Devotion of the Day

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Galatians 5.16-26

But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.

 

–Devotion–

I am not going to add anything.  Listen to the Apostle.  Do what he says. 

Pastor Beltz

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Galatians 5.1-6

For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.

Look: I, Paul, say to you that if you accept circumcision, Christ will be of no advantage to you. I testify again to every man who accepts circumcision that he is obligated to keep the whole law. You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace. For through the Spirit, by faith, we ourselves eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love.

–Devotion–

Paul begins to culminate his exhortation to the Galatians.  One of the most difficult words in this passage is the word “freedom.”  We hear freedom a certain way.  Paul used it a certain way.  I am very sure he did not mean freedom as, “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”  But, rather, that in Jesus the works of the law given through Moses were shown to be nothing more than guards that are no longer necessary.  If the Galatians go back to accepting one portion of the law then they must obey the whole of the law.  That is the trap the Galatians are flirting with. 

This sort of idea has a hard time hitting a mark with us.  We are similar to the Jews who responded to Jesus in our Gospel lesson from this last Sunday.  We might respond to the idea of slavery, “We are Americans.  We have never been under the bondage of slavery.  How can you say we will be free?”  I imagine, though, we are slaves to old laws.  Perhaps most prevelant among us is our bondage to status.  This is, after all, most of the conversation and language we use to talk about retirement.  We want to be able to retire “comfortably” or with the ability to maintain our “lifestyle.”  These are simply terms we use to say, “we want to maintain the level of status we have worked so hard to achieve.  But, when Jesus comes and asks us to willfully reject that status and leave it behind.  Indeed!  He tells us to sell it off piece by piece and hand it over to people of low status!  Well, that is a little more challenging. I entreat you now as Paul did then, cast of the bondage of slavery.  Christ has come to set you free, and if the Son sets you free you are free indeed.  Do not give in to these old dead laws that seem so powerful but will be shown to be nothing more than vanity and dust. 

Pastor Beltz

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Galatians 3.7-14

Know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham. And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “In you shall all the nations be blessed.” So then, those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.
For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them.” Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for “The righteous shall live by faith.” But the law is not of faith, rather “The one who does them shall live by them.” Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”— so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith.

–Devotion–

Paul is writing to refute the idea that the old laws of Judaism still needed to be added for Christianity to be sincere and effective. Strangely, even with letters like Galatians existing for millenia in the Church, these ideas of the old laws of Judaism needing to be practiced for faith to be sincere still manifest themselves and other laws (which are not old laws of Judaism but lie in a similar vein) are established. Examples are that of the commandment, “Honor the Sabbath and keep it holy,” which is badly interpreted for Christians when it is made into a civil law or requirement banning work on the first day of the week. This is even worse when these sorts of laws are applied to unbelieving people! In another way, and one that us Lutherans have experience with, law concerning alcohol are made.

I remember growing up in a dry county. I think the initial fear was a moral one. It was a similar fear that inspire the Prohibition laws. A fear that alcohol was a catalyst to public moral corruption. Historically I think there was justification for such thinking. But now that those laws were gone the laws concerning alcohol were more aligned with theological conviction of certain denominational lines than a true fear of public moral corruption (this was clear to me when I realized all the residents of our county who wanted to have a drink drove the ten miles to the county line). Now it is contested by some that Christians who drink alcohol are less Christian than others, or at least weaker, and they need to submit to self-denial for their faith to be more sincere. To them, may I recommend, you take an especially large sip from the Chalice this Sunday! This is to remind yourself of your freedom from such laws in Christ. But, we must also not flaunt our freedom in a way that offends our neighbors–for they are the weak ones. We must not use our freedom as a license for drunkenness, but as a license for rational conversation in the hopes of freeing consciences. So, let St. Paul be our pattern and guide as he tries to direct those enslaved by others into a more brilliant freedom brought about by the Work of our Lord.

Pastor Beltz

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Galatians 2.17-21

But if, in our endeavor to be justified in Christ, we too were found to be sinners, is Christ then a servant of sin? Certainly not! For if I rebuild what I tore down, I prove myself to be a transgressor.For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God. I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose.

–Devotion–

Sweet words.  These are words directly for the Galatian Christians who are having laws placed back upon them.  Strictures and conditions on their faith.  “If you do not do this you are notREALLY a Christian.”  Paul opposes such moves.  And also makes it clear that Christians are not lawless.  We are not without direction.  We are not listless buoys adrift on a cosmic sea of change and whim.  Our listlessness has been crucified, our waywardness is dead, our directionless existence of being a sinner is destroyed and now we are Christ.  And because we are Christ, and the life we live in this flesh we live in faith in the Son of God, let us not go back rebuilding the things of our former lives.  This is a point of departure between us and the Galatians; this rebuilding what was once torn down. 

Paul is writing to Gentiles who have walked away from the paganism and polytheism of Rome.  Us, however, have not really had to walk away from a previous life of idol worship and paganism and be baptized into a new existence.  For us it is a bit different.  We have just, most of us anyway, always been Christian.  Being baptized was just what you did.  It is what any normal person did to their kid.  It is just a part of the way of life, right?  Hmmmm.  I think we are going to have to think about that a bit more.  For Paul Baptism was the point where everything changed.  This is because in Baptism old things die.  Old habits, old allegiances, old languages, old gods, old desires, old hopes all are burned up to cinder and blown away by the might breathe that is the Holy Spirit of God and something new begins.  New Lord, New Allegiance, New life, new Hope, New Kingdom!  Christ, Christ!  All Glory to Christ!

Devotion of the Day

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Galatians 2.11-16
 

But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. For before certain men came from James, he was eating with the Gentiles; but when they came he drew back and separated himself, fearing the circumcision party. And the rest of the Jews acted hypocritically along with him, so that even Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy. But when I saw that their conduct was not in step with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas before them all, “If you, though a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you force the Gentiles to live like Jews?”

We ourselves are Jews by birth and not Gentile sinners; yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified.

 

–Devotion–

Paul opposes Peter because he is segregating the sheep.  There is no segregation among sheep.  Sheep are color blind, class blind, status blind.  So Paul opposes Peter because he is making race a matter of status and placement in the kingdom of God.  I pray that we might have the fortitude to oppose anyone, including ourselves, for doing the very same thing.  There is no one among us sheep who is greater, more deserving, more worth respect and honor, than any other in this congregation for any reason.  If you think you are, then let me tell you Jesus, Paul, the whole Church, and I oppose you.  

 

Pastor Beltz

Devotion of the Day

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Galatians 2.11-14

 
 
11 But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. 12 For before certain men came from James, he was eating with the Gentiles; but when they came he drew back and separated himself, fearing the circumcision party.13 And the rest of the Jews acted hypocritically along with him, so that even Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy. 14 But when I saw that their conduct was not in step with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas before them all, “If you, though a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you force the Gentiles to live like Jews?”
 
–Devotion–
 
If you want to play politics in the Church you are setting yourself against Jesus.  If you want to establish and maintain divisions you are setting yourself against Jesus.  If you let the Old Adam, which is stronger in some of you than in others, determine your relationships within the Church, you are setting yourself against the Spirit of God and the Body and Blood of Jesus the Lord.  And if, when called out on these evil practices, you are unwilling to repent; be forgiven and forgive, you are setting yourself against Jesus.  
 
The hard reality is that some of you have done these things in the past and some of you are doing them now.  Some of you are seeking the vain-glories of peers, some of you are seeking to maintain your self-righteousness, there is no telling the list of desires that can bubble up and allow Satan to manipulate our thoughts and actions.  Stop it.  Quit letting Satan manipulate the Old Adam into leading you and possibly others astray and destroying the Church of God.  Your conduct is out of step with the Truth of the Gospel.  Turn.  
 
Pastor Beltz

Devotion of the Day

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Galatians 2.11-14

 
 
11 But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. 12 For before certain men came from James, he was eating with the Gentiles; but when they came he drew back and separated himself, fearing the circumcision party.13 And the rest of the Jews acted hypocritically along with him, so that even Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy. 14 But when I saw that their conduct was not in step with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas before them all, “If you, though a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you force the Gentiles to live like Jews?”
 
–Devotion–
 
If you want to play politics in the Church you are setting yourself against Jesus.  If you want to establish and maintain divisions you are setting yourself against Jesus.  If you let the Old Adam, which is stronger in some of you than in others, determine your relationships within the Church, you are setting yourself against the Spirit of God and the Body and Blood of Jesus the Lord.  And if, when called out on these evil practices, you are unwilling to repent; be forgiven and forgive, you are setting yourself against Jesus.  
 
The hard reality is that some of you have done these things in the past and some of you are doing them now.  Some of you are seeking the vain-glories of peers, some of you are seeking to maintain your self-righteousness, there is no telling the list of desires that can bubble up and allow Satan to manipulate our thoughts and actions.  Stop it.  Quit letting Satan manipulate the Old Adam into leading you and possibly others astray and destroying the Church of God.  Your conduct is out of step with the Truth of the Gospel.  Turn.  
 
Pastor Beltz

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