Alumni Bible Study

A Bible study initially set up for alumni of the Senior Sunday School Class at the First United Methodist Church of Lufkin, Texas. It is our hope and our prayer that this study touches the hearts of those who participate and helps spread the love and grace of Our Lord and God. All who want to learn more about God are welcome

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Location: lufkin, Texas, United States

I am a Christian family man, Lay Pastor and writer from Deep East Texas. I love life, and I enjoy working with young people. I have published two books; "A Small Mind Among Tall Trees" and "God If You Are Not Too Busy, Can You Give Me a Hand". If you want to obtain a copy drop me an e-mail or go to or barnesand . I have been a salesman, cowman and athlete in my past. I still have a strong sense of humor and am not afraid to use it.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Galatians 4:17-20

Relax, Read and Reflect
Prayer- Lord, Open my heart and open my mind and help me learn. Go-Fight-Win. Amen.
17Those people are zealous to win you over, but for no good. What they want is to alienate you from us, so that you may be zealous for them. 18It is fine to be zealous, provided the purpose is good, and to be so always and not just when I am with you. 19My dear children, for whom I am again in the pains of childbirth until Christ is formed in you, 20how I wish I could be with you now and change my tone, because I am perplexed about you.
This may be a reason cults get so "active." "These people" that Paul is referring to are false teachers, and yes, they can be very zealous to win you over. Many of you have seen some very zealous evangelist, and even some people who may preach a religion you are not familiar with. Beware, especially if they use their message to alienate you from friends and family.
I am not saying do not get fired up, but be sure you are getting fired up for the right reasons. Paul was very successful in his ministry because of several reasons, one of which was the nurturing spirit he had with the churches he founded. It is almost like that of a parent. Like a parent, he felt their pains as they became more mature in their relationship with Christ. I know how he feels. All of the young people that Joy and I have touched are like our children. When you guys hurt, we hurt. When events or people form a wedge between you and God, we want to get you and hug you until this goes away.
Being a parent is tough. The toughest thing is letting go and having faith in God that everything will be OK. If your parents are not understanding some of the things you are doing, that’s OK. Try to think what they are thinking, but don’t get too depressed. Don’t let yourself be alienated, don’t give up, and always have faith. Help parents and friends out by showing how you have matured emotionally as well as spiritually, physically as well as mentally.
Prayer- Lord Help me be fired up for the right reason, and You are the best reason of all. Go- Fight-Win. Amen.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Galatians 4:12-16

Relax, Read and Reflect.
Prayer- Lord, Open my heart and open my mind and help me learn. Go- Fight- Win. Amen.
12I plead with you, brothers, become like me, for I became like you. You have done me no wrong. 13As you know, it was because of an illness that I first preached the gospel to you. 14Even though my illness was a trial to you, you did not treat me with contempt or scorn. Instead, you welcomed me as if I were an angel of God, as if I were Christ Jesus himself. 15What has happened to all your joy? I can testify that, if you could have done so, you would have torn out your eyes and given them to me. 16Have I now become your enemy by telling you the truth?
Is Paul saying we should all become as one person? With one identity and personality? No, but we should all use each others strengths and help overcome each others weaknesses. The church at Galatia helped Paul overcome an illness while he was there, they showed care and compassion. This is what Jesus asks us to do with that whole serving homeless, hungry, sick and imprisoned thing. Serving one another and doing Jesus’s commandments brings us joy. Paul senses that the Galatians have lost their joy, and he figures it is because legalism has become more important than the gospel.
Have you lost your joy? Guilt can come between us and God, and when that happens we can loose our joy of salvation. Look at your life. Anything that causes you to doubt yourself, makes you loose self esteem or self worth, or comes between you and God in any way may be holding you back. Christ loves and respects us, and wants us to be happy. Are you living for Christ, or for the demands of others.
Do not use this as an excuse for failure in life. Christ wants us to succeed, to learn and be happy. Christ does not want the religious laws of man to be obstacles, however. Christ wants a relationship with all of us, not just if we follow the churches rules. He gave us his life, shouldn’t we be able to give him ours?
Prayer- Lord, Bless us as you have blessed us before. Help us all show the world our joy. Go-Fight-Win. Amen.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Galatians 4:8-11

Relax, Read and Reflect
Prayer- Lord, Open my heart and open my mind and help me learn. Go-Fight-Win. Amen.
Paul's Concern for the Galatians
8Formerly, when you did not know God, you were slaves to those who by nature are not gods. 9But now that you know God—or rather are known by God—how is it that you are turning back to those weak and miserable principles? Do you wish to be enslaved by them all over again? 10You are observing special days and months and seasons and years! 11I fear for you, that somehow I have wasted my efforts on you

