God of Jews Only???

Today’s Journey Through Scripture Readings: Psalm 54-56; Romans 3

21 But now God’s righteousness has been revealed apart from the Law, which is confirmed by the Law and the Prophets. 22 God’s righteousness comes through the faithfulness of Jesus Christ for all who have faith in him. There’s no distinction. 23 All have sinned and fall short of God’s glory, 24 but all are treated as righteous freely by his grace because of a ransom that was paid by Christ Jesus. 25 Through his faithfulness, God displayed Jesus as the place of sacrifice where mercy is found by means of his blood. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness in passing over sins that happened before, 26 during the time of God’s patient tolerance. He also did this to demonstrate that he is righteous in the present time, and to treat the one who has faith in Jesus as righteous.

27 What happens to our bragging? It’s thrown out. With which law? With what we have accomplished under the Law? 28 No, not at all, but through the law of faith. We consider that a person is treated as righteous by faith, apart from what is accomplished under the Law. 29 Or is God the God of Jews only? Isn’t God the God of Gentiles also? Yes, God is also the God of Gentiles. 30 Since God is one, then the one who makes the circumcised righteous by faith will also make the one who isn’t circumcised righteous through faith. 31 Do we then cancel the Law through this faith? Absolutely not! Instead, we confirm the Law. (Romans 3:21-31, Common English Bible)

Jose Altuve, second baseman of the Houston Astros, has already begun doing something that not that many years ago, I would have thought would be impossible. I truly didn’t think it would be possible for another person to replace Craig Biggio as the best second baseman in Astros history.

Craig Biggio was a great player. Make no mistake about that. Being the first Astro to enter the Hall of Fame as an Astro speaks volumes about his abilities and his career. But, as great a player as Biggio was, he never won a league Most Valuable Player award but Altuve has. Altuve also has won the Hank Aaron award for the best hitter in the league. Both have Gold Glove awards and Silver Slugger Awards though Biggio does have more, but he played longer. Altuve also owns a Babe Ruth Award given for the best post-season performance.

I could go on, but I won’t. Here is my question. Does baseball exist just for Jose Altuve? Of course not, that would totally throw away what players like Biggio have done. Again, there could be a long list of players. In fact, every player who has ever played the game, is currently playing, or ever will play can claim the game exists for them too. But, they are not all. The game exists for coaches, broadcasters, stadium employees, owners, trainers, and the fans. Baseball isn’t just for one player, no matter how good he might be. Baseball is for everyone.

Our lesson today rightly makes the same claim about God, just not in those words. Paul asks an important question of the Romans. Is God just the God of Jews? (v. 29) Paul answers his own question. He says that God is also the God of the Gentiles. I think Paul would agree, God is God for all people.

Here is the proof. Jesus told the disciples to, “…go into all the world and make disciples, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit…” (Matthew 28:19, CEB). At that time, there were not Jews everywhere in the world, but that was Jesus’ instruction, go into ALL the world… If others in the world were only the God of the Jews, who would Jesus tell the disciples to go into all the world to make disciples?

In the end, God is the God of all people. God loves all of God’s people. And, it is God’s desire to have a relationship with all people. And, why not? God wanted a relationship with the likes of us.

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

With Joy and Thankfulness,
Keith

Copyright 2018, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

And I Will Be Clean

Today’s Journey Through Scripture Readings: Psalm 51-53; Romans 2

Have mercy on me, God, according to your faithful love!
    Wipe away my wrongdoings according to your great compassion!
Wash me completely clean of my guilt;
    purify me from my sin!
Because I know my wrongdoings,
    my sin is always right in front of me.
I’ve sinned against you—you alone.
    I’ve committed evil in your sight.
That’s why you are justified when you render your verdict,
    completely correct when you issue your judgment.
Yes, I was born in guilt, in sin,
    from the moment my mother conceived me.
And yes, you want truth in the most hidden places;
    you teach me wisdom in the most secret space.

