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,

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,

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,

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,

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,

God Relieves Suffering

Today’s Journey Through Scripture Readings: Psalm 40-42; Acts 27:1-26

42 Just like a deer that craves streams of water,
    my whole being craves you, God.
My whole being thirsts for God, for the living God.
    When will I come and see God’s face?
My tears have been my food both day and night,
    as people constantly questioned me,
    “Where’s your God now?”

But I remember these things as I bare my soul:
how I made my way to the mighty one’s abode,
to God’s own house,
with joyous shouts and thanksgiving songs—
a huge crowd celebrating the festival!
Why, I ask myself, are you so depressed?
Why are you so upset inside?
Hope in God!
Because I will again give him thanks,
my saving presence and my God. (Psalm 42:1-5, Common English Bible)


As the Deer
As the deer panteth for the water
So my soul longeth after Thee
You alone are my heart’s desire
And I long to worship Thee

You alone are my strength, my shield
To You alone may my spirit yield
You alone are my heart’s desire
And I long to worship Thee

You’re my friend
And You are my brother
Even though You are a King
I love You more than any other
So much more than anything
I want You more than gold or silver
Only You can satisfy
You alone are the real joy giver
And the apple of my eye
One of the most loved and successful contemporary Christian songs of the 1990s was “As the Deer” by the Maranatha Singers. It is one of my favorite songs of the past 30 years. There are also those who call the song contemporary. A 27-year-old song is not contemporary. A friend once said to me, “Old contemporary is actually new traditional.”
I digress. It is said that the song has as it’s basis, Psalm 42. To a degree, that idea is true. The first verse of “As the Deer” has obvious parallels with Psalm 42. The deer wanting water to drink. The human thirsting for God. These are pretty obvious.
Looking at the remainder of the song, however, there are no real parallels. There isn’t a place where we can see “As the Deer” clearly coupled with Psalm 42.
The biggest reason for us to question the claim is the theme of the song as opposed to the type of psalm we find in Psalm 42. There are more psalms of lament than any other psalm type. In all these, the psalmist sees the difficulty around him, particularly the difficulty in his own life. In each of these psalms, the psalmist is praying in an effort to encourage God to relieve his suffering and instead to deliver his suffering to his enemies.
Difficulty comes to all of us. And, there is nothing wrong with asking God to relieve our suffering. Further, I believe God will relieve our suffering, but, perhaps it happens in ways other than we imagine. It is a sign that we must look to God and open our eyes to new possibilities.
Have a blessed day in the Lord.
WIth Joy and Thankfulness,
Copyright 2018, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

Farm Faithfulness

Today’s Journey Through Scripture Readings: Psalm 37-39; Acts 26

37 Don’t get upset over evildoers;
    don’t be jealous of those who do wrong,
    because they will fade fast, like grass;
    they will wither like green vegetables.
Trust the Lord and do good;
    live in the land, and farm faithfulness.
Enjoy the Lord,
    and he will give what your heart asks.
Commit your way to the Lord!
    Trust him! He will act
    and will make your righteousness shine like the dawn,
    your justice like high noon.
Be still before the Lord,
    and wait for him.
Don’t get upset when someone gets ahead—
    someone who invents evil schemes.

Let go of anger and leave rage behind!
    Don’t get upset—it will only lead to evil.
Because evildoers will be eliminated,
    but those who hope in the Lord
    they will possess the land.
10 In just a little while the wicked won’t exist!
    If you go looking around their place,
    they won’t be there.
11 But the weak will inherit the land;
    they will enjoy a surplus of peace.
12 The wicked plot against the righteous,
    grinding their teeth at them.
13 But my Lord just laughs at them
    because he knows that their day is coming.
14 The wicked draw their swords and bend their bows
    to bring down the weak and the needy,
    to slaughter those whose way is right.
15 But the sword of the wicked will enter their own hearts!
    Their bows will be broken! (Psalm 37:1-15, Common English Bible)

Thus far in this year’s study, I don’t believe I have combined Scripture from the day’s Old Testament readings with the day’s New Testament readings. Today I will do just that.

