy Seals. Years later, when my oldest son Wayne enlisted in the Marine Corps, I heard it again. It is a big deal for anyone in the militray but it is a huge deal for a Marine. It is also part of the Army and Air Forces’ creed that they will not leave a soldier or airman (respectively) behind. It is also in the DNA of Army Rangers.

In truth the saying probably has its roots a couple of thousand years ago, but could also have been aroun about as long as war has been around. We do know the Romans had a saying, “nemo resideo” or “Leave no one behind.”

What we do know is, when the Israelites heard the dispicable things the Philistines did to their king and his sons, they were not going to leave these men behind. The official mission could easily have been made because of the king and his sons. Still, knowing folks, remembering folks like my great-grandfather who served in World War I, my Uncle Jim who served in World War II, my dad who was in the Navy during the Korean conflict, numberous friends who were in the military during Vietnam and others who have spent more time in the Middle East than they care to recall, I believed the soldiers of Israel would have searched with close to equal determination for the guy fighting next to them as they were for the king and his sons.

Israel’s army of old was determined to not leave their king behind. Many since then have had equal determination to leave no one behind. Most of us do not face the opportunities or the hazards that go with such a promise and determination. We do, however, face the equal responsibility to leave no one behind, in a spiritual sense, when we leave this life. Solider’s, sailors, Marines, and airmen will risk their lives to leave no one behind. Will we risk looking foolish to hopefully leave no one behind for eternity?

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

With Joy and Thankfulness,
Keith

 

A Call to Repentance

Today’s Journey Through Scripture Readings: 1 Samuel 27-29; Luke 13:1-22

 

13 Some who were present on that occasion told Jesus about the Galileans whom Pilate had killed while they were offering sacrifices. He replied, “Do you think the suffering of these Galileans proves that they were more sinful than all the other Galileans? No, I tell you, but unless you change your hearts and lives, you will die just as they did. What about those eighteen people who were killed when the tower of Siloam fell on them? Do you think that they were more guilty of wrongdoing than everyone else who lives in Jerusalem? No, I tell you, but unless you change your hearts and lives, you will die just as they did.” (Luke 13:1-5, Common English Bible).

When I read today’s passage, my first thought went to the idea of free will. Jesus keeps asking if it was because of sin that someone died. Then he quickly, before anyone has the chance to answer, “No I tell you.” Initially, my thought was, “No, they didn’t die because of their sin. It was free will.”

I was wrong. It was a call to repentance. It is a call to repentance. But, though I titled today’s post, “A Call to Repentance,” this is not going to be what you might think. It will not be a hellfire and brimstone saying things like, “REPENT LAST WARNING,” or “REPENT OR PERISH.” While both have Biblical standing and even application to this passage, I also know and believe in Paul’s words, “The greatest of these is love.” To use an old cliche, “You get more flies with honey than with vinegar.”

The word “repent,” we think means confession. It is that, but it is also more. To repent means to confess and turn around. To repent means not only do we confess but we also make a real and lasting change in our lives. If we are committing sin by slandering another person, not only do we confess our sin, that we slandered someone else, we also change our behavior, not only that we will no longer slander that person but that we will not slander others either. I could list sin after sin but it would be my hope that you get the idea.

Do Jesus’ words in our lesson mean if we fail to repent we are bound for hell? My job is not now, nor has it ever been, to determine who gets heaven and who gets hell. No, it isn’t my job. It isn’t the job of any pastor. My job is to proclaim the love of God in Jesus Christ. I know what this text, as well as other texts, say. I get it. But, what I also know is, we have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. I also know that the one who hasn’t committed sin can cast the first stone. These are Biblical ideas just like the message of repentance that is our lesson today. I can’t ignore the other texts in order to uphold this lesson.

All that being said, I know and I do proclaim, for all of us, it is time to repent. When we repent, God who is love, “…will forgive our sin and cleanse us of all unrighteousness.”

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

With Joy and Thankfulness,
Keith

Copyright 2018, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

Smile at Your Enemies

Today’s Journey Through Scripture Readings: 1Samuel 25-26; Luke 12:32-59

 

8 Abishai said to David, “God has handed your enemy over to you today! Let me pin him to the ground with my spear. One stroke is all I need! I won’t need a second.”

9 But David said to Abishai, “Don’t kill him! No one can lift a hand against the Lord’s anointed and go unpunished. 10 As surely as the Lord lives,” David continued, “it will be the Lord who will strike him down, or his day will come and he will die, or he’ll fall in battle and be destroyed. 11 The Lord forbid that I lift my hand against the Lord’s anointed! But go ahead and take the spear by Saul’s head and the water jug and let’s go!” 12 So David took the spear and the water jug that were by Saul’s head, and he and Abishai left. No one saw them, no one knew they were there, and no one woke up. All of them remained asleep because a deep sleep from the Lord had come over them.

13 David crossed over to the other side and stood on top of a hill with considerable distance between them. 14 Then David shouted to the army and to Abner, Ner’s son, “Abner! Aren’t you going to answer me?”

“Who are you to shout to the king?” Abner asked.

15 David answered Abner, “You are a man, aren’t you? And you have no equal in Israel, right? Then why haven’t you kept watch over your master the king? One of the soldiers came to kill your master the king. 16 What you’ve done is terrible! As surely as the Lord lives, all of you are dead men because you didn’t keep close watch over your master, the Lord’s anointed. Have a look around! Where are the king’s spear and the water jug that were by his head?” (1 Samuel 26:8-16, Common English Bible).

“Smile at your enemies, it will drive them crazy.”

“Smile at your enemies, it confuses them.”

“Smile, it irritates those who wish to destroy you.”

“Smile, your enemies will hate it.”

“Smile at your enemies, you reveal what kind of God our God is?”

I could go on but that seems like a really good place to stop. I feel certain, however, Saul wasn’t thinking about what kind of God David’s God was, when standing in his camp wondering what just happened.

David has the opportunity to completely destroy the man who was trying to destroy him. Make no mistake. Saul wanted David dead. Saul was so jealous of David for the way the people loved and respected David. David was not just a hero, he was their hero. Saul was, well, Saul was a pretender. The man who was afraid to become king continues to show the fear deep in his heart and the fear he had that one day David would supplant him as King of Israel.

As we know, because we have the benefit of the whole story, David did eventually become king, but not while Saul was alive.

Can you imagine when Saul woke up, realizing his spear and water bottle were gone? And then, David admits he is the thief but Saul really doesn’t seem too upset about it. Perhaps he realized that, for the second time, David could have killed him and didn’t. Or, perhaps he was putting on a good show, trying to convince David to come within arm’s reach so the tables could be reversed. Of that, we will ever know this side of eternity.

What we do know is, David was smiling at his enemy (so to speak) and it was driving Saul crazy!

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

With Joy and Thankfulness,
Keith

Copyright 2018, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved