Thursday 20 June, 2013

Galatians 4: 12-20

12 I make my appeal to you, brothers and sisters. I’m asking you to become like me. After all, I became like you. You didn’t do anything wrong to me. 13 As you know, it was because I was sick that I first preached the good news to you. 14 My sickness was hard on you. But you didn’t put me off. You didn’t make fun of me. Instead, you welcomed me as if I were an angel of God. You welcomed me as if I were Christ Jesus himself. 15 What has happened to all of your joy? If you could have torn out your own eyes and given them to me, you would have. I can give witness to that. 16 Have I become your enemy now by telling you the truth? 17 Those people are trying hard to win you over. But it is not for your good. They want to take you away from us. They want you to commit yourselves to them. 18 It is fine to be committed to something, if the purpose is good. And you shouldn’t be committed only when I am with you. You should always be committed. 19 My dear children, I am in pain for you. Once again I have pain like a woman giving birth. And my pain will continue until Christ makes you like himself. 20 I wish I could be with you now. I wish I could change my tone of voice. As it is, you bewilder me.

Gosh Paul is disturbed by the change in behaviour of the Galatians. He had arrived there and stayed there with them not because he wanted to but because he was too sick to leave them. Even so they treated him well and listened to what he had to say. Now they are not so happy to listen. Paul’s alarm bells have gone off. He is worried for his friends. He wants them to be free – not limited by people’s rules and regulations.

He is pretty blunt in trying to bring them back to God. People are trying to keep the Galatians away from Paul. He says they do not have good intentions and is trying to remind the Galatians what God actually says.

We also need to be wary of those who would lead us away from what God actually says even in the guise of “what God wants”. God wants us to live in the freedom of His grace. He went to a lot of effort to save us – completely and utterly. There are not extra bits we have to do to make sure we are saved – faith is it – believing in Jesus, what He says and what He did. That’s it. How AMAZING.

Dear Lord Thank you for our salvation. Thank you for the grace and freedom you bring to our lives. Help each of us to keep in touch with You and Your word to make sure we don’t get distracted or brought off track. Thank you for Paul’s passion for his friends – help us to help each other to keep our eyes on You.

Written by Therese Manning

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Wednesday 19 June, 2013

Galatians 4:8-11

8 At one time you didn’t know God. You were slaves to gods that are really not gods at all. 9 But now you know God. Even better, God knows you. So why are you turning back to those weak and worthless beliefs? Do you want to be slaves to them all over again? 10 You are observing special days and months and seasons and years! 11 I am afraid for you. I am afraid that somehow I have wasted my efforts on you.

People can be slaves to gods who are not real or servants of a loving and true God.  Human beings it would seem are made to serve.

We can know God and he can know us.  This speaks of a relationship rather than just following a set of spiritual principles or moral code.

The apostle Paul is annoyed and frustrated with the Galatian Christians because they have reverted back to the way they lived before meeting Christ. Old habits die hard I guess.   They have slipped back to observing their previous spiritual principles and religious occasions rather than “knowing” God.  Because of this Paul feels he has wasted his time working with the Galatians.

These few verses remind me that I am called to have an ongoing relationship with God.  We can know him!  How amazing!  All relationships require effort, especially at the start when we barely know someone. In that respect, nurturing and fostering our relationship with God is no different from other important relationships in our life.   Sometimes with God though, it’s easy to slip back to doing what is right and expected of a Christian ie. just religion.   God wants us to talk to him and truly know Him.

Thank you for the privilege of being able to know you personally.  Help me to always value our relationship and not to fall back to just religious practises, Amen.

Written by Ainslie Woods

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Tuesday 18 June, 2013

Galatians 4:1-7

4 Here is what I have been saying. As long as your own children are young, they are no different from slaves in your house. They are no different, even though they own all of the property. 2 They are under the care of guardians and those who manage the property. They are under their care until the time when their fathers give them the property. 3 It is the same with us. When we were children, we were slaves to the basic things the people of the world believe. 4 But then the right time came. God sent his Son. A woman gave birth to him. He was born under the authority of the law. 5 He came to set free those who were under the law. He wanted us to be adopted as children with all the rights children have. 6 Because you are his children, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts. He is the Holy Spirit. By his power we call God “Abba.” Abba means Father. 7 So you aren’t slaves any longer. You are God’s children. Because you are his children, he gives you what he promised to give his people.

The philosophical argument that a child is at the same level as a slave or bondservant is easy to get lost in. What this scripture says to me is that, although we are not always aware of it, living without Christ in our lives is a bit like living in voluntary slavery – all the responsibility and none of the inheritance. But Christ, through his death, burial and resurrection, has allowed us to be adopted in to the world’s largest family – each of us adopted children of Abraham… I still get a feeling of awe when I remember that I, as a Christian, am part of the fulfilment of God’s promise to Abraham to make his descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky!!

God, thankyou that I can call you Abba (daddy) Father and thankyou that, even though I am not worthy, I can be made right with you through Christ, to the point that I can be accepted into His family!!

Written by Justin Ware

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Monday 17 June, 2013

Galatians 3:23-29

23 Before faith in Christ came, we were held prisoners by the law. We were locked up until faith was made known. 24 So the law was put in charge until Christ came. He came so that we might be made right with God by believing in Christ. 25 But now faith in Christ has come. So we are no longer under the control of the law. 26 You are all children of God by believing in Christ Jesus. 27 All of you who were baptized into Christ have put on Christ as if he were your clothes. 28 There is no Jew or Greek. There is no slave or free person. There is no male or female. Because you belong to Christ Jesus, you are all one. 29 You who belong to Christ are Abraham’s seed. You will receive what God has promised.

Paul’s perspective about God’s law is so cool. We so often think of ‘the law’ as the enemy, as the kill-joy. The law is something to try to not be on the wrong side of.

But Paul saw God’s law as our custodian. The law was God’s way to protect those He knew would be saved from death through faith in Jesus.

This is amazing.

This was God at work to save me before I even knew about Jesus let alone ask Him into my life. God’s law “carefully surrounded and protected” v24 (The Message) me until I trusted in Jesus. This just amplifies His grace and love.

Now I no-longer need the law as my custodian. I have Jesus Himself. Because of Him I have access to God. I’m his son. And nothing will ever change that.

I see God’s law now in a whole new light.

Heavenly Father, I am in awe of your grace. The thought that my life and salvation was kept safe before it ever happened is amazing. Thank you so much.

Written by Boudy Van Noppen

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Sunday 16 June, 2013

Galatians 3:19-22

19 Then what was the purpose of the law? It was added because of human sin. And it was supposed to control us until the promised Seed had come. The law was put into effect through angels by a go-between. 20 A go-between does not take sides. God didn’t use a go-between when he made his promise to Abraham. But the same God was at work in both the law and the promise. 21 So is the law opposed to God’s promises? Certainly not! What if a law had been given that could give life? Then people could become right with God by obeying the law. 22 But Scripture announces that the whole world is a prisoner because of sin. It does so in order that what was promised might be given to those who believe. The promise comes through faith in Jesus Christ.

This is quite a dense passage in terms of the reasoning going on, and yet, what strikes me in this passage is that God is all about promises. I get caught up in questioning whether I’m doing right or wrong, and I slip into worrying about whether or not I’m measuring up to God’s standards. I feel this ‘law’ weighing heavily down on me, but the law is only there to show me my need for Jesus; to help me appreciate the value of the promise of salvation.

What a rich word that is… promise… It is a reason to expect something; an express assurance on which expectation is to be based; a declaration that one will do or refrain from doing something specified; it gives the person to whom it is made a right to expect or claim the performance or forbearance of a specified act. Wow! God has given me the right to expect, to claim, the performance of salvation, and all the other things He has promised – like peace, joy and provision – not because I am perfect, but because I have put my faith in Jesus Christ and His sacrifice upon the cross. The law judges me guilty, but in Jesus, God judges me innocent. That’s what the promise is about. It is hope. It is freedom.

Lord, when I look at myself through the eyes of the law, help me to see myself as you see me, washed clean in Jesus’ blood, with a shining white robe covering me. Help me to remember all of your promises, for I want to spend each day in a state of expectation and assurance that you will act as you have said. Amen.

Written by Beth Waugh

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Saturday 15 June, 2013

Galatians 3:15-18

15 Brothers and sisters, let me give you an example from everyday life. No one can get rid of an official agreement between people. No one can add to it. It can’t be changed after it has been made. It is the same with God’s covenant. 16 The promises were given to Abraham. They were also given to his seed. Scripture does not say, “and to seeds.” That means many people. It says, “and to your seed.” (Genesis 12:7; 13:15; 24:7) That means one person. And that one person is Christ. 17 Here is what I mean. The law came 430 years after the promise. But the law does not get rid of God’s covenant and promise. The covenant had already been made by God. So the law does not do away with the promise. 18 The great gift that God has for us does not depend on the law. If it did, it would no longer depend on a promise. But God gave it to Abraham as a free gift through a promise.

