Friday, March 20: Happy Birthday Letha!
Two books in one day! (Warning: the next four days are two-bookers – but they are short books!)
Galatians is all about freedom in Christ. The book is written to believers in Jesus who had gone back to their old religious customs – specifically circumcision. Paul was writing to tell them that this ritual had no positive effect spiritually. He asks them in 3:3, “After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort?” While not many of us will be tempted in the area of circumcision, there are lots of traps from our past that can pull us away from faith in Christ. He tells us all, “The righteous will live by faith (not our own efforts).” (3:11)
I think the summary verse in Galatians is 5:1 “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.”
One of the most poignant verse in all of the Bible is found in Galatians. Here it is, just digest it:
Galatians 6:17 “I bear on my body the marks (scars) of Jesus.”
Ephesians takes us a different direction.
In 2002, I had the incredible opportunity to be involved in an in-depth, small group study of Ephesians with Dr. Jack Hayford, from Church on the Way in Van Nuys, California. Many of the notes in my study Bible came from that teaching.
Let me just hit some chapter highlights:
1) The gathering of Christ-worshippers is a body. Jesus represents the head and we are under Him. This is a huge blessing that is difficult for us to comprehend, but if we do, we will realize our prized position in Him.
2) The gathering of Christ-worshippers is a building, Jesus is the Chief Cornerstone, the foundation is the apostles and prophets. As we get into this building, we become the Temple of God, the living place of the Holy Spirit.
3) The gathering of Christ-worshippers is a mystery. The idea of mystery is this: God has, by His grace brought al people together to be His family. God has revealed this mystery through His church.
4) The gathering of Christ-worshippers is mature spiritual adult. God has given us the Spirit and church leaders to unify us and grow us up in our relationship with Jesus. When this happens, we will not be petty, we will stop doing things that destroy one another and we will stop acting like spiritual babies.
5) The gathering of Christ-followers is a bride. Jesus is the groom and we are to love Him and submit to him in every way. This metaphor speaks beautifully to how we are supposed to feel toward Christ as well as offering us great teaching on how to make our marriages work.
6) The gathering of Christ-worshippers is warrior. The enemy is the devil, we are the soldiers and there is all-out war! If we arm ourselves with the weapons that God provides, we are sure to win the battle.
I love the benediction in Ephesians:
Ephesians 6:23-24 Peace to the brothers, and love with faith from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 24 Grace to all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with an undying love.”
Are you counting down to the end? Try to avoid the temptation of just “getting through”. (by the way – only 22 days to go on the Quest!)