Friday, June 23, 2017

Living Free as a Bondslave #10


Galatians 5:16 (CSB) - "I say then, walk by the Spirit and you will certainly not carry out the desire of the flesh."

Yesterday, we mused over the first part of Chapter 5 - our freedom in the Son. Today, we will consider the Fruit of the Spirit working in our lives.

Paul begins by describing the conflict we face the fierce struggle within the believer
(5:16-18). The Contenders in this conflict are presented for our understanding (5:17-18). We start with the first contender - our evil nature (5:17a) – our flesh. Often we say – “The Devil made me do it.”  When in reality, it is our own sinful nature that does it. Our evil nature is why we cannot keep the Law. That brings us to the second contender - The Holy Spirit (5:17b-18). When we are being led by the Spirit, we are no longer under the control of the Law. Yet, we will walk on the right path. 

Paul discusses the Council of God (5:16). “Live according to your new life in the Holy Spirit” (5:16a). “Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves” (5:16b) 

OK, that sounds simple enough. Right! 

Paul now expands this concept – as he talks about ... The children (5:19-26). 

First, he enumerates the fruits of the flesh (5:19-21). Immorality, idolatry, hatred, discord, selfish ambition, envy, drunkenness, etc. When we attempt to become righteous under our own efforts – living by the Law, we find that the flesh is able to sow its own seeds for harvest. And they grow like weeds. Paul is here stating that if one is attempting to get into heaven by his works – it won’t work. Get the message - WORKS WON’T WORK. 

He then turns to the fruit of the Spirit (5:22-26). Paul lists nine attributes of this fruit. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, meekness, and self-control. Some have thought because of Paul’s emphasis on love that the fruit of the Spirit is love. 

Notice that the word translated Works is plural in the Greek – while the word translated Fruit is singular. The remaining 8 words are adjectives describing this Love. 
  • Joy (gladness) 
  • Peace (moral peace – a rest with God) 
  • Patience (slowness to seek revenge) 
  • Kindness (integrity) 
  • Goodness (upright heart and life) 
  • Faithfulness (character of one who can be relied upon) 
  • Gentleness (meekness, mildness) 
  • Self-control (one who masters his desires and passions) 

Bearing the fruit of the Spirit is possible when we have crucified the flesh – how? Through Christ – GRACE. 

So catch this truth -- WORKS WON’T WORK, BUT GRACE GROWS THE GARDEN 

If we have received the Spirit – then we walk in the Spirit – not the Law. However, consider whether one would be fulfilling the Law by living in the Spirit? There would be no debate. 

Verse 26 – warns us to beware – when one tries to live by the law, see what they become. Conceited – eager for all the glory [they, after all, are the reason for their own salvation],
irritating – always challenging or confronting [their way does not allow for grace], and, envious - a feeling of discontent or covetousness with regard to another – in other words – breaking the 10th commandment [they are bitter inwardly for not having the freedom that Grace gives]. 

Prayer: Holy Spirit, I pry for the grace needed to see my garden flourish and grow. I know that the things I have tried on my own don't work, and when I let You control and run my ife the wonder of Your love flows through me. I can resist the works of the flesh, when I am walking in You. Amen.







Thursday, June 22, 2017

Living Free as a Bondslave #9


Galatians 5:1 (CSB) - "For freedom, Christ set us free. Stand firm then and don’t submit again to a yoke of slavery."

Paul will show us in this chapter how the miracle of justification brings about both freedom in the Son and the fruit of the Holy Spirit.

First, consider today the freedom in the Son. We have protection from the legalism of the legalizers (5:1-12). The work of Christ has freed us from the bondage of the law (5:1-4; 6-12) It is not the actual circumcision, but the reason for it. If one places themselves under the Law, they are then required to keep it all.

To “become estranged from Christ” means that He will not be of any future benefit to them. They have been “cut off” from Him. Carrying through the circumcision image. Paul is not speaking about salvation – but our relationship. The statement “Fallen from Grace” is a very misunderstood concept. It is NOT a loss of salvation as some would teach. Notice it does not say fallen out of grace – but from it. They had fallen from the higher plane of grace back to considering the field of keeping the law. Their progress for the Lord and in the Lord has stopped. They had become ineffectual and out of the relationship they had with Christ.

In verses 6 -12, Paul emphasizes that they started right – but now have been hindered in serving the Lord. This teaching of legalism did not come from God. (Verse 8). Paul says that he wishes that those who were teaching this would mutilate themselves. Basically be completely cut off. Again, he is sarcastically carrying on the circumcision image.

The work of Christ will (someday) free us from the bondage of our body (5:5). We are saved from the penalty of our sin, daily we are being saved from the power of sin, one day when we stand in His presence we will be saved from the presence of sin.

But Paul goes on to show the protection from the license of the libertines (5:13-15). Paul warns against using freedom to indulge the sinful nature. We must remember that salvation is not a license to sin. It is the license to do right. All of this is summed up in one word – love. Love one another – and we will do right by one another. We will automatically keep the law if we operate under the guise of love.

We can see that love would not:
  1. Dishonor our family members
  2. Kill another person
  3. Would not commit sexual sins
  4. Would not take something from another
  5. Would not lie about people
  6. And, would not want what belonged to someone else

In other words, the 6 commandments dealing with man’s relationship to man. Without love, we will seek to destroy others – and will in the process be destroyed. We have freedom in the Son by being protected from the legalism of the legalizers, and the license of the libertines.

The freedom of the Son gives us the power and privilege to Love. 

Prayer: Holy Spirit, take control of my life and lead me to fulfill the Law by living the way that Grace empowers me. May I be an example of Jesus to those I come in contact with today. Amen.


Wednesday, June 21, 2017

First Day of Summer


Psalm 107:8 (CSB) - "Let them give thanks to the Lord for his faithful love and his wondrous works for all humanity."


I was pondering over this devotion for the first day of Summer, and I saw an article and the title was, "Summer Kind of Wonderful". I started thinking about that Bible verse that talks about God's "wonderful works", so I looked it up and realized it was in Psalm 107:8. Then I realized that the exact verse was repeated four times in that Psalm. (107:8, 15, 21, 31) Whenever God says something, it is important. When He says it four times we need to stop and really consider it. I do enjoy summer and began thinking of all the "Summer Kind of Wonderful" things that the Lord gives us. Let us think on some of these things today -

Start by Thinking About The Sun. Of course the first thing I think about in summer is the sun. I really missed the sunshine over the winter. It was cold and I wanted so much for the sun to shine. I think the sun is such a fascinating thing. Only God could have made it. It lights up the whole world and heats up the earth. It helps the crops grow. We can even use it as a power source. 

We can Consider The Fruits and Vegetables. Summer means lots of fresh fruits and vegetables. Watermelon is my favorite summertime fruit. We recently had one and I always look forward to biting into that first delicious cold slice of it for the summer. I love getting fresh vegetables too. We have corn on the cob throughout the year but I don't know why it tastes so much better in the summertime. All those summer fruits and vegetables have so many things in them that benefit our health. They each have different vitamins that God made specifically for us for our nutrition.

And We Can’t Forget The Trees and Flowers. Another thing about summer is that everything is in full bloom. The trees are full and green. The flowers are in full bloom. Summer is just a beautiful time of year. The beauty of a green lawn (I love the smell of fresh mown grass), the contrasts of the various colorful flowers. Trees with green leaves, and the Crepe Myrtles in bloom. Such an array of color for our enjoyment. The Bible says in Genesis 1:11-12: “Then God said, “Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb that yields seed, and the fruit tree that yields fruit according to its kind, whose seed is in itself, on the earth”; and it was so. And the earth brought forth grass, the herb that yields seed according to its kind, and the tree that yields fruit, whose seed is in itself according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.” And you know what, I think it is good too.

I Love the Beauty of The Ocean, Ponds, Rivers, and Seas. My wife and I usually try to spend a little time on the beach every year. Watching and walking in the waves on the shore. As the water goes out, my wife loves to find the sea shells that the waves brought up before the next wave comes in. Sometimes we spend time along a river or a stream. The sound of the babbling water is so relaxing. You can't help but think of God and creation when you look at that water and all those creatures that you know it contains. The Bible records in Genesis 1:9-10 – “Then God said, “Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear”; and it was so. 10 And God called the dry land Earth, and the gathering together of the waters He called Seas. And God saw that it was good.” 

All of the verses that we quoted from Genesis 1 all end with the phrase, “And God saw that it was good.” What a great reminder as we look forward to Summer. God created it and it is good. Those verses in Psalm 107 say we should be praising God for His works and there's so many of them out there for us to enjoy. God does so many more works than those in just creation but I think it's good to focus on those things once in awhile, especially at the change of seasons. 

Psalm 40:5 reminds us: “Many, O Lord my God, are Your wonderful works
Which You have done…” and in Psalm 74:17 the writer reminds us, “You have set all the borders of the earth; You have made summer and winter.”

So, the question I will leave you with today is, “Will you be praising God for His wonderful works this summer?” 

Prayer: Father, I praise You for Your great Creation. I see that You have created so much for me to enjoy and lead me to worship You. May I spend time today in open praise and worship for the wonder and majesty of all Your works. Amen.





Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Living Free as a Bondslave #8


Galatians 4:19 (CSB) - My children, I am again suffering labor pains for you until Christ is formed in you. "

Yesterday we considered Paul's attempting to free the Galatians from the fetters of legalism by appealing to their head. Today, muse over his appeal to their h

Paul starts by rebuking them (verses 4:8-20). They served idols before – remember that they are Gentiles he is writing to (4:8). But, now they are returning to a legalistic view of serving God (4:9). He finds fault in their returning to legalism. He is concerned that he was mistaken in their salvation (4:10-11, 20). Paul reminds them that they once were his friends (4:12-15). He brought them the message of the Grace of God. Even during a severe bout with a physical infirmity, obviously some eye issue (4:15). He never held back from them the truth (4:13). They received him as a messenger of God – a spokesman for Jesus Himself (4:14). Paul wants to know if they are now his foes? (4:16-18). Since he has spoken the truth to them, some view him as an enemy. (4:16)

He says that the Judiazers (legalists) are courting them to add them to their side – the side of bondage to the Law (4:17). He commends zealousness – if it is for the right reason (4:18). Paul is willing again to suffer the pains of childbirth until Christ is developed in them (4:19). He is very concerned that they: first of all have a true salvation experience, and that they are leading others astray. (4:20).

That is a major problem that Paul is concerned about. The Galatians leading others astray. Keeping others from being saved. Satan works very hard to distort our understanding of the Gospel Once we are saved, he cannot get us back. But, he can keep us from leading others to the truth.  He will distort our testimony –“live like the Devil.” He will distort our teaching so that others miss the truth.

The Gospel appeals to our heads and hearts. Not by feelings, but by the facts. We must understand the process - Facts first, then the feelings follow.

Prayer: Holy Spirit, may I take the facts that You bring to my mind and heart and apply them to the way that I live my life. MAy I not lead others away from the Savior, but to Him. Amen.




Monday, June 19, 2017

Living Free as a Bondslave #7


Galatians 4:21 (CSB)- "Tell me, you who want to be under the law, don’t you hear the law?"

In this chapter, Paul is attempting to free the Galatians from the fetters of legalism by appealing to their head and their hearts. Let us look briefly at the thoughts he shares under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Today we will ponder the depths of Paul's HEAD words (4:1-7; 21-31).

To make his point in this part of his letter, he offers two illustrations for us. He starts with a LEGAL illustration (4:1-7). Consider a Roman father and his son (4:1-2). We start with the frustration (4:1) in this arrangement. Until he comes of age, the son can enjoy very little of his father’s estate. Even though there is a promise of the future, it is not available to the son. But, there is freedom (4:2). Upon coming of age the son can enjoy all of his father’s estate. When the time is right – the son gets it all.

Paul then ties this to the Redeemed's Father and the Father’s Children (4:3-7). Once again we see the frustration (4:3). While under the law they enjoyed very little of the Father’s estate. The human nature had control – and it was a losing battle. But again there is freedom (4:4-7). Upon coming of age (effected by the death of Christ) they can enjoy all of the Father’s estate. There is a beautiful picture of adoption in Roman Times that we don't have time to expand at this point, however consider from the times Paul lived in that as an adopted son, we have full rights to all that is the inheritance.

Paul then uses the example of Hagar and Sarah, two Old Testament women to allegorize the Law of Moses and the Grace of God. This is an allegory –a story that has a deeper or more general meaning in addition to its surface meaning. 

Allegories are composed of several symbols or metaphors. For example, in The Pilgrim's Progress, by John Bunyan, the character named Christian struggles to escape from a bog or swamp. The story of his difficulty is a symbol of the difficulty of leading a good life in the “bog” of this world. The “bog” is a metaphor or symbol of life's hardships and distractions. Similarly, when Christian loses a heavy pack that he has been carrying on his back, this symbolizes his freedom from the weight of sin that he has been carrying. 

We find many allegories in Scripture. Nathan (2 Sam. 12:1-4) addresses David in an allegorical narrative. [Confronting David over Bathsheba] Jesus’ parables follow this concept.

Here Hagar is an allegory of the Law. She was a slave (4:21-22). Her marriage to Abraham was fleshly directed (4:23a). Her son Ishmael was naturally born (4:24). Their son persecuted Abraham’s second son, Isaac (4:29). Her child was not considered Abraham’s rightful heir (4:30-31a). She corresponds to earthly Jerusalem (4:25).

Sarah, on the other hand is an allegory on Grace. She was a free woman (4:22). Her marriage to Abraham was Spirit directed (4:23). Her son, Isaac, was supernaturally born (4:27) [Isaiah 54:1]. Their son was persecuted by Ishmael (4:29). Her child was considered Abraham’s rightful heir (4:28). Sarah represents the New Covenant (4:27). She corresponds to heavenly Jerusalem (4:26). He states that we are not children of God by the “bondwoman” (the Law), but by the “free” woman – the grace of God.

