Tuesday 30 June, 2020

Galatians 3:23-29

23 Before the coming of this faith, we were held in custody under the law, locked up until the faith that was to come would be revealed. 24 So the law was our guardian until Christ came that we might be justified by faith. 25 Now that this faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian. 26 So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, 27 for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.

We are all children of God through faith in Christ Jesus! It is truly an awesome statement. Paul also says that we are all one in Christ.

As I reflect on these statements and the current political and social environment that we find ourselves in, the differences are obvious. God makes us all one. No Jew or Gentile, no slave or free, not even male and female. We are all one and we are all united with Christ.

The world highlights all possible differences. Gender, race, colour, faith etc. the labels are countless. And the issues are identified as such. It’s a colour issue or gender issue. It doesn’t matter that they might be our neighbours, the focus is the division, so that it is their issue not ours, yours not mine.

God doesn’t solve our problems that way. He made it very simple, very inclusive, he made us all one, all the same and provided just the one solution – in Christ.

Our task then is to show the unity we have in Christ, and show the kindness of God, leading those around us into the same family that we are now members of so that they also become children of God through faith in Christ Jesus.

Father, I thank you that it was your plan to make us one through Christ. And through faith in Jesus, made us your children.

Written by Andrew Martin

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Monday 29 June, 2020

Galatians 3:19-22

19 Why, then, was the law given at all? It was added because of transgressions until the Seed to whom the promise referred had come. The law was given through angels and entrusted to a mediator. 20 A mediator, however, implies more than one party; but God is one. 21 Is the law, therefore, opposed to the promises of God? Absolutely not! For if a law had been given that could impart life, then righteousness would certainly have come by the law. 22 But Scripture has locked up everything under the control of sin, so that what was promised, being given through faith in Jesus Christ, might be given to those who believe.

The promise of blessing and eternal life was given to all through Abraham but it was through the Law that we learnt how much we needed Christ in our lives, how much we needed forgiveness.  

The Law was onerous, and we would never have been able to fully keep it but we can give thanks that Christ made a way for us to receive salvation. When we believe, through our faith, we will receive forgiveness and eternal life. Not through what we’ve done or what we plan to do but through faith.

But do I live my life with this fact ingrained in my thinking…or do I start to take over and think I’m working my future out? That I’ve got everything under control? That I just have to keep making good choices, keep growing in my biblical knowledge, keep doing good works?

Dear Lord, Thank you that you love me and that you chose me first. Thank you that your love and forgiveness are gifts that I cannot earn. I praise you and thank you. Amen

Written by Jocelyn Petschack

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Sunday 28 June, 2020

Galatians 3:15-18

15 Brothers and sisters, let me take an example from everyday life. Just as no one can set aside or add to a human covenant that has been duly established, so it is in this case. 16 The promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. Scripture does not say “and to seeds,” meaning many people, but “and to your seed,” meaning one person, who is Christ. 17 What I mean is this: The law, introduced 430 years later, does not set aside the covenant previously established by God and thus do away with the promise. 18 For if the inheritance depends on the law, then it no longer depends on the promise; but God in his grace gave it to Abraham through a promise.

Do you ever wonder why God chose to use us, the church made up of flawed human beings, to show the world who He is? I feel like we fail Him time and time again. I know many who have been burnt by experiences in the Church. I know many times I’ve winced at the actions of a fellow brother or sister in Christ. And of course I know many times I have been shocked at the ugliness of my own responses to things. 

But praise God that whilst He chooses to use us, His covenant of blessing and multiplication was never dependent on us. His first covenant with Abraham was one of grace. God promises to bless and multiply Abraham’s descendants, they need only to be obedient to Him. In Genesis 15 He ratifies this promise by asking Abraham to bring him a number of animals, cut them in half and lay their bodies out. Traditionally both parties would’ve walked through the animals (or at least the ‘lesser’ of the two parties would’ve), signifying ‘if I don’t hold up my part of the covenant may it be done unto me as these animals’. But instead of asking Abraham to walk through them, God Himself walked through them. And years later, when time and time again Abraham’s descendants had not held up their end of the covenant (obedience) Jesus did indeed shed his blood. God’s promise never depended on us, it depended on Him. 

