Sunday morning we are studying through the book of Galatians.  The last couple of weeks we have been focusing on Galatians chapter 3, and I want to try to describe some of the highlights we have come across.

The entire book of Galatians is dealing with the role of works in our salvation and our Christian life.  A group of Judaizers have come into the Galatian church and have taught that in addition to the work of Christ, one needed to be circumcised according to the law of Moses to be saved.  Paul is writing this letter to correct this fallacy.

In chapter 3 he specifically discusses the role of the law and what happens to the one who attempts to follow the law to be justified.  In particular, he makes the statement in verse 10 that those who attempt to live under the law are cursed if they do not abide by all the things in the law.  This is a specific quote from Deuteronomy 27:26.  He goes on to quote from Habakkuk and say “The righteous man shall live by faith.”

Most people who say they are Christians would tend to agree with these positions without too much difficulty.  However, we took our discussion much deeper the past two weeks and it brought us to a startling realization

Specifically – we are no different than the Judaizers!  In our churches today, what is the message that we communicate?  Isn’t it something like some of the following?

  • If you are a good Christian you don’t smoke.
  • Christians shouldn’t drink alcohol.
  • In our church, we don’t dance.
  • Christians don’t go to movies.

This is no different than the Judaizers who were calling on the people to be circumcised!  You see, when we create a list of things that we do (or don’t do), we are creating a list of “rules” or “laws” that we say people need to follow.

But salvation isn’t about following rules or laws!

Look at verse 6 of Galatians 3:  “Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness.”  It’s not about the things we DO.  It’s about our faith and belief in Christ.  Later in Galatians Paul talks about walking by the Spirit, and not carrying out the desire of the flesh. You see works can have absolutely no role in our salvation.  We should not try to “do good things”!  When we strive to do good things, we are working in the flesh.

Rather, we need to walk in the Spirit, and let the SPIRIT guide our steps and the things we do.  Yes, we will perform good works.  But not because WE tried but because we allowed the Spirit to work through us.

I am convinced that we always get Galatians 5:22 – 23 messed up.  This is where Paul lists the Fruit of the Spirit.  You know – Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness and Self-Control.  Typicaly, when we study these things it is with the following mindset:  “OK, let’s see – I’ve got Love down pretty good, and joy and peace.  I guess it’s time to work on patience.”  And then we go at life trying to achieve patience. 

Our approach OUGHT to be the following:  “OK – I’m lacking patience in my life, so that is evidence that I’m not walking in the Spirit the way I ought to be, but walking in the flesh.  I need to allow the Spirit to guide me in these circumstances, so that HE produces a spirit of patience within me.”

Do you see the difference?  We spend our lives trying to live up to a checklist of good and bad things, always striving to do what is right just so that we look better to those around us.  But we do that out of our own flesh, not through the Spirit.  This is what the Pharisees did – look at what Jesus says about them in Matthew 23:27: 

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which on the outside appear beautiful, but inside they are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness.”

 

In Hebrews 11 we find the passage of what many have referred to as the “Hall of Faith”, where the author lists numerous individuals from the Old Testament, talking about their faith.  When I read through this, I was struck by how it kept saying “By Faith, . . ” and then described how someone did something that we would consider to be a “Good work”.  But the emphasis is on “FAITH”, not the “WORK”. 

In fact, in Hebrews 11:6 is says that without faith it is IMPOSSIBLE to please God.  We cannot please him by doing “Good Things” out of our own strength, but only by living according to FAITH, and allowing the SPIRIT to do those good things.

Every time a church communicates the message “You need to stop doing this”, or “You need to start doing that” in order to be part of our fellowships, we are no different then the Judaizers that Paul was addressing. 

Instead, we need to communicate to people “Walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.”

If you want to hear our discussion from the last two weeks, you can find them on the First Baptist website, under the “Listen to our Messages” section.  Go to http://www.kingfieldbaptistchurch.org/Messages/58.asp for the messages on Galatians, and be sure to give me your thoughts in the comment section below!.

Wow!  Has it really been two weeks since I last updated?  I think I’ve been a little busy. . .

Let’s see – vacation is long over, and I’m having a hard time remembering what I did.  I know that a snow storm at the end of the week cancelled a trip to Portland, and I spent several hours down at Clearwater working with Philip on the call in thermostat, that allows one to call the camp and turn the heat up before arriving.  As of last night, we STILL don’t have it working correctly.  We ended up replacing much of the phone wiring in the camp, and it still did not resolve the issue.  One would think the unit itself should be replaced, but Philip has already done that and it still isn’t working correctly.

Kathy and I did end up going to Portland on Saturday – kind of a quick trip down and back.  However, that didn’t take care of the reason that I needed to go, so I had to reschedule that for this past Friday.  Before we get to Friday, however, another snow storm extended vacation by a day.  I did NOT need to miss a Gold Day – that’s the day my AP Calculus class is on and every class period is necessary to get kids prepared for the AP exam on May 4th.  Then, Tuesday and Wednesday of this past week were chaotic with no classes due to the scheduled Exit Exhibition presentations by the seniors.  Overall, those presentations were quite good, but they are also quite draining.

We finally had classes on Thursday last week, but then I had to go to Portland on Friday so my student teacher covered classes.  I STILL haven’t seen my Gold Day classes since before vacation!  My brother Doug and I had to go the Civic Center to test out displaying the scores from the Maine State Math Meet on the displays around the Civic Center – that meet is on April 5th and we needed to be sure we could interface with their system.  Once we were done, Matthias (who had come down with me) and I went over to Lovell to New England Frontier Camp for the weekend where we helped out running the Father and Son weekend.  We had a great time, and it was actually somewhat relaxing.

By the time we got home Sunday afternoon, it was looking pretty definite that school would be cancelled yet again, and sure enough at 4:45 this morning my phone rings to tell me there is no school.  So I spent the day on two major projects.  The first was to get seating plans and proctoring assignments put together for the State Math Meet, and the second was to print over 550 name tags for the Home School convention this coming weekend.  I have completed the printing (although we had to go to C-Prompt to finish), and I made good progress on the State Meet stuff, although there is a lot more to do.

Because of the weather ( it was very icy up here today), and because the ISP for the store had an outage all day, we did not open C-Prompt at all.  Hopefully no one came in looking for us!

The real down side of today was when David came inside and told us there was a window broken in the Suburban.  It turns out that a chunk of ice had fallen off the roof, slid down the mud room roof, and smashed right through the drivers window in the Suburban and landed on the passenger floor.  The window is completely gone (actually, it is in hundreds of thousands of tiny pieces).  We are getting a used window at a junk yard tomorrow for $75.00, and Rob will help us get it installed.

This week is going to be crazy as well.  Tuesday after school I have math team practice, then come home for supper and Brigade at the church building.  Wednesday we have a math meet and are leaving school at 11:45 and won’t get home until probably 8:00.  Kathy, Annie, David, and Elias are going from the math meet in Augusta to Rockland for the Home School convention, where they will be until Saturday evening.  That leaves Matthias and Peter and I with one vehicle to get around in, and on Friday I have to leave school a little early to go the Augusta for a math league board meeting.

Boy – just writing about all these things is tiring me out.  I think I’ll head to bed early tonight. . ..

First Baptist Church has a facebook page that I manage.  Each morning a short passage is posted about 6:00 am (Eastern Time!).  These passages are scheduled to appear a few days in advance, so I don’t have to get up each morning to post something.

Yesterday, the following passage was posted:   

‎1 Samuel 15:22-23 NASB

Samuel said,
“Has the Lord as much delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices
As in obeying the voice of the Lord?
…Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice,
And to heed than the fat of rams. “For rebellion is as the sin of divination,
And insubordination is as iniquity and idolatry.
Because you have rejected the word of the Lord,
He has also rejected you from being king.”

Last night at our Brigade overnight I talked a little about this passage.  I wanted the boys to think about how this might apply to us today.  In particular, what are the “sacrifices” that we put as a higher priority than obedience?
I’m sure there are many applications we might come up with, but here is what I wanted to emphasize with the boys.  Many times in our American Churches we approach our church attendance with this attitude:  “OK – if I go to church today, I’ve done my God thing for the week, and the rest of the week is mine to do with as I like.”
Of course, if any of us were questioned on this, we would vehemently deny it.  But what do our actions tell us?

Scripture commands us to not fosake “our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near. ” (Hebrews 10:25 NASB).  But do we turn this command into our “sacrifice”, decide that we sacrifice enough on Sunday, and ignore the rest of God’s commands?

This is not to say that we don’t need to meet together on Sunday.  Far from it!  But we should look for ways to meet together all week long.  We should be a community of believers that interacts with one another day in and day out, week in and week out.  To think that doing our “God thing” on Sunday is sufficient is to be no better than Saul, who thought his sacrifice was more important than obeying God’s commands..

School vacation does not generally mean vacation, unfortunately.  Yesterday at church, one man said he thought vacation for me meant just go work another job.  However, I DID sleep in today until almost 7:00, and am having a relaxing morning, since the store is not open. (Although I just got an e-mail from someone wondering if we open and if he could drop off his laptop today.  I replied and told him that if necessary I could meet him there this morning.  I guess what they way is true – if you own your own business, you only have to work half time.  It’s up to you which 12 hours of the day you choose to work.)

This afternoon we’re taking the boys from the Brigade group at church on an overnight.  We’re going to a friend’s camp in N. Anson this afternoon, where we will have a fun time in the snow, playing games, cooking supper over an open fire, and playing board games.  The cabin has a wood stove for heat, but no running water.  (Actually, there is running water – you can run up the hill to get it!)  Jeremy will come late afternoon and do some winter survival activities with the boys.  After breakfast in the morning we will clean up and get the boys home by lunch.

