Galatians 3:15-29 Like a new pair of shoes

So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. Galatians 3:27

Typically when you buy new clothes you enjoy wearing them so that others can see you in them. Whether its a new pair of shoes, a new shirt or really any other piece of clothing. You think you look good in it so you want to let others see you look good. Then you get a new piece of clothing and you wear what you once loved a lot less. Why is this? Is it that you don’t like it as much? I doubt it.  Do you still look as good in it? Probably, but it’s not as new, people have seen you in the old clothing, but not the new clothing.

I feel weird as a man making this point,  but when I read Paul’s words about clothing yourself in Christ and I realized that people treat Christ the same way as they do a new shirt, suit, dress or shoes. At first they want to tell everyone, it doesn’t matter who, a new Christian typically wants to let everyone see them in their new outfit of Christ. Then after a while the newness of Christ wears off and we go searching for something else to in which to be clothed. Whether we clothe ourselves in good things like church activities, family, friends or not-so-good things like alcohol, gambling, etc., we clothe ourselves in things not eternal. We need to be reminded that just because it might be an older outfit, it doesn’t mean that we don’t look stinking amazing wearing Christ as our clothes.

We should be excited to be given the chance to daily clothe ourselves in Christ.

Galatians 3:1-14 Descendent of Abraham?

So also Abraham “believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.” Understand, then, that those who have faith are children of Abraham. Galatians 3:6-7

I am not Jewish. In fact, I am not sure what all I am, but my pasty complexion tells me fairly certainly that I am not Jewish. I do come from a line of pretty awesome people though. My great-grandparents were missionaries in Africa, my grandpa was a pastor, my grandma (mom’s mom) led my dad to Christ, my parents have stood up for the rights of people with developmental disabilities and I’m sure there are many other pretty amazing people that I just don’t know much about. We are from England, Germany, France, Ireland or Scotland (maybe both?), and maybe Native American. We are from a lot of places and yet I am not Jewish.

According to what most people think about the Old Testament this would mean that I have a 0% chance at getting to Heaven. No matter what I do, I could not make it to Heaven because I am not a true descendent of Abraham and Moses. Paul’s words put out something differently. He says that anyone who has faith is a descendent of Abraham. Heck yeah! I mean, I still have a 0% chance of making it to Heaven on my own, but I have a 100% chance of making it due to my faith that Jesus Christ was the end result of God’s covenant with Abraham and therefore I am able to make it to Heaven. It does not matter where my family is from, what they have done or anything like that. It only matters that I have faith. Man, that makes me excited!

Galatians 2:11-21 Friends

Then after fourteen years, I went up again to Jerusalem, this time with Barnabas. I took Titus along also…When Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. For before certain men came from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles. But when they arrived, he began to draw back and separate himself from the Gentiles because he was afraid of those who belonged to the circumcision group. The other Jews joined him in his hypocrisy, so that by their hypocrisy even Barnabas was led astray. Galatians 2:1,11-13

I was very blessed in Maryland for most of the time I was there. I may not have liked my job, but I had a good group of friends who helped me like the rest of my time there. Was there drama? For sure. Were there times when we didn’t get along? Absolutely! Would I trade that time in for anything else? No, not at all. My Bible study friends were as close to members of my family as some of my actual family. Christine slept in a chair overnight in my hospital room because I was rushed to the emergency room and my mom was on her way, Lois and Kerensa took me on “field trips” to Target and Safeway when I was regaining my strength and could barely walk, Nick and I drove to New Orleans together, Bridget and Ana went to Germany with me for the first time. I could go on for hours talking about how amazing my friends are, but that’s not the point. The point is that my friends went further with me than just on the surface. Nick and I would call each other in the morning to make sure we both were up in time to do quiet times. Kerensa encouraged me to take on a leadership position in our Bible study. Ana, Bridget and I had many talks about how our spiritual lives were going. That is why my friends are amazing.

