Saturday, August 30, 2008

Paul's Teaching

Tomorrow at church Steve will be preaching from the last chapter of Galatians, chapter 6:11-18.  I was reading the verses and am once again so impressed with Paul and his teaching.  He always has some kind of encouragement for me and something to emulate in my life.  But Paul would be the first to say, don't try to imitate me, but Christ!  What an example!  Among other things, these verses talk about how Paul sets a goal for himself.  We all set goals for ourselves, but do they line up with Paul's goal?   His goal as always is to never boast in anything, especially himself, but in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ!  He always puts Christ first in everything. He remembers all that the cross means.  He states how through the cross the world has been crucified to him and him to the world.  Crucified meaning separated.  I know I am in the world, but I am not supposed to be "of" the world.  This example makes me look at my life and evaluate where I am in regards to being separated from the world.  What areas do I still allow into my life that are worldly? I once heard someone use the term "flirting with the world."  Do I tend to flirt with the world?   Do I take a little from here and  little from there?  I would probably have to say at times I do.  What about my thought life?  I try to be careful with what I watch on tv or what I listen to, but too often there are things that are not filtered out.  
 Paul was writing to a group of people who were very legalistic thinking they were good because they were trying to follow the law. These people were also hypocrites.  These kinds of people are still around today, and so often they are right there in the church.  Their behavior does not conform to what they say they believe.  But I can't point my finger.  We all want to make a "good showing" so that we can have the approval of men and woman.  I think we have all fallen into the "trap" (sin)  at one time or another of being hypocritical.  Saying one thing, but doing another is an example.  Another might be, being one way in front of people, and acting another way alone or at home.  God knows how we are.  He sees us.  He hears us.  We must listen to the conviction of the Holy Spirit to live a pure and holy, sanctified life.  We can't do it on our own no matter how hard we try.  We can't boast in ourselves.  That's where we have to allow Hm to do the good work and give Him the credit.  The people Paul was writing to were boasting in the flesh.  This is just the opposite of what we should do!  What really is important in our life is to live our life as the new creation that we are because of Jesus!  He has given us a new life.  It belongs to Him!  When we do walk the way Jesus wants us to we not only experience peace but also mercy!  Paul tells us that peace and mercy will be upon us.   Who doesn't want peace?  Who doesn't want mercy?  God gives us these gifts because of His great unconditional love for us.  In these verses everything was made equally available to the Jews and to the Gentiles.
These verses tell us that the legalists and false teachers,  sought to impose circumcision.  What they were really doing was boasting in their flesh and trying to appear better that those who were not circumcised.  They wanted the Galatians to fall back into following the law.  None of that really mattered.  Yet, Paul experienced what he calls brand-marks.  Paul experienced  suffering because of his faith.  He was shipwrecked, beaten, imprisoned, persecuted.  Still he praised God and separated himself to Him.  He loved Him and chose to serve Him always.
 Paul also closes the letter with kind loving words, offering the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ to his brothers and sisters. He is showing love and compassion as it has been shown to Him. He truly knew the grace of the Lord.
  I love Paul's teaching because it shows me the direction I need to be going.  He shows me what my goals should be.  The Lord wants me to only boast in Him and not myself.  He wants me to remember that I have been crucified with Christ and to live a life separated from the world system.  I am a new creation and I must be willing to be persecuted for His sake.  As I am on this journey of learning to trust God daily, I know I will experience His peace and mercy as I follow the teaching of Paul.  We are justified by faith and nothing else!  

May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit!

Learning to trust God . . . As Paul Teaches . . One Day at a Time.


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