Friday, April 30, 2010

Living by the Spirit - Galatians 5

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. – Galatians 5:1

Why hasn’t anyone told Christians this? Why do we continually live in bondage to tradition, rules, performance, (modern-day)Pharisees, and sin?

One of the major shifts in my paradigm of religion in the last few years has to deal with freedom.

Paul says later in the chapter;
So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law. - Galatians 5:16-18

Why do we continue to live under the law then? Is it that we aren’t living in the Spirit, we default to living under the law? Do we even know how to live in the Spirit?

Well, there are fruits….and they are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control….he says against these things there is no law. So, if we find ourselves doing things for these reasons, and with these as our motives….we need not be bound by any law.

Now…..Legalists – by definition are those who are bound to the LETTER of the LAW and not the INTENT. You’ll find these buttholes in churches everywhere. They are modern-day Pharisees. They outwardly live a life of piousness….then beat you up for your lack of it. They memorize scripture constantly but don’t do any of it. They will wear their religiousness on their sleeve and challenge your theology (even your freedom in Christ) and call you “luke-warm”. Maybe they should memorize the following.

Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other. - Galatians 5:25-26

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Slave to Son to Slave? - Galatians 4

But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons. Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, "Abba, Father." So you are no longer a slave, but a son; and since you are a son, God has made you also an heir. - Galatians 4:4-7

Slave to Son to Slave?

I’ve always wondered about the attraction to turn back. It’s modeled perfectly when Moses was leading the Israelites out of Egypt (after the plagues) ….crossed the Red Sea (no small miracle) and provided manna daily for nutrition….The Israelites wanted to turn back, to go back to Pharaoh and become slaves again. I guess it was because, slavery was what they knew, it was their comfort.
You always hear about women who are abused by their husbands, but they won’t leave them. I never have understood this either.

I guess we have a little of this in us as well. After having been saved by grace, and delivered FROM sin, we return to the same SIN….time and again. Or maybe it’s just me.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Rescue for Sinners – Galatians 3

Rescue for Sinners – Galatians 3

For if a law had been given that could impart life, then righteousness would certainly have come by the law. Galatians 3:21

The law can’t give life.

I read….If God have give the law power to activate divine life in man…then the righteous character of God could have been derived out of legal performance of the law.
It goes on to say that….But this is IMPOSSIBLE because God’s life and righteousness can only be derived out of Himself by the dynamic of His Grace.

The law put man under a curse…..Jesus justifies us.
Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse (detested, loathed, a person assigned to damnation) for us….Galatians 3:13

The song Jesus Messiah comes to mind…and that line from it;
“He became sin, who knew no sin…That we might become His Righteousness”.

Last thought that occurred to me….was now Jesus, who sits at the right hand of the Father in heaven is our advocate….the same guy who became sin, became the curse, took all of our ugliness past present and future on Himself at the cross…. He knows us and our failures intimately….yet He loves us…and is speaking to the Father on our behalf.

Jesus Messiah ….the name above all names! Blessed Redeemer, Emmanuel. The rescue for sinners, Ransom from Heaven. Amen

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Spiritual Snobbery - Galatians 2

….if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!" Galatians 2:21

Great stuff this morning….had many things I thought AHA! I’ll write on that….but the key point in my opinion of the chapter was this last line.

The hypocracy that Paul called Peter out on was that, (keep in mind we are talking about ALL Christians now) Peter was dining and hanging out with Gentile Christians and being buddies with them….until the RELIGIOUS (Jew) Christians came to town. Then he would literally turn his back on his Gentile brothers.

What Peter was doing by his actions was saying that the Gentile brothers were inferior to the Jews because their were certain laws that Jews still observed as customs including circumcision, ceremonial washings etc….and Peter was giving credence to them.

It’s good to know this is still alive and well in the church today isn’t it. HA! At Restore Community this week, one of the ladies was weeping….because she had spent years in the church…and all she felt was guilt and embarrassment for never measuring up….attaining the level of biblical knowledge everyone else in the “Beth Moore Study” had…..and in her case, it didn’t have to overt “piousness”….but there was just a sense of NOT GOOD she never spoke.

Paul is saying….none of us are good enough, we are ONLY justified through the body and blood of Christ. And if we put credence in things WE can do…..Jesus died for nothing.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Who are we pleasing? - Galatians 1

I chose the book of Galatians to start. I wanted to jump right into Paul's letters.

Galatians 1

One thing I noticed about Paul's letter to the Church at Galatia, was that he felt that an "autobiography" of sorts was in order. He greets, rebukes, and then basically gives a testimony as to the authority he writes with.

As we live our lives on mission, the cool part about what we are asking people to do, is love your neighbors as commanded by Christ. In John 13, Jesus says that" people will know we are HIs disciples by our love for one another". But people want to know your life and what you are about before they are willing to honestly be open about "spiritual" things.

Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ. – Galatians 1:10

We can’t expect to speak into someone’s life the moment we meet someone. People want to know your “deed matches your creed”. For what ever reason, people have a distrust of 'religious' things. Whether they have been burned in the past, bored in the past or have little to no faith backgrounds.....people have their reasons, and most of them are pretty good. When people tell me....."and thats why I haven't been back to church"....honestly, I can't blame them. So keep that in mind as we share our lives and our stories. Don't be offended if people aren't as excited about your life as you are.

As you guys probably know, Paul (then Saul) was a persecutor of the earliest Christians. He stood and gave approval as the first Christian martyr (Stephen) was stoned to death. He was a Pharisee...also the son of a Pharisee. These men were the most educated, religious, pious Jews of their day. They also were known to be very "works-centric" and self-centric. So as we will learn about Paul's conversion, Christ changed him from the inside out, starting with his heart and even changed his name. We will see Paul humbly yet full of conviction, rebuke churches, but also refer to himself as a "slave" or a bond servant. He also recognizes God's "call"...and introduce God's "elect" (those called by God).

I am seriously excited for you guys as men, to desire to walk through the bible with me. I would ask that you hold me accountable, read for yourselves, form your own ideas and bring them to the table. Even if this is a totally NEW concept to you….it’s okay.

I use commentaries…..all the time. You can google....Galatians Commentary…and find hundreds of documents from different writers. Also another tool that takes more getting use the translator at Biblios. It breaks verses down by word in the Greek (New Testament) and Hebrew (Old Testament).

Today as you read, if you want to add anything….just reply all…and put it out there. It doesn't have to be ultra might just be a question, or a realization.

Sorry, today's post was a little nuts and bolts...NOW JUMP IN!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Hearers vs. Listeners

Last night Jenny and I prayed together.

Profound huh? Well....we hadn't prayed together in months. How can this be? You are a pastor and you are suppose to do this. Well, for me this comes hard. Even though I do this every week in front of hundreds of people I love and consider family, this is such an intimate time between me and God, I would rather not share it. Selfish

We thanked God for our friends, the influence he has given us in our neighborhood, among our neighbors. We prayed for all of you...and for them. We thanked Him for entrusting us with the Gospel (the Good News) for those who don't know Him yet...and to make us diligent in sharing it. We prayed for a renewed vigor for His word and we prayed for our kids.

That was pretty much it.

Yesterday Brandon talked about while he was teaching at ANC, the closeness he felt to God when he studied God's word for two years with a handful of guys. I was fortunate enough to be one of those guys and we did.....for two years pour through God's word, devouring it like it was our sustenance.....and I loved it. But we took a break, then other things crept into my life...and I lost that discipline that I loved so much. So this morning, with no plan...I looked into Proverbs 19.

Proverbs 19:27 Stop listening to instruction, my son, and you will stray from the words of knowledge.

How easy was that.....Solomon knew this...and recorded it in Proverbs. Stop listening.....not just reading or hearing but listening to instruction (i.e. God's blueprint, his word to us, his bible) and you will stray from from the words of knowledge. Not because I don't believe them....but because they aren't on my heart and on my mind.

James 1:22 some translations say - We are to be doers of the word, not merely hearers.
I would venture to guess that in order to be DOERS....we can't merely be hearers but LISTENERS too.

I think about my son....I love him to death....but I can tell him something very important to me...and he hears me, but he isn't always listening to me. So he will either not do what I have asked him to do, or he asks me to instruct him on something I've already instructed him on. Maybe this is how God feels about us...when we hear but we don't listen.

God thanks for your word to us. Let us be not only hearers, but doers of it. Make your word come alive to me and let me run to it in the morning instead of Facebook.

You can hear yesterdays sermon here. SERMON