Purify me with hyssop and I will be clean;
    wash me and I will be whiter than snow.
Let me hear joy and celebration again;
    let the bones you crushed rejoice once more.
Hide your face from my sins;
    wipe away all my guilty deeds!
10 Create a clean heart for me, God;
    put a new, faithful spirit deep inside me!
11 Please don’t throw me out of your presence;
    please don’t take your holy spirit away from me.
12 Return the joy of your salvation to me
    and sustain me with a willing spirit.
13 Then I will teach wrongdoers your ways,
    and sinners will come back to you.

14 Deliver me from violence, God, God of my salvation,
    so that my tongue can sing of your righteousness.
15 Lord, open my lips,
    and my mouth will proclaim your praise.
16 You don’t want sacrifices.
    If I gave an entirely burned offering,
    you wouldn’t be pleased.
17 A broken spirit is my sacrifice, God.
    You won’t despise a heart, God, that is broken and crushed.
18 Do good things for Zion by your favor.
    Rebuild Jerusalem’s walls.
19 Then you will again want sacrifices of righteousness—
    entirely burned offerings and complete offerings.
        Then bulls will again be sacrificed on your altar. (Psalm 51:1-19, Common English Bible)

Psalm 51 is the Psalter reading from the lectionary for Ash Wednesday. It is also one of my favorites in the Psalms. The imagery to me is extraordinarily vivid. The pain the psalmist feels, the pain of guilt should remind us of the pain our sins can bring to others and to ourselves.

When I was in seminary, the consensus opinion of the faculty at SMU’s Perkins School of Theology was, David, didn’t write this Psalm and even if he had it would not have been following the Uriah/Bathsheba fiasco. As I have told you before, most scholars believe those words that follow the “chapter” number are believed to be a later edition.

The psalmist’s words do point to a sin that occupies his heart and mind. “My sin is always right in front of me.” “…I was born in the guilt of sin.” “I’ve committed evil in your sight.” “I’ve sinned against you, you alone.” While the psalmist doesn’t confess specifics, it is clear he is laying it all out on the table.

As he clicks off his words of sin, it is clear the psalmist wants God to absolve his sin. He wants to be free of the guilt in his heart and in his soul. He wants to have joy again. He wants God to wash him whiter than snow.

It is good for the psalmist that God is in the forgiving business. If we take the credits for this Psalm, the sins of the psalmist, David, at least in his own eyes were severe. I also think, with 21st-century sensibilities, we would probably agree. At least at that moment the psalmist really wasn’t a very good guy.

The good news for us is, God is still in the forgiving business. Regardless of what we may have done, it may have even been the sins of David but it doesn’t have to be, God will forgive. John reminds us of that when he writes, “If we confess our sins, God who is faithful and just will forgive our sins and cleanse us of all unrighteousness.”

I want that kind of forgiveness. I want God to wash me clean of my transgressions. I am convinced God did it for David. God will do it for me if I confess. If you confess, God will wash you clean. Thanks be to God.

Have a great day in the Lord.

With Joy and Thankfulness,
Keith

Copyright 2018, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

And Finally Beloved

Sunday, July 29, 2018, was my last day as pastor at First United Methodist Church in Sweeny, TX. Below is the video from the sermon, titled, “And Finally Beloved.”

From now on, brothers and sisters, if anything is excellent and if anything is admirable, focus your thoughts on these things: all that is true, all that is holy, all that is just, all that is pure, all that is lovely, and all that is worthy of praise. Practice these things: whatever you learned, received, heard, or saw in us. The God of peace will be with you.

10 I was very glad in the Lord because now at last you have shown concern for me again. (Of course you were always concerned but had no way to show it.) 11 I’m not saying this because I need anything, for I have learned how to be content in any circumstance. 12 I know the experience of being in need and of having more than enough; I have learned the secret to being content in any and every circumstance, whether full or hungry or whether having plenty or being poor. 13 I can endure all these things through the power of the one who gives me strength. (Philippians 4:8-13, Common English Bible)

 

 

 

Called to Belong to Jesus

Today’s Journey Through Scripture Readings: Psalm 49-50; Romans 1

Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God— the gospel he promised beforehand through his prophets in the Holy Scriptures regarding his Son, who as to his earthly life was a descendant of David, and who through the Spirit of holiness was appointed the Son of God in power by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord. Through him we received grace and apostleship to call all the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith for his name’s sake. And you also are among those Gentiles who are called to belong to Jesus Christ.

To all in Rome who are loved by God and called to be his holy people:

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ.

Paul’s Longing to Visit Rome

First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is being reported all over the world. God, whom I serve in my spirit in preaching the gospel of his Son, is my witness how constantly I remember you 10 in my prayers at all times; and I pray that now at last by God’s will the way may be opened for me to come to you.

11 I long to see you so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong— 12 that is, that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith. 13 I do not want you to be unaware, brothers and sisters, that I planned many times to come to you (but have been prevented from doing so until now) in order that I might have a harvest among you, just as I have had among the other Gentiles. (Romans 1:1-13, Common English Bible)
“You are among the Gentiles who are called to belong to Jesus Christ.” Paul may have written this letter to the Church in Rome but it can also be said it is written to you and me. Paul is opening with words claiming the Gentiles, we would be considered Gentiles, are called to belong to Jesus Christ.

I love the idea that you and I are called to belong to Jesus. As people of faith, I think we all know, we are called to be part of the Body of Christ.

Still, we are not all who are called. There were, and still are, Gentiles who did not believe or accept Jesus Christ, whether they belong to him, or not.

Paul goes on to say that the faith of the Romans was known all over the world. As we read those words, it seems to me, we need to read them for us as well. If we belong to Jesus, we are people who are also called to let the world know we too are people who have faith known to the world. We do so when we share our faith, share our stories with the people God brings across our paths.

I am thankful I belong to Jesus. Lord Jesus, help me be faithful that the world may come to know you.

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

With Joy and Thankfulness,
Keith

Copyright 2018, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

Refuge in a Scary World

Today’s Journey Through Scripture Readings: Psalm 46-48; Acts 28

46 God is our refuge and strength,
    a help always near in times of great trouble.
That’s why we won’t be afraid when the world falls apart,
    when the mountains crumble into the center of the sea,
    when its waters roar and rage,
    when the mountains shake because of its surging waves. Selah

There is a river whose streams gladden God’s city,
    the holiest dwelling of the Most High.
God is in that city. It will never crumble.
    God will help it when morning dawns.
Nations roar; kingdoms crumble.
    God utters his voice; the earth melts.
The Lord of heavenly forces is with us!
    The God of Jacob is our place of safety. Selah

Come, see the Lord’s deeds,
    what devastation he has imposed on the earth—
    bringing wars to an end in every corner of the world,
    breaking the bow and shattering the spear,
        burning chariots with fire.

10 “That’s enough! Now know that I am God!
    I am exalted among all nations; I am exalted throughout the world!”

11 The Lord of heavenly forces is with us!
    The God of Jacob is our place of safety. Selah (Psalm 46:1-11, Common English Bible)

The world can be a scary place. In my lifetime there have been wars in Vietnam, Grenada, Kosovo, Afghanistan (twice, once the Soviets and the US), Iraq (twice, both times the US), and numerous other skirmishes around the world. That doesn’t even county hostage crises, terrorist events, and more.

Then is there are the instances of crime in our world. Banks are robbed, cars are hijacked, lives are taken. When I think of these things, my mind also returns to last May when students and teachers were killed in a town I once called home.

Yes, the world is a scary place. At times, I wonder how we function. While I say that a bit tongue and cheek, I am pretty serious when I question how those who do not believe can function in such a scary world.

For we who believe, we know we can trust in the words of the psalmist in Psalm 46. “God is our refuge and strength, a help always near in times of great trouble. That’s why we won’t be afraid when the world falls apart, when the mountains crumble into the center of the sea, when its waters roar and rage, when the mountains shake because of its surging waves.”

“God is our refuge and strength, a great help in times of trouble…” I would find it difficult to find words greater than those of the psalmist. God is our help in times of trouble.

I am reminded of Isaac Watts great hymn, “O God Our Help in Ages Past.” Read Watts’ words”

Our God, our help in ages past,
Our hope for years to come,
Our shelter from the stormy blast,
And our eternal home.

Under the shadow of Thy throne
Thy saints have dwelt secure;
Sufficient is Thine arm alone,
And our defense is sure.

Before the hills in order stood,
Or earth received her frame,
From everlasting Thou art God,
To endless years the same.

Thy Word commands our flesh to dust,
Return, ye sons of men:
All nations rose from earth at first,
And turn to earth again.

A thousand ages in Thy sight
Are like an evening gone;
Short as the watch that ends the night
Before the rising sun.

The busy tribes of flesh and blood,
With all their lives and cares,
Are carried downwards by the flood,
And lost in following years.

Time, like an ever rolling stream,
Bears all its sons away;
They fly, forgotten, as a dream
Dies at the opening day.

Like flowery fields the nations stand
Pleased with the morning light;
The flowers beneath the mower’s hand
Lie withering ere ‘tis night.

Our God, our help in ages past,
Our hope for years to come,
Be Thou our guard while troubles last,
And our eternal home.

God, our refuge, and strength. God, our help in ages past. God, or hope for years to come. We are blessed. What more could we ask?

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

With Joy and Thankfulness,
Keith

Copyright 2018, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

Sailing Through Life, and Then…

Today’s Journey Through Scripture Readings: Psalm 43-45; Acts 27:27-44

39 In the morning light they saw a bay with a sandy beach. They didn’t know what land it was, but they thought they might possibly be able to run the ship aground. 40 They cut the anchors loose and left them in the sea. At the same time, they untied the ropes that ran back to the rudders. They raised the foresail to catch the wind and made for the beach. 41 But they struck a sandbar and the ship ran aground. The bow was stuck and wouldn’t move, and the stern was broken into pieces by the force of the waves. 42 The soldiers decided to kill the prisoners to keep them from swimming to shore and escaping. 43 However, the centurion wanted to save Paul, so he stopped them from carrying out their plan. He ordered those who could swim to jump overboard first and head for land. 44 He ordered the rest to grab hold of planks or debris from the ship. In this way, everyone reached land safely. (Acts 27:39-44, Common English Bible).

When I was in the Navy, my ship was entering the port of Rosyth Scotland (Across the Firth of Forth from Edinburgh). Before we left Norfolk Virginia the ship needed about ten feet of its mast removed. Even with the shorter mast, we still anchored and waited for low tide in order to fit under the bridge connecting Rosyth with Edinburgh. As we passed under the bridge the Captain told us all to hold our breath. We got through without a problem but we still could not approach the pier. Once clear of the bridge we dropped anchor and waited for high tide so we could cross over the sandbar. Once we were over the sandbar we could approach the pier but during our entire stay, during low tide, we literally sat with our keel on the bottom of the harbor.

On another occasion, we were approaching a pier. We were moving too fast. Within a matter of a few minutes, we came close to a collision with the pier and with running aground because of a harbor pilot that didn’t know what he was doing. We ended up sitting in the middle of the harbor at anchor for the rest of the time we were in that port.

Sandbars can be an obstruction preventing ships and sailors from arriving at their intended destination on time or keep them from arriving there at all. It took several hours to arrive in Rosyth. In the second case, we never tied up to the pier at all.

As Paul was making his way to Rome for his appearance before the emperor, he and those on the ship were facing danger. Running aground, even today is not much fun. In Paul’s day, it was a life-threatening circumstance. It is much more difficult to tear into the hull of a steel ship today (please note, I said difficult, not impossible) that it was with the wooden ships that still sailed the seas 200 years ago. The ship where Paul found himself would have been much the same.

The ship comes to a stop on a sandbar but the waves approaching the beach do not. They would beat on the ship. Eventually,  at least in most cases, the ship would eventually begin to break apart, as it did with Paul and the others.

It makes me question, how often do we sail through life. Often we don’t have a care in the world. Or, perhaps we have many cares, to the point our life is potentially in jeopardy. Then, whether we are experiencing good or bad, things suddenly get worse. We hit the unseen obstacle in our way and we find ourselves stuck. Then worse hits again. The ship starts breaking apart. Sitting and waiting it out, hoping the high tide will free us and send us back to sea is no longer an option.