How do we keep going forward? Paul is concerned for this church because they are beginning to go back to their traditions and ways they had before they new God-the True God!
It may be human nature to look back and slide backwards. When this happens bad things can happen. Remember Lott’s wife? Why do we do this? One answer is that as we go through life we drop anchor and let this keep us from getting off course. The irony is that this also keeps us from going forward. We have a difficult time advancing if we are attached to the past. If we truly want to leave our past in the past and go forward with God, we need to pick up our anchor, the things that hold us back, and trust God to lead us and be with us. Easy to say-hard to do! If we can not do this, then Jesus died in vain.
Prayer- Lord, Give me the strength and courage to leave the things that hold me back and
follow You. Go-Fight-Win. Amen.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Galatians 4:1-7

Relax, Read and Reflect
Prayer- Lord, Open my heart and open my mind and help me learn. Go-Fight-Win. Amen.
1What I am saying is that as long as the heir is a child, he is no different from a slave, although he owns the whole estate. 2He is subject to guardians and trustees until the time set by his father. 3So also, when we were children, we were in slavery under the basic principles of the world. 4But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, 5to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons. 6Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, "Abba,[

] Father." 7So you are no longer a slave, but a son; and since you are a son, God has made you also an heir.
Why do we have laws? Why did God send laws to the Jewish people? The "basic principles of the world" are the elementary stages of religious practice. Before we grow up, we are all subject to outside influence and rules. Once we reach adulthood, we take on the responsibility of living and working in society. This is true now of everyone. In Paul’s day, if you were free this applied, but if you were a slave you were always treated as a child.
The law keeps us in bondage, always falling short of a perfect life. Jesus was born to a human, therefore was human. He lived a perfect life and never fell short of the Jewish laws. This made him the perfect sacrifice for all people. We have been redeemed, released from the metaphoric slavery, and are now full heirs.
Laws have their place and importance, and the Jewish laws of Moses were necessary before God felt we, as a people, were ready for his grace. Now we are free. Free from the bondage of sin and the bondage of religious law. Through Christ, we are all brothers and sisters.
Prayer: Lord, Thank you for giving us our freedom. Help us use it wisely, and for your service. Go-Fight-Win. Amen.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Galatians 3:26-29

Relax, Read and Reflect.
Prayer- Lord, Open my heart and open my mind and help me learn. Go-Fight-Win. Amen.
Sons of God
26You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, 27for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise.

This is a short reading today-but very powerful. During Paul’s time the children, women and slaves all dressed different than the free men. We still do this today, men wear work suits or work clothes,(same thing,) and women wear dresses and children wear shorts. I know this is a bunch of generalities, but look past that and look at the big picture.
When we are baptized into Christ, we put on a whole new wardrobe. Maybe not on the outside, but on the inside. Age, sex, ethnicity, and social status mean nothing. In Christ-we are all the same, united. Plus, if we are Christ’s, we are Abraham’s heirs. That mean we are all the chosen people.
Do we act according to this teaching? Do we treat all of our Christian brothers equally? Remember, it’s not the outside that matters to Christ- it’s what’s inside. Shouldn’t we be the same way?
Prayer- Lord, help us remember that we are all Your children. Go-Fight-Win. Amen.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Galatians 3:21-25

Relax, Read and Reflect
Prayer- Lord, Open my heart and open my mind and help me learn. Go-Fight-Win. Amen.
21Is the law, therefore, opposed to the promises of God? Absolutely not! For if a law had been given that could impart life, then righteousness would certainly have come by the law. 22But the Scripture declares that the whole world is a prisoner of sin, so that what was promised, being given through faith in Jesus Christ, might be given to those who believe.
23Before this faith came, we were held prisoners by the law, locked up until faith should be revealed. 24So the law was put in charge to lead us to Christ[
a] that we might be justified by faith. 25Now that faith has come, we are no longer under the supervision of the law.

Does sin rule the world? Interesting thought. We, as a peoples, make laws to keep us from sinning, yet people are sinners. Therefore, we are all sinners and have no hope of ever becoming righteous, so sin rules the world! No, not any more at least.
Before we had faith in Christ we are all controlled by sin, both ours and others. Sin can be a very repressive thing. Not only does it affect us by our deeds that are sinful, but the remembrance of them can bring tremendous guilt, that also chokes us and causes-more sin. Without God’s grace and our faith in Christ, we are all ruled by sin.
Here is the good news that Paul brought to the world and we are still hearing today. Christ freed us from the law, and therefore sin. Laws are good, but God is great. Great trumps good always and in everything. Praise God!
Prayer- Lord, Thank you for delivering us from the grip of sin. Help us remember that sin no longer rules the world-You do! Go-Fight-Win. Amen.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Galatians 3:15-20

Relax, Read and Reflect.
Prayer- Lord, Open my heart and open my mind and help me learn. Go-Fight-Win. Amen.
15Brothers, let me take an example from everyday life. Just as no one can set aside or add to a human covenant that has been duly established, so it is in this case. 16The promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. The Scripture does not say "and to seeds," meaning many people, but "and to your seed,"[

] meaning one person, who is Christ. 17What I mean is this: The law, introduced 430 years later, does not set aside the covenant previously established by God and thus do away with the promise. 18For if the inheritance depends on the law, then it no longer depends on a promise; but God in his grace gave it to Abraham through a promise.
19What, then, was the purpose of the law? It was added because of transgressions until the Seed to whom the promise referred had come. The law was put into effect through angels by a mediator. 20A mediator, however, does not represent just one party; but God is one.
Paul is taking an example that all Jews would recognize. Thankfully, we all know the story of God’s covenant (deal) with Abraham. God kept his covenant, because Abraham had faith. Part of the covenant was that God would send a Messiah as one of Abraham’s decedents, to save all people. This God did. God keeps his promises.
The purpose of the law was two fold. One; it gave directions for people to live and shows the will of God. This is a positive part of the law. It also shows that no one is perfect, and we all sin. This is why we need God’s love and grace to save us. No one can earn God’s favor. It is only through Christ that we can be saved in God.
So why have laws is Church? Are they necessary? Yes, they are necessary and important. Laws in church help organize and channel us to do Christ’s work here on earth. They help guide us through difficult times and help us make the tough decisions. They do not save us, only Christ can do that, and it’s already done.

Prayer- God, Thank you for laws and rules to help us live. Help us live by the laws that are just, and give us the wisdom and courage to change those that are not. Go-Fight- Win. Amen.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Galatians 3:10-14

Relax, Read and Reflect
Prayer- Lord, Please open my heart and open my mind and help me learn. Go-Fight- Win. Amen.
10All who rely on observing the law are under a curse, for it is written: "Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law."[

] 11Clearly no one is justified before God by the law, because, "The righteous will live by faith."[b] 12The law is not based on faith; on the contrary, "The man who does these things will live by them."[c] 13Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: "Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree."[d] 14He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit.
Galatians 3:10 Deut. 27:26
Galatians 3:11 Hab. 2:4
Galatians 3:12 Lev. 18:5
Galatians 3:13 Deut. 21:23

Paul is not trying to dis-prove the Bible here, but Paul knows the scripture of the Hebrew Bible, (old testament.) By quoting Deuteronomy 27:26, Paul was trying to prove that no one can be saved by the law, only condemned. According to this verse, we are all cursed because we can not do everything written in the Book of the Law. Have you ever read Deuteronomy? Unless you plan on enslaving your alien neighbor, you are cursed.
We are all condemned by the law, but there is very good news. Because of God’s great love and grace we are redeemed by the blood of Jesus. Following the law has little to do with it, having Christ in our lives and in our hearts has everything to do with it. Paul knew this. He also knew the Judaizers did not have a clue, and that their teaching would harm the church not help. Have we, as a church and followers of Christ know this? Are we spending our time and energy spreading the Good News, or are we consumed with setting laws and rules for us to follow?

Prayer- Lord, Father, help me remember that I am saved through You! Not by anything I or other humans do. Give me the strength to do your work, and the wisdom to see what it is. Go-Fight- Win. Amen.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Galatians 3:6-9

Relax, Read and Reflect
Prayer- Lord, Open my heart and open my mind and help me learn. Go-Fight-Win. Amen.
6Consider Abraham: "He believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness."[

] 7Understand, then, that those who believe are children of Abraham. 8The Scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, and announced the gospel in advance to Abraham: "All nations will be blessed through you."[b] 9So those who have faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.
Galatians 3:6 Gen. 15:6
Galatians 3:8 Gen. 12:3; 18:18; 22:18
This is where it is nice if we have looked at Genesis more deeply. The Jewish religion is based from Abraham. The Judaizers believed that in order to be able to get salvation, one had to become Jewish and keep the laws of Moses. Paul reminds them that Abraham, the father of the Jewish people, was blessed because of faith, not because of keeping the laws. Therefore...all believers of faith of every age and every nation share Abraham’s blessing. This is the foundation for our beliefs.
I never really examined this issue before, but Paul was right. Was Noah saved because of the diet he kept? No, he was saved by faith. Did Joseph, the great savior of the Hebrews or his father Jacob saved by the laws? The Patriarchs of the Jewish faith were blessed because they relied on God, not the laws. If we have faith in God, and therefore His Son Jesus, we will also be blessed. What a comfort this is, and something I believe we can all accept and understand.
Prayer- Lord, Thank you. Thank you for blessing us and thank you for showing us your love by your deeds and by our studying of your word. Go-Fight-Win. Amen

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Galatians 3:1-5

Relax, Read and Reflect
Prayer- Lord, Open my heart and open my mind and help me learn. Go-Fight-Win. Amen.
Faith or Observance of the Law
1You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified. 2I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by observing the law, or by believing what you heard? 3Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort? 4Have you suffered so much for nothing—if it really was for nothing? 5Does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you because you observe the law, or because you believe what you heard?
This seems rather harsh, and these are his favorites? Paul starts out by calling the church at Galatia foolish, is that what a good pastor would do? I have tow theories; the first is that this may be a translation glitch. Obviously, Paul did not speak English, so finding suitable words may have been a problem. Also, we did like these churches , and may have used terms of endearment, such as "you bunch of nuts". Paul knew the church knew better, the way they acted was if someone had thrown a spell on them.
Evidently, many of these people had been in Jerusalem during Pentecost when the Holy Spirit rushed into thousands, ( Acts 2: 1-13) so they knew that they were saved by the Spirit, not by the laws. Paul re-enforces this by asking questions , and Paul knows what the answer will be.
We as the modern church face the same problems. We know that all is through God and the spirit, and yet we can become fascinated with situations that remove us from the spirit, ( maybe a book of fiction or the latest "lost gospel.") We become obsessed almost like we are in a spell. We, as humans, have a great flaw. We have a hard time with simplicity. We are saved by God’s grace, (and only God’s grace,) and all we have to do is to accept salvation. Sometimes that looks too easy. It is, but living and spreading the Truth can be tough, so don’t go out of your way to put obstacles in your friends path-or your own.
Prayer- Lord, help me remember how simple it is to receive Your Spirit, and help me share that with others. Go-Fight-Win. Amen.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Galatians 2:17-21

Relax, Read and Reflect
Prayer- Lord, Open my heart and open my mind and help me learn. Go-Fight-Win. Amen.
17"If, while we seek to be justified in Christ, it becomes evident that we ourselves are sinners, does that mean that Christ promotes sin? Absolutely not! 18If I rebuild what I destroyed, I prove that I am a lawbreaker. 19For through the law I died to the law so that I might live for God. 20I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. 21I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!

This is Paul’s declaration of principle, (and a fine one it is.) Re- read these four verses and really pay attention to what Paul is saying. This is why he believes he si absolutely right about his stance with the gentiles. Paul doesn’t believe that it is law that saves, it is Christ. The laws are good to help us do our work here on earth, but if we are saved by following laws, Christ died for nothing! (I love that last line.)
Remember, our union with Christ does not destroy our personality, it enhances it. Jesus gives us the outline for life and helps mold us, but we are still ourselves. I will now admit it- I am not a perfect son of God, I am not Jesus. (gasp) But, Jesus does love me and lives within me. I may not be Christ, but I can strive to be Christ-like. I am not alone here, we all fall into the same category. We, as a group and as a church, have principles. As long as we remember what Paul say’s here, the rest will be easier. Not perfect, but easier.
Prayer- Lord, Thank you for your love and for giving us the base for our lives, Your Son- Jesus Christ. Go-Fight-Win. Amen.
Things to do-Now you know that it is Jesus that guides your life, what will you do? Who will you tell? Reflect on these thoughts and act on your reflections.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Galatians 2:11-16

