It has been several months since I last wrote a blog and realized that I was really missing this part of my devotions. In January I set three personal goals for myself: 1. read through the NT this year, 2. run a 5 km race, 3. eat healthier.
Well, it’s July and I am needing a little push in the right direction. I did manage to accomplish goal #2, but stopped running since the race. I have failed at keeping up with my reading, but have restarted this week. Eating healthier, comes & goes, but it is a work in progress.
Over the last week as I am getting back into reading through the New Testament I have been reading the book of Galatians. For six short chapters, this book packs A LOT of messages. As I read through and reflected on what God is saying to me, I was filled with a new sense of encouragement and desire to keep moving forward.
Paul’s reaction to people who are drifting away from the true Gospel is real and honest. As a pastor, I can so relate to his frustration and shock of how easily people just drift away from the Gospel truths and follow the world’s views. But I am also challenged. How can I be stronger in my faith to show a better example? How can I teach others, encourage others to be devote to Christ no matter what the world says? I pray that if there is a time (and I am sure there will be), that I start to drift, that someone will tell me.
Paul confirms his calling in Chapter 2 and notes that it is different from Peter’s. Just like all of our callings are different from each. God has called me to minister to his children where I am. But in order to do this my faith much be genuine and true. Christ has to live fully in me for this genuine faith to shine through. “I myself no longer live, but Christ lives in me. So I live my life in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” Ch. 2:20 NLT
It is not about following laws and rules. In Chapter 3, Paul talks about the fact that we received the Holy Spirit because we believed — not because we followed the rules of Moses. These laws and rules taught us and lead us to have faith in Christ. It is so easy to get caught up with rules and regulations that our faith is pushed back. Paul reminds us to have faith, to continue to believe in Christ. In Christ Alone.
Once we know Jesus, why do we turn back to our old ways? This is a powerful question that Paul asks in Chapter 4. It is almost as if Paul can not get his head around the fact that people are turning back to their old ways when they used to follow Jesus. He does acknowledge that there are many false teachers that will try to take us down a different path, but we need to stand firm in the truths of Christ. Christ bought our freedom, so why go back to a life of slavery? So are you living a ‘free’ life or an ‘enslaved’ life?
In Chapter 5, Paul continues with the truth that we were set free by Christ, but builds on to it. We must live by the Spirit. What exactly does that mean…to live by the Spirit? In this chapter there is the well know verse about the fruit of the Spirit. If you read the beginning of this verse it tells us that we have to allow our lives to be controlled by the Holy Spirit. FULLY. Paul tells us that we are given this freedom to serve one another in love. (v.13b). I think that when I allow the Holy Spirit complete control of my life that it is so much easier to serve others in love. It is only when I take back control to parts of my life that this becomes challenging. I know that there are some people that are harder to love, but if I truly allow the Holy Spirit to take charge of my life, it is not that hard.
The final chapter gave me two main points to think about. First, as Christians we have a responsibility to help those who are struggling with sin — not judge or act superior — but to guide, encourage. This part is always difficult as when you point out someone’s sin, you need to be willing to accept feedback on your own actions. Is there sin in my life? Am I giving the impression that there is no sin in my life? I think there have been several times when I now that a brother or sister in Christ is sinning and I have not said anything. I know that I am not perfect, and am challenged to continue to strive to be honest with others. I think that part of the honesty in any relationship is telling our loved one when they are going down the wrong path. The second point that Paul makes is for us not to get discouraged. The harvest will come in God’s time. So often it is easy to get discouraged when we don’t see any results, but we are encouraged to keep faithful and strong to God’s leading. The harvest will come!!
Paul is one of my favourite writers and I always enjoy studying his word. In Chapter 6:4b, he reminds me to not compare myself to others. This is something that I need as I always feel that I am not enough when I look at other people.
So as I go forth this week I am encouraged to remain strong to the Holy Spirit’s leading and focused on what God has called me to do. Praying for you as you continue in your walk with The Lord.