For Paul, there were many concerns and things got worse when he hit the sandbar. They were worse still when the ship started coming apart.

It can be that way for us too. When the unseen obstacle gets in our way and the ship starts coming apart, it is vital for us to weigh our options and move forward. Paul couldn’t go back, he had to move forward. The same happens to us. Never let the obstacles of life keep you from moving forward and going to the place where God is calling you.

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

With Joy and Thankfulness,
Keith

Copyright 2018, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

Journey Through Scripture – August

August is just about here. As we turn the calendar to a new month, teachers will soon head back to work and our kids will be starting a new school year. As for me, it is a time to start something new. I will be moving from preaching to teaching. In truth, I am leaving full-time ministry (I will still be preaching on a part-time basis) and moving to the classroom (I will be teaching government and economics at Center High School, Center Texas). It is, however, my intention to continue writing this blog though I am trying to come up with a new name. I will keep you posted.

We got started on this Journey beginning January 1st. If you have missed some along the way, I would recommend you start where we are studying now and at the end of December, start from the beginning and read until you reach your starting point. You can find the daily passages in the archives of my posts.

Can you believe we are more than halfway (7/12) through our Scripture journey? So far this year we have read from the Old Testament: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1 Samuel, 2 Samuel, 1 Kings, 2 Kings, 1 Chronicles, 2 Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, and Esther and Job. We are currently more than 40 chapters into Psalms. We will spend the whole month of August in Psalms and still will not quite finish. In the New Testament, our readings have taken us through Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. We complete the Acts of the Apostles on July 29th and then begin my favorite book of the Bible, Paul’s letter to the Romans. During August, we will finish Romans and read a great deal of 1 Corinthians.

Our August readings are as follows:

  • August 1: Psalm 57-59; Romans 4
  • August 2: Psalm 60-62; Romans 5
  • August 3: Psalm 63-65; Romans 6
  • August 4: Psalm 66-67; Romans 7
  • August 5: Psalm 68-69; Romans 8:1-21
  • August 6: Psalm 70-71; Romans 8:22-39
  • August 7: Psalm 72-73; Romans 9:1-15
  • August 8: Psalm 74-76; Romans 9:16-33
  • August 9: Psalm 77-78; Romans 10
  • August 10: Ps 79-80; Romans 11:1-18
  • August 11: Ps 81-83; Romans 11:19-36
  • August 12: Psalm 84-86; Romans 12
  • August 13: Psalm 87-88; Romans 13
  • August 14: Psalm 89-90; Romans 14
  • August 15: Psalm 91-93; Romans 15:1-13
  • August 16: Psalm 94-96; Romans 15:14-33
  • August 17: Psalm 97-99; Romans 16
  • August 18: Psalm 100-102; 1 Corinthians 1
  • August 19: Psalm 103-104; 1 Corinthians 2
  • August 20: Psalm 105-106; 1 Corinthians 3
  • August 21: Psalm 107-109; 1 Corinthians 4
  • August 22: Psalm 110-112; 1 Corinthians 5
  • August 23: Psalm 113-115; 1 Corinthians 6
  • August 24: Psalm 116-118; 1 Corinthians 7:1-19
  • August 25: Psalm 119:1-88; 1 Corinthians 7:20-40
  • August 26: Psalm 119:89-176; 1 Corinthians 8
  • August 27: Psalm 120-122; 1 Corinthians 9
  • August 28: Psalm 123-125; 1 Corinthians 10:1-18
  • August 29: Psalm 126-128; 1 Corinthians 10:19-33
  • August 30: Psalm 129-131; 1 Corinthians 11:1-16
  • August 31: Psalm 132-134; 1 Corinthians 11:17-34

I hope you enjoy this month’s readings. I plan to continue writing my daily post from at least part of one of the daily passages. I have gotten off the daily passages a few times but I do try to stay with the passages. I will continue to try hard in August to stay on subject.

With Joy and Thankfulness,
Keith