I Will Not Give-Up on You!

Today’s Journey Through Scripture Readings: Psalm 79-80; Romans 11:1-18

13 People were bringing children to Jesus so that he would bless them. But the disciples scolded them. 14 When Jesus saw this, he grew angry and said to them, “Allow the children to come to me. Don’t forbid them, because God’s kingdom belongs to people like these children. 15  I assure you that whoever doesn’t welcome God’s kingdom like a child will never enter it.” 16 Then he hugged the children and blessed them. (Mark 10:13-16, Common English Bible)

Well, tonight is one of those nights that my mind isn’t wrapping around the Journey Through Scripture passages (It is actually Thursday night as I write this). It is most likely because I am pretty tired tonight. But, more on that tomorrow night.

As I know some of you do, I read several people in my devotion time. One of them, actually the only one I ever read written by someone I don’t know personally. The devotional title is “The Daily Huddle,” and it is written by Dr. Joe Pettigrew (You can read Pettigrew’s devotion below this post). Pettigrew is involved with a men’s ministry called “In the Zone.” He is also co-author with Soccer Hall of Fame star, Kyle Rote Jr. of a book, Living Life In The Zone, A Forty Day Study for Men.

On Wednesday I attended a workshop with all of my new colleagues from Center High School that was primarily focused on teaching English language learners, but much of what the presenter had to say gave us some excellent tools for teaching any student.

Those tools came back to my mind this morning when I read Dr. Pettigrew’s devotion. Wednesday our presenter said,

You are important.
What we are studying is important.
You can do this.
I will not give up on you!

I liked what he said yesterday but at the time I didn’t really give any thought about its potential meaning beyond the context of English language learning students. As I have thought on both the speaker from Wednesday’s workshop and Dr. Pettigrew’s devotion I can’t help but think there is something here that, as people of faith, we should be working to convey to the world. To paraphrase, how about this:

You are important.
What we are doing is important.
You can do this.
I will not give up on you.

It is just a slight change, just one word. We aren’t always studying, but we do spend a lot of time doing something. That one-word change, changes the context from something a few might be doing to something we all should be doing.

Dr. Pettigrew, in his devotion, talked about children. To me his words and the words from the workshop, while fitting children as both the writer and the speaker point out, it seems to me they fit all of us, all of God’s children. Yes, “You are important, What we are doing is important. You can do this. I will not [and neither will God] give up on you.”

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

With Joy and Thankfulness,

Copyright 2018, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

From “The Daily Huddle” by Dr. Joe Pettigrew
“He took the children in His arms and placed His hands on their heads and blessed them.”
Mark 10:16
I recently read of a restaurant owner who instituted a policy that wouldn’t have been well liked by Jesus. Instead of letting young children dine at his restaurant, he announced he was banning little ones under six years old from the upscale restaurant. He indicated that he wouldn’t allow the young customers because he feels they’re bad for business.
Like that restaurant owner, Jesus’ disciples seemed to believe children might be bad for the business of the kingdom of God. But parents brought their children to Jesus so He could touch them. The disciples, thinking that children were socially powerless and unimportant and should not be wasting Jesus’ time, rebuked the parents and tried to keep them away from Jesus (Mark 10:13). Jesus became indignant with His disciples (Mark 10:14).
Jesus rebuked them because they failed to realize that there are no outcasts or unimportant people in the kingdom of God. In fact, Jesus used children (eager and dependent) as the perfect example of how everyone should receive the kingdom. Then Jesus took the children into His arms and laid His hands on them—a visible means of conveying God’s blessing on their future lives (Mark 10:16).
Thought of the Day:  Eager to get on with the business of life, we sometimes have little time for the tiny people who do not wield political, social or financial power. But, as followers of Jesus, we’re called to see them as gifts from the hand of God, to welcome them in Jesus’ name and to remove obstacles that prevent them from coming to Jesus.


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The Proclamation

Today’s Journey Through Scripture Readings: Psalm 77-78; Romans 10

Moses writes about the righteousness that comes from the Law: The person who does these things will live by them. But the righteousness that comes from faith talks like this: Don’t say in your heart, “Who will go up into heaven?” (that is, to bring Christ down) or “Who will go down into the region below?” (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). But what does it say? The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart (that is, the message of faith that we preach). Because if you confess with your mouth “Jesus is Lord” and in your heart you have faith that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.10 Trusting with the heart leads to righteousness, and confessing with the mouth leads to salvation. 11 The scripture says, All who have faith in him won’t be put to shame. 12 There is no distinction between Jew and Greek, because the same Lord is Lord of all, who gives richly to all who call on him. 13 All who call on the Lord’s name will be saved.

14 So how can they call on someone they don’t have faith in? And how can they have faith in someone they haven’t heard of? And how can they hear without a preacher? 15 And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, How beautiful are the feet of those who announce the good news. (Romans 10:5-15, Common English Bible).

The past couple of days I have talked some about struggles I have had with the texts from Romans we have read. Such is not the case today. Here is a part of Scripture where I have no trouble placing my faith.

I may struggle over passages talking about whether Jews or the sons of Ishmael will gain the Kingdom. I have no problem at all with the idea that “All who call on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

I have had one person challenge my beliefs in recent months. I made a pastoral statement this person didn’t agree with and accused me of not believing a basic Christian tenant, of preaching and teaching something other than Christian orthodoxy. In the statement, I made they completely missed what I was saying and doing in my statement.

For me at least, the long and short of it is, we can struggle with the things Scripture says. I think those struggles don’t bother God. I am pretty sure that they do bother us more than they bother God.

What does matter to God is, our ability and our willingness to proclaim Jesus Christ as Lord. I don’t know if God has made a way for others to obtain eternity with God. I struggle with the idea that a God who, by the Bible is love, turning away people who love God but have a bit of a different understanding than I. What I have no trouble with is, “All who call on the Lord’s name will be saved.”

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

With Joy and Thankfulness,

Copyright 2018, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

A Poor Comparison, But it Works

Today’s Journey Through Scripture Readings: Psalm 74-76; Romans 9:16-33

16 So then, it doesn’t depend on a person’s desire or effort. It depends entirely on God, who shows mercy. 17 Scripture says to Pharaoh, I have put you in this position for this very thing: so I can show my power in you and so that my name can be spread through the entire earth. 18 So then, God has mercy on whomever he wants to, but he makes resistant whomever he wants to.

19 So you are going to say to me, “Then why does he still blame people? Who has ever resisted his will?” 20 You are only a human being. Who do you think you are to talk back to God? Does the clay say to the potter,Why did you make me like this? 21 Doesn’t the potter have the power over the clay to make one pot for special purposes and another for garbage from the same lump of clay? 22 What if God very patiently puts up with pots made for wrath that were designed for destruction, because he wanted to show his wrath and to make his power known? 23 What if he did this to make the wealth of his glory known toward pots made for mercy, which he prepared in advance for glory? 24 We are the ones God has called. We don’t come only from the Jews but we also come from the Gentiles. (Romans 9:16-24, Common English Bible)

In today’s lesson Paul makes a comparison and his comparison is a rather interesting take on Scripture. “Then why does he [God] still blame people? Who has ever resisted his will?”

It seems to me to be a reasonable question but Paul doesn’t think that is the case. “You are only a human being. Who do you think you are to talk back God?” Well, Paul was right, we are only humans. We make mistakes. We do sin. We are in need of God’s grace. Yes, Paul is absolutely correct here. And, I have no business talking back to God, none of us do.

Paul then uses a metaphor to bring his point home. Does the clay say to the potter,“Why did you make me like this?” Doesn’t the potter have the power over the clay to make one pot for special purposes and another for garbage from the same lump of clay?

Paul’s metaphor has a bit of a flaw. The clay says nothing to the potter, not because the clay sees the potter as superior, but because the clay, an inantimate object, lacks the ability to speak to the potter at all!

What Paul does show in this metaphor is the good news that God is filled with mercy. God uses that mercy to make a way for we who believe to worthy of the Kingdom. On our own we are lacking. But with God’s grace, we find something more, something we call grace, something that is ours because of the promise of Almighty God.

When we can’t do for ourselves, God can and God does for us. And, it seems to me that any metaphor Paul might have chosen would be weak, because where could we ever find something that speaks to us and does for us anywhere close to what we find with our loving God.

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

With Joy and Thankfulness,

Copyright 2018, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved


A Place of Struggle

Today’s Journey Through Scripture Readings: Psalm 72-73; Romans 9:1-15

But it’s not as though God’s word has failed. Not all who are descended from Israel are part of Israel. Not all of Abraham’s children are called Abraham’s descendants, but instead your descendants will be named through Isaac. That means it isn’t the natural children who are God’s children, but it is the children from the promise who are counted as descendants. The words in the promise were: A year from now I will return, and Sarah will have a son.

10 Not only that, but also Rebecca conceived children with one man, our ancestor Isaac. 11 When they hadn’t been born yet and when they hadn’t yet done anything good or bad, it was shown that God’s purpose would continue because it was based on his choice. 12 It wasn’t because of what was done but because of God’s call. This was said to her: The older child will be a slave to the younger one. 13 As it is written, I loved Jacob, but I hated Esau.

14 So what are we going to say? Isn’t this unfair on God’s part? Absolutely not! 15 He says to Moses, I’ll have mercy on whomever I choose to have mercy, and I’ll show compassion to whomever I choose to show compassion.

When I am honest with myself, I really struggle with today’s passage from Romans 9. As much as I love Romans 8, Romans 9 is that much of a struggle for me. We read, “Not all of Abraham’s children are called Abraham’s descendants, but instead your descendants will be named through Isaac.” Paul is clearly alluding to Ishmael. He also says that Isaac’s children are children of the promise.

I struggle here because in Genesis 17:20 we read, “As for Ishmael, I’ve heard your request. I will bless him and make him fertile and give him many, many descendants. He will be the ancestor of twelve tribal leaders, and I will make a great nation of him.” God is promising Abraham that God will make a great nation from the descendants of Ishmael and then destine them all for damnation? When we read in 1 John that God is love, I have a hard time reconciling these two passages is difficult for me to do.

I understand what Paul was saying here. Paul’s intent clearly is an to attempt to bring at least some of the Jews into the fold of Christianity. And, Paul is right, God, being omnipotent can bring anyone God wants into the Kingdom. God can show mercy when God chooses and the opposite is equally true.

For some of you, this may not be a struggle at all. I am truly glad you can. And, when I am face to face with God, perhaps then, I can get an explanation I can better understand. In the meantime, I have to satisfy myself with the knowledge that because of faith in Jesus Christ, I am a child of the promise. Might those children of Ishmael be part of that promise too? From what I can see, it doesn’t look too likely, but in the end, the really good news is, it isn’t my call and it isn’t your call. God alone will decide who is and who is not a child of the promise. Can we really ask any more than that?

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

With Joy and Thankfulness,

Copyright 2018, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

No Seperation

Today’s Journey Through Scripture Readings: Psalm 70-71; Romans 8:22-39

31 So what are we going to say about these things? If God is for us, who is against us? 32 He didn’t spare his own Son but gave him up for us all. Won’t he also freely give us all things with him?

33 Who will bring a charge against God’s elect people? It is God who acquits them. 34 Who is going to convict them? It is Christ Jesus who died, even more, who was raised, and who also is at God’s right side. It is Christ Jesus who also pleads our case for us.

35 Who will separate us from Christ’s love? Will we be separated by trouble, or distress, or harassment, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?

37 But in all these things we win a sweeping victory through the one who loved us. 38 I’m convinced that nothing can separate us from God’s love in Christ Jesus our Lord: not death or life, not angels or rulers, not present things or future things, not powers 39 or height or depth, or any other thing that is created. (Romans 8:31-35, 37-39, Common English Bible).

Romans 8 is my favorite chapter of the Bible and today’s lesson is my favorite portion of my favorite chapter. I like this lesson because it reminds us that, for we who believe, that God will never walk away from us. There is nothing we can do where God would turn away from us. That, friends, is a great promise.

Is there anything that can separate us from God? Well, in truth, yes. The only thing that can separate us from the love of God is us. No one, nothing can separate me from the love of God except me! For everything else, there is an answer:

In the face of death …
there is the Resurrection.
In the face of illness …
there is eternal healing.
In the face of danger …
there is the right arm of God.
In the face of adversity …
there is “blessed assurance.”
In the face of confrontation …
there is confidence.
In the face of the Serpent …
there is the gift of the Cross.
In the face of greed …
there is the abundant life.
In the face of pollution …
there is God’s redemption of
all creation.
In the face of hunger …
there is a legacy of loaves and
In the face of homelessness …
there is compassion.
In the face of hardship …
there is the promise of goodness. *

Since none of these things can separate us for the love of God, why would we want to separate ourselves? I know there are those who would argue that once you are saved you are always saved. On the divine side, I would agree, God will never leave us. That being said, I can walk away from God.

“4 Because it’s impossible to restore people to changed hearts and lives who turn away once they have seen the light, tasted the heavenly gift, become partners with the Holy Spirit, and tasted God’s good word and the powers of the coming age. (Hebrews 6:4-5, Common English Bible).

“…Who turn away…” God will never walk away from us but we can walk away from God. Once when I made this argument someone said to me, “Pastor, it might be possible, but who would want to do that?” I couldn’t agree more.

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

With Joy and Thankfulness,

Copyright 2018, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

It’s Rooted in Selfishness

Today’s Journey Through Scripture Readings: Psalm 68-69; Romans 8:1-21

So now there isn’t any condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and death. God has done what was impossible for the Law, since it was weak because of selfishness. God condemned sin in the body by sending his own Son to deal with sin in the same body as humans, who are controlled by sin. He did this so that the righteous requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us. Now the way we live is based on the Spirit, not based on selfishness. People whose lives are based on selfishness think about selfish things, but people whose lives are based on the Spirit think about things that are related to the Spirit.The attitude that comes from selfishness leads to death, but the attitude that comes from the Spirit leads to life and peace. So the attitude that comes from selfishness is hostile to God. It doesn’t submit to God’s Law, because it can’t. People who are self-centered aren’t able to please God.

But you aren’t self-centered. Instead you are in the Spirit, if in fact God’s Spirit lives in you. If anyone doesn’t have the Spirit of Christ, they don’t belong to him. 10 If Christ is in you, the Spirit is your life because of God’s righteousness, but the body is dead because of sin. 11 If the Spirit of the one who raised Jesus from the dead lives in you, the one who raised Christ from the dead will give life to your human bodies also, through his Spirit that lives in you.

12 So then, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation, but it isn’t an obligation to ourselves to live our lives on the basis of selfishness. 13 If you live on the basis of selfishness, you are going to die. But if by the Spirit you put to death the actions of the body, you will live. 14 All who are led by God’s Spirit are God’s sons and daughters. 15 You didn’t receive a spirit of slavery to lead you back again into fear, but you received a Spirit that shows you are adopted as his children. With this Spirit, we cry, “Abba, Father.” 16 The same Spirit agrees with our spirit, that we are God’s children. 17 But if we are children, we are also heirs. We are God’s heirs and fellow heirs with Christ, if we really suffer with him so that we can also be glorified with him.  (Romans 8:1-17, Common English Bible)

When I read the early part of Romans I am reminded about everything I was ever told when I was a kid. “When you are selfish no one will like you.” “People who are selfish have bad things happen to them.” “When you are selfish, you make God sad.”

All of them are true, even if they sound a bit juvenile. And no, I am not saying Paul is juvenile. What I am saying is, when we act in ways that are selfish we make it difficult for the spirit of God to dwell in us.

Once a hunter walking through the wilderness picked up some pretty stones by a river. He took the stones and one by one, used them to shoot at the birds on the river with his slingshot. Whether he hit a bird or not, each stone dropped, and disappeared into the water, forever lost until finally only a single stone remained. He dropped it in his pocket.

Sometime later, the man was walking down the street in the city and wandering absentmindedly, tossing and catching the single stone he had left. The stone caught the eye of a local jeweler who marveled at the beauty of this precious gem. He immediately recognized the stone and offered to buy it for several thousand dollars. When the hunter recognized the value of his stone, he cried out: “How could I be so stupid! I carelessly shot gems into the river for a few minutes of useless joy. I could have not only become wealthy, I could have helped many people too. But thank God I have saved at least this one.”

Every day of our lives is like a precious stone. Each of us has most likely wasted countless days in selfish attempts to bring ourselves joy. Those gems are now lost in the depths of the past. May we all now see the value of the stones remaining, using them to acquire spiritual wealth we can share with others. If we use them in selfless ways, we use them to serve God. Selfishness then, is no longer part of our lives as we live with joy in our hearts.

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

With Joy and Thankfulness,

Copyright 2018, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

Shout to the Lord

Today’s Journey Through Scripture Readings: Psalm 66-67; Romans 7

66 Shout joyfully to God, all the earth!
    Sing praises to the glory of God’s name!
        Make glorious his praise!
Say to God:
“How awesome are your works!

    Because of your great strength,
        your enemies cringe before you.
All the earth worships you,
    sings praises to you,
        sings praises to your name!” Selah

Come and see God’s deeds;
    his works for human beings are awesome:
He turned the sea into dry land
    so they could cross the river on foot.
        Right there we rejoiced in him!
God rules with power forever;
    keeps a good eye on the nations.
        So don’t let the rebellious exalt themselves. Selah

All you nations, bless our God!
    Let the sound of his praise be heard!
God preserved us among the living;
    he didn’t let our feet slip a bit. (Psalm 66:1-9, Common English Bible)

I tend to be pretty traditional when it comes to my personal preferences in worship music. I do enjoy some praise music but I tend to like it best outside the worship setting. One of my favorites is, “Shout to the Lord.”

WhenI read the “story behind the hymn.” Darlene Zschech (pronounced check) was battling a deep depression, at least in part due to a large tax liability. She saw no way out, short of divine intervention.

She never actually said if the divine intervention happened or if she overcame her tax liability. What she did say was, one night when the night seemed at its darkest, she sat down at her piano, not playing anything in particular. She realized she was playing the same tune over and over again. Then words started singing words, these words:

My Jesus, my Saviour
Lord there is none like You
All of my days I want to praise
The wonders of Your mighty love

My comfort, my shelter
Tower of refuge and strength
Let every breath, all that I am
Never cease to worship You

Shout to the Lord all the Earth, let us sing
Power and majesty, praise to the King
Mountains bow down and the seas will roar
At the sound of Your name
I sing for joy at the work of Your hand
Forever I’ll love You, forever I’ll stand.

Darlene credits the words of Psalm 96 for the inspiration of her song. Who am I to argue the inspiration of a song with its composer and lyricist. When I think of “Shout to the Lord,” my mind goes to Psalm 66, today’s lesson.

Shout joyfully to God, all the earth! Sing praises to the glory of God’s name! Make glorious his praise!”

“Shout to the Lord all the Earth let us sing…”

I would ask, “Is it just me?” But that isn’t what is important here. In truth, it doesn’t really matter what inspired Darlene. It doesn’t matter at all what Scripture I think about when I hear the song. What matters is, that we shout and sing our praises to God at every opportunity. That is what the psalmists of both Psalm 66 and Psalm 96 (Who knows, both could be written by the same psalmist) could be saying. The words are similar. The praises of God’s people should be the same. (And yes, I did read Psalm 96. When it comes up in our readings I may regret having written this post – lol).

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

With Joy and Thankfulness,

Copyright 2018, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved.