June 16: Galatians-Day 5

Read Galatians 3:1-5

We are now in the third chapter of Galatians and Paul is still rebuking the Church of Galatia. They are trying to live life on their own, they are forgetting God’s grace and trusting in false gospels (Galatians 1:6-7), and they are being incredibly hypocritical (Galatians 2:13).

I had planned to talk about how we are so similar to the Church of Galatia and, of course, we are. Instead, I want to focus on clinging to the hope we have in Christ.

The Church of Galatia’s biggest issue was that they didn’t trust Jesus. They believed in Him, but they didn’t trust Him. What started as this beautiful relationship quickly turned to a group of people who desperately wanted to live in truth, but lost sight of that truth. It is so easy to lose sight of the truth of Jesus Christ, isn’t it?

Let me encourage you today, friends. Trying to live our lives on our own will always be a vain effort. Jesus did not perform miracles for us to turn our backs on Him or to trust more in something else. It is so tempting to seek comfort in the world, but Jesus is so much better. Jesus provides comfort, rest, and grace.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” Matthew 11:28-29

When I was in early high school, my grandma was diagnosed with two brain tumors which led to a rapid decrease in all of her motor skills. We expected her to live for a couple of weeks, maybe a month, but she ended up living in this condition for almost 6 months. She lived 4 hours away, so my mom would travel back and forth to help care for her.

I went through a phase where I thought I could stray from God because all of this was happening to me. I needed the words that Paul wrote in Galatians: “You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified (Galatians 3:1).” I was so foolish to think that I could just leave the grace of God behind. Thankfully, He quickly pulled me back to Him where the words of Matthew 11:28 spoke to my soul and I felt Christ’s love in a new way.

Friends, today you may be feeling on top of the world or you may be in the greatest valley of your life. No matter where you are, Jesus sees you. He loves you. Do not make the mistake of fleeing from His grace. Run to Him, His arms are wide open.

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June 15: Galatians-Day 4

Read Galatians 2:11-21

Have you ever had a friend confront you with a sin issue you’ve been struggling with? It is so hard to hear where you’re messing up and falling short. It is especially hard, but incredibly important, when you are rebuked by a mentor or friend that you hold in high esteem. No one wants to be confronted, but it is a vital aspect of our walk with Jesus.

In this passage, Paul is confronting Peter. Peter was acting one way before he was joined by fellow believers and another way after. But, it gets worse. “The other Jews joined him in his hypocrisy, so that by their hypocrisy even Barnabas was led astray (v.13).” Peter was not only poisoning his own life, but also the lives around him. His hypocritical ways were not in line with the gospel that he claimed to live by.

I am quick to criticize and judge Peter, but, in all reality, I am just like him. It is a harsh reality to realize that I am easily a hypocrite. I don’t want that to be me though. I don’t want to be the recipient of Paul’s confrontation. However, there are times that I am.

Friends, we have to open ourselves up to constructive criticism and confrontation. Not only that, but we should be inviting it. Find the right people to hold you accountable.

“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” Galatians 2:20

When we claim to be followers of Jesus, we no longer only represent ourselves. Instead, we represent the body of believers…and, more than that, Christ Jesus.

Being a follower of Jesus is a big deal, one that comes with great responsibility (and great grace). Let us not be people of hypocrisy. Let us, instead, be people of love and grace.

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June 14: Galatians-Day 3

Read Galatians 2:1-10

You know what it’s like…when people close to you try to influence you to do something you know you shouldn’t. Maybe it’s to talk about that co-worker behind her back or to go to that place that you know tempts you. We’ve all been there.

My guess is that people around you have also tested your faith. They have tried to convince you to give in to that temptation. Paul’s been there, too. People, who he thought he could trust, ended up betraying him and tried to guide him astray. But, what did he say? “We did not give in to them for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel might be preserved for you (v. 5).” Not for a moment did Paul give in to the temptation. He didn’t even consider it. He did not just stand against the temptation for himself, but also for those who were influenced by him.

Just picture a world where believers so firmly believe in the truth and message of the gospel that none of us, even for a second, consider giving in to the temptation to sin. What a testimony to the power of the Risen Savior, that would be.

We all have influence and it looks different for each of us. I have an influence at home with my siblings, at college with the girls in my dorm, and at work with my co-workers. If I continually give in to temptation and sin, why would the people around me want to follow Jesus? I would not be living any differently than the rest of the world.

“Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.” 1 Peter 2:12

Our good deeds are not what save us but are a way to show the world of Christ in us. We must use our influence wisely. Even if you are not in a position of leadership, you are always in a position of influence.

I challenge you to fight the temptation to fit in with the rest of the world. We are to be cities on a hill, a light to this broken world.

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June 13: Galatians-Day 2

Read Galatians 1:11-24

Can you imagine being a believer in the early Church? Imagine knowing Paul from his Saul days and then seeing the transformation in his life after the gospel was revealed to him. If you’re like me, you would probably be skeptical of the change in Paul’s life. Eventually, we would realize that he is genuine. We would be amazed and we would be praising Jesus! Paul was such a different man after he met Jesus that he needed a completely new name to represent his new identity.

When I read this passage, I think about how powerful the message of the gospel is. It is so powerful that Saul, a man who had dedicated his entire life to persecuting Christians, completely turned away from his old ways.

That reality offers us great hope. He can transform us too! God empowered Paul to then go and preach the gospel to surrounding nations. Just like Paul, we are empowered and commanded to spread the gospel.

“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:19-20

I challenge you to share the gospel with someone this week and invite them to church. Share this good news with your family, friends, co-workers, or someone that you encounter at the grocery store.

“But when God, who set me apart from my mother’s womb and called me by his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son in me so that I might preach him among the Gentiles, my immediate response was not to consult any human being.” Galatians 1:15-16

We need to be like this. God has commanded us to spread His gospel; let us not allow the doubts of this world to distract us from the Lord’s commands.

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June 12: Galatians-Day 1

Read Galatians 1:1-10

Have you ever felt like you needed to be rescued?

One snowy day, I was driving my little Ford Focus when, all of a sudden, I could no longer see a foot in front of me. Next thing I knew, there were brake lights and I was driving into a ditch. I frantically called my dad to tell him that I needed to be rescued. So, my dad drove to meet me and saved me from that snowy ditch.

Paul writes that Jesus does the same thing for us. Instead of needing saved from a ditch, He saves us from our sin. And instead of my dad driving to help, Jesus died an incredibly painful death on a cross.

I would have been crazy to turn down my dad’s help that day, but I tend to deny Jesus’ help.  Every time that I sin, I desert the one who called me to live in His grace. Don’t we all struggle with this?

Paul writes, “I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you to live in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel-which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel.” Galatians 1:6-7

When we allow worldly influences to penetrate our minds, it becomes increasingly more difficult to stand firm against the evil of this world. When we become new in Christ, we no longer live to satisfy ourselves or to please others, but we live to glorify God.

Yet, we tend to quickly go our own way, instead of seeking to glorify God in all that we do. The funny thing is, we tend to think that our way is better or will be more fulfilling, but it never is. God’s way is always better.

Seeking to glorify Christ in all that we do is a hard thing to accomplish. It means that we must battle our worldly inclinations every single day. It means saying no to ourselves and yes to God. The good news is that Jesus is the best. He is the greatest gift and the most fulfilling relationship we will ever have. If this is true, then we should gladly give up our sinful ways and turn towards His glorious face.

I am not going to pretend that this is going to be easy. I find myself failing at this every single day, but I’ve also found the greatest joy when I surrender to God and don’t try to hide away from His gospel.

How can you fight your sinful tendencies and turn to Jesus’ grace this week?

What do you need to surrender at the feet of the Savior?

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June 11 – Trip to the Holy Land – The Mediterranean Sea

DAY 30 – THE MEDITERRANEAN SEA

Theme: Risk & Reward

Read 2 Corinthians 11:21-30

There is something mesmerizing about gentle waves that lap against the sands of a beautiful beach. That constant repetition is almost hypnotic. It can easily lull you to sleep.

As I write these words I’m looking out a hotel room window in Tel Aviv at the beautiful blue waters of the Mediterranean. It’s just gorgeous.  Most of us prefer the repetitive calm of gentle waves to the back-breaking turbulence of storms on the water.

Just a few miles up the coast, the Apostle Paul sailed from the port of Caesarea for two of his missionary journeys. But he didn’t always enjoy the calm waters desired by most tourists to this area. Storms on the Mediterranean can pack a serious blow!

Paul reminds us of the adventures he encountered: “Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked. Once I spent a whole night and a day adrift at sea. I have traveled on many long journeys. I have faced danger from rivers and from robbers. I have faced danger from my own people, the Jews, as well as from the Gentiles. I have faced danger in the cities, in the deserts, and on the seas. And I have faced danger from men who claim to be believers but are not (2 Corinthians 11:25-26 – NLT).

Here’s the question that should enter our minds… Why? Why would Paul endure all of that?  Was it just the adventure?  No!

The risk was worth the reward!   He writes to Timothy:  “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful. And now the prize awaits me—the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on the day of his return. And the prize is not just for me but for all who eagerly look forward to his appearing” (2 Timothy 4:7-8 – NLT).

It’s the same for you and me. Whatever we endure in this life for the cause of Christ will be worth it. He has a reward waiting for us that far outweighs any benefit in this life. “It will be worth it all, when we see Jesus!  Life’s trials will seem so small, when we see Christ.  Once glimpse of His dear face, all sorrow will erase.  So bravely run the race, till we see Christ.”

Prayer of reflection:  Today I ask you, Lord, for the grace to endure whatever hardships and difficulties I encounter knowing that someday I will be with you.

Bob Fetterhoff

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June 10 – Trip to the Holy Land – Old Jaffa

DAY 29 – OLD JAFFA

Theme – Evangelism

Read Acts 10:9-35

No question about it… The port of Old Jaffa (Biblical “Joppa”) is a gorgeous place today. It’s beautifully lit at night and picturesque even in the daytime. I’m not sure it felt that way, however, to a couple of well-known biblical characters.  In Joppa, both Jonah and Peter received a commission from God to proclaim His mercy and grace to hated heathens. Neither was crazy about the idea.

Jonah was supposed to preach repentance to the people of Nineveh, located northeast of Joppa, but in an act of defiance, he sailed northwest toward Tarshish – the opposite direction. Eventually the rebel prophet was thrown overboard by his shipmates, started to drown and got a quick lesson in the digestive processes of some great fish. It’s almost as if the fish thought, “I can’t stomach this.” All this convinced Jonah that maybe going to Nineveh wasn’t such a bad idea after all.

Peter was a devout Jew who believed that Gentiles were “unclean” and should be avoided at all cost. But God sent a vision of clean and unclean animals to Peter (Acts 10) to demonstrate that all men can be recipients of His love. Peter obediently headed to the house of Cornelius at Caesarea, where the Roman centurion was converted.

Both men learned that God is “no respecter of persons.”  The Gospel has the power to transform the life of anyone – regardless of racial, ethnic, religious, or moral background. The job of every believer is to evangelize. That doesn’t mean we hit people over the head with the Bible. It simply means to share the good news of God‘s love with those who are far from Him.

God has left us on this earth for that reason! Just as the “Son of Man came to seek and save those who are lost” (Luke 19:10), every child of God has a similar mission in this world. In fact it’s a rescue mission – much like the job of a lifeguard is to rescue those who are drowning. Jesus said we are to “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15).

That means our primary concern in life should be the eternal destiny of those who are far from God. Our occupations are not the restriction. Our financial status is not the restriction. Our health is not even the restriction.  The only restriction is whether we choose to accept that responsibility.  To live on mission means we use every available resource to share the Good News of God’s love with those who are perishing.

Prayer of reflection:  Heavenly Father, people all around me today are headed to eternity apart from you.  Help me to capture each encounter like a lifeguard who rescues a drowning person.

Bob Fetterhoff

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