Monday, 26 September 2011
We are continuing to thank God for giving us the book of Galatians, and savor the feast we have enjoyed together. There’s still time to share your thoughts with us, short or long. Just drop me a line at email@example.com.
Today’s post was written by Chris Detrich. Thanks, Chris, for taking the time to reflect and write some of what you’ve learned!
I went back through the notes I took while doing this Bible study. It was great to see the big picture, which I had lost when I was down in the details. The Lord was highlighting a few themes repeatedly.
The major theme that stood out as I reflected was fruitfulness, that is, how God brings about growth in our lives.
In Galatians 1 Paul reminds us that the foundation is not laid on our righteousness, but Christ’s. I liked Luther’s comparisons of passive and active righteousness, especially the analogy of land (us) receiving rain (Christ’s righteousness). The land must receive before it can produce. The gift of rain precedes the harvest. That reminded me of one of my favorite “life” verses: I Peter 4:11 …whoever serves as one who serves by the strength that God supplies – in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ…. I cannot expect to produce any fruit without God’s divine intervention!
In Galatians 2 I found my favorite memory verse of this book: Galatians 2:20. I wrote out the verse several different times and as I repeated it to myself I enjoyed the sing-song kind of rhythm that made it easy to memorize (for one who has trouble with that these days!). And it reminded me again of the source of my fruitfulness (…it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me…). Thank God that my own limitations need not limit the fruitfulness of my life. I have Christ Himself living in me!
In Galatians 3:3 I noted that growth occurs by the Holy Spirit (Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit are you now being perfected by the flesh?) I can tend to get caught up in analyzing why I don’t see more fruit in my life. That gets introspective and self-condemning…and there you have the problem. Focusing on mySELF instead of the Holy Spirit. And that is when, my notes say, I need to keep asking for more of the Spirit (Luke 11:13).
In Galatians 4 I was recognizing that God brings fruitfulness from barrenness. He chose the woman who was barren in worldly terms (Sarah), and caused her to bear the fruit that continued His plan, that is beyond this world. One quote that struck me: “Fruitfulness flows from who we are – not what we produce.” Back to that foundation in Christ!
Galatians 5:1 is another one of those sing-song kind of nuggets that sticks in your head (For freedom Christ has set us free..). There were a lot of highlights in my notes for this chapter. “True freedom is when pleasing God becomes what you most want to do.” “The Flesh actually keeps you from doing what you want (in your redeemed heart) to do, but walking by the Spirit brings freedom.” “Keep in step with the Spirit.” “Walk by the power of the Spirit.”
Galatians 6:3 brings a renewed call for humility (…if anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing he deceives himself…). I liked the link to Philippians 2:5-8, keeping Christ in our view as the true source of our humility. And then the reminder that we are only enabled to follow this example by the Spirit, of whom we are given a continuous supply, like rivers of living water (John 7:37-39). That’s where the theme comes home to me again: “We have to be refreshed at the fountain of living water, so we can serve.” Our serving flows from the river of God poured out in our life. But we need to keep going back to the river. In our dry times we need to acknowledge our need for water, and as it is given we naturally praise the Giver and want to serve him. That is how we bear true fruit.
The day I was studying these truths from Galatians 6 I was out on my patio and noticed that our dog’s bucket needed some fresh water. First I cleaned out the bucket and then poured in clean water from the hose. Sugar (the dog) drank and drank…. and then she came to me and kept licking me over and over, more exuberantly than normal. I realized she was thanking the “giver,” and in that moment she would probably do anything for me. That was yet another picture of the source of fruitfulness.
What a wonderful image God left you with. Good doggie!