Monday, June 25, 2012

Paul Demonstrating God's Grace Galatians 1:11-24

    Looking at 1:11-12, where did Paul say he received his message from?

    Why was where is message came from so important?

    Where does the authority for our message come from today?

    What was Paul's life like before he met Jesus Christ (1:13-16, Acts 9:1-22)?

    What can we learn about Paul's call to service (1:15-16)? When did the call begin? What did God do? How was the call made? What was the purpose of the call?

    Why is it so important that Paul did not consult with men (1:16-17)?

    Read 1:18-24. How does Paul demonstrae that he was not influence by the apostles or others?

    Why was it so important for Paul to spend so much time (3 years), basically alone with God?

    Paul received direct revelation from God. How can you use the Scriptures, God's revelation to us, to exercise discernment and wisdom in whom you allow to influence you spiritually( Compare Acts 17:10-11)?

    Who did the Christians in Judea praise when they heard of Paul's conversion? Did they praise God or Paul? Why is this significant?

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Paul Declaring God's Grace Galatians 1:1-10

1. Read verses 1-5. How does Paul begin his letter to them? Why does he begin it this way?

2. Who was this letter address to (1:2)? Scan Acts 13-14, which cities where these churches in?

3. Look once again at the opening verse of chapter one (1:1-5). What are the essential elements of the   gospel? Create an outline of the gospel from these verses.

4. In every other epistle, after greeting his readers, Paul goes on to pray for them or to praise and thank God. What does he do here(1:6-10)?

5. The greek word for "turning away" or "deserting" means "to transfer one's allegiance." How were they deserting the gospel (1:6)?

6. Why would the Galatians believers, many of whom were Gentiles, be willing to live by the restrictions of the law when their salvation had come soley by grace?

7. Paul describes thes false teachers as those who were perverting or distorting the truth gospel of Christ.How were they doing this (1:7-10)?

8. In what ways do people add to the gospel of grace today?

9. Paul makes a clear distinction in verses 8-9 that we are to judge the teacher by the gospel and not judge the gospel by the teacher. Why is this an important distinction?

10. Today people tell us that times have change and so must the gospel and the Word of God. Some teach that some parts of the gospel and the Word of God no longer apply to us because we're living in "modern times." What would Paul say (1:8-9)?

11. What was paul's motive for serving the Lord (1:10, 6:12, 1 Thess. 2:4, 2 Cor. 5:9)?

12. What could Paul had done differently if his motive was to gain approval from people?

13. Why does pleasing people make it impossible to be a servant of Christ (1:10)?

Galatians: Introduction

As the gospel began to spread, many Gentiles began to profess faith in the Lord Jesus. This led to difficulties between the Jewish Believers and the Gentile Believers. Questions began to be raised by some. Questions like: What is the relationship of the Gentiles to the Law of Moses? Were they allowed to ignore it completely? What about the ritual of circumcision? As time went on, more question arose. Some felt that the Church was only to be an extention of Judaism.Some were asking if faith in Christ was sufficient, does the law need to be kept along with salvation in order to enjoy complete justification.

When the apostle to the Gentiles, Paul heard that those in Galatia were turning back to the Law and that false teaching were influencing them, he wrote to them with deep concern. These false teachers were attacking Paul and his teachings in three areas.

1. They attacked his claim to be an apostle, seeking to undermine his authority.
2. The false teachers were claiming that the gospel Paul preached was good, but not sufficient.
3. They also were existing that the Law was necessary for a good healthy Christian life.

Paul addresses the first attack in chapters 1-2, the second attack in chapters 3-4 and the last attack in chapters 5-6. In the first two chapters he defends the message of the gospel of grace as well as his authority to preach such a message. In chapters 3-4, Paul goes into detail, teaching the sharp contrast between law and grace. In these two chapters Paul emphasizes that a relationship with God is based on faith, not on following the law. Then in the last two chapters, 5-6, Paul demonstrates how this life of faith ought be lived in the power of the Spirit of God.

Why is this book of Galatians pertinent for us today? Christianity is still threatened on one side by legalistic, self-righteous people and on the other side by those who would turn Christian liberty into license to sin. In this letter Paul addresses three issues that are the foundation of the Christian faith.

Paul defines and defends Justification by faith alone. He explains very clearly that Salvation comes by faith in Christ alone.

He describes the function of the Mosaic Law. He does not condemn the Law but shows that it has the purpose of serving as a tutor or a teaching driving us to the grace found in Christ.

Lastly, Paul instructs us on how live a balanced Christian life, not falling into the ditch of legalism or into the ditch on the other side of being liberal and loose with the grace of God using it as a license to live any way we want.
As you study Galatians try to understand this first century conflict between grace and law, faith and deeds, but also beware of moderns parallels. Even though this book was written sometime between 49-55 AD, it has valuable lessons to teach us today. Experience the Grace of God by living in the freedom that Christ has brought you into!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

How to Enjoy His Hedge Around Us

Satan challenged God concerning Job saying, “Hast not thou made an hedge about him, and about his house, and about all that he hath on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his substance is increased in the land” (Job 1:10). We can and must build a protection around us, our families, our possessions, etc. James 4:7-8 say’s "Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded." Peter reminds us that Satan is after Christians, "Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walks about, seeking whom he may devour" (I Peter 5:8). 

So how do we build a Hedge around us? I would suggest six ways:

I. Realize God Has Given Us Angels For Protection
Read Daniel 10, Acts 12, Acts 27. The Psalmist said, "The angel of the LORD encamps round about them that fear him, and delivers them" (Psalm 34:7). "For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways" (Psalms 91:11)."But to which of the angels said he at any time, Sit on my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool? Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation (Hebrews 1:13-14)? "Behold, I send an Angel before thee, to keep thee in the way, and to bring thee into the place which I have prepared"  (Exodus 23:20). Both Old Testament and New Testament declare that there is such a thing as "guarding angels."