The rest of the week is somewhat unscheduled except for Thursday afternoon into Friday.  Friday morning I have to be in Portland at the Civic Center to meet with their tech guy about setting up computers to connect to their display screens during the Maine State Math Meet in April for our scoring system.  We will likely head that direction Thursday afternoon, and may schedule some other things on this trip.

Of course, if this is like any other vacation, I will fill it up with plenty of other things to do.  I need to do some projects around the house.  I need to get the taxes at C-Prompt done so that I can do my home taxes.  I need to do some paperwork for the State Math Meet.  I need to grade a few papers in my briefcase.  Somehow, I think I’ll manage to have a hectic week!.

Normally, my day begins about 5:00 am when my alarm goes off.  This morning, I managed to wake up at 4:30 am, primarily due to the fact that Kathy had “stolen” the covers. (Not really, but it’s fun to blame her!).  So, I was up for the day at 4:30.  By 7:00 I was heading out the door to school.  After school, Kathy picked me up so we could go to Farmington to do about 5 different quick errands, and then we came back to New Vineyard to C-Prompt, where I had to get a customer’s laptop ready to ship out.

We then made it up to church in time for the 5:30 spaghetti dinner and the 6:30 Matthew Video Bible Study, before finally getting home again about 7:15.

Now that I look at my day, I realize why I’m exhausted!  It’s (hopefully) an early bed tonight so I can get caught up on some sleep!.

We had a great time at our Brigade Meeting tonight (Christian Service Brigade – Stockade and Battlion groups).  We were missing half of our boys, but we planned our overnight for next week, played some games, and then watched the video “How Great is Our God” by Louis Giglio.  Although my boys and I have seen it before, the rest of the group had not.

This video continues to amaze me whenever I see it.  It does such a great job at communicating both our insignificance and our significance all at the same time.  The video starts with comparing our planet earth with other objects in our galaxy.  In particular, the recurring statement Louis keeps making is “If the earth were the size of a golf ball. . .”  He then compares several stars, in increasing size, to the earth.  When you begin to realize that our God created all of these things, it demonstrates how totally insignificant man is in the entire scheme of the universe.

At the same time, however, Louis clearly communicates that as insignificant as we appear, we are incredibly important to our God.  The things that affect us matter to him.  It is completely mind-boggling that what happens to me matters to our creator God.

If you want to view an eight minute sample of this video, check out http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FGxsI8ksX8Q..

We had a computer come into the shop today that is infected with a fairly new Rogue Security Software called Palladium Pro.  Basically, this software gets a piece of itself into the computer and gives out dire threats about being infected.  It informs you that you need to “Click Here” to install the scanner and cleaner.  When the user does this, it allows the machine to reboot, and upon reboot the user is presented with a new interface – the Palladium Pro security software that looks legitimate.  It runs a “scan”, and then informs the user that to remove the malware, you need to enter your payment information.

These rogue security programs are all over the place.  The best defense is for the user to know what security software they have installed, and then ignore these dire warnings from other programs when they appear, and immediately run a scan with your real security software.

In the case of this computer than came in to the shop, I brought it home this evening and am currently backing up all the data.  Once that is done, we will wipe out the machine and re-install the operating system.  As you can imagine, this is a real nuisance for the user, as the user then needs to re-install all their programs and get their settings changed back to what they are used to having.

Please – for your own sake – don’t click on these “Rogue” security software programs, and certainly NEVER give your credit card information out to one of these companies..

I’ve got to do a better job of taking time off.  I think God was very specific in his commands to work 6 days out of the week, and rest on the seventh.  Unfortunately, like most people I know, I have a tendency to fill my schedule 7 days a week.

Take today, for example.  I actually managed to sleep in until quarter of 6.  Then I was up for the day, working on various things until time to head to church for our 9:00 am Family Bible Study.  Following that was our 10:00 am Morning Service, where we are slowly working through the book of Galatians.  I say slowly, because we spent 3 weeks discussing and studying the first 10 verses.  Today we finally got past those 10 verses, and had a great conversation about the rest of the first chapter.

After lunch, Kathy and I went down to C-Prompt, where I wanted to work through our business taxes for 2010.   Unfortunately, I discovered I have a lot more work to do in Quickbooks before I can really go at the taxes.  Since I can log in over the internet to the store, I came home with the paperwork I needed, intending to work on that this afternoon.

However, instead I worked on getting Kathy’s new website set up for her, and then I played around with setting up my new website, experimenting with a couple of different templates.  The bottom line is that now it is about 7:30, and it will soon be time for me to think about heading to bed, to get ready for the new week.

I hope eventually I will learn to keep one day a week a lot less scheduled and take a day of REST!.