In today’s reading from Acts (please read it if you have not) we find Paul still defending himself to King Agrippa as he was yesterday. In yesterday’s post, I talked about Paul being held on a technicality. He still is as, at the end of the chapter, King Agrippa and Festus both agree that had Paul not appealed to the Emperor, he could be released. So, he is still held in chains on that technicality.

As I was preparing for today’s post, the thought occurred to me, perhaps that is what Paul actually wanted. As Paul stood before first Felix (Acts 24), then Festus (Acts 25), and today Agrippa. Paul might have been a Roman citizen but he was also still a Jew. It seems to me that there is a good possibility that without being under arrest, he does not get to speak with these three powerful men. When he speaks to them, he tells his story.

In Psalm 37 David tells us to not get upset with evildoers and to farm faithfulness. Whenever a farmer plants a crop that farmer exhibits faith that the crop will make. In the days before crop insurance, such was, even more, the case. At times, a farmer might risk everything to make a crop.

Still, I don’t think that is what David means here. I think what David means is more like what Paul was doing. As Paul shared his story with the likes of Felix, Festus, and Agrippa, he was taking the faith that was in him, and he was sharing that faith not only with the three men of power but with anyone else who might be listening.

Over the last year or so, there have been a couple of memes on Facebook and other places that have said things like, “If you can be nothing else, be kind,” and “In a world where you can be anything, be kind.” I believe David would say, “When we are kind, we are farming faithfulness.

While faithfulness and kindness are not the same things, they are from the same family. They are also part of our calling. So go out there and farm faithfulness. I think you will find that at the same time, kindness is always at work.

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

With Joy and Thankfulness,

Copyright 2018, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

Held on a Technicality

Today’s Journey Through Scripture Readings: Psalm 35-36; Acts 25

13 After several days had passed, King Agrippa and Bernice arrived in Caesarea to welcome Festus. 14 Since they were staying there for many days, Festus discussed the case against Paul with the king. He said, “There is a man whom Felix left in prison. 15 When I was in Jerusalem, the Jewish chief priests and elders brought charges against him and requested a guilty verdict in his case. 16 I told them it is contrary to Roman practice to hand someone over before they have faced their accusers and had opportunity to offer a defense against the charges.17 When they came here, I didn’t put them off. The very next day I took my seat in the court and ordered that the man be brought before me.18 When the accusers took the floor, they didn’t charge him with any of the crimes I had expected. 19 Instead, they quibbled with him about their own religion and about some dead man named Jesus, who Paul claimed was alive. 20 Since I had no idea how to investigate these matters, I asked if he would be willing to go to Jerusalem to stand trial there on these issues. 21 However, Paul appealed that he be held in custody pending a decision from His Majesty the emperor, so I ordered that he be held until I could send him to Caesar.”

22 Agrippa said to Festus, “I want to hear the man myself.”

“Tomorrow,” Festus replied, “you will hear him.”

23 The next day Agrippa and Bernice came with great fanfare. They entered the auditorium with the military commanders and the city’s most prominent men. Festus then ordered that Paul be brought in.24 Festus said, “King Agrippa and everyone present with us: You see this man! The entire Jewish community, both here and in Jerusalem, has appealed to me concerning him. They’ve been calling for his immediate death. 25 I’ve found that he has done nothing deserving death. When he appealed to His Majesty, I decided to send him to Rome. 26 I have nothing definite to write to our lord emperor. Therefore, I’ve brought him before all of you, and especially before you, King Agrippa, so that after this investigation, I might have something to write. 27 After all, it would be foolish to send a prisoner without specifying the charges against him.” (Acts 25:13-27, Common English Bible).

As most all of us know, because of the internet we get more news faster than had ever been possible before. Because of advances in DNA research, we are also able to learn more about ourselves and about one another than we ever knew before.

