July 25, 2010

A Thankful Song - July 25, 2010

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Generally, our sermon readings come from different books of the Bible from one Sunday to the next. For example, our last four sermons readings came from: Ephesians, Galatians, Romans and Exodus.

Sometimes it’s helpful to stay in one book for a while, instead of jumping all over in the Bible from one Sunday to the next. One benefit is that you don’t have to study the context over and over, Sunday because you’re in that book on a regular basis! You know what happened in the last chapter, and you’ve read ahead into the next.

The books of the Bible were originally written as that, books that stood alone. If we study their entire contents together we make connections that are otherwise impossible to make. It’s kinda a no-brainer. If you study a whole book of the Bible you’re going to understand more than if you just get a snippet from chapter one during Christmas, and a chunk from chapter 5 in Lent, a piece of chapter 12 at Easter.

So, for the rest of the summer, we’re going to use the Sermon time during our Sunday worship to dig into the book of Colossians.

I’d like to ask you all a question. How’s your daily Bible time been going lately? You know, your quiet time, your devotion time?

Prayers don’t count. Singing along with that Christian song on the radio doesn’t count either.

How has your time with the Bible open been going lately? Daily? Not so daily?

What’s that you ask? How’s my time been going?

That’s not fair, I’m asking you.

Pastors get so much of the Word anyway, we really don’t need our own personal Bible time. Okay, so that’s not true. And my own daily devotion time hasn’t been going well lately. I haven’t been consistent at all. I’ll open up that Bible on the night stand and go, “Hmmm, which bookmark is the one I’m using?” That’s not a good sign.

Maybe you struggle with the same thing. It’s not surprising if you do. The Devil likes it when people let the Bible gather dust. He’d rather our conversations with God be one way: all talk TO God, no talk FROM God. Prayers are fine, great even, but we also need to hear what God has to say to us. And generally, He speaks through the Bible, not from the sky or in our heads.

Starting today, I’m going to be reading in Colossians. Since the sermon’s from chapter one, I’m gonna read chapter one - each day this next week. I suggest you try something similar, if you need to kick start the quiet time again too. Read Colossians chapter one tonight. And read it again Monday, and Tuesday. By the time you get to next Sunday, you’ll understand it a lot better and you’ll be able to see things there that you couldn’t before. I can guarantee that because the Holy Spirit is at work here.

For now, if you’ve got your own Bible, turn to Colossians1, verse 1.

The first verse reads…
“1Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother,” (Colossians 1:1 NIV).
Since I had a little time to read about Paul’s life this week, let me fill you in about where Paul is when he’s writing this. If you know everything about Paul already, just sit tight.

Paul’s father was Jewish born, from the Tribe of Benjamin. Somehow, Paul’s father was also an official citizen of Rome. This made Paul a citizen of Rome too. This was a very big deal. Back then, the Roman Empire took care of it’s citizens. In fact, you could be executed for claiming you were a citizen when you actually weren’t.

Anyway, little Paul grew up to be a member of the Pharisees, a super strict religious sect of the Jews. So, when the followers of Jesus started getting attention (after Jesus had risen from the dead), Paul looked into it.

He didn’t like it. He didn’t believe Jesus was God’s Son. And he set out to stamp out Christianity in it’s infancy.

Enter Jesus. While Paul was on his way to hunt down Christian in Damascus, the risen Jesus appeared to him, struck him blind and scared him half to death. Jesus told Paul that Paul was going to work for Him now, not against Him. Paul’s life was never the same.

He was baptized and almost immediately started to tell others the message sins forgiven through Jesus.

Okay. Skip forward a few years. By this time, Paul has gone on three mission trips, each longer and reaching farther into Asia Minor than the last. But when the last one ended in Jerusalem, Paul found himself in trouble. Some people wanted to kill Paul, and he was arrested. Paul would now have to face the authorities for preaching about Jesus.

That probably would have been alright. They probably would have let him go. But Paul appealed to Caesar instead.

You see, every Roman citizen could appeal to Caesar to judge their case instead of the local authorities. But if they did, then they’d have to go to Rome and wait in line for their case to be heard.

So, Paul went to Rome, preaching the message of Jesus to everyone he could along the way. When he got there, Paul waited. He had to wait under guard, but it was in a comfortable rented house, not some dungeon. He was free to have visitors and… …to write letters.

In the New Testament of the Bible, there are four letters in which Paul talks about being “in chains” while he wrote them. Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians and Philemon. These are sometimes called the captivity letters.

Okay. Look at Colossians 1, verse 2. It reads…
“2To the holy and faithful brothers in Christ at Colosse:
Grace and peace to you from God our Father” (Colossians 1:2 NIV).
The people Paul was writing to were Christians living in the city of Colosse. Interestingly enough, Paul had never been to Colosse. He had never met these people.

On his first mission trip, Paul hadn’t gone far enough to reach Colosse. On his second trip, Paul shot past Colosse to the north. Third trip, same thing.

You see, Colosse wasn’t a real big town. It was set in the Lycus valley, around 12 miles away from the more important cities of Hierapolis and Laodicea.

From Paul’s letter to the Colossians, it appears that a man named Epaphras had brought the Good News of Jesus to that town. Epaphras may have been the one who started the churches in Laodicea and Hierapolis also. Toward the end of Colossians we’re told that Epaphras was deeply concerned about the welfare of the congregations in these cities.

So, that’s the setting. Let’s hear what Paul has to say. Look at Colossians 1, verse 3.
3We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, 4because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all the saints—5the faith and love that spring from the hope that is stored up for you in heaven and that you have already heard about in the word of truth, the gospel 6that has come to you. All over the world this gospel is bearing fruit and growing, just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and understood God’s grace in all its truth. 7You learned it from Epaphras, our dear fellow servant, who is a faithful minister of Christ on our behalf, 8and who also told us of your love in the Spirit" (Colossians 1:3-8 NIV)

Ever since Jesus rose from the dead, the Gospel, the Good News about what His life means, has been spreading. If it wasn’t accepted in one town, Jesus’ followers moved on to another. And with each new congregation formed, more shoots grew out for the Message.

Each letter found in the New Testament has its own “tone”. The tone of Paul’s letter to the Colossians is “thankful”. At first, I thought it was “positive”, but I think “thankful” is a better description.

You can see the thankfulness in Paul’s first paragraph here. He’s thankful for the way God’s forgiveness has been spreading throughout the world, and especially in this case, he’s thankful that the Gospel has found a place in Colosse.

Paul says that Epaphras has informed him of how the Colossian Christians are full of faith (trust in God) and full of love for their fellow “saints” (in the Bible “saints” means “holy ones” – those declared holy by God through faith in His Son).

I’m curious. I wish we had some of the stories that Epaphras told Paul. How had the Colossians loved their fellow Christians? Had THEY brought the message to Laodicea and Hierapolis? Had THEY founded the churches there? What had they done to further encourage those churches?

Whatever they had done, Paul points out the source of their actions. Paul says right away that whenever he prays for the Colossian Christians He thanks God the Father (verse 3). Paul says that their faith and love was springing from the hope that they have in heaven because Jesus has erased their sins from God’s ledger (verse 5). Paul says that the Holy Spirit was the one moving them to do whatever good they had done (verse 7).

Through these Christians, the Triune God was bringing joy and support to other saints around them. So, Paul gives God the credit as he praises and encourages the Colossian Christians.

This must have been a pretty neat letter to get in the mail. Remember, Colosse wasn’t important to the world. It was just another small town. Their congregation didn’t have huge numbers to boast about. They weren’t like Jerusalem, where the church had first met. They weren’t like Antioch, where Jesus’ followers were first called “Christians”. But here comes a letter from the apostle Paul. For them! And he says, Hey guys, when I pray for you (Paul’s praying for us!) I thank God. I know all about what you’ve been doing for other Christians (Paul knows what we’re doing?!). It’s all part of God’s spreading Gospel, and it makes me thankful.

In verse 6 Paul wrote…
“…All over the world this gospel is bearing fruit and growing, just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and understood God’s grace in all its truth” (Colossians 1:6b NIV).
Fruit trees reproduce by seeds. But those seeds are clothed in delicious fruit. That’s what we see when we look at the Colossian Christians. They were holding out the Good News of forgiveness and the seed of that message was wrapped in their love and faith.

Look at Colossians 1, verse 9.

The Holy Spirit sometimes compares God’s people to living things, like Sheep. You know the comparison there – Jesus leads, we follow. But God’s people are compared to a living PLANT that is spreading out, producing fruit and growing stronger.
“9For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. 10And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, 11being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully 12giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light” (Colossians 1:9-12 NIV).
In this section, Paul gives a little preview of the things he’s going to talk about in this letter. When Paul prays for the Colossians, he asks for them to grow in knowledge of God’s will. He asks for them to learn how to live this knowledge. He asks for them to grow stronger and he asks for them to be thankful.

These things are going to come up in this letter. Knowledge of God’s will. The ability to live God’s way. Strengthening and thankfulness.

Closing up this section, Paul states reveal why the tone of Colossians is so thankful. Look at verse 12-13.
“12giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light. 13For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, 14in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins” (Colossians 1:12-13 NIV).
You ever notice that you’re only thankful for things that are already done? Paul is thankful because through Jesus, His sins are already forgiven. He’s already part of the Kingdom of God’s beloved Son. Paul is thankful because God was at work in Colosse. God was there through His Son’s message, freeing sinners and bringing them out of the darkness and into God’s light.

Prayer: Father in heaven, thank you for communicating to us by your word. Thank you for bringing us to trust in Jesus. If we are down hearted and sad, open our eyes to all the blessings you bring to us even in a broken, sin darkened world. Open our eyes to all the people that know you. People we know and love. People we don’t know. People we’ve never met and never will in this world. Through our study of this letter to the Colossians, give us the same things Paul prayed for. Give us knowledge of your will, the ability to live holy and fruitful lives. Give us strength and endurance, and give us hearts that always sing a thankful song to you.


July 18, 2010

Redemption through His Blood - Jul 18, 2010

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This is the Redemption Church calendar. I printed it off from the Redemption website. You can find that at www.redemptionCLC.com . This here is the most recent Redemption membership directory. This is the Redemption constitution. Outside in the parking lot you’ll find the Redemption Church van. There’s also the Redemption storage container (freshly painted), in which you’ll find the Redemption lawn mower.

Oh, I’m sorry. Today is our 50th anniversary celebration and we’ve got a good number of guests. I forgot to mention to our visitors, in case you didn’t see the sign on your way in, our church is called, “REDEMPTION Evangelical Lutheran Church”.

We name things (streets, buildings, parks, rivers, mountains, churches), we name them after important people, places or events. But when we then use those names over and over and over, the significance wears thin.

This church was named “Redemption” by the first families that gathered together to worship. The Petersons and the Dragers. They wanted a name that was different than all the churches around them. You know, so nobody would get confused about which group was which. And they also wanted a name that would express what was important to them. What was precious to this group.

Today, as we celebrate the 50th anniversary of Redemption Church, we’re going to take a step back and look again at what the Bible says about that word, “Redemption”.

Ephesians 1:7-10 (ESV)

(boldface pronouns refer to God the Son, other pronouns refer to the Father)

7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, 8which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight 9 making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ 10as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.

If you’ve been through Catechism Class you might remember the definition for “redeem”. Redeem means “to buy back”.

When you hear the word “redemption” think “release”. That’s what “redemption” means, to RELEASE by making a payment.

You and I deal with redemption all the time. You know how it works. You screw something up. Then you have to do something to make things right again.

In sports, at work, in marriage, with friends - we’re always redeeming ourselves. We’re always messing something up and making up for it.

Usually, the worse you mess up, the more you have to do to redeem yourself. And that’s where the whole problem with sin comes in. When we do something that is morally wrong, when we sin, that sin is ultimately against God. Against our absolutely perfect and sinless Creator. And there simply isn’t anything we can do to redeem ourselves in God’s sight. He created the human race without sin, and anything less than perfection, He just can’t accept.

To make things worse, you and I are constantly adding sins to our record. Sins are like miles on the car - once they’re on, you can’t take ‘em off.

