The Church: Stumbling Block, Scandal, and Foolishness

Today is Sunday, July 2, 2017. Day 21,661. Two days until Independence Day in the U.S.!

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS
All Scriptures are from the ESV unless otherwise noted

(From The Divine Hours)

Psalm 67:3-5Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you! 
Let the nations be glad and sing for joy, for you judge the peoples with equity and guide the nations upon earth. Selah. 
Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you! 

Hear my voice according to your steadfast love; O LORD, according to your justice give me life.
Psalm 119:149
Save us, we pray, O LORD! O LORD, we pray, give us success! 
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD! We bless you from the house of the LORD.

Psalm 118:25-26
Jesus told us, “Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.”
Luke 12:32
I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go to the house of the LORD!”
Psalm 122:1
Your righteousness, O God, reaches the high heavens. You who have done great things, O God, who is like you? 
You who have made me see many troubles and calamities will revive me again; from the depths of the earth you will bring me up again. 
You will increase my greatness and comfort me again. 
I will also praise you with the harp for your faithfulness, O my God; I will sing praises to you with the lyre, O Holy One of Israel. 
My lips will shout for joy, when I sing praises to you; my soul also, which you have redeemed. 
And my tongue will talk of your righteous help all the day long, for they have been put to shame and disappointed who sought to do me hurt.

Psalm 71:19-24
The Prayer Appointed for the Week
Almighty God, you have built your Church upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets,
Jesus Christ himself being the chief cornerstone:
Grant that all of us may be joined together in unity of spirit by their teaching,
that we may be made a holy temple acceptable to you;
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

(From Practice Resurrection)

When Paul describes the first-generation church, there is no romanticism. Consider his words in 1 Corinthians 1:26-29. “For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God.” God still does this today.

Eugene Peterson translated that passage like this, in The Message: “Take a good look, friends, at who you were when you got called into this life. I don’t see many of “the brightest and the best” among you, not many influential, not many from high-society families. Isn’t it obvious that God deliberately chose men and women that the culture overlooks and exploits and abuses, chose these “nobodies” to expose the hollow pretensions of the “somebodies”? That makes it quite clear that none of you can get by with blowing your own horn before God.”

Over the centuries, there has been much talk of the cross of Christ as a scandal, a stumbling block, and foolishness. “But we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles.” (1 Corinthians 1:23) Peterson says, “I want to talk about church, this actual congregation that I attend, as stumbling block, as scandal, as absurd.”

Father, thank you for giving us Church. And, strange as it may sound, I thank you for making it out of people that are foolish by the world’s standards; people who might be considered “low and despised in the world, sot that none of us can boast in your presence. Everything about the Church that is right is because of you and your glory. Praise be to you, Almighty God!
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the LORD lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.

Grace and peace, friends.

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