Galatians 2: 1-10

GALATIANS 2: 1-10

1 Then after fourteen years, I went up again to Jerusalem, this time with Barnabas. I took Titus along also. 2 I went in response to a revelation and, meeting privately with those esteemed as leaders, I presented to them the gospel that I preach among the Gentiles. I wanted to be sure I was not running and had not been running my race in vain. 3 Yet not even Titus, who was with me, was compelled to be circumcised, even though he was a Greek. 4 This matter arose because some false believers had infiltrated our ranks to spy on the freedom we have in Christ Jesus and to make us slaves. 5 We did not give in to them for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel might be preserved for you.

6 As for those who were held in high esteem—whatever they were makes no difference to me; God does not show favoritism—they added nothing to my message. 7 On the contrary, they recognized that I had been entrusted with the task of preaching the gospel to the uncircumcised, just as Peter had been to the circumcised. 8 For God, who was at work in Peter as an apostle to the circumcised, was also at work in me as an apostle to the Gentiles. 9 James, Cephas and John, those esteemed as 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 circumcised. 10 All they asked was that we should continue to remember the poor, the very thing I had been eager to do all along.

One question the early church had to address was how to integrate Jews and Gentiles into one multi-ethnic family of God.  (“Gentile” simply refers to anyone who is not Jewish.)  For thousands of years the Jews had been following the Torah, or the laws of the Old Testament.  The question they faced was how these new Gentile believers would relate to the Torah.  For example, one of the laws of the Old Testament that was a point of tension was circumcision, and in Galatia some Jewish Christians were teaching that Gentiles had to be circumcised.  Paul argues in Galatians 2:3 that not even Titus, a non-Jewish believer, was compelled to be circumcised.  Read Acts 15: 1-21 to see more about how this discussion went.

Acts 15: 7-11, 19 >>> 7 After much discussion, Peter got up and addressed them: “Brothers, you know that some time ago God made a choice among you that the Gentiles might hear from my lips the message of the gospel and believe. 8 God, who knows the heart, showed that he accepted them by giving the Holy Spirit to them, just as he did to us. 9 He did not discriminate between us and them, for he purified their hearts by faith. 10 Now then, why do you try to test God by putting on the necks of Gentiles a yoke that neither we nor our ancestors have been able to bear? 11 No! We believe it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved, just as they are” …  19 [James spoke up] “It is my judgment, therefore, that we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God.”

Peter and James, both present at the discussion in Acts 15, were two of the most important leaders in the early church.  However, three times in this passage in Galatians Paul calls out “those who seemed to be leaders” (2:2), “those who seemed to be important” (2:6), and “those reputed to be pillars” (2:9).  While acknowledging the position these leaders have, Paul cautions that position and appearance are not the most important — the truth of the gospel is the most important!

Bible study tip >>> Look for repeated words and phrases.  Go back and look for repeated phrases like the one above about those in positions in leadership.  (Hint:  There are several references about Paul’s mission to share the Gospel with the Gentiles.)

>>>Here’s a few questions to think about:

Look for the four times in this passage that Paul mentions his mission to share the gospel with the Gentiles.  Paul’s purpose and mission are connected to his passion that nothing be added to the gospel.  He is adamant that no extra burden get in the way of Gentiles accepting Christ Jesus.  Paul is willing to fight in order that nothing gets added to the purity of the gospel.  When purpose, mission, and passion align like it did for Paul, it creates a powerful force!

What is something you are passionate about and willing to stand up and defend?

How does your passion point to a mission or responsibility that God has entrusted to you?

 

Paul was willing to stand up to other leaders because he believed so strongly in the gospel and knew the mission God had called him to.

Are you more concerned with position and appearance or with the truth of the gospel?

Is there anyone you’re trying to impress right now that results in you compromising how you live out the gospel?

 

 

Galatians 2_5

Advertisements

Galatians 1:13-24

GALATIANS 1:13-24

13 For you have heard of my previous way of life in Judaism, how intensely I persecuted the church of God and tried to destroy it. 14 I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my own age among my people and was extremely zealous for the traditions of my fathers. 15 But when God, who set me apart from my mother’s womb and called me by his grace, was pleased 16 to reveal his Son in me so that I might preach him among the Gentiles, my immediate response was not to consult any human being. 17 I did not go up to Jerusalem to see those who were apostles before I was, but I went into Arabia. Later I returned to Damascus.

