Severity and Rest

8 But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed! 9 As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed (Galatians 1)!

To make his point, Paul writes it twice: the right (only) gospel is so important that preaching or teaching anything contrary to it brings doom and destruction. It also makes no difference who brings that false preaching or teaching—whether they be apostles or even angels. They both receive the same doom and destruction.

Why such severity? Because the gospel was born out of the greatest severity that has ever occurred—the crucifixion of the very Son of God. Without the death of Christ making full (not partial) payment for the sins of man, there is no gospel. Thus, to add anything to it is actually to subtract from it.

Lord, thank You for the severe lengths You took to redeem us, and that we do not need to add anything to it. Help us This Day to find sweet rest in the gospel. Amen.

One Gospel

6 I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel; 7 which is really not another … (Galatians 1).

Paul says “a different gospel” and then immediately corrects himself with “which is really not another.” In other words, there is but one gospel (good news) and one gospel only—and that is the gospel of grace. When any works are required either to win salvation or to secure it, then it is no longer good news.

If I have to perform works of righteousness in order to get saved, or to keep from losing my salvation, then where is the good news in that? How will I ever be sure if I’ve done enough either to acquire my salvation or to keep it? Without grace there is no good news, no gospel.

Lord, thank You for this grace-filled-gospel! Help us This Day to live in gratitude for it. Amen.

A Wondrous Wonder

6 I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel … (Galatians 1).

We have all heard of the seven wonders of the ancient world—places of beauty and  grand architecture. Indeed, when the first indoor stadium, called the Astrodome, was built in my hometown, it was proudly touted as “The Eighth Wonder of the World.”

Yet here is a wonder beyond wonders—a wondrous wonder—that someone would come to the gospel of grace and leave it for a false gospel of works. This, to his utter amazement, is what Paul heard some of these foolish Galatians were doing, who were beguiled by certain “Judaizers” coming in to lead them astray. Paul was “amazed” not only that they “deserted” the gospel, but that they did it so “quickly.” Such is the reason for this epistle, as Paul attempts to convince them to come back to the true gospel of Christ.

Lord, thank You for this wondrous gospel! Help us This Day to remain true to it. Amen.

Rescued

3 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, 4 who gave Himself for our sins so that He might rescue us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, 5 to whom be the glory forevermore. Amen (Galatians 1).

The word “rescue” literally means “to choose out of”—thus, to be rescued is to be elected. God, in His mercy and grace, reached down into the cesspool of sin in this “evil age” and plucked those out whom He had chosen even before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:4).

Yet this rescue could not take place apart from the sacrifice made on the cross, where Christ “gave Himself for our sins.” You see, our sins had to be dealt with—before any rescue could take place. Christ had to die for the sins of individuals—before He could pluck them out of a sinful world. We were rescued from sins, because Christ was delivered over for them. We were rescued “from this present evil age” because Christ first entered into it and then was delivered over to it.

Lord, to You be the glory forevermore for what You have done for us! Help us This Day to live as those who have indeed been rescued—full of gratitude and devotion to serve You. Amen.

Ministry Calling

1 Paul, an apostle (not sent from men nor through the agency of man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised Him from the dead), 2 and all the brethren who are with me, to the churches of Galatia … (Galatians 1).

Of all the assurances or encouragements a person may have for being called into the ministry, the only one that really counts is the call of God Himself. All manner of people may try to convince someone that Christian ministry is their calling, but unless God Himself does the convincing, then that ministry from its very beginning is doomed to fail.

Why? Because the obstacles and heartaches are far too great for mere men to keep them afloat during those great storms at sea. Christian ministry, by its very nature, is fraught with wave upon wave of disappointments, and the only One who can raise a person up in the midst of them is the One who “raised Him from the dead.”

Lord, bless all of those This Day whom You have called and sent. Amen.

A Triumvirate Plus One

23 Peace be to the brethren, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 24 Grace be with all those who love our Lord Jesus Christ with incorruptible love (Ephesians 6).

“Peace … love … faith”—what a magnificent triumvirate! What if every church was marked by these three qualities? What if people felt these as soon as they walked through the doors of a church? Or, better still, the moment they pulled into the parking lot! What if they sensed this was a place where peace reigned, love thrived, and faith led?

Yet this triumvirate would not exist apart from the “grace” of God. For without His grace working within, a church is marked by factions, enmity, and unbelief. Those who fancy themselves as leaders vie for power and influence, and those with a constant chip on their shoulders stir up trouble; those with anger issues spew their hatred and angst; and those who are weak sow their doubts. 

Lord, help us This Day by Your grace to sew peace, love, and faith in our churches. Amen.

Not About Me

21 But that you also may know about my circumstances, how I am doing, Tychicus, the beloved brother and faithful minister in the Lord, will make everything known to you. 22 I have sent him to you for this very purpose, so that you may know about us, and that he may comfort your hearts (Ephesians 6).

Sometimes it is far better to send a messenger than just a message/letter. Too many things would be left unwritten—either by discretion or due to priorities. That is, some things should not be read by everyone, and some details are not worthy of paper and pen, yet are indeed necessary for some to hear.

Paul is not sending just any messenger, however—he is sending one of their own, an Ephesian himself by the name of Tychicus, a man likely converted during one of Paul’s journeys there. Paul knew he would no doubt receive a hero’s welcome, and for this anticipated edification he was happy to send him. 

Lord, help us This Day to seek the edification of others above our own. Amen.

Praying to Proclaim

19 and pray on my behalf, that utterance may be given to me in the opening of my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in proclaiming it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak (Ephesians 6).

Most of us tend to think that Paul’s evangelistic zeal came quite naturally—that his conversion experience was so extraordinary that from that point on he couldn’t keep his mouth shut about the Lord, nor his feet still from missionary effort. Well, if this was so, then why did he ask people to pray for him in this way?

Could it be that the great Apostle Paul sometimes found it difficult to “open his mouth” and give “utterance” of the gospel? Or that, without prayers on his behalf, he would not find it within himself to “speak boldly as [he] ought to speak?” Well, if the Apostle Paul himself needed prayer to proclaim the gospel, don’t we all?

Lord, help us This Day to pray for one another to proclaim the gospel. Amen.

Provincial Prayers?

18 With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with … petition for all the saints … (Ephesians 6).

Do I only care about my own family members, or believers in my church family? Do I care about the believers attending another church in my town, who are in another denomination, worshipping in a different way than me? Do I care about other Christians living in other towns, in other states, in other countries, or on other continents? Do I care about other followers of Christ who worship out in the open, or those who must worship illegally? Do I care about those who are rich, or those who live in poverty?

We are told to “pray … with … petition for all the saints”—and that means all of them. Yet, as sophisticated and educated as we are, we still tend to think and act quite tribally. We care about people who are like us—those in our own tribe. We tend to be more concerned about the kingdoms of men, than the Kingdom of God.

Lord, help us This Day not to be so tribal in our prayer life. Amen.

A Conversation

18 With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view … with all perseverance … (Ephesians 6).

This word for “perseverance,” meaning “to continually wait,” is found nowhere else in scripture, nor for that matter anywhere else in literature. Its root word, however, is very common, and means “to endure.” Thus, it seems Paul made this word up.  My guess is he did not want to use the word meaning to endure because that implies putting up with something that is a negative thing, and prayer is anything but negative.

We do not endure prayer, we continually wait in it. But what are we waiting for? God’s answer, of course—whether the answer be a specific yes, or no, or to keep waiting, or whether the answer be a general sense of peace in our heart. The point is, prayer is not a one-way conversation. We wait for God’s reply.

Lord, help us This Day to continually wait for Your reply.