Reading for April 17th

Galatians 4-6 (Listen)

Sons and Heirs
I mean that the heir, as long as he is a child, is no different from a slave, though he is the owner of everything, but he is under guardians and managers until the date set by his father. In the same way we also, when we were children, were enslaved to the elementary principles of the world. But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.

Paul's Concern for the Galatians
Formerly, when you did not know God, you were enslaved to those that by nature are not gods. But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how can you turn back again to the weak and worthless elementary principles of the world, whose slaves you want to be once more? You observe days and months and seasons and years! I am afraid I may have labored over you in vain.

Brothers, I entreat you, become as I am, for I also have become as you are. You did me no wrong. You know it was because of a bodily ailment that I preached the gospel to you at first, and though my condition was a trial to you, you did not scorn or despise me, but received me as an angel of God, as Christ Jesus. What then has become of your blessedness? For I testify to you that, if possible, you would have gouged out your eyes and given them to me. Have I then become your enemy by telling you the truth? They make much of you, but for no good purpose. They want to shut you out, that you may make much of them. It is always good to be made much of for a good purpose, and not only when I am present with you, my little children, for whom I am again in the anguish of childbirth until Christ is formed in you! I wish I could be present with you now and change my tone, for I am perplexed about you.

Example of Hagar and Sarah
Tell me, you who desire to be under the law, do you not listen to the law? For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by a slave woman and one by a free woman. But the son of the slave was born according to the flesh, while the son of the free woman was born through promise. Now this may be interpreted allegorically: these women are two covenants. One is from Mount Sinai, bearing children for slavery; she is Hagar. Now Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia; she corresponds to the present Jerusalem, for she is in slavery with her children. But the Jerusalem above is free, and she is our mother. For it is written,

“Rejoice, O barren one who does not bear;

break forth and cry aloud, you who are not in labor!

For the children of the desolate one will be more

than those of the one who has a husband.”

Now you, brothers, like Isaac, are children of promise. But just as at that time he who was born according to the flesh persecuted him who was born according to the Spirit, so also it is now. But what does the Scripture say? “Cast out the slave woman and her son, for the son of the slave woman shall not inherit with the son of the free woman.” So, brothers, we are not children of the slave but of the free woman.

Christ Has Set Us Free
For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.

Look: I, Paul, say to you that if you accept circumcision, Christ will be of no advantage to you. I testify again to every man who accepts circumcision that he is obligated to keep the whole law. You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace. For through the Spirit, by faith, we ourselves eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love.

You were running well. Who hindered you from obeying the truth? This persuasion is not from him who calls you. A little leaven leavens the whole lump. I have confidence in the Lord that you will take no other view, and the one who is troubling you will bear the penalty, whoever he is. But if I, brothers, still preach circumcision, why am I still being persecuted? In that case the offense of the cross has been removed. I wish those who unsettle you would emasculate themselves!

For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another.

Keep in Step with the Spirit
But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.

Bear One Another's Burdens
Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. But let each one test his own work, and then his reason to boast will be in himself alone and not in his neighbor. For each will have to bear his own load.

Let the one who is taught the word share all good things with the one who teaches. Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.

Final Warning and Benediction
See with what large letters I am writing to you with my own hand. It is those who want to make a good showing in the flesh who would force you to be circumcised, and only in order that they may not be persecuted for the cross of Christ. For even those who are circumcised do not themselves keep the law, but they desire to have you circumcised that they may boast in your flesh. But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. For neither circumcision counts for anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation. And as for all who walk by this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the Israel of God.

From now on let no one cause me trouble, for I bear on my body the marks of Jesus.

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brothers. Amen.

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Psalm 107 (Listen)

BOOK FIVE

Let the Redeemed of the Lord Say So

Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good,

for his steadfast love endures forever!

Let the redeemed of the Lord say so,

whom he has redeemed from trouble

and gathered in from the lands,

from the east and from the west,

from the north and from the south.

 

Some wandered in desert wastes,

finding no way to a city to dwell in;

hungry and thirsty,

their soul fainted within them.

Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble,

and he delivered them from their distress.

He led them by a straight way

till they reached a city to dwell in.

Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love,

for his wondrous works to the children of man!

For he satisfies the longing soul,

and the hungry soul he fills with good things.

 

Some sat in darkness and in the shadow of death,

prisoners in affliction and in irons,

for they had rebelled against the words of God,

and spurned the counsel of the Most High.

So he bowed their hearts down with hard labor;

they fell down, with none to help.

Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble,

and he delivered them from their distress.

He brought them out of darkness and the shadow of death,

and burst their bonds apart.

Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love,

for his wondrous works to the children of man!

For he shatters the doors of bronze

and cuts in two the bars of iron.

 

Some were fools through their sinful ways,

and because of their iniquities suffered affliction;

they loathed any kind of food,

and they drew near to the gates of death.

Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble,

and he delivered them from their distress.

He sent out his word and healed them,

and delivered them from their destruction.

Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love,

for his wondrous works to the children of man!

And let them offer sacrifices of thanksgiving,

and tell of his deeds in songs of joy!

 

Some went down to the sea in ships,

doing business on the great waters;

they saw the deeds of the Lord,

his wondrous works in the deep.

For he commanded and raised the stormy wind,

which lifted up the waves of the sea.

They mounted up to heaven; they went down to the depths;

their courage melted away in their evil plight;

they reeled and staggered like drunken men

and were at their wits' end.

Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble,

and he delivered them from their distress.

He made the storm be still,

and the waves of the sea were hushed.

Then they were glad that the waters were quiet,

and he brought them to their desired haven.

Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love,

for his wondrous works to the children of man!

Let them extol him in the congregation of the people,

and praise him in the assembly of the elders.

 

He turns rivers into a desert,

springs of water into thirsty ground,

a fruitful land into a salty waste,

because of the evil of its inhabitants.

He turns a desert into pools of water,

a parched land into springs of water.

And there he lets the hungry dwell,

and they establish a city to live in;

they sow fields and plant vineyards

and get a fruitful yield.

By his blessing they multiply greatly,

and he does not let their livestock diminish.

 

When they are diminished and brought low

through oppression, evil, and sorrow,

he pours contempt on princes

and makes them wander in trackless wastes;

but he raises up the needy out of affliction

and makes their families like flocks.

The upright see it and are glad,

and all wickedness shuts its mouth.

 

Whoever is wise, let him attend to these things;

let them consider the steadfast love of the Lord.