Relax, Read and Reflect
Prayer- Lord, Open my heart and open my mind and help me learn. Go-Fight-Win. Amen.
11When Peter came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he was clearly in the wrong. 12Before certain men came from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles. But when they arrived, he began to draw back and separate himself from the Gentiles because he was afraid of those who belonged to the circumcision group. 13The other Jews joined him in his hypocrisy, so that by their hypocrisy even Barnabas was led astray.
14When I saw that they were not acting in line with the truth of the gospel, I said to Peter in front of them all, "You are a Jew, yet you live like a Gentile and not like a Jew. How is it, then, that you force Gentiles to follow Jewish customs?
15"We who are Jews by birth and not 'Gentile sinners' 16know that a man is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by observing the law, because by observing the law no one will be justified.
Paul and Peter may have been the two most influential people in Christianity, (not counting Christ,) yet they had differences. Some of the people back in Jerusalem thought that Paul was "watering down" the gospel for the gentiles. Peter went to Antioch with some of his followers, who were all jews. While eating, Peter did not eat with the gentiles. He did not eat with his Jewish friends either, but Paul confronted him. By his actions, (not breaking bread with non-jews,) Peter was placing Jewish law ahead of what he knew Christ commanded. Paul held him accountable. Laws are important, but they are not what gets you into heaven. Only by faith is that possible.
We all know very strong Christians who do things we do not agree with. Should we get in there face and confront them? Maybe, it depends. First; make sure that what you are doing is firmly rooted in love. Love for the other Christian and love for Christ. If we can’t absolutely things are based in love, then what are they based in? Carefully consider the situation. What would be the probable outcome of confrontation? How could this situation be used positively for the work of God?
If after prayerful consideration you still believe that you need to challenge the other person, do so.
None of us are perfect. None of us know all the answers, remember-that is why we need faith. Hopefully you can help your brother or sister in Christ gain more knowledge. Maybe you will learn more than they will. We will not always agree on different situation and positions, but this is how the Church grows and becomes a stronger institution. Remember this, all is through Christ. Laws are good to help society function, Christ is supreme in our life.
Prayer- Lord, Help me to have patience with other people. Help me understand the truth, and give me the strength to show it to others. Go-Fight-Win. Amen.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Galatians 2:6-10

Relax, Read and Reflect
Prayer- Lord, Open my heart and open my mind and help me learn. Go-Fight-Win. Amen.

6As for those who seemed to be important—whatever they were makes no difference to me; God does not judge by external appearance—those men added nothing to my message. 7On the contrary, they saw that I had been entrusted with the task of preaching the gospel to the Gentiles,[
] just as Peter had been to the Jews.[b] 8For God, who was at work in the ministry of Peter as an apostle to the Jews, was also at work in my ministry as an apostle to the Gentiles. 9James, Peter[c] and John, those reputed to be pillars, gave me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship when they recognized the grace given to me. They agreed that we should go to the Gentiles, and they to the Jews. 10All they asked was that we should continue to remember the poor, the very thing I was eager to do.

Paul continues to enforce his acceptance by the apostles. God had chosen these men, (they were ones that walked with Jesus,) so they seemed to be important, inwardly. When Paul says they added nothing in verse 6, he is not putting them down. He is trying to reinforce the validity of his message. If they had nothing to add, they must have seen God had sent Paul to preach to gentiles. They approved, therefore, God approved.
Peter had a lot of success converting the Jews in and around Jerusalem. Now Paul had been given the task to spread the word ro the gentiles. The last verse has a twist in it. When we think of the Jewish people today, we usually think they are fairly well off. People through the years have accused the Jews of controlling the money of the world. Yet, when the apostles sent Paul off to convert gentile, the Jews in Jerusalem were very poor. They asked that as Paul converted the gentiles, ans since they had more money than the Jews, to remember to send some home for the poor.
Actually, the need to care for the poor is a constant theme throughout the New Testament. Do you do enough for the poor? Do you do anything? The world is full of poor, both at home and abroad. What can you do to help?
Prayer- Lord, help me remember that wealth and social status has nothing to do with Your love and grace. Help me to seek the truth always and in everybody. Go-Fight-Win. Amen.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Galatians 2:1-5

