Facing Covid 19: Daily Words of Grace – July 20

Monday, July 20, 2020

John Lewis

Get into Trouble.

Good Trouble.

Isaiah 46:12-13

Listen to me, you stubborn of heart, you who are far from deliverance: I bring near my deliverance, it is not far off, and my salvation will not tarry; I will put salvation in Zion, for Israel my glory.

Titus 2:11-12

For God shows no partiality. All who have sinned apart from the law will also perish apart from the law, and all who have sinned under the law will be judged by the law.

Words of Grace For Today

“Get in trouble. Good trouble. Necessary trouble.” – John Lewis (February 21, 1940 – July 17, 2020).

One of the many who took part in the freedom rides, integrated interstate bus trips (a right guaranteed by the Supreme Court), he was beaten many times, once nearly killing him.

Stubborn hearts of racists and police who were eager to willing illegally arrest black and whites travelling together brought hardship, bigotry and hatred to the fore many times over.

Stubborn hearts do the same still today, everywhere. Even here.

Last night three quads showed up, about an hour apart, the last at 2:30 am, helping them selves to the wood I’ve collect, cut and stacked to help minimize the dangers of the coming winter. All together they took about two day’s worth, simply to party away with a fire in front of them. Shame on them.

I startled the last with a flashlight from 10 feet away, since he seemed only focused on finding the wood to take. He sped off running over a pine tree, careening to turn around to leave up on two wheels and nearly running off the path into the trees.

Maybe that will put an end to the theft.

God deals with stubborn hearts all the time, theirs and all of ours. God comes close, well God is always close, but God goes out of God’s way to make apparent to us God’s presence with us.

God shows no partiality, all is just based on truth, in God’s judgments of us. And there will be judgment for each of us.

The trouble these thieves get up to is trouble, but hardly good trouble or necessary trouble.

It’s just evil trouble. The devil’s work.

The end of course, carried on far enough, will be that I do not have enough wood for winter; and their theft can cause my death.

Good trouble, necessary trouble, is the kind that puts a stop to this kind of petty criminality, and to the widespread biases in the justice system, from the RCMP bullying, harassment and violence, to the Courts that turn a blind eye to the truth of abuse done to men by women (and men.) That blind eye invites women to lie profusely to the Courts, and for RCMP to act far outside properly or fairly … and everyone gets away with it.

Except God does judge fairly, equitably.

Thanks be for Jesus, who gives us his record for our judgment, for otherwise we would all be wiped off the face of the earth all before breakfast at 6 am.

Because Jesus steps in for us, we not go through life, making our way with violence. Jesus makes our way for us. We need not go through life full of anger. Each will get their due justice delivered by God. We need not go through life ashamed of lies told about us, or false accusations, or even false convictions. These do not define us. Jesus defines us … as his followers.

With Jesus always with us, the Holy Spirit guiding us, and God’s love pouring over us each day, we can boldly take on the trouble, the good trouble, that God sends us into each day. We do not need be shy or self-righteous (as if trouble did not belong to us at all).

No, today we can courageously get ourselves into trouble, good trouble, necessary trouble, trouble that will make a good difference possible for many other people.

Facing Covid 19: Daily Words of Grace – July 19

Sunday, July 19, 2020

Glory Me, Glory You!

God’s Glory and Honour

Shared with Us

Psalm 8:5

Yet, Lord, you have made [humans] a little lower than God, and crowned them with glory and honour.

Ephesians 2:10

We are what he has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life.

Words of Grace For Today

Yet … God created us a little lower than God, crowned with glory and honour.

Yet … what? What is the yet? Without looking at Psalm 8:4:

Is the yet about how sinful we are?

Is the yet about how unworthy we are?

Is the yet about how unappreciative we are?

Is the yet about how lowly other creatures/creation is created?

We really do not need to know.

We need to hear how God created us with glory and honour. Do we live that way still, today?

Can we?

Ahh, we are not left on our own. Jesus is in whom we were created, so that we could do good works … and that is how God planned for us, even before we were created!

