The Dandelion Paradox

dandelions

24 Jesus told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like someone who planted good seed in his field. 25 While people were sleeping, an enemy came and planted weeds among the wheat and went away. 26 When the stalks sprouted and bore grain, then the weeds also appeared.

27 “The servants of the landowner came and said to him, ‘Master, didn’t you plant good seed in your field? Then how is it that it has weeds?’

28 “‘An enemy has done this,’ he answered.

“The servants said to him, ‘Do you want us to go and gather them?’

29 “But the landowner said, ‘No, because if you gather the weeds, you’ll pull up the wheat along with them. 30  Let both grow side by side until the harvest. And at harvest time I’ll say to the harvesters, “First gather the weeds and tie them together in bundles to be burned. But bring the wheat into my barn.” ’”

36 Jesus left the crowds and went into the house. His disciples came to him and said, “Explain to us the parable of the weeds in the field.”

37 Jesus replied, “The one who plants the good seed is the Human One.[c]38  The field is the world. And the good seeds are the followers of the kingdom. But the weeds are the followers of the evil one. 39  The enemy who planted them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the present age. The harvesters are the angels. 40  Just as people gather weeds and burn them in the fire, so it will be at the end of the present age. 41  The Human One[d] will send his angels, and they will gather out of his kingdom all things that cause people to fall away and all people who sin.42  He will throw them into a burning furnace. People there will be weeping and grinding their teeth. 43  Then the righteous will shine like the sun in their Father’s kingdom. Those who have ears should hear.” (Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43, Common English Bible).

Just the Readings

Scripture Readings for June 21: Esther 3-5; Acts 5:22-42

Scripture Readings for June 22: Esther 6-8; Acts 6

Scripture Readings for June 23: Esther 9-10; Acts 7:1-21

Scripture Readings for June 24: Job 1-2; Acts 7:22-43

This past week was an incredibly busy week and some things just had to wait. Unfortunately, the blog was the biggest victim of the week was the blog. I didn’t do the sermon I had planned either but it wasn’t because of the busy week. After wrestling with the planned sermon all week I set it aside in favor of something different (to be posted in a few minutes). I hope to have the blog back on track this week.

With Joy and Thankfulness,
Keith

What if the Killer Was Us?

Today’s Journey Through Scripture Readings: Esther 1-2; Acts 5:1-21

21 At that time, as Mordecai continued to work at the King’s Gate, two royal eunuchs, Bigthan and Teresh, became angry with King Ahasuerus. They were among the guards protecting the doorway to the king, but they secretly planned to kill him. 22 When Mordecai got wind of it, he reported it to Queen Esther. She spoke to the king about it, saying the information came from Mordecai. 23 The matter was investigated and found to be true, so the two men were impaled on pointed poles. A report about the event was written in the royal record with the king present. (Esther 2:21-23, Common English Bible).

Over the past month, I have said a great deal here, relatively, about the tragedy at Santa Fe High School. My heart is still heavy due to what happened there. Having been a pastor in that community, having baptized one of the victims and playing a part in his memorial service it hit very close to home. It was so tragic and so needless. I hope, I pray, that the young man responsible will one day come to repent of his senseless actions.

It is to bad that there was not a Mordecai present. Don’t get me wrong, I am not blaming anyone, or saying someone knew what was going to happen and did nothing to stop it. That is far from the case. I sincerely doubt any of the young man’s classmates had any indication of what would happen that Friday morning.

In truth, not many of us get the opportunity to be Mordecai. Not many of us know of the plans of a would-be killer before those plans get carried out. We never get the chance to report things to the Queen Esther around us so the plans might be thwarted before they ever actually happen.

But, what if the killer was us? “Oh, Pastor, I have never killed anyone. No, I haven’t. I wouldn’t.” I know you haven’t. I’m pretty sure you wouldn’t. This is a hypothetical question. I haven’t killed anyone either. Or, have I?

If I am being honest with you, and even more so with myself, I can and sometimes do kill the spirit of someone around me when I say or when I do something that attacks their heart or attacks their soul. I can kill someone’s soul when I spread rumors about someone or, just as bad when I allow them to move through my little corner of the world unchecked.

I know, without a doubt, I have done just that. I know I have done it more than once. There was someone there, at least one someone, who could have, who should have,  played the role of Mordechai, to me, being the guards in the story. Let me repent of my actions as one of the guards.

Yes, I do repent of my being one or both of the guards in the lesson. I have faith, help my unfaithfulness. Help me repent of being a guard but more importantly help me to remember that I am called to serve, not to gossip. I am called to build up, not to be one who kills the spirit.

If you are honest,  with others and yourself, you probably have been one who kills others in the ways I have mentioned and in ways, I don’t even know. We aren’t authorized to use the spirit as a weapon. We aren’t authorized to share the heartache of someone else. We aren’t called to share with others what God has done in their lives. We all have a call.

What’s your call,

Have a great day in the Lord.

With Joy and Thankfulness,
Keith

Copyright 2018, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

Call Me Barnabus

Today’s Journey Through Scripture Readings: Nehemiah 12-13; Acts 4:23-37

32 The community of believers was one in heart and mind. None of them would say, “This is mine!” about any of their possessions, but held everything in common. 33 The apostles continued to bear powerful witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and an abundance of grace was at work among them all. 34 There were no needy persons among them. Those who owned properties or houses would sell them, bring the proceeds from the sales, 35 and place them in the care and under the authority of the apostles. Then it was distributed to anyone who was in need.

36 Joseph, whom the apostles nicknamed Barnabas (that is, “one who encourages”), was a Levite from Cyprus. 37 He owned a field, sold it, brought the money, and placed it in the care and under the authority of the apostles. (Acts 4:32-37, Common English Bible).

Before someone reads this and storms my office this morning (or afternoon or evening), thinking I want them to sell their house and all their stuff and take the money and give it to the church, that isn’t my point and isn’t the point of the lesson. Unless, that is, what God is calling to you. And, I would submit to you, if you are coming storming into my office, it might just be, the passage bothers you because that is the very thing God is calling you to do. But I digress.

Jesus didn’t say to the rich young man, “Go sell all you have and bring the money to me.” He said, “Give the money to the poor and come and follow me.” Following Jesus is more important than what we give. But (you should know, by the very nature of what I have written thus far, a “but” was coming), Jesus also knows, if we have given ourselves fully to him, our money and our stuff will come with us.

For many years, I have found the meanings behind names interesting. My name, for example, comes from the American, Welsh, Scottish, or Irish. According to the American and Welsh, Keith means “From the woods.” But the Scottish and Irish say Keith means, “From the Battlefield.” There are some other meanings including wind and wood.

The name Joseph, coming from verse 36 is increase or addition. The name Joseph is among the most common in the Bible. Joseph is mentioned 200 times in the Old Testament, the most common of which is Joseph whose brothers sold him into slavery in the book of Genesis. It is mentioned 35 times in the New Testament with Joseph the earthly father of Jesus is best known.

Might that be the reason the apostles started calling this particular Joseph, Barnabus? Luke does find it important to tell us the meaning behind the name Barnabus, “one who encourages.” I like that name, a lot. Well, I like the meaning behind it.

But, it seems to me, one could do worse than carry the name Barnabus. I don’t mind being “From the woods.” I am far less crazy about being “From the battlefield.” But what I really like the idea of is being “one who encourages.” Yes, I like that. And, the world could use a lot more of that whether our name is Barnabus or not.

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

With Joy and Thankfulness,
Keith

Copyright 2018, J Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

Some Stuff Just Doesn’t Matter

Today’s Journey Through Scripture Readings: Nehemiah 10-11; Acts 4:1-22

13 The council was caught by surprise by the confidence with which Peter and John spoke. After all, they understood that these apostles were uneducated and inexperienced. They also recognized that they had been followers of Jesus. 14 However, since the healed man was standing with Peter and John before their own eyes, they had no rebuttal. 15 After ordering them to wait outside, the council members began to confer with each other. 16 “What should we do with these men? Everyone living in Jerusalem is aware of the sign performed through them. It’s obvious to everyone and we can’t deny it. 17 To keep it from spreading further among the people, we need to warn them not to speak to anyone in this name.” 18 When they called Peter and John back, they demanded that they stop all speaking and teaching in the name of Jesus.

19 Peter and John responded, “It’s up to you to determine whether it’s right before God to obey you rather than God. 20 As for us, we can’t stop speaking about what we have seen and heard.” 21 They threatened them further, then released them. Because of public support for Peter and John, they couldn’t find a way to punish them. Everyone was praising God for what had happened, 22 because the man who had experienced this sign of healing was over 40 years old. (Acts 4:13-22, Common English Bible)

Sometimes, the thoughts and the logic of the human creature is just silly. Not everyone’s thoughts and logic. It doesn’t even happen all the time. But, when it does, it can absolutely make you do a double take, make you stop and say, “What was that?”

Today’s Acts lesson is just one of those times. Peter and John healed a man who, for that day and time was pretty elderly (and the thought of that makes me feel old since I am half-again that old), The people around them were amazed and praised God. That is the people minus the council members who were looking for a way to arrest the two. And, filled with the Holy Spirit, again, give them an answer about a man who had bee sick for years and Peter and John healed him.

As usual, the Pharisees couldn’t stop the movement of Christianity. They weren’t without their efforts but the debate brought them to their knees, as it were. They were really surprised. These two (with the help of the Holy Spirit) whipped the snot out of them in the debate and that shocked the Pharisees. Here were two uneducated, inexperienced, unsophisticated fishermen who come off as some kind of experts in rhetoric.