Relax, Read and Reflect
Prayer-Lord, Open my heart and open my mind and help me learn. Go-Fight-Win. Amen.
Paul Accepted by the Apostles
1Fourteen years later I went up again to Jerusalem, this time with Barnabas. I took Titus along also. 2I went in response to a revelation and set before them the gospel that I preach among the Gentiles. But I did this privately to those who seemed to be leaders, for fear that I was running or had run my race in vain. 3Yet not even Titus, who was with me, was compelled to be circumcised, even though he was a Greek. 4This matter arose because some false brothers had infiltrated our ranks to spy on the freedom we have in Christ Jesus and to make us slaves. 5We did not give in to them for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel might remain with you.
I almost left off the heading for this passage, but as I thought about it, I realized how important it was that Paul was accepted by the Apostles. Paul prepared his ministry for fourteen years. It was only after a revelation, a vision in which Christ commanded him to go to Jerusalem, that he went before the Apostles to tell them what he would be preaching. He met with Peter and other leaders, and even in this meeting, some new Christians wanted his companion, Titus-a Gentile, to be circumcised. This would conform Titus to the other Jews, and Paul-with the Apostles, would have nothing of this. Re-read verse four. This explanation of freedom through Christ and confinement through rules strikes home.
So many times, "new Christians," as Joy calls them, are so filled with energy and passion that they want to change and convert the world-immediately! The zeal and energy they possess is incredible, but are they spreading the true gospel? Do they have the knowledge and experience (very important) to keep the gospel true? Remember, Satan is looking for disciples as well. If he can trick a fired up follower of Christ into doing his work, that is a good day.
Do not be afraid to evangelize! If you feel the Spirit move within you act. If you do not feel the Spirit- figure out why. However, surround yourself with other believers (the church) and never stop studying and learning. Let others help you in your walk, that is why God gave them to you for in the first place.
Prayer- Lord, give me the fire that I may spread Your word. Keep me safe and teach me the truth, so that I can teach others and keep Your gospel pure. Go-Fight-Win. Amen.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Galatians 1:11-24

Relax, Read and Reflect
Prayer- Lord, Open my mind and open my heart and help me learn. Go-Fight-Win. Amen.
Paul Called by God
11I want you to know, brothers, that the gospel I preached is not something that man made up. 12I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it; rather, I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ.
13For you have heard of my previous way of life in Judaism, how intensely I persecuted the church of God and tried to destroy it. 14I was advancing in Judaism beyond many Jews of my own age and was extremely zealous for the traditions of my fathers. 15But when God, who set me apart from birth[
a] and called me by his grace, was pleased 16to reveal his Son in me so that I might preach him among the Gentiles, I did not consult any man, 17nor did I go up to Jerusalem to see those who were apostles before I was, but I went immediately into Arabia and later returned to Damascus.
18Then after three years, I went up to Jerusalem to get acquainted with Peter[
b] and stayed with him fifteen days. 19I saw none of the other apostles—only James, the Lord's brother. 20I assure you before God that what I am writing you is no lie. 21Later I went to Syria and Cilicia. 22I was personally unknown to the churches of Judea that are in Christ. 23They only heard the report: "The man who formerly persecuted us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy." 24And they praised God because of me.
Paul’s credentials. Why is this important? Paul wanted to show why the people in Galatia should listen to him instead of the Judaizers. Although he had been a Jew at the head of the class, he had a special conversion experience. He had been taught by other apostles and confirmed into ministry by them. His message was received directly from Jesus.
Do we as a church still need to know the credentials of our leaders? Of course. Not to see what lofty institution they have studied at, but to see where they are preaching from. Are the teaching from what they may have heard a preacher say he heard from an evangelist who read it in an article from a magazine? Or is it from God? Do others in the theological world accept what is being said. Why or why not? These are questions we all must ask.
When we ask these questions, we are not questioning God, we are extending the opportunity for God’s word to be verified. Christ’s message is given to us daily by other people, both by word and deed. Shouldn’t we as wise and committed Christians seek where it is rooted? Conversely, we as followers of Christ spreading the gospel need to build our own credentials. Why should non-believers listen to you? What is your foundation?
Prayer- Lord, help me build a strong foundation to help spread Your word. Give me the wisdom to learn, and the strength to build a greater knowledge of You. Go- Fight-Win. Amen.
Things to do-It has been a while since we had homework. What are your credentials? What can you do to strengthen them?

Monday, October 09, 2006

Galatians 1:6-10

Relax, Read and Reflect
Prayer- Lord, Open my heart and open my mind and help me learn. Go-Fight-Win. Amen.
No Other Gospel
6I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— 7which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. 8But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned! 9As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned!
10Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ.
A group of Jewish converts to Christianity had followed Paul into the area of Galatia spreading teaching that in order to be saved people had to become Jewish and then accept Christ. To Paul, this was confusing the people of the area, (almost all of whom were Greek Gentiles,) and perverting the real message of the gospel. These were called the Judaizers, and they were causing problems in the churches Paul had set up.
Paul was a Jew, and a good one. He also knew that perverting the gospel was a big problem, and that Christ had come for ALL peoples. He also knew that twisting the truth is harder to recognize than an outright lie. This is why he is so adamant about keeping the gospel pure. He states that if anyone preaches a gospel different than the true gospel of Christ, even if it is an Angel, he and the message will be eternally condemned. After all, he reasons, a true Angel would not preach against Christ.
Satan can and will try to manipulate the truth to makes us stumble. Sometimes I really get nervous when we put rules in place in our religions that are not pure gospel. Organization is good, but is it for spreading the truth, or to exclude people from God? Beware, I believe this may be one of the most difficult things we have to face as a church. I am not telling you to turn away from organized religion, far from it. Be bold and protect God’s Church from traditions and rules which are not the teaching of Christ. This is our goal.
Prayer- Lord, give me the wisdom to know the truth. Strengthen me and help me always preach the true gospel, by both word and action. Go-Fight-Win. Amen.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Galatians 1:1-5

Relax, Read ands Reflect
Prayer-Lord, Open my heart and open my mind and help me learn. Go-Fight-Win. Amen.
1Paul, an apostle—sent not from men nor by man, but by Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead— 2and all the brothers with me, To the churches in Galatia:
3Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, 4who gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, 5to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
Paul likes to start his letters off with a greeting, just as we do today. Instead of saying "hello, what’s up?" he gives his credentials early. He tells the churches of this state (Galatia) who has sent him. Not a man or men-but Jesus, God who raised Jesus from the dead, and all the brothers with him. This letter is not a social call, but a reaction to some false teaching that has been going on in this area.
Jesus was sent to Earth to die for our sins, as a perfect sacrifice. Paul celebrates this right off the bat. He reminds the early Christians that they have been rescued by this, and not what they have done or what their ancestors have done. We also need to be reminded of this from time to time. Does your life and lifestyle reflect your thanks for being rescued? One way to do that is to give God the glory.
Prayer- Lord, Thank you for your grace and love. Thank you for the gift of Jesus. As we go through our earthly lives, help us remember that we are saved-rescued through You, and nothing else. Go-Fight-Win. Amen.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Galatians Overview

Relax, Read and Reflect
Prayer-Lord, Open my heart and open my mind and help me learn. Go-Fight-Win. Amen.
Before we start to study this book of the Bible, let’s find out a little background on it. Galatians is a letter written by the Apostle Paul to the church at Galatia founded by Paul in his first missionary journey. Galatia was in Asia Minor, or present day Turkey. The main issue he addresses in this letter is whether Christians must become Jews before they can be real Christians. This letter from Paul has been called the Magna Carta of Christian liberty.
In Galatians, Paul calls the Church back to the pure gospel, that Christ died for ALL people, and all are saved through this action. Salvation is a gift of God’s grace to all through his gift of Jesus, and nothing else! With this foundation laid, Paul goes on to talk about man’s freedom through Christ.
Prayer- Lord, Let me reflect on the freedom that You have given me, and how I have used it. Thank you for that gift, and the gift of Your son. Go-Fight-Win. Amen.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Genesis 50:22-26

Relax, Read and Reflect
Prayer- Lord, Open my heart and open my mind and help me learn. Go-Fight-Win. Amen.
22-23 Joseph continued to live in Egypt with his father's family. Joseph lived 110 years. He lived to see Ephraim's sons into the third generation. The sons of Makir, Manasseh's son, were also recognized as Joseph's.
24 At the end, Joseph said to his brothers, "I am ready to die. God will most certainly pay you a visit and take you out of this land and back to the land he so solemnly promised to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob."
25 Then Joseph made the sons of Israel promise under oath, "When God makes his visitation, make sure you take my bones with you as you leave here."
26 Joseph died at the age of 110 years. They embalmed him and placed him in a coffin in Egypt.

So, Joseph lived to be an old and happy man. So ends the book of Genesis, the opening book of the Bible. We have looked at many stories of great men, but it was not the men themselves that made them great. They all had flaws and weaknesses, some more than others. They all had a faith in their God, the only God. God worked through these people to accomplish great things, as He works in us to accomplish great things.
The Book of Genesis is the foundation for the rest of the Bible. It is long, hard to read at times, and full of stories. These are the stories and traditions of our faith and our understanding of God. Without them, we would not have the strong foundation that is important to withstand all life can give us.
Prayer- Lord, Give us strength and wisdom. Help us remember that men are not perfect, but You are. When we have faith in You, we strive towards perfection. Go-Fight-Win. Amen.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Genesis 50:1-19

Relax, Read and Reflect.
Prayer- Lord, Open my heart and open my mind and help me learn. Go-Fight-Win. Amen.
1 Joseph threw himself on his father, wept over him, and kissed him.
2-3 Joseph then instructed the physicians in his employ to embalm his father. The physicians embalmed Israel. The embalming took forty days, the period required for embalming. There was public mourning by the Egyptians for seventy days.
4-5 When the period of mourning was completed, Joseph petitioned Pharaoh's court: "If you have reason to think kindly of me, present Pharaoh with my request: My father made me swear, saying, 'I am ready to die. Bury me in the grave plot that I prepared for myself in the land of Canaan.' Please give me leave to go up and bury my father. Then I'll come back."
6 Pharaoh said, "Certainly. Go and bury your father as he made you promise under oath."
7-9 So Joseph left to bury his father. And all the high-ranking officials from Pharaoh's court went with him, all the dignitaries of Egypt, joining Joseph's family—his brothers and his father's family. Their children and flocks and herds were left in Goshen. Chariots and horsemen accompanied them. It was a huge funeral procession.
10 Arriving at the Atad Threshing Floor just across the Jordan River, they stopped for a period of mourning, letting their grief out in loud and lengthy lament. For seven days, Joseph engaged in these funeral rites for his father.
11 When the Canaanites who lived in that area saw the grief being poured out at the Atad Threshing Floor, they said, "Look how deeply the Egyptians are mourning." That is how the site at the Jordan got the name Abel Mizraim (Egyptian Lament).
12-13 Jacob's sons continued to carry out his instructions to the letter. They took him on into Canaan and buried him in the cave in the field of Machpelah facing Mamre, the field that Abraham had bought as a burial plot from Ephron the Hittite.
14-15 After burying his father, Joseph went back to Egypt. All his brothers who had come with him to bury his father returned with him. After the funeral, Joseph's brothers talked among themselves: "What if Joseph is carrying a grudge and decides to pay us back for all the wrong we did him?"
16-17 So they sent Joseph a message, "Before his death, your father gave this command: Tell Joseph, 'Forgive your brothers' sin—all that wrongdoing. They did treat you very badly.' Will you do it? Will you forgive the sins of the servants of your father's God?"
When Joseph received their message, he wept.
18 Then the brothers went in person to him, threw themselves on the ground before him and said, "We'll be your slaves."
19-21 Joseph replied, "Don't be afraid. Do I act for God? Don't you see, you planned evil against me but God used those same plans for my good, as you see all around you right now—life for many people. Easy now, you have nothing to fear; I'll take care of you and your children." He reassured them, speaking with them heart-to-heart.
What a funeral procession that must have been. All the sons plus an Egyptian escort go to a foreign land and weep and wail. The Pharaoh must have trusted Joseph a lot, the administration of Egypt was a big task. If Joseph would have escaped, that would have had consequences. Maybe that is why the guard went with them.
The brothers were still afraid that Joseph was going to make them pay for their wrong against him. Joseph’s response in verses 19-21 shows how he understands God. When others do evil to you, God can use that for good, and won’t that make your enemies mad!
Prayer- Lord- When bad things come to me, use them to do good. Go-Fight-Win. Amen.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Genesis 49:29-33

Relax, Read and Reflect
Prayer-Lord, Open my heart and open my mind and help me learn. Go-Fight-Win. Amen.
29-32 Then he instructed them: "I am about to be gathered to my people. Bury me with my fathers in the cave which is in the field of Ephron the Hittite, the cave in the field of Machpelah facing Mamre in the land of Canaan, the field Abraham bought from Ephron the Hittite for a burial plot. Abraham and his wife Sarah were buried there; Isaac and his wife Rebekah were buried there; I also buried Leah there. The field and the cave were bought from the Hittites."
33 Jacob finished instructing his sons, pulled his feet into bed, breathed his last, and was gathered to his people.

This is a short reading today,(it’s Monday.) Jacob wants to be buried by his wives, and expects his sons to honor this wish. It would not be an easy trip, dragging a dead body many days through the dessert, the smell may overcome the grief by the end. The Sons of Jacob, the twelve tribes of Israel, could and did do this. God asks us to do some things that may be unpleasant, but are needed. Will you do them?
Genesis will soon wrap up, and we will soon be studying one of Paul’s letters.
Prayer- Lord, Yes I will do your work. Ask me and help me, and all things are possible. Go-Fight-Win. Amen.