LET'S PRAY TOGETHER Lord, let our souls rise up to meet you as the day rises to meet the sun. Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting, protect those who serve, heal the sick, welcome the lost. May the peace of the Lord Christ go with us: wherever He may send us; may You guide us through the wilderness: protect us through the storm; may You bring us home rejoicing: at the wonders You have shown us; may You bring us home rejoicing once again into our doors. Amen MEDITATION (Jesus) came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit. Ephesians 2:17-18 NIV Paul wrote a letter to the church in the Greek city of Ephesus. The church there was struggling to integrate. There were insiders and outsiders, frustration, and discouragement. As believers we are to model to the whole world Jesus’ desire to save everyone, even those people we don’t like. Listen to Paul’s words. “It wasn’t so long ago that you were mired in that old stagnant life of sin. You let the world, which doesn’t know the first thing about living, tell you how to live. You filled your lungs with polluted unbelief, and then exhaled disobedience. We all did it, all of us doing what we felt like doing, when we felt like doing it, all of us in the same boat. It’s a wonder God didn’t lose his temper and do away with the whole lot of us. Instead, immense in mercy and with an incredible love, he embraced us. He took our sin-dead lives and made us alive in Christ. He did all this on his own, with no help from us! Then he picked us up and set us down in highest heaven in company with Jesus, our Messiah. Now God has us where he wants us, with all the time in this world and the next to shower grace and kindness upon us in Christ Jesus. Saving is all his idea, and all his work. All we do is trust him enough to let him do it. It’s God’s gift from start to finish! We don’t play the major role. If we did, we’d probably go around bragging that we’d done the whole thing! No, we neither make nor save ourselves. God does both the making and saving. He creates each of us by Christ Jesus to join him in the work he does, the good work he has gotten ready for us to do, work we had better be doing. But don’t take any of this for granted. It was only yesterday that you outsiders to God’s ways had no idea of any of this, didn’t know the first thing about the way God works, hadn’t the faintest idea of Christ. You knew nothing of that rich history of God’s covenants and promises in Israel, hadn’t a clue about what God was doing in the world at large. Now because of Christ—dying that death, shedding that blood—you who were once out of it altogether are in on everything. The Messiah has made things up between us so that we’re now together on this, both non-Jewish outsiders and Jewish insiders. He tore down the wall we used to keep each other at a distance. He repealed the law code that had become so clogged with fine print and footnotes that it hindered more than it helped. Then he started over. Instead of continuing with two groups of people separated by centuries of animosity and suspicion, he created a new kind of human being, a fresh start for everybody. Christ brought us together through his death on the cross. The Cross got us to embrace, and that was the end of the hostility. Christ came and preached peace to you outsiders and peace to us insiders. He treated us as equals, and so made us equals. Through him we both share the same Spirit and have equal access to the Father. That’s plain enough, isn’t it? You’re no longer wandering exiles. This kingdom of faith is now your home country. You’re no longer strangers or outsiders. You belong here, with as much right to the name Christian as anyone. God is building a home. He’s using us all—irrespective of how we got here—in what he is building. He used the apostles and prophets for the foundation. Now he’s using you, fitting you in brick by brick, stone by stone, with Christ Jesus as the cornerstone that holds all the parts together. We see it taking shape day after day—a holy temple built by God, all of us built into it, a temple in which God is quite at home.” Ephesians 2 The Message DAILY SCRIPTURE READING Our daily scripture reading comes from the following link… http://listenersbible.com/devotionals/biy/ If you have any insights into our daily readings, please feel free to share them with me. I would encourage you to visit https://bibleproject.com/explore/isaiah/ for an overview of Isaiah and https://bibleproject.com/explore/galatians/ for an overview of Paul’s letter to the church in Galatia. These videos will help with the “big picture” and the main themes. Isaiah 36:1-37:38 So the field commander of the king of Assyria comes to Hezekiah, king of Judah, with some pretty big words. Re-read verses 36:18-20. In addition, he refuses to speak in Aramaic. He chooses Hebrew. Why does he do this? In chapter 37, God will respond to the threats of Assyria through Isaiah. What will he say? (v 6 & 7) In the oracles we read later in chapter 37, who actually ordained what Assyria was able to accomplish? (v 26) Things won’t go well for Sennacherib. What happens? ( vv 36-38) Galatians 2:1-10 What had Paul been given authority to do? (v 9) Understanding that Paul had the authority to share the gospel with the gentiles living in Galatia, that the gospel he shared was true, what is the problem? (v 3) If we go back to the good news as it was proclaimed in chapter 1 verse 4, we realize that Christ gave himself for our sins to rescue us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father. It's that simple. As we continue to read through Galatians we will see what has been added to the good news that has Paul so worked up. It will be tied to this issue of circumcision. Psalm 107:23-32 This morning we find sailors on ships in the midst of a tempest. They will cry out to God. What will he do? (v 28 & 29) The psalmist exhorts them to give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love. Do you see a theme evolving in psalm 107?