Prayer 101: The Ways God Heals

I will exalt you, Lord,
    for you lifted me out of the depths
    and did not let my enemies gloat over me.
Lord my God, I called to you for help,
    and you healed me.
You, Lord, brought me up from the realm of the dead;
    you spared me from going down to the pit.

Sing the praises of the Lord, you his faithful people;
    praise his holy name.
For his anger lasts only a moment,
    but his favor lasts a lifetime;
weeping may stay for the night,
    but rejoicing comes in the morning (Psalm 30:1-5, New International Version).

I have blogged on this topic once before. That was almost four years ago. And during this series on prayer it seems to fit. So, this post, though in the prayer series is on the ways God heals us.

As I started thinking about this post I was reminded of a sermon I heard preached by the late Dr. Bill Hinson, then pastor at First United Methodist Church in Houston. While serving at Elwood United Methodist Church near Madisonville, Texas (It was my first church after entering the ministry a little over 25 years ago).

I had the habit of getting up early on Sunday morning, moving the directional outdoor antenna on the house toward Houston and watching a re-broadcast First UMC Houston’s service from the Sunday before. Though I had written my sermon earlier in the week, it seemed to help prepare me to preach

On this particular Sunday, my maternal grandfather had passed away from complications with Parkinson’s Disease. I was having some difficulty reconciling what my family experienced in his illness and death with my understanding of God.

The sermon Dr. Hinson preached that Sunday was on the four ways God heals us. It spoke to me, quite possibly in ways no other sermon (mine or others) has spoken to me before or since.

The first way Dr. Hinson said God heals us is by sending us to the right doctor. I live with a chronic inner-ear condition called “Migraine Vestibularopothy” (according to spell check I didn’t spell that correctly but it didn’t give any better suggestions either). I bounced around with several doctors, none really able to do much until one doctor sent me to an ear, nose and throat physician that specializes in inner-ear conditions.

While I still deal with the ailment, this doctor got me on a treatment regimen that keeps the condition manageable. Yes, sometimes God heals us by sending us to the right doctor.

Sometimes God heals us in what we would call “miraculous healing.” When I think of miraculous healing I think of someone like the late Dennis Byrd. Dennis died in a head-on-collision back in 2016. Before that, he was known first as a professional football player with the New York Jets. Byrd was one of those players who suffered a catastrophic injury during a game. Doctors said he would never walk again. They were wrong.

Byrd tells his story in his autobiography Rise and Walk (a great book, I highly recommend it). With a miracle from God and sheer guts and determination Byrd taught himself to walk all over again. His is a great story. God does heal us in miraculous ways.

The third way Dr. Hinson said God heals us is as God healed Paul of his “thorn in the flesh” by saying, “My grace is sufficient for you.” I can think of so many people who deal with on-going chronic conditions and yet live powerful lives, practicing the faith God has placed within them. I know a young man who is mentally challenged. There are few people I have ever met with faith greater than his. God’s grace is sufficient for him.

The last way Dr. Hinson said God heals us is, by “calling us home.” God healed my father and my grandfather. Dad had lung cancer complicated by pneumonia. Thankfully, he was never really in pain. He just tired easily and toward the end, he had a really hard time breathing. His lungs just wore out. He maintained his sense of humor to the very end. He just couldn’t breathe and God called him home. I realize many people would say God didn’t heal him, but they would be wrong.

My healing at the hands of Dr. Illahi (under God’s guidance) is a temporary healing. God gave dad the ultimate healing. There is no more pain (though as I said, he didn’t have much), there is no more sickness, there is no more cancer, there is no more difficulty in breathing. God freed Dad from that diseased, worn out body with the ultimate healing that will last for all eternity.

I think in some way we have all experienced the healing grace of God. I am thankful to Dr. Hinson for sharing these in that sermon so many years ago. It has stuck with me over the years and I have had the opportunity to share his ideas with many people in the time since.

I think these ideas are sound theology. I know them to be a comforting reality. Whatever ways we may experience God’s healing during our lives, we all will share Dr. Hinson’s final way God heals us. God will call us home. Then, for we who believe it will be victory over the illnesses of this lifetime. It will be “Victory in Jesus.”

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

Seeking the Genuine,
Keith

Copyright 2020, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

Prayer 101: Why Pray?