Paul had these same friends. After 14 years of ministry Paul was going back to Jerusalem to meet with the Apostles. He took Barnabas and Titus too. He didn’t need back-up or anything, but he took his friends with him. The next part of the chapter that stood out to me, verses 11-13, showed what else friends need to do. When we are wrong, or our friends are wrong, we need to be told. We need to be confronted. Paul may not have done this the best way that he could have, but he did it this way nonetheless. He confronted Peter (Cephas) because Peter was being hypocritical and theologically wrong in his actions. Why did he need to do this? We see in verse 13 that others were joining in on the hypocrisy, that’s why. Our actions influence others, so if we are wrong, our friends need to be there to say so and we need to accept their constructive criticism.

Galatians 2:1-10 One suggestion

In fact, James, Peter,and John, who were known as pillars of the church, recognized the gift God had given me, and they accepted Barnabas and me as their co-workers. They encouraged us to keep preaching to the Gentiles, while they continued their work with the Jews. Their only suggestion was that we keep on helping the poor, which I have always been eager to do. Galatians 2:9-10

The poor are everywhere, big cities, small cities, rural areas, big countries, small countries, it doesn’t matter. There are poor people and families just about everywhere you look. The problem is, there are enough people with money to help those without and yet some do and some don’t. Some people, unfortunately myself included sometimes, forget about the poor because we live ignorant to their issues. We sit around and do nothing to help. So how important is it for those of us who have been blessed to help those in their time of need? Let’s look to the words of Paul to find out.

A little background first. Paul goes back to Jerusalem, not for the approval of the apostles in this chapter, but to make sure that the Gospel that both groups were preaching were in line with each other. At the end of that time all that the apostles tell him is in the verse above. Help the poor, that’s it. He already had the Gospel message down and beyond that their main concern was to help the poor. Is that your main concern? Is it mine? Jesus talked about the poor too and His words are reiterated by Paul. He said in Matthew 25:40, “And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’” We are helping Jesus when we help the poor! How awesome is that? If Jesus was in your town, wouldn’t you offer to do just about anything to help Him? Then why not do some of that for the poor in your area.

Hopefully in the coming holiday season we can remember to do what we can for the poor, but I also hope that we extend it beyond the feel-good holiday season.

Galatians 1:11-24 Meticulously Planned for You

But even before I was born, God chose me and called me by his marvelous grace. Then it pleased him to reveal his Son to me. Galatians 1:15-16a

Apparently I am on a planning mindset recently because God’s plan in this verse stuck out to me just like His plan for Jesus stuck out to me yesterday. I’m not going to lie, I can be very impressed by a good plan. I am extremely confident about two abilities of mine: my peanut butter cookies (or some variation thereof) are amazing and I can plan out the intricate details of events well.

Let me tell you a little story before I get into what stood out in this verse. A little while back I went camping with my friends to Shenandoah National Park. We discussed who was going to bring what, but we realized that if we didn’t plan it out we would probably end up with a whole lot of chips and pretzels. Maybe we would end up with some hot dogs that we could have roasted over a fire that we couldn’t build because someone else didn’t bring the matches or maybe we could have made s’mores with marshmallows and chocolate but without the neglected graham crackers. I could see disaster coming so I volunteered to plan out what everyone would bring. It ended up taking me a while to make the list, but I truly enjoyed that time and when I gave the list to everyone, everyone was satisfied with what they were bringing and we had everything we needed.

Alright one more story. A few years back again I was living in Maryland and the Bible study I went to was a pretty big group and we were all really close friends. Well, I read in “I Kissed Dating Goodbye” a sentence talking about how the men in Josh Harris’ group made dinner for the women in their Bible study. I thought that was a great idea and so I brought it up to the men in my group and they were all for doing that. We didn’t just stop at dinner though. The whole group of guys made a night that we hoped the women would never forget and would remember specifically when they were in a relationship so they knew how they should be treated. We planned a surprise night of dinner and dancing with during-meal entertainment as well. The girls were treated to a 5 course meal with two options for each course including things like Maryland crab soup, salmon penne pasta and molten lava cake. After dinner they were escorted to another room where we talked about how special they were to us as godly women and how we wanted to thank them for that. Then came dancing where every woman got to dance with every man. To end the night they were given gift bags with cards in them from all the guys telling them how special they were to us. It was an amazing night for all of us. On a side note, if you think it might be nice to do something like this, I highly suggest doing something like this for the woman in your life.

I say all that to get back to my point. Paul says, “But even before I was born, God chose me and called me by his marvelous grace.” God is a planner and he can meticulously plan everything way better than I could ever plan one single, simple thing. I am confident in my planning abilities, but not when I compare them to God’s ability to plan. Look back on your life at things that have happened to you. Have you figured out why they happened yet? I know there are a few things that happened to me when I was in Junior High (18 years ago) that I just figured out why they happened. Why did I take German after school? To prepare me to go to Germany as a missionary. 18 years of pre-planning? Thanks is incredibly ridiculous. Here’s my point though. If I/we know how amazing of a planner God is, why do we first seek to create our own plans? I am as guilty of this as most people. I have plans and I want to see them to their end, but God’s plan is so much better than anything I could come up with. Now I just need the patience to see His plan through and not try to insert my own plan, no matter how good I think it is.

My suggestion for you today is to think back on your life and see what things had to be in place years ago to get you to where you are today and then thank God that He is an amazing planner!

Galatians 1:1-10 The Gospel in One Sentence

Jesus gave his life for our sins, just as God our Father planned, in order to rescue us from this evil world in which we live. Galatians 1:4

The first half of the first chapter in Galatians is jammed packed with nuggets of good information. From God as a planner (1:1-4), Paul feeling offended when people turned their back on God (1:6), recognizing false teachings from people who mean well (1:6-7) and then of course verse 10 where it deals with pleasing both people and God and how impossible that really is.

The verse that stuck out to me the most though is the verse above. It is what I call (I’m sure I’m not the first), the Gospel in one sentence. If we had just one short, simple sentence to share with other people I hope that this is it. It starts out simply, “Jesus gave his life for our sins,” alright so maybe the content is simple, but the sentence is. The whole Bible is essentially based around these words. That’s the reason the Bible was written to spread these seven words. If Jesus did not give his life for our sins, if he was just another man, or if he died for part of our sins, or he decided he wasn’t going to die, nothing else would matter. The whole rest of the Bible would be pointless, there would be no hope for us. Thus these 7 simple words combine to make one all-encompassing, all-amazing sentence that reminds us that we do have hope.

The next part of the sentence, “just as God our Father planned,” is also an incredible addition. It is essential for new believers to understand that this wasn’t some plan B that God threw together at the last moment, this was planned. God planned for his Son to take our place. He didn’t just make the best of the situation. He chose the hardest thing a father could be asked to do and he sat down and he meticulously planned it so that nothing could go wrong. I am not a father, but I could not imagine planning out every detail of my sons life from before his birth up unto his death in such a way that it guaranteed he would suffer a horrible death to save other people. God did just that and everyone should know that He did.

The last part, “in order to rescue us from this evil world in which we live,” is just as impacting to a non-believer. If people don’t realize that the world in which we live is inherently evil then they may not want to watch what they do. If they do not watch what they do, they may try to please both man and God (verse 10) and we all know how well that goes.

This verse is not just a good tool to use with non-believers, but honestly it is a reminder to me of what Jesus really did and why He did that for us. This is something that should be stored in my heart so I can adjust my actions accordingly as well.

Invitation into the Book of Galatians

So recently I have felt a little convicted about how I have studied the Bible in the past. I have very rarely dug down deep into the books of the Bible to see where they were written, by whom, who they were to, etc. I was in a Christian book store and searching through the clearance section like I always do and I found a short commentary/study on Galatians so I decided I would start studying this book. There is no real reason why other than I found that book. What I am planning on doing is reading the 6 chapters broken down into 12 parts (the book I bought does this for me) and then writing a short blog about each part. I am not a theologian, nor have I attended Bible college or had any official training, whatsoever, but what I do have is a desire to find out more about the Bible than I have had in the past and I trust that God will bless that desire.

I invite you to join me in this endeavor. I will start tomorrow with my first blog on chapter 1:1-10. I would love to get some good discussion in the comment section that would enhance my study, but also enhance the study of anyone else who decides to join me. If you don’t want to join me, feel free to stop by and read my thoughts.