Category Archives: Galatians

1 Samuel 6-8; Galatians 5; Psalm 72

I’ve heard a saying that what you focus on, you get more of it.

Dear God, give me a kingdom focus.

The Ark remained in Kiriath-jearim for a long time—twenty years in all. During that time all Israel mourned because it seemed the Lord had abandoned them.
Then Samuel said to all the people of Israel, “If you want to return to the Lord with all your hearts, get rid of your foreign gods and your images of Ashtoreth. Turn your hearts to the Lord and obey him alone; then he will rescue you from the Philistines.” So the Israelites got rid of their images of Baal and Ashtoreth and worshiped only the Lord (1 Samuel 7:2-4, NLT).

Last year I wrote down some goals in hopes to bring order and direction to my life. I had been going in too many directions, saying yes to too many people, that I didn’t really make progress in anything, in fact my efforts to make others happy took me away from the people and things God gave me to steward. When I narrowed my focus, it gave me the filter I needed to make my steps intentional. When I took my eyes off that focus, there was no shortage of requests and demands eager to distract me from the tasks that most needed my attention.

The Israelites went some time maintaining their focus on God and enjoying peace and protection. But when the backdrop began to change, they started to lose their focus and placed it elsewhere. Again.

As Samuel grew old, he appointed his sons to be judges over Israel. Joel and Abijah, his oldest sons, held court in Beersheba. But they were not like their father, for they were greedy for money. They accepted bribes and perverted justice.

Finally, all the elders of Israel met at Ramah to discuss the matter with Samuel. “Look,” they told him, “you are now old, and your sons are not like you. Give us a king to judge us like all the other nations have.”

Samuel was displeased with their request and went to the Lord for guidance. “Do everything they say to you,” the Lord replied, “for they are rejecting me, not you. They don’t want me to be their king any longer. Ever since I brought them from Egypt they have continually abandoned me and followed other gods. And now they are giving you the same treatment. Do as they ask, but solemnly warn them about the way a king will reign over them” (1 Samuel 8:1-9, NLT. Emphasis added.).

Samuel warns them about what life will be like under a king’s rule. And their response?

“18 When that day comes, you will beg for relief from this king you are demanding, but then the Lord will not help you.”

19 But the people refused to listen to Samuel’s warning. “Even so, we still want a king,” they said. 20 “We want to be like the nations around us. Our king will judge us and lead us into battle” (1 Samuel 8:18-20, NLT).

Even so. We want to be like the nations around us.

Even so. Would I trade God’s peace and protection so that I could resemble the world around me? So that I could make others happy and throw myself off course of what matters and what God has called me to do?

16 So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves. 17 The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other, so you are not free to carry out your good intentions. 18 But when you are directed by the Spirit, you are not under obligation to the law of Moses.

19 When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, 21 envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God.

22 But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things (Galatians 5:16-23, NLT)!

Lord, help me to keep my eyes focused on you and your kingdom. I want to be directed by the Spirit and bear good fruit. Sometimes life’s backdrop changes, but you remain sovereign through all time.

Courtney (66books365)

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1 Samuel 4-5; Galatians 4; Psalm 77

I have never seen this before, but didn’t the army of Israel look at the ark as a good luck charm – is that why they shouted?

As soon as the ark of the covenant of the Lord came into the camp, all Israel gave a mighty shout, so that the earth resounded. – 1 Samuel 4:5 ESV

So now they are untouchable, not because God walked with them but because they turned the ark into their “god.” I can recall right away movie scenes where people used the cross as their good luck charm or even the Bible and they warded off evil – only in the movies of course.

What do people see I put my trust in – my hope in – where does my joy sustain itself? I was challenged to love those I am with so that they could see God’s love for them.

My little children, for whom I am again in the anguish of childbirth until Christ is formed in you! – Galatians 4:19 ESV

What makes my relationship with God harder than a good luck charm is that it costs me. First, that I care so much, and secondly that it means that my conversations with others are not shallow, but rather deep and meaningful. Finally, I forget the change is indeed painful. I go forward because I have learned that the benefits far outweigh the cost.

Are there doubts? Of course, why else the good luck charms? That is why Psalm 77 is so relevant as we experience change. This verse in particular grabs my attention.

Has God forgotten to be gracious?
Has he in anger shut up his compassion? – Psalm 77:9 ESV

Just like Israel, just like those I am walking with, I pray and I know God answers. Problem is solved. Then my feelings get involved and I wonder if He has received my notice because nothing seems to be changing. Then I wonder if I have sinned a sin that has blocked His favour. Too much wondering, too much worry and when I settle down and relax, rest, God speaks His love and everything goes back on track. No lucky charm required.

