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Playing favorites {themes from Galatians 1-2}

Good news! I know your life is busy so you can read OR listen to today’s post! Just click play and listen to the audio blog {subscribers click READ MORE at the bottom of your email}! Let me know what you think in the comments or email me!

Playing Favorites (Audio)

 

Read Part 1

The high school lunch table — This infamous symbol represents much more than mac ‘n cheese and food fights. Somehow a simple table and chairs personifies an ongoing quest for popularity and approval. Have you ever noticed that almost every movie involving school age kids also includes a lunch room scene? (I have no scientific evidence to back up that claim).

The pursuit for approval from our peers is never ending. Look at the mommy wars.  We love to sit at the table with those who agree with us, and fling insults across the lunchroom to the moms who have different opinions. We crave the confirmation that we are in the “right crowd”.

 

As we move on in our study of the themes of Galatians, I find it so interesting that even the apostles weren’t immune to this craving for approval. Throughout the end of chapter 1 and through the beginning of chapter 2, Paul shares his beginnings as a gospel peddler. He was careful to protect the pillars of the good news and did so by having church leaders approve of his message. Their support was vital to his new ministry because they were seeking to preserve the purity of the gospel message.

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A few verses later, though, we see a different side to the approval coin. Paul points out a discrepancy in Peter’s behavior. It seems as if Peter was regularly eating and fellowshipping with the Gentile Christians until James shows up with his Jewish friends. All of a sudden, Peter changes “tables” and sits only with the Jews hypocritically ignoring his new friends. This consequence was much confusion about the new relationship between the Jews and non-Jews.

I find it so interesting that it was James himself who takes an entire section of his epistle to address the sin of partiality. Treating others differently based on their outward appearance or family origin shows a misunderstanding of the gospel message itself.
James says, “Listen my beloved brothers, has not God chosen those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom, which he has promised to those who love him?”
Paul simply had to call out the duplicity in his fellow brother in Christ when he saw that his conduct was not in step with the truth of the gospel. (Again we see that he doesn’t find his authority in his own opinions, but in the reconciliation Christ accomplished for believers).

 

Peter was acting differently with the hopes of gaining approval from James and his crew.

If I’m honest, I use the same tactic as Peter in my interactions with others. I use exterior characteristics to judge some and attempt to gain approval from others. The gospel frees us from this game of hypocrisy. As we read in Galatians 2:20, “It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me…”

 

My embarrassing sins and constant shortcomings have been placed under the death and resurrection of Christ on my behalf. When God looks at me, he sees a righteous woman in perfect standing with Him. Because Christ lives in me, I can bestow that same gift of impartiality to others. I can live in light of God’s approval by not living for man’s.

 

In other words, the lunch table I sit at doesn’t really matter. I don’t have to be or do something to find value in someone else’s eyes. My worthiness was established by Christ’s obedience on the cross. Someday, those of us who rest in Jesus’ work for us will experience the ultimate approval when we sit down at supper with the Lamb for all eternity.



Join me next week for Part 3 of our study in Galatians. Catch up on Part 1.
I’d love to hear what you’re learning as you read this truth packed book. Share in the comments or reply to your subscription email.

 

Who do you think you are? {themes from Galatians 1}

Exciting news! I know your life is busy so you can read OR listen to today’s post! Just click play and listen to the audio blog {subscribers click READ MORE at the bottom of your email}! Let me know what you think in the comments or email me!

Who Do You Think You Are? Audio

 

She crossed her chubby arms and tapped her tiny foot impatiently.

“Who do you think you are?”
She pointed to the handmade sign. “Can’t you see it says ‘No boys allowed’? Only girls can come into this clubhouse! Now, go away!”
It doesn’t take long for us as humans to start questioning and challenging our identity and authority as it relates to others. Some abuse that authority and others feel like they can never gain any. We all struggle to find our true identity.
As we begin looking at some of the major themes in the book of Galatians, these two root issues are so important. Let’s take a look at them separately.

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AUTHORITY IN CHRIST (Galatians 1:4)

Paul is writing the book of Galatians to a church who has lost its direction and focus as believers in Christ. He sees an urgent and dangerous problem that needs to be addressed immediately. Before he explains the issue and suggests solutions he establishes his authority not in himself, but in Jesus Christ. We find references to Christ’s resurrection even in the first verse of this book. In fact, throughout this letter, Paul rarely strays far from the anchor of the gospel. His advice and input carries weight to the hearers not because of Paul’s greatness, but  because of Christ’s.

 

There are times when we are also called to share truth with others. As moms, one of our primary responsibilities is to impart wisdom and instruction to the little ones in our home. It’s so easy to revert to the “Because I said so” mentality when in fact our authority really rests in the “Because He says so” of Scripture.
When we have an intimidating conversation with a coworker or friend, it brings much relief to realize that our words don’t hold weight because of our eloquence, but because of the power of God’s words and working in their life.
We share gospel truths not because we are qualified, but because He is!

IDENTITY IN CHRIST {Galatians 1:6-10}
So what exactly is the main issue with this body of believers? We soon learn that the Galatian church had forgotten their new identity in Christ and were actively turning to things other than Him for their security and rescue. They were attempting to fill a gospel-shaped hole in their spirits with things other than the work of Jesus.
This wasn’t a new idea to Paul. Later on in this first chapter he reminds them that he was growing steadily in his popularity among the Jews. His persecution of Christians and advancement of Judaism was applauded. When he was literally stopped in his tracks on the road to Damascus, he was given not only a new name, but a new identity and mission. He bluntly tells his readers that if he was seeking validation from his peers he wouldn’t be preaching Christ (v.10).


It’s easy to shake our heads at the Galatians and wonder how they could so easily turn to replacements for the good news they already received through Christ. Honestly examining our own hearts reveals that we have some identity issues too.
Here are a few of my identities:

–Good wife: This identity includes consistent dishwashing, crisp ironing, and squeaky clean floors. It requires immediate submission to all decisions and calm responses to heated discussions. If perfection is not attained in all aspects, this identity is deemed a failure.

–Wonderful mom: This identity includes gourmet PB&J making skills, organization of all superhero costumes, and creative bedtime storytelling. Negotiation is a requirement for this position. If perfection is not attained in all aspects, this identity is deemed a failure. 

–Church leader: This identity includes a cheerful disposition at all times, memory of church members names and current spiritual/physical needs, and an ability to explain any passage of Scripture a moment’s notice. If perfection is not attained in all aspects, this identity is deemed a failure. 

Obviously these identities are completely unattainable, but they bring pride and despair on a regular basis depending on my current level of success in each area. Can you relate?

Maybe you find your identity in your number of friends, advice giving opportunities, or creative ability. The possibilities are endless.
That’s why we can’t skim over the first part of Galatians. Our identity IS important and if we are in Christ our identity has been perfectly sealed. We are His!

Practically, this means that I can crash and burn in any area of my existence, but my validation doesn’t come from those faulty identities.

This makes the question of our authority and identity a simple one to answer. Both are found in the person and work of Jesus Christ. Straying from this answer leads us down a dangerous path and resting in it brings us confidence and peace in the face of the world’s many “gospels”.

As you head into the chaos that is life, ask yourself not “Who am I?” but “Whose am I?”. Those two letters make all the difference.

Join me next week for Part 2 of our study in Galatians. I’d love to hear what you’re learning as you read this truth packed book. Share in the comments or reply to your subscription email.

My Christmas Wish…..

The lights are twinkling. The spicy smell of the Christmas wreath candle brings back memories of years gone by. Something about Christmas Eve makes my warm hot chocolate taste even sweeter. The kids are too excited to go to sleep and I may not be getting any new toys or games under the tree, but I have to admit I’m pretty excited too!

My heart is overwhelmed with peace. Not because my circumstances are inherently peaceful, but because words from Matthew are still ringing in my ears from our before-bed story time.

“Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”

He is come! The Prince of Peace reigns!

As we wrap up an old year full of mistakes and regrets mixed with sweet memories and head into a fresh, untarnished year brimming with hope and uncertainty, His kingdom will never end! Emmanuel – God with us!

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My “wish” and prayer for you this season is that you will be overcome with the beauty of the eternal One who became man for you. May the realization of His eternal love and His eternal power over the circumstances of this broken world, bring you a peace that passes human understanding.

I will be taking the next few weeks to reflect on my Savior and rest with my sweet little family! I’ll “see” you in 2016!

Until then Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

 

 

COMING SOON:

The last edition of the bi-monthly Kitchen Table Newsletter announced our upcoming series, Galatians: No Other Gospel. GalatiansThis series will begin January 10 and will touch on some of the major ideas/themes found throughout this awesome book of the Bible. I’d love it if you would take a little time before then to read through Galatians. You’ll glean so much more from this series of posts and can share some of your thoughts and insights in the comments!

A Thanksgiving Favor….

It’s Thanksgiving week!! I hope you have some fun things planned with your loved ones during the next few days! I wanted to write something thought provoking and inspirational as we look at this season of gratefulness, but then I read this Psalm.

No words I could write would so beautifully sum up the thankfulness that is stirred up in our hearts as we see a God high and lifted up who still pursues the lowly and desperate (me).

Would you do me a favor? I know it’s easy to skim a post like this and then head off to more urgent things. Would you stop for a moment though and read this short Psalm aloud? I pray that you’ll be gripped with the greatness and faithfulness of our Father. When you’re done, I’d love for you to share in the comments a phrase or idea that really reminded you of the gospel!

Happy Thanksgiving, friends!

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Psalm 138

I give you thanks, O Lord, with my whole heart;
    before the gods I sing your praise;
I bow down toward your holy temple
    and give thanks to your name for your steadfast love and your faithfulness,
    for you have exalted above all things
    your name and your word.
On the day I called, you answered me;
    my strength of soul you increased.

All the kings of the earth shall give you thanks, O Lord,
    for they have heard the words of your mouth,
and they shall sing of the ways of the Lord,
    for great is the glory of the Lord.
For though the Lord is high, he regards the lowly,
    but the haughty he knows from afar.

Though I walk in the midst of trouble,
    you preserve my life;
you stretch out your hand against the wrath of my enemies,
    and your right hand delivers me.
The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me;
    your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever.
    Do not forsake the work of your hands.

Blueberries and spiritual fruit….

A few years back, I went with a friend and her kids to pick blueberries locally. It was my first time and I was so excited for the kids to experience harvesting our own fruit. We went a little early in the season which meant that not all the blueberries were ripe. That made our job a little harder because we had to search among all of the greenish fruit for the ones that were perfectly ripe! We collected quite a few and had plenty to eat at home for a long time!

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When I think about that memory, I can’t help but think of the fruit that comes from our lives as Christians.

John 15:8 says, “By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.” The fruit of kindness, love, patience, etc….is the evidence to others that we are followers of Christ.

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If we’re not careful, though, we can easily convince ourselves that we can bear that fruit by our own good lives or hard work. We are tempted to forget that the outworking of our faith is just that – a product of our dependence on our Savior.

Notice what Jesus says just a few verses earlier…..

“Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.”

I think it’s so interesting that He doesn’t say, “Abide in me and the quality of your fruit will increase.” Or “Abide in me and you will produce fruit more quickly.” Instead we are reminded that apart from Him we CANNOT bear ANY fruit! None!

The good works that we do apart from His power and enablement will be empty and unripe – good for nothing. It is only by abiding in the vine of the gospel that we can ever live a life characterized by the Fruit of the Spirit.

In other words, our Christian homes don’t need more doing, but more abiding in the One who has already done it all! Are you planted in the good news of Jesus’ accomplishment today?

Spiritual Baby Teeth…

My youngest just turned 1 in July, and I’ve found after three kids that the first year is a strange combination of fast and slow. When I’m getting out of bed for the third time before midnight, the moments seem endless. When that 1st tooth {finally} pops through and she looks suddenly more like a toddler than an infant, I pray for time to slow down.

During the last 14 months (no matter how fast or slow it felt) my daughter was gradually growing. The tiny onesies that had more than enough room, now would barely fit over her head. Her neck that now twists from side to side to see her brothers behind the highchair could hardly bear the weight of her newborn head just a few months ago. Her vocabulary increases daily and her eyes light up as she understands new concepts.

This constant, although slow, growth is a sign of a healthy baby girl.

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In the same way, Bible study can seem like a slow {and intimidating} process at times. We feel wobbly on our spiritual legs and unsure of our Scripture vocabulary. We can feel stuck on passages that we just can’t seem to comprehend and the verses we try to memorize quickly seem to fall out of our mommy brains.

What we can’t so easily see is the how that slow process is producing beautiful growth in our lives. As we consume the “milk of the Word” we are maturing in our perspectives and love for others. We are savoring the sweet taste of His words as David writes in Psalm 119:103.

The only difference in my “growing baby” illustration is that as a child develops and matures, she should become more and more independent. True maturity in the life of the believer is actually displayed in more and more dependence upon her Savior.

My hope for this post is that you will be encouraged as you study God’s Word. You may feel like the process is endless. You may feel like a spiritual infant who will never grow up. But it is God who promises to enlighten our understanding through the Holy Spirit.

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My prayer as we continue to dive deeper into the wonders of the gospel together is summed up perfectly in Ephesians 1:18.

…..having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints…..

 

 

This post is linked to Mommy Moments