Galatians: Week One

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Missed the Introduction? No problem, click here.

Join our study by downloading Week One—> A Study of Galatians_Week One

Scripture to Read

Acts 9, Acts 13:13-14, Galatians 1


Paul, in Galatians 1, introduces himself as an apostle sent by Jesus Christ and God the Father. This is significant because God wanted a relationship with those in Galatia, so He sent Paul. That relationship was born from Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. It was important for the Gentile Christians to understand that Truth, the foundation of their new faith.

He continues his letter with a strong and harsh tone, unlike the other letters he wrote (Ephesians, Philippians …). In Acts 14, we see Paul in Galatia, spreading the Gospel. He travels to Lystra of Galatia where he was stoned and left for dead as a result of his preaching. He gave a lot of himself for the glory of God and couldn’t believe the people of Galatia were so easily swept away by false teachings.

Paul makes it abundantly clear that the gospel of Christ is about the grace of Christ. Believing we can earn our own salvation has more to do with pleasing people than pleasing God. Paul says, in verse 10, that we cannot serve both people and Jesus. This was, in essence, the difficulty facing the Galatians. They were confronted with the challenge of standing firm in their new faith or succumbing to peer pressure from the Judaizers, Christians who followed the law of Moses. There cannot be two ways to heaven.

There’s only one: Jesus. 

Paul goes on to explain that if anyone should know about this “other” gospel the Judaizers were spreading, it would be him. For he was well educated in the Torah and extremely zealous for the traditions of his fathers. Paul understood what was happening with the Galatians and needed to make it clear that if God called him from his mother’s womb to preach Jesus to the Gentiles, then there could be no other gospel. He was a Pharisee who persecuted followers of Jesus but with one personal encounter with the Son of God, his life, values, traditions, and beliefs were all changed.

In verse 15, Paul writes that he was called, by the grace of God, to preach the love and hope of Jesus to Gentiles. This was extremely unorthodox for a well know Pharisee who didn’t have much to do with non-Jewish people. But God.

But God called him; therefore God equipped him to go and preach to those who were not ethnically Jewish. Paul makes it a point to say he didn’t consult any human being before responding to the call of God. In Acts 9:15, Jesus said, “Go! Proclaim My name to the Gentiles…” The other apostles were preaching to the Jews. If Paul had gone to them first, without having evidence of God working through him, he may have experienced discouragement or disapproval. Instead, he was obedient and started preaching immediately.

God’s ways are always better than ours. We may not understand the rhyme or reason for God’s calling but, by His grace, He will equip us if we are obedient.


Research & Define

  1. approve/approval
  2. Servant
  3. Grace

Reflect & Discuss

  1. How have you been looking to other’s for approval instead of seeking to please God?
  2. Has God called you to do something out of your comfort zone or asked you to do something completely different than the norm? How did you respond?
  3. How does this passage renew your desire for God?
  4. What is the theme of this chapter?

Related Scripture

Romans 8:29-30

2 Corinthians 3:3-6

Jeremiah 1:5


Memorize & Meditate

Write out Galatians 1:10.

Meditate on this Truth.

Memorize this Scripture, let it renew your mind and change your heart. Ask God to increase your desire to seek His approval above man’s.


Prayer

Ephesians 1:16-23

Father God, open my eyes and heart to receive Your truth today. I invite Your Holy Spirit to rest upon me as I read and study your Word this week. Give me Your Spirit of wisdom and revelation so that I may know you better. Enlighten the eyes of my heart in order that I may know the hope to which you have called me. Let this week’s study bring me closer and deeper in my walk with You.

In Jesus’ name amen


For Next Week … Galatians Study_Week Two

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Galatians: An Introduction

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Welcome to the beginning of our Galatians study. If you need a copy of the study click here.

Before beginning a study of any kind, it’s important to know who the author is and to whom the book it written. I like how Jen Wilkin explains it as “reading the envelope.” When you receive a card in the mail, you look at the envelope to see who it’s addressed to and who it’s from. We will start our study of Galatians by “reading the envelope.”


Scripture to Read

Read in order: Acts 22:1-21, Acts 9:1-31, Acts 15:1-21


Who wrote Galatians? … The Apostle Paul

Paul was a Jew, born in Tarus of Cicilia. (Fun Fact about Tarus: this was the first meeting place of Mark Antony and Cleopatra) Although born in Tarus, Paul was educated in Jerusalem by Gamaliel, a Pharisee and teacher of the law who was greatly respected (Acts 5:34).

