I’m getting behind in posting these up, but I still want to try and keep the books in separate posts.
- 4:21-31 . Galatians has the theme of ‘receiving the promises by faith NOT works’ all the way through. And here in these verses we get an amazing example of what happens when we try to go about it in our own strength. The example is from the Old Testament, Abraham and Sarah are promised to by parents of a nation – basically! But their old and they doubt God is able to do it, so they try and make the promise be fulfilled in their own strength – by works. The result is Abraham sleeps with another women, who is younger and she gives birth. They have a son they call Ishmael (whose descendants later give God’s people a bit of trouble in the OT). But God does provide for Abraham and Sarah their own son. Anyways, I just like it, lets trust God to provide rather than trying to get things our own way!
- 5.8-9 “It only takes a little hametz (yeast) to leaven the whole batch of dough”. Paul is talking about false teaching. I found this challenging, because I really like to listen to sermons from a wide range of denominations and who speak in a variety of ways. And there’s one guy in particular, who I’ve listened to his sermons since I was in secondary school. As I’ve got older I’ve become more and more aware of things I believe He says which contradict God’s Word. There was a point about three years ago when I stopped listening because I got so frustrated by it! Anyway in the recent months I’ve started listening again, this time as an intellectual exercise. I think: “It can’t all be bad, let’s see if I can find the bits I disagree with and find ways to argue against them from the Bible“. But reading these verses in Galatians was like a stern warning to me in this, it is much more dangerous than I imagine. I still think there is some gain in listening to teaching that is dodgy (in that I am learning to see faults and stronger my own conviction and ability to teach others correctly), and I am also convinced every preacher gets it wrong at times. But maybe it would be better to do this “intellectual exercise” with some other wiser and more mature Christians alongside me – rather than handling the fire on my own. This is a stern warning to me, and I want to take it seriously!
- 6.12 “It is those who want to look good outwardly who are trying to get you to be circumcised.” Again this is related to false teaching. In this church at the time, part of the false teaching of receiving right standing with God by works – rather than grace – was telling people they needed to undergo circumcision. Paul explains how this is also just another form of ‘works-based-righteousness’ and was wrong! When I read this I saw a connection between them wanting to look good outwardly and false teaching. Again this was a warning for me, one thing I’ve noticed through my Bible reading lately is that desire for reputation keeps coming up as a challenge point. When I read this I felt like God was directing me to be rooted in my Identity which is based on Him rather than my reputation. I find this difficult and have realised that appearance/reputation are the things I often idolize over God’s Word in regards to my identity. I used to think it was achievement, and I guess there is a bit of that in there, but deeper down I think my mind goes: achieve so that you will be recognised/have a good reputation/appearance.
The prayers in Ephesians were good to read to help me in being rooted in His Word over me:
“In my prayers I keep asking the God of our Lord Yeshua the Messiah, the glorious Father, to give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you will have full knowledge of him. I pray that he will give light to the eyes of your hearts, so that you will understand the hope to which he has called you, what rich glories there are in the inheritance he has promised his people,and how surpassingly great is his power working in us who trust him”
“I pray that from the treasures of his glory he will empower you with inner strength by his Spirit, so that the Messiah may live in your hearts through your trusting. Also I pray that you will be rooted and founded in love, so that you, with all God’s people, will be given strength to grasp the breadth, length, height and depth of the Messiah’s love, yes, to know it, even though it is beyond all knowing, so that you will be filled with all the fullness of God.”