Tag Archives: Galatians

Philip Conley's Morning Thoughts

Morning Thoughts (Galatians 1:24)

Morning ThoughtsGalatians 1:24, “And they glorified God in me.”

This morning, much confusion and miscommunication arises between people, and a sizable percentage of the time the problem stems from people not understanding where the other is coming from. When someone has experienced a life-changing situation that we cannot possibly understand from experience, we may misunderstand some of their interactions with us. Perhaps the emotions that we take personal were not meant personally to us but a product of their new situation in life. Grief, guilt, hurt, resentment, etc. can all be tricky emotions to deal with on the part of the give and the receiver. We all deal with situations and emotions differently, and therefore, human interaction presents a myriad and complex matrix of possibilities.

When reading the Bible, I believe it to be very important for us to try to the best of our ability to put ourselves “there” while reading passages. To put ourselves “there” we need to understand at least three trademarks of a passage: 1. who is speaking, 2. who is being spoken to, and 3. what is the nature or reason for the discussion? When we answer those 3 questions about a passage, we stand better equipped and armed to get closer to personally being there than we would have otherwise. If we answer those questions about our verse, we see that Paul is speaking to the churches of Galatia about his personal experience after the meeting with the Lord on the road to Damascus. The verses immediately prior to ours actually give more detail about Paul’s early church life than anywhere else in the Bible. (Verses 17-23)

With those thoughts in mind let us build to our study verse to see the powerful import that it carries for us today. Paul makes it abundantly clear in the context that there were many in his early church life that did not know all the particulars about what had happened to him. All they knew was that he preached what he once destroyed (Verse 22), but during this personal history, Paul recounts that much of his time is spent with non-Judaea brethren. It is my personal belief that Paul’s “assignment” as the apostle to the Gentiles was a mercy of God so that his primary labours were not among a people that were personally acquainted with his vicious past. However, in the context, the “they” from our study verse is the Jewish brethren, not the Gentiles in other lands.

In my younger days, I would spend time in my Bible reading wondering, “Why is so much space given to this?” Sometimes, I still have those questions, but this used to be one of those places. Why did Paul spend so much time talking – like nowhere else in Scripture – about his early church days? The reason is multi-fold, but the reason we would like to consider from our verse is the profound grace that was manifested and displayed amongst God’s people in his case.

Yet, consider that Paul talks about his past, the brethren, and what they did – or did not – know about him, and the end result is that they glorified God in him. Is this a “WOW!” moment? Let us put ourselves “there” the best way we can. The best way to do that is to transport Saul of Tarsus into our current lives. This man has you thrown in prison for being a church goer and follower of the gospel of Jesus Christ. While you are in prison, you watch your children being tormented, and then have to watch your spouse or closest friend be put to death at the command and behest of this man. Furthermore, when he leaves your presence there in prison, you know that he is seeking your best friends, family, and kindred spirits to launch them to the same place you are.

Then, you do not see him come back. Eventually you are freed from prison, and resume your kingdom service in the church as best you can. Some years later, you hear this interesting story about the man that killed your spouse, imprisoned you and your children and had several beaten and whipped. He is preaching the same gospel that you believe! Miraculous as it would be for him to just believe it; he is actually preaching it in other regions! Wonder if he will ever travel back this way? One day at church, he walks through the door, and preaches that day. After service is over, the church enters into communion, and this man wants to wash your feet!

Now, as frail creatures of dust, how do we react? Honestly, I would likely have a lot to “get over” with this man. If he had killed my wife, beaten my children, and put me in jail for preaching, there might be a grudge or two or ten harbored in me. Mind you, we have never heard his “Road to Damascus” story. All we know is that he believes and preaches what he once destroyed. How hard that would be! Yet, our verse says that they glorified God in him. What power to see and understand a miracle without letting our pride and weak humanity get in the way.