Paul, first known as Saul, was a Pharisee, thoroughly trained in the law, who persecuted followers of Jesus. He was even present at the stoning of Stephen, the first martyr of Christianity (Acts 7:54-8:1). After Stephen was killed, we see Saul again when he is on his way to arrest more believers in Damascus. Along the way, he has an encounter with Jesus that changed his life and the world. He would go on to write 2/3 of the New Testament and spread the Gospel more than any other apostle or disciple before him. He planted churches and suffered greatly for Christ (Acts 9:16)

When was Galatians written? … No one really knows. 😉 

AD 48 or early AD 50’s … Most scholars agree that Galatians was written before the Jerusalem council in Acts 15 simply because Paul doesn’t mention it and it’s a pretty big deal. This theory would place the writing of Galatians AD 48/49, which would make this the first letter Paul wrote.

Another theory is that Paul wrote this letter in AD 51/52 after the Jerusalem council, but the problem explained in Acts 15 hadn’t reached Galatia yet.

I guess this is a question to slip in your back pocket to ask Jesus in heaven (my pocket is getting pretty full, how about yours?)

To Whom was Galatians written?… Gentile believers in Galatia (Acts 13:13-14)

Gentile believers were being told that they had to follow the Law of Moses && believe in Jesus to be saved. Jesus wasn’t enough. There had to be more to this whole “Jesus” thing. So, the Judeans in Galatia were telling the new converts that they had to be circumcised and keep the Law of Moses in order to truly be saved. #ouch

In what style was it written? … a Letter, an Epistle 

The book of Galatians is a letter from Paul to the churches in Galatia.

Why was it written? … Paul wrote to encourage the believers in Galatia that Jesus set them free. 

Going back to whom the letter was written… because “Judean missionaries wanted to convince Paul’s converts to adopt ethnic and cultural Judaism and become fully righteous,” (Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible). They wanted followers of Jesus to still adhere to the Law of Moses and prove it with circumcision.

What is the main theme of Galatians? … We have freedom in Christ… shh this was supposed to be answered later in the study. So this is a freebie! woohoo for you! 

We are no longer subject to the Law of Moses and the heavy burden of earning forgiveness through blood sacrifices and following certain rules. Jesus came, bore our sins, died on the cross and redeemed us. It is by faith that we are saved. Not by the things we do or the rules we follow. Praise Jesus!!

 

Questions?? Ask away. I’m not a Bible scholar but will do my best to answer or find the answer. 🙂


Study Method

During this study we will be using the S.O.R.T. study method… check it out here.


 

Stay tuned for Week One recap next week!!

 

Why I’m Always Late

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Scripture to Read

John 15


I went to pick up my daughter, Charleigh, from gymnastics camp. I was about 10 minutes early and if you know me, you know this is very surprising. As I was sitting there waiting with my toddler in the back–> clearly unhappy that she could not get out. I started thinking about why I’m usually late.. I don’t like being early. I don’t like to wait… Waiting annoys me. Waiting frustrates me. Waiting is my nemesis.

At that moment a friend sent me a sweet text to thank our Women’s Bible Study Group for including her friend because she hoped it would help her as she moved back home (to another state).

Immediately the Holy Spirit showed me how we all have a part to play- big or small. Our mutual friend was with us for such a short time and hopefully we, as a group, were able to plant a seed. Now God can send a harvester and nurturer into her life. It made my day because all day I was struggling with “waiting”.

Waiting to know what comes next. Waiting for Alex to finish residency— in 3 years. Waiting to see the fruits of motherhood. Waiting to feel important. Waiting to make a difference.

Her text to thank our group– was an answer to an unspoken prayer. It was God’s way of reminding me how much we all matter. How each of us have purpose and a difference to make- somehow, some way.

In John 15, Jesus tells His disciples that He is the Vine and we are the branches. In verse 2, He tells us that, as branches- extensions of Him- we are going to be repeatedly pruned in order to bear more fruit.

The wait is more about experiencing God than enduring the delay. Wait and See

Prune means to cut off what is dead.

Trees and vines cannot thrive if there is decay and rot. To grow and make progress we are to remain rooted and established in Him (Colossians 2:7).

Each one of us is imperfectly in progress, wild, wonderful and in process.

We have to allow God to do a work in us before He can do a work through us. Wait and See

I love how our God is the God of details, process and order. He cares about our everyday, ordinary. That’s where progress is developed, ordinary becomes extraordinary and small things becomes big growth.

I truly am trying to be on time and get places when I’m supposed to be- one choice at a time, one day at a time.

God is pruning me for whatever He has planned next. I need only surrender and be still. Waiting is not easy for me, probably like most people, but there’s process in the wait. I’m learning— always learning.

I invite you to join me in the pruning season to be primed for completion, maturity and joy (James 1:2-3).

Do what you know to prepare for what you don’t know. Wendy Pope, Wait and See


Research & Define

  1. Prune
  2. Abide/Remain (depending on translation):

Discussion Questions

  1. Who is the True Vine? the Gardener? the Branches?

 

  1. Why do you think Jesus says that even if branches are bearing fruit they must be pruned?

 

  1. How does God cut off or prune in your life today? What are the results of His pruning?

 

  1. What does it mean to bear fruit?

 

  1. How do we abide in Jesus?

 

  1. What does remaining/abiding in Christ look like for you?

 

  1. It’s to God’s glory that we do what? (John 15:8)

 

  1. What areas do you feel like God is pruning or removing in you so that you can bear more fruit?

 

  1. What command does Jesus repeat more than once? Why? (John 13:34-35; 15:12,17)

 

  1. What does this passage reveal or teach you about God/yourself?

Related Scripture

Matthew 21:18:22

Luke 8:1-15

Luke 10:27

1 John 4:7-21

Philippians 2:12

James 1:2-4

Colossians 2:7


Pray

Write out a prayer based on what you’ve studied in John 15. Let scripture be your words of praise and prayer.


** Photo by She Reads Truth

Mercy and Steadfast Kindness

My awesome church organized a church-wide reading plan. Today is Day 3!
Here’s my take on what I read.

Scripture to Read

Proverbs 3, Matthew 8-10, Exodus 28:29-30


Devotional

Proverbs 3:3 says, “Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart.”

Have you ever felt like a human bouncy ball— you’re just all over the place? I have and often do feel this way.

This is the first time in my life I have a choice to work or not to work. I have a choice to stay home and be with my girls. I have freedom to set new goals and pursue my passions. This sounds like an amazing time, doesn’t it?

I.don’t.like.it.

I don’t know what to do with myself most days. I bounce around from idea to idea and think every idea is a great one… so I MUST ACT ON IT! I share these ideas with my husband and now he just laughs and waits for me to bounce to another idea.

This is not who I want to be, an unsteady, inconsistent, easily influenced person.

Proverbs 3:3 struck me this morning and I found myself digging deeper. First off, faithfulness caught my attention and of course love. I immediately thought of how my inconsistencies lead to frustrations and stress— on my family and myself.

Let’s take a closer look at the beginning of verse 3: “Let love and faithfulness never leave you.”

Love in this verse is the Hebrew word chesed, which “implies personal involvement and commitment in a relationship beyond the rule of law,” (Vine’s Concise Dictionary). Another way to look at this word is to think of marriage; it’s both legal and relational. Chesed is a devotion that is steadfast and full of mercy. 

Faithfulness in this verse is the Hebrew word ’emeth, which is usually paired with chesed. This word means truth and reliability. Faithfulness is a devotion that is firm and true. 

In Matthew 9:13, Jesus tells a Pharisee, who questions Jesus about eating with sinners and tax collectors, “to go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

Jesus desires relationship over religion and devotion over ritualistic behavior. He desires for us to be self aware, so that we can go out and make disciples; showing Him to the world. Before we can do that we need radical devotion that is full of love and faithfulness.

If there’s one area I’ve been consistent in, it’s been Him.

Back to Provers 3:3. The second part of that verse tells us what to do with loving kindness and faithfulness: “bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart.”

In Exodus 28:29-30 we learn that the high priest, Aaron, wore a breastplate over his heart that bore the names of the twelve sons of Israel. This was to help Aaron make decisions for the Israelites in the presence of God.

What we clothe ourselves with is seen by others, it’s an outward display. What we write on our hearts is internalized and unseen by others. Aaron, the high priest, wore that breast piece as a reminder of the people and relationships that would be effected by his decisions.

We all have a sphere of influence and the ability to effect others with our decisions.

Jesus wants my devotion above any great idea. All He wants is a people that will follow Him when life takes unexpected turns and doesn’t turn out quite like we planned. He wants our hearts so full of Him that we pour out on to others.

Wear your relationships on your heart so that when life happens you remember what truly matters and who you are effecting with your decisions. Show mercy, act justly and walk humbly with your God (Micah 6:8).

I’m learning, growing and making progress. Goals are being set, passions are being pursued, love is covering all of it. I will not be a bouncy ball any longer. I am a disciple, taught of the Lord. Obedient to God’s will with great peace and undisturbed composure, (Isaiah 54:13 amp).


Research & Define

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  1. bind/binding
  2. love
  3. faithfulness

Related Scripture

2 Corinthians 3:3

Colossians 3:12


Questions & Reflections

  1. What are some areas that you need more loving kindness and faithfulness?
  2. What are you writing on the tablet of your heart?
  3. What are you fusing to your neck as a display for others to see?
  4. How does this verse remind you of your need for a Savior?

