Scripture: Galatians 5:25
If we live by the Spirit, let us also be guided by the Spirit.
Thought for the Day: I was with some Disciples of Christ pastors yesterday for lunch. We were talking about one of our historic beliefs as a denomination in regard to polity – we are a congregationally governed church. That means, there is not a hierarchy that tells us what we can do or not do. It does put a great deal of authority and responsibility at the local church level. One of my colleagues reminded those of us gathered for lunch that we are congregationally governed, but not congregationally driven or led. We are led and guided by the Spirit at work within the congregation, but that is very different then suggesting we are led by the congregation. Too many churches – with the best intentions – decide to push ahead without any consultation of the divine breath that moves around us and within us. This Spirit (in both Greek and Hebrew, the word for breath is the same as the word for spirit or wind) uses our intellect, experiences, insights, creativity, relationships and education to speak to us, but it first requires us to listen below the surface of our own yearnings and desires. This is required of both the individual and the community. Are you listening? Are we listening? Are you willing to be guided? Are we willing to be guided?
Prayer: Breathe into us, O Lord. Allow for your Spirit to engage our thinking, inspire our creativity, encourage our relationships and focus what we have learned. Keep us asking the most important questions of who is our neighbor and how best can we show love to our neighbor. Amen.
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Scripture: Galatians 5:22-23
By contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against such things.
Thought for the Day: I remember watching my grandparents spend hours everyday working in their large garden, yet most of the time I spent there was in the middle to late part of summer which meant we were harvesting and canning. I missed all the hours spent preparing the soil, planting the seeds, and tending to the young plants. That’s where the real work is done, and the same is true with the fruit of the spirit. Though many of us are blessed by these gifts being expressed through other people’s lives, we must understand the hours of work spent in preparing the soil of the soul, planting the seeds of grace through study and prayer, and tending to the youthful faith. Too many people want to enjoy the harvest without the hard work.
Prayer: Let us work together, O God, in creating a garden pleasing to you. Amen.
Scripture: Galatians 5:12
I wish that the ones who are upsetting you would castrate themselves!
Thought for the Day: Let’s be honest, this is one of those passages that catches your attention. Paul’s words are not very Christian, but there might be more than first meets the eye. In some of the pagan cults of the time which the Galatians would have known, those who were truly devoted to the goddess castrated themselves as a sign of complete devotion. It could be that Paul is expressing sarcasm. If you are going to circumcise yourself and move away from the grace of God, why not take the next step in both flesh removal and commitment. At the end of the day, this is not the best example of Christianity in action, but it is a window through which we see Paul’s frustration on this subject. It also might show that Paul had a sense of humor, though a bit crude.
Prayer: Lord, even when I am completely frustrated, help me to find the best words possible so that understanding and healing can occur. Amen.
Scripture: Galatians 5:6
Being circumcised or not being circumcised doesn’t matter in Christ Jesus, but faith working through love does matter.
Thought for the Day: I came across an article while I was working on a sermon. I liked the title, so I started reading. It wasn’t what I thought it was going to be. In fact, the title was the antithesis of the article. I was expecting to read an article on the grace and unmerited love of God. Instead, I was reading an article that used the words but continually placed constraints on God’s love and mercy. It’s like a spouse turning to his/her partner and saying, “I love you, but I need you to first do…” (with an extensive list). Divine love doesn’t have a list of stipulations and prerequisites. It is one thing to say I love you unconditionally, and here are a few things on which I hope we can work to strengthen our relationship. It is something entirely different for God to be depicted as One whose love is dependent on things we do.
Prayer: May I never undermine your love, O God, because of my insecurities. Amen.
Scripture: Galatians 4:28
Now you, my friends, are children of the promise, like Isaac.
Thought for the Day: It is said that a person is known by the promises s/he keeps, not by the promises made. We know God by the promises kept, and so it is easier to trust in new promises made. As those who continue to live in the tension between the old and new world, we find ourselves having to trust in promises not yet fully fulfilled. Like any relationship, it is easier to trust one who has fulfilled promises in the past.
Prayer: Lord, may I remember promises fulfilled as I live in the tension of new promises not yet fully realized. Amen.
Our Sermon Series
On The Epistle to the Galatians
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Scripture: Galatians 5:2-6
Look, I, Paul, am telling you that if you have yourselves circumcised, having Christ won’t help you. Again I swear to every man who has himself circumcised that he is required to do the whole Law. You people who are trying to be made righteous by the Law have been estranged from Christ. You have fallen away from grace! We eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness through the Spirit by faith. Being circumcised or not being circumcised doesn’t matter in Christ Jesus, but faith working through love does matter.
Thought for the Day: It can’t be said for sure, but it appears as if Paul is a bit ticked off at this point. Have you ever been mad and said things that were a bit over the top. Parents often make new rules and ramifications for the breaking of the rules when they are mad. You might have heard something like, “If you ever do that again, you will be grounded until Halley’s Comet comes back around” (that would be the year 2061). Now there might be a parent that actually would attempt to follow through on that threat, but most of us are trying to make a point. The threat is probably closer to hyperbole, and the dramatic rhetoric hopes to make a clear point. In the moment of writing what he did, Paul may have denied any sort of over statement of the truth, but give him some time, he makes some pretty profound statements about the love of God and the far-reaching character of divine mercy. We may feel as if we’ve fallen away from grace, but the interesting thing of grace is that it falls with us into the pits of failure, mistake, sin and unrighteousness. It is serious to Paul, but in the end, he never seems willing to write off anyone when it comes to the redemptive power of God’s love.
Prayer: For your love and mercy, O Living Lord, I am forever bound. Even when I seem to do everything to push your gifts away, they cling to me and work to redeem my life. Amen.
Is Based Upon
(Last Sermon in the Series on Galatians)
Scripture: Galatians 5:1
Christ has set us free for freedom. Therefore, stand firm and don’t submit to the bondage of slavery again.
Thought for the Day: The movie, The Free State of Jones, is coming out today. I am intrigued by the movie, and though some say it takes a few liberties with it accuracy, it has spurred me to read about Newton Knight, the poor white Southern farmer who led a Unionist rebellion during the Civil War. If anything, this story points to the ongoing yearning within every human life to know freedom and receive respect. Above, the Common English Bible translates the opening of vs. 1: Christ has set us free for freedom. In the NRSV, it is translated as: For Freedom, Christ has set us free. The work of translation is never easy as sentence structure is very different between English and Ancient Greek. With that said, one of the words – free, is a noun. The other word – freedom, is a verb. It sounds as if Paul is announcing to his readers that they have been set free, not just to sit back and enjoy their new found freedom, but for the work of freedom. They have been set free to help others know the gift of freedom. I am reminded of Dr. Kings words, “If one is oppressed – all are oppressed.” I may have claimed freedom in Christ Jesus, but it is not a freedom I can fully enjoy while others are still bound in slavery, human trafficking, addiction, bigotry, grief and guilt. There is work to be done, but it is work to which we have been presented the needed tools and gifts.
Prayer: This is for me, Merciful God, a day for gratitude. I know so many freedoms, but the greatest is the freedom given through the loving kindness of Jesus. May I live a life that helps others enjoy this gift. Amen.
Is Based Upon
This Same Text
(Last Sermon in the Series on Galatians)