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. May the peace of the Lord Christ go with us: wherever He may send us; Lord help us to be patient and kind. Fill us with your joy and love. Speak to our leaders and call them to wisdom. Lift up the lonely, sick and brokenhearted. Restore and comfort our healers. 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 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 2:19-22 MSG Right now, our country and community is being divided along political lines. This is not a new phenomena, but it is one that the Bible does address. The above verse specifically forbids us from fracturing along any lines. Instead we are to find our identity in Christ, our community among the faithful and our love is to extend to everyone. Below are some quotes from the book, I Think You're Wrong (But I'm Listening): A Guide to Grace-Filled Political Conversations It offers a reflection on how to talk when we don’t agree. And here’s the thing, we will disagree. It’s bound to happen. So how do we lovingly, graciously, patiently actually listen to people we don’t agree with and still love them? “Somewhere along the way, we lost our revolutionary passion for talking about the issues that affect our country and our lives. We decided that conversational conflict is impolite at best and dangerous at worst. Unfortunately our attempts to avoid these uncomfortable moments have backfired. In our efforts to protect relationships from political tension, we have instead escalated that tension. Because the reality is that we never stopped talking politics altogether—we stopped talking politics with people who disagree with us. We changed “you shouldn’t talk about politics” to “you should talk only to people who reinforce your worldview.” Instead of giving ourselves the opportunity to be molded and informed and tested by others’ opinions, we allowed our opinions and our hearts to harden.” “We don’t want to be challenged or even questioned, because we believe there is too much at stake. We have tied together our religious beliefs, our pride in our upbringings, and our policy positions until they’ve become like a tangled mess of necklaces that we shove in a drawer—still treasured but unwearable.” (Sarah Stewart Holland and Beth Silvers use the image of college sports to expose how we approach politics) “The (ideological team) jersey also blinds us to the humanity of the other side. This team-sport mentality has created a toxic mix of competition and confirmation bias. Our team is never wrong, and the other team is always wrong. Somewhere along the way we stopped disagreeing with each other and started hating each other. We are enemies, and our side is engaged in an existential battle for the very soul of the country. We are no longer working toward common goals. We are no longer building something together. Our sole objective is tearing the other side down. Nothing short of total victory is acceptable. Again, it’s much like how we view college basketball in Kentucky: We can’t just beat the other side. We have to annihilate them.” If this is true, if how we think about divisive issues has brought us to hate, revile, mock, and long for the destruction of the “other side” then clearly we have lost sight of God. Remember, Jesus was crucified by “God’s people” in the name of doing “the right thing.” How do we follow Jesus’ footsteps and not the Pharisees and priests of Israel? 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 43:1-44:23 Chapter 43 begins with this amazing image of God’s love for his people. When you read the first few verses, do you find comfort? Do you believe these apply to you? There is a song we sing, “Ancient of Days.” We see God as the "Ancient of Days," with the help of verses like 43:13. Chapter 44 is the description of how an idol comes about. How is God different from any idol man makes? While we no longer really worship idols, as described in chapter 44, we know that idolatry is still a part of the human condition. What is it we turn to instead of a block of wood? What do we place our trust in to solve the problems of tomorrow? Idolatry is really tricky to understand. Historically, if people had problems or concerns, they turned to idols for help. Where do we turn to solve our problems or address our concerns? Science… Stock market… Government… Galatians 3:26-4:20 As Paul wraps up chapter 3, he is saying in Christ, there no longer is any difference between nationality, class or economics, or sexes. In Christ we are all children of the King. We are all sons and daughters of God. What is the advantage of being a son or daughter? Paul is struggling with those who want to add “requirements” to our faith in Christ. Who want to go back to the law, not fully realizing just what it is that Christ has done for us. Psalm 108:1-5 These first five verses of psalm 108 are all about praise. Have you ever experienced a moment in your life, where all you want to do is give thanks? That's what the psalmist is currently doing.