Weekend Wrap-up

These are just some quick thoughts as I wrap up the last week or two that have been on my mind.

  • I heard a lady on the radio yesterday giving her testimony. She had been living a really rough life, and she wanted to know if God was real. She shared how God revealed Himself in this moment of crisis in an unmistakable way. At the end of the call, she threw in this statement that has stuck with me: “I wasn’t looking for God to change my life; I only wanted to know if He was real. But once I knew that He was real, my life was changed.” I loved that thought. When we experience the reality of who God is and what Christ has done for us, we will be changed!


  • I went to a cross country match to watch a family friend run. What I loved was seeing him at the end, even though he was surely tired, sprint to the finish, even overtaking another runner at the very last moment. This running with the end in sight, with a focus on the finish, was a picture to me of how to run the life of faith which is compared in Scripture at times to a race:

    Hebrews 12:1-2: “Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

  • This week we celebrated the day that my daughter came home from the hospital 14 years ago ago after a three month stay. She was born three months prematurely (27 weeks along, 2 pounds) and came home on her original due date. It’s hard to pass milestone moments like these without pausing again to remember and give thanks to God for her life and His protection over her and for the many miraculous ways we saw His hand at work during those challenging days. These are indeed stones of remembrance.


  • Then finally we wrapped up the football season for my son this week. It was a great season, and I am glad to see his hard work and discipline in the sport, his great coaches who use the sport as a means to bring gospel truths into their lives, and the friendships he has developed.


Verses for the Day – Galatians 3:10-14

Note: To find out about the verses for the day, click here. And to read the other posts in the Galatians series, click here. (They appear in reverse order.)

My son and I sometimes watch the “Amazing Race.” It’s a great study in human behavior and opens up some good conversations. We enjoy learning about places all over the world, and it has inspired my son to want to be a world traveler.

In the “Amazing Race,” one man and his wife made a mistake by booking their airline tickets before they got to the airport. When they realized the error, he said it was half his fault. He was prepared to take part of the blame. He was measuring out who was responsible and justifying himself for part of his actions.

In contrast, another man, a Christian snowboarder, was irritable, jealous that he did not get to participate in one of the more thrilling tasks of speed racing a car. He acknowledged his sin, asked the Lord for forgiveness, and allowed the Lord take his anger and jealousy over the situation, and he became free. He depended on God’s grace.

This contrast is a picture of what we see in the verses for today from Galatians 3:10–14:

“10 For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, ‘Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them.’ 11 Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for ‘The righteous shall live by faith.’ 12 But the law is not of faith, rather ‘The one who does them shall live by them.’ 13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree’ – 14 so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith.”

Paul is quoting from Old Testament Scriptures (Deuteronomy 27:26 in verse 10; Habakkuk 2:4 in verse 11; Leviticus 18:5 in verse 12; and Deuteronomy 21:23 in verse 13).

Paul points out that if we are under the works of the law, we are under the curse, because the Scriptures (Deut. 27:26) teach us that everyone who does not continue in all things written in the law is cursed. As human beings who sin and make mistakes, we could never fully carry out the law and its requirements and demands. In this failure, we would come under a curse.

But Paul goes on to tell us the incredible news that Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us (Deut. 21:23). Christ a curse for you and me so that we are not cursed. Ponder that amazing truth!

How then do we live? Not by the law, but by faith. Verse 12 tells us that the law is not of faith. They are not the same. The righteous shall live by faith and receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.

This is what the snowboarder seemed to understand. He was walking by faith and dependence on Christ for his forgiveness and justification. The first man was living by law, accepting some of his mistakes and doling out the appropriate blame for others to carry. He was living dependent on himself.

The law brings a curse, and Paul will explain its role in further detail later in Galatians. For now, delight in the truth that Jesus saves us by grace through faith, not of ourselves or any works or keeping of the law that we could do because that would never be enough. Christ alone is sufficient to save us. Praise Him!

Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank you that you would stoop to reach us. Thank you that you humbled yourself to death on a cross to take our curse and shame and guilt and sin, and give us your righteousness by faith in you. Let this glorious truth sink deeply within our hearts and take root so that we might not live in our own strength but by yours and in the power of your Spirit. Free us by this truth to not live legalistic lives, but ones of faith in you, praising you for all you have done. In Jesus name, Amen.

Verses for the Day – Galatians 3:6-9

Note: To find out about the verses for the day, click here. And to read the other posts in the Galatians series, click here. (They appear in reverse order.)

In Genesis 15, God told childless Abraham he would have an heir from his own body and that his descendants would be as numerous as the stars. Though this could have seemed unbelievable to Abraham given his and Sarah’s old age, Gen. 15:6 says that Abraham “believed the LORD, and he counted it to him as righteousness.”

This is the verse (Gen. 15:6) that is referenced in our passage today, Galatians 3:6-9:

just as Abraham “believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” Therefore know that only those who are of faith are sons of Abraham. And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel to Abraham beforehand, saying, “In you all the nations shall be blessed.” So then those who are of faith are blessed with believing Abraham.

Abraham’s faith demonstrates the previous thought from Galatians 3:1-5 that we receive the Spirit and continue in the Spirit by faith, not by works. God had supplied the Spirit and worked miracles among them by the “hearing of faith,” not by the “works of the law,” just as Abraham had believed God.

This Scripture passage then clarifies that the ones who are children of Abraham are the ones who are of faith. This then is not speaking of his physical descendants as being his sons, but of his spiritual descendants, those of faith.

What an interesting thought that the Scriptures preached the gospel to Abraham beforehand – before Christ and the cross. Verse 8 is a reference to Genesis 12:3 which says, “in you [Abraham] all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”

As Christians this side of the cross, looking back, we have a fuller picture of what this all means. Abraham believed what God said, God’s promise to him, with perhaps much less known to him of how it would come to pass. In fact, he even died without seeing the promise fulfilled (Hebrews 11:8-13). But it’s this picture of faith that should encourage us to also believe, and this faith that makes us true children of Abraham.

PRAYER: Thank you, Lord, for saving us by faith in Christ, not by our works through which we could never do good enough to attain heaven and repair what sin has done. You, Lord Jesus, did it all for us! You died and rose again! By grace through faith in you, we can know you and live eternally – just as Abraham received you, by faith. What an incredible thought that we come through this same line of these faithful patriarchs. May we walk with you and please you today. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.


Verses for the Day – Galatians 3:1-5

The verses for the day are from Galatians 3:1-5:

“O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified. 2 Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith? 3 Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh? 4 Did you suffer so many things in vain—if indeed it was in vain? Therefore He who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you, does He do it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?—

Those words ring in my ears again and again as I ponder this passage: “O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you?”

“Bewitched” means to cast a spell, to charm, to fascinate or enchant. If these Galatians — who lived so close to the time of Christ, whose eyes had seen Jesus Christ publicly portrayed as crucified (verse 1) — could be bewitched, don’t you think it’s possible that we who live 2000 years after His death and resurrection are likewise in danger of it?

This is why Paul writes – to give them again the truth of the gospel, and this is why we read the Bible – to be reminded of truth that will keep us from being bewitched, foolish, or led astray. We need our daily bread, our time in the Bible, as much if not more than our literal daily bread of food and drink. We need it to be reminded of truth. It’s so easy for our hearts to be fooled.

What had bewitched them? It sounds like the idea that they could be made righteous through works of the law instead of through faith. This is a timeless issue that can challenge every one of us. The Galatians who had begun by faith in Christ, begun in the Spirit (v.3), were now beginning to turn to works of the law, believing they could be perfected in their flesh. This could again be a reference back to circumcision and looking to a certain work to gain them righteousness.

Paul asks them how they received the Spirit (v.2)? Through works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?

Works righteousness seems to be the default mode of our lives. Can we do enough? Can we maintain what God has started?

We do obey Him out of love for Him. We are saved by faith and want to live for Christ, our Savior. But these works show our love and devotion to God; they do not make us righteous. We cannot add to the work God has done on the cross. We would be silly to try. We would be bewitched.

Likewise, just as our righteous works cannot add to our salvation, our sin also cannot take away from our salvation! Rejoice in this! We can’t add to it or take away from it! Our pastor pointed something out like this on Sunday during our study of Romans. If you believe your sin is too great, or that it is something that would separate you from Christ, you don’t understand that your good works are not good enough to bring you to Christ. Jesus and His grace do it all! The law shows us this.

Rejoice! Repent! Turn to Him. Seek Him. Obey Him. Not so that your works will save you, but so you can say, “I love You, Jesus, and I thank You for what You have done for me, and I give my life to You!” Let Him bless you as you follow and run hard after Him. Study the Bible, know the truth, that you may live in Him, your crucified and risen Savior and King, each and every day.

PRAYER: Father, thank You for the cross where our sins were covered by the blood of Jesus. Nothing we bring, nothing can we add. We would be foolish to try. You have paid the price and done it all. The law shows us our need for you, it does not save us. Let us not believe that our good works could ever save us or add to our salvation. You provided for our salvation and you provide for our sanctification. We want to walk in the Spirit, not in the flesh. Show us where we might be bewitched, and let us walk in faith. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Verse for the Day – 1 Peter 1:8

I’ve been thinking this week about the seen and the unseen.

It started when I woke up in a great deal of pain, which I knew was from my kidneys. I began to wonder if all the caffeine, sodas, less water, and general disregard for the right diet over the last year or so might be catching up to me. When the pain comes, suddenly it’s easy to wish I had done better in paying attention to what I knew needed care.

But the reality is, I can’t see my kidneys. When they don’t hurt, I feel normal. Sure, I know I have misshapen, diffusely calcified kidneys, but I don’t always act as though I do because I can’t see them! Only when I feel them did I start to believe and act again.

It reminded me of this verse in 1 Peter 1:8:

“Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory,” (ESV)
 Sometimes our faith can be that way if we aren’t careful. We can’t physically see the unseen world, the battles around us, or our living God! But He is there, and that reality is more real than our own world!

Though we cannot see Him, we love Him. Though we do not now see him, we believe in Him and rejoice with joy! Can we be a people that love and rejoice in Him, even in what we cannot see?

And yet, He has given evidence of Himself as we see creation, as He reveals Himself in our conscience, and He shows Himself all around us working and acting, especially on behalf of those who love Him, believe Him, and draw near to Him.

This also reminds me of Thomas who would not believe unless he himself could see in Jesus’ hands the print of the nails and touch it, and put his hand in His side. The moment Jesus so graciously gave Thomas that opportunity, He replied in belief, “My Lord and my God!”

Jesus says, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” (John 20:29).

PRAYER: Lord, please give us hearts and minds to believe You, the unseen but living, true God. Please increase our faith. Let us watch for You and see You, eyes on You, because just as You gave to Thomas, You are willing to reveal Yourself to us, too. May we see You and Your glory at work around us and rejoice with inexpressible joy, with a faith and love for You, even though we as yet cannot see fully. We love you, Lord. In Jesus’ name, Amen.