Category: Daily Devotionals

Those who really know #Christ can do little else but magnify His name.

Galatians 6:14 “But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.”

Legalism and works-based religious beliefs place their trust and therefore their foundations on either the knowledge of Christ or working toward Christ. Neither of these avenues is where Paul boasts, and he is reminding us that it shouldn’t be for us either. It is not enough to know about Christ or His Word. It’s not enough to be able to quote every word of the bible and recite each of its laws and mandates. James wrote in James 2:19, “You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder!” We, like Paul, must not simply agree that Christ died for sinners; we must glory in that truth, or as Paul states it, we must “boast…in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Everything about the world and indeed about ourselves should no longer be the mountains upon which we fly our flags of victory. When Paul says that he crucifies both, he is saying that they are detestable in his sight, just as crucifixion was detestable in the sight of all of mankind. Next to the glory of our Savior, we are as filthy rags and this world is a desolate wasteland of gray and dying refuse. We glory and exult and boast in our Lord Jesus Christ and what He has done because anything and everything in His shadow disappears beneath the absolute radiance of His majesty.

Study/Meditation: Read Philippians 3:1-11 (http://www.esvbible.org/Philippians+3/). What glorious attributes of Christ does Paul list that make Him worthy of all our praise?

*Father, I rejoice in You and Your Son, Jesus Christ, whose majesty and honor are far above the heavens. Thank You for procuring salvation for Your children. Amen.

Is it fair to describe all of fallen man as “people pleasers”? #humility

Galatians 6:13 “For even those who are circumcised do not themselves keep the law, but they desire to have you circumcised that they may boast in your flesh.”

As stated yesterday, Paul is summing up his letter to the Galatians with his final two warnings, the first against fear of human persecution in verse 12 and the second against love of human praise in verse 13. In the latter he is again referring back to the Judaizers and their true motives behind demanding circumcision from the Gentile Christians in Galatia. That motive, which is also the underlying motive for centering salvation on works of the flesh, is one of pride and the need to be praised by others. There is a commonly used phrase today describing those who seemingly work only for approval; we call them “people pleasers.” Often we even use this term as a derogatory one, implying a weak constitution and not enough self-confidence. The truth of the matter is that all mankind struggles against the tendency toward people pleasing because the converse stance would be one of complete and abject humility at the foot of the cross. The converse would be full realization of who we really are and what we really deserve aside from Christ. The converse would be a heart so focused on Jesus that the opinions of others, including our own, would count for nothing, and that the only thing that did matter was the majesty and glory of our Savior. The flesh will always love praise, but only Christ deserves it.

Study/Meditation: In what ways do you tend toward “people pleasing”? How can all of us learn to focus that attention only on Christ?

*Father, forgive me when I seek the approval of men instead of only from You. Give me the wisdom I need to overcome this self-centeredness so that I may give all praise and honor to You. Amen.

Why should Christians expect persecution over the #cross of #Christ?

Galatians 6:12 “It is those who want to make a good showing in the flesh who would force you to be circumcised, and only in order that they may not be persecuted for the cross of Christ.”

Here we are, for the final two times in Galatians, reading Paul’s admonitions against legalism and dependence on the flesh for justification and sanctification in 6:12-13. When all is said and done and Paul is writing his last words in this letter, he warns us against two things: the fear of human opposition and the love of human praise. In verse 12 he is completing his warning against the fear of persecution over the cross of Christ because that is indeed an inevitability for the one boasting only there. The Judaizers in Galatia were no doubt under extreme pressure themselves from the zealous Jewish nationalists in Judea. Paul is exposing both their fear of persecution as well as that of the Galatians who succumbed to the pressure placed on them by the Judaizers to be circumcised. The reality is that kneeling at the foot of the cross of Calvary will always call for humility, and no man in his human flesh desires that end. As a matter of fact, mankind without the Holy Spirit’s sanctifying presence will spit and jeer at the notion of this sort of humility; they will be hostile toward it because it has no place within it for exaltation of self. Christians, however, are to live only in the exaltation of Jesus Christ. All else is futility and ultimately sin.

Study/Meditation: How have you lived under persecution by man because of your faith in Christ? If you haven’t endured such, why?

*Father, I bow before the complete work of my Savior, Jesus Christ, done at the cross. Thank You for the work done by Him for me that only He could do. Amen.

Even the most beautiful #works done by man are nothing outside of #Christ.

