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Category Archives: Galatians

Galatians 6:2-3

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 only fooling yourself. You are not that important.
Galatians 6:2-3

Dear God, the actual verse of the day was the first half about sharing burdens. And that was nice. It’s a nice thought that I want to sit with. But when I read on, I just loved the end of verse 3: “You are not that important.”

After I read that, I wanted to see how the King James Version and a couple of others handled that translation. Here’s what I found:

For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself.
Galatians 6:3 KJV

For if anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself.
Galatians 6:3 NASB

If anyone thinks they are something when they are not, they deceive themselves.
Galatians 6:3 NIV

It’s interesting that the other three use the word “deceive” and that the NLT add the declarative, “You are not that important,” at the end. I don’t know. Perhaps I’ve chased a pointless rabbit here, but it’s also a reminder that the translation I read can certainly make subtle differences in how I myself interpret your Word.

That being said, it’s time to think about helping others. I’ll confess to you that I’m pretty helpful, but I’ve definitely drawn lines. I was talking to a friend yesterday morning about something she is willing to do to serve others through Rotary that I’m not willing to do. It would be too much of an inconvenience for me. Not that you call me to do everything. I can’t. That’s why you made us part of the body. We all have our own gifts and our own calls. It’s just that I probably need to be sure that I’m willing to hear and respond to your still small voice instead of drawing lines in the sand that predetermine what I’m willing to do and not willing to do.

In that spirit, I also need to not judge others when they aren’t called to do what I do. I need to give the grace to follow the path that you have for them and then to figure out their own resistance to you without putting my own values or even “call” onto them.

Father, when it comes down to it, I just need to live you with all my heart, soul, and strength and then love my neighbor as myself. Those are, after all, the greatest commandments. Show me how to do that today.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

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Posted by on October 23, 2019 in Galatians

 

Philippians 1:9-11

I pray that your love will overflow more and more, and that you will keep on growing in knowledge and understanding. For I want you to understand what really matters, so that you may live pure and blameless lives until the day of Christ’s return. May you always be filled with the fruit of your salvation—the righteous character produced in your life by Jesus Christ —for this will bring much glory and praise to God.
Philippians 1:9-11

Dear God, I’ve been doing prayer journals for nearly 20 years, and when I read this passage this morning my first thought was, man, I’ve done this verse and this topic from other verse a lot. But then I had another thought. Much like a football team that goes through practice, there are times for new revelation and adding something to your development as a football player and there are times when you need to work on the fundamentals of blocking, tackling, throwing, and catching. These verses are that. They are fundamentals of which I need to be reminded.

What is the fundamental idea here? Knowing you more and more so that your love flows through me, my character becomes more righteous, and then others are drawn to you. You know–blocking and tackling.

I suppose it all starts with the self discipline of spending time with you. Spending time praying. Spending time meditating on the Word you have left us as our scripture. Then it involves making sure that the Holy Spirit has good soil in my soul in which it can grown and bear fruit. That means getting out the thorns of the sin that so easily entangles us–sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these. (Galatians 5:19-21) Even if we try to self-righteously say we don’t have some of these things choking out the Spirit, all of us have at least a couple.

Father, help me to block and tackle well today. Help me to carry you with me all day. Be glorified through me. If I sin (when I sin), help me to repent and be humble enough to bring glory to you too.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on September 30, 2019 in Galatians, Philippians

 

Galatians 3:26-29

For you are all children of God through faith in Christ Jesus. And all who have been united with Christ in baptism have put on Christ, like putting on new clothes. There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus. And now that you belong to Christ, you are the true children of Abraham. You are his heirs, and God’s promise to Abraham belongs to you.
Galatians 3:26-29

Dear God, why is prejudice just so darn easy? I’m in a production of “12 Angry Men” in our local community theater and I was talking with my wife this morning about what a difficult time the man playing the bigot is having rehearsing his last tirade over and over again. It’s just so evil. And it’s easy to judge that character, but how much of his views are some combination of what he was taught and his life experiences?

I suppose that, when it comes down to it, this is just Satan executing his game plan. He wants us divided against each other. From the beginning, he wanted to pit Adam and Eve against you and then each other. He wanted Cain to kill Abel. And on and on, right down to devotees of one news network being intolerant of those who watch and subscribe to the bias of another one. Division, division, division. It’s so easy!