This is our way of life (or the way of life that God created us for): that we imitate Jesus. We teach with wisdom that is not ours, it is Christ’s. We tell the old, old story with a tale that is not ours, it is Christ’s. We teach and reach out to the vulnerable with a love that is not ours, it is Christ’s. We strive for a justice with an energy and for a justice that is not ours, it is Christ’s.

We practice forgiveness with a Grace that is not ours, it is Christ’s.

We do this (we can do all this only) because Jesus has done it first for us.

The glory and honour we were created for is not our own. It is the gift of the Holy Spirit that we share in Christ’s glory and honour.

It is the same for each person we will meet each day. We are all only mirrors of Christ’ glory and honour.

So we sing each day the Hallelujah Anyhow.

Facing Covid 19: Daily Words of Grace – July 18

Saturday, July 18, 2020

Spring

You can spring your snowmobile from this point to the lake,

until God brings Spring

and then it’s a disaster to spring here.

Isaiah 43:13

I am God, and also henceforth I am He; there is no one who can deliver from my hand; I work and who can hinder it?

2 Corinthians 5:10

For all of us must appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each may receive recompense for what has been done in the body, whether good or evil.

Words of Grace For Today

How simple it seems: life here and now is a proving ground of who and whose we are. After death or maybe before, God judges us on the basis of what we have done, whether good or evil. No one can deliver themselves or others from God’s hand. God’s work (also of judging us) cannot be hindered by anyone … not even the Devil himself!

It all sounds pretty simple, and devilishly difficult. Proving oneself is an ever failing project. We go from one compromise of good to the next compromise of our souls, just to make it through any 60 minutes of any day. All of what we think, say or do is catalogued permanently without error or omission under our name in God’s never ending knowing and memory.

Who could face God thus? For every single last one of us will fail that judgment. We cannot make it through one hour, yet alone a day, or a year, or a lifetime.

There is a vain hope, held by so many people, that though they have done terribly all through their life, they have somehow managed to say or do something really good, and they hope that good thing or two or even a series of things can somehow outweigh the terrible, unending bad things they have done. The scales are not so weighted in our favour. God is just, basing all judgments on truth and whole truth only. Everyone of us fail, and fail miserably as the scale rapidly hits bottom on the evil side overwhelmed by the weight of our sins.

Given this inevitable negative judgment, some people give up hope, and either more fully participate in evil to get ahead, at least in this short life on earth, or they despair and fail to give a day’s thanks for everything they have, hiding from life as much as they can, with consuming, praying, doing small ‘good deeds’, or – and this applies to the most people, nearly everyone somehow at sometime – they compare themselves to others and delude themselves into thinking that the judgment scale of God is somehow marked on a curve of averages and not absolutes.

Out of this delusion arises the nowadays all too common assertion that truth is never absolute, but it is all relative. We just see things differently.

Well … we do see things differently. God does not. And created in God’s likeness we too can see God’s absolutes more than we care to admit, even to ourselves.

Plato’s Ideals are not a mere figment of one’s imagination. They are real, as real as the water we drink and food we eat to stay alive.

The only way our judgment day[s] – it is likely we face God’s judgment each day and just do not know it – before God goes anything other than real ugly for us, is that God anticipated how we would be, and provided a loving, self-sacrificial manner in which we could understand both God’s firm judgment based on the truth of who we are and what we’ve done, and God’s endless mercy and love, which gives us re-newed life as many times a day it is possible.

It seems that God gives re-newed life more times a day than we are capable of imagining, for we still breathe … and pray in thanks … and share what God entrusts to us. The renewal of life is that Jesus’ record, unblemished and pure, is swapped in for our terrible sinful records, and God judges us as unblemished and pure, pure of heart and able to see God once again in the ordinarily mundane things of life. Those things become sacred. All things become sacred. All people become sacred, for God uses it all, us all, to make good happen, such good that we are wholly incapable of doing on our own. The Holy Spirit infuses renewed life into us, and pulls miraculously good thoughts, words, and deeds out of us.

We actually follow Jesus.