Father, I have learned to be patient and I have learned to trust You. From time to time, I find a way to forget, but I love the fact that when we spend time together, everything else comes together too, even my memory. Your love is powerful, fills my cup each day. I am thankful for the little resemblance I have of You and joy in others seeing You in me. Thank you. Amen.

Erwin (evanlaar1922)

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1 Samuel 1-3; Galatians 3; Psalms 66

 “Why are you crying, Hannah?” Elkanah would ask.  “Why aren’t you eating? Why be downhearted just because you have no children? You have me-isn’t that better than having ten sons?”  “Hannah was in deep anguish, crying bitterly as she prayed to the Lord.  And she made this vow: “O Lord of Heaven’s Armies, if you will look upon my sorrow and answer my prayer and give me a son, then I will give him back to you.  He will be yours for his entire lifetime, and as a sign that he has been dedicated to the Lord, his hair will never be cut.  When Elekanah slept with Hannah, the Lord remembered her plea, and in due time she gave birth to a son.  She named him Samuel, for she said, “I asked the Lord for him.  I am the very woman who stood here several years ago praying to the Lord.  I asked the Lord to give me this boy, and he has granted my request.  Now I am giving him to the Lord, and he will belong to the Lord his whole life.” And they worshiped the Lord there.” 1 Samuel 1-2 NLT

It is refreshing to see Hannah’s vulnerability.  In her faithfulness, she was still human.  She struggled and shed tears.  She cried out to the Lord and he answered her prayer.  He rewarded her faithfulness.  He gave back to her in abundance.

“Before they returned home, Eli would bless Elkanah and his wife and say, “May the Lord give you other children to take the place of this one she gave to the Lord.” And the Lord blessed Hannah, and she conceived and gave birth to three sons and two daughters.  Meanwhile, Samuel grew up in the presence of the Lord.” 1 Samuel 2:20&21 NLT

What am I holding onto that God is asking me to give to him? What is my Samuel?  Sometimes it is a daily surrendering to him.  He knows I can’t do it alone, so he gave me his Spirit.

“You received the Spirit because you believed the message you heard about Christ.  How foolish can you be? After starting 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?” 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.” Galatians 3:6&7 NLT

Dear Father, Thank you for Father for your presence.  That you promise to always be with me.  Forgive me when I doubt.  Thank you for your faithfulness in my life.  Thank you for your patience and unfailing love towards me.  Help me to live in a posture of surrender to you.

“If I had not confessed the sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened.  But God did listen! He paid attention to my prayer.  Praise God, who did not ignore my prayer or withdraw his unfailing love from me.” Psalms 66:18-20 NLT

Amy(amyctanner)

 

 

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Exodus 4-6; Galatians 6

“But Moses protested again, “What if they won’t believe me or listen to me? What if they say, ‘The Lord never appeared to you’?” Then the Lord asked him, “What is that in your hand?” “A shepherd’s staff,” Moses replied. “Throw it down on the ground, “The Lord told him. So Moses threw down the staff, and it turned into a snake! Moses jumped back. Then the Lord told him, “Reach out and grab its tail.” So Moses reached out and grabbed it, and it turned back into a shepherd’s staff in his hand. “Perform this sign,” the Lord told him. “Then they will believe that the Lord, the God of their ancestors-the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob-really has appeared to you.” Exodus 4:1-5 NLT

So many of my doubts sound like Moses’s “What If’s?”

What if….
I am misunderstood.
The words don’t come.
I forget something important.

“But Moses pleaded with the Lord, “O Lord, I’m not very good with words. I never have been, and I’m not now, even though you have spoken to me. I get tongue-tied, and my words get tangled.” Exodus 4:10 NLT

Oh, how I can relate to Moses. I focus on all the reasons why I can’t.   Instead of trusting in a powerful God who wants to do the impossible through me. I start to think of other people who can do it better. But, maybe God just wants a willing heart. I recently sat down for coffee with a struggling friend. As I  listened, I felt the Holy Spirit prodding me to share with her. I found all those “What if” questions surfacing in my mind. But, God used me despite myself and showed up in a powerful way. My friend was infused with hope, and so was I.  I came to realize that it isn’t about me, but God’s glory.

“Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ. If you think you are too important to help someone, you are fooling yourself. You are not that important. Pay careful attention to your own work, for then you will get the satisfaction of a job well done, and you won’t need to compare your self to anyone else. For we are each responsible for our own conduct.” Galatians 6:2-5 NLT

God wanted to use Moses, even though he knew that his brother was a better speaker. No matter how many times the Lord showed Moses he was with him, he gave in to fear and insecurity.  How often has this been me?

Then the Lord asked Moses, “Who makes a person’s mouth? Who decides whether people speak or do not speak, hear or do not hear? Is it I, the Lord? Now go! I will be with you as you speak, and I will instruct you in what to say.” But Moses again pleaded, “Lord, please! Send anyone else.” Then the Lord became angry with Moses. “All right,” he said. “What about your brother, Aaron the Levite? I know he speaks well. And look! He is on his way to meet you now. “ Exodus 4:11-14 NLT

Dear Father, Help me to be obedient to what you ask of me. Without comparing myself to others. Knowing that you are with me always. Thank you for your Holy Spirit who guides me. Amen.

Amy(amyctanner)

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Exodus 1-3; Galatians 5

We come to two juxtaposed passages of Scripture this morning. We have Moses not acting out of love or having a close relationship with God and then the Apostle Paul giving us the fruit of a loving relationship with the God of the universe. Paul writes:

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires (Galatians 5:22-24 [ESV])

God has a plan that reaches across the ages and we don’t fully understand it all, but what if Moses instead of being a person who tried in his own strength to free God’s people was a person of love and peace? Perhaps the Jewish Nation would have been relieved of their suffering 40 years earlier.

The fruit of the Spirit that Paul lists are not something we strive for, but what we bear because of our loving relationship with the Father.

What kind of fruit are you producing? Is this fruit coming from a loving relationship with God? Just think of the things God can do through you and the people you can affect  through the overflow of your relationship with the Father.

What does your fruit look like this morning? How can you grow closer to God so that you can produce more of it in changing your life and those around you?

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2 Samuel 23; Galatians 3; Ezekiel 30; Psalm 78:38-72

I heard the story of Benaiah in my first class at Ontario Bible College now known as Tyndale University. Howard Hendricks told the story of how he was the best of the thirty mighty men of David. Wow – to be like him – what faith.

Deeds like these made Benaiah as famous as the Three mightest warriors – 2 Samuel 23:22 NLT

Stories like these though can mess me up. Sometimes I think it’s all about me and forget that even when I am not told that God was with him in battle, He was. That is why I get mad at myself for not remembering that my walk with God is only made possible through the power of the Holy Spirit not by anything I have done.

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. – Galatians 3:5 NLT

One thing I keep learning – nothing happens by chance. God will direct the affairs of earth and in doing so receives all the glory and honour – I need to learn to stand out of the way.

Then they will know that I am the Lord. – Ezekiel 30:26b NLT

So my day is not filled with exploits, I am thrilled from time to time when the Holy Spirit sees fit to use me, but if I could say what the psalmist says —

He cared for them with a true heart and led them with skillful hands. – Psalm 78:72 NLT

— then I would be thrilled to follow Jesus.

Lord, fill me everyday with Your Holy Spirit. I want to be used by You, cannot serve without You. Be glorified even in the small matters of my life – Amen!

evanlaar

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2 Samuel 22; Galatians 2; Ezekiel 29; Psalms 78:1-37

Yet we know that a person is made right with God by faith in Jesus Christ, not by obeying the law. And we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we might be made right with God because of our faith in Christ, not because we have obeyed the law. For no one will ever be made right with God by obeying the law…For when I tried to keep the law it condemned me. So I died to the law-I stopped trying to meet all its requirements-so that I might live for God.” Galatians 2:16-19 NLT

So often I lose my focus and take my eyes off of Jesus. I become more concerned about what I think I should be doing, than I am about loving and trusting him. My thoughts turn inward on myself and away from God. It leaves me empty and uncertain. Sometimes he uses seemingly small things to draw me back to himself. This past Sunday my daughter lost the car keys before church. It woke me up to the reality that I was more concerned about getting to church than the state of my heart. My obedience needs to stem from a heart that is only satisfied in him. Otherwise I will continue striving and end up nowhere.

You rescue the humble, but your eyes watch the proud and humiliate them. O Lord, you are my lamp. The Lord lights up my darkness. In your strength I can crush an army; with my God I can scale any wall. “God’s way is perfect. All the Lord’s promises prove true. He is a shield for all who look to him for protection. For who is God except the Lord? Who but our God is a solid rock? God is my strong fortress, and he makes my way perfect.” 2 Samuel 22:28-33 NLT

In the midst of the mundane, I can forget that my obedience is affecting generations to come. Which reminds me of my constant need for him. I pray that my kids would see me seeking Jesus…growing into their own faith with a deep desire for him.

We will not hide these truths from our children; we will tell the next generation about the glorious deeds of the Lord, about his power and his mighty wonders. For he issued his laws to Jacob; he gave his instructions to Israel. He commanded his ancestors to teach them to their children, so the next generation might know them- even the children not yet born- and they in turn will teach their own children. So each generation should set its hope anew on God, not forgetting his glorious miracles and obeying his commands.” Psalms 78:4-7 NLT

Thank you Father that your love for me does not depend on what I do. Help me to follow you with a humble heart who yearns for you. Thank you for your faithfulness. Help me to be intentional with the time you give me. Amen.

Amy(amyctanner)

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