Father, open my eyes to my own prejudices and the things I might do to foster division in all of my relationships and the ones that touch my life. Make my life a source of unity in our community. Let it start in my own family and go from there. And do it all for your glory.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on August 29, 2019 in Galatians

 

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“No Insult Like the Truth” by Charlie Peacock – No lie like independence, no demon like control

“No Insult Like The Truth” By Charlie Peacock

I’ve run my ship aground
on the rocks of the soul
There’s no lie like independence
there’s no demon like control
I’ve fanned the burning embers
til my house was on fire
There’s no parody like power
There’s no fever like desire
I’ve drained the wine of darkness
to the dregs of deceit
There’s no drug as strong as pride
There’s no blindness like conceit
I’ve railed against the mountain
With a pickaxe and a file
There’s no minefield like presumption
There’s no death wish like denial

There’s no gunshot like conviction
There’s no conscience bulletproof
There’s no strength like utter weakness
There’s no insult like the truth

I’ve adjusted my prescription
til I couldn’t trust my vision
there’s no killer like convenience
there’s no sickness like omission
I’ve amended resolutions and resisted explanation
There’s no trap door like emotion
There’s no pit like reputation

There’s no gunshot like conviction
There’s no conscience bulletproof
There’s no strength like utter weakness
There’s no insult like the truth

There’s no cancer like ambition
There’s no cure like crucifixion
There’s no cancer like ambition
There’s no cure like crucifixion

There’s no gunshot like conviction
There’s no conscience bulletproof
There’s no strength like utter weakness
There’s no insult like the truth

This is part of a series dissecting the song “No Insult Like the Truth” by Charlie Peacock. In the series, I am taking two of the statements he makes and exploring the depth of meaning behind them and what I can learn about myself in the process.

Dear God, it’s time to dig in and spend some time with that.

Part 1: There’s no like like independence.

I looked up the definition of independence today. Of course, there were many. The basic idea, however, is that you are able to do it. Yourself. No accountability. No help. No need for help.

My first thought is to think of a child becoming an adult. Becoming independent. Of course, they want that independence long before they are ready for it. It’s probably the root of most of the conflicts that teen children have with their parents. Okay, children of all ages, including toddlers.

But here’s the secret. We are never independent. Unless we move to the woods, forage for our own food and build our own shelter with our bare hands (no tools made by someone else), we will always be in need of something that someone else does. Business people need customers and staff. They need suppliers and deals. Consumers need home builders/apartments, grocery stores, banks, etc. Just to live, we need community.

But on a deeper level, we all benefit from people who reach out and help us, whether we want to acknowledge it or not. My dad is very accomplished, but he is quick to tell anyone the long list of people who impacted his life and helped him achieve what he did. He didn’t do it “on his own” even though he would be considered a “self-made man.” For me in my life, beyond my parents, I have had several people who have blessed me and helped me over the years. As the director of a nonprofit, we depend on literally hundreds (actually over 1,000) of people every year to do what we do.

Then there’s you. I need you. I need the forgiveness and love that you give to me. I need the accountability. I need it for peace. I need it because a truly independent life is a lonely life.

Yes, I think it is fair to say that there is no lie like independence.

Part 2: There’s no demon like control.

What are the things I try to control? I try to control myself. In fact, one of the “fruits of the Spirit” in Galatians 5:22-23 is self-control. But good self-control is something that flows from being in right relationship with you and the Holy Spirit living in me. It isn’t something that I can will. Paul makes that clear in Romans 7:15-20.

What about controlling others. As I think about it this morning, I wonder if this is what is behind a lot of our current national angst. Is the reason a lot of us feel the need to put our opinions up so freely on social media because we are needing to feel like we can control something that we want to control. Do I want to control what is happening politically? Religiously? Socially? Is that Satan’s primary tool that he uses to divide us? Control?

I’m about to head out on vacation today. What kind of control will I try to exercise in the name of leisure? Will I try to dictate our schedule? Our driving route? Our menu and meals? What we listen to? Our conversation? And if I do, what kind of division will it cause between my wife and me and how much will Satan enjoy that?

That example can be applied to a lot of things. Control is selfishness–the root sin. Independence is it’s cousin.

Father, help me to die to myself enough to recognize that I am completely dependent upon you and others. Let my pride go by the wayside so that I might be a blessing to others instead. And help me to be part of building them up as well. Help me to go through the next week thinking about giving up control and enjoying the freedom you offer.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 

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Hebrews 12:1-3

Hebrews 12:1-3
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

Dear God, “the sin that so easily entangles.” What is that sin? Probably the easiest way to name it is to go to the “acts of the flesh” in Galatians 5:19-21a:

“The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like.”

That’s a pretty good list. These are, indeed the things that entangle us. I would add lethargy and self-indulgence to it as well. I don’t know that Paul intended this to be a complete list, just one that everyone could relate to.

So how do we “throw off” these things? Part of it is good old self-discipline, but it’s not about disciplining ourselves not to do these things as much as it is disciplining ourselves to pursue you. When I discipline myself to pursue you then I get the fruits of the Spirit that Paul goes on to mention in Galatians 5:22-23a:

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

The idea isn’t that I can discipline myself into these things, but that I “[fix my] eyes on Jesus” and “run with perseverance.” (Hebrews 12:1-2) That brings me to the question, what does fixing my eyes on Jesus look like in my everyday life?

About a month ago, I put a question out to friends on social media: What things do you do to pursue your relationship with God? Here are some of the answers I got back:

  • I like to study with my first cup of coffee in the morning. I make my coffee then sit at our old antique family table with my Bible study book. First, I put in my earplugs. I do this because I am easily distracted. Putting those plugs in my ears seems to take me to a different place. I begin with a sip of coffee and a prayer. In this prayer, I ask God to open my eyes as I study his word and be open to hearing his voice. I usually add in there that I pray that I would act on what he is teaching me through his word. I take this time to ask for special requests–i.e. persons that have asked for prayers. After praying and listening to him, I am ready to begin my study. I usually have a study book. I make sure I look up all the scriptures in my Bible and read them. I prefer to read a scripture out of the Bible instead of just reading it out of a book. It somehow makes me feel closer to God. I usually study anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour. I end my study with a prayer of thanksgiving for his word and for his grace.
  • Weekend Mass–our family prefers Saturday, 5p at St Francis in Stonewall. But we attend Sunday Mass, too. We’ll try to catch the Life Teen Mass at St Mary’s more often since my son is in high school and that’s his cohort. And I enjoy the contemporary Christian songs their choir performs.
    Daily Mass: St Francis has noon Mass on Wednesdays. I attend first Wed of month because the priest has anointing of the sick and we also have a luncheon.
    When I’m in Comfort at noon time I catch Mass there but that’s infrequent –4 times over past year.
    I attend the school Mass at St Mary’s about once a month. And I catch the Tuesday noon Mass at St Mary’s about once a month.
    Bible studies: the one I started today is Bishop Barron’s Word on Fire (free videos emailed to me). This morning was an hour video about St Francis of Assisi. I think each day will be different…. I’ll find out.
    And we’ve done 2 recent Bible studies at St Francis through Formed.org. 6 week studies. Recent one was about St Paul’s letters to the Philippians.
    And… I’m trying to read the Bible more. After all these years of being a faithful Catholic I’m a bit embarrassed to admit I haven’t read the Bible cover to cover. I’m working on it.
  • This is what I have been improving on to pursue a closer relationship w Christ: I am early riser so I use this quiet time  for prayer in our parlor to thank God for another day of life and multiple blessings and then out the door for a 3 mile run, sometimes recite verses from memory or simply enjoy beauty and majesty of His creation and remind myself how incredible that God would take time to create me and know me even before I was formed in my mothers womb. After returning, my wife and enjoy reading our bible and share scripture readings while drinking our coffee. I think God delights in us when we reach out to him by quiet time, prayer, scripture reading or simply acknowledging him.
  • Not listing all the obvious answers, for me music and spending time in His creation help keep me connected. Small group Bible studies best help me grow, which is different for me than staying connected.
  • I have not been much of a person to get up and go to church these last few years.  But God has put me in the path of Al-Anon.  I believe my purpose is being filled by supporting that group and the fellowship.  It is a very spiritual program.   I have learned to meditate.
  • Prayer Walks…..both listening for His nudging and lifting up petitions.
  • I get up around 5:30 in the morning, get some coffee and sit in a chair in my living room. I read God’s word, sometimes I use a devotional, sometimes I don’t. Right now I’m doing a read through the Bible plan, but God has led me to a more intensive study of Romans 12. I pray, on my knees, beginning with the Lord’s prayer, and then for God to guide my day, then for my family (husband, children and grandchildren) and then for others as God leads. Sometimes I journal but not consistently and my journaling takes on various forms. For example, right now as I read through Kings and Chronicles I’m keeping a list of the Kings of Israel and Judah to keep it all straight in my mind. Aside from this very specific time. I try to listen for God’s voice and pray throughout the day. I try to read Christ focused books (both fiction and non fiction), listen to podcasts, listen to sermons. P.S. I’m not perfect at any of it.
  • I actually “wrestle” with God and talk to him very matter of factly…of course about why [my son] was taken from me.   I’m honest with him about my current emotional state…He knows anyway, so why not say it out loud…example “God I’m right now I’m more excited about getting to see [my son] again than you or Jesus…I know that’s not right, but I also know you are big enough and love me enough to work with me…help me feel differently and work through this feeling!”
  • I feel close to God when I work in my garden, because it is a vehicle for spiritual and emotional connection.. you are already on your knees… and you push a seed into the earth, add water, and wait, and in time the miracle unveils itself. It might not be as dramatic as being witness to the creation of the universe, but it is as close as most of us will ever get to witnessing a miracle firsthand when the green shoot unfolds out of the seed and pushes through the earth.  The whole process – from seed to fruition to dying-off and then renewal in the spring, is a metaphor for human life death and resurrection. It makes me feel close to God.  Oh, and also, sometimes I drink too much and lie on my back in the driveway and yell at him.