Today, many a grudge would melt in comparison to a scenario like this. Most grudges today do not stem from blood but rather emotional feelings and wounded pride. But, sadly many of those grudges are fiercely gripped for decades. These brethren were willing to forget Saul of Tarsus and embrace Paul the Apostle. Sometimes we need reminding to let go of the past, live in the Lord’s day, and hope for the future. Are there miracles today? Absolutely! Do some of those miracles go unnoticed by us from resentment and anger about the past? Sadly, yes. This short, little verse packs a powerful punch for our present day service.

God’s arm is still delivering today with the same force and success level that it always has. Nothing is too great or big for Him to overcome. We need to glorify God in the miracles we see. Instead of looking at Paul and saying, “There’s that old reprobate that made our lives so miserable. Remember him? He thinks he’s going to preach to us? Good luck fella.” they said, “This is the same guy that was so evil? Wow! What a great God we have to take our biggest enemy and make him one of our most strident allies!” Today, let us look around seeing the power of God in what He has turned around in our lives, do our best to forget things of the past that would hinder us like a ball and chain, but most importantly never forget that our future – one way or another – will be the brightest and best aspect of our existence.

In Hope,

Bro Philip

Morning Thoughts (Galatians 6:9)

Galatians 6:9, "And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not."

This morning, life is a constant tangle of toil and care.  Without concerted effort on a regular, consistent basis, we fall victim to sorrow, anxiety, and heartache.  Even though grief and loss are unavoidable circumstances in life, that does not necessarily require that we inevitably fall prey to them.  As the old adage declares, "It is not about what you go through but how you go through it."  One way or another, we will go through life, but the course is not to simply get through it but to go through it honourably and with grace.  When considering what life consists of, some things change while others do not.  By considering the changing circumstances in light of the absolutes, we see a brilliant backdrop by which life should be viewed and equip ourselves to fulfill the injunction of our study verse.

Looking at our lives, what changes?  What does not?  What is important?  What is not?  More often than not, the things that change are going to fall into the not so important category, while the unchanging things are going to fall into the more important category.  However, more often than not, the unchanging things are noticed and thought about less than the changing things.  For example, every 24 hours, day comes with night to follow, then to be repeated again and again.  How often do we contemplate the resolute steadfastness with which the universe operates under the design of her Maker?  Within those 24 hour periods, different things happen every day and night.  How often do we think of those changing events that occur within daily patterns?  Doubtless, most of us consider the changing events more often than we consider the absolute steadfastness of creation's patterns.

As Paul closes the Galatian letter, he encourages the brethren toward the mark that he eventually defines in verse 14 of this same chapter.  At the end of the day, the only thing truly worthwhile that we should glory in is our Lord Jesus Christ and what He has done for us.  The other aspects are trivial compared to that.  However, Paul understands that encouragement is necessary toward that end.  Therefore, we see the injunction from our verse not to be weary in well doing.  Paul understands both intellectually and experientially that trying to do the right thing will get tiresome and seem laborious at times.

This injunction comes on the heels of an illustrative analogy that compares life's decisions to planting and harvesting crops.  By sowing a particular seed, we expect particular crops.  Yet, even that analogy has some intrinsic aspects to it that apply to our verse.  For example, how much time elapses from sowing to harvest?  What other factors become involved during that time?  Truly, no man has ever sown a field simply to walk away and expect a crop.  To get the crop desired, consistent labour must be exercised to ensure that the fruit comes forth as bountifully as possible.  Weeds must be driven out; field scavengers must be driven away.