God thank you for extending your promises to beyond Abraham’s physical descendants to all of us. Thank you that your people are no longer defined by a nationality but by Your Sprit. Thank you for shedding your own blood to keep a covenant that we broke.

Written by Rhiannon Mellor

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Saturday 27 June, 2020

Galatians 3:10-14

10 For all who rely on the works of the law are under a curse, as it is written: “Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law.”[a] 11 Clearly no one who relies on the law is justified before God, because “the righteous will live by faith.”[b] 12 The law is not based on faith; on the contrary, it says, “The person who does these things will live by them.”[c] 13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a pole.”[d] 14 He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit.

This passage is the message of freedom that sets us as believers apart from every other religion. I can’t be good enough (perfect) to be acceptable to God by my own efforts. But when Jesus uttered ‘it is finished’ on the Cross it marked the end of our struggle with this conundrum. It is the death of Christ and his victory over sin that makes us able to enter the presence of God. So why do we so often try to impress God with all the great things we have done? It’s not that we shouldn’t do good, but we need to remember that it is not these things that make us Right with God. I need to reset my inner compass so that it doesn’t reflect the standards and mindset of the world. I want to live in the freedom delivered to me by Jesus rather than the condemnation of a life lived by worldly values.

Jesus thank you for all that you have done for me. Remind me every day of how much you have given and create in me a grateful heart. By your Holy Spirit guide my thinking so I might bring Glory to your name. Amen

Written by Christine Knight

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  1. Claire Moore says:

    Exactly! “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free” Gal 5 v 1. What a marvellous redemption! Thank you Lord.

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Friday 26 June, 2020

Galatians 3:1-9

3 You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified. 2 I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by believing what you heard? 3 Are you so foolish? After beginning by means of the Spirit, are you now trying to finish by means of the flesh? 4 Have you experienced so much in vain—if it really was in vain? 5 So again I ask, does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you by the works of the law, or by your believing what you heard? 6 So also Abraham “believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.” 7 Understand, then, that those who have faith are children of Abraham. 8 Scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, and announced the gospel in advance to Abraham: “All nations will be blessed through you.”[d] 9 So those who rely on faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.

Paul is seriously fired up in this passage! I can just imagine him reading a letter from his baby Christians in Galatia (they were writing to him about the new teaching they’d received about keeping the Jewish law – particularly circumcision – as the way to get right with God) and saying “NO NO NO…WHAT ARE YOU DOING? SALVATION IS BY FAITH – IT’S ALWAYS BEEN BY FAITH. NOT BY WORKS!”

How fired up do I get about this amazing gift of a new life in Jesus, that is possible only by faith? How desperately do I share the gospel with my friends?

Because they’ll die if I don’t.

Their kids and their families will perish if no one tells them. Will I get fired up enough with love for them to tell them? Will I get up earlier than normal with the express purpose to pray and beg God that he will open a door for me to speak to them? Will I do whatever it takes to help them say yes to Jesus in faith?

Lord, I beg you – please open a door for me today, to share the gospel with someone, open their hearts to receive the words and believe, and open my mouth with the courage to speak! Amen

Written by Boudy Van Noppen

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Thursday 25 June, 2020

Galatians 2:15-21

15 “We who are Jews by birth and not sinful Gentiles 16 know that a person is not justified by the works of the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in[a] Christ and not by the works of the law, because by the works of the law no one will be justified. 17 “But if, in seeking to be justified in Christ, we Jews find ourselves also among the sinners, doesn’t that mean that Christ promotes sin? Absolutely not! 18 If I rebuild what I destroyed, then I really would be a lawbreaker. 19 “For through the law I died to the law so that I might live for God. 20 I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. 21 I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!”

It is very easy to get caught up in self-righteous indignation when we hear of some of the terrible things that have happened recently in the world. And I’ve noticed this tendency to moral outrage not just in Christians, but also in people who would not describe themselves in any way religious. 

As a devout Jew, Paul’s previous focus was an attempt to become righteous by his works and obedience to the Law of God. But his powerful encounter with Jesus showed Paul a new way. He is teaching us that we can only come to God by His grace, not on the basis of our merit, our works, or our efforts. If our focus is on “being good” it leads us to being proud and self-righteous.

I am not dismissing the importance of advocating for social change and justice in the world.  But if we believe that we are all sinners saved by grace,  we must guard against the attitude that I am better than the “terrible person” who’s done something that I read about in the media. If we are honest, we will acknowledge that we all are deeply selfish and prone to sinful behaviours and attitudes.

Thank you God for Your incredible grace to us, and I pray that we will carry that heart of grace to a world that needs it.

Written by Shelley Witt

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  1. Richard says:

    So very true – grace must always accompany truth – truth without grace is mean, grace without truth is meaningless! I am so very thankful to Jesus for His love, Grace and Truth

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Wednesday 24 June, 2020

Galatians 2:11-14

11 When Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. 12 For before certain men came from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles. But when they arrived, he began to draw back and separate himself from the Gentiles because he was afraid of those who belonged to the circumcision group. 13 The other Jews joined him in his hypocrisy, so that by their hypocrisy even Barnabas was led astray. 14 When I saw that they were not acting in line with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas in front of them all, “You are a Jew, yet you live like a Gentile and not like a Jew. How is it, then, that you force Gentiles to follow Jewish customs?

In this passage Paul is rebuking Peter for some of his actions and behaviours in the way that he was dealing with Gentiles, the people who were not Jews. Verse 13 tells us that Peter’s actions were not honest, and that even Barnabas was led astray. Both Peter and Barnabas are high profile New Testament people – they each played a huge role in building the early church and spreading the good news of the gospel at the time. Yet, as we read in this passage, neither of them got it right all the time or were above reproach. They, like us, were still sinful, fragile humans who were able to be swayed from the truth that they once preached when it came to the way Jews and Gentiles should live.

This passage reminds me that all have fallen short of the glory of God. How important it is to make sure our hearts are right before God at all times, regardless of who we are. I am also reminded that being a leader is a hard job! We need to pray for those who hold the mantle and responsibility of leadership in the church, that they would be strong in the Lord as they make decisions and listen to His voice.

God thank you that you sent your Son to die for us, because all of us – regardless of who we are – have fallen short of your glory. Help us to keep our hearts soft and open towards you, that we would not stray from your will. Lord we ask that you would also help us to remember to pray for those in positions of leadership, to uphold and support them as they seek you. Amen.

Written by Ps. Madelaine Tarasenko

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Tuesday 23 June, 2020

Galatians 2:1-10

2 Then after fourteen years, I went up again to Jerusalem, this time with Barnabas. I took Titus along also. 2 I went in response to a revelation and, meeting privately with those esteemed as leaders, I presented to them the gospel that I preach among the Gentiles. I wanted to be sure I was not running and had not been running my race in vain. 3 Yet not even Titus, who was with me, was compelled to be circumcised, even though he was a Greek. 4 This matter arose because some false believers had infiltrated our ranks to spy on the freedom we have in Christ Jesus and to make us slaves. 5 We did not give in to them for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel might be preserved for you. 6 As for those who were held in high esteem—whatever they were makes no difference to me; God does not show favoritism—they added nothing to my message. 7 On the contrary, they recognized that I had been entrusted with the task of preaching the gospel to the uncircumcised, just as Peter had been to the circumcised. 8 For God, who was at work in Peter as an apostle to the circumcised, was also at work in me as an apostle to the Gentiles. 9 James, Cephas and John, those esteemed as pillars, gave me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship when they recognized the grace given to me. They agreed that we should go to the Gentiles, and they to the circumcised. 10 All they asked was that we should continue to remember the poor, the very thing I had been eager to do all along.

This passage reminds me of the importance of recognised leadership in my life, and in the life of the church. And I am helped greatly by Paul’s view of things.

Paul clearly is not awestruck into seeing these leaders as some kind of superspecies, but he obeyed God’s revelation to him that told him to seek them out in order to confirm that all he was doing for the Gospel was not in vain. And those recognised as leaders in the church helped confirm and affirm what Paul was doing, such that he left with new vigour, confidence, and backing from the larger church in his missionary endeavours.

