Monday, 28 September 2015


Galatians 4: "You can tell for sure that you are now fully adopted as his own children because God sent the Spirit of his Son into our lives crying out, “Papa! Father!”

We don't speak: it is Jesus' spirit which speaks through us: for "In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans." Romans 8:26

Romans 8:15 "For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him."

There is no fear when I am a child of God. I need to REMEMBER WHO I AM.

"Dear Lord, I’m choosing to remember who I am in You — no matter what I face today. I want to live out the truths You’ve taught me and help those around me do the same."

Proverbs 10:7: "The name of the righteous is used in blessings, but the name of the wicked will rot." (NIV)

Psalm 119:33-34: "Teach me, LORD, the way of your decrees, that I may follow it to the end. Give me understanding, so that I may keep your law and obey it with all my heart." (NIV)
- See more at:

Thursday, 24 September 2015

Remember. Keep focused. Keep dependent.

"I want to know only one thing. How were you given God’s Spirit? Was it by obeying the Law of Moses or by hearing about Christ and having faith in him? 
How can you be so stupid? 
Do you think that by yourself you can complete what God’s Spirit started in you?
Have you gone through all of this for nothing? Is it all really for nothing? 
God gives you his Spirit and works miracles in you. But does he do this because you obey the Law of Moses or because you have heard about Christ and have faith in him?"

How to live in the TRUTH? The truth that nothing I do by my own efforts can save me... the truth that I have to put myself aside and humble myself completely...the truth that I CONSTANTLY have to consider MY 'self' as useless as dead and 'all' I need to do is rely on Jesus?

And how to do I do that? By constantly turning to him and asking for help. Every day. Every hour. Every minute,

Trying for every hour, at least. So here we are:

Verses 5 - 9 (Chapter 3) say, in The Message:
"Answer this question: Does the God who lavishly provides you with his own presence, his Holy Spirit, working things in your lives you could never do for yourselves, does he do these things because of your strenuous moral striving or because you trust him to do them in you? Don’t these things happen among you just as they happened with Abraham? He believed God, and that act of belief was turned into a life that was right with God.

Is it not obvious to you that persons who put their trust in Christ (not persons who put their trust in the law!) are like Abraham: children of faith? It was all laid out beforehand in Scripture that God would set things right with non-Jews byfaith. Scripture anticipated this in the promise to Abraham: “All nations will be blessed in you.”

So those now who live by faith are blessed along with Abraham, who lived by faith—this is no new doctrine! And that means that anyone who tries to live by his own effort, independent of God, is doomed to failure. Scripture backs this up: “Utterly cursed is every person who fails to carry out every detail written in the Book of the law.”"

Paul goes on: "The obvious impossibility of carrying out such a moral program should make it plain that no one can sustain a relationship with God that way. The person who lives in right relationship with God does it by embracing what God arranges for him. Doing things for God is the opposite of entering into what God does for you. Habakkuk had it right: “The person who believes God, is set right by God—and that’s the real life.” Rule-keeping does not naturally evolve into living by faith, but only perpetuates itself in more and more rule-keeping, a fact observed in Scripture: “The one who does these things [rule-keeping] continues to live by them.”

Such a temptation to think - usually unconsciously - that if I DO the right things I will FEEL right with God. And yet there is a truth in this.  We feel good when we do the right thing, just as we feel bad when we sin - the hidden lie, the small thing stolen, the unkind thought....

So perhaps it is more than feelings. Perhaps it is just about knowing God, being with him, developing relationship, as we would with anyone - finding out more about how he thinks and feels and does, finding out about his family, his background, his interests, rather than doing anything to impress.

After all, just trying to impress someone by what we do and say doesn't build relationship with them, does it? We're just showing off when we do that...

"In fact, the Law was our teacher. It was supposed to teach us until we had faith and were acceptable to God. But once a person has learned to have faith, there is no more need to have the Law as a teacher." (Galatians 3:24 - 25)

Teaching Judaism to the children at the moment, it has become more and more apparent that Judaism is a religion of good rules and regulations, a way of life: Christianity is about following a person whose heritage was that same way of life....

And so: "All of you are God’s children because of your faith in Christ Jesus. And when you were baptized, it was as though you had put on Christ in the same way you put on new clothes.  Faith in Christ Jesus is what makes each of you equal with each other, whether you are a Jew or a Greek, a slave or a free person, a man or a woman. So if you belong to Christ, you are now part of Abraham’s family, and you will be given what God has promised."

There are many reasons why I cling on to this promise: I can only pray: Lord, increase my faith.

Sunday, 20 September 2015


This chapter is about unity - and it is Paul who initiated the discussions, going to Jerusalem in response to God telling him, to meet with the apostles and make sure he was on the right track.

Amazing. He'd been 14 years on his own already, doing his own 'following God' thing.  He was welcomed, included, supported ..."I met privately with those considered to be leaders of the church and shared with them the message I had been preaching to the Gentiles. I wanted to make sure that we were in agreement, for fear that all my efforts had been wasted and I was running the race for nothing. And they supported me....James, Peter, and John, who were known as pillars of the church, recognized the gift God had given me, and they accepted Barnabas and me as their co-workers. They encouraged us to keep preaching to the Gentiles, while they continued their work with the Jews.  Their only suggestion was that we keep on helping the poor, which I have always been eager to do."

And yet... the very next thing we find is that Paul confronted Peter, accusing him of doing wrong by no longer eating with the Gentiles. Peter had begun to draw back and separate himself from the non-Jews because he was worried about what the Jews would say: Paul brought this into the open and told Peter openly that he was a hypocrite and wrong to do so.

Oh, to have the courage to tell someone face to face that they are wrong. To risk the anger and condemnation and ridicule that would surely come my way. I have been on the receiving end of it, of course - and am very good at accepting blame, even when something I have done has not been intended, has been taken the wrong way or perhaps I haven't even done wrong at all - it has just been 'different'.

(That sounds like another topic altogether: 'different' doesn't necessarily mean 'wrong'.  Can we not just accept our differences?)

Galatians 2:16 "Yet we know that a person is made right with God by faith in Jesus Christ, not by obeying the law. And we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we might be made right with God because of our faith in Christ, not because we have obeyed the law. For no one will ever be made right with God by obeying the law." This is a reminder that the one thing I NEED is to be in right relationship with Jesus: it's not about just DOING stuff, it's about who I am with him.  It's like my marriage: I can DO all the right things to invest in my marriage - serving my husband, spending time with him - but if our relationship is not right, then we do not communicate well and we do not feel 'right' with each other.

But, actually, if I know the truth of THIS; "I have been nailed to the cross with Christ. 20 I have died, but Christ lives in me. And I now live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave his life for me.21 I don’t turn my back on God’s undeserved kindness." (v19 - 21)  then I can live a life of love given freely: for I was enslaved by sin and have been SET FREE!

I can be generous, even when I feel grudging.
I can give the benefit of the doubt, even when I want to gain revenge.
I can love without expectation, even when I expect loving.

I CAN. Because HE DID. He died. For me. End.of.story.

Thursday, 10 September 2015


Galatians 1:18 - 24And still the churches in Christ that are in Judea didn’t know me personally.  All they knew was that people were saying, “The one who used to persecute us is now preaching the very faith he tried to destroy!” And they praised God because of me.

Joy in knowing that an enemy has found redemption...

Wednesday, 9 September 2015

Paul reflects on the effects of his meeting with Christ

Galatians 1:11 - 17
Paul tells of how he persecuted the Christians as a well-born, zealous Jew: he was their enemy:  And then: "But even before I was born, God had chosen me. He was kind and had decided to show me his Son, so that I would announce his message to the Gentiles. I didn’t talk this over with anyone. I didn’t say a word, not even to the men in Jerusalem who were apostles before I was. Instead, I went at once to Arabia, and afterwards I returned to Damascus."

That Damascus road experience. Wow. So awesome, so beyond words that he had to be alone to digest it all, to get to know this Jesus who he was persecuting.

My response, I'm inclined to think, would have been to rush off to friends to tell them all about it.

We sing of God's praises - to be overwhelmed with his presence would be more than I could bear...

Tuesday, 8 September 2015

Pleasing God, not men...

Galatians 1:10
"Obviously, I’m not trying to win the approval of people, but of God. If pleasing people were my goal, I would not be Christ’s servant."

Cross references:
Matthew 6:24
"No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.
Romans 1:1
Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God--
1 Corinthians 10:33
even as I try to please everyone in every way. For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved.
Ephesians 6:6
Obey them not only to win their favor when their eye is on you, but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from your heart.
Philippians 1:1
Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus, To all God's holy people in Christ Jesus at Philippi, together with the overseers and deacons:
1 Thessalonians 2:4
On the contrary, we speak as those approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel. We are not trying to please people but God, who tests our hearts.

I fall into the trap of thinking that if I please God, then people will be pleased and like me and all will be comfortable and well.

And that does indeed often happen, because God's way is good and lovely and perfect and good and lovely behaviour changes the atmosphere and the culture and makes everyone feel more comfortable and happier and it's all good, good good....

But sometimes in my world the good God way goes against the culture and people aren't happy. Love God Greatly talks about this, too...
"when pleasing man trumps pleasing God, we have a serious problem on our hands....Ultimately, you and I live for an audience of One. God is our ultimate authority, and the gospel is our primary message.

Will we speak the one and only gospel in an effort to magnify the One who died to save our souls? Or will we hold back absolute truth, cowering under the pressure of pleasing man over pleasing God?

There’s a lost world in need of the gospel – people that we will interact with even this very day. Jesus, give us opportunity and your strength to boldly proclaim that YOU are the only way…"

Let me remember God first God first God first first first....FOCUS.

Monday, 7 September 2015

Galatians 1:6 - 9

So there we were - basking in God's love and mercy and grace and peace and all in our garden of belief is lovely....the gospel, the good news, saves us and restores our relationship with God and what more could we want?

And yet.... they turned away. Paul's exasperated diatribe reveals his shock and astonishment.

When I hear of folk slipping away, no longer attending church, living lives of selfishness, I just feel sadness tinged with inevitability.

And yet... this could be me, too: "You are following a different way that pretends to be the Good News"

I take comfort in Paul's prayer of protection: that he has prayed that anyone who preaches a different message from the Gospel will be punished!  Not that I wish that on anyone, but it helps me concentrate on keeping focused on the Truth.

On Jesus.

Sunday, 6 September 2015


The salvation plan in a nutshell.

Paul is sent by God - not given the job by people.
"I was chosen to be an apostle by Jesus Christ and by God the Father, who raised him from death. No mere human chose or appointed me to this work."I too am sent by God, even if he has used humans to appoint me to a is to him that I am responsible and answerable to. HE is my line manager, my boss.

Paul is inclusive: he includes all the believes with him in the letter: the implication is that they agree with him and endorse what he says as he writes to the churches in Galatia.

Before all else, he wishes grace and peace for them. he wants God's kindness and freedom from anxiety, worry and strife.
Grace: derived from pleasing; favour or goodwill: kindness, kindliness, love, benignitycondescension.
a manifestation of favour, especially by a superior: forgiveness, charity, mercifulness.
mercy; clemency; pardon: lenity, leniency, reprieve.

but for the grace of God, under less fortunatecircumstances:
But for the grace of God, the brick that just fell fromthe roof would have hit me on the head!
by the grace of God, thankfully; fortunately:

By the grace of God, I won't have to deal with tax returns for another year.

to lose favor; be discredited:
He fell from grace when the boss found out he had lied.
have the grace to, to be so kind as to:
Would you have the grace to help, please?
in someone's good /bad graces, regarded withfavor (or disfavor) by someone:
It is a wonder that I have managed to stay in her goodgraces this long.

with bad grace, reluctantly; grudgingly:
He apologized, but did so with bad grace.
Also, with a bad grace.

with good grace, willingly; ungrudgingly:
She took on the extra work with good grace.

The opposite is to fall from grace,  Theology. to relapse into sin or disfavor. Paul does NOT want this for the Galatians.

And so Paul reminds us "Jesus gave his life for our sins, just as God our Father planned, in order to rescue us from this evil world in which we live. 5 All glory to God forever and ever!" (The Message)

To God be the glory. For ever. And ever. This day. This hour. This minute.

Saturday, 5 September 2015

Psalm 119

I read through Psalm 119 over the summer, paraphrasing each set of stanzas to begin with a different letter of the alphabet.  Not sure I really got the most benefit by doing so: perhaps I should just have followed the 'Love God Greatly' study, with its pretty memory verse cards.

Psalm 119
1 - 8
Amazingly blessed are those who stay on the tracks with God’s rules and laws.
Aiming for God’s best at all times, we strive to obey
Achieving, as we do so, near perfection.
Again and again you remind us to follow your regulations.
Abiding in your ways is my desire:
After all, thinking about your commands will help stop me from doing foolish things.
I applaud you for giving me a guide to follow for living a truthful life.
Acquiescing, I need you with me – I cannot do it alone.

9 - 1
By living according to your Word, God, I am helped to live purely.
Besieging you wholeheartedly, I don’t want to stray away from what you have told me to do.
By treasuring your words, I’m kept from sinning against you.
Be praised, Lord, and teach me what you want.
Bragging about everything you have said
Brings me to rejoicing, as if I’d suddenly inherited a great deal of money.
Brooding over your guidelines for a good life
Blesses me: I am so happy and so I determine NOT to neglect what you have told me to do.

17 - 24
Care for me kindly, Lord, so that I can live well, doing what you say.
Clear my vision so that I can see
Communicate your commands, as I am a stranger here
Consumed with longing for your laws all the time, I know those who
Contradict you, you rebuke.
Care for me when others scorn me for trying to obey your rules, for I
Concentrate on keeping your commands,
Considering your laws to be delightful, for they
Counsel me with great wisdom.

25 – 32

Dusty death is what my soul clings to, so give me life according to your word!
Declaring my troubles, you answered my prayers: now teach me your laws.
Don’t let me fail to understand what you teach; I want to ponder the marvellous things you have done.
Downcast with sorrow is my soul: please strengthen and encourage me!
Deceitful ways need to be kept away from me – be gracious to me, teach me what to do right.
Deciding on being faithful, I have set my heart on your law.
Determinedly following your ways, Lord, don’t let me be ashamed.
Dedicated to learn what you want me to do, help me understand more.

33 - 40
Educate me, Lord, to understand your law, and I will treasure it.
Enlighten my heart so that I can follow and obey wholeheartedly.
Encourage me to keep on keeping on, because that is my pleasure
Enable me to focus on your words and not to selfish gain
Enlarge my vision from worthless things and give me life in your ways
Confirm to your servant your promise that you may be feared
Excuse me from there reproach I am afraid of, for your rules are good
I am enchanted with your precepts; in your righteousness give me life!

41 – 48

Fill me with your steadfast love, your salvation, as you have promised,
For I trust your word and will have an answer for the person who torments me.
For my hope is in your rules, don’t take the word of truth out of my mouth.
Forever I will keep your law, continually, no stopping,
Finding your commands so that I can live freely, and, in
Front of those in authority, speaking about what you have done without shame,
For I find my delight in your commandments, which I love.
Facing toward your commandments, I WILL lift up my hands and I WILL meditate on what you have laid down in law.

49 - 56
Graciously remember the hopeful words you have given me, your servant.
Given life in your promise, I am comforted in my troubles.
Great is the derision I receive from the insolent, but I don’t turn away from your law.
Good is the encouragement I get from your rules, Lord.
Greedy, wicked people who disregard you fill me with indignation.
Going anywhere, your God songs – your words – sing in my heart.
Getting through the night, I remember your name: your character and identity, and keep your law.
Gracious blessing has fallen to me, that I have kept your precepts.

57 - 64

Having God is enough for me: I promise to keep your words.
Heartfelt, I beg for your favour; be gracious to me according to your promise.
Having paid careful attention as you lead me, I follow closely.
Hastening, I don’t delay to keep your commandments,
Holding on to your law, even as evil people try to trap me.
How fair your laws are! They make me wake up and praise you in the middle of the night.
Happy am I to choose as my friends, everyone who worships you and follows your teachings.
How amazing that your love is seen all over the world – teach me to follow your wisdom.

65 – 72 It sounds like it’s all about me...but really, it’s all about You, Lord.

I am your servant, Lord, and you have kept your promise to treat me with kindness.
I trust your commands, so give me wisdom and good sense.
I obey now, though once you corrected me for not obeying you.
I want you to teach me your laws, for you are kindhearted, and you do good things.
 I follow your teachings wholeheartedly, though my reputation is being ruined by conceited liars.
 I find happiness in your law, but those liars have no sense.
 It did me good when you corrected me, because it taught me to study your laws.
 I would rather obey you than to have a thousand pieces of silver and gold.

73 – 80
Just make me wise enough to learn what you have commanded, because I am made by you.
Joyfully I trust your word, so may others who also believe rejoice in you.
Justice was yours when you punished me: I know, Lord, that your decisions are correct.
Just comfort me with your love, as you have promised, because I serve you!
Joy is my desire when I obey your law; have mercy and let me live.
Judge the arrogant and put them to shame for wronging me without cause, because I have chosen to study your teaching.
Enjoin those who fear you to turn to me for evidence of your wise guidance, so they will learn to obey your rules.
Journeying on with my head held high and not be shamed, I want to be whole and holy, soul and body.

81 – 88
Keenly my soul faints with longing for your salvation,  but I have put my hope in your word.
Keenly my eyes look for your promise, almost failing:  I say, “When will you comfort me?”
I know your word, even though I am worn out from waiting.    When will you punish my persecutors?
he arrogant dig pits to trap me,
    contrary to your law.
Keep me safe, for I am being persecuted without cause: all your commands are trustworthy;
Killing me was their desire, but I have not forsaken your precepts.
Kindly, in your unfailing love preserve my life, that I may obey the statutes of your mouth.

89 - 96
Long-lasting as the heavens is your word, God: it lasts as long as the heavens.
Lasting through all generations is your faithfulness, just as you created the earth to stand firm.
Laws you have made are still in effect today, for all things serve you.
Loving your law brought me joy and helped me not to give up.
Life-saving are your wise words, and I will never forget the advice you gave me.
Let me belong to you: I have respected your laws, so keep me safe.
Licentious people lie in ambush to destroy me, but I’m only concerned with your plans for me.
Limits exist to everything because nothing is completely perfect except your teachings.

97 -  104
Meditating on your law all day, because I love what you have shown me.
Mulling over your words makes me wiser than my enemies.
Musing upon and absorbing your advice has made me become even smarter than my teachers
More understanding than those older than I are comes through doing what you tell me.
Minding your word is what I do, instead of following a way that leads to trouble.
Making detours from the route you laid out would be foolish, for you gave me such good directions.
Mouthwateringly sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth,
Making me understand your laws and so I hate lies.

105 – 112
Now your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.
Needing to make sure I follow your righteous laws, I solemnly promise to do so.
Needled with pain, I ask you to save me, Lord, according to your word.
Now accept my praise of you and teach me your laws.
Night and day I take my life in my hands, but I will not forget your law.
Nasty people try to trap me, but I do not turn my back on your teachings.
Never do I want to lose what you have taught me, for your laws are my treasure and source of joy.
Now and for ever, I set my heart on keeping your decrees.

113 – 120
Oh, how I hate double-minded people, but I love your law.
Only you are my place of safety and my shield.  Your word is my only hope.
Out of here, you evildoers, that I may keep the commands of my God!
 Outstretch your arm to hold me up, my God, according to your promise, and I will live; do not let my hopes be dashed.
 Orders from you,  I will always have regard for: uphold me, and I will be delivered;
Overall, you reject all who stray from your decrees. They are only fooling themselves.
Obeying your laws is my passion: for you skim off the wicked of the earth like scum.
Over my whole body are shivers of fear, as I think of you and the way you judge.

121 – 128
Pursuing your law is what I have done: don’t hand me over to those who want to mistreat me.
Preserve me, and don’t let me be harmed by those conceited people.
Pursuing your promise to rescue me, my eyes are strained and weary, 
Please show me your love and teach me your decrees.
Perspicacity is what I, your servant, need, so that I can understand your statutes.
Present is the time for you to act, Lord, because your law is being broken.
Precious are your commands  more than gold, more than pure gold,
Perfect are your precepts: so I hate every wrong path.

129 – 136
Quite wonderful are your laws, and so I obey them.
Quick understanding is given to ordinary people by the teaching of your word.
Quenching my thirst with your commands, I open my mouth wide with expectation.
Quiet my heart with your mercy, as you are kind to everyone who loves your name.
Quickly guide my steps so I will not be overcome with evil.
Quell the oppression of evil people so that I can obey your commands.
Quietly smile at me and teach me your decrees.
Quickly, I break out into a storm of weeping when anyone disobeys you.

137 – 144
Righteous are you, Lord, and your laws are right,
Reliable and trustworthy in the extreme.
Reaching for your word, I am frustrated when my enemies neglect your teachings.
Reliable are your promises: that is why I love them,
Remembering your laws,  although I am lowly and despised.
Right, true and everlasting is your law.
Reacting under pressure and stress, your commands nevertheless delight me.
Rules made by you are always fair; help me understand them so that I may live.

145 – 152
Seeking you, Lord, I pray; please answer me.  I promise to obey your laws.
Save me,  so I can follow your rules.
Sunrise comes, but I have already prayed for your help, and I put my hope in what you have said.
Staying awake through the night, I think about your promise.
Show that you love me, Lord, and answer my prayer. Please do the right thing and save my life.
Schemes devised by the wicked, who are far from your law, are near.
 Still, you are near, Lord, and all your commands are trusted and TRUE.   
Studying your laws, I found out long ago  that you made them to last forever.

153 -  160
Turn your eyes to my suffering and deliver me, for I have not forgotten your law.
Take my side! Argue my case! Protect my life as you promised.
The wicked are far from rescue, for they do not bother with your decrees.
Trusting in your rules and laws for my life, I ask for your great mercy on me.
Troubled and persecuted by many, I still keep your laws unswervingly.
Those unfaithful people who refuse to obey you are disgusting to me.
Turn you memory to how I love your laws,  and show your love for me  by keeping me safe.

True and trusted are all your words; all your teachings will last forever.

161 – 168
Unfounded are the reasons that powerful people harass me,  but my heart trembles only at your word.
Unswervingly, I rejoice in your word like one who discovers a great treasure.
Unchanging, I hate and detest falsehood  but I love your law.
Unendingly I praise you for your righteous laws.
Uncountable peace have those who love your law,  and nothing can make them stumble.
Unfailingly, I follow your commands, for you are my only hope.
Unfailingly, I obey your statutes, for I love them greatly.
Unfailingly, I obey your precepts and your statutes, for all my ways are known to you.

169 – 176
Well may my cry be heard by you: give me the discerning mind you promised.
Well may you listen to my prayer; rescue me as you promised.
Willingly will praise flow from my lips, for you have taught me your decrees.
Willingly will my tongue sing about your word, for all your commands are right.
Wish to protect me, because I have chosen to obey your laws.
Waiting for you to save me, Lord, I am happy because of your Law.

Yet you will keep me alive, so I can praise you, and let me find help in your teachings.
Yes, I AM your servant, but I have wandered away like a lost sheep. Please come after me, because I have not forgotten your teachings.