Happy New Year! I, for one, am glad for the fresh start. Though I would never want to remove the lessons that 2013 held, I am happy to be moving on. Let’s begin this year with a study on the book of Galatians. We will take it chapter by chapter, so as usual, grab a coffee and let’s hit it. Please read Galatians 1.
As I began to read this book, so many things resonated with me. I have always loved hearing about Paul because of his drastic change. He was one that lived a religious life before being transformed into a righteous life.
Don't let those words fool you. They are so close, it can be difficult to decipher. According to Merriam Webster, the word religion means an organized system of beliefs, ceremonies, and rules used to worship a god or a group of gods. Righteous is described as acting in accord with divine or moral law: free from guilt or sin.
Can you see the difference? It is so minute in explanation, but extreme in living. The act of being religious means that they follow rules in order to please God. Whereas a righteous life is living the way God would have us to live, knowing full well that we cannot do it without His help. In essence, Paul went from him being able to accomplish much in his own strength to being fully reliant on God, knowing that without Him, he could accomplish nothing.
It says in verse 14 that Paul was zealous for his fathers traditions. Traditions are great in some ways. Just finishing up the Christmas season, I have realized how many traditions have been handed down by my husband and my parents. They are a wonderful reminder of generations past. They are usually something that just sticks with us through the years. Isn’t it funny, however, how angry some can get when traditions are not received and followed? Whether people disregard them or our children walk from them, it hurts people. It's sometimes taken so personally to the point of severed families. Which is exactly why God removed rules. Life with Him is not man made. It's God inspired, it's Christ driven, it's faith filled.
Before God got a hold of him, Paul lived his religion so loudly that all those who didn’t believe what he did, deserved to die in his eyes. He killed people, hurt people, he persecuted the church (v. 13), until The Lord spoke to him on that road to Damascus. The very breath of God can correct us on our path and turn us around in a complete other direction.
In verse 12, Paul tells us that he was not taught this truth, that it was by God through the revelation of Jesus Christ. How cool is that? This way, we cannot give ourselves any credit. I hope this helps us to realize that just because we don’t see fruit in anyone that we have invested time into, we shouldn’t get discouraged. It is not our job to do anything but live according to God’s word. Living our testimony out in real time while praying for those that God has placed around us. It’s up to Him to change hearts. Let’s pray:
“Dear heavenly Father, thank You for a new year. We thank You for Your word. Thank You for life. Thank You God, for the opportunity to share Your truth by the way we live our lives. God though we mess it up everyday, You forgive us if we have placed our faith in Your Son. Thank You for removing the rules, because frankly, we can’t keep them. We praise You for changed lives, like Paul. Help us to keep the hope that You are still in the business of changed lives. We look forward to what You have for us in 2014 and pray for strength and boldness. We pray this all in the name of Jesus...Amen”