It took the blood of God’s own Son to take our sins away. It took His intense physical, emotional and spiritual suffering in order for our sins to be paid for. His suffering even included being separated from God the Father while He hung on the cross.

All of this the Son endured because the Father loved sinners. We didn’t deserve it. But God doesn’t give us good things because we deserve them. He doesn’t accept sinners because they’ve made enough good-deed payments or put enough stars up on their church attendance charts. God had His Son go to the cross for us because He is full of grace.

You might remember “grace” from Catechism class too. Grace means “undeserved love”.

So, “redemption” means that our shackles of sin have been broken open. But the “redemption” that comes from God is richer still. In verse 9 Paul says,
“…making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ…” (Ephesians 1:9 ESV).
When we like it or not, God is a mystery. People don’t usually get to see Him with their eyes. It’s true that throughout history God has visibly appeared to some. Individuals, groups, huge crowds at times. But usually He doesn’t choose to show Himself in that way.

But God DOES wants people to know Him. He wants them to trust Him. He wants them to rely on Him. He wants to be involved in our lives. He wants to have the most intimate of relationships with us. One even closer than husband and wife. One where nothing is hidden.

So, to draw us into this kind of a relationship, He has opened His heart to us. In everything that Jesus did and said, we see the Father’s heart revealed.

Philip, one of Jesus’ twelve apostles once said to Him…
“Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.”
9Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you are not just my own. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work” (John 14:8-10 NIV)
And in Colossians the apostle Paul writes…
“9For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form” (Colossians 2:9 NIV).
By Jesus’ life and His teachings, God’s heart and His will is opened wide for us to know, and to absorb.

Redemption means freedom from sin’s punishment. But God isn’t satisfied with just taking away the criminal’s sentence, He also seeks to change the criminal’s heart.

In chapter four of Ephesians, Paul tells his fellow Christians…
“29Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. 30And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. 32Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you” (Ephesians 4:29-32 NIV).
Redemption means seeing God’s heart, and receiving the impression of His heart on our own.

Here at Redemption church, we want everyone to who comes into contact with us to hear about the free forgiveness that God has given through the blood of His Son. But we also want people to continue in their God-education. We want them to grow in their knowledge of God and their love for God.

We don’t want to remain Christian children, we want to become mature Christians. Christians whose lives reflect the love if Him who redeemed us.

It’s easy to remain shallow Christians, grasping the forgiveness of Christ for ourselves, but not extending that forgiveness to others. That’s not what we want. We don’t want to be judgmental Christians, looking down on people around us because they are not followers of Christ.

We need to look at the world through God’s eyes. Seeing all others as just like us. Sinners who need to know the loving God just as much as we do.

Redemption means forgiveness and change, but it also means a future has been opened to us. A future given as a gift along with the blood of our Savior. In verse 10 Paul wrote that in Christ God’s plan has been revealed.
“…a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth” (Ephesians 1:10 ESV).
In the beginning, all things were created through God’s Son. The Bible tells us that Father, Son and Holy Spirit, all three persons of the Triune God, created together. That means that in the beginning, all things were under the authority of the Son of God.

In the future, all things will again be gathered again, under Jesus. All things will come full circle. All people will be released from their grave. Brought back to life, to stand before their Creator for judgment.

Those who have trusted in God’s Son will be released from all the effects of sin. Their bodies will no longer be limited by fatigue and pain and sorrow.

The Creation itself will be freed, released, redeemed from the deteriorating effects of sin. It will be made new. No more oil spills. No more devastating floods. No more earthquakes.

This is the future that we have to look forward to because of the blood of Christ. In the end, we will stand cleansed from sin and united with God forever. All because of the blood of Christ.

This message may not seem like anything new to those who sit in this sanctuary from Sunday to Sunday. Because it isn’t anything new. This is the message that has been preached at Redemption Church from its very beginning. This is the message that the Petersons and Dragers gathered around to remind each other of, and to share with others.

And, if it be God’s will, it is the message will be taught here long years after we have been released to join the congregation gathering around God’s throne in Heaven.

Redemption is our name. May it ever be our treasure, and our message. Redemption through His blood.

Prayer: Father in heaven, you have made yourself known to us through your dear Son. You have released us from the heavy guilt of sin. You have taught us to live as your children, and to grow as your people. Continue to lead us by your Word. Send us faithful pastors and teachers all manner of fellow servants to encourage our faith. Cause us to always rely on you. Make our hope to rest squarely on the blood of Jesus, your dear Son. Give us this gift. Let us be true to our name. People of your redemption. People who share redemption, until that day when your great plan comes to it’s glorious conclusion, and our greatest joy begins.


July 12, 2010

Dead to the World, Alive and Growing In Christ - Jul 11, 2010

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Our sermon reading for today comes from the end of Paul’s letter to the Galatian Christians. Galatia was a Roman province located some 500 miles north of Jerusalem. Paul himself introduced these people to Christ on one of his missionary journeys.

Paul wrote to the Galatians primarily to correct a specific false teaching that was being spread there. After Paul left, others began to teach the Galatians that Paul had it all wrong. They said that Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross was not enough payment to make sinners acceptable to God. Certain Old Testament rituals also had to be done in order for God to forgive sin.

This was an attack that struck at the heart of Christ’s message. Paul wasted no time in responding to it. In chapter one of his letter, Paul wrote…
“6I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel—7which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ” (Galatians 1:6 NIV).
In chapter two Paul points out that sinners are not saved by their own actions, but by trusting in what Jesus has done in our place. Paul wrote…
“…a man is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by observing the law, because by observing the law no one will be justified” (Galatians 2:15-16 NIV).

First Paul set the Galatians straight on how sinners become saints – through faith in Christ Jesus, and through faith alone. Then he moved on to instruct the Galatians just how they were to live now that they were God’s people.

We read from…

Galatians 6:1-10, 14-16 (NIV)

1Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted. 2Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. 3If anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself. 4Each one should test his own actions. Then he can take pride in himself, without comparing himself to somebody else, 5for each one should carry his own load.
6Anyone who receives instruction in the word must share all good things with his instructor.
7Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. 8The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. 9Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. 10Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.

14May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. 15Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything; what counts is a new creation. 16Peace and mercy to all who follow this rule, even to the Israel of God.

Right off the bat I’m going to re-read verses 14-15. I think these verse are KEY to this section.

Paul says that the world (the sinful world) has been crucified to him, and he has been crucified to the world. You know what comes after crucifixion right? Death. Paul is saying that the sinful world is dead to him. Why? Because of Christ’s cross and what it means.

When Paul learned that it WAS actually God’s Son who died on that cross outside of Jerusalem and rose from the dead on Easter morning, that changed everything for him. Christ’s cross meant that all of Paul’s past sins had been paid for. Paul no longer had to go to hell for his sins.

Through this message, Jesus made Paul a new man. On his first birthday, Paul had been born into the nation of Israel. But now Paul was reborn, into the Israel of God. The Holy Christian Church. All true believers.

The value system of the world no longer mattered to Paul. Now he would learn to value what God values. Now he would learn to live God’s way. The world was dead to him, and he to the world.

By faith in Christ, we too are dead to the world. We have been born again through faith in Jesus. Now, like little children we are learning to walk – in God’s way. We are learning to talk – God’s language.

Because Jesus has come into our lives, we are Dead to the World, but Alive and Growing – In Christ.

In verse 15, Paul says “what counts is a new creation”. He says something similar in 2 Corinthians, chapter five...
"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” (2 Corinthians 5:17 NIV).
This “new creation” thing sounds like God moves in with a wrecking ball, levels the old, bulldozes the old foundation and starts building from the ground up. That’s what it sounds like. But in reality, when God brings people to faith, it’s more like moving an old house onto a new foundation. Gently, carefully he sets us on the foundation of Christ. Then he remodels us from the inside out. Piece by piece.

Complete forgiveness comes with faith – in an instant. But the remodeling of our hearts and lives, that’s on-going.

That’s why Paul had to instruct the Galatian Christians how to act now that they had come to trust in Jesus. Looks at verses 1-2. Paul says…
“1Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted. 2Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:1-2 NIV).
The moral principle that guides much of the world is, “live and let live.” But Paul tells the Galatians to “live and love”. They are to actively watch out for each other.