Looking at our lives now, what happens when we sow to the Spirit: start down the path of well doing?  It takes time (sometimes longer than we would desire) to see the fruits of our labour.  Many obstacles will arise, and many dangers will loom on every hand.  To make it to harvest, we must dedicate our minds and hearts to seek those things above rather than become downcast at the daily toils. (Colossians 3:1-2)

God does not change. (Malachi 3:6) His promises are sure and steadfast. (II Corinthians 1:20) His mercy endureth forever. (Psalm 135) No matter what happens today, tomorrow, or ever, these things never change.  Since God and His actions never change, His relationship with us remains just as absolute.  He will never leave us nor forsake us. (Hebrews 13:5) He will not allow us to bear something too great for us. (I Corinthians 10:13) His grace is always sufficient for us. (II Corinthians 12:9)

Knowing these absolute truths and never changing aspects of God, His person, and His interaction with us, there should be no reason to become weary in well doing.  Yet, we still struggle and stumble so often.  Things get us down that are lesser in magnitude than the glory of any of these absolutes.  How often do we get our feelings hurt, get down and depressed, worry about life, or find ourselves the victims of any number of troubles?  Considering those things that "get at us," how do they compare with a never changing God that has surely promised to always be with us, give us grace, and not allow unbearable things to come our way?  There is no comparison.

How does a farmer not get down and out about weeds in the field or theft from the crop?  He keeps his mind on the harvest time.  How do we keep our minds from becoming clouded by the weeds of life or the thieves of this world?  We must keep our minds focused on the beauty of God and His work for us.  Weeds that are here today will be gone tomorrow if we conduct ourselves honourably in the field of our life.  Thieves that attempt to break through our lives and steal our joy will be put out if we keep diligent vigil in the affairs of life. 

There is a promise made at the end of our verse that says we shall reap if we faint not.  The farmer knows that putting forth his best effort – trusting the Lord for the increase – that the harvest will come.  The farmer cannot control all of the particulars no more than we can control all the aspects of our lives.  Yet, if he puts forth his best efforts, he trusts that harvest will come. (Mark 4:27-28) So is our service to God.  We trust by putting forth our best efforts that harvest will come.

There are things that the farmer needs to grow crops that do not change.  He needs sunlight for his fields, water for the crops, and regular patterns of temperature and weather.  The patterns of seasons, sun coming up, and rain upon the earth are patterns that the Lord set forth and established to continue in that fashion. (Genesis 8) These patterns – though not controlled by the famer – are used by the farmer for his crops.  We cannot control the fact that God does not change and has made bedrock promises for and to us.  Yet, we should use these promises in our lives to sow and eventually reap in blessings of honour and glory for this life.  Our weariness will fade when we see One that is bigger than we are who can do more than we can who is always there with us.

Finally, consider that sometimes the time between sowing and reaping can get long.  With many hours spent in the between time being diligent and steadfast, the harvest time might be months from initial seeding.  So also, we may go many years before seeing the results of initial seedings in our lives.  Raising children is not done in a day, month, or a year.  Yet, we labour hoping and trusting that harvest time comes when our children stand on their own in an honourable way due to the instruction that we gave them at home.  Other endeavours in life are the same.  It takes time.  Sometimes, it takes a lot of time.  Pastors labour for years hoping to effect good improvement over the particular corner of the Lord’s vineyard that they serve.

It is an unavoidable fact that the older one gets the quicker they tire.  Have you ever seen people that laboured for so long that they seemed to finally give out (faint)?  Due to the burden, length of time, etc. they just got to a point of fainting.  Sometimes, it embitters them against life and things in it.  Sometimes, it depresses them to despair and throwing up their hands.  Yet, to avoid the fainting (despair) and bitterness that could ensue, we must steadily eat of those same things that we sow. (Deuteronomy 12:7) By eating the same substance that we sow, we maintain strength to plow for the duration of life's efforts.  Therefore, whether old or young, just starting out or in the twilight of our field service, may we consistently eat of the good corn (pure truth of Christ found in His word and heralded in His church), while faithfully labouring in sowing that same good seed in all aspects of our lives (living out the religion that we so dearly love).  It is a promise – by One much greater than the writer – that harvest time will come.  May we seek that goal, focused on the absolutes and looking less at the changing weeds of life.

In Hope,

Bro Philip