Plain Janes: The Beloved Mother-in-Law

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

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

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

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

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

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

Heirs of the Prophets

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

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

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

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

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

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

Have a blessed day in the Lord,
Keith

Copyright 2018, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

 

What Would It Look Like?

Today’s Journey Through Scripture Readings: Nehemiah 4-6; Acts 2:22-47

42 The believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, to the community, to their shared meals, and to their prayers. 43 A sense of awe came over everyone. God performed many wonders and signs through the apostles. 44 All the believers were united and shared everything. 45 They would sell pieces of property and possessions and distribute the proceeds to everyone who needed them. 46 Every day, they met together in the temple and ate in their homes. They shared food with gladness and simplicity. 47 They praised God and demonstrated God’s goodness to everyone. The Lord added daily to the community those who were being saved. (Acts 2:42-47, Common English Bible).

One of my favorite questions is, “What would it look like..?” What would it look like for families to have dinner together? What would it look like if people turned off the television for one hour every night? What would it look like if the Astros finally won the World Series? We finally have the answer to that one.

With certain Bible passages, I find myself asking that question. With some passages, like today’s lesson, I find myself asking it more than just once or twice.

What would it look like if believers today devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching? I am often surprised at how little many of us actually know from the Bible. If we devoted ourselves to the apostles’ teachings believers might know more than some non-believers.

What would it look like if believers today devoted themselves to their communities? We sometimes think this means our communities as in our neighborhoods. It really means our churches but I would say both could apply. What would it look like if we took the conditions of our neighborhoods seriously? It might mean we would actually work together for the greater good. What would it look like if we devoted ourselves to our churches? We would have both the people and the money to do whatever we think needs to be done to share the Gospel.

What would it look like if we devoted ourselves to our shared meals? Well, we have a pretty good idea. I think we have that one down pretty well.

What would it look like if we devoted ourselves to prayers? I am part of a small prayer group. We use group texting as we share the various prayer concerns. Group texting drives me crazy. I deal with it for prayer’s sake. I think I would have to find a different way to share prayer concerns if we truly devote ourselves to prayer.

What would it look like if we all felt that sense of awe when we know God is at work around us? Well, first we would have to get over the idea that things are a coincidence when really God is working.

I could continue with all this but I think you get the idea. My question isn’t really what would it look like if the Astros won the World Series? I am far more concerned about things that could really change us or could really change the world around us.

What would it look like if we showed the world how much we love God and love neighbor?

The world would like to know the answer to that one.

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

With Joy and Thankfulness,
Keith

Copyright 2018, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

A Series of Strange Events

Today’s Journey Through Scripture Readings: Nehemiah 1-3; Acts 2:1-21

When Pentecost Day arrived, they were all together in one place.Suddenly a sound from heaven like the howling of a fierce wind filled the entire house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be individual flames of fire alighting on each one of them. They were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages as the Spirit enabled them to speak.

There were pious Jews from every nation under heaven living in Jerusalem. When they heard this sound, a crowd gathered. They were mystified because everyone heard them speaking in their native languages. They were surprised and amazed, saying, “Look, aren’t all the people who are speaking Galileans, every one of them? How then can each of us hear them speaking in our native language? (Acts 2:1-8, Common English Bible).

“Dude, you are on fire! No, really man, YOU ARE ON FIRE!”

Those four words, “You are on fire,” have taken on new words in our society over the last few generations. There was once when someone would say something like “You’re on fire” and it only meant one thing. You got too close to the campfire and now your clothes have lit up and you better do something about it, quick. You better do what our kids learn very early on, “STOP! DROP! ROLL!

Today that idea has gained a new friend in the meaning game. Today we might mean someone is literally on fire but, at least in my experience, the newer meaning is far more common. Yesterday I was getting updates while I was working from the Astros game. Justin Verlander struck out seven while he was in the game. He was on fire! Every Astro who went to the plate yesterday got at least one hit. They were on fire!

When my boys were young they had a Nintendo game console (while I don’t know if it is Nintendo or not, they both still have them, for their kids, I ‘m sure). One of the games they had for their Nintendo was a basketball game (I think). When they were playing really well, the avatar on the screen would have these cheesy looking flames coming ff the player and some computer voice would come say, “You’re on fire.”

Besides the flames, there was wind, or at least the sounds of wind blowing through the house. Then these guys, these uneducated fishermen started talking in other languages and the people gathered in Jerusalem for Pentecost were understanding every word.

In a Pentecost sermon I wrote, some years back, I titled “Unscrambling Babel,” I said it would be like Bob was speaking German and Sue was speaking Russian. Mary was speaking French and Sid was speaking Finnish. I could go on but I think you get the point. But, none of the disciples were speaking any of those languages. They most likely were speaking Aramaic or maybe Greek. That is what I said then. But, I didn’t take it far enough. I may think Bob is speaking German and I am hearing it in German, but Sue, who remember speaks Russian is hearing Russian not Bob’s German. Further, Mary, who remember speaks French, is not hearing Bob in Aramaic or Greek or German. She speaks French and she hears him in French.

People walking around supposed them to be drunk or crazy but it wasn’t any of those things. What they experienced was, the power of the Holy Spirit. If we watch the world around us, we too may just be able to see the power of the Holy Spirit at work too.

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

With Joy and Thankfulness,
Keith

Copyright 2018, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Resereved

Did They Do Right?

Today’s Journey Through Scripture Readings: Ezra 9-10; Acts 1

15 During this time, the family of believers was a company of about one hundred twenty persons. Peter stood among them and said, 16 “Brothers and sisters, the scripture that the Holy Spirit announced beforehand through David had to be fulfilled. This was the scripture concerning Judas, who became a guide for those who arrested Jesus. 17 This happened even though he was one of us and received a share of this ministry.” (18 In fact, he bought a field with the payment he received for his injustice. Falling headfirst, he burst open in the middle and all his intestines spilled out. 19 This became known to everyone living in Jerusalem, so they called that field in their own language Hakeldama, or “Field of Blood.”) 20 “It is written in the Psalms scroll,

Let his home become deserted and let there be no one living in it;[a]

and

Give his position of leadership to another.

 

21 “Therefore, we must select one of those who have accompanied us during the whole time the Lord Jesus lived among us, 22 beginning from the baptism of John until the day when Jesus was taken from us. This person must become along with us a witness to his resurrection.” 23 So they nominated two: Joseph called Barsabbas, who was also known as Justus, and Matthias.

24 They prayed, “Lord, you know everyone’s deepest thoughts and desires. Show us clearly which one you have chosen from among these two 25 to take the place of this ministry and apostleship, from which Judas turned away to go to his own place.” 26 When they cast lots, the lot fell on Matthias. He was added to the eleven apostles. (Acts 1:15-26, Common English Bible)

A few weeks back, I was talking to someone (I just can’t remember who) and this man said, “The disciples really messed up by selecting Matthias. There weren’t supposed to be thirteen Apostles, only twelve. With Matthias joining the eleven, there isn’t a place for Paul. That is who God really wanted to be the twelfth disciples. Instead, God called Paul anyway and made Paul disciple number thirteen.

I am not going to sit here and tell you that my informative friend is correct in his thesis. The truth is, I don’t know. But, then again, neither does he. Really none of us on this side of eternity know the answer to the idea my friend presented.

What I do know is, by both Orthodox and Roman Catholic tradition, Matthias worked for the Gospel in Cappadocia, Judaea, and Colchis (near the modern-day Republic of Georgia). Matthias was stoned to death in Colchis.

Matthias also became a saint and is said to have written Gospel accounts, though the validity of this claim is questionable and the early Church declared it heresy in the second century. Only fragments of the “Lost Gospels of Matthias” still exist.

If the eleven were wrong in replacing Judas with Matthias it there certainly doesn’t seem to be much evidence for the theory. Matthias went to work for the Gospel and made a difference for the Kingdom. If all of us could take a lesson from Matthias the world would be a better place. The Church would be better for it.

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

With Joy and Thankfulness,
Keith

Copyright 2018, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

 

I’m Going Fishing!

Today’s Journey Through Scripture Readings: Ezra 6-8; John 21

Later, Jesus himself appeared again to his disciples at the Sea of Tiberias. This is how it happened: Simon Peter, Thomas (called Didymus), Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, Zebedee’s sons, and two other disciples were together. Simon Peter told them, “I’m going fishing.”

They said, “We’ll go with you.” They set out in a boat, but throughout the night they caught nothing. Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples didn’t realize it was Jesus.

Jesus called to them, “Children, have you caught anything to eat?”

They answered him, “No.”

He said, “Cast your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.”

So they did, and there were so many fish that they couldn’t haul in the net.

When they landed, they saw a fire there, with fish on it, and some bread. 10 Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish that you’ve just caught.” 11 Simon Peter got up and pulled the net to shore. It was full of large fish, one hundred fifty-three of them. Yet the net hadn’t torn, even with so many fish. (John 21:1-6, 9-11, Common English Bible)

What to do when you don’t know what to do. For most of us, that means we return to what we know best. Such was the case for Peter. But, really, who wouldn’t want to go fishing. To follow an old cliche, “A bad day fishing beats a good day working.”

In truth, even in the tough times, you reach a point that it is just time to move on, to get back to life the way you have known it. Peter was feeling it was time. So, it was time to go fishing. Fishing was Peter’s goto activity. The same could be said for Andrew, James, and John. The others probably were there for the ride.

“Well, why didn’t they get out and start spreading the word about Jesus?” For Peter and the others, they literally didn’t know what else to do. Peter didn’t even know, after denying Jesus, if he was still a disciple. How could he go out to do anything if Jesus would no longer let him be a disciple? It really was reverting to what he knew best when he had no idea what else he should do.

For Peter and the others, reverting to their previous way of making a living wasn’t really a bad thing except when we remember that Jesus had taught them to fish for people. Instead of fishing for people, they went back to fishing for fish.

What do we do when we don’t know what to do? What behavior do we revert to when the world just doesn’t seem to be going right? It is important that we remember the thing God calls us to do. Perhaps it is fishing for people but it also may be that we are called to helping those who can’t help themselves. Whatever it is God has called us to do, let us go out into the world and share that which God has given us.

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

With Joy and Thanksgiving,
Keith

Copyright 2018, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

Unless I See…

Today’s Journey Through Scripture Readings: Ezra 3-5; John 20

24 Thomas, the one called Didymus, one of the Twelve, wasn’t with the disciples when Jesus came. 25 The other disciples told him, “We’ve seen the Lord!”

But he replied, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands, put my finger in the wounds left by the nails, and put my hand into his side, I won’t believe.”

26 After eight days his disciples were again in a house and Thomas was with them. Even though the doors were locked, Jesus entered and stood among them. He said, “Peace be with you.” 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here. Look at my hands. Put your hand into my side. No more disbelief. Believe!”

28 Thomas responded to Jesus, “My Lord and my God!”

29 Jesus replied, “Do you believe because you see me? Happy are those who don’t see and yet believe.”

30 Then Jesus did many other miraculous signs in his disciples’ presence, signs that aren’t recorded in this scroll. 31 But these things are written so that you will believe that Jesus is the Christ, God’s Son, and that believing, you will have life in his name. (John 20:24-30, Common English Bible).

Dr. James W. Moore wrote a book some years ago titled  When You’re a Christian… The Whole World is From Missouri. I feel certain it is a good book. Though I haven’t read this one, every book I have read by Dr. Moore I have really enjoyed.

That book title was what went through my mind as I read today’s lesson from John, a story about a man, who had he lived 2000 or so years later, could easily have been a resident of the “Show-Me State.” Such was Thomas’ words to his fellow disciples, “Unless I see…”  That sounds like a paraphrased version of, “Show Me.”

Throughout history, Christians have been critical of Thomas for his doubting mind. He wants to see the risen Jesus before he will believe. Yes, Thomas doubted. Of that, there is no doubt (no pun intended). Of course, the other disciples believed. When Jesus appeared to the disciples in the Upper Room, he showed them his hands and his sides. It seems to me, they wanted to see the same proof demanded by Thomas.

There are people around us every day who say, “I will believe when you can prove.” For the disciples, including Thomas, their’s was a unique opportunity to see and believe.

As for you and me, it has to be a matter of faith. Jesus said, “…Happy are those who don’t see and yet believe.” We cannot see Jesus. We can see some artist’s interpretations of Jesus’ appearance, but we can’t see Jesus. Some say, “I will believe when I can see God.” We can’t see God.

We can see the work of God. I have questioned how someone can look upon Crater Lake and not see the hand of God. I don’t understand how someone can look at the Fjords in Norway and not see God. How can a person look at a field of bluebonnets (OK, yes, I am a Texan) and think God cannot possibly exist. How can someone, who claims intelligence, possibly think all this just happened? Someone, something had to drive all we can see as well as what we can’t. Being happy with believing even what we cannot see is a matter of faith. That I can see by faith, not just by sight is a blessing to me.

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

With Joy and Thankfulness,
Keith

Copyright 2018, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved