Thursday, June 27, 2013

June 27 - Galatians 2

Today's reading in our daily plan is Galatians 2. Take a moment to pray, asking God to speak to you from this passage. Then read, using the following notes and questions to help you get everything out of the passage.

SAY WHAT? (What is the passage saying?)
  • Paul explains that earlier in his ministry he was preaching to people who were not formerly Jewish, and therefore not circumcised. Circumcision was the sign for Jewish people that they were in relationship with God. People were insisting that the people who were coming to faith through Paul's ministry get circumcised. Paul argued that circumcision was no longer necessary; that all that was needed was faith in Christ. At one point he went to Jerusalem to meet with the leaders of the church, who agreed with him.
  • Paul also writes about a time he had to confront Cephas (Peter) because he was hanging out with uncircumcised people (which was the right thing to do) but wouldn't if the "pro-circumcision" group was around. Paul challenged Peter on his hypocrisy.
  • The reason Paul brings all this up is to make the point with the Galatians that we are made right with God not by our works (circumcision, good deeds, or anything else) but only through putting our faith in what Jesus has done for us.
  • Paul ends this chapter by explaining that he considers himself dead to the law (trying to earn his way into good standing with God) and now lives for Jesus alone. In fact, he says that he no longer lives, but it's now Jesus living His life through Paul.
SO WHAT? (What are the underlying principles?)
  • What do you think you need to do to earn God's approval? The correct answer is: Nothing. You can't. But God gives you His approval as a free gift if you just believe in Jesus. Jesus earned God's approval for you. Everything we do for God is a way of thanking Him and of living in His love, not a way to make ourselves good enough for Him.
  • Instead of struggling to continue living your life, you can choose to have Jesus live His life through you. By making that decision to invite Jesus to live through you, and then connecting with Jesus daily through focusing your mind on Him, praying, reading the Bible, etc., Jesus will live through you. 
NOW WHAT? (How will you personally apply this passage?)
  • This week, whenever you do something good (you say no to temptation, you say yes to serving, etc.) make a conscious mental decision to tell God something like, "God, I am so glad I don't need to do this to earn your favor, because I could never be good enough to do that. I offer up this simple act as a thank you to You for Your love and mercy."