Galatians 1

Vs. 6, “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.” After greeting and reminding the Galatian church who he was (vs. 1-5), Paul also ensured they understood full well who Jesus was! This was important because the Galatians, though saved by grace, had now begun to foolishly follow false teachers (vs. 6-10). All believers are saved by grace, but Judaizers (people teaching others to adhere to Old Testament law) had infiltrated the church. They were teaching that you cannot be saved without fulfilling the law (circumcision, sacrificial system, etc). Paul had some harsh words to share about people who would teach a false gospel (vs. 8-9). The latter half of our chapter involves Paul having to defend himself against the Judaizers discrediting Paul’s apostleship (vs. 11-24). Paul wanted to remind them that he was once like the Judaizers (vs. 13-14) as he persecuted the early believers. Unlike new believers, Paul had direct revelation from Jesus on the road to Damascus (vs. 15-16). Because God was calling Paul to a ministry with Gentiles, he would lead him down a very different road before he would go to Jerusalem (vs. 17-24). All these events happened to prepare Paul to minister in the most effective way years later.

Regarding application…Pleasing Others. Vs. 10, “Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.” Paul had been accused of many things, but one thing is for certain; no one could accuse Paul of pleasing others. That’s one of the things I really respect in Paul’s courage to stand up for truth! Sometimes we have a tendency to mistake emotion and passion as weakness; a true professional is even-keeled and not stirred up. But this wasn’t an issue regarding winning or losing or stocks rising or falling, this was about the gospel that brings salvation and death! The last thing Paul was worried about was pleasing others. Jesus would not have endured the cross if he had just placated the Sanhedrin. Certainly, we must pray for wisdom in our response. We cannot force people to believe in the truth, but that doesn’t mean we should just tolerate it. Take time today to consider how you can ensure you are standing up for truth rather than pleasing others.

II Corinthians 3

Vs. 18, “And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.”  Paul asks two rhetorical questions to answer those who spoke against him regarding his apostleship (vs. 1-6).  They relied on their letters of recommendation, but Paul did not rely on such credentials.  In the early church, there were those that were bringing false teachings (legalism and adherence to the old covenant).  Paul wrote to refute such doctrines and expound upon the ministry of the new covenant (vs. 6).  Paul then compares and contrasts the greater glory of the new covenant with the old (vs. 7-11).  Paul reminds them of Moses’ face reflecting the glory of God (Exodus 34:29-35).  If there was glory in an old covenant that brought death, how much more glory through the new covenant that would bring life.  The law was not given for salvation, for salvation cannot be attained by what we do.  The law was given to point out our sin and the need for a savior.  The latter half of our chapter (vs. 12-17), Paul uses the example of Moses’ veil.  As time went on, Moses used the veil to keep people from realizing the glory had come and gone (vs. 13).  But, we no longer have to hide our faces for the glory of the Lord transforms our lives!

Regarding application…Spiritually Blind.  Vs. 15, “Even to this day when Moses is read, a veil covers their hearts.”  The crux of the situation lies in the fact that people don’t want to hear that their old way of life is wrong.  They have put a veil between themselves and the truth.  But, Paul masterfully reminds them, “But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away.” (vs. 16).  We all were once blind, but now we see.  The glory of the Lord does not need a power outlet to recharge.  When we walk with the Lord, we will radiate His glory.  The very countenance of our faces should look different.  There have been people that God has brought into my life that I can attest that they lit a room up with the love of Christ.  Open the eyes of our heart Lord that we would see and be set free!

Luke 13

Vs. 5, “I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.”  In the first part of our section (vs. 1-9), the people come to Jesus inquiring if the tragic events of the past (Galilean massacre and Tower of Siloam) were examples of God’s just punishment upon sinners.  Jesus aptly answers with a parable illustrating the fact that all of us have sin in our lives.  The bigger issue asks this question, “What are doing about your sin?”  Repent or perish.  Luke shares a miracle only recorded in his Gospel about a woman crippled for eighteen years and healed on the Sabbath (vs. 10-17).  This transpired while Jesus was teaching in one of the Jewish Synagogues.  Both legalism and having a hard heart are addressed in this healing.  Jesus goes on to give two powerful short parables of the mustard seed and yeast (vs. 18-21) that both illustrate the growing kingdom of God!  An interesting question comes up from someone in the crowd inquiring if only a few will be saved (vs. 23).  Jesus uses this question to address the stark reality of people’s response to turning to the Lord (vs. 22-30).  And lastly, we see Jesus address threats from Herod (vs. 31-33) and lament over Jerusalem (vs. 34-35).

Regarding application…Only A Few.  Vs. 23, “Someone asked him, “Lord, are only a few people going to be saved?”  At first glance, this question may surprise us.  However, the writing has been on the wall.  Recent church surveys (churchleaders.com) show that only 17% of the population in America is attending church on given Sunday.  We live in a time where the culture is embracing this concept that there are many ways to God.  The road to the cross and the door to open is available to all.  But few go that route.  Question: Why is it important to know this?  This knowledge should not deter us from our task to live the Great Commission (Matthew 28).  For me, it reminds me not to get too discouraged when the progress or lack thereof does not show success from a worldly point of view.   Let’s continue to fight the good fight and do our part to share the love of Christ!

Colossians 1

Vs. 15, “The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.”  Paul is writing back to defend the truth of what lies in the Gospel.  He reminds the Colossians that God had appointed him an Apostle with authority to share the truth (vs. 1).  Paul then goes to his customary thanksgiving and appreciation for the Colossian church (vs. 3-13).  Bear in mind, not everyone believed these heresies.  Paul reminds us how important it is to encourage even in the midst of tough admonishment.  Part of this Colossian heresy was the denial of the deity of Jesus Christ (vs. 15-23).  The heresy of mixing in Eastern religion and Jewish legalism was literally rocking the faith of the young Colossian Christians.  The enemies of the cross were probably pointing out to the Colossians that Paul was in prison and defeated.  But Paul refutes such negative thoughts (vs. 24-29) as he rejoices!

Regarding application…Christ is Supreme!  Vs. 18, “And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy.”  Don’t even think about it!  That’s what Paul was basically saying.  Jesus is supreme, numero uno, ichiban, #1 period!  A couple of days ago, the Olympic Basketball team for 2012 began to trash talk (Kobe Bryant) how their team could have beaten the 1992 true Dream Team.  Charles Barkley and most notably, Michael Jordan begged to differ.  Which team would have won?  While there certainly can be healthy debate (though the 1992 Dream Team would have demolished any team), regarding who is supreme.  There is no debate whatsoever when it comes to our esteem of Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior!  Question: Is Christ Supreme in your life?

I Peter 5

Vs. 8, “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”  As Peter closes this letter, we see that he wants us all to remember our battle is not against flesh & blood.  No matter what transpires or what suffering we may have, we are called to remain faithful to the work God has given us (Vs. 1-5).  We are also reminded to be humble and think of others as better than ourselves (Vs. 5-7).  And lastly, we need to be ever watchful of the enemy and be alert like a shepherd in the night with his sheep (Vs. 8-11).  And the culminating factor will be that as we endure to do these exhortations, one day we will eternally be with our Lord & Savior!

Regarding application…Legalism Vs. Willing Heart.  Vs. 2, “Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, serving as overseers—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be...”  While Peter is addressing the official leaders in the church, I absolutely believe this admonishment applies to us all!  God doesn’t call us to serve the church and then see our heartless attitude.  What if you asked a favor from a friend and were really hoping they could help you…and their response is, “Okay, I guess…” and their shoulders sulk and their attitude of their face & actions show they really would rather do something else.  Question: How would you feel?  First off, not much of a friend…you would probably feel bad for asking them to do that favor…and maybe remember not to ask them again in the future.  We should never do things simply because God has commanded it….we should do it because of a willing heart.  When we begin to complain or have that bad attitude…simply look to the cross and remember the blood that was shed for you.  If that isn’t inspiration enough…than nothing in this life will ever be.