18 Then after three years, I went up to Jerusalem to get acquainted with Cephas and stayed with him fifteen days. 19 I saw none of the other apostles—only James, the Lord’s brother. 20 I assure you before God that what I am writing you is no lie.

21 Then I went to Syria and Cilicia. 22 I was personally unknown to the churches of Judea that are in Christ. 23 They only heard the report: “The man who formerly persecuted us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy.” 24 And they praised God because of me.

 

In writing this letter to the Galatians, Paul is trying to counter the false teaching of those who came after him and preached a different gospel.  Let’s take a look at what Paul has said already about the origin of the gospel he shared with the Galatians:

1 Paul, an apostle—sent not from men nor by a man, but by Jesus Christ and God the Father

11 I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that the gospel I preached is not of human origin. 12 I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it; rather, I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ.

The true gospel is the gospel that comes from God and not from human origins.  Paul is concerned the Galatians have been deceived by a false, human-made gospel.  He’s writing to persuade the Galatians to return to the true gospel that is revealed from God.

Paul continues on to share the story of how his own life was radically transformed by the true gospel.  He continues developing the idea that the gospel he preaches is revelation from God alone, and not something he learned from another human:

15 But when God, who set me apart from my mother’s womb and called me by his grace, was pleased 16 to reveal his Son in me so that I might preach him among the Gentiles, my immediate response was not to consult any human being.

Paul was not dependent on anyone else to learn and grow in his faith.  He didn’t have the faith someone else handed to him.  He didn’t wait around for someone to tell him what he should believe.  He had a life-changing encounter with Jesus, and then he devoted himself to searching and studying the Scriptures to learn more!

 

>>>Here’s a few questions to think about:

Go back to Galatians 1:11-12 and 1:15-16 and look for the words “revelation” and “reveal” in how the gospel came to Paul.  Look how the gospel is similarly talked about in Romans:

Romans 1:16 >>> For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile.

Receiving the gospel is categorically different than learning a history lesson.  As the gospel acts on your life, it comes with the power of God to bring about life  change!  It’s not something to be learned; it’s something to be received and responded to.

How did you first receive the gospel?  Can you relate to the idea that the gospel is supernatural and not just another idea man came up with?

 

Read Acts 9:1-31.  When Paul received the gospel, he spent some time away studying.  He wanted to be sure the gospel he believed and the gospel he preached were not influenced or led astray from another human, but purely the revelation of the gospel of the grace of Jesus Christ.

Is there anything you believe that might be from a human source in regards to the gospel?

What would it look like for you take time to get to know God better for yourself instead of relying on what someone else has told you about God?Have you come to know God yourself

Galatians 1:10-12

GALATIANS 1:10-12

10 Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.

11 I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that the gospel I preached is not of human origin. 12 I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it; rather, I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ.

We can’t serve Jesus freely and fully if we are preoccupied with people pleasing.  Paul declares that he is free from needing to earn the approval of others.  He knows his worth is already secure in Christ.  It’s not something he needs to earn—from God or from others.  Read verse 10 again:

Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.

If we put our worth up for grabs, and think that we have to earn the approval of others in order for them to confer worth on us, we get sucked into a vicious cycle of people pleasing.

When we realize our worth is not not on the table, it frees us up.  All the energy we expend worrying about what others think and working to impress them can now be redirected.  Instead of being compelled by people pleasing, read what Paul exhorts us to do instead:

2 Corinthians 5:14-15 >>> For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died.  And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.

Now let’s take a closer look at verse 11:

I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that the gospel I preached is not of human origin.

The gospel is not something humanity would ever come up with on our own!  Every other religion teaches how we can save ourselves.  Only the gospel recognizes the root problem of sin and that we can’t save ourselves.  We need a Savior!

>>>Here’s a few questions to think about:

On a scale of 1-10, how much of a grip does people pleasing have on your life?