Memorize & Meditate

Proverbs 3:3


Pray

Heavenly Father, Thank you for this truth today. Thank you for providing tangible ways to live out your Word on a daily basis. I struggle in so many areas and need you loving kindness and faithfulness more than ever before. Teach me how to clothe myself with your love and faithfulness so that it pours out of me. Let my life lead others to you and not away from you. Holy Spirit show me what I’ve been writing on my heart and forgive me for any and all wrong motives and selfishness. I Pray this in Jesus’ name! Amen

A Little Bit of Yeast

Scripture to Read

Matthew 16:5-12, Galatians 5:9, 1 Corinthians 3:1-9


Devotional

I heard a message from a well loved pastor, whom I listen to regularly, teach on a subject I, personally, did not know much about or had studied. I didn’t have a solid, foundational knowledge on this topic to use in order to disagree. I just believed what he said because I trusted him. Since I didn’t do my own research and reflection before bringing this topic up to a friend, I wasn’t ready for her questions. I wasn’t confident in my own knowledge of this topic to really offer sound, biblical evidence to support this view.

In the days that followed we each did our own research and I discovered that I saw a different side to this subject. It’s not to say that I no longer trust this pastor, but I now realize how important it is to study and read scripture for myself. I can no longer take someone’s word just because they are behind the pulpit. I love how my Pastor tells not to take his word for it, but to go home with our notes from service and discover it for ourselves.

We have to be active participants in our own faith.

This concept isn’t new. This idea of discovering truth for yourself isn’t breaking news. But, it is important to remember and actually do. I am no longer an infant on milk, as Paul describes a new believer who is just getting their feet wet. Pastors and teachers of the Word are planters, sowers and nurturers, but only God can make the seed grow (1 Corinthians 3:6-9).

This means that we can learn from our pastors and teachers, but only God can bring true revelation and truth through His Holy Spirit. In order to allow growth to occur in our spiritual walks we must:

  1. Be in the Word on a regular, consistent basis
  2. Be careful how much of the world we allow into our ears, eyes, hearts, minds and bodies
  3. Be continually in prayer throughout the day–> I don’t mean in quiet, secluded prayer, but in conversation with God in everything we do.

In Matthew 16:5-12, Jesus tells His disciples to be on guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees. These teachers of the law were educated and gifted with words. They did not believe Jesus was the Messiah and were contaminating the truth. This is important because, as Paul says in Galatians, it only takes a small amount of yeast to work through an entire batch of dough. If we aren’t aware of this we can be easily swayed by other’s opinions, thoughts and views.

I’m not a baker and don’t pretend to be one, but after doing some research I discovered that for two loaves of bread only a scant tablespoon of yeast is needed. Therefore, we need to be careful what we listen to, believe and speak without personally knowing. In this information age we live in, there’s always opinions, speculations, and “truth” buzzing around. Paul tells us in Ephesians 4 that we are being equipped and built up in the knowledge of Christ– working toward maturity. We have a role in our growth.

Just like we saw in 1 Corinthians 3, new believers need help learning Scripture and truth, but as we grow and mature there’s responsibility and a commitment to standing firm in the Truth. It’s easy to be tossed around by waves and winds of every teaching, every pretty Instagram scripture, cultural fads or spiritual ideas. Thinking, reflecting and researching on our own is what will grow us to become, in every respect, the mature body of Christ Jesus.


Research & Define

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Research two words from the Scripture to Read that stood out to you.

1.

2.


Related Scripture

1 Corinthians 5:6

1 Corinthians 2:6-16


Questions & Reflections

  1. What are some truths you’re dealing with right now?
  2. How can knowing Scripture strengthen your views?
  3. What’s one topic or viewpoint that you can study in scripture now? Ask God to help you filter through what others are saying and focus on hearing His voice.
  4. How does 1 Corinthians 2:6-16 relate Jesus’ words in Matthew 16:5-12?

Memorize & Meditate

1 Corinthians 3:7

Only God makes us grow. We just have to allow Him in. 

 


Pray

Father God, thank you for Your Word. Your Word is truth and life. Speak to each one of us through your word and through Your Holy Spirit. Open my eyes and ears to receive Your truth today. You are all I need and I trust in Your Truth. Help me to filter through the teachings and views that are washing through social media and the world right now. Give me peace in the midst of uncertainty and courage to question. You are not afraid of my questions. Thank you for teaching me and granting me Your Holy Spirit of wisdom and revelation. I love you Father God. I Pray this in Jesus’ name! Amen

Psalm 119

What a great week to study Psalm 19! My friend, Crystal, did an amazing job today leading our group through this amazing Psalm.

The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of your hands. ?????

Biggest take always from studying Psalm 19:

1. The skies, nature and all the earth are works of God’s mighty hands. The glory of God is displayed in so many amazing ways. Psalm 19 is full of symbolism and awe inspiring truth: creation is God’s invisible nature and characteristics, His eternal power and divinity, are clearly seen in and through what has been made. (Romans 1:19-20)

Psalm 115:6 reminds us that the earth was a gift to us by God. A gift. Enjoy it.

Take a moment to stop, look around and smell some roses or grass or trees or squirrels today. ?

2. The law of the Lord is perfect, rejuvenating, trustworthy, radiant, pure, firm, righteous, and the giver of joy. In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The Word became flesh= Jesus. (John 1:1, 14)

When reading this Psalm insert Jesus wherever law, statutes, precepts, commands and decrees are written… how does it change your perspective?

In Psalm 119:24 the psalmist says “Your statutes are my delight; they are my counselor.” Isaiah prophesied that Jesus would be called wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6)

We have Our Winderful Counselor, by His Holy Spirit, all the time. Go to Him.

3. There are 3 Heavens in scripture. In this Psalm, “heavens” is mentioned twice (verse 1 and 4). In 2 Corinthians 12:2-4, Paul mentions a third heaven where he was shown paradise and heard inexpressible things.

The first heaven is the sky, our atmosphere, in which our human eyes can see; where birds fly and clouds float.

The second heaven is the celestial heaven or outer space. This is where the moon, stars and sun can be found.

The third heaven is God’s house, paradise. God cannot be placed in a geographic location, but His place of residence is way above our understanding and knowledge.

How does knowing about the three heavens change the way you read this Psalm?

4. The fear of the Lord is pure, enduring forever. Proverbs 6:22-23 (msg) says “the fear of the Lord means hating Evil, whose ways I hate with a passion. Pride and arrogance and crooked talk. Good counsel and common sense are my characteristics.

As followers of Jesus we are called to love people but hate the sin. So much of what is happening in our culture stems from pride, arrogance, self righteousness and crooked talk. If we seek our Wonderful Counselor, we receive good counsel and common sense which create your character.

Character is who you are when no one is looking. Character defines you. What’s going to come out of you when there’s pressure?

David says, in verse 10, that God’s Word is more precious than honey than much pure gold. Honey is natural. Gold is beautiful. Both are privileges. God’s word is a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path.

Act Justly. Love mercy. Walk humbly with our God.

Post a picture in the comments of the most beautiful, breath taking view of nature that you have ever seen. Did it speak to you of God? How?

 

Psalm 143

My friend, Erika, led group this week and brought great insights and applicable tools for our study of Psalm 143.

This Psalm is known as the prayer of a soul in distress. There are different theories as to when David wrote this Psalm, but one of the more accepted theories is that he wrote this prayer while on the run from his son, Absalom.

This week we looked at how David constructed his plea. He prayed from a place of desperation. Have you ever felt completely overwhelmed and defeated? <– Me too.

Biggest take away from Psalm 143:
(1) David magnifies who God is more than his troubles.

Who David says God is:
Righteous (vs 1, 11)
Unfailing Love (vs 8, 12)
Faithful (vs 1, 5)
Holy (vs 2)
Sovereign (vs 5)
Good (vs 10)
Protector, Shelter, and Refuge (vs 9)

(2) David prayed for more than deliverance from the situation. He asked for it to mean something, for God to use his distress for His glory. How often to we thank God for the problems we are facing because we trust that He has plan to work it all out for good?

(3) In verse 3, David says his enemies crush him to the ground and make him dwell in darkness. Those are real feelings, true emotions he felt. He didn’t hold anything back from God. But, he didn’t stay in that darkness of thought, he remembers what God has done for him (vs 5). We can learn from David and remember. In times of despair, remember what God has done for you, remember your blessings and fix God thanks.

Thanksgiving squashes darkness.

(4) David says his enemies make him dwell in darkness, but in Psalm 23, David says God makes him lie down in green pastures and walk along still waters. We have been given a free will. We have a choice which way we will go. Will we allow darkness or Light to reign in our hearts and minds?

Jump over and read Psalm 23. Write it out and meditate on it.

(5) Basics of Prayer:

-Pray should be heartfelt.
1 Samuel 1:10-13

-Pray from a humble heart.
Psalm 143:6

-Pray with faith.
Mark 11:22-24

-Pray in obedience to God’s will.
James 1:22

What were your biggest take always from this week’s study?