As for me, these nearly daily prayer journals are a big part of my fixing my eyes on Jesus and running to finish. I also pray with my wife almost every day. While I attend church, it’s one that ministers more to my wife than it does to me, so I don’t get as much out of that. But I think it is good for our marriage that we worship you together. I have found myself longing for a certain kind of challenging preaching, so I listen to Andy Stanley’s sermons through my podcast app while I’m exercising, driving, or getting ready in the morning. I have a Christian friend with whom I speak nearly every Friday morning and we talk about our lives. And my wife and I are in a couples group through our church that meets once a month.

Yet, with all of that, I still find myself sometimes in the middle of sin that entangles. And there you always are with grace for me. You love me. You forgive me. In fact, you are the one who is able to throw off that sin that easily entangles me and helps me to run to finish this great race.

Father, help me to be the embodiment of your child. Help me to be more and more like Jesus and the example he set for me. Help me to love richly in your presence, regardless of my physical circumstances. And use my life to bring your will and kingdom to Earth, as it is in Heaven.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on June 15, 2019 in Galatians, Hebrews

 

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Galatians 5:13

Galatians 5:13
For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love.

Dear God, when I was younger, my friends and I used to reference this verse and say that someone who said they were Christians but living worldly lives were “living in their grace.” Of course, we were saying it sarcastically. How could they just blatantly do that? Of course, as I aged you revealed to me how much I do that in my own life. I am certainly not pure, and I still have sinful parts of me that I’ve either not realized need purging or have intentionally allowed to stick around.

So what IS the freedom Paul references here? Well, in the verse leading up to this, Paul is referencing circumcision and how it’s no longer important because of what Jesus’s death and resurrection did for us. So Jesus and what he did bring us freedom from the legalistic laws and ushers us into a realm where we have some flexibility to show love and grace. For the person who is not yet free because they haven’t experienced the grace Jesus offers, it can be hard, if not impossible, to offer that freedom to others.

Father, if I’m allowing anything sinful in my life right now that is holding me back, or, better said, holding you back from living more fully through me, please show it to me and help me to purge it. And help me to take the freedom Jesus gives me and use it to offer others freedom. Help me know how to be an encouragement to others. Right now, I have a young man on my heart who is in juvenile detention and just going through hell. I don’t know that I have anything to offer him, but I know he’s on my heart. Show me what to do for him and how to offer him Jesus’s freedom.

I pray all of this in Jesus’s name,

Amen

 
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Posted by on May 22, 2019 in Galatians

 

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Galatians 5:22-23

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

Dear God, this is one of my favorite passages and also one of the few that I can pretty much quote chapter and verse. It’s something that I use to look at my own life and try to get some sort of perspective on how I’m doing. I also use it when I’m evaluating people who claim to be Christians. I try to see if their lives, words, and actions match up with these things. A lot of people can say the right words, but they simply can’t grow this fruit without you.

Then there are the verses that precede it. Galatians 5:19-21 gives us a look at the other side of the coin. The life lived completely away from you:

When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, 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.

How am I doing when I hold those things up to the mirror my life reflects. Do I say that pornography is awful and yet engage in it? Do I preach patience and gentleness and yet exhibit hostility and jealousy? Do I claim to have peace, but live a life of dissension, division and envy?

Father, help me to allow the Spirit just a little more access to my being today so that you will continue to grow over and choke out the desires of my sinful nature. I am getting the image of St. Augustine grass. The stronger it gets the more it will choke out the weeds growing around it. The problem is, it needs A LOT of water to be that strong. Help me to do what I can to water the Spirit in my life so that it will choke out the weeds that I allow to still grow in me.

In Jesus’ name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on March 19, 2019 in Galatians

 

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