 

People Pleasing Scale

What is the danger of people pleasing?  In what area of your life are you most tempted to give in to earning the approval of others?

People pleasing is all about motivation.  You might struggle with people pleasing, or there might be another motive you struggle with.  As followers of Jesus, we’re called to be motivated by the love of Christ.

2 Corinthians 5:14 >>>  For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. 

What is one specific situation you want to be more motivated by the love of Christ?  

 

Galatians 1 10

Galatians 1:6-9

GALATIANS 1:6-9

6 I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you to live in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— 7 which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let them be under God’s curse! 9 As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let them be under God’s curse!

Bible study tip >>> Look for repeated words and phrases.  Go back and look for all the times “gospel” appears in this passage.

Paul is defending the true gospel — the good news that salvation by grace alone and by Christ alone is available for all.  Other teachers have come to Galatia and added works to the gospel, and Paul is furious!

Look at the following verses about the good news that salvation is for all people.

Luke 2:10-11 >>>  But the angel said to [the shepherd], “Do not be afraid.  I bring you GOOD NEWS of great joy that will be for ALL THE PEOPLE.  Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.

Galatians 3:8 >>> The 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.”

The Gospel is the good news that all peoples of the earth might be saved by the grace of God by placing their faith in Jesus Christ, the Savior of the World.

We can’t earn it.
We don’t deserve it.
We simply have to receive it.

Here’s a few questions to think about:

The gospel is all about GRACE.  Paul is furious that others are trying to add to the requirements of how we can be reconciled to God.

Is there any area of your life where you are living to earn God’s approval instead of living by grace?

You already have God’s approval.  How would it feel to live in a state of grace instead of a race for approval?

The gospel is for ALL THE PEOPLE and ALL THE NATIONS.

Is there anyone you’ve given up on, thinking they’re outside the reach of God’s grace?  

How can you extend grace to all people you come in contact with today?

 

We can't earn it

 

Galatians 1:1-4

 

GALATIANS 1: 1-5

1 Paul, an apostle—sent not from men nor by a man, but by Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead— 2 and all the brothers and sisters with me,

To the churches in Galatia:

3 Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, 4 who gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, 5 to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

Paul has a unique emphasis in the opening of his letter to the church in Galatia.  In no other letter from Paul does he include this emphasis that he is sent from God and not from men.  This is a theme that will continue to develop in this first chapter.

(Want to dig deeper?  Look for this theme to repeat itself in 1:10-12 and 1: 15-16.  You can also compare this opening to Paul’s introductions in Ephesians, Philippians, and Colossians and note how it is different.)

Now let’s take a closer look at verse 4:

[Jesus] gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age.  

Take a look at what happens when you flip the order of this verse:

To rescue us from this present evil age, Jesus gave himself for our sins.

To rescue us from this present evil age, Jesus didn’t rescue us from our circumstances.  He rescued us from our sins.  You and I don’t need to be rescued from our circumstances. We need to be rescued from our sins!

Paul is not writing to offer a worldly solution.  He is writing to point people to the one true solution, the one true source of rescue, the one true way to find grace and peace in this present evil age:  Jesus Christ who gave himself for our sins.

Here’s a few questions to think about:

What are some worldly solutions that other people have offered to try and make life better?

How does Jesus provide a rescue that is uniquely different than anything the world can offer?

What is an area of your life where you need to experience rescue from Jesus?

In verse 3, Paul writes, “Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”  What is an area of your life where you need to experience the grace and peace that comes only from God?

 

Galatians 1 4

Social Media Guidelines

I recently decided to take a month off of social media.  It was one of the best decisions I made for that whole month.

Here’s the thing.  I really don’t know how to do social media “right.”  And by right, I don’t mean how to have my particular brand and get followers and post really cool things.  I mean, I don’t know how to do those things either.

But in this instance, when I talk about “right,” I’m talking about how to do social media in a way that feels healthy for my soul.  Maybe you’ve got a lock on this.  I really hope you do.

But maybe you're like me and you’re using social media but there’s a sneaking suspicion that it might be too much of a distraction or an addiction.  Or it might be feeding into a sense of narcissism.  Or it might be giving an eternal sense of FOMO.  Or it might be feeding into insecurities about why more people didn’t like and comment on that last post.  Or it might be causing jealousy and envy.

