Verses for the Day: Galatians 4:1-7

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.)

We’re halfway through Galatians!There are three crucial things in life that are all described in this passage today.

The first is the gospel by which we are saved.

We’ve seen in Galatians that there is one true gospel, the gospel of grace. It is not by the law. It is not of works. It is not according to man. Nothing should be added to it or removed from it. The simple gospel message is what Paul wrote in Galatians 1:4, “who [the Lord Jesus Christ] gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.” The gospel is freedom from our sins through faith in Jesus Christ who gave His life for us. It brings deliverance and new life in Him.

A second key thing to understand in life is our identity.

We’ve also looked at this in Galatians already in our last passage. Galatians 3:26: “For you are all sons of God through faith in Jesus Christ.” When we are saved by grace through faith in Jesus, then we are adopted as His child. This is our identity. We are made in His image and now children of God. Knowing our identity will shape what we believe about ourselves and who we let define us (God, not others) and how we live our lives. When we truly understand our identity as a child of God, as an heir, as adopted as His, it changes how we view everything.

A third key thing is knowing that our lives in Christ are lived by the power of the Holy Spirit given to us.

God doesn’t save us by grace and then leave us to just work hard and do our best, returning to law. We don’t have to live this life by our own strength, but in His. We don’t have to strive in our own power; He enables and helps us by His Spirit, given to us. It changes everything. Even if our actions look the same sometimes, the motivations and source of strength are altogether different and frees us to depend on Him and live a Spirit-filled life.

Much more could be said about each of these three things, but I point them out because today’s verses in Galatians 4:1-7 talk about all of these important truths of gospel, identity, and the gift of the Holy Spirit:

Now I say that the heir, as long as he is a child, does not differ at all from a slave, though he is master of all, 2 but is under guardians and stewards until the time appointed by the father. 3 Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world. 4 But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.
6 And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, “Abba, Father!” 7 Therefore you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.

We were in bondage, but verses 4-5: “When the fulness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.” This is gospel truth — God sending forth His Son to redeem us — and our identity – being adopted as sons.

And as His sons, God has sent forth His Spirit into our hearts crying “Abba, Father!” God’s Spirit in our hearts as His child – what an incredible thought!

We are no longer a slave but a son, and as a son, an heir of God through Christ (verse 7).

Prayer: Praise you Lord Jesus for our redemption, our deliverance, our salvation, our adoption, and the gift of your Spirit in us when we are saved. By your sacrifice and love for us, through your death on the cross and resurrection, we become dead to our sins and alive to Christ, filled with your Spirit, able to live life in your strength, identified as heir and child of God. What wondrous things! Praise you and thank you! Let us remember that we are yours and let these truths seep into the deepest parts of our hearts so that we understand them and grasp more and more the massive truth of how much we are loved by you, how you have created us, saved us, and have plans for our lives. Let these words of truth become living realities in us all so that we grasp the wonder of what you have done for us and how you have made the way for us to be free and know you. In fact, you haven’t just made the way; you are the Way! We give you praise. We love you so. Thank you, Jesus. In your 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.

Verses for the Day – Romans 12:1-2

I found a slip of paper this morning in my Bible. It’s been there for a number of years, though I don’t often look at it. There were some notes on it that I wrote down one time when I had to give a brief testimony years ago.

It said, “What drew me to God?”

And I had written, “The Word and His Spirit.” Then I explained with this sentence, “Started with diligent study [of the Word] and led to His supernatural invasion [by His Spirit].”

That pretty much sums it up. I remember moving in 2002 to where we live now and starting Bible studies that took me to study the Bible each day. It was regular, it was consistent. I was learning and growing. There wasn’t anything earth-shattering or emotional. It was just consistent, deliberate study of the Bible every day.

Over time, God’s Word began to take root in my life, and He by the power of His Spirit made all that I had studied and was studying come alive to me. Indescribable joy and blessing followed.

The Lord showed me that if I loved Him, I would obey Him (1 John 5:3). But I wouldn’t obey Him and His Word if I didn’t really believe Him. These things (faith, love, obedience) were all connected.

My faith and belief in God would lead me to obey Him which would show my love for Him, and that would lead to blessing.

FAITH leads to—-> OBEDIENCE which shows my —–> LOVE for God, which ultimately brings —-> BLESSING and great JOY.

Maybe it sounds complex, It’s not. This is why I encourage you to read the Bible because that’s where truth is and that’s where these things will begin to grow. You may not see it or feel it at the start, but you keep doing it because you believe that it matters and that it changes you. And God by His Spirit will do the work.

I end this post this morning with two verses from Romans 12:1-2. I looked up the word “beseech” at the beginning, and it means beg eagerly, implore urgently.

“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”

PRAYER: Father, we see that transformation comes by the renewing of our minds. As we renew our minds in Your Word and truth, our lives are changed by the power of Your Spirit and Your Word, leading to joyful hearts and great blessing. Help us today to believe You and that these things are true, to obey You, to love You, to present our bodies as a living sacrifice, pleasing to You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Calling: The Spirit-Filled Life

This post is the next in a series on calling. We’ve looked at our identity in Christfollowing Jesus, finding our purpose and satisfaction in Jesus, surrendering our lives to God, and now the Spirit-filled life.

When my husband was in seminary, I invited a friend to a Christmas service at the church we attended. It opened the door for me to share the gospel with her, to tell her about Jesus dying for her sins and how by faith in Him she could be saved. At the end of our conversation, she asked, “So what’s the difference?” She wanted to know what the difference was between her and me, between a believer and an unbeliever, that was so distinct.

I had been raised in a Christian home, attended a Christian school for 13 years, grew up in a Bible-believing church, and always known about Jesus. I had had doubts at points, but I lived a life wanting to do what was right; there was no obvious rebellion. By nature, my personality tends to be a “rule keeper,” so it wasn’t hard to always look good. I had seasons where I attended Bible studies, particularly in college, and wanted to know and grow, and I wanted to see my friends turn to Jesus. There was authenticity in this. My life was committed to a certain direction. I had married the preacher’s son, and we had headed off to seminary to begin our own lives of ministry.

Looking back, I wasn’t aware of something I was missing: the Spirit-filled life. I was living life in my own strength, doing my best to keep the rules, and I don’t remember actually having much joy, much less a sense of calling or assurance of my faith in Christ.

When I returned home that night from the Christmas program, I shared with my husband about my friend’s question. I told him I wasn’t sure what to say. He said, “Well, did you tell her about the Holy Spirit?” And I honestly had to think about what he was telling me. Huh? The Holy Spirit, oh yeah. How had I missed this truth?

God gives us His Holy Spirit when we are saved. The Holy Spirit teaches us how to live and guides us in truth. My Bible has a list of the works of the Spirit, and it includes: speaks in Scriptures, regenerates, indwells, anoints, baptizes, guides, empowers, sanctifies, bears witness, helps, gives joy, gives discernment, bears fruit, gives gifts, comforts, illuminates the mind, reveals the things of God.

Jesus said in John 14:15-17:

“If  you love Me, keep My commandments. And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever – the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him, but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you.”  (NKJV)

We can quench the Spirit (1 Thessalonians 5:19) or we can be filled with the Spirit (Ephesians 5:18). This is an incredible gift, a gift of God Himself in the life of the believer. And it changes everything.

It would be about another 10 years before I came to understand more about the life of the Spirit, and it came through surrender of my life to God, on my knees, in obedience, looking to Jesus. The Spirit then came and began showing me the plans God had for my life, and they were good, and He brought joy. I really long for people to know this truth of God’s Spirit lived in and through us, not living in our own strength, but relying on Him. We can’t live this life in our own strength or with our own power. All of this is ours in Christ. Praise You, Lord.

Peace

Last summer Tim Keller came to my home church in Memphis. I was in town, but getting over being sick and did not go. I ended up getting the tape of it, and he preached on Philippians 4:4-13. It was a message that at that time was very timely for me to hear. I ran across my notes from it the other day and thought I’d share some of the things he shared:

“There’s a difference between a morally restrained heart, a heart that has its impulses and its emotions tamped down, controlled from the outside by will power, and a supernaturally, gospel-changed heart, a heart that’s got its dispositions, feelings, orientations and attitudes changed from inside, long-term, permanently by the gospel.”

Keller said that there are 9 traits of a supernaturally-changed, gospel-changed heart; those are the fruit of the Spirit that are found in Galatians 5:22-23.

His quote resonated with me because it’s easy to have a life managed by will power and think then that everything is right in life, but when a supernatural change comes that is fueled by the gospel and the Spirit, even if things look similar to the outside world, the change is absolutely incredible. And to those who really know you, the difference will be obvious.

I know this from experience – trying so hard to live well, perfectly, yet so unhappy, and not realizing I was missing something called the Spirit-filled life and joy. Not that I now have things perfectly in order (I hardly have anything in order these days!), but there has been a fundamental change that only the Spirit could produce. Reminds me of Paul’s words in Philippians 3:12-14.

Keller went on then to talk about peace from Phil. 4:4-13 and what we are to think about. He described the character of peace–what it is. It is a deep, inner equilibrium, deep contentment in all circumstances, a tranquility, a lack of anxiety. The apostle Paul’s life was an example of one of peace in spite of torture, imprisonment, death.

Keller said there are many books on stress that talk about emptying the mind of negative thoughts – “just stop those thoughts” and “just don’t think about it” – and how calm in our culture means emptiness.

But the peace that Scripture teaches is not the absence of thoughts, but the presence of a Living Power. You can lay down and sleep knowing you have soldiers encamped about you. You have something greater than what’s wrong.

There was much more to his sermon (disciplines to develop peace, how the gospel produces peace, etc.), but these particular thoughts above really ministered to me, so I thought I would capture them here.

Mother-Daughter Tea


Today, my daughter and I attended a Mother-Daughter Tea at our church. It was a sweet time, and she loved it. She seemed so grown up today, in a new dress from her grandmother, sporting a new haircut. I love time spent with each of my children individually.

God keeps driving home to me the point I made in my last post — that He is strong, and I am weak, that I live this life by the power of His Spirit providing me the strength I need, not through my own self effort.

I had the opportunity to go out of town last weekend and visit friends we knew when we lived in Virginia. We had a nice day and a half of visiting before I got sick with a stomach bug! It is not fun to be sick away from home, and I was praying I wouldn’t infect this sweet family. (My friend is pregnant and has a young child, and her husband has a busy job… the last thing I wanted to leave them would be this “gift”!)

I have to say though that the Lord used this time to give me a great deal of sleep and rest and time to read and study for longer periods than I normally have. He continued to speak to me about the topic of my last post and some things He is helping me understand right to my core.

I had the time to read a great book by Andrew Murray entitled Absolute Surrender that my friend had. It was exactly on this topic of living in surrender to God, allowing His Spirit to fill and lead me, and how He is strong when we are weak. I was absolutely weak, recognizing that in this sickness I was experiencing my weakness in a very physical way, but that this is just a picture of how I really always am, whether I feel it or not! I so need God and His power and strength, and I need to trust Him!

Murray described more about this surrender to God:

  • God expects my surrender,
  • God accomplishes my surrender,
  • God accepts my surrender,
  • God maintains my surrender
  • God blesses when I surrender.

Murray says, “I come to you with a message, fearful and anxious one. God does not ask you to give the perfect surrender in your strength, or by the power of your will; God is willing to work it in you.” (Philippians 2:13) “Look away from ourselves and look up to God.”

Here are some quotes from Andrew Murray’s book that I loved:

“The Spirit of God has come to make our daily life an exhibition of divine power and a revelation of what God can do for His children.”

“May God grant that the Word may enter into the very depths of our being to search us, and if we discover that we have not come out from the world entirely, if God discovers to us that the self-life, self-will, and self exaltation are there, let us humble ourselves before Him.”

“Why is there not more blessing? We have not honored the Holy Ghost as we should have done. Is there one who can say that that is not true? Is not every thoughtful heart ready to cry: ‘God forgive me that I have not honored the Holy Spirit as I should have done, that I have grieved Him, that I have allowed self and the flesh and my own will to work where the Holy Ghost should have been honored! May God forgive me that I have allowed self and the flesh and the will actually to have the place that God wanted the Holy Ghost to have.'”

“Religious self effort always ends in sinful flesh.”

Murray states that we must:

  • Humble yourself in His sight.
  • Acknowledge that you have grieved the Holy Spirit by your self will, self confidence and self effort.
  • Bow humbly before Him in confession of that.
  • Ask Him to bring you into the dust before Him.
  • Then as you bow, accept God’s teaching that in your flesh there dwelleth no good thing (Romans 7:18) and that nothing will help you except another Life come in.
  • Denying self must every moment be the power of your life, and then Christ will come in and take possession of you.”

So the sickness, though at first glance could have been a temptation to feel disappointment, instead was meant for good, to give me rest, to give me time to think and pray, for God to continue to teach me what He’s been showing me, to give me more opportunity to trust Him. He is so faithful, and I am thankful.