Children of God

5th Sunday after Pentecost
Scripture: Galatians 3:23-29

Before coming to Christ, we were under the law. By following that law, we were being drawn closer to God.

The Jews practiced and followed the law to its uttermost. They used the law to separate one another by misinterpreting it. They acted like someone was sinning if they walked a certain number of feet on the Sabbath. (8 feet? No, 9 feet J). Yes, the law was like the action of an older slave, whose only responsibility was to care for the children of his master.

It was there to see that they did not fall into temptation, take them to school, keep them safe in the afternoon, and take them home in the evening.

It was not to teach the child, only to be sure they did not give into the temptations of that day.

Jews separated humanity into classes: clean and unclean. Gentiles were unclean and Jews would have no contact with them if possible at all.

All of God’s children are for the fulfillment of God’s promise to Abraham, that his seed would be multiplied as the grains of sand, uncountable. God loves all people. There’s no distinction between Jew and Gentile, male and female, rich and poor, black and white.

We know that God created a perfect world and gave man control over it with one command: Don’t eat from a certain tree in the garden. Over the years, we have said it was an apple tree and Adam ate an apple. The apples were supposedly polished to the fullest of a beautiful creation. The devil tempted Eve and said, “You will not die if you eat from the tree.” And she gave Adam some of the apple, and he ate it as well.

Because of that, God sent them out into the world and sin became a reality in God’s once-perfect creation.

Mankind is still the birth child of God, who loves all and seeks to draw them back into a relationship with Himself. He restores us to His presence.

A Gentile was baptized and circumcised upon seeking to convert to Judaism.

Christ baptizes each of us with His holy spirit, which enables us to follow Him and love Him. He offers all of His children eternal peace and an eternal presence in His heavenly kingdom.

As children of God, we often act like children of this world. And like our earthly parents who still love us when we do wrong, God still loves us when we fall into the ways of the world. He never stops loving us, even when His heart may be broken.

The Lord will never quit loving us, nor will He quit seeking to restore us to His love.

There is much “information” about the “unpardonable sin.” Some say it is taking the Lord’s name in vain or not loving our neighbors.

While I don’t believe there’s an “unpardonable sin,” I believe an unforgivable sin is one we realize yet will not seek restitution with from our Lord. When we ask God to forgive us, He does forgive us and our sin is never recalled or remembered by Him, our Lord and Savior.

We know we are earthly children by the actions of our parents, while at the same time we are God’s children, not just for the time of this world, but for eternity.

Let us pray!

Arrested - A Life Crucified and Risen for the Lord

4th Sunday after Pentecost
Scripture: Galatians 2:15-21

The life of the early church was dealing with a great problem. That problem was over the common meal shared by all members who gathered. The food was provided by pooling whatever one had to share with the others. All were invited, including Jews and Gentiles, rich people and poor people, and slaves and free people. This meal was probably the only full and decent meal that many had all week.

Paul stated that the young Christian church could not continue if certain members of the church were excluded. The church is for all people, and we all are are one in the sight of God. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, rich nor poor, slave nor free person.

Paul saw that the strenuous actions were necessary to combat this practice, for the Love of God was for all people. Simultaneously, he saw elements within this common meal beginning to separate and divide the membership of the church. The Jews had many types of “kosher” food laws that governed their meals. There were also definitions as to what was clean and unclean, and the Gentiles themselves were considered unclean and many Jews did not accept them. For a Jew, eating pork was considered sinful.

Yet the scriptures state that nothing one put into their mouth and passes through their body can defile them. Only that which he speaks that is harmful to his witness to the Gentiles. Paul states that no amount of observing strict laws can make a person right with God! A person cannot earn their righteousness. They must accept the gracious offer of the love of God that makes a person right with God. This was a concept that Jesus tried to get across to the people of the early church.

That concept still plagues mankind today! There are still people in the church who still believe their works "have merit with the Lord."

Jesus was saying that by simply holding on to the law one cannot wipe out their sinful nature. The old practices must pass away, for this is a new day. All people are permitted to come to the Lord for forgiveness of their sins, for His gracious salvation is offered to all.

There are 2 great temptations that all Christians must come to grip with:

  1. There is a temptation to try to earn God’s favor. That is an unhealthy reason for volunteering to do something for the church.
  2. There is a temptation to judge our actions as superior to someone else’s to curry God’s favor.

In reality, it is only through the grace of God that any one of us will see our Lord face-to-face in the heavenly kingdom. If you or I were on trial for being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to find us guilty?

Let us pray!

Arrested for the Lord

3rd Sunday after Pentecost
Scripture: Galatians 1:11-24

It was Paul’s contention that the Gospel he preached to men was not a story or secondhand tale. It had come to him directly from the Lord. That was a big claim to make, and proof is always demanded from some physical source. Yet Paul had the courage to point only to himself, noting that his radical change of life was given unto him by the Lord. It is here that Paul humbles himself, seeking no glory for himself. Glory goes to the Lord for turning his life completely around.

When someone is proceeding headlong in one direction and turns suddenly headlong in the opposite direction, all their values of life are turned upside down. There must be some explanation for such a change.

Paul’s explanation was that God had led him with His hands upon his shoulder, resting him and pointing him in a new direction. One should not be ashamed to tell the world about their radical change in life. Paul has two things to say about this life change.

1. It was not premeditated. The change in his life was in God’s plan for his life. J. Gossip tells how Alexander Whyle came to his ordination in his first appointment. God had been preparing him and the church to faithfully serve Him, sharing in God’s earthly kingdom.

God is preparing me but this congregation I serve for special works in God’s earthly kingdom that I could never dream of. Long ago, God set in place the factions that would put us as pastor and congregation together. This was long before either of us envisioned being involved in His ministry.

Look at Paul preparing himself for service. First he went to Arabia for 3 years to be alone with the Lord, and here God equipped him for his life. Finally Paul goes to Damascus for a second time. Can we imagine what transpired in his heart as he relived his conversion and invitation to full time Christian service?

It was some time later that Paul returned to Jerusalem, knowing that he was taking his life in his own hands. His former Roman friends were out for his blood. They saw him as a turncoat and a renegade.

I see many of Paul’s happenings in my journey to become a pastor. While the Christian ministry is a great blessing anyone can encounter,  it is not without trials, temptations, and pitfalls.

2.) Where one is being led by the Lord, He offers comfort, wisdom, and whole host of blessings.

He only asks when one is up against the army of the devil and his band that we hold on to our faith, for that moment will pass and the light of a new day for the Lord will shine brightly again. Let us pray!