Category Archives: Galatians

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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Exodus 29; John 8; Proverbs 5; Galatians 4

Jesus returned to the Mount of Olives, 2 but early the next morning he was back again at the Temple. A crowd soon gathered, and he sat down and taught them. 3 As he was speaking, the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in the act of adultery. They put her in front of the crowd.

4 “Teacher,” they said to Jesus, “this woman was caught in the act of adultery. 5 The law of Moses says to stone her. What do you say?”

6 They were trying to trap him into saying something they could use against him, but Jesus stooped down and wrote in the dust with his finger. 7 They kept demanding an answer, so he stood up again and said, “All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!” 8 Then he stooped down again and wrote in the dust.

9 When the accusers heard this, they slipped away one by one, beginning with the oldest, until only Jesus was left in the middle of the crowd with the woman. 10 Then Jesus stood up again and said to the woman, “Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?”

11 “No, Lord,” she said.

And Jesus said, “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.”

John 8:1-11 (NLT)

The compassion and forgiveness that Jesus displays here always surprises me, but it shouldn’t.  That is his character: one of unconditional love and forgiveness.  I wonder how often I am quick to assume that Jesus would shun me or punish me for the way I behave when in reality his reaction would be one of grace and forgiveness.  Jesus, help me to fully dwell in and understand your character.  Forgive me for being quick to superimpose my misconceptions about you in my life.

In the end you will groan in anguish
    when disease consumes your body.
12 You will say, “How I hated discipline!
    If only I had not ignored all the warnings!
13 Oh, why didn’t I listen to my teachers?
    Why didn’t I pay attention to my instructors?
14 I have come to the brink of utter ruin,
    and now I must face public disgrace.”

Proverbs 5:11-14 (NLT)

There are often mornings I wake up for work, too tired to do anything but drag myself out of bed 15 minutes before I have to go and get myself ready.  On those days, I get to work on time, but I miss out on the valuable time I can have with the Lord if I get out of bed even 30 minutes early.  God wants to meet with me on those first quiet and precious hours of my morning and if I miss them, I am less aware of God’s presence throughout my day.  Waking up early takes discipline, but, oh, it is so worth it in the long run.  Lord, teach me discipline so that I might grow in you and feel your presence in a deeper way in my daily life.

But when the right time came, God sent his Son, born of a woman, subject to the law. God sent him to buy freedom for us who were slaves to the law, so that he could adopt us as his very own children.And because we are his children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, prompting us to call out, “Abba, Father.” Now you are no longer a slave but God’s own child. And since you are his child, God has made you his heir.

Galations 4:4-7 (NLT)

I. LOVE. THIS. PASSAGE.  There is so much freedom and joy in it!  God sent his son to face the pain and the anguish of death and that bears much deep sorrow, but there is incredible hope in it also!  God did this for a reason; he did so to adopt me as his own child.  I am part of God’s family and because of that I never again have to worry about being captured and controlled by sin.  I am an heir to the throne of THE king and that is something to sing and dance about (cue dance party music)!  Lord, thank you so much that you have not only saved me from sin but you have adopted me as your own child.  Thank you so much for allowing me to be a part of your treasured family.  Teach me to truly know and believe that I am yours everyday forever, especially in the deepest depths of my darkest day.

 

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Exodus 26; John 5; Proverbs 2; Galatians 1

I remember the first time I told someone God talked to me.  I now know why the reaction was so much of a recoil.

Moses was my first inspiration.  In fact, I remember vividly telling God that I wanted to be the next Moses.  I mean look at the details that God gave him – imagine the conversations.

You shall also make curtains of goats’ hair for a tent over the tabernacle; you shall make eleven curtains.  The length of each curtain shall be thirty cubits, and the width of each curtain four cubits; the eleven curtains shall be of the same size.  You shall join five curtains by themselves, and six curtains by themselves, and the sixth curtain you shall double over at the front of the tent.   – Exodus 26:7-9 NRSV

Even Jesus told those in His time that if they really knew God, really heard from Him, they would know that He was God.  Why?  Because Moses wrote about Jesus.

Do not think that I will accuse you before the Father; your accuser is Moses, on whom you have set your hope.  If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote about me.  But if you do not believe what he wrote, how will you believe what I say?” – John 5:45-47 NRSV

And in the copy of my first book, given to me by the wife/mother of a family that took us into their home when we had nothing – she penned this proverb…

My child, if you accept my words and treasure up my commandments within you, making your ear attentive to wisdom and inclining your heart to understanding; if you indeed cry out for insight, and raise your voice for understanding; if you seek it like silver, and search for it as for hidden treasures—then you will understand the fear of the Lord  and find the knowledge of God. – Proverbs 2:1-5 NRSV

I took all of this with me into my first pastorate experience.  That is where I found out just how many people “hear” what God has been telling them.  So the issue, I found out, really isn’t that God does not talk to us and that we shouldn’t take time to listen, the issue is – who am I listening too?

For I want you to know, brothers and sisters,[d] that the gospel that was proclaimed by me is not of human origin; for I did not receive it from a human source, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ. – Galatians 1:11-12 NRSV

Lord, I want to hear your voice, I want you to speak through Your Word to me loud and clear.  Enable me to grow more intimate with You, to serve as You in our world and to leave this world a better place than when I entered it because I walked with You.  Thank You.  

evanlaar

 

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Exodus 4-6; Galatians 6

“So the Lord said to him, ‘Who has made man’s mouth? Or who makes the mute, the deaf, the seeing, or the blind? Have not I, the Lord? Now therefore, go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall say’” (Exodus 4:11).

Moses was the greatest prophet of all times, yet he tried several times to excuse himself from the honor of leading God’s people out of bondage into freedom. Moses repeatedly complained that he was “slow of speech and slow of tongue” (Exodus 4:10).

Why did God choose Moses to be the one to lead the children of Israel out of Egypt? Here is a man allowed to speak intimately with God. I cannot think that Moses excuse was the same as doubting God’s will. Moses writes in his autobiographical text the assurance that God gave Him – signs and wonders to display – both to the Jews and to Pharaoh – that would validate the words Moses was to speak.

Neither can I accept that Moses was afraid of what man might do to him. Moses did not question God’s ability to bring the Jews out of Egypt or that God would send plagues on the Egyptians. And in fact, when God told Moses to go to Egypt, Moses left in such a hurry that he did not even take time to circumcise his infant son (a mistake that only his wife Zippora remedied in time to save her husband from the angel of death).

So my reasoning (though without the benefit of theological training) is based on an earlier reading of the story of Moses – the time when he killed an Egyptian for beating a Jewish slave. This was an act worthy of death, yet Moses had a deeper love for and allegiance to his Jewish brethren than the Egyptian royalty that raised him in their household.

God chose Moses, not because He would miraculously heal this obvious speech impediment for Moses, (which God did not do) but because Moses loved God’s people with the same love God has.

The Apostle Paul, another man of Biblical fame, wrote often of his weaknesses. By his own admission, Paul says that he was given a ‘thorn in the flesh’ to keep him humble after being allowed to see heavenly visions. Also, though Paul was given spiritual eyes, he may have been alluding to his poor eyesight in Galatians 6:11, where he writes, “See with what large letters I have written to you with my own hand!”

Moses and Paul teach us an interesting truth about God’s choosing each of us and giving us a personal mission. Paul writes that boasting in the flesh is self-aggrandizement and profits no one. He also reminds us that our bodies are part of the offering we give when we follow Christ: “From now on let no one trouble me, for I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus Christ” (Galatians 6:17).

I’m sitting with these thoughts today as I look at the many Christian brothers and sisters who are in dire circumstances, poverty, poor health, or facing terminal illness. What is the body but a vessel we use on earth to pour out blessings to the people that God loves. Oh, to love others as oneself and in spite of the troubles in this world – true religion.

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Genesis 45-46; Psalm 108; Galatians 2

Come closer to me,” Joseph said to his brothers. They came closer. “I am Joseph your brother whom you sold into Egypt. But don’t feel badly, don’t blame yourselves for selling me. God was behind it. God sent me here ahead of you to save lives…He set me in a place as a father to Pharaoh, put me in charge of his personal affairs, and made me ruler of all Egypt.” Gen 45:4-8 MSG.