We don’t just practice some random and useless piety, like not smoking in beer country (but beer is great at church potlucks), not drinking in tobacco country (but smoking is great after the services), or as in Minnesota, smoking, drinking and dancing are all to be avoided; but us medical missionary kids knew it was all bunk. We didn’t smoke because it was unhealthy and stunk. We didn’t drink because it messed with our brains and our brains were fine, thank you. We did dance, and occasionally it led to sex, which was just part of life, because children are wonderful gifts from God, so is sex, and so is dancing – we just did not advertise it in front of other ‘pious’ weak-faithed Christians. We did not take sex or children lightly. They were great gifts from God, not to be messed with lightly, but to be celebrated greatly. Again, we did not go out to have sex with a great number of people because we knew that sex was powerful and if you messed about with it, it messed about with your brain, and our brains were fine, thank you.

Somehow growing up in all that lutheranism of minnesota (it is the state religion, or was, after all) many had not faced the challenges of world views that did not include God, and not as a small matter, but aggressively, determinedly denied God because that faith threatened their old, old religion of worshipping ‘things’ that medicine men and women could (supposedly) control. Our faith offered something beyond piety, or setting ‘old’ ways aside. Our parents as medical missionaries came with science and medicine (products of Christianity’s care for the world and the vulnerable and sick – Jesus was after all a healer), both of which set things in order in this world and offered, as Jesus had, healing.

Instead of latching on to some senseless piety that overshadowed faith, we knew out of necessity the essentials of faith, and it certainly was not some useless piety, or false faith. Our faith had to be genuine and authentic, fully dependent on the Spirit working through us, or we’d have been eaten alive by those who stood against this faith.

Back home, our faith had to be genuine and authentic, fully dependent on the Spirit working through us, or we’d have been eaten alive by those who stood against this faith, those that held some false piety as being the core of faith, as if we could behave our way into God’s favour!

No one can hinder God’s work, not God’s work in us or this wonder-filled world.

Facing Covid 19: Daily Words of Grace – July 17

Friday, July 17, 2020

The Path Forward

See the Light?

See God?

Deuteronomy 10:17

For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who is not partial and takes no bribe,

Matthew 5:8

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.

Words of Grace For Today

Bribes are the way of the world.

Some are blatant, demanded, extracted. Others are offered, subtly, as perks for understood unnamed favours.

The Church is not exempt from this. The Courts are not exempt from this. No part of life seems to be exempt from this bartering of favours for favours. Ideals are set aside too easily as palms are greased and the recipients on both sides enjoy a bit more of life than they otherwise would have. As if life were a zero-sum game, where one needed to get what is there before someone else beat you to it.

Since the Church is not exempt, even the faithful, confessing a faith that is otherwise founded on the cross, behave as if salvation is one more thing to acquire for oneself, as if it were insurance for after death.

It is challenging not to fall in line, as permits to build are denied for no apparent reason, or provided to others even with faulty plans; as jobs come to others (not even qualified) who enjoy high standards of living, and others (more than fully qualified and capable) are left to seek labour outside their field of training; as invitations, social recognition, and being included are offered to the most asocial people, and others dedicated to the well being of all people are ignored, socially derided, and ghosted by nearly all.

God, though, is not a taker of bribes. Salvation is given to all as a free gift. Claiming to be able to earn it can revoke the gift from one’s life. There is no effort, or favour, that one can offer God that would be sufficient to bend God to do other than what is God’s will. Attempts to do so are sufficient to see God’s will exclude one from life.

God is not one among many gods. God is the One and only God, the God above all other gods we may try to create. God is powerful, and loving, gracious and generous with all people. We are to fear and love God …. This is the beginning of our response.

The Promise is made often in many ways. Those who do not trying to bribe or cheat or step on others to get ahead, in a word, those who remain pure, they will see God. Perhaps as Moses did, face to face, turning Moses ashen white from the encounter that few if any others have ever survived. More likely the pure of heart will see God in the everyday. For without a heart that is bent-in-on-itself, bribing, cheating, and trying in every way to ensure it’s survival before anything else – without this bent-in-on-itself, one’s heart remains open to see the wonders, the awesome wonders that God works each day for others … and for oneself.

Wonders of wonders, to see God each day many times over.

