Galatians 3:6-9

In the same way, “Abraham believed God, and God counted him as righteous because of his faith.” The real children of Abraham, then, are those who put their faith in God. What’s more, the Scriptures looked forward to this time when God would declare the Gentiles to be righteous because of their faith. God proclaimed this good news to Abraham long ago when he said, “All nations will be blessed through you.” So all who put their faith in Christ share the same blessing Abraham received because of his faith.

Little boy flying into his fathers hands

My Thoughts

Faith is an interesting concept.  Its probably less of a concept than it is an action.  What does it mean to live by faith?  When my middle child was about 2 years old he had such faith in me that he jumped off the jungle gym towards me when my back was turned.  Up until this point in his life he knew that if he jumped off anything towards me I would catch him.  As a two year old it is simple but as we get older we learn to have less faith and more caution.  We get dropped too many times along the way to simply jump.  So how do we apply that metaphor to our daily lives?  Abraham’s faith involved leaving his home and moving to a foreign land because God told him to. That kind of faith is difficult but many of us understand it.  What about the next act of faith that sealed this promise to Abraham for us.  The covenant with Abraham involved having offspring as numerous as the stars but he had no children until he was well past child bearing years.  When he eventually has a child, God asks him to sacrifice the one thing that he has been waiting for all his life.  The one thing that will ensure the promise of God that all nations will be blessed.  Faith is trusting God to the point of giving up everything because you trust His character. So if He asks it of you, it must be good.  This story is difficult to understand unless you trust that God will only lead you down the best path.

What are some of the things we need to let go of to trust fully.  Are there any beliefs about God that make it difficult to fully trust that you will be caught even when His back is turned.  Identify those things and spend the next part of your faith journey resolving them.  Have a great week.

Galatians 3:1-5 (NLT)

Oh, foolish Galatians! Who has cast an evil spell on you? For the meaning of Jesus Christ’s death was made as clear to you as if you had seen a picture of his death on the cross. Let me ask you this one question: Did you receive the Holy Spirit by obeying the law of Moses? Of course not! You received the Spirit because you believed the message you heard about Christ. How foolish can you be? After starting your new lives in the Spirit, why are you now trying to become perfect by your own human effort? Have you experienced so much for nothing? Surely it was not in vain, was it? I ask you again, does God give you the Holy Spirit and work miracles among you because you obey the law? Of course not! It is because you believe the message you heard about Christ.

heart wall

My Thoughts

Why is it so difficult to take the easier option.  All we have to do is believe, believe and believe.  Belief requires trust and trust requires letting down our protective walls.  The thing about religion is that it is how we try to make sense of our beliefs. Religion is a wall we build around our beliefs to keep them safe. The churches in Galatia moved away from simply believing towards a system of standardized beliefs.  A system in which they can check a few boxes and know that they are doing the “right thing”.  Everybody worshiping God in the same way.  Very soon it becomes all about the structure.  The structure requires very little faith, belief or trust.  I am inspired by these words to risk a little, to do something that God put on my heart instead the “perceived right thing” to do.   Can I challenge you to trust Jesus a little bit and extend his love to a work colleague or a total stranger.  Ask Jesus to give you something to share with somebody else and see how our faith comes alive.

Have a blessed day

Galatians 2:14-21

When Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. 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. The other Jews joined him in his hypocrisy, so that by their hypocrisy even Barnabas was led astray. 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? “We who are Jews by birth and not sinful Gentiles 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 Christ and not by the works of the law, because by the works of the law no one will be justified. “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! If I rebuild what I destroyed, then I really would be a lawbreaker.

“For through the law I died to the law so that I might live for God. 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. I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!”

high wire cycling

My Thoughts

This piece of the letter is a brief summary of our Faith.  We are justified because of the love of Christ and no other reason.  It is no longer us who live but Christ in us and it is by faith in Christ that we live from day to day.  It seems simple but it is really not.  Cephas (Peter) lived with Jesus for 3 years.  He saw many miracles, he performed many miracles.  He even walked on water.  Peter was the disciple that first recognized Jesus as the Christ (Messiah).  It was Cephas who Jesus chose to lead the church and even he got it wrong.  We have this need to control the world around us.  Legalism is safe, its definable.  It can be measured and taught.  Our life lived in Christ is a daily conflict between our freedom and our need for routine and boundaries.  If  Peter can get it wrong then we can have a little grace for ourselves. Hope you have a great weekend

Galatians 2:1-10

 Then after fourteen years, I went up again to Jerusalem, this time with Barnabas. I took Titus along also. 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. Yet not even Titus, who was with me, was compelled to be circumcised, even though he was a Greek. 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. We did not give in to them for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel might be preserved for you.

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. 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. 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. 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.

Finger of GodMy Thoughts

Jesus had to knock Saul (Paul) off his horse, blind him and speak to him in an audible voice to get his attention. Saul was too busy doing “Gods” business to hear what God actually wanted.  He was too busy with his religious activities and his career advancement to listen.  Once Jesus actually got his attention… Paul listened and immediately went to do the work that he was set aside for.  He traveled for 17 years preaching the gospel in the Gentile lands before needing affirmation from people.  The apostles recognized the grace given to Paul to preach the gospel and accepted him.  They offered him fellowship and sent him on his way to continue his mission.

Today we tend to do these things the other way around.  We look for the voice of man instead of God and seek fellowship (acceptance) from God.  Here is the good news… God has already accepted you and given you His right hand of fellowship because of Jesus.  We need people for fellowship but when it comes to hearing from God we will always hear “Gods” voice through their agenda.  The freedom we have is wrapped up in the New Covenant that Jesus called us into.  The New covenant works like this:“The days are coming,” declares the Lord“when I will make a new covenant with the people…  “I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. 34 No longer will they teach their neighbor, or say to one another, ‘Know the Lord,’ because they will all know me…

We know God so why would we choose to know about Him instead. It is time to access the fullness of our freedom in Christ.  Have a good day.

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 (Peter) 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.

My Thoughts

As Paul continues to build his credentials as a sent one (Apostle) of Christ he mentions this… He says that God set him apart and by his grace revealed His son Jesus who sent him on his mission.  He then says that he did not consult any person but simply went to do the work he was sent to do.

This simple act of faith reveals something about the way most of us live today.  When last did we simply rely on God to send us… call us… lead us.  We tend to be dependent on the teachings and advice of those around us.  The problem with this is that the people around us have there own agenda, they are fallible and often unreliable. Which is how the Galatian churches got into their current position.

My challenge to us(me) is this: when last did God tell you something? what did you do with that? The basis of our faith is that we have had our relationship restored so lets relate… speak, listen and trust the Father.

Galatians 1:6-12

I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you to live in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— 7 which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let them be under God’s curse! 9 As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let them be under God’s curse!

10 Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ. 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.

My Thoughts

Two things jump out at me as we continue to read this letter to the Galatian churches.

The first thing is this,  Paul is obviously upset that people have turned away from the true gospel and are now following some other form of the teaching.  What is that gospel and how does it shape the rest of our understanding.  The word gospel today means different things to different people but for Paul who is a Jewish scholar in a Gentile community, this is what that gospel (good news) looks like: (Gal4) But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship.  Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.

It is this freedom from slavery to sonship that Paul is fighting to protect. I think that we need to remember what Christ has done… remember the freedom he purchased and to not let our religious beliefs, or our inherent need to be ruled or governed take away our freedom.

The second thing is this: Our freedom is scary, we cant be controlled, we cant be bullied or threatened we cant loose what has been given to us. So there will always be people who try to take away that freedom so that they can have some form of control over us… Don’t give it away for the sake of conforming, it is precious. Have a great day.

Galatians 1:1-5

1 Paul, an apostle—sent not from men nor by a man,but by Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead— 2 and all the brothers and sisters

with me,

To the churches in Galatia:

3 Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, 4 who gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, 5 to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

My Thoughts

This letter to the Galatian church started me off on a journey of discovery.  What if our current approach to understanding what God is doing in the world, in our lives is slightly off center because we look at scripture with a specific set of lenses, prescribed to us by our religion. I am going to explore the full extent of this thought over the coming year starting here. Please join me in this adventure if you are keen to question and explore your relationship with God.  Everything I do will explore the idea that God is good all the time. In His goodness He has given us choice which we don’t often exercise very well and sometimes these choices are wrongly accredited to God.

I will give you more background on this letter as we go but for now I want us to focus on this one point.  Paul says that Jesus came to rescue us from THIS EVIL AGE and not from the wrath of God as we like to tell people.  I think this is an important stating point because if we think that God had to send His only Son to rescue us from Himself… well that speaks for itself. I am a father, imagine what the news headlines would be if I killed my child to prevent me from killing my neighbors who I was actually cross with. No, that does not paint a picture of a loving Father.  Jesus came to…set the captives free, to break the chains of injustice to free the oppressed, give good news to the poor and declare the favour of the Lord.  In a broken world it is difficult to find God so He sent His Son to open the way to make it possible for us to come to Him.  The Evil of this age has been defeated, our Father stands with open arms.  If you believe this then you should spend your life in those arms because it is good. Have a great day