Galatians 6:11 “See with what large letters I am writing to you with my own hand.”

It is impossible to be dogmatic about Paul’s reasoning in writing verse 11. We have the Greek translation and nothing else. However, we do know that forgeries were a constant problem. Paul had to address one such problem in his second letter to the Thessalonians where he refuted the claims from a forged letter, supposedly from him, regarding tribulation. (2 Thessalonians 2:1) Consequently, Paul used a scribe to write most of his letters but then wrote the conclusion and gave his signature in his own hand in order to verify the letter’s authenticity. Whereas this is most likely also the case with his letter to the Galatian church, we are still left to wonder why he drew attention to how he wrote the end. He seems to be drawing attention to his poor writing given a physical malady, which most scholars agree was probably a problem with his eyesight. When we consider the point of this letter, refuting the Judaizers’ claims that one needed to be physically circumcised in order to be saved, we can most likely conclude that Paul is using his own imperfect writing to make the point again—flesh-driven works and accomplishments have no bearing in the Kingdom of Heaven. Even his imperfect handwriting does not diminish nor preclude the majesty of God’s mercy and grace in salvation. The most beautiful penmanship by the most accomplished scribe wouldn’t make the Good News of the Gospel any more joyous, and nothing man does can add to or take away from the finished work of Jesus Christ.

Study/Meditation: How does the message that Paul seems to be conveying in Galatians 6:11 give you comfort when it comes to your own inadequacies?

*Father, thank You that it is nothing about me nor anything that I do that determines Your grace and mercy. You are great and worthy to be praised. Amen.

Why are believers to do #good to everyone, especially to other believers?

Galatians 6:10 “So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.”

When Paul begins this verse with “So then,” he is connecting his admonition about sowing to the Spirit with a practical application on how that is done. In order to reap eternal things, we are to “do good to everyone” first. Why? The ultimate good we are to share is the Good News of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to a world that is dying without Him. How are they to see this glorious news as good if it is not ensconced in good things? Brothers and sisters, if you have a hard time sharing Christ with your unsaved neighbor because you are shy or feel inadequate, set your life on doing good to them, and the ease to which that will lead to conversations about Jesus will astound you. Christians are to be about the work of doing good to others, “and especially to those of the household of faith.” There are a couple of reasons Paul ends with this qualification. First, the body of believers is a family. We must love each other and take care of each other as we would our family. However, this connects directly to the instruction about doing good to all men because again, the ultimate good we do is to direct others to our Lord, Jesus Christ. Who wants to be adopted into a family of people who mistreat one another? The world is watching, and often the first thing they see is the manner in which we love one another in good works. In summary, this section of Galatians could be stated simply as: “Do all that you do on this earth with eternity in mind.”

Study/Meditation: Read 1 Peter 2:13-17 (http://www.esvbible.org/1%20Peter+2/). How does Peter explain the reasons we do good to others?

*Father, help me to see the opportunities given me to do good to others, especially those in my church family. Amen.

Why should we keep doing the right thing even when no one notices? #perseverance

Galatians 6:9 “And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.”

The Christian life is certainly full of difficulties, just as Jesus promised us it would be. Persecutions, temptations, trials—all of these plague the believer’s life while he lives on this earth. However, perhaps one of the hardest things a Christian must endure is perseverance in doing the right thing when there seems to be no reward coming in this life. It’s hard to remain quiet when others are slandering you. It’s very difficult to repay an unkindness with a kindness, especially when it goes unnoticed. It seems impossible sometimes to financially support those in God’s kingdom when you’re not even sure from where your next paycheck will come. God knew this would be true. After all, His children are living in a foreign land where evil and sin often seem to reign. Therefore, He gave us a myriad of encouragements and guide posts along the way as we read His Word. The one that perhaps puts things in truest perspective is the one described by the writer of Hebrews in Hebrews 12: “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.” (12:1) This life is a marathon; it isn’t a sprint, so we run it always “looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith,” (12:2) and we run it knowing that our rewards are eternal, not necessarily temporal. In so doing we “lift our drooping hands and strengthen our weak knees, and make straight paths for our feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed.” (12:12)

Study/Meditation: Read 1 Corinthians 15:50-58. (http://www.esvbible.org/1%20Corinthians+15/) What does it mean that our “labor is not in vain”?

*Father, give me the strength to look to eternity in this life and not expect my reward now. Forgive me when I am short-sighted. Amen.