We don’t hear it too often, but just often enough to remind us it is possible. It is possible for someone, particularly someone accused before today’s DNA technology, who, by the current DNA technology is proven innocent. The evidence of hair or bodily fluids proves beyond anything approaching a reasonable doubt that this person could not have committed the crime.

What is particularly troublesome then is, on some kind of technicality, that person remains behind bars. They are innocent. They have always been innocent and yet they remain in jail because their case didn’t complete early enough in the day on Friday so they must spend the weekend in jail. And that technicality is a minor one.

For Paul, in our lesson, today, Festus, the imperial governor, is explaining to King Agrippa, “The entire Jewish community, both here and in Jerusalem, has appealed to me concerning him. They’ve been calling for his immediate death. I’ve found that he has done nothing deserving death. When he appealed to His Majesty, I decided to send him to Rome.”

But for Paul’s appeal to Rome, he might have quickly become a free man. All he had to do was go back to Jerusalem for trial before Festus who has already said he sees nothing of Paul deserving this treatment from the Jews. But, Paul appealed to the emperor and before the emperor he must stand.

But I think Paul was comfortable in this decision. He was comfortable because of his faith in Jesus Christ. That faith made him free in ways he would never know while depending solely on the judgment of Festus.

May we know that level of freedom too.

With Joy and Thankfulness,

Copyright 2018, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved


In His Own Defense

Today’s Journey Through Scripture Readings: Psalm 33-34; Acts 24

10 The governor nodded at Paul, giving him permission to speak.

He responded, “I know that you have been judge over this nation for many years, so I gladly offer my own defense. 11 You can verify that I went up to worship in Jerusalem no more than twelve days ago. 12 They didn’t find me arguing with anyone in the temple or stirring up a crowd, whether in the synagogue or anywhere else in the city. 13 Nor can they prove to you the allegations they are now bringing against me. 14 I do admit this to you, that I am a follower of the Way, which they call a faction. Accordingly, I worship the God of our ancestors and believe everything set out in the Law and written in the Prophets. 15 The hope I have in God I also share with my accusers, that there will be a resurrection of both the righteous and the unrighteous. 16 On account of this, I have committed myself to maintaining a clear conscience before God and with all people. 17 After an absence of several years, I came to Jerusalem to bring gifts for the poor of my nation and to offer sacrifices.18 When they found me in the temple, I was ritually pure. There was no crowd and no disturbance. 19 But there were some Jews from the province of Asia. They should be here making their accusations, if indeed they have something against me. 20 In their absence, have these people who are here declare what crime they found when I stood before the Jerusalem Council. 21 Perhaps it concerns this one statement that I blurted out when I was with them: ‘I am on trial before you today because of the resurrection of the dead.’” (Acts 24:10-21, Common English Bible).

“Jesus didn’t defend himself when he stood trial before both the Sanhedrin and before Pontius Pilate. Shouldn’t that be a clear indication to us we shouldn’t defend ourselves?”

Believe it or not, I have actually heard this argument several times since entering the ministry. If you don’t want to read further, such an assumption is incorrect and we see evidence that this hypothesis is wrong in our lesson today. Paul defended himself.

When Jesus stood before first, Caiaphas and later Pilate, he did not put up a defense because it would have gone against his entire life’s work and mission here on earth. Jesus had done no wrong but was taking on the sins of the world. If he had defended himself, Jesus may never have gone to the cross. If Jesus does not go to the cross, you and I do not see our sins forgiven.

As for Paul, his call was not to take on the world’s sins. Paul knew that had already been done. What God called Paul to do was to proclaim Jesus who died for his sins and for the sins of all around him. Paul was to let the world know of the grace of God through Jesus Christ. In order for Paul to continue to let the world know, Paul had to defend himself.

I believe God would say, even in matters of faith, we are to defend ourselves and to proclaim Jesus Christ to the world.

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

With Joy and Thankfulness,

Copyright 2018, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved