Posts tagged ‘Galatians’

March 20, 2014

843 Acres Lent #TBT: A Prayer for Endurance

by Bethany

M’Cheyne: Prov 7 (txt | aud, 2:29 min)
Gal 6 (txt | aud, 2:18 min)

Paul: Galatians 6:9 

And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.

John Bailer: A Diary of Private Prayer, Twenty-Seventh Day: Morning

Grant, O most gracious God, that I may carry with me through this day’s life the remembrance of the sufferings and death of Jesus Christ my Lord.

For Thy fatherly love shown forth in Jesus Christ Thy well-beloved Son. For His readiness to suffer for our sakes. For the redemptive passion that filled His heart. I praise and bless Thy holy name.

For the power of His Cross in the history of the world since He came. For all who have taken up their own crosses and have followed Him. For the noble army of martyrs and for all who are willing to die that others may live. For all suffering freely chosen for noble ends, for pain bravely endured, for temporal sorrows that have been used for the building up of eternal joys. I praise and bless Thy holy name.

O Lord my God, who dwellest in pure and blessed serenity beyond the reach of mortal pain, yet lookest down in unspeakable love and tenderness upon the sorrows of earth, give me grace, I beseech Thee, to understand the meaning of such afflictions and disappointments as I myself am called upon to endure. Deliver me from all fretfulness. Let me be wise to draw from every dispensation of Thy providence the lesson Thou art minded to teach me. Give me a stout heart to bear my own burdens. Give me a willing heart to bear the burdens of others. Give me a believing heart to cast all burdens upon Thee.

Glory be to Thee, O Father, and to Thee, O Christ, and to Thee, O Holy Spirit, for ever and ever. Amen.

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March 19, 2014

843 Acres Lent: Against the Debtor’s Ethic

by Bethany

M’Cheyne: Prov 6 (txt | aud, 3:18 min)
Gal 5 (txt | aud, 3:19 min)
Highlighted: Gal 5:1

Gratitude: Gratitude—the pleasant sense of the worth of something that we have received from another—is a good thing; but it’s a vulnerable thing, too. The sense of delight in gratitude can easily turn into a sense of debt or payment. The debtor’s ethic says, “Because you have done something good for me, I feel indebted to do something good for you.” Is this how we should approach God—owing Him something, trying to pay Him back?

Grace: John Piper writes, “[The debtor’s ethic] is not what gratitude was designed to produce. God meant gratitude to be a spontaneous expression of pleasure in the gift and the good will of another. He did not mean it to be an impulse to return favors. If gratitude is twisted into a sense of debt, it gives birth to the debtor’s ethic—and the effect is to nullify grace. Don’t misunderstand me. Gratitude itself does not nullify grace. It exults in grace … [But] when our virtue—toward other people or toward God—is born out of this sense of ‘paying back,’ we are in the grip of the debtor’s ethic.” [1]

Freedom: Here in Galatians 5, we read, “It is for freedom that Christ has set you free; stand firm, therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.” [2] We are, therefore, not debtors in the sense that we owe Him or in the sense that we can turn our good acts into currency to pay Him back. What, then, is our motivation for obedience? Faith in future grace, Piper says. “Gratitude exults in the past benefits of God and says to faith, ‘Embrace more of these benefits for the future, so that my happy work of looking back on God’s deliverance may continue.’” When we approach gratitude in this way, “Faith in future grace is the secret that keeps impulses of gratitude from turning into the debtor’s ethic.”

Prayer: Lord, Thank you for not making us debtors to you for we could never pay you back. Ever. And, in fact, you don’t want us to. You want us to be full of gratitude for the past and, as we face the future, to have eyes of faith that we will continue looking back on the past with gratitude. Truly, this is freedom. This yoke is not burdensome. Keep us, therefore, from the debtor’s ethic—as we approach you and others. Amen.

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Footnotes

[1] John Piper. Future Grace. | [2] Galatians 5:1 ESV

March 18, 2014

843 Acres Lent Tweetables: The Deception of Beauty

by Bethany

M’Cheyne: Prov 5 (txt | aud, 2:34 min)
Gal 4 (txt | aud, 3:39 min)
Highlighted: Prov 5

Discerning Brokenness

We undervalue sex. We treat it as appetite, consumption, routine, commodity. We extract sex from the whole person.

We overvalue sex. We prize physical and sexual attraction above all else. We evaluate and objectify others based on how they look.

“Being a Sex Object Is Empowering. Oh, Wait. No, It’s Not. Here’s Why.” by @carolineheldman via @TEDTalks http://ow.ly/uxQil

Imagining Redemption

MT @timkellernyc Sex is a way of saying, I see all your imperfections & I’m still completely, exclusively, and permanently committed to you.

To understand sexuality, we must understand redemption (Ephesians 5) and see ourselves as Christ does – beautiful and lovable.

Although he was the most beautiful, Jesus emptied himself of his beauty to make us beautiful. He loved the unlovely to make us lovely. 

Praying ACTS

Lord, We #adore you for creating the intimate act of sex as a covenant seal and for speaking of it in wonderful terms in Proverbs 5.

Yet we #confess that we often lack discretion, flirting w/the idea of rejecting your good news for sexuality and forsaking the path of life.

Yet we give you #thanks for guiding us according to your Word and in your Spirit. For redeeming us that we may understand all of life.

May we be attentive to your wisdom. Incline our ears to your understanding, that we may keep discretion & guard understanding. #supplication

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 Lent - logo

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March 17, 2014

843 Acres Lent: Changing our Daily Choices

by Bethany

M’Cheyne: Prov 4 (txt | aud, 2:45 min)
Gal 3 (txt | aud, 3:50 min)
Highlighted: Prov 4:23

Daily: Our character is determined by our daily choices. As C.S. Lewis writes, “Good and evil increase at compound interest. That is why the little decisions you and I make every day are of such infinite importance. The smallest good act today is the capture of a strategic point from which, a few months later, you may be able to go on to victories you never dreamed of. An apparently trivial indulgence in lust or anger today is the loss of a ridge or railway line …” How easy is it, though, to change our daily choices?

Change: It’s not. Proverbs says, “Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.” And Augustine writes, “The key to life change is not the acts of the will but the loves of the heart.” In other words, our daily acts spring from our deep loves, and our deep loves are almost impossible to change. Our loves are disordered. We take good things and make them ultimate—money, success, power, etc. And we have no power to change this. As Emily Dickinson says, “The Heart wants what it wants—or else it does not care.”

Gospel: But Jesus came, saying, “I am the way,” not, “I will show you the way.” He took the loss of the ultimate ridge or railway line so that we may know victories we never dreamed of. Therefore, we do not give God a righteousness to placate Him; He gives us a righteousness to redeem us. When we take the gospel into our hearts, we find a deep love that orders all other loves. This changes our daily choices—even though it may not happen all at once: “But the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, which shines brighter and brighter until full day.”

Prayer: Lord, Your love is astounding and, when this reality becomes true to our hearts, the springs of life flow as mighty waters. Yet we confess that our loves are disordered and, therefore, our daily choices are misguided and unwise. Forgive us. For we are unable to change our lives. You must change our hearts. Therefore, lift our eyes to Christ and open the gates of paradise that we may walk in. Amen.

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September 30, 2013

843 Acres: The Pope: “I am a sinner.”

by Bethany

M’Cheyne: 1 Kings 2 (text | audio, 8:57 min)
Gal 6 (text | audio, 2:18 min)
Highlighted: Gal 6:14

Sinner: When the interviewer asked him, “Who is Jorge Mario Bergoglio?”, Pope Francis replied, “I am a sinner. I do not know what might be the most fitting description … I am a sinner. This is the most accurate definition. It is not a figure of speech, a literary genre. I am a sinner … Yes, perhaps I can say that I am a bit astute, that I can adapt to circumstances, but it is also true that I am a bit naïve. Yes, but the best summary, the one that comes more from the inside and I feel most true is this: I am a sinner whom the Lord has looked upon.” [1]

Boasting: Paul referred to himself as “the foremost” among sinners: “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost.” [2] Paul did not boast in his sin; he talked about his sin so that he might boast in Christ. He ended his letter to the Galatians, “ … far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.” [3].

Gospel: Pope Francis did not boast in his sin, but in the gospel. He said, “I am a sinner, but I trust in the infinite mercy and patience of our Lord Jesus Christ, and I accept in a spirit of penance … God is greater than sin.” He also did not boast in his good works: “[T]he proclamation of the saving love of God comes before moral and religious imperatives … The message of the Gospel, therefore, is not to be reduced to some aspects that, although relevant, on their own do not show the heart of the message of Jesus Christ.”

Prayer: Lord, We may not agree with all of Pope Francis’s theology, but we praise your name that the good news of Christ Jesus and his saving love is being made known. May we not boast in our sin or our good works, but may our sin and good works be used to highlight your great mercy. For it is only in the cross, where we find complete atonement and acceptance, that we can die to the world. Amen.

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Footnotes

[1] Antonio Spadaro, S.J. “A Big Heart Open to God.” America Magazine. September 30, 2013. | [2] 1 Timothy 1:15 ESV | [3] Galatians 6:14 ESV

September 27, 2013

843 Acres: To Be Perfectly Ruled and Perfectly Free

by Bethany

M’Cheyne: 2 Sam 23 (text | audio, 6:22 min)
Gal 3 (text | audio, 3:50 min)
Highlighted: Gal 3:21

Co-Existing: This week, we have tried to disentangle the law from the gospel, but the question begs: Can the law and the gospel co-exist? Or, as Paul asks, “Is the law then contrary to the promises of God?” [1]

Simultaneous: In 1979, Yale Law Professor Arthur Leff wrote, “I want to believe—and so do you—in a complete, transcendent, and immanent set of propositions about right and wrong, findable rules that authoritatively and unambiguously direct us how to live righteously. I also want to believe—and so do you—in no such thing, but rather that we are wholly free, not only to choose for ourselves what we ought to do, but to decide for ourselves, individually and as a species, what we ought to be. What we want … is simultaneously to be perfectly ruled and perfectly free … ” [2]

Reconciled: The cross is the answer to his longing. The gospel does not reject the law; the gospel marries the law with love. In The Everlasting Righteousness, Horatius Bonar wrote, “Law and love must be reconciled, else the great question as to sinner’s intercourse with the Holy One must remain unanswered. The one cannot give way to the other. Both must stand … The one has not given way to the other. Each has kept its ground; nay, each has come from the conflict honored and glorified. Never has there been love like this love of God—so large, so lofty, so intense, so self-sacrificing. Never has Law been so pure, so broad, so glorious, so inexorable.” [3]

Uncompromised: “There has been no compromise,” he continued. “Law and love have both had their full scope … They have been satisfied to the full; the one in all its severity, the other in all its tenderness. Love has never been more truly love, and Law has never been more truly Law, than in this conjunction of the two. It has been reconciliation without compromise. God’s honor has been maintained, yet man’s interests have not been sacrificed. God has done it all, and He has done it effectually and irreversibly.”

Prayer: Lord, The Law imprisoned everything under sin for a purpose—that the promise by faith in Christ might be given, not earned. The gospel beckons us to the cross, where law and love kiss. May this costly grace melt our hearts so that we may live righteousnessly as a response to, not an earning of, your law/love. Amen.

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M’Cheyne: Weekend Readings

Saturday, September 28: 2 Sam 24 (text | audio, 5:18 min) & Gal 4 (text | audio, 3:39 min)
Sunday, September 29: 1 Kings 1 (text | audio, 8:46 min) & Gal 5 (text | audio, 3:19 min)

Footnotes

[1] Galatians 3:21 ESV | [2] Leff, Arthur A., “Unspeakable Ethics, Unnatural Law” (1979). Faculty Scholarship Series. Paper 2826. | [3] See Leff.

September 26, 2013

843 Acres: Throwback Thursday: Luther on the Gospel vs. the Law

by Bethany

M’Cheyne: 2 Sam 22 (text | audio, 6:21 min)
Gal 2 (text | audio, 3:11 min)
Highlighted: Gal 2:4-5 

Paul in Galatians 2:4-5

Yet because of false brothers secretly brought in—who slipped in to spy out our freedom that we have in Christ Jesus, so that they might bring us into slavery—to them we did not yield in submission even for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel might be preserved for you.

Martin Luther in Commentary on Galatians

When Paul speaks of the truth of the gospel, he implies by contrast a false gospel … Now the true gospel has it that we are justified by faith alone, without the deeds of the Law. The false gospel has it that we are justified by faith, but not without the deeds of the Law … So do the papists. They admit that faith is the foundation of salvation. But they add the conditional clause that faith can save only when it is furnished with good works. This is wrong. The true Gospel declares that good works are the embellishment of faith, but that faith itself is the gift and work of God in our hearts …

Since our opponents will not let it stand that only Christ justifies, we will not yield to them. On the question of justification, we must remain adamant, or else we shall lose the truth of the Gospel. It is a matter of life and death. It involves the death of the Son of God, who died for the sins of the world. If we surrender faith in Christ as the only thing that can justify us, the death and resurrection of Jesus are without meaning; that Christ is the Savior of the world would be a myth. God would be a liar, because He would not have fulfilled His promises …

Some will object that the Law is divine and holy. Let it be divine and holy. The Law has no right to tell me that I must be justified by it. The Law has the right to tell me that I should love God and my neighbor, that I should live in chastity, temperance, patience, etc. The Law has no right to tell me how I may be delivered from sin, death, and hell. It is the Gospel’s business to tell me that. I must listen to the Gospel. It tells me, not what I must do, but what Jesus Christ, the Son of God, has done for me.

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September 25, 2013

843 Acres: What makes Galatians unlike the rest of Paul’s letters?

by Bethany

M’Cheyne: 2 Sam 21 (text | audio, 4:46 min)
Gal 1 (text | audio, 2:44 min)
Highlighted: Gal 1:6-7

Letters: Nine books of the New Testament are letters written by Paul to churches throughout Asia Minor and the Roman Empire. Even though these churches were full of problems, Paul always started his letters with encouragement. For example, to the Corinthians, who were dealing with issues such as sexual immorality, divorce and elitism, he said, “I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus.” [1]

Galatians: There is one letter, however, that Paul did not begin with encouragement—Galatians. As soon as he finished his introductory formalities, Paul got straight to the point: “I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel—not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ.” [2] What was so wrong in Galatia? Surely its situation was not as bad as the one in Corinth, where two members were engaging in incest, right? Could he not have encouraged the Galatians as he had the Corinthians? Was he not overreacting a bit?

Gospel: In Galatia, the gospel itself was at risk. False teachers were telling Gentile believers that they had to be circumcised to be saved. In other words, they argued, the substitutionary life and death of Christ were insufficient; if they wanted to partake in his glory and resurrection, they had to be circumcised, too. Paul was livid. As he knew from his own life, the gospel is not about our obedience, but about our disobedience and what God through Christ’s obedience has done to redeem us. As Martin Luther said, “[The gospel] tells me, not what I must do, but what Jesus Christ, the Son of God, has done for me.” [3]

Prayer: Lord, The gospel is news, not advice. It is the good news that Christ obeyed and died in our place that we might share in his resurrection and glory. Yet we confess that we often seek righteousness apart from Christ. We confuse the order; where justification (how we are saved) should come first, we sometimes put sanctification (how we live) at the beginning. Forgive us. Search our hearts and show us where we add to the gospel. Redeem us and let us rest in your complete and sufficient work. Amen.

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Footnotes

[1] 1 Corinthians 1:4 ESV | [2] Galatians 1:6-7 ESV | [3] Martin Luther. Commentary on Galatians. Stay tuned tomorrow for a fuller excerpt from his fantastic commentary on Galatians.

March 20, 2012

The Thrill of Monotonous Living

by Bethany

Highlighted Text: Gal. 6:9-10
Full Text: Prov. 7; Gal. 6
Photo of the Day: #TPFperspective

Boredom | Monotony. Monogamy. Monochord. Monochrome. Monotone. Most New Yorkers just fell asleep while reading those words. We despise monotonous schedules and monogamous relationships. Monochords make boring music, monochromes create forgettable palettes and monotone speakers bore us. We have an amazing capacity for getting tired of things – even wonderful things like snowfalls or sunrises. In time, we complain about the snow and rarely wake up to see the sunset. We lose interest. The thrill is gone.

Encouragement | The Galatians were new believers who had already grown weary of doing good. Specifically, they had stopped supporting their church teachers financially [1]. So Paul exhorted them, “Let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith” [2]. Not only did Paul know that the teaching of the Word was essential for true worship and real affection, he also knew that supporting their church teachers fulfilled the law of Christ [3]. Therefore, he encouraged them not to grow weary and, in so doing, reap eternal life.

Children | How can we do this? We can look to our Lord, who never grows tired of doing good. As G.K. Chesterton wrote, “Children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say, ‘Do it again’; and the grown-up person does it again until he is nearly dead. For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony. But perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning, ‘Do it again’ to the sun; and every evening, ‘Do it again’ to the moon … It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we” [4].

Prayer | Lord, Let us not grow weary in doing good – fulfilling the law of Christ by serving and supporting others. Give us the eternal appetite of infancy so that our morning thought is, “Do it again today! Make us instruments of your good will to others!” Help us to exult in the monotonous work of doing good so that we may reap eternal life. Keep our hearts young in our enjoyment of obedience. Amen.

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Footnotes

[1] Gal. 6:6. See also 1 Cor. 9:11; 1 Tim. 5:17-18. Matt. 10:10  |  [2] Gal. 6:9-10 ESV  |  [3] See Matt. 10:10  |  [4] G.K. Chesterton. Orthodoxy.

March 19, 2012

Christ Died to Make Us Free

by Bethany

Highlighted Text: Gal. 5:1
Full Text: Prov. 6; Gal. 5
Photo of the Day: #TPFperspective

Enjoying | We sometimes get anxious about decisions that are – simply put – not great issues with God. What city we live in, what person we marry, what job we take – these are not the most crucial issues of our lives. What should we be most concerned about? Enjoying our freedom in Christ. As Paul wrote, “For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm, therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery” [1]. God wants us to enjoy our freedom – this is why Christ died and rose again and sent his Spirit. There’s nothing He wants more for us than to enjoy what He has done for us in Christ.

Depending | How do we do this? We obey what He commands with hearts that take joy in the cross. When we deal with God as if He needs our work for Him to accept us [2], we live as slaves who merely want God in order to escape punishment [3]. That creates drudgery in us and brings dishonor upon His grace. When we admit, however, that we have nothing to add to the gospel – not even our obedience or good works – we live in freedom because we utterly depend on His magnificent grace to us in Christ. This magnifies the Lord and His mighty work. How does this look? As Paul wrote, “Through the Spirit, by faith, we ourselves eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness” [4]. Being free means we wait “through the Spirit” who makes the obedient life a life of joy in partnership with the Lord [5] and “by faith” as we eagerly await “the hope of righteousness” that will be revealed at the end of this age.

Praying | Lord, We confess that we oftentimes neglect some of the most important issues of our lives. Faith is not merely a past decision; it is an ongoing way of living in freedom for the hope of our righteousness in Christ. Therefore, we pray that you would grow in us a desire to enjoy our freedom, as we increasingly learn to depend on you. Turn our obedience into a joyful pursuit – for we know that Christ died to make us free. Therefore, do not let us submit again to a yoke of slavery. Amen.

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Footnotes

[1] Gal. 5:1 ESV.  |  [2] Gal. 2:21.  |  [3] See Gal. 2:2-5.  |  [4] Gal. 5:5 ESV.  |  [5] See Gal. 5:16-26.

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