In this passage, we see how God has been weaving together his plan of salvation throughout history in his promise to Abraham. And now through Christ, His promise has come to pass. Talk about long term planning!

This gives me a sense of reassurance in the big picture of God’s amazing plan. I need not be afraid or alarmed when my life seems a little out of control. He has all of history in His hands, and that includes my life!

Thank you God that we can trust You in Your plans and purposes for the world and for each individual. Nothing is too difficult for You!

Written by Shelly Witt

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Friday 14 June, 2013

Galatians 3:10-14

10 All who depend on obeying the law are under a curse. It is written, “May everyone who doesn’t continue to do everything that is written in the Book of the Law be under God’s curse.” (Deuteronomy 27:26) 11 We know that no one is made right with God by keeping the law. Scripture says, “Those who are right with God will live by faith.” (Habakkuk 2:4) 12 The law is not based on faith. In fact, it is just the opposite. It teaches that “the one who does those things will live by them.” (Leviticus 18:5) 13 Christ set us free from the curse of the law. He did it by becoming a curse for us. It is written, “Everyone who is hung on a pole is under God’s curse.” (Deuteronomy 21:23) 14 Christ Jesus set us free so that the blessing given to Abraham would come to non-Jews through Christ. He did it so that we might receive the promise of the Holy Spirit by believing in Christ.

The only thing I am certain of is that my salvation does not come by trying to do the works of the law.

I hear people say “But I am a good person”, or “I am nice to people I meet”, however they have placed themselves under a curse. It is impossible to keep ALL the law. The bible is very clear – nothing but absolute obedience to the law (all its rites, ceremonies, precepts) is enough. If you are resting in any of these, you are doomed to fail and you have placed yourself under a curse. The law demands doing, the gospel commands believing and life comes only by faith.

The gospel is like a perfect sunrise – it shines over us, enlightening us to the truth – The key to the mystery is Jesus Christ – our Substitute. He fulfilled the law’s demands by His perfect obedience, and He suffered the law’s utmost penalty by His death upon the cross; and, now, I who believe in Him am eternally justified because of what he did for me. You must either be cursed by God or else you must accept Christ as bearing the curse instead of you

The law was given to make us feel condemned, but never to save us, so that God might have mercy upon all. It was intended to crush every hope of self-righteousness, to demolish our own works, that so we must accept a salvation through the one who has “finished the law”.

I do not have enough words to say – Thank you Jesus, that I can stand complete before you. That You, were made a curse for me; so that the blessing might come upon me. Help me Lord to honor you, by living by faith, by trusting in your word and your promises.

Written by Cath Croft

1 (reply)
  1. Megan Cornell says:

    God says our conversation should be full of grace and seasoned with salt so that we know how to answer everyone. Cath has given us a great way to answer the “I’m a good person” line.

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Thursday 13 June, 2013

Galatians 3:1 - 9

3 You foolish people of Galatia! Who has put you under an evil spell? When I preached, I clearly showed you that Jesus Christ had been nailed to the cross. 2 I would like to learn just one thing from you. Did you receive the Holy Spirit by obeying the law? Or did you receive the Spirit by believing what you heard? 3 Are you so foolish? You began with the Holy Spirit. Are you now trying to complete God’s work in you by your own strength? 4 Have you suffered so much for nothing? And was it really for nothing? 5 Why does God give you his Spirit? Why does he work miracles among you? Is it because you do what the law says? Or is it because you believe what you have heard? 6 Think about Abraham. Scripture says, “Abraham believed God. God accepted Abraham because he believed. So his faith made him right with God.” 7 So you see, those who have faith are children of Abraham. 8 Long ago, Scripture knew that God would make non-Jews right with himself by believing in him. He announced the good news ahead of time to Abraham. He said, “All nations will be blessed because of you.” 9 So those who have faith are blessed along with Abraham. He was the man of faith.

The Galatians were saved by faith, received the Holy Spirit by faith, have seen miracles by faith and the Spirit, and know the history of Abraham, whose faith was credited to him as righteousness. Despite all this, they are now being tempted to try to earn their way to heaven by obeying certain things in the law – perhaps only to avoid harassment by legalistic Jews, or perhaps out of fear that faith alone isn’t enough.

I believe we sometimes fall into the same trap. For example – do we always give from our hearts (showing our faith), or because it is the acceptable thing to do (depending on works)? Do we always serve out of love or out of obligation? What is our motivation?

It can be hard to accept that eternal life is purely a gift received by faith – not earned. We need to frequently remind ourselves of this fact, and make sure that what we do now is because we love Jesus, not because of a set of rules.

God looks at the heart. Let’s refresh our hearts by humbling ourselves, and accepting again God’s gracious gift by faith.

Written by Megan Cornell

2 replies
  1. Dimity Milne says:

    I long for the lost to know the simple fact of grace. To be able to be Gods children and sit at his feet through simple faith. Simplicity is sometimes the hardest thing to grasp. Holy Spirit please open the hearts of those who seek you and those who search, amen.

  2. Megan Cornell says:

    I like the way Dimity put that – simplicity is the hardest thing to grasp. Dimity I join you in your prayer that the lost would sit at his feet through simple faith.

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Wednesday 12 June, 2013

Galatians 2:15-21

15 We are Jews by birth. We are not “non-Jewish sinners.” 16 We know that no one is made right with God by obeying the law. It is by believing in Jesus Christ. So we too have put our faith in Christ Jesus. That is so we can be made right with God by believing in Christ, not by obeying the law. No one can be made right with God by obeying the law. 17 We are trying to be made right with God through Christ. But it is clear that we are sinners. So does that mean that Christ causes us to sin? Certainly not! 18 Suppose I build again what I had destroyed. Then I prove that I break the Law. 19 Because of the law, I died as far as the law is concerned. I died so that I might live for God. 20 I have been crucified with Christ. I don’t live any longer. Christ lives in me. My faith in the Son of God helps me to live my life in my body. He loved me. He gave himself for me. 21 I do not get rid of the grace of God. What if a person could become right with God by obeying the law? Then Christ died for nothing!

This passage has some very big concepts. Paul spends 4 chapters of Romans on these ideas, and here it is in 2 paragraphs.

At the very heart of sin is who is first in my life. If I’m doing things my way rather than God’s way I’m making myself the one in change rather than God. Even when it comes to doing God’s will. If I try to earn God’s favour by doing good things then I place myself in the position of power in the relationship. If I do the things that please God in order to gain eternal life, it is built on selfish motives. If I were even possible for me earn righteousness by my own actions then what Jesus did is unnecessary and worthless.

God’s law may be an expression of what pleases Him, but it was not given in the expectation that we could live up to it. It was given to show us that we cannot: that we need Christ to rescue us.

Rather, if I love God I want to please him. I do the things that please him out of love and gratitude for what He did in rescuing me, in giving me what I could not earn.

The actions I do may look the same, but the heart that motivates it is at one extreme or the other. And yet our hearts can sometimes be the hardest to tame (Jer. 17:9). In the same way that I cannot take the eternal life God freely gives me, God does not take my heart but hopes that I will freely give it.

Oh Lord I want a heart that loves you and seeks to please you first. Search my heart. Work with me to mould it into the heart we both want.

Written by David Cornell

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Tuesday 11 June, 2013

Galatians 2:11-14

11 When Peter came to Antioch, I told him to his face that I was against what he was doing. He was clearly wrong. 12 He used to eat with those who weren’t Jews. But certain men came from the group that was led by James. When they arrived, Peter began to draw back. He separated himself from the non-Jews. He was afraid of the circumcision group. 13 Peter’s actions were not honest. The other Jews joined him. Even Barnabas was led down the wrong path. 14 I saw what they were doing. It was not in line with the truth of the good news. So I spoke to Peter in front of them all. “You are a Jew,” I said. “But you live like one who is not. So why do you force non-Jews to follow Jewish ways?
1 (reply)
  1. Dimity Milne and Chris says:

    This is a great example of how we should live a true Christian life all the time. Paul is being true to his belief and leading no matter who he is with. The challenge for us is to be bold and share the true message just as Paul is doing.
    Act 11 shows Peter boldly explaining to the Jews his reasons for eating with non Jews according to the vision God gave him. God said ‘do not call anything impure that God has made clean’. (Acts 11:9)
    Here Peter is caving in to peer pressure. We need to be careful not to do this but to keep true to the Gospel all the time and evaluate what we are being taught in the light of that.
    Dear God always show me the truth and don’t allow me to be swayed by popular teachings and peer pressure. Show me your wisdom through the Holly Spirit. Amen.

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