II. Fervent, Earnest, Intercessory Prayer 
"And it was so, when the days of their feasting were gone about, that Job sent and sanctified them, and rose up early in the morning, and offered burnt offerings according to the number of them all: for Job said, It may be that my sons have sinned, and cursed God in their hearts. Thus did Job continually" (Job 1:5)" "Moreover as for me, God forbid that I should sin against the LORD in ceasing to pray for you: but I will teach you the good and the right way" (I Samuel 12:23). 

III. The Word of God
"Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee" (Psalm 119:11). "For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart" (Hebrews 4:12). "And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all thy might. And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when you sit in thine house, and when thou walks by the way, and when thou lie down, and when thou rises up. And you shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. And you shalt write them upon the posts of your house, and on your gates" (Deuteronomy 6:5-9).

When weak (1 Corinthians 10:13; Phil. 4:13). 
When afraid (II Tim. 1:7; Psalm 56:3; Psalm 50:15; Proverbs 3:24-26). 
Battling with Satan (James 4:7-8; I John 4:4). 
Needs (Phil. 4:19; Psalm 37:23-28). 
When worry strikes (Matt. 11:28-30; I Peter 5:7; Phil. 4:6-7). 
Enemies (Romans 8:31). 
Problems (Romans 8:28; II Corinthians 2:14).

IV. Build a Hedge Between You and All Evil
"Abstain from all appearance of evil" (1 Thes 5:22). "Blessed is the man that walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful.But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he does shall prosper" (Psalms 1:1-3).

V. Stay Under Your God-given Earthly Authority.
"Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you" (Hebrews 13:17). "But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God" (1 Corinthians 11:3). "Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. Honour thy father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise;) That it may be well with thee, and thou may live long on the earth (Ephesians 6:1-3).

VI. The Name and Work of Jesus Christ
"And the seventy returned again with joy, saying, Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through thy name. Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you" (Luke 10:17,19). "And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death" (Revelation 12:11). "The name of the LORD is a strong tower: the righteous runs into it, and is safe (Proverbs 18:10). "And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive" (Mat. 21:22). 

A Vision Begins With Prayer Nehemiah 1:1-2:18

A vision begins as a concern. A vision does not necessarily require immediate action so what should you do in the meantime to keep your dream alive? When Nehemiah heard about the condition of Jerusalem, there was nothing he could physically do to remedy the situation. It seemed as if he was in the wrong place, with the wrong job, working for the wrong guy. But Nehemiah was not inactive. The four months between hearing about the condition of the walls and finally being able to do something about it was a productive time for Nehemiah. Nehemiah did two things to prepare for the time when God would lead Him to pursue his vision.

I. He prayed – Prayer is critical to vision development. Why? Because we see what we are looking for, and often miss what we don’t expect to see. Prayer keeps us looking. It keeps our eyes and our hearts in the expectant mode. When God begins to move, we are only going to see it if we are ready and watching. Notice that Nehemiah did not pray for God to rebuild the wall. He prayed for an opportunity to go rebuild it himself. That is the difference between a dreamer and a visionary. Dreamers dream about things being different. Visionaries envision themselves making a difference. Dreamers think about how nice it would be for something to be done. Visionaries look for an opportunity to do something.

II. He planned – Nehemiah thought about what would be needed to accomplish this vision (or at least get started). When God has given us a vision, we need to go ahead and start developing a plan. Assuming you had the resources, what would you do? Assuming you had the time, what would you do first? Nehemiah laid out steps of how to pursue this vision. He made sure that if he got an opportunity to present his vision to the king, he was ready. Pray for opportunities and plan as if you expect God to answer your prayers. The problem is that many of us fail to pray and fail to plan.

As we pray about and plan for the vision, it seems overwhelming and impossible. When God puts something on our hearts, it always seems out of reach (because it is). God ordained visions are always too big for us to handle. There are always more questions than answers and more obstacles than solutions. Nehemiah no doubt felt like he was in the wrong place doing the wrong thing at the wrong time. But God knew what He was doing. He had Nehemiah in the right place doing the right thing at the right time. God had given Nehemiah a place among the palace servants. Then he maneuvered him through the ranks of influential Persian officials so he would be noticed for his integrity and trustworthiness. Eventually he was recommended to the king and appointed to the position of cupbearer.

On the surface it might have appeared that God was moving Nehemiah in a direction that would make it impossible to accomplish this dream. But actually, just the opposite was true. God gave Nehemiah a job and a relationship that gave him an inside track to the king. Like a master strategist, God was working behind the scenes putting everything in position.

III. God is using your circumstances to position and prepare you to accomplish His vision for your life. Just as this was true for Nehemiah, it’s also true in your life.This is easy to see when we are looking back, but it always takes faith when looking ahead. Often we can not see any tangible connection between our circumstances and the vision God has given us. Even though it may not make sense to us on the surface, rest assured that God is working behind the scenes to position everything needed to accomplish the vision He has given.


"Walk a little plainer, Daddy,"
Said a little boy so frail.
"I'm following in your footsteps
And I don't want to fail.
Sometimes your steps are very plain;
Sometimes they are hard to see;
So walk a little plainer, Daddy,
For you are leading me.
I know that once you walked this way many years ago,
And what you did along the way
I'd really like to know:
For sometimes when I am tempted
I don't know what to do
So walk a little plainer, Daddy,
For I must follow you.
Someday when I'm grown up
You are like I want to be.
Then I will have a little boy
Who will want to follow me
And I would want to lead him right
And help him to be true.
So walk a little plainer, Daddy
For We must follow you."