When we see followers of Christ wandering down a sinful road, we are to actually do something about it! This means gently pointing out sin to each other. This means reviewing what God says about a particular sin, and sharing that. This means reminding each other that while sin is wrong, there is forgiveness for those who turn back to God.

Correcting a fellow Christian can be an uncomfortable thing to do. Have you ever confronted someone about an on-going sin in their life? Not because you were angry with them, but because you were concerned that their faith in danger?

I find it a hard thing to do. Who likes confrontation? Not me. I don’t want to seem judgmental, or like a know-it-all goody-goody.

Paul says that by gentle correction, we bear each other’s burdens. We fulfill the “law of love”, that law that Jesus gave His followers the night before He died for them. Jesus said…
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:34 NIV).

In verses 3-5, Paul says that a Christian doesn’t only look OUT for others, he also looks INTO himself.“3If anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself. 4Each one should test his own actions. Then he can take pride in himself, without comparing himself to somebody else, 5for each one should carry his own load” (Galatians 6:3-5 NIV).
It’s human nature to compare ourselves to others. But when we do, the result is usually bad. Either we get an inflated sense of superiority, or we get a deflated sense of failure. Either we’re better than our fellow Christian, or we’ll never be as good.

Paul says, don’t do that! Don’t judge yourselves by comparison. God gives us different things to do. He also gives us different abilities with which to do our individual assignments. He doesn’t want us to compare.

When we evaluate ourselves, we aught to identify what resource God has given us as individuals. What time. What money. What talents. What skills.

Then, we should look at what responsibilities God has given us. Then we can evaluate how well we’re doing. You see, personal evaluation has nothing to do with the person sitting next to us.

Verse 6 shows that followers of Christ have a love for God’s Word, and with that love a desire to support those who teach it correctly.
“6Anyone who receives instruction in the word must share all good things with his instructor” (Galatians 6:6 NIV).
Here in Lynnwood, I’m supported in many ways. The paycheck that you give enable me to feed my family. We live in a house that we never had to make a down payment on. From time to time, there are gifts kindly left on the parsonage porch. There are constant repairs and improvements being made to our home. And these are just a few of the physical benefits teaching God’s Word here.

Along with these good things I also have the prayers, which I never hear, but that I know are being made for me and my family. There are the thoughtful conversations, and the encouraging emails. There is the time that individuals devote to making my work easier to fulfill.

All these things not only provide for my needs, these gifts shared also give me time. Time that I can spend studying the Word of God. Time that enables me to be a better teacher for my fellow Christians.

In verses 7 and following, Paul reminds the Galatians to take their new life seriously.
“7Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. 8The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. 9Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. 10Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers” (Galatians 6:9-10 NIV).
The life of a Christ follower is a joyful life. But, it is also a hard life. We have all sorts of problems living God’s way in this broken world.

The world presents us with many different solutions to our problems. If one diet doesn’t work, there’s always another. If one financial strategy doesn’t produce, there’s always another plan that might. Parents move from one form of discipline to another, and another, and another.

Paul tells the Galatians, and us, don’t ever move on from doing good.

Someone once said, “Honesty is the best policy”, meaning that people who tell the truth prosper. But sometimes when we tell the truth, it doesn’t work out the way we expect it to. And then we are tempted to move on to some other strategy to get what we want. We are tempted to tell lies, or to manipulate people to get our way.

But the sinful ways of the world are not God’s ways, and so they are not our ways. Let us not grow weary of doing what is right, even when it doesn’t seem to be producing. At the right time, God will give us a good harvest if we don’t give up.

Our faith is not based on getting rewards for doing what is right. Our faith is based on the fact that through Christ we have been given peace with our Creator, even though we deserved His anger and punishment. Because of Christ we have forgiveness for our past sins, and mercy for every stumbling misstep to come.

Paul closes our reading with these words:
“…what counts is a new creation. 16Peace and mercy to all who follow this rule, even to the Israel of God” (Galatians 6:15b-16 NIV).
To you who rest your hopes on the Cross of Christ, peace and mercy are yours. May we all learn to walk in God’s ways with confidence. For through His Son, God has made us His chosen people, His Israel.


The peace which comes from God, which far exceeds all our understanding will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.