Re:Verse passage – Galatians 3:1-14 (day two)
This is the only thing I want to find out from you: did you receive the Spirit by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith? vs. 3
Paul asks a simple and direct question to the Galatians that can be asked of any of us. When you think about the time when you received the Holy Spirit, when you knew Jesus to be Lord of your life, how did it happen? Was it a day when you didn’t murder someone that you received the Spirit? Maybe it was a time when you didn’t steal, or lie, or covet. It seems foolish to think in those terms: I didn’t murder someone that day, and I felt the presence of the Lord.
We feel the presence of the Lord when we place our trust in him. We know the spirit when our faith is in Jesus alone. Your own personal testimony will bear this truth out, therefore let us make sure that our witness to others is not complicated with anything other than trust and faith in Jesus.
Re:Verse passage – Galatians 2:11-21 (day two) I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ died needlessly.” vs. 21
This verse provides a stark contrast to how we live out our faith. There can be no equivocating with regards to the power of the cross. Our identity in Christ is complete, lacking in nothing, with no need for further requirement of qualification. Why then do we always feel the need to add to the cross? Sure, it’s easy to point to other denominations who view grace differently than we do, but strip away the dogma of doctrinal differences and look at our lives. What are the things we needlessly attach to the cross? Righteousness, virtue, piety are all wonderful characteristics of a believer, but they follow the cross. They are not in addition to the cross. It will forever be a mystery to us while we struggle on this mortal coil. We feel we must ‘do’ something for this gift. Our daily reminder is a stark reality. Anything we add to the cross, diminishes the cross. Christ doesn’t need our help, he is our help. He doesn’t need our actions, he acted on our behalf. Christ is our requirement and he, and he alone, is sufficient.
Re:Verse passage – Galatians 2:1-10 (day two)
(for He who effectually worked for Peter in his apostleship to the circumcised effectually worked for me also to the Gentiles) vs. 8
This parenthetical statement is tucked in Paul’s clear statement that he had been clearly called to minister to the Gentiles with a clear recognition that Peter had been called to minister to the Jews. Paul will later write about being all things to all people, and the need to recognize your audience and the context in which you are speaking. Thinking globally, there are many different expressions of worship that occur each week. Some may look so completely different from our own expression that it may seem strange at best, and even wrong to some. Paul is very clear on this point. When we bring our own baggage, rules, traditions (however good they may be) and add them to the gospel…we diminish the gospel. Paul knows his audience, and he knows the gospel. Everything else is subordinate, and much is unnecessary. Think about this the next time you are in a conversation about differences in denominational difference, culture, or tradition. Wrestle over the gospel, not over the guitar.
Re:Verse passage – Galatians 1:11-24 (day two) being more extremely zealous for my ancestral traditions. vs. 14b
What are you passionate about? What is the subject you could speak extemporaneously on at any moment? We all have them, and I would pray that your first response to those questions is Jesus. But do you put your zeal, your energy, and your thoughts to him or to other things. When you imagine yourself zealously giving a litany of why your ‘thing’ is the best, are you speaking of Jesus? Honest inventory here; we have many passions, but they often have little to do with our Savior. I love cycling and can talk endlessly about riding, my bike, my favorite riders. I love Star Trek and all things sci-if, and yes, I’m the guy that can tell you which episode such and such happened.
I do notice it in others more than myself. I don’t particularly care for college football season anymore. Heresy, I know, but I discovered years ago that all I heard on Sunday mornings through the Fall was passionate discussions about the games the day before. We are much like Paul was. Zealous, eager to share, but with the wrong passion. Hobbies, interests, pursuits are good and noble, and many can lead to deepening out witness if we use them in that way. Let us make every effort to speak with more fervor about our pursuit of Jesus as our love for anything else.
Re:Verse passage – Galatians 1:1-10 (day two)
only there are some who are disturbing you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. Vs. 7b
Do you ever feel like you aren’t qualified to know what is good theology and which is bad? Or maybe you fall into the other extreme that simply accepts whatever you read under the classification of “Christian.” What do we do when we are trapped somewhere in the middle trying to discern what is good, and what is not? This is a question we all need to be asking on a daily basis.
Our source for the gospel is scripture, and our ultimate discernment comes from the Holy Spirit. We know that, and hopefully when we come up against a teaching, good or bad, we will test it against what we already know about scripture. Paul would argue that if you hear something, go to the source. God has also provided teachers, pastors, and other saints in your life that have made the study of scripture a life-long pursuit. Use these resources! There is a billion dollar ‘Christian’ book industry that has the gamut of treasure and trash. As we seek to grow in our knowledge of the Lord, don’t shy from reading and learning, but you must continue to examine these teachings against the unchanging truth of scripture.
Re:Verse passage – 1 John 5:14-15 (day two)
This is the confidence which we have before Him vs. 14a
To be confident in something means there is a sense of expected outcome. To whatever degree you know how things will turn out will strengthen your resolve when facing a challenge or task. We are reminded in this passage that to be in the will of God is to have a surety that can come from nowhere else. It is this reason that when Jesus was praying for his disciples and for all believers that we be one with the Father. John 17
Jesus did not want us to be uncertain of our future or to fret over how to manage life. His desire was for us to rest in the unity we have through the Holy Spirit with the father and the son. Through this we will gain the confidence to face and overcome whatever lies before us. If you find yourself lacking the confidence you think you should have, step back, seek God’s perfect will and lean into that above everything else.
Re:Verse passage – Daniel 9:1-23 (day two) Moreover, we have not listened to Your servants the prophets vs. 6a
How often have you found yourself when disciplining a child uttering the words ‘you didn’t listen’? Maybe you have heard those words ring your own ears from time to time. There are so many times that the jam we finds ourselves in could have been avoided had we simply listened to the instructions. Perhaps it was driving directions that we disregarded because ‘we know where it is,’ or simple tasks that you were asked to complete, but you got distracted when they were assigned. Whatever it is, giving our focus to the tasks when they are given can make the difference between success and failure, or obedience and sin.
Daniel references both the prophet Jeremiah and Moses in his prayer. He recognizes that, as a people, they have not listened to the call to obedience. There is, however, a path forward. It begins with confession and repentance. Daniel takes this responsibility seriously, and speaks on behalf of the entire nation. Perhaps we can start with ourselves. The goal should be to listen before we have to confess.
Re:Verse passage – Luke 11:1-4 (day two) Give us each day our daily bread. Vs. 3
Just enough; sufficient. That is how Jesus teaches us to pray. Before we read a list of must-haves, we simply need to take stock of what is necessary. We talk a lot about gratitude in our house. It has become a recurring joke when my children ask me what I want for a birthday they know my response will be, ‘grateful children.’ When we are so cared for, and we truly are, things like breath, health, shelter are expectations rather than blessings. How quickly any of those can change is evident all around us, and yet our tendency is to forget to acknowledge how much of a blessing they are. Jesus prays specifically for what is required for that day. He isn’t saying don’t make plans for the future, but he is clearly saying don’t make them at the expense of this day and all that God has provided for it.
Re:Verse passage – Nehemiah 1:1-11 (day two)
‘but if you return to Me and keep My commandments and do them, though those of you who have been scattered were in the most remote part of the heavens, I will gather them from there and will bring them to the place where I have chosen to cause My name to dwell.’ Vs. 9
Isn’t this a powerful text? I love Nehemiah’s boldness as he prays. Often as we come before the Lord, the Spirit will remind us of his promises. The Prophet Nehemiah is using the promises of deliverance given by the Lord as a catalyst for repentance. The Lord surely did not need reminding, but as we pray it is always good to cleave to scripture as a signpost for where we need to be. The picture of corporate repentance is also one that we can learn from. We must daily pray for our individual walk, but we should also be a people who acknowledge sin on a larger scale. The call to turn back should indicate that we have moved away from the purposed path as a people. This picture of a repentant people is a great model for the contemporary church.
Re:Verse passage – Mark 11:22-25 (day two) And Jesus answered saying to them, “Have faith in God.
Take an opportunity to set your focus before you make your request. The first answer Jesus gives isn’t ask for the moon. It is have faith in God. Set your priorities with where the Lord is leading. Trust his plan before your own. Understand that he has designed you for a purpose, and then make your requests in line with that purpose. The Lord wants to bless you, there is no doubt, but he wants you to be rooted, grounded, unshaken in your faith in the Lord.