“…as you help us by means of your prayers for us. So it will be that the many prayers for us will be answered, and God will bless us; and many will raise their voices to him in thanksgiving for us.” (2 Corinthians 1:11, Good News Translation).

Several weeks ago, I was asked the question, “Does it matter if I pray when others are already praying?” Much of the time, when I get these kinds of questions, it is from someone searching for an argument they can use when attempting to defend their agnostic or atheist point of view. That was not the case on this day. He continued, “And if it does matter, if it does motivate God to action then isn’t this all popularity contest?”

The person I was talking to really wanted to know, if someone is already praying for “Joe,” what difference does it make if I pray as well? They are not an atheist or an agnostic. I have known this person all his life. I know this man is not an atheist or agnostic. He just wanted the answer to this question.

Prayer, no matter how many people are praying in a given situation absolutely makes a difference. I don’t have all the answers to prayer questions. But I can talk about what I do know.

First, I know God desires for us to pray. I see this one much like the church fellowship dinner. How do we fellowship with God? We, me and God, sit and we pray. That is why we often ask God to bless our fellowship together. Our fellowship should always include God.

Next, when we pray we invite God to join us in the relationship we have with another person. For whatever the reason, be it health or a strained relationship, there is more involved than you can do, so you ask God to enter into this relationship between you and someone else.

We often pray for people we don’t know. Most of you know, I have a new granddaughter. Sydney was born, came home from the hospital and in less than 48 hours, she was back in the hospital and spent more than a month in NICU. There were people all over praying for that little girl. I have clergy friends in various parts of the world, many of whom I barely know, who were praying for our little girl. Sydney is doing much better. She still isn’t where doctors would like for her to be but she is improving at home. If we didn’t have so many people praying, would God have healed her? My answer is a resounding yes but I would invite you to check in tomorrow and I will talk about the ways God heals us.

So doesn’t that take us back full circle to where we are back to asking the question does God treat things differently when more people pray?

Today’s lesson does speak to this idea of more people praying. Let me repeat this again. “…as you help us by means of your prayers for us. So it will be that the many prayers for us will be answered, and God will bless us; and many will raise their voices to him in thanksgiving for us.”

When we pray, many of us join in one accord, Paul says we celebrate together. We give God the glory together. We unite in support during times of grief. Even when our prayer seems to go unanswered, God is sill with us. God still walks with us. And, I say this often and will continue to say it, where God is there is always hope.

Another consideration is, prayer changes things. As we pray situations change. As I pray about a relationship that is strained, God is at work but one of the ways God is at work is to open my eyes to the wrongs I am doing and where I need to repent and change. If both people involved repent and change we could find ourselves well on the road to reconciliation and restoration. God is doing it but God is doing it by working on both of us. Prayer changes things.

I don’t claim to know it all, but I do know this. Prayer works because God is in every situation where we call on the power of God.

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

Seeking the Genuine,
Keith

Copyright 2020, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

Prayer 101: Do I Really Need to Pray?

10 “For this is what the Lord says: ‘When Babylon’s seventy years are completed, I’ll take note of you and will fulfill my good promises to you by bringing you back to this place. 11 For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for well-being, and not for calamity, in order to give you a future and a hope. 12 When you call out to me and come and pray to me, I’ll hear you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you search for me with all your heart. 14 I’ll be found by you,’ declares the Lord, ‘and I’ll restore your security and gather you from all the nations and all the places to which I’ve driven you,’ declares the Lord. ‘I’ll bring you back to the place from which I sent you into exile.’ (Jeremiah 29:10-14, International Standard Version).

So, why do I need to pray if God already knows what I want before I ever ask?

Well, the short answer is, “Because God said to pray.” OK, I answered the question, lets move on. No, just kidding though God did says so.

When our boys were younger and still at home, they wanted a Nintendo and their own television. Cindy and I talked about it and decided they needed to buy them for themselves. They set themselves to the task they had in front of them. They worked hard, saved then pooled their money and bought both themselves.

Cindy and I felt it was important for them to learn. They did. We were quite proud of them. We bought them both a game or they would have had a television and a Nintendo that looked really good sitting there but could do night.

Sometime in the last year I attended something and a speaker said, we should never ask God to give us something or do something that we are capable of obtaining ourselves. That spoke to me at the time. The more I have thought about it, the more enlightening I found the statement to be.

As I think about our situation during the midst of this pandemic. I am not capable of coming up with a vaccine to further prevent infection… I am not capable of arriving at a treatment plan so people get better and the sooner that happens the sooner we can get ourselves back to something closer to what we know.

I am so impressed as I watch the news and travel around town to see the number of people who are out there doing what they can to make a difference. And, I have thought about it this way. What people are doing, just may be using them to make a difference for someone else in this difficult time.

Have a blessed day in the Lord,
Keith

Copyright 2020, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved.

A.C.T.S. Four Tools of Prayer

Recently I was talking with a man and he asked me several questions about prayer. I know that prayer is a deep subject and there are many directions one could take on a journey like prayer. There are many different things within the subject we could cover as well. For the next few days I a going to some of my understanding about prayer.

Some of the names like “Prayer Toolbox” you might not care for. I n your journal or data file or notebook, wherever you write these kinds of things down and write them down how they are most helpful to you.

In talking about tools – we could talk about ropes and beads, journals, many things we use in prayer. We talked about those things not long ago and if we were to talk about them this time, I am not sure what I would call them.

Many times we need help in keeping our prayer time straight and on-track. One of the best ways to do this, in my opinion, is the acrostic A.C.T.S.

A – Adoration
C – Confession
T – Thanksgiving
S – Supplication

Adoration

What is adoration? Well, the root of the word is “Adore.” What is it we adore, we love about God. Romans 8:28 reminds us that God is at work for us. The open Bible reminds me of God’s faithfulness. The basket of vegetables speaks to God’s provision. The picture from the Grand Canyon speaks to me of the beauty of God’s creation. The heart and cross bring God’s love to our minds.

Confession

Scripture says, “If we confess our sins God is faithful and just and forgive our sins and cleanse us of all unrighteousness.” (paraphrased).

In a Protestant understanding of confession, it is not necessary to confess to a priest. We can go directly to God ourselves through prayer. That being said, I think we can lost something in not confessing these sins aloud. There is something about hearing them in you ears, an audible sound that is really important. We also, when we confess our sins to another person, whether that is in a group of people, with a friend or accountability partner, or a clergy person, there is someone who can hold us accountable for what we have confessed to God.

Thanksgiving

I heard it said once that Thanksgiving should be the all-American holiday. That is because no matter who we are or anything about us, we all have something or someone to be thankful for. I am a United Methodist pastor, and I things I am thankful for. A Roman Catholic lay person has things to be thankful for. A Muslim should have no trouble finding something for which they are thankful. Even an atheist, while not thankful to a deity they don’t believe exists, can still be thankful for the Starbucks barista that gets their coffee each morning or for the farmer who harvests their crops.

Supplication

Well, what does that mean? Dictionary.com defines the word as, “the action of asking or begging for something earnestly or humbly.” It is making our requests known to God.

What is it that I need from God. What do I NEED that I cannot obtain on my own? I don’t believe God cares who wins a ballgame. I don’t think God cares what kind of car we drive. I do think God cares and will lead us when we ask how we can feed 500 when we have food for half that. It is appropriate to pray for God to send more workers so a project can reach completion. Supplication is us, asking God, for the things we NEED. God does care about us staying well and avoiding accidents. God does, to the extent free will allows it, keep us safe.

ACTS points us in the right direction in our prayer life. It points us in the right direction. It points us to God.

Have ab blessed day in the Lord.

Seeking the genuine,
Keith

Copyright 2020, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved.

My House, My Rules!

15 Now all the tax collectors and sinners were coming near to listen to him. And the Pharisees and the scribes were grumbling and saying, “This fellow welcomes sinners and eats with them.”

So he told them this parable: 

11 Then Jesus said, “There was a man who had two sons. 12 The younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of the property that will belong to me.’ So he divided his property between them. 13 A few days later the younger son gathered all he had and traveled to a distant country, and there he squandered his property in dissolute living. 14 When he had spent everything, a severe famine took place throughout that country, and he began to be in need. 15 So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed the pigs. 16 He would gladly have filled himself with the pods that the pigs were eating; and no one gave him anything. 17 But when he came to himself he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired hands have bread enough and to spare, but here I am dying of hunger! 18 I will get up and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; treat me like one of your hired hands.”’ 20 So he set off and went to his father. But while he was still far off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion; he ran and put his arms around him and kissed him. 21 Then the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ 22 But the father said to his slaves, ‘Quickly, bring out a robe—the best one—and put it on him; put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23 And get the fatted calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate; 24 for this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found!’ And they began to celebrate.

25 “Now his elder son was in the field; and when he came and approached the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 He called one of the slaves and asked what was going on. 27 He replied, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fatted calf, because he has got him back safe and sound.’ 28 Then he became angry and refused to go in. His father came out and began to plead with him. 29 But he answered his father, ‘Listen! For all these years I have been working like a slave for you, and I have never disobeyed your command; yet you have never given me even a young goat so that I might celebrate with my friends. 30 But when this son of yours came back, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fatted calf for him!’ 31 Then the father said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. 32 But we had to celebrate and rejoice, because this brother of yours was dead and has come to life; he was lost and has been found.’” (Luke 15:1-3, 11-32, New Revised Standard Version)

               When our oldest son Wayne was living at home, we experienced the problems parents of teenagers often face, while the child is growing up. Before we parents are ready, many times before the child finished high school, often before the law says they are an adult, they decide they are grown and as such we should allow them to make their own rules and decisions. Living by mom and dad’s rules isn’t important. Because it isn’t important to them, it shouldn’t be important to us either.

On the other hand, parents recognize the need to maintain order and control. Sometimes there is another child at home who thinks what is good for older sibling is OK for them too. There are also legal issues and we are probably not interested in running afoul with the law.

            Now we have a formula almost always guaranteeing conflict. It happened in our house shortly before Wayne’s 17th birthday and continued for some time.

The first rule of the Broyles house was honesty. This wasn’t a problem with Wayne. He is honest to a fault. If you ask him, he will tell the truth. If you fear what the truth might be, never, ever ask Wayne the question.

Where we had problems involving the rules with curfew, being home on time, and if he was going to be late, calling and letting us know. None of these bothered Wayne. All were important to me. I wanted him home on time because others in the house had to work the next day. No one came into the house, except for Cindy, without canine doorbell going off, me included. When Wayne came in at three in the morning, I always knew the Sheltie we had at the time would let me know. Cindy might sleep through it, not me. Neither would the neighbors three houses down. Glory the four-legged creature at our house would let me know when all was not well in his opinion.

Being on time, I thought came from military service. It was a big deal there. As a result, I always thought late means late means late. If I had it to do over again, I probably wouldn’t be that strict but at the time, yeah, I was.

Wayne didn’t see any importance in any of this. He always thought he should be able to keep his own schedule and make up his own rules.

I am not asking you to choose sides. It wouldn’t matter. I think you can see; conflict was inevitable. It happened regularly. Wayne was determined to make his own rules. He joined the Marines. We’ve had a few laughs about that.

It is a matter of respect. Rules are part of life. We may not like the rules we may find them hard or difficult, but we stay at someone’s house, we by their rules. If we receive a paycheck, we work by the boss’s rules. We play the game; we go by the rules. We live in or visit a country; we go by the rules.

Wayne saw himself as an adult. He felt we should respect him, allowing him to make his rules. He didn’t understand, respect works both ways. It came down to, “my house, my rules,” and the Marines.

Life has rules. We learn that as kids. We may not agree with or like the rules, we may not think them fair or see them as contradictory, but we learn to live with those rules.

“Well Keith, what about criminals? They ignore the rules.” I don’t agree. In their social structure there are rules, written or unwritten, that define the group. Also, if you ignore the rules of society long enough you pay the consequences.

I wonder if this age-old conflict between parent and child might have prompted the departure of the younger son in our lesson. As Jesus tells the story we see the son’s departure. We are not told why. That makes the story more universal, after all, the story isn’t told as a real, true story. It’s a parable, true in application, not details. Something did prompt him to leave his father’s house. As I’ve thought about this parable, I see a young man who believes he can’t live with the rules of house. The story leads us to think the father is in charge, so his rules too much for the younger son. He thought he had to be on his own.

The younger son decides to make his way in the world, make his own rules and set his schedule. He didn’t want to farm the ground or keep after the stupid sheep and cows. He wanted to be on his own and accountable to no one.

He does something that to most of us is unthinkable. I’m not sure it would have been much different then. He goes to his father and says, “Give me my part of the inheritance now.” Some commentators say was like saying, “Hey dad, I wish you were dead.” I think it’s even stronger. I think it means, “Hey dad, you are dead to me. Give me my money.” Those are some strong words.

For all the problems Wayne and I had, I give him credit, he said nothing like that. Think it, perhaps but he never said it. He was tired of “My house, My rules.” I guess the younger son was too.

Despite the son’s meaning, the father did as his son asked, and the son took off.

It wasn’t long before the son was out of money and luck. The real world crashed on top of his head. He made a monumental mistake. Thinking on his situation, he realized his father’s employees were better off than he. Maybe it was time to head home and see if he could get part of his old life back. Maybe, his father would hire him to work on the farm. Even that would be better than the life he was living. So, he headed for home.

He gets home and starts apologizing for all he did. It was a touching scene. He says, “Dad, I have sinned against you.” and I think the father hears the words many parents of prodigals here. “Dad, I should have listened to you.” The son went on, “I no longer deserve to be called your son, make me one of your hired hands.”

The father would have none of it. He turned to a servant and said, “Go get a robe and ring and give it to him. Let’s have a barbecue. My son is home.”

That is grace. Grace can overcome the deep hurts and wounds to say, “I love you and I forgive you.” It is a love that most parents have for their child. It is a picture of unconditional love. Even if that child says, “You are dead to me,” this love responds, “Yes, you may think that, but I love you anyway.”

That’s the love God has for us. These two tell us what the story is about. The son sins and the father forgives. That is the point. We sin and God forgives. The grace of the father in the story is the grace God gives us. No matter our sins, God loves us and will forgive us. God pours grace on us. We may turn away, but God waits for us and loves us.

God expects us to share forgiveness and love with each other. Whether with a member of our family, our neighbor, someone in our church, someone across town, or the other side of the world, God calls us to love and forgive. It isn’t always easy, but it is part of our call, love God and love neighbor.

Not everyone understands that. When the older son comes home, hearing the barbeque, refuses to go. His father comes to encourage him. Still he refuses. He is unable to forgive. Grace is not present for his brother.

Just as we don’t know what caused the younger brother to leave, we also don’t know if the older brother ever came around. It’s probably safe to assume life at this home returned to some semblance of normal in a fairly short period of time.

In his book Accountable Discipleship: Living in God’s Household, Steven W Manskar plays a little with the story. He asks the question, “What if Jesus had not stopped here?” He proposes an alternate ending saying, What if Jesus were to add another chapter called, ‘The Morning After?’ The chapter would begin the morning after the celebration of the younger brother’s return.

It’s five o’clock in the morning and it’s still dark outside. The younger brother is sound asleep in his bed after a long night of eating and drinking. There was a loud knock on his bedroom door. No answer. Another know, louder this time. Now he stumbled out of bed and opened the door. He is greeted by his older brother, the guy who was so angry with him that he wouldn’t join the party the night before. This time the older brother grins as he tells his little brother, “It’s after five in the morning! It’s time to get to work, dad and I have been carrying your load around here while you were off having a good time. Now it’s time you started carrying your own weight. There’s plenty of work to do. Let’s get at it! Oh, and by the way, welcome home, little brother!”

            Manskar continues: The younger brother, while happy to be home, forgot the responsibilities that go along with life in the father’s house. There was work to be done every day and everyone had a job to do. It was time for him to get to work, to pick up where he had left off when he had departed. His brother was only too happy to remind him that living in their father’s house meant living by the household rules.

My friends, we live in the father’s house. We need to live by the Father’s

rules. Amen.

In Search of the Genuine,
Keith

Copyright 2020, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

Believe: By Grace Through Faith

At one time you were like a dead person because of the things you did wrong and your offenses against God. You used to live like people of this world. You followed the rule of a destructive spiritual power. This is the spirit of disobedience to God’s will that is now at work in persons whose lives are characterized by disobedience. At one time you were like those persons. All of you used to do whatever felt good and whatever you thought you wanted so that you were children headed for punishment just like everyone else.

4-5 However, God is rich in mercy. He brought us to life with Christ while we were dead as a result of those things that we did wrong. He did this because of the great love that he has for us. You are saved by God’s grace! And God raised us up and seated us in the heavens with Christ Jesus. God did this to show future generations the greatness of his grace by the goodness that God has shown us in Christ Jesus.

You are saved by God’s grace because of your faith. This salvation is God’s gift. It’s not something you possessed. It’s not something you did that you can be proud of. 10 Instead, we are God’s accomplishment, created in Christ Jesus to do good things. God planned for these good things to be the way that we live our lives.

11 So remember that once you were Gentiles by physical descent, who were called “uncircumcised” by Jews who are physically circumcised. 12 At that time you were without Christ. You were aliens rather than citizens of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of God’s promise. In this world you had no hope and no God. 13 But now, thanks to Christ Jesus, you who once were so far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ. (Ephesians 2:1-13, Common English Bible)

Today we finish it. Over the past week or so, we have looked at the various parts of an ancient statement of faith (but not the oldest, that is the Nicene Creed), The Apostle’s Creed. We started Wednesday of last week with the first part of the Creed, “I believe in God the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth…” We centered in on the first person of the Trinity and how God created all that is, all we can see and all we cannot.

On Thursday we checked in with the second person of the Trinity and the second section of the Creed. “…and in Jesus Christ, His only Son our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified dead and buried, the third day he rose from the dead and sittith at the right hand of God, the Father Almighty. From thence he shall come to judge the living and the dead.” It is the longest part of the creed. This part of the creed brings to light that Jesus come to earth and lived as one of us. He walked and talked and breathed just like one of us. He lived and died just like any other human. But he rise again and because of him we have salvation.

On Friday we finished the portion of the creed on the Trinity when we said, “I believe in the Holy Spirit…” The Holy Spirit, who conceived Jesus but who Jesus sent to live as one of us, and lead us through our lives, if we choose to follow.

Tuesday of this week we picked back up again with “I believe… the holy catholic church, the communion of saints…” Earlier in its history, prior to the Protestant Reformation, the creed probably did not hold the level of controversy it holds today. The controversy centers around three words, “holy catholic church.” Many people hold that this part of the creed refers to the Roman Catholic Church. That is the upper case “C” for Catholic. The word “catholic” in the creed has a lower case “c” form and means “universal.” We also talked about the communion of saints and that by nature of faith, we are all saints.

Yesterday we spoke of confession and forgiveness. Our section of the Creed was “…The forgiveness of sin…” Specifically we said, that through grace God wants to forgive us but we must confess to have forgiveness. That doesn’t mean going to a priest for some formal confession, but that we, when we confess, will find forgiveness through grace.

Today is our conclusion. “I believe in…the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting.”

The story goes that a preacher died and went to heaven. He stood at the pearly gates where Peter questioned him before admitting him to the Holy Kingdom. “Pastor,” St Peter said, “We work on a point system here. It takes 100 points to get into heaven.” At first the pastor is indignant. “It takes 100 points to get into heaven.” Slowly, however, a smile starts to appear on his face. “Well St. Peter, I have preached the gospel every Sunday for over 40 years.” St. Peter answers, “Preached every Sunday for 40 years. One point.”

“One point, that ‘s it, all that work and only one point.? Yep, 1 point, 99 to go.” “99 to go? Oh, I know… For the past 40 years I have made a point of being visiting retired pastors at least once a month.” Peter says, ” Oh you are right. That one is good. One point.” I have to tell you, I thought the preacher was going to explode he was so mad.

“How about going to visiting people in the nursing homes? Surely that has to be worth some points.”

“Absolutely,” said Peter. “That is worth another point.

“Three points, that’s it after an entire career of preaching and visiting, all I have is there points! By the grace of God I will never get in.”

“Grace of God,” said Peter, “97 points, come on in.”

Its humorous but it contains an important truth. It is not about us. It is not about what we do. We cannot now , never could the human creation at any point in history earn its way to salvation. We won’t be able to earn it in the future, it is about faith in the Risen Christ. Nothing else matters.

Paul puts it this way in today’s lesson, “You are saved by grace through faith.” God’s grace saves us, but we also have acknowledge the reality of God in our lives, know God is with us and at work. And, even though we have done nothing to earn it, God give us that grace anyway.

The 16th century church reformer, “Martin Luther” called the doctrine, “Solo Fide,” by faith alone. Having faith is all you have to do alone.

While I was doing my online research for this post I ran across a post from “Crosswalk.com” from April of 2017. The article by Liz Kanoy carries the Title, “4 Important Things You Need to Know About Salvation.” As I read them I thought that she is absolutely correct.

First, the basis of salvation is grace. As our lesson says, “By grace you are saved.” That is scripture. According to the work of John Wesley and more importantly, Christian Doctrine, scripture is primary.

The thing for us to remember about grace is, it is a free gift from God. There is nothing you can do to earn it. You don’t have enough money, none of us have enough money, all of us together don’t have enough to buy it. There is only one way to receive grace, the free gift from God.

Second, the instrument of salvation is faith. We get that free gift, according to our lesson, through faith. “You are saved by God’s grace because of your faith.” We receive salvation as a result of fatih.

When Nicodemus came to Jesus to learn more about Jesus (in John 3) , Jesus replied, “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him won’t perish but will have eternal life. God didn’t send his Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through him (John 3:16-17, Common English Bible). Whoever believes (has faith) will have eternal life…

Third, the result of salvation is good works. “Well Pastor, you say that you can’t earn grace but James says, ‘Faith without works is dead.’ So what’s up with that?'”

I am so glad you asked. God does not give us salvation because of the things we do, God gives the gift of grace because we have faith within us. We do work in the world because it is thing people of faith do. But to carry it a step further, if you were drowning in a swimming pool and someone came and dove into the pool and saved your life, wouldn’t you be thankful for what that person did for you? Sure you would. Any of us would. Now, because you are thankful given the opportunity to serve that person, wouldn’t you do for them what you could? Chances are, you will think that noting you do can make up for what they did, but you are going to do what you can to say thank you.

Such is exactly what we are doing with the works we do. When we serve the world with the love of God in Jesus Christ, we are saying “Thank you” to God for what God has done for us.

The fourth element mentioned in the article was that we can count on God to finish what God begins. Throughout the Bible God always finishes what God starts. I am not going to spend time with this one.

Instead I am going to insert my own number four. Salvation is a journey and not a single moment in time. From the time God creates us, God never quits working on us. Is there a moment in time we accept God’s free gift of grace? Without question there is. Wesley would call it the moment of justification but God remains at work within us to sanctify us through the remainder of our lives.

Paul reminds us in Philippians 2:12, “12 Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose” (Philippians 2:12-13, NIV). If salvation itself is an instant in time, how can we then “continue to work out our salvation…” (paraphrased)?

We respond to God in faith, God responds back with the promise of eternal life. God also promises to be with us always. That says to me, God promises us eternal life as long as we remain open to receive the free gift.

I believe in…the resurrection of the body and the life everlasting. Amen.”

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

Seeking the Genuine,
Keith

Copyright 2020, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

Who Made the Move?

Today is Saturday and that means this is the day I bring you a new song. I haven’t written it yet, but I have an original tune in mind for this. Hopefully I will get the tune done quickly.

Earlier this week I ran across something I had heard before, “If God seems far away, guess who moved.” At least to me, what makes that work is the word, “seems.” When I had heard it before I understood completely what was implied in with the question. If God seems far away, we are the one who moved.

I started out with that end in mind. After working my way through the song, I finished with a different idea.

People say that God-is all around.
If you look, God can always be found.
God was not here, when things fell apart.
God is with us, let the laughs now start.
I am lost but making my own way,
I wander but to God I won’t pray.
I think I know but I cannot prove,
Let me ask you, did God make the move?

It was God who made the move?
It was, God who made the move?

God was right here and I did not go.
God drew near and I refused to show.
God is out there, but what does that prove
God doesn’t care and God made the move?

I had it all friend that is no lie.
God took It and left me high and dry.
Left behind, alone, but couldn’t prove,
Stuck in it all, and God made the move?

It was God who made the move?
It was God who made the move?

God was here and still, I did not go
God drew near, and I refused to show
God is out there, but what does that prove
God doesn’t care and God made the move?

I know, God did this to me.
Even now, God won’t, leave me be.
God gave but soon it was gone.
I am God’s small lowly pawn….
Stop, Wait, give me time to think.
I’m who got life, out of sync.
There is nothing for me to prove.
Now I know who, made the move.

I’m sure I know now, who made the move
I’m sure I know now, who made the move

God is here, and will not let me go.
God draws near, and grace on me will flow.
God is out there, but what does that prove?
God loves me and always makes the move?

God is out there, but what does that prove?
God loves me and always makes the move?

*****

I pray you have a blessed weekend.

Seeking the Genuine,
Keith

Copyright 2020, J Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved