Verse of the Day

Thursday, September 24

Restoration and Reaping

So here's the last in this summer's series on Galatians. If you have questions please email them to me and I'll address what I can. My prayer is that as we move through a period of secularization we may remain God's People and faithful to the freedom that we have been called too. 
Peace,
Alan



If you needed help to whom would you go? My Facebook profile lies when it says I have 438 friends. Some are duplicates, some are immediate and more distant family, about 35. Preachers and others like them make up another 65.  But two of them are unabashed Dodger fans so they’re suspect.

More than one I’ve friended because it is safer knowing what they are up to than not knowing. Then are those from the previous churches and friends I grew up with. But, if I needed help, restoration, renewal there are probably less than 15 on whom I’d call.
We are at the end of Galatians. Paul reaffirms his teaching on the flesh and Spirit, conceit and selfishness into these final words. He underlines what he has taught us about the ‘Law of Christ’ and it’s superiority over the ‘Law of Moses’.

The law of Christ is Paul’s focus as he ends chapter 5 with a warning against conceit and pride and moves into those who are tripped up by sin. “If anyone is tripped up into sin”, the word means to lose one'ss footing, to slip or fall then it is the duty of those who are keeping step with the Spirit (5.26) to restore them. Let me stop here and use two groups to teach us God’s truth.

Two types of people

Rick gave me a poster that said, “There’s 10 type of people in the world, those who understand binary and those who don’t”.  There were two types of people on the mind of Paul as God led him to write to the churches in Galatia. One group were spiritually minded, set on God’s grace and relying on Christ. They had been grabbed by the freedom offered in Christ and refused to let go. Of bigger concern to Paul, were the second group who were selling out to the Jewish cleanliness code. Trying to add their own work to God’s completed work and believing that only ‘law abiding Jews’ could be real Christians.  

This was a prideful and self-focused group. So much so, they separated themselves from the Gentiles who followed Jesus. And their influence even caused Peter and Paul’s missionary companion to ignore these non-Jewish brothers and sisters. 

Robert Heinlein, not a Christ follower, wrote a great statement on self-sufficiency via his character Lazarus Long.
“A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects” (Heinlein).
A blogger expressed a similar thought more recently when she posted,
“The trait of self-sufficiency was one that I always admired. I…revere that trait because I am an American and admire the iconic pioneer who set out in a covered wagon entirely self-sufficient” (The Living Philosopher)
Paul’s now turns his attention to the responsibilities that, those who have remained faithful to Christ will have to fulfill. Practical actions that Christ’s followers will be doing in order to fulfill the ‘Law of Christ’.

We are expected to restore those who have fallen into sin. The word ‘restore’ used is that of the disciples mending their nets (Matt 4:21; Mark 1:19. It means to set a bone, make usable again, fix and renew, or make whole again. That is the call for the true follower of Christ when it comes to brothers and sisters falling into sin.

The saying, “There, but for the grace of God, go I” is true. When it comes to correction or bearing the burdens of others there is no room for conceit. Calvin said it well, “Correct the faults of brethren in a mild manner, and to consider no rebukes…which do not breathe the spirit of meekness(Calvin and Pringle, 1948). To do otherwise sets ourselves up for failure.
There are no Christian amoebas, but there is the Body of Christ. The Lone Ranger Christian doesn’t exist because the call of Christ is a call to “the concept of mutuality” (Longenecker, 2015). There is a need for those who desire to remain true to Christ to do so with a joy and expectation, even if it is hard, time-consuming, exhausting and sometimes thankless. God’s desire is for His people not to think, “I’m better than you and I can prove it” or “you’re better than me and I resent it” but “You are a person of importance in your own right… and it is my joy and privilege to serve you’” (Stott, 1968).

Two outcomes

There are two outcomes designate for those who have been birthed into the world. They come from the normal everyday sowing seeds by our actions, words, and thoughts. One will either reap corruption or eternal life—either the works of the flesh or the Spirit. There is no middle ground no matter how much we want to believe it.

A 40-pound sack of corn has about 64,000 kernels and in Iowa typical fields contain 30,000 plants per acre. In 2008, the state average yield was 171 bushels per acre which means about 15, 390,000 kernels per acre (Agronext.iastate.edu, 2015). Phyllis understands this because she planted pepper plants this year.

God’s rule about sowing and reaping is simple. Hosea says “If you sow the wind, you will reap the whirlwind” (8:7) and in Genesis 1:11 God tells us that creation has been set up so that “Let the ground bring forth grass, & the herb yielding seed, & every fruit-bearing tree bring forth fruit after its own kind” that is one reaps what is sown. If we sow sin, evil, hatred, etc. we will reap the same and if we sow the seeds of the fruit of the spirit—kindness, patience etc… we will reap those. It is really simple.

Here’s a question to consider. Up till today, what have you sowed? Some of us will immediate think of our failures, our sowing of evil and immorality. Some of us will think of good things we’ve done, our children, community impact etc. The real truth is that we’ve sowed both types of seeds and we will and do reap both evil and good. That is because we are sinners, saved by God’s grace.

Because we are now in Christ we can take steps to sow seeds with much more thought and deliberate effort. We can begin to sow seeds “with our eyes on the future…with the harvest on our minds” (Homan, 2007). Look what Paul tells us about the way we sow, “God is not mocked.” The word comes “from turning one’s nose up at another and sneering at them or treating them with contempt” (Stott, 1968). It is to consider God a fool or believing you know better than God.

The problem with some who claim to follow Jesus is that they don’t give a rip about the seeds they sow. As a result, Trump, Clinton, Sanders, or whoever say nasty, stupid, and demeaning things without a thought as to the harvest. The agricultural truth of the God says, we cannot afford to live with such a nonchalant attitude. Instead, we must learn to be mindful of what, where and for what purpose we are planting.

One Hope

The ability to live such a life is our hope and the one thing we can ‘take to the bank’ is that God’s grace is determined to see that hope take root in our lives. Our hope is in Christ and Christ alone.

When we live out this hope we experience an outpouring of grace. Sometimes it is directed toward us but usually it is aimed at others. Paul says there is support for those who teach and bearing the burdens of others.  There is a view that sees the long game and not becoming wearing of doing good.

To do good, is to fulfill the ‘law of Christ’ to love our neighbor, to “jointly shoulder each members burdens” (Hendriksen, 2002), to restore those who have failed, to recognize how susceptible to failing we are and thus remain humble. It is sowing seeds that normally lead to a regular, everyday harvest, not to glorious adventures or spectacular miracles (Stott, 1968).

With the hope of God’s eternal life as our harvest, the world’s pressuring us to take on circumcision or some other outward ‘proof’ of our faith can be dismissed and unnecessary and harmful. We can instead simply continue on loving Christ and His people as we’ve been commanded. And, by the power of the Holy Spirit we can fulfill Christ’s law of love. Let us pray.



Works Citied  

Agronext.iastate.edu,. 'Common Corn Questions and Answers: Corn Production'. n.p., 2015. Web. 18 Sept. 2015.

Calvin, Jean, and William Pringle. Commentaries on The Epistles of Paul to The Galatians and Ephesians. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1948. Print.

Heinlein, Robert A. Time Enough for Love. New York: Putnam, 1973. Print.

Homan, Spencer. 'Spencer Homan Sermon on Don't Kid Yourselves (You Reap What You Sow)'. http://www.sermoncentral.com. n.p., 2007. Web. 16 Sept. 2015.

The Living Philosopher,. 'On Self-Sufficiency'. n.p., 2013. Web. 18 Sept. 2015.

Longenecker, Richard N. Galatians, Volume 41. [Place of publication not identified]: Zondervan, 2015. Print.

Stott, John R. W. The Message of Galatians. 5th ed. London: Inter-Varsity Press, 1968. Print.



Tuesday, September 15

Bearing Fruit that Lasts Galatians 5:16-26; John 15:1-5

I
rann Texas is named after Ira and Ann Yates who settled along the Pecos River in far west Texas. In 1915, he traded his grocery store for the land, which came with a mortgage of $16, 559 to be paid off over the next three years. It was a hard, unwanted piece of property but Ira and Ann continued too struggled raising sheep, goats and cattle. In a deal with Transcontinental Oil four wells were drilled on his property and October 28, 1926, at 992 feet, well 1-A came as a gusher (Kepner, 2015). There is a historical marker on the western edge of Irann that reads “You won’t find any oil west of the Pecos River”. That was the guiding principle for the 1920’s among oil explorers (Modisett, 2015).

Be glad people don’t always pay attention to those ‘guiding principles’. The guiding principles of Paul’s day is that there were many gods and that you had to placate with offerings and keeping various rules. There were norms in society that each gender and people were expected to fulfill and if you crossed the lines or tried to do something that was against these principles you paid a price.
Into this world comes Jesus, the Christ. The visible likeness of the invisible God, he comes with God’s grace to remove the rightful curse on our lives by taking the punishment we deserved. He paid the death sentence each of us owed to God because of our sin. And God raised him from the dead. Jesus’ resurrection is the sign of God’s satisfaction that the debt, the penalty, our curse, is paid off and removed. It is the promise from God that a new life is possible through Jesus.

But, the Galatians are in the process of selling off this new life in order to take on an old way of doing things. They’ve been tempted to run back to the safe and ordinary, the guiding principles of First Century religion rather than stay the course along God’s will for them. So we come to a contrast between the “Works of the Flesh” and the “Gifts of the Spirit”.

Up to now the comparison has been between God’s grace and the freedom that Jesus offers over against the slavery to the law.). Yet, as I mentioned last week, Paul wants to make sure the freedom we have in Christ isn’t lived out as without regards to the world and other people. In 5:1 states, “For freedom Christ has set us free” and in v.13, “do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.” Now he addresses those who might want to forget about any restraint on their freedom and how it stands against God’s Holy Spirit.

Walk don’t Run

He begins by telling us to, “Walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh” and this sets up the conflict that rages within us. “To walk” indicates an ongoing way of life. It is to walk about in the Spirit, where the Spirit leads, according to the word of God. Negative examples are easy to find, those who say one thing and live another.

But the outcome of living like this is that it isn’t possible to fulfill the flesh, the sins that come from our old nature. Now I’d like to say that such a walk is possible to achieve this side of God’s Kingdom but I’ve yet to find someone who manages it day after day without fail.

When we walk in this way we don’t run into sin. When we walk in this way we don’t run ahead of God’s leading. When we walk in this way we don’t run away from God thinking we’ve got it all figured out. These two, the Holy Spirit and the flesh are dead set against one another. The only answer to our sin is to walk by the Spirit. The question is how?

Work vs. Fruit

I’m not going to go through the list of the works of the flesh and fruits of the Spirit. Most commentators and teachers have tried to categorize, organize, define, and group them so they make sense to our Western mind’s need to see things laid out. In truth, it seems to be a waste of time.
Let’s take a larger view of these two lists. Fruit grows. It happens naturally when a tree is healthy. One may prune and fertilize but even in old trees like those in my backyard, plums do grow.
Work takes effort. It is dependent on what we do. We have to attempt, manage, decide, undertake and expend the effort to bring about the outcome of work. It is totally dependent on our actions and choices.

Works of the flesh are our attempt at living life. Because every one of us are sinners, our attempts fail and the best choices are horrendous compared to Christ’s desire. This list just underlines the outcome of what happens when we decide to live life on our terms.

The fruit of the Spirit is the natural outgrowth of living by the power of and attached to Christ who is the true vine (John 15). Fruit has nothing to do with our decisions, abilities or desires but they rest totally with the sovereign God. Whether we bear fruit depends on whether we’re joined to Christ that means whether we’re saved. It doesn’t depend on whether or not you’ve had your daily devotion today or typed “Amen” on the Facebook link.

When you compare works to fruit you discover that one is God-driven, the other human driven. One is sweet while the other takes sweat. One is natural the other is fallen and unnatural. One provides entrance into God’s kingdom and the other bars our entrance for eternity.

Choices

Many folks want to walk in the Spirit but end up working for the flesh. They can post great things on Facebook but their relational life is anything but pleasing to God. They can look find to the rest of the people in a church or at a bible study but in truth their life is one of working and controlling a life that is spiraling out of control.

We are like the Yates trying to pay off huge loans by running sheep on horrible, bare land when right below us is the power of God to transform our lives. But we don’t let go. We don’t go against the ‘guiding principles’ and what our friends think in order to grab hold of God’s promises. I fear that some will miss the life within God’s kingdom simply because they weren’t willing to let go of the works of the flesh. 

What has to happen, is to take the step of walking in the Holy Spirit and stepping away from those things that threaten to drag us into the work of the flesh. And to do this we must be part of the true vine, our Lord Jesus. Let’s pray.

Works Cited

Kepner, Lisa. 'YATES, IRA GRIFFITH, JR. | The Handbook of Texas Online| Texas State Historical Association (TSHA)'. Tshaonline.org. n.p., 2015. Web. 10 Sept. 2015.

Modisett, Bill. 'Remote Yates 1-A Well Ushered In One of World's Great Oil Fields'. MRT.com. n.p., 2015. Web. 10 Sept. 2015.




Monday, September 7

Communion: breaking slavery

This sermon follows on the theme of "freedom in Christ" which Paul has been writing about throughout this letter.  Hope it meets your needs.

I
f you think following Jesus will mean first place in life, think again. In 1993, Mike Deleavo, a cross-country runner was one of only five who did not miss a turn at the NCAA championship in Riverside, California. None of the five who took the longer, correct course, challenged the final out of respect for the in-state opponent Adams State College who won its second consecutive title.  Delcavo told the Riverside Press-Enterprise. "If I had stayed on the wrong course, I would have finished respectably. But when you read the official results, I'm 123 out of 128 runners" (Articles. latimes.com).

Yet, our goal as a follower of Jesus is to follow him, go the right way, no matter where the world ranks us. The Galatian’s were falling prey to a group who demanded Jewish ritual rules including circumcision. Paul clearly tells them and us that when we sacrifice such human designs for God’s perfect plan we cut ourselves off from the grace of God and the salvation through Jesus.

As Israel faced their rebellion, God, through the Prophet Jeremiah, pronounces the judgment we read earlier. Happiness, gladness, celebration, will end because of the people’s sins. Was it the breaking of the laws? Yes, of course, but at the root of that breakage was their “stubborn, evil will, refusing to listen to God” v.12. 

Freedom vs. Slavery

Let me quickly speak of the slavery that we risk when we remain tied to the world and the religious rule keeping that these Jews were pushing on the people. I say quickly because we’ve gone over this before in Galatians. Here is what God does when we put our faith and trust in something other than Jesus. This was God’s promise in Jeremiah, “I will hurl you out of this land into a land …and there you shall serve other gods day and night” v.13. Let me say that I think many Christians are going to be caught up in cultural idolatry by worshipping their pet ideas, politics and beliefs to the exclusion of Jesus. And God just may let our faith rise or fall on those beliefs. What sort of things am I talking about--good ideas, commendable futures, and concepts which are biblical. But, because our trust is in what they promise we lose sight of the Grace of God through Christ.

 Freedom not License

One of my favorite movies is The Princess Bride and one of the great lines have to do with Vizzini’s overuse use of the word, ‘inconceivable’. Finally Inigo Montoya says, “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means” (The Princess Bride). I want to apply this line to the word that is often used today—freedom.

The U.S. Constitution declares people “have been endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness(U.S. 1776). The freedom which our nation perceived as originating with God has taken a strange turn throughout the years. But the problem isn’t from a liberal or conservative Supreme Court, legislature, government bureaucracy, or taking prayer out of school. The problem stems from us.

It seems that freedom has morphed into individualism. Freedom has become the right to do whatever I want when I want without limitations. And if I don’t like it, get offended, upset or bothered,  I  am free to sue, disparage and attack others.

Freedom in Christ allows no “opportunity for the flesh” which means falling back into sinful selfish behaviors. If that’s not clear enough, Paul immediately gives us the positive aspect of freedom. “Through love, serve one another”.

Robert Bella, professor emeritus at U.C. Berkeley and not sympathetic to the Scripture understood how American adults became “caught up in the myth of the individual” (McKnight). What was linked too and flowed out of a biblical and civic responsibility took off like cancer and stripped itself of all moorings to others and started to claim the word ‘freedom’ for itself.

Bella describes, what passes for freedom, as “doing what I want,” and “finding oneself…In some sense … freedom to be left alone is a freedom that implies being alone” (Bellah).
What passes for freedom, even among Christians, is “independence, autonomy, and personal sovereignty” Dr. McKnight continues,
“Theologically, such a definition of one’s personal ambition smells of profound sinfulness. This view of life defines freedom as the absence of limitations and the presence of self-sufficiency and power” (McKnight).
Our getting in touch with ourselves, discovering who we are, becoming emotionally healthy and the rest isn’t bad. But it isn’t enough. “Mental and psychological health is not biblical freedom any more than eliminating racial prejudice is the Millennium” (McKnight).

Freedom in Loving

“For, the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (v.14). There is a very important difference between keeping the law and fulfilling the law.

It may surprise you but verse 14 is not a command but a statement. When we love our neighbor as ourselves we fulfill the entire law. It’s not keeping the special days, eating kosher and making that fulfill God’s law but when we do the unexpected and live as Christ’s person (Dunnam and Ogilvie).

Yet it isn’t us that do this loving of others. It is Christ’s love (that’s the passive voice) which is already poured out from the cross and which continues (the perfect tense) to be shown forth in our acts of love for others.

I ran across a pastor who said he posted on Facebook the question, "What makes it hard for you to serve other people?" Some of the answers he got included: 
"Serving is hard when it doesn't fit in to my schedule or plan. It's hard when their need seems endless. I don't want to risk helping/serving because I may get sucked in. Being swallowed up in the serving and not getting to be the me I think I am or should be (Miller).”
Then he says, “But my favorite answer was this one: "What makes it hard to serve others? Others” (Miller).

Loving others, does not equal first place as Mike Deleavo discovered but it is in line with God’s will and fulfills the purpose of His love since before time began and we celebrate it this morning at His table. Let us pray.


Works cited
Articles.latimes.com. 'A Race Full of Confusion: Despite Costly Wrong Turn, Cross-Country Results Stand'. n.p., 2015. Web. 3 Sept. 2015.

Bellah, Robert N. Individualism & Commitment in American Life. New York: Perennial Library, 1987. Print.

Dunnam, Maxie D, and Lloyd John Ogilvie. Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, Philemon. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1982. Print.

McKnight, Scot. Galatians. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan, 1995. Print.

Miller, Kevin. 'Facebook Question: What's Hard About Serving Others?'. Preaching Today. n.p. 2015. Web. 3 Sept. 2015.

The Princess Bride. 2015. DVD.



Saturday, September 5

Freedom

Ok, so this is a full week late in getting it posted. I have good excuses but the fact is, I just didn't get it done before I headed to Oakland for my step-father-in-law's memorial service.


D
anny Villegas was roofer in Texas for five years following 70-months in a Federal prison for bank robbery. He drove to Florida and went to the Kennedy Space Center Federal Credit Union and told the teller he was robbing her and that she “might as well call the police now.”
He then sat on a couch in the lobby to wait for the police. Lt. Ron White said, Villegas wanted to “rob a federal bank because he wanted to go back to a federal penitentiary” (Asso. Press, 2007).

Last week, we ended with Paul’s confusion, “I am perplexed about you” (v. 20). Partially because these people would leave behind the grace and freedom they’d found in Christ and because he had thought they had a bond between themselves which showed him to be truthful and honest.

Now the confusion continues as he asks if they have even listened to the Law. Hearing was more important then because it was mostly an ‘oral’ culture. Songs, stories, letters, plays, teaching were all verbal and the use of written words, contracts and the like were usually meant for the few or to be read to the groups they addressed. For the Jew, to “hear the Law” is to “internalize that word, to understand it, and to obey it… terms like of ‘seeing’, ‘hearing,’ ‘understanding,’ and ‘repenting’ are used synonymously” (Longenecker, 2015) for the process of listening to God’s Law.

A personal favorite explanation comes from Timothy George who translates this as ““Do you realize what you are getting into?” Do you really know what is involved in what you are about to do? Then listen more carefully to what the law itself says” (George, 1994). Those who had been Gentiles and were facing pressure to be circumcised might be excused from understanding the effect of the Law but not those who had previously been Jews.

Freedom from?

The introduction I used was about a man who could not stand to be free from Federal prison. Other stories can be told of those who can’t stand to be free from a life of abuse or addiction. There are those who can’t stand a life without pain and failure. But when read in 5:1 “For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.” What are we free from and what are free to?

We are free from trying to save ourselves. Our eternal future is no longer tied to keeping to a special diet, celebrating certain festivals and making a list of sacrifices to make God happy. A 20-something woman, raised in a Christian home and church assured her interview she was ‘saved’. She explained being a Christian meant asking Jesus into your heart and that you had to ask him to forgive you for “bad things, the sins you do.”

When the interview asked, “And what does God want from you?”

She was quick to answer, "He wants me to do good stuff …. You know, be nice to others and don't hang around with bad people.” The interview then summarized this exchange.
“We've transformed the holy, terrifying, magnificent, and loving God of the Bible into Santa and his elves. And instead of transmitting the gloriously liberating and life-changing truths of the gospel, we have taught our children that what God wants from them is morality. We have told them that being good (at least outwardly) is the be-all and end-all of their faith” (Fitzpatrick and Thompson, 2011).
Thomas Merton wrote, “It is not that someone else is preventing you from living happily… Rather than admit this [and ask for God's help], you pretend that someone else is keeping you from exercising your liberty. Who is this? It is you yourself” (Merton, 1972). 

Way back in 1967 I learned the difference between religion and faith when Fritz Ridenour penned a book for Regal Press called How to be a Christian without Being Religious. He pointed out that Paul, a Pharisee, “had plenty of religion… still the Law did not bring him peace. It did not put him in touch with the living God” (Ridenour, 1967)

The world promises purpose, hope, a future and peace. But it repeatedly fails to keep these promises. We are also free from trusting these false promises that never appear. We are free from the seemingly mundane and uselessness that life can become. Did you know that the ‘treadmill’ or ‘treadwheel’ was invented in 1818 as a device to use in British prisons? The purpose was to give prisoners the task of walking upstairs for hours on end to generate a little power for mills and the like (Lienhard, 2015).

Freedom to?

What does this freedom mean for us? Can we possibly become like the Galatians or the bank robber who desires the certainty of the routine we run back into it?
We’ve heard it before from Paul, but we are free to receive God’s grace. We are free to be children of promise, whom, since before Abraham, God has called to be his people. We are free to be forgiven. We are freed from the curse that our sins laid on us. Our freedom binds us to others who have been set free. Freedom gives us a deep, personal relationship with God in which we are privileged to call him “Daddy”
Thus, we are free to live for Jesus and like Jesus. The question is, what does that look like? In John 8 Jesus is faced with those who want to profess they are descendants of Abraham. To them, Jesus tells them

1.     His teaching is the truth and the truth will set us free.
2.    Those who are free would do what Abraham did which is believe and trust God
3.    Free to love him, that is to keep his commandments, to love as he loves, to give ourselves sacrificially like an offering for others.

John Stott points out, we inherit the spiritual reality of the Old Testament promises. “They are fulfilled today not in the Jewish nation, as some dispensationalists hold, nor in the British or Anglo-Saxon people, as the British Israelites teach, but in Christ and in the people of Christ who believe”. And “Secondly, we experience the grace of God, His gracious initiative to save us” (Stott, 1968).

Obtaining and maintaining one’s freedom…

You may not believe this, but there are some take the freedom Christ has given and assume they are free to do whatever they want to do because, “after all, God will forgive me because of Jesus.” Such behavior is a sign that one is either not really free, or simply foolish. “Freedom in Christ does not give us the right to do as we please but the power and ability to do as we ought” (Anders, 1999). Romans 6:1-2 says, “What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it?”

God’s work brings about ‘sanctification’ i.e. holiness by killing, little by little our sin nature. Whereas ‘justification’ is a past event, our salvation, the holy life is an ongoing adventure. “Both of them proceed from Christ by the grace of God: now sanctification is the abolishing of sin, that is, of our natural corruption, whose place is taken by the cleanness and pureness” (Whitlock et al., 1995).

Galatians 5:1 give us two commands concerning our maintenance of our freedom, “stand fast” and “do not again”. We do not win our acceptance by our own obedience (Stott, 1968). That is what religion is all about, earning heaven by doing good deeds. We are to stand fast by relying on God to continue the work he has started in us, even when we face hard time and naysayers. God has broken the heavy yoke so that we may stand (Leviticus 26:13) and we are, in no way, to take that on ourselves again.

We are much better off listening to Matthew 11 when Jesus says,
28Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

Let us pray.



Works Cited
Asso. Press. 'Man Stages Robbery to Get Back In Prison'. Washington Post 2007. Web. 26 Aug. 2015.

Fitzpatrick, Elyse, and Jessica Thompson. Give Them Grace. Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway, 2011. Print.

George, Timothy. Galatians. Nashville, Tenn.: B & H, 1994. Print.

Lienhard, John H. 'No. 374: Prison Treadmills'. Uh.edu. n.p., 2015. Web. 26 Aug. 2015.

Longenecker, Richard N. Galatians, Volume 41. Zondervan, 2015. Print.

Merton, Thomas. New Seeds of Contemplation. New York, NY: New Directions, 1972. Print.

Ridenour, Fritz. How to be a Christian Without being Religious. Glendale, Calif.: Gospel Light Pub., 1967. Print.

Stott, John R. W. The Message of Galatians. 5th ed. London: Inter-Varsity P., 1968. Print.

Whitlock, Luder G. et al. New Geneva Study Bible. Nashville: T. Nelson, 1995. Print.