That’s a lot of ways social media can wreak havoc in my soul.

So I stepped back for a little bit.  In part just because I was in a season where I needed to create a little more quiet and a little more space for myself to process a lot of life that was happening.  But also in part because I wanted some time to think about what in the world I was even doing with social media, and what the real motives were behind why and what I chose to broadcast to the world.

I helped run a social media channel for a non-profit for a few years, and have a small role in helping with some of our social media channels for Saddleback Small Groups.  Basically, I’m nowhere near an expert, but I do know a few basics.  I know about the importance of building a “brand.”  Having a consistent voice/look/feel across channels so that followers know what kind of quality and content to expect and why they should follow you.

But I also kept wondering why I needed a brand.  I mean, I get it for a business or an organization or a ministry.  But why do I, Laura, need a brand or followers?  Why do I need to advertise my life?

Y’all, there were some major wrestling matches that happened with these questions.  And now as I slowly start picking back up social media, I can tell that I’m doing it pretty tentatively.  I actually miss the quiet and space it created in my soul when I took a break for a month.  I think I still have more questions than answers about how to do this in a way that is best for my soul.

But as with most things in life, avoiding it doesn’t actually bring resolution.  So I’m going to wrestle.  And I’m going to be oh-so-self-aware about what’s going on in my soul.  And I’m going to use it as a way to bring to the surface what’s really going on in my heart as I broadcast my life to the world.

As I move forward, I’ve given myself a few guidelines to help keep me on track.

Reasons NOT To Post

1.  To get more likes or more followers

I’m sure you’ve never done this, but there’s been times when I post things just because I think it will get a lot of “likes” or will help me attract more followers.  But…why is that a good thing?  Again, I’m only talking about the scope of an individual, not for an organization.  Have you ever stopped to ask yourself why you want more followers?

Popularity?  Influence?  Ego?

As a follower of Jesus, I’m not called to make myself popular.  Getting 1,000 followers means NOTHING if the character of Christ is not being developed in my heart.  So I’m trying to avoid posting just because it’s something that is trending.

2. To impress you, make you think I'm cool, brag about my life, or pretend to lead a life different than I actually do

I’s a pretty normal human thing to dream about how our lives could be different.  It’s another thing to pretend and actually try and convince the world (and ourselves) that our lives are different than than they actually are.  There is a very real danger of falling in love with a fake life.

You are exactly who God made you to be.  He didn’t make a mistake when he made you the way he made you.  You are loved exactly as you are.  And if you spend all your time pretending to be someone different, you might never do the important work of self-awareness and growth that will help you reach the full potential of who God made you to be.

3. To entertain myself

Waiting in line at the store?  Why not post to Instagram?  Wait, what?

I’ve done this so many times.  And it’s not the worst thing in the world, but I wonder what it would look like if I used time when I’m bored to text something encouraging to a friend, read a few verses on my Bible app, or take a few minutes to pray for people.

Reasons it's OK to post

1.  Mark important moments in my life

I live far away from a lot of family and friends, and one of the greatest gifts of social media is keeping up with the Taekwondo tournament my niece participated in, or the new project my dad just completed in the backyard.  You better believe that when I ran a marathon this last year I posted about it, and it was so sweet to get to share and celebrate that moment with people far away.  Tell me when major events happen in your life, because I want to celebrate with you!

With this though, my hiatus from social media reinforced the value of not just posting but also calling or texting or setting up a coffee date to keep people updated on my life.  I went to a Dodger game during that month off, and while my friends were posting to social media I sent a picture to my dad and brother because they’re also big Dodger fans.  Not every moment has to be shared with the world; it might be better shared more personally.

2. Inspire other people

A surprising number of people have mentioned to me that they love seeing how I do so many outdoor adventures.  They say it inspires them to do it themselves, or it gives them ideas of places to go and things to try.

The world will be a better place when more people do more of the things that make them come alive.  So post the things that give you life, and inspire people around you to do likewise.

Hebrews 10:24 says, “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.”  Post the kind of things that will spur your followers on to live a life filled with meaning and purpose and joy.  Jesus came to give us an abundant life; don’t be afraid to live it.