That generous gift from God cannot be matched by anything we might try to acquire for ourselves.

Our salvation assured (a gift from God) and seeing God each day, we pray: Give us today our daily bread. Then we work, sweat, and plan to ensure we and others have the basic requirements for life: clean air, clean water, nourishing food, adequate clothing, sufficient shelter, meaningful labour, and opportunity to love and be loved.

One day at a time, life is full of wonders, and God is awesome!

Facing Covid 19: Daily Words of Grace – July 16

Thursday, July 16, 2020

Water and Light

Living Water

Reflects

The Creator’s Glory

Isaiah 55:1

Ho, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and you that have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.

John 4:14

Those who drink of the water that I will give them will never be thirsty. The water that I will give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life.’

Words of Grace For Today

Water, water, water everywhere, and not a drop to drink!

There is a story that comes to mind, of two young men shipwrecked and blown far away from their course and out of the frequently travelled shipping lanes. One trusts that God will save them. The other doubts God exists at all. While the doubter works to catch fish for food, the faithful one throws their desalinating water filter overboard. While the doubter sleeps having Gerry-rigged a rainwater collector, the faithful idiot dismantles it and throws it overboard.

With water everywhere, they thirst for the water that gives life: fresh water.

While the faithful believes he has water that will keep him from thirsting, the doubter does everything to use what water is available, mixing urine and scant rainwater to minimally re-hydrate himself. The faithful prays, trusting God will save him … and falls into a coma.

Idiot faith is not the faith Christ gives us. The faith Christ gives us is hope-filled and practical; wise and perceptive; overly generous and gracious; self sacrificing and self preserving.

The water Jesus gives us keeps us from thirsting, and common sense is not lacking. Life and all it requires of us is filled with Jesus’ water, gushing up like an artesian spring, not so that we can test God’s miraculous intentions towards us, but so that we can follow paths that give life, to ourselves and to all around us.

God does not exact a price for the living water. Jesus has bought and paid with his life for it, for us. Not only does God provide us water, living water, that gives us breathe, faith and hope; God also provides us all we can eat. We come, we buy with all that God has provided to us, Grace! And we are filled, never to be thirsty or hungry again; no matter the challenges life throws at us.

The two young men were rescued. Both were alive, barely, the faithful in a coma for hours already. He never recovered and died. – One has to wonder what St. Peter had to say to him! – the doubter after many difficult months recovered, and lived the rest of his life, never doubting God’s love for him and those around him.

There is living water for all!

Facing Covid 19: Daily Words of Grace – July 15

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

All Hail God’s Will, not our plans.

July 3

Mid-summer Night’s

Surprise

Proverbs 19:21

The human mind may devise many plans, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will be established.

1 Peter 4:7-8

The end of all things is near; therefore be serious and discipline yourselves for the sake of your prayers. Above all, maintain constant love for one another, for love covers a multitude of sins.

Words of Grace For Today

We make all sorts of plans, but God’s will will be done.

We plan a vacation sailing. God gives us life, but a storm puts us in a life raft, lost at sea, surrounded by water, with tools to save ourselves long enough that a rescue is possible. (foreshadow of tomorrow’s words.)

We plan all that we may, like a young unqualified pastor to lead us to rebuild the glory of yesteryear. But Christ’s Church is not tied to yesteryear’s model of the church, nor of our models we may contrive and build today.

In the movie, About Time, Tim’s wedding is a joyous bust, rain and wind driving the reception from under the rented tent canopies to crowd inside his parent’s home. The best man’s toast is repeatedly a disaster going from bad to worse, each time Tim uses his special gift (of all the men in his family) to go back and replay/change portions of his life. He chooses various friends to be best man and each new best man stoops to new lows in the speech.

Finally Tim asks his father to be his best man.

The first time through his father’s speech is great. But his father has second thoughts, wants to include a comment about how he loves his son. Tim says it was a great speech the way it was, but the father replays it and proclaims his love for three men in his life, not his own father, but including his son, Tim. He is proud of him.

Still, the most profound words were not those written about the father’s love for his son. They were the advice Tim’s father provides to all who would consider getting married: find someone to marry who is kind! Everything else can be worked through or around, if one’s spouse is kind.

1 Peter said it as well: maintain constant love for one another, for love covers a multitude of sins.

When we confess how much we require God’s love each day just to breathe, and live, and hope, then we can practice for others that same Gracious Love which save us and gives us life.

Love is not as complicated as we seem to make it. It is simply humbly recognizing God’s gifts, and out of endless thanks to extend that same attitude towards others.

Sin and Evil may seem powerful and omnipresent, destructive and unavoidable. It may seem we need to join in and get out of life what we can by taking from others what is for the taking.

Love is a far better way to live.

Love is the purpose of the Lord that will be established.

It is indeed good, right, and blessed that we do join in and get out of life all that God freely gives to us, so that we can share it generously with others.

Covid 19 challenges us and reveals whether we trust God’s love for us and all other people, and whether we comprehend that Jesus calls us, especially now, to be the people who are generous with all people.

Facing Covid 19: Daily Words of Grace – July 14

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Trees and Challenges OR Light and Hope

The Light

Is to Celebrate by

Jeremiah 33:10-11

Thus says the Lord: In the towns of Judah and the streets of Jerusalem that are desolate, without inhabitants, human or animal, there shall once more be heard the voice of mirth and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride, the voices of those who sing, as they bring thank-offerings to the house of the Lord: ‘Give thanks to the Lord of hosts, for the Lord is good, for his steadfast love endures for ever!’ For I will restore the fortunes of the land as at first, says the Lord.

Mark 2:19

Jesus said to them, ‘The wedding-guests cannot fast while the bridegroom is with them, can they? As long as they have the bridegroom with them, they cannot fast.

Words of Grace For Today

A paraphrase of Michelle Obama is going around about Covid 19. She said at the DNC 2012, “Being president doesn’t change who you are, it reveals who you are.”

The paraphrase goes variously like this:

The stress and challenge of a pandemic, like Covid 19, does not change you, it reveals who you are.

When we live (though in cities and country-sides with houses everywhere and people once again scurrying about, the people nevertheless are or seem devoid of soul, heart and hope) in desolate uninhabitable places, sure that our lives have become a wasteland, devoid of mirth, gladness, singing, and thanks ….

When we live so afraid of the future that we dare not live in this moment as the people God created us to be: (only by Grace) good, generous with all God has entrusted to us, blessed to be a blessing to all others, bearing our crosses in order that others may know God’s Grace is for them ….

When we live so sure that there is nothing to celebrate, and we must ‘fast’, putting on the ‘sackcloth’ of our days, and grind ourselves into the work routine to make barely enough to pay the bills, smile (or really grimace) at the destruction of the vulnerable around us incapable of stopping the evil of power and privilege ….

When we live, caught by our own sins, and oppressed by others’ sins without any reason to expect it will ever change, not in our lifetimes, and not in all the generations to come ….

Then God comes,

sets the table in our midst for a feast and marvellous celebration,

invites all the downtrodden, the poor, those without hope,

and

pours out his steadfast love that endures for ever on to and into the guests, so that it spills over and out of the feast and envelops the whole earth (connecting with God’s love that holds the whole universe together).

Then we will celebrate like never before, as love which gives life overfills our hearts, minds, souls and strength.

This is not the return to a shadow of glory days long past. This is moving towards God’s will for all life. This is everything good that life can be, as God made creation to be, as God created us to be.

Though we may not experience this feast today, or yesterday, or tomorrow, our hope is renewed that this feast is ours. So we celebrate in small ways the in-breaking of the infinite into our finite vision; the table is set with bread and wine which God makes into Jesus body and blood given for us.

With our hope renewed we face the challenges of Covid 19.

The challenges do not change us, having seen and tasted God’s feast for all people, the challenges reveal who we are:

We are followers of Jesus, who celebrate his presence in and with us all. We bear our crosses, sacrificing what is entrusted to us as God’s stewards, so that others can experience God’s feast of Grace, forgiveness, and enduring, steadfast love.

Facing Covid 19: Daily Words of Grace – July 13

Monday, July 13, 2020

Blue Sky

Coffee and Cream

on Ice

Sunset

Hosea 10:12

Sow for yourselves righteousness; reap steadfast love; break up your fallow ground; for it is time to seek the Lord, that he may come and rain righteousness upon you.

Ephesians 4:24

Clothe yourselves with the new self, created according to the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.

Words of Grace For Today

After a good night’s sleep in the cool air of July, freshened by the lake a few metres distant, there is nothing quite like pouring boiling water on top the coffee grounds in the coffee press, and then sitting down to say prayers and celebrate the Eucharist with the aroma of fresh coffee colouring the morning.

Then to press the plunger, pour out the coffee into the milk in the mug, and sip that coffee au lait – that is to reap the rewards of much forethought, preparation, and early morning work.

In the cold of winter, the wood stove is kept stoked, usually requiring a middle of the night waking to stoke it and clear out the inevitable smoke before settling back to sleep, the pan filled with water set on top the stove to be brought to a roiling boil long before the light of day rises.

In summer, the table is set outside, the extra back up propane stove hooked up to a tank, lighter is set ready. The night can be slept through. On waking a pan of water is prepared and with mosquito defences in full force, one braves the bug infested air to light the stove under the pan of cool water. With just enough time to prepare the table for Eucharist and Breakfast, the water will boil. The rush back into the bugs with coffee press and grounds in hand is to ensure as little propane is used as possible.

The press is a gift. The wood stove and the propane stove are both gifts. All these and so many others are gifts loaned. The coffee grounds are a gift. They are returned to the earth, after extracting delicious coffee from them.

God has saved us. We do nothing to earn that or make it so. We can do and do plenty to nullify that salvation, though God works to overcome our stubborn sinfulness.

Once we realize the salvation God worked so hard to bring to us, free for us, costly for Jesus, then we can start to work –

seeking the Lord,

sowing righteousness,

breaking up fallow ground in our hearts and minds,

clothing ourselves with the new self, the Holy Spirit gives to us,

Then, because God rains righteousness down on us, we can, by Grace, live in the likeness of God, filled with true righteousness and holiness, spreading true righteousness and holiness wherever we go, to whom ever we encounter.

We can try to earn all this, and in the process colour God’s gifts with our sin.

We can try to rationalize that we have earned the gift of fresh coffee in the morning, forgetting all the labour it took to produce and distribute the coffee, that someone paid for that coffee and gave it to us (or maybe someone gave you money in exchange for your labour and you bought it yourself), and that someone loaned you the stoves, the firewood, the propane, the table, the coffee press.

Maybe you can say you bought all these things with your money and that no one gave you anything to make your coffee in the morning – but you would be so wrong. God made it all possible, including whatever you did to get the money. For me it is clearer it is all gift, for you perhaps it takes some remembering who has blessed you in so many ways to entrust you with all that you ‘own.’

No matter how we see it: God provides, we enjoy, give thanks (or maybe we follow the Devil and do not), and then we share with those who do not have (or maybe we follow the Devil and do not).

We pray (not just because all our ‘coffee’ tastes so much better with a palette of gratitude) may we remember who provides everything for us, and to what purpose, so that we may give God thanks for everything, and share everything we ‘have’ with those who do not have.

Facing Covid 19: Daily Words of Grace – July 12

Sunday, July 12, 2020

Light

Light is a Gift

Like Salvation A Gift From God.

We See Salvation More Clearly When We Confess Our Sins,

Like Smoke Makes Light Obvious.

Daniel 9:7

Righteousness is on your side, OLord, but open shame, as at this day, falls on us all , those who are near and those who are far away, in all the lands to which you have driven them, because of the treachery that they have committed against you.

Ephesians 2:8

By grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God.

Words of Grace For Today

It is good to confess one’s own sins.

It can be helpful to confess your people’s sins, in which you are part of that guilty community.

It is most helpful to confess that we are saved by faith through grace – and that our faith and the saving us is not our doing, but a gift (which is Grace) from God.

Most things in life that we receive are earned through work, some of it extremely hard work. The work can be ours or someone else’s.

The car in your drive, or the bicycle against the post: someone worked hard to have them.

The house you wake up in, or the ram-shackled shelter the wind rattles you out of in the morning, which keeps you somewhat dry and warm through the nights: someone worked hard for them.

The nutritious and balanced fresh food you put on your table from which you can choose a selection to enjoy, or the past-the-best-buy-date canned food from the food bank that may fill your belly and only get you a little sick: someone work hard for them.

The clothes in your closet from which you have your pick of styles, functions, and colours, all freshly cleaned, or the same old sweaty and stained jeans and dirty T-Shirt that you slept in last night: someone worked hard for them.

Salvation cannot be worked for, though. When we try, the results would be comical, except it is tragic how much harm we usually do others and ourselves in the effort. It’s like trying all day to find your glasses … which sit perched on your nose.

God’s Grace provides us salvation without effort or cost to us, but at great cost to Jesus.

After we confess, trusting we are forgiven, we can only extend that Grace to others, at whatever cost is required of us, in order that they can live life, and live it abundantly.

Facing Covid 19: Daily Words of Grace – July 11

Saturday, July 11, 2020

Coming Together

Peace

One Piece at a Time

Psalm 29:11

May the Lord give strength to his people! May the Lord bless his people with peace!

Acts 4:13

Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John and realized that they were uneducated and ordinary men, they were amazed and recognized them as companions of Jesus.

Words of Grace For Today

God gives strength to the people of God’s Kingdom and blesses them with peace.

Peace is much more than the absence of conflict, and can enfold conflict as well. That seems contradictory, since we’ve ascribed the world’s application of peace (the absence of conflict) to God’s promises.

Caught in a war zone, literally or figuratively, one yearns for the end of conflict. Truth is the first casualty of war, then MIA are the children and the vulnerable. When the conflict starts to eat at one’s being, one’s conscience and heart, then one yearns for an end of the hostilities. Any other option, other than capitulation, would be welcomed by most reasonable people.

God’s promises are not about the absence of hostilities, though God surely is not much taken by our fighting. God’s promises are about peace. The kind of peace that surpasses all understanding, that guards our hearts and minds.

When we live with that kind of peace, then we approach the conflict that leads to open hostilities and killings differently, with hope. We approach the conflict that tears families apart differently, with empathy. We approach the conflict that tears communities apart differently, with compassion. We see that God never promised anyone the lack of challenges in life, one constant challenge being conflict. Conflict is an essential part of life. When there is more than one person involved, there will be conflict, or someone is being dishonest. Conflict, handled properly, motivates one to hope, empathy, and compassion for the other, and if one can operate with collaboration then one works for the other’s best interest, trusting they are working for yours.

The quick example is the poverty captive couple who each sacrifice their best in order to give to the other what the other would most treasure. She sells her beautiful long hair to buy him a chain to match his gold heirloom pocket watch. He pawns his grandfathers’, fathers’, and now his golden pocket watch to get her the jade hair combs she has adored in the shop window.

What is instructive from this example is that each cares for the other by giving what the other would most want. More importantly, though each ends up with combs without hair, and a chain without a watch, they end up with what is most valuable and cannot be taken from them: their love for and devotion to each other. With that they will face all challenges together, and even if they lose everything else, they will have each other.

That kind of love is why God created us!

God’s promises promise us that kind of love from God, which gives us an enduring peace which nothing can take from us. We know we are right with God, not dependent on what we do, but as a gift given to us, through Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross, so that, marked with that cross, we can face whatever life brings to us.

That is real peace.

That is the kind of peace that does not require an education to receive from God. That is the kind of peace that ordinary and not so ordinary people can all receive from God. Even well educated people can receive it from God.

So no matter your circumstance: may God’s peace be with you.

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Bearing God’s Peace is kind of like wearing a mask because of Covid 19. It does not benefit you directly, but helps protect others from you – which indirectly protects everyone, including you.

Wear a mask because Covid 19 exists, bear the Peace of God because the Devil is always active in and around us all. They protect others from what you could infect them with that would destroy their lives.

God’s peace always brings life with it.