Sometimes, I find myself confused about what I’m doing. Sometimes, I find myself unsure if what I’m doing is “in vain.” God clearly directed Paul, the apostle, in one of his such moments, to recognised leaders in the church, who helped him along his way. I must take note to do the same. I don’t have to figure it all out on my own. Nor does everything have to come via direct revelation from God. Recognised leadership plays an important role in the guidance and affirmation of my efforts and calling.

God, help me not to isolate myself from great wisdom, encouragement, and support in the recognised leadership around me, especially if I am concerned that what I’m doing or where I’m going is “in vain.”

Written by Ps. Rob Waugh

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Monday 22 June, 2020

Galatians 1:13-24

13 For you have heard of my previous way of life in Judaism, how intensely I persecuted the church of God and tried to destroy it. 14 I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my own age among my people and was extremely zealous for the traditions of my fathers. 15 But when God, who set me apart from my mother’s womb and called me by his grace, was pleased 16 to reveal his Son in me so that I might preach him among the Gentiles, my immediate response was not to consult any human being. 17 I did not go up to Jerusalem to see those who were apostles before I was, but I went into Arabia. Later I returned to Damascus. 18 Then after three years, I went up to Jerusalem to get acquainted with Cephas[a] and stayed with him fifteen days. 19 I saw none of the other apostles—only James, the Lord’s brother. 20 I assure you before God that what I am writing you is no lie. 21 Then I went to Syria and Cilicia. 22 I was personally unknown to the churches of Judea that are in Christ. 23 They only heard the report: “The man who formerly persecuted us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy.” 24 And they praised God because of me.

Everybody loves to hear about an amazing over-achiever. I have read a book about a secular entrepreneur named Elon Musk, who founded PayPal, Tesla Cars and also Space-X. Paul the Apostle was even more amazing, but similarly, used the technology of his day to its absolute limit and thought completely outside the box to literally re-write the political and religious systems of the day. 

For me, there is a danger though of looking with wonder at an over-achiever. I can idolise their drive, skill, talent and achievements, and I can feel inadequate by comparison. If I am not careful, I also start to tell myself that these over-achievers are “made of different stuff” from the rest of humanity. 

But the truth is that this is contrary to so much of what the bible actually teaches. In particular the teaching of Jesus:

– That we will do greater things that even he did as he walked the earth. 

– That in order to be great, we must make ourselves humble

– That the first will be last and the last will be first

– That of all the achievements we can have, love is the one most valued by God

In our world of efficiency and productivity, goals and outcomes, stardom and fame, it is actually really easy to start to see ourselves the way that the world sees us, rather than the way that God sees us. 

From my reflections this morning, I will continue to read biographies like Elon Musk, but I will also continue to strive to see myself through God’s eyes rather than those of the world. I will see my inspiration from the Holy One rather than an idol. 

Lord, thank you for your revelation and the identity that you bring.

Written by Ps. Justin Ware

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Sunday 21 June, 2020

Galatains 1:11-12

11 I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that the gospel I preached is not of human origin. 12 I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it; rather, I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ.

Paul is at pains to make it clear that the gospel he preached is of God, not a man-created philosophy. This was because the Galatians were being corrupted by the Judaizers, who were preaching a salvation based on rules. But our salvation is based on grace.

This gospel of grace was also crucially for all – not just Jews (Rom 16:25-26). Simeon the priest praised God for this gospel when he described Jesus as “ a light of revelation to the Gentiles” in Luke 2:32.

Revelation shows something not previously known. Revelation of the gospel flows from a personal encounter with God not through following rules (rules like good deeds, regular church attendance). Paul’s personal encounter with Jesus left him blind and stopped him in his tracks. These verses and reflecting on Paul’s experience remind me that encounters with our God are like that – they change our hearts and minds to be more like His.

This revelation given to Paul by God was ground breaking because it was a revelation of salvation by grace, not law, and it was for Jew and Gentile – everyone. I am so grateful for his grace.

What ground breaking revelation does God have for me today?

Dear Lord, thank you for salvation by grace through Jesus. Please continue to reveal yourself to me. Open my heart and mind to your revelation today. I am expectant.  Amen

Written by Claire Moore

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