So, Paul has appealed to their Head, and tomorrow we will see his appeal to heart.

Prayer: Father, as I meditate upon these illustrations of Paul, open my mind to see the distinction between the Law and Grace. I want to live Free as a Bondslave. Show me the way. Amen.



Sunday, June 18, 2017

Four Things Every Man Needs


2 Timothy 1:2 (CSB) - "To Timothy, my dearly loved son. Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.

This is believed to be Paul’s last letter. Last word’s carry a significant importance. Shortly after writing this letter Paul was put to death by Nero (circa 66-67 AD.). Who is Timothy
His name means “Honoring God.” He is one of Paul's converts, a native of Lystra, he was converted at Lystra. Timothy's father was a heathen Greek. His mother was a Jewess, but he had not been circumcised in infancy, probably owing to objections made by his father. Timothy's mother was called Eunice, and his grandmother Lois. Timothy wa a co-worker with Paul, one that Paul held in very close concern.

With this being Father’s Day, I would like us to consider 4 things that every man needs as demonstrated in the introductory statements of Paul.

Every man needs someone to LOVE, LIFT, LEARN, and LABOR over him.

First - every man needs someone who loves him. Someone to show true devotion (2 Tim. 1: 2). Paul calls Timothy a beloved son. the word translated beloved,agapeto, means favorite, esteemed, one worthy of love. The word translated  son, tekno, means a child. The name transferred to that intimate and reciprocal relationship formed between men by the bonds of love, friendship, trust, just as between parents and children. Paul had taken this neophyte theologian under his wing. He found a close bond of care and concern had developed for him. Every man needs someone in their life who will bond and seek to be the mentor, the teacher, and the molder of their lives. Every man needs someone to love him.

Then, every man needs someone to lift him up. Someone to pray for him (2 Tim. 1: 3). It is a great encouragement when we are told that someone is praying for us. It gives us strength and courage. It gives us the ability to stay the course. It helps us when we feel like our prayers are weak. Every man needs someone to love him, and to lift him up. 

Every man also needs someone who learns all they can about him. Someone believes in him. Someone who knows us very well (2 Tim. 1: 5). When we struggle through events in our lives, we need someone who speaks and shows that they believe in us. Every man needs someone to love him, to lift him up, and to learn all they can about him. 

Finally, every man needs someone who labors over him. Someone who shows true encouragement (2 Tim. 1: 6). We all struggle and need someone to be a cheerleader for us. Every man needs someone to love him, to lift him up, to learn all they can about him, and to labor over him.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, I am so thankful that You gave me my Dad. He truly was an example to me, and I saw in him someone who loved me, lifted me up, learned all he could about me, and labored over me. Thank You that Dad showed me how to call You Dad, to make You my Heavenly Father. This day as I think about him, I am so blessed to have two Dads in Heaven - You and him. Amen.


Saturday, June 17, 2017

Living Free as a Bondslave #6


Galatians 3:24-26 (CSB) - "The law, then, was our guardian until Christ, so that we could be justified by faith. But since that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, for through faith you are all sons of God in Christ Jesus."

Continuing with the final two arguments that Paul gives demonstrating the sufficiency of Justification by faith alone. Let us ponder the argument from the work of Jesus Christ (verses 13-14).

Paul tells us what He did (13a). He redeemed or bought us back from the curse. He took our sentence on Himself. So, how did He do it (13b)? By “hanging on a tree.” He took our curse or punishment. If we are honest as we look at ourselves we wonder why would He do it (14)? That we might have the Blessing of Abraham given in  Genesis 12:3. He did it so that the Spirit could be given.

The final argument Paul makes is based upon the work of the Holy Spirit (verses 26-29). What does the Spirit do (verses 26-27)? Well, consider through His work, we are adopted into God’s family – through our faith in Christ. We have Christ living in us. And He does all of this so that we can be united, be one (verses 28-29). There are no divisions except that of believer/unbeliever in God's Kingdom.

We have studied five arguments that demonstrates the sufficiency of Justification by faith alone. We are saved by faith, kept by faith, and delivered by faith. Faith alone. Sola Fidelis! We can know that the truth is that of faith alone because of the Galatians’ experience, the life of Abraham, the Law itself, the work of Jesus Christ, and the work of the Holy Spirit.

Prayer: Spirit of the Holy God, fill me, teach me, open my heart to God's great and glorious Word. I am saved by grace through faith alone - outside of the Law, outside of any of my feeble efforts, outside of anything man can devise. Praise and Honor to Jesus' full provision for me. Amen.


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