3. Share resources and ideas that have helped me grow

I love books and podcasts, and I love sharing about what I’m learning.  I love when other people share resources that have helped them grow, because I’m always on the lookout for a good book or podcast recommendation.  If I’ve found a new podcast or book that’s been particularly helpful, you’ll be hearing about it!

4. Talk about things that matter and people that matter

As someone who struggles with FOMO, I always hesitate when posting pictures with friends because I hate to inflict a fear of missing out on others.  While being sensitive to this, I also think it’s really important to celebrate community.  It’s a good moment for me to check my motives and make sure I’m not trying to make myself look popular, etc., but I love getting to celebrate and express gratitude for the amazing people God has put in my life.

I also think there’s times when it’s important to talk about hard issues.  Specifically, there are times when I make a point to talk about things I struggle with.  It’s not because I’m looking for sympathy, or trying to get some group therapy or social media therapy.  It’s just that we all struggle and sometimes it’s good to be reminded that you’re not the only one, and that God’s grace is sufficient.

In 2 Corinthians 12:9, Paul writes:

But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me.

There’s an appropriate way to boast about our weaknesses.  I always find it so interesting when I’ll have coffee with a friend and an hour later read something she posted about a personal struggle she said nothing about when we were meeting.  Social media is never the place to work out your problems.  Social media therapy is never the best way to share.  It’s not “just being authentic.”  True authenticity is looking someone in the eyes and sharing, and opening yourself up to their response in person.  That being said, I do think there are times when it’s helpful to share honestly and appropriately because you never know who else is struggling with the same thing.  I just make sure anything I post to social media is something I’ve already been talking out with a real live human face-to-face before I broadcast to the world.  I don’t share hard things because I’m looking for a response; I share hard things because I know someone else is struggling and might need to know I’ve been there too.

5. Share the story of my life in such a way that Jesus is the hero.

I hope you’re still with me because this is the most important point.  I don’t want to craft an image on social media that makes me look great.  I want to tell the story of my life in a way that only points to how great Jesus is.

 

What about you?  What are reasons you think we should post or not post to social media?  Would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!

Tahoe


My first solitude retreat to Tahoe was almost by accident, really.

It was summer of 2014 and I had planned a road trip up the Pacific Coast Highway to see my brother who had just recently moved to the Northern California coast, and then on to visit my parents in Oregon. On a whim, I tacked on a few days in Tahoe to break up the long drive back to Orange County.

I bought my first paddleboard while I was in Oregon, strapped the 11 foot bohemoth to the top of my tiny little Corolla, and set my GPS for DL Bliss State Park at Lake Tahoe.

I fairly collapsed into Tahoe that first year.

I was burnt out, exhausted from ministry, and ready to throw in the towel. I told God I would give him these next three days to work a miracle or I was out. And then I waited. And God worked. And God spoke. And God breathed life back into my soul. And God took my hardened heart and broke it in all the right ways to put it back together better than before. God gave me a miracle that first year at Tahoe. There are still moments from that trip that I look back on as moments when God was closer than I had ever experienced before.

That's when I decided Tahoe needed to be an annual trip for me. Each year has been different, but significant in its own way. There's something incredibly sweet about the memories I'm creating with Jesus in this place. When I hike past certain places, or take my paddleboard out to watch the sunset on the lake, it's an invitation to remember just how good God was to show up here before. It's like when you get together with an old friend and reminisce about the good old days and tell stories until your sides ache from laughing. It's like that, only I'm recalling stories about how God showed up met me in life-changing ways, and I get to remember his faithfulness, even as I ask him to do it again.




This year was no different. I wish I knew how to bottle the magic of Tahoe and take it back to my everyday life, and also so that I could share it with you. I'm learning how to change my daily rhythms to bring some of Tahoe and the closeness I find with Jesus back into my everyday hectic life.

But I'm also convinced Jesus lives here at Tahoe, or he at least has a vacation home, and I'm kinda ok if there's a special magic about Tahoe that can't be found anywhere else.

Have you found a place like Tahoe? Would love to hear from you in the comments! Where is the place you feel closest to God?