Archive for the ‘Galatians’ Category

The wonder of naming

January 30th, 2017 by Maureen

No longer will your name be called Abraham Gen. 17:15
No longer will your name be called Jacob Gen. 32:28
Saul became known as Paul. Act 13:9
I will give to each one white stone with a new name written on it. Rev. 2:17

When most of us experience the joy of naming – a new baby, or even a new puppy – we think about names that are in some way meaningful and reflect something about the being we are naming. We even name inanimate objects because they matter to us. Historically, being recognized as legitimate with the father’s name often meant the difference between having an inheritance and not having an inheritance. Our Father has a special name for each of us too. He calls us by the name that perfectly reflects who we truly are. In the Bible God even renames some people in order to reflect changed lives and changed relationships with Him.

Thank you, Papa, for giving me my own unique name and Your redemptive name.

Jesus has my ID

August 7th, 2016 by Maureen

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. Gal. 3:28

Membership in God’s family identifies us in ways that make each of us more uniquely and utterly ourselves and infinitely more valuable than anything we might do to attempt to distinguish our uniqueness or worth. We can only identify ourselves in very limited ways through identifying with different groups, ideas, or pursuits. Our efforts might increase our level of fame, respect, or contribution, but those are not the same thing as inherent worth. Jesus reveals our identity and proves our worth by coming Himself to redeem us, by making us His family, not just followers or adherents, and by creating an inexplicable bond that causes us to be in Him and Him to be in us.

Lord, help me to identify and value myself and others as you do.

Motive and opportunity

May 12th, 2016 by Maureen

What is important is faith expressing itself in love. Gal. 5:6b

The opportunity to speak directly about our faith simply provides clarification about the love already evident in our lives and relationships. What we really believe is expressed in the way we go about our lives: forming relationships, having conversations, doing work, learning, relaxing, celebrating, and dealing with conflict. If “God so loved…” is the motivation behind the act of redemption enacted by Father, Son, and Spirit, then it makes sense that love be the main idea we express and be our motivation for expressing it.

Lord, help me grow in both my faith and my love.

Good Friday on the time-space continuum

March 25th, 2016 by Maureen

Pilate: What shall I do with Jesus, called the Christ? The crowd shouted, “Crucify Him….And Jesus having again cried with a great voice, yielded the spirit; and lo, the veil of the sanctuary was rent in two from top unto bottom, and the earth did quake, and the rocks were rent. Matt 27

The cross was a concrete moment in time but it is also an experience happening outside of time. God exists and functions outside of time as well as within it. Jesus Christ was crucified on a Friday in Palestine sometime between 30 and 33 A.D. yet Jesus Christ was crucified before the world was made. Rev. 13:8 calls Him the “Lamb who was slain before the foundation of the world.” 1 Peter 1 explains that Jesus Christ was foreknown before the world was made and fortold by Old Testament prophets. Paul explains the same thing in Ephesians 1 and goes on to explain that before God even made us His intentions for us is an existence within the communion and love of Father, Christ, and Holy Spirit, as Jesus explains in John 17, has always existed. In Matthew 25 Jesus speaks of His Kingdom prepared for us before the foundation of the world. Jesus Christ’s crucifixion is an pre-creation experience within the Triune Godhead, a predicted event from the mysterious promise issued in Genesis 3:15 up until it became a historic event. Time and eternity converged in that moment and expelled enough energy to cause earthquakes and the symbolically split the dividing curtain between heaven and earth caused the evil. At this moment the eternally foreknown and foretold became present reality and a continuously happening present event as each person who recognizes His grace and embraces reconciliation to God through Christ. As each of us experiences His crucifixion as a personal event we are then continuously reconciled to what has already taken place on our behalf.

God, thank You for always and forever loving me.

Standing for freedom

February 15th, 2016 by Maureen

So stand strong for our freedom! Christ freed us to we wouldn’t spend one more day under the yolk of slavery, trapped under law. Gal. 5:1 (Voice)

Are we really standing for freedom if we are worried and critical about the way others are practicing theirs? Freedom is messier than law. Freedom cannot be lived through guilt, habit, and compliance. Freedom means we engage spiritually, emotionally, intuitively, perceptively, and practically in all our relationships and pursuits. Freedom means we stay open and receptive to the influence of Christ’s Spirit in all these areas and graciously encourage others in their own relationships with Him. The minute we try to make freedom the new law, we craft a new yolk…and rules and measures are sure to follow.

Lord, thank you for the freedom I enjoy now. Preserve it and help me to live graciously and joyfully in it.

Happy endings

December 11th, 2015 by Maureen

When the right time arrived, God sent His Son into this world (born of a woman, subject to the law)  to free those who, just like Him, were subject to the law. Ultimately He wanted us all to be adopted as sons and daughters. Gal. 4:4-5

Christmas celebrates the happy beginning of Jesus’ life on earth.  Film maker Orson Welles said “If you want a happy ending, that depends, of course on where you stop your story.” If we stopped His story at crucifixion it wouldn’t be a happy ending. We need the resurrection. We experience moments in our lives that feel like closure, a happy ending, like the time when we embraced His gift of salvation or got married or graduated. What happens before and after each of these events include all sorts of plot twists and complications that would make for a sad story if we stopped telling the story then.  And not every endeavor seems to end well. But we are part of a bigger story, the ultimate end of that story is  Christ’s eternal Kingship, freedom and adoption as children of that Kingdom, and His defeat of evil. This isn’t just Jesus’ happy ending, its the ending He wrote with His own blood for each of us.

Lord, thank you for the happy ending to all my beginnings, middles, and endings.

Giving is an opportunity not an obligation

November 21st, 2015 by Maureen

So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, especially to those of the family of faith. Gal. 6:10

Our generosity, kindness, and compassion extends beyond the borders of those who agree with us, although taking care of members of our faith communities is a given. When we internalize the redemption Christ provides the guilt-ridden “ought-to” obligation of charity isn’t the motivation. We no longer debate who “deserves” our resources or figure percentages and tax write offs into our responses. Rather than seeming like another demand on our time and resources doing good to others becomes a spiritually natural response that happens because we are lavishly loved and restored by God and that is what we desire for others. All others.

Lord, thank you for opportunities to do good.

The gospel we preach

July 12th, 2015 by Maureen

If any one, even a messenger out of heaven proclaims a gospel other than the good news we preached to you, let him be (anathema) set aside. Gal. 1:8

Does the gospel we preach elevate love or retribution to the most powerful force in the universe? Does it rely on grace and forgiveness or fear and shame to motivate repentance? Does it emphasize authenticity or compliance? Does it focus on transformation or achievement? Is it a good news or more of the same?

Lord, help me express the transforming power of Your love and grace in the gospel I live and preach.

Looking at Good Friday from the denouement end of the story

April 3rd, 2015 by Maureen

I have been crucified with Christ. I no longer live but Christ lives in me. The life I live now I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave himself for me. Gal. 2:20

We have the luxury of looking at Good Friday from the denouement end of the story. On the actual Friday of the crucifixion the disciples were still in the middle of the story but they thought they were at the end, though Jesus provided them with plenty of foreshadowing, if not giving the plot twist away outright. His crucifixion was the belly-of-the-whale ordeal, the seeming defeat, the heroic sacrifice part of the story that lead up to the resurrection, redemption, and reward part. We are in the denouement part where He reclaims all that His victory has won. Any trials we may face are post-victory plot complications.

Lord, thank you for writing me into the end of Your amazing true adventure.

 

Blood relatives

March 15th, 2015 by Maureen

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. Gal. 3:28

It is difficult to discard all the ways we define ourselves as individuals and as individual church bodies in favor of being defined by relationship with Christ Jesus. Membership in His family makes each of us more uniquely and utterly ourselves than anything we might do to distinguish our uniqueness or prove our worth. His blood binds us to one another more completely than any cultural norms we might create in an attempt to build community.

Lord, I am grateful to be defined by Christ.

Being a tryhard is so exhausting

February 6th, 2015 by Maureen

How foolish can you be? After starting your Christian lives in the Spirit, why are you now trying to become perfect by your own human effort? Gal.3:3

Perfection is a by-product of grace which is imputed to us by Christ. We are perfected by His work of reconciliation rather than by the works of our hands or our “spiritual” habits. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t push through to respond to Christ when we don’t feel like it or when we are tempted, but may we seek to enjoy Spirit-led responses to His love and grace rather than exhausting ourselves with forced effort.

Lord, lead me to rely on what You’ve done for me rather than what I try to do for You.

The weary world rejoices

December 8th, 2014 by Maureen

But when the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons. Gal. 4:4-5

Long lay the world in sin and error pining ’til He appeared and the soul felt its worth. Living under the law makes us feel guilty and unworthy but living under His grace makes us feel loved, treasured, and accepted. The love of the Father for us, expressed through Jesus, communicates what we are worth to Him. He did not even withhold His own Son in order to redeem us for relationship with Him so that we could be restored, forgiven, and adopted.

Father, my world-weary soul rejoices in the Gift You sent that holy night.

 

Redefining you and me

October 27th, 2014 by Maureen

My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. Gal. 2:20

Peter who denied, Thomas who doubted, Paul who persecuted, the woman at the well, Roman officers, healed lepers, tax collectors, prostitutes, and observant Jews went back into communities that still defined them by their pasts. Sometimes they may have been tempted to keep defining themselves that way. We sometimes still do that to ourselves and each other. The crucifixion and resurrection redefines all of us in the same way it redefines Christ for those who believe.

Lord, thank You for this resurrected, restored life I live in You and through You.

Faith expressed in love is spiritual graphene

October 23rd, 2014 by Maureen

For when we place our faith in Christ Jesus, there is no benefit in being circumcised or being uncircumcised. What is important is faith expressing itself in love. Gal. 5:6

Graphene is a thin, pure carbon sheet that is a strong, transparent, flexible, and conductive material with a wide variety of potential uses. The best, strongest, and most effective and versatile form of faith is based in love. Loving faith is sensitive and nimble, adapting to provide light, warmth, energy, support, transmission, reinforcement, strength, nourishment, and to be used in ways we haven’t even anticipated. Faith expressed in love increases our own awareness of God and communicates His love for others through our responses to them.

Lord, may my faith always be expressed in love.

 

Take my life and let it be

August 25th, 2014 by Maureen

How foolish can you be? After starting your Christian lives in the Spirit, why are you now trying to become perfect by your own human effort? Gal.3:3

Perfection is a by-product of grace which is imputed to us by Christ. His work of reconciliation is perfecting us rather than the works of our hands. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t make an effort but that our efforts should become Spirit-led responses to His love and grace.

Lord, take my hands and let them move at the impulse of Thy love.

I can pretend but God can transform

August 24th, 2014 by Maureen

But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: Love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, self-control. There is no law against these things. Gal. 5:22-23

The fruit of the Spirit is one single fruit exhibiting many traits (the way an apple can be crisp, sweet, tart, and red all at the same time) that God produces in us as an authentic reflection of His transformation of us. These characteristics originate in God and are manifested in us by Him. If our focus is on trying really hard to develop one trait in ourselves such as self-control or kindness, there may be some benefit to our relationships and social skills, but we are only practicing rather than becoming.

Lord, make of me what I can only pretend to be.

Celebrate liberty, freedom, and dependence

July 4th, 2014 by Maureen

Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage to the law. Gal. 5:1

Today we celebrate the United States’ independence. The idea was to create a nation that guaranteed freedoms and allowed for self-governance yet our man-made liberty eventually grew into  more and more laws and greater government control. We understand how to operate like this even when we don’t want to. The practice of freedom through Christ is not one of independence but of dependence on God and submission of our desires themselves to Him.

Lord, I declare dependence and embrace freedom in Christ.

 

 

Support doesn’t require solution

April 9th, 2014 by Maureen

Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. Gal. 6:2

As individuals and as faith fellowships we create environments that invite those around us to either share or to hide their burdens. Before anyone is going to open up and reveal heart-breaking, life-sucking burdens, which are usually deeply personal, that person must feel he or she is in a safe place. Sometimes, in our zeal to solve one another’s problems we don’t actually extend the love, acceptance, and support that really unburdens the carrier.

Lord, I trust You to solve the burden problems, help me take care of the burdened.

A more evolved version doesn’t change the nature of the beast

March 15th, 2014 by Maureen

It doesn’t matter whether we have been circumcised or not. What counts is whether we have been transformed into a new creation. May God’s peace and mercy be upon all who live by this principle; they are the new people of God. Gal. 6:15-16

The Jews thought change happened through a physical act, a ceremony, or spiritual discipline called circumcision. Do we still try to help Jesus out in the transformation process by putting ourselves “under the knife?” Instead of the approved-improved-duly-and- obediently-circumcised better version of ourselves, Christ transforms us into an entirely new kind of creature.

Lord, show me what it means to live by the principle of transformation.

A different way

March 6th, 2014 by Maureen

This way of faith is very different from the way of law, which says, “It is through obeying the law that a person has life.” Gal 3:12

In Him we live and move and have our being. Life in Christ is wonder, discovery, and adventure. In Him we love, belong, connect, communicate, create, work, and play. Stressing so much over doing it wrong hampers the potential to genuinely live the lives He created for us and experience the gift of His scandalously exhilarating grace.

Lord, be my faith lead to experiencing You instead of focusing on my efforts.