Reading these passages about Joseph and than Paul, brings to mind the video I watched of Pastor Saeed Abedini.  After being imprisoned for his faith for 3 years, he was landing on American soil. The thing that I was struck by the most was his prayer. He was praising Jesus and worshiping him. Not just for freeing him, but for who He is. I could imagine him praying this same prayer in prison. I truly got the sense that his faith didn’t depend on his circumstances. Like Joseph, he was not angry or bitter. Like Paul, his faith was not swayed.

They trusted in a God who is greater than their earthly pain. Do I?

Christ’s life showed me how, and enabled me to do it. I identified myself completely with him. Indeed, I have been crucified with Christ. My ego is no longer central. It is no longer important that I appear righteous before you or have your good opinion, and I am no longer driven to impress God. Christ lives in me. The life you see me living is not “mine,” but it is lived by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I am not going to go back on that.” Galatians 2:18-21 MSG

I am reminded that God has a greater plan for my life that sometimes  can only happen through suffering. That He is Sovereign. Even when I  cannot  see the good.

My heart is confident in you, O God; no wonder I can sing your praises with all my heart!

I will sing your praises among the nations. For your unfailing love is higher than the heavens.

Your faithfulness reaches to the clouds. Be exalted, Oh God, above the heavens. May your glory shine over all the earth. Now rescue your beloved people. Answer and save us by your power.

Oh, please help us against our enemies, for all human help is useless.

With God’s help we will do mighty things, for he will trample down our foes.” Psalm 108 NLT

Dear Father, Thank you for these men and their testimony of faith. Even when it hurts, I pray that I would turn to You. Help me to remember that You work all things together for good. Amen.

Amy(amyctanner)

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Genesis 43-44, Psalm 24, Galatians 1

How did you come to faith in Christ? Was it a friend who led you to Him? Was it in a church, at a youth retreat, a sweet friend or a spouse that ceased an opportunity to speak the truth to you? I have grown up my entire life in the church. I was saved at the age of 5 and at my own request, baptized at 8 and for my entire life I have struggled with my faith. At times it is strong and unwavering and other times the doubts mount and I fear I have lost faith and will be left behind.

Recently, the Lord made reminded me through some very old and familiar passages that it was never up to me anyway. My salvation and faith was not a logical process that I came to trust in at such an early age. In fact, it doesn’t matter who, what, where, when or how one comes to faith. It is always the Holy Spirit that does the work of faith. I am reminded again this morning after reading Paul’s words in Galatians. Of all people, Paul should have known right from the start that Jesus was the Messiah, but he didn’t. All his knowledge and logic did nothing for his faith. It wasn’t until his eyes were opened by the Lord that could finally believe.

 “For I would have you know, brothers, that the gospel that was preached by me is not man’s gospel. For I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ. For you have heard of my former life in Judaism, how I persecuted the church of God violently and tried to destroy it. And I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my own age among my people, so extremely zealous was I for the traditions of my fathers. But when he who had set me apart before I was born, and who called me by his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son to me.” Galatians 1:11-16a

This encourages me in my faith. It’s encouraging because it’s an important lesson that faith and belief in Christ is not earned, studied, wished or willed. It’s a gift given to us by the everlasting God of the universe. I was set apart before I was born and called by grace. What an amazing gift. It leads me to praise my great God. It leads me to want to please Him, praise Him, serve Him and never walk away but yet…. The warning at the start of the passage is alarming. How could one walk away? How could one get confused? How could anyone else promise anything greater then the gift of salvation found in Jesus Christ?

“I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel—not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ.” Galatians 1:6-7

But yet it happens. All the time, day after day. In small ways and big. The slippery slope, the slow fade. Without a close connection to the word, a deep relationship with the Lord and a guarded heart the path away from the Him happens one step at a time. When I rely on my own works, service, good deeds and even my own faith I become prideful and selfish. I forget the truth of the gospel that Jesus died to give us the gift of salvation. I have nothing to do with it. That’s freeing and brings me to tears.
Lord, help me not lift my soul to what is false or prideful. Give me clean hands and a pure heart to worship you. May I not look to the right or the left but continually seek your face alone. Thank you for revealing to me the gift of salvation you offer through your son, Jesus. Amen.

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