There really wasn’t much the council could do to Peter and John so they just told them to cease and desist. Once again Peter and John put them in their place essentially saying, “Do what ya gotta do and we will do what we gotta do.

For me, it all comes down to this. The council believed in an omnipotent God (allegedly). And yet, over and over again, they forget that God is in the miracle business.

How soon they forget, and so do we.

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

With Joy and Thankfulness,
Keith

Copyright 2018, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

Plain Janes: The Beloved Mother-in-Law

Then she arose along with her daughters-in-law to return from the field of Moab, because while in the territory of Moab she had heard that the Lord had paid attention to his people by providing food for them. She left the place where she had been, and her two daughters-in-law went with her. They went along the road to return to the land of Judah.

Naomi said to her daughters-in-law, “Go, turn back, each of you to the household of your mother. May the Lord deal faithfully with you, just as you have done with the dead and with me. May the Lord provide for you so that you may find security, each woman in the household of her husband.” Then she kissed them, and they lifted up their voices and wept.

10 But they replied to her, “No, instead we will return with you, to your people.”

11 Naomi replied, “Turn back, my daughters. Why would you go with me? Will there again be sons in my womb, that they would be husbands for you? 12 Turn back, my daughters. Go. I am too old for a husband. If I were to say that I have hope, even if I had a husband tonight, and even more, if I were to bear sons— 13 would you wait until they grew up? Would you refrain from having a husband? No, my daughters. This is more bitter for me than for you, since the Lord’s will has come out against me.”

14 Then they lifted up their voices and wept again. Orpah kissed her mother-in-law, but Ruth stayed with her. 15 Naomi said, “Look, your sister-in-law is returning to her people and to her gods. Turn back after your sister-in-law.”

16 But Ruth replied, “Don’t urge me to abandon you, to turn back from following after you. Wherever you go, I will go; and wherever you stay, I will stay. Your people will be my people, and your God will be my God.17 Wherever you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord do this to me and more so if even death separates me from you.”18 When Naomi saw that Ruth was determined to go with her, she stopped speaking to her about it. 19 So both of them went along until they arrived at Bethlehem. (Ruth 1:6-19a, Common English Bible).

Heirs of the Prophets

Today’s Journey Through Scripture Readings: Nehemiah 7-9; Acts 3

17 “Brothers and sisters, I know you acted in ignorance. So did your rulers. 18 But this is how God fulfilled what he foretold through all the prophets: that his Christ would suffer. 19 Change your hearts and lives! Turn back to God so that your sins may be wiped away. 20 Then the Lord will provide a season of relief from the distress of this age and he will send Jesus, whom he handpicked to be your Christ. 21 Jesus must remain in heaven until the restoration of all things, about which God spoke long ago through his holy prophets. 22 Moses said, The Lord your God will raise up from your own people a prophet like me. Listen to whatever he tells you. 23 Whoever doesn’t listen to that prophet will be totally cut off from the people. 24 All the prophets who spoke—from Samuel forward—announced these days. 25 You are the heirs of the prophets and the covenant that God made with your ancestors when he told Abraham, Through your descendants, all the families on earth will be blessed. 26 After God raised his servant, he sent him to you first—to bless you by enabling each of you to turn from your evil ways.” (Acts 3:17-26, Common English Bible)

It is a short passage. It is right around 200 words. But friends, there is a great deal packed into those 200 words.  It makes me want to say to my high school English teacher, “See, you can to put enough into 200 words (in this case 500 words was the floor, you could write more but don’t write less).” But then again, some of my seminary professors game me 200-word assignments (that wasn’t the floor, it was the ceiling). Here God shows an extraordinary ability to put a lot into a tiny space.

Change your hearts and lives, turn back to God so your sins will be wiped away. God will send Jesus, one handpicked by God to be the Messiah. Whoever doesn’t listen to that prophet (Jesus) will be totally cut off from the people. All the prophets spoke, pointing to these days. Through those gathered, their descendants (us) will be blessed.

When I first read the passage my eyes zoomed in on “You are heirs with the prophets. Peter’s words here in Luke express to us that our relationship with the Risen Christ, because of our acceptance of him, we are part of the covenant that dates all the way back to Abraham. That like Abraham, we are blessed to be a blessing. Like Abraham, our descendants, while not as many as Abraham, still have or will have numerous descendants. All of them are heirs to the prophets, heirs to what Jesus did.

This passage got me to thinking about my maternal grandmother. She has five children, the two oldest are actually stepchildren but she has always treated them with the respect due them and the same can be said for her treatment by them. I am the oldest of her grandchildren. I also have a sister. There are ten other grandchildren. All told, from my mother and her siblings to the youngest child, there are 60 of us. And we are all heirs to the promise.

Have a blessed day in the Lord,
Keith

Copyright 2018, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved