Peace in Crisis

Scripture Focus: Galatians 4:13-14
As you know, it was because of an illness that I first preached the gospel to you, and even though my illness was a trial to you, you did not treat me with contempt or scorn. Instead, you welcomed me as if I were an angel of God, as if I were Christ Jesus himself.

Psalm 91.5-6
You will not fear the terror of night,
    nor the arrow that flies by day,
nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness,
    nor the plague that destroys at midday.

2 Corinthians 1.3-6
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ. If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer.

Reflection: Peace in Crisis
By John Tillman

*Today, before moving on to return to writings devoted to our reading plan tomorrow, we will spend one more day exploring our responsibilities as a faith community during a crisis and the promises that we have in Christ. We don’t typically address current events. For an explanation of why, see the intro to yesterday’s post.

Yesterday we looked at the stark challenge that the Church’s actions during pandemics gives to us and questioned whether we are living up to that challenge. Today, we focus on the comfort and peace that we have from God in disturbing and difficult times. This divine comfort, this inexplicable peace, (Philippians 4.4-7) was the fuel that empowered the Church in its ministry to crisis victims in the past and it can fuel our outreach as well.

We can be assured, brothers and sisters, that our God is a trustworthy and true God. He is working in us and through us, and is with us in suffering, illness, or struggle. (Romans 8.18, 28, 31-38) There is no hardship that we can bear that Christ has not borne before us and will not be with us through. (Romans 5.1-8; 2 Corinthians 1.3-6; Philippians 3:8-11; Colossians 1.24) Christ suffered on the cross with the repentant thief, and that day brought him into paradise. Whatever cross we find ourselves pinned to, if we turn our heads to look, we will see Christ beside us, and whatever the outcome of our suffering, we will find his arms embracing us.

Acting with prudent caution, we can fearlessly engage to aid our cities and communities, loving and serving with abandon. Fear of pestilence or plague is not a quality of God’s people (Psalm 91.3-7) but selflessly serving those who are sick or dying is. 

Are we in danger? Of course. How is that different than any other day? Today, the only difference is that we are aware of our fragile state of mortality. May we learn to better trust God in this knowledge. With the false sense of security stripped away, we can see if our foundation of faith is truly built on Christ or if it is built on the protections of wealth, the conceit of invulnerability, and our trust in power.

We can, without hesitation or questioning, entrust our spirits to God, just as Christ did on the cross. To be absent from our bodies is to be present with our Lord, and to be present in our bodies is to be united in Christ’s body on Earth, the Church. Therefore we are, now and forever, with the Lord, no matter the outcome of any illness or suffering that we may ever face. (2 Corinthians 5.1-10)

So, be confident and live by faith, making it your goal to please Christ and to remain united with him and at peace in suffering, service, and in showing his love to our world.

If you are in Christ, brothers and sisters, we are one in him. He is with you. Be at peace. Serve with love. Fear not. (Matthew 28,20)

*Tomorrow we hear from Matt Tullos about the hope we have in the cross.

Divine Hours Prayer: The Greeting
You are my hope, O Lord God, my confidence since I was young.
I have been sustained by you ever since I was born; from my mother’s womb you have been my strength; my praise shall be always of you. — Psalm 71.5-6

– Divine Hours prayers from The Divine Hours: Prayers for Springtime by Phyllis Tickle.

Today’s Readings
Proverbs 5 (Listen -2:08) 
Galatians 4 (Listen -4:13)

Read more about The Church’s Historical Response to Plague
The historic church has left us a great example and testimony based on sound application of the scriptures. Are we following it?

https://theparkforum.org/843-acres/the-churchs-historical-response-to-plague/

Read more about The Purchase Price of Peace
Jesus came out of the tomb carrying the gift we glimpse in the manger—peace. 
“Peace I leave with you…Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”

The Law that leads to Grace :: Guided Prayer

Scripture Focus: Galatians 3.24
So the law was our guardian until Christ came that we might be justified by faith.

Reflection: The Law that leads to Grace :: Guided Prayer
By John Tillman

We have looked at grace from several different angles this week. As we move through this weekend, let us pray through these responses to Paul’s description of the Law’ inability to save us.

The Law that leads to Grace
Oh, God, may we not rely on the Law, except to point us back to grace.

For all who rely on the works of the law are under a curse, as it is written: “Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law.”

We love your Law, Lord. But we know that the Law does not, will not, and cannot justify us.
We rely instead, Lord, on faith.

Clearly no one who relies on the law is justified before God, because “the righteous will live by faith.” The law is not based on faith; on the contrary, it says, “The person who does these things will live by them.” 

We cannot live by the Law. If we could, then Christ’s death was for no purpose.

Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a pole.” 

Christ’s death opened the path of grace through faith to all people. In Christ, God came near and extended his hand to us. And his arm was not too short to save. He saved us not based on anything we have done, but in response to his own promise and purpose for all who have faith. 

He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit.

Help us, Lord, to remember…
The Law exists to point us to, and cause us to cry out for, grace.
Those who think they can live by the Law are deceived and hopeless. Cursed.
Those who are hopeless in everything else, clinging only to grace, are raised to life. Blessed.
Whatever form of moralism we seek to add to grace is a failure of faith, doubting the value of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross.

Thank you, God, for grace through faith that cannot be downgraded and a Law designed to lead us to grace.
May the felt reality of Christ’s incomparable grace extended to us, cause us to season our lives, our tongues, our actions, our prayers, and our inner being with grace.

Divine Hours Prayer: The Cry of the Church
Lord, have mercy on us. Christ, have mercy on us. Lord, have mercy on us.

– From The Divine Hours: Prayers for Summertime by Phyllis Tickle.

Today’s Readings
2 Samuel 23 (Listen – 5:38)
Galatians 3 (Listen – 4:39)

This Weekend’s Readings
2 Samuel 24 (Listen – 4:48) Galatians 4 (Listen – 4:13)
1 Kings 1 (Listen – 7:52) Galatians 5 (Listen – 3:22)

Thank You!
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Read more about Downgrading Grace
Grace, once gained, can be forgotten and replaced with a smug and damaging form of self-righteousness.

https://theparkforum.org/843-acres/downgrading-grace/

Read more about Of Grace and Thorns
What is important about Paul’s thorn is not what it is…but the sufficient grace of God that sustains Paul.

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