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Wednesday, September 17, 2014


Galatians 3:2
"This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?" (KJV)
Paul minces no words in this epistle written to the churches of Galatia, as he employs none of his typical lengthy greetings and encouragement.  Whether or not the book of Galatians was written to the Celtic Gauls of North Galatia or the inhabitants of the Roman acquired region of South Galatia, the apostle's message still stands unchanged.  Paul defends his apostleship and discredits the Judaizers, who drew even Peter and Barnabas into their hypocrisy.  Judaizers were a sect who taught that in order to become a good Christian, one must first follow the mandates of Jewish Law, including circumcision.  Paul, in this epistle or letter, lays out a framework to understand the juxtaposition of the Law of Moses and faith in the Messiah.  Paul uses the account of Sarah's offspring of promise vs. Hagar's offspring of bondage to illuminate our standing as children of God and our rights and privileges thereof.  The book of Galatians is a discourse directed at the heresy of the Judaizers and an entreaty to the children of faith to keep the faith free of the pollution of Law.
Paul's apostleship was under attack by the Judaizers who argued that he was not one the original twelve disciples, thus his message was secondhand.  Paul defends his apostleship in Galatians 1:1, "Paul, an apostle, (not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead)." Paul continues to explain, that after fourteen years he went up to Jerusalem accompanied by Barnabas and Titus.  Titus being an uncircumcised Christian was compelled by the Judaizers to receive circumcision as a precursor to becoming a Christian.  The Judaizers, to avoid persecution by the Jews, attempted to meld the Law and the Cross into a void theology.  Even Peter curtsied to the Judaizers as he stood aloof from the Gentile converts at Antioch.  Peter had previously fellowshipped with the converts, but at the arrival of the Judaizers he withdrew from them.  Paul demonstrated his integrity and authority as he ". . .withstood Peter to his face. . ." over this matter (Galatians 2:11).  The fact that Barnabas imitated Peter's behavior is evidence that the behavior of leaders is of the utmost importance in the example they set forth to others. 
That men are justified by faith in Jesus Christ and not the works of the Law is evident in Paul's entreaty to the churches of Galatia.  He asks a poignant question in Galatians 3:12, ". . .Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the Law, or by the hearing of faith?"  Paul communicates that Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the Law and that this promise is received by faith and not works.  An unbridled acceptance of God's Grace apart from works is necessary in accessing this glorious promise.  If in the Law or our own works we could gain justification, of what use would the Cross be? 
Paul uses the account of Sarah and Hagar to illustrate the Law and the promise.  As the faithful are not children of the bondwoman, we have the privilege to, "Cry Abba, Father" and receive the promise given to Abraham (Galatians 4:6).  This privilege is offered to every human being and was bought by the Blood of Christ at His crucifixion.  Again Paul asks a profound question in Galatians 4:16," Am I therefore become your enemy, because I tell you the truth?"  Hagar is compared to Mount Sinai and Sarah as free Jerusalem.  Those who are born according to the Spirit possess Christian liberty and are not under the Law.  The Law is fulfilled in the command to love your neighbor as yourself.  The unmerited favor of God is a free gift to all whose faith is in His Son, Who loved and died for them.
Father, thank You for Your Word in due season.  Thank you for the Grace that You have provided to us through Jesus' sacrifice.  Lord I pray for salvation, for all people in every land.  I pray that Your Spirit penetrates the most defiant and remote areas of the world.  I pray that Your desire be fulfilled, that all men come to You.  I love You and praise You.  Thank You. . .


Sunday, August 24, 2014

Hoarded Emotions

Psalm 51:7

Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.

Life hurts.  That is a plain and simple fact that we all must someday face.  What we do with that hurt is the defining factor in the quality of life that we eventually live.  Sometimes the battering of life's storm is so intense and prolonged that we no longer deal with situations and just begin to accumulate layers of pain and scars that cripple us from living healthy lives.  These emotional injuries are not so apparent; such as, a missing body part or jagged scar.  Nonetheless, these scars continue to carve into our life experience in ways that are far reaching
When we internalize pain from the storms of life and hurts that we receive from others, intentional or otherwise, it is akin to a hoarded home.  Hoarding occurs when more baggage, whether it be material or emotional is brought into a dwelling then is let go, and is not maintained in an orderly manner.  That dwelling may be your home or your heart.  If you have ever watched the television shows that deal with this issue, you understand that it isn't easy for those that hoard to let go of the material things that are cluttering their lives.  The emotional significance of the hoard is tantamount to the life issues that each one of these persons is attempting to deal with.
 Several years ago I had my art studio set up and organized.  Due to a family crisis, I needed the space that it was housed in.  All of my art supplies were boxed rather unceremoniously and stored.  Later, I set my studio up again but it was never as organized as it was originally.  Due to another issue, that reincarnation of my creative space was stored again and I ended up with a tangled mess of art supplies.  Upon my first attempt at sorting my things, I had a minor meltdown when some old and irreplaceable pictures were almost discarded by someone helping me.  No one but God understands what precious things are under the strata of our lives.  Recently I reestablished my studio space into a functional order, although it needs some tweaking.  Each item  I sorted brought back memories of the projects I had left unfinished, the tragic emotions I had not dealt with at the time, and the hope that I had for the future.  Please don't allow your heart to become like my art studio.  Please allow God to be your sorting partner.  He understands and is totally invested in purging our lives and hearts to be healthy and walk in His light.  


Father, please lead and guide us to walk in Your perfect light.  Life becomes so burdensome, thank You that Yours is the shoulder that we must lean on to bear it.  I pray that You hearken these words to the eyes of those who need to understand how our hoarded emotions harm our lives.  I thank You for purging us, even when it is painful.  In Jesus name, please continue to do Your perfect work in all of our lives.  Amen.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Business As Usual


"Watch ye therefore: for ye know not when the master of the house cometh. . ."
Mark 13:35

At times we can be so tired, busy, distracted or comfortable that we become complacent.  Complacency is a dangerous place to dwell.  It is a place where we react rather than being aware, analyzing situations and taking appropriate action.  It is far too easy to fall into a mindset of  complacency and miss opportunities to negate risk to ourselves and others. 

Living in a wooded area, our family enjoys feeding the wildlife.  The array of colorful birds that the birdfeeders attract is a source of entertainment for us.  The antics of the squirrel's acrobatics in attempting to loot the feeders is humorous.  We have a large picture window from which we view the action.  Over the years birds have crashed into the window, sometimes fatally and sometimes with a glancing blow that stuns them.  When my children were little we would run out to see if the bird could be saved.  We would keep them from the fate of being found by our cat.  We saved numerous small birds, mostly house wrens.  We would put them in a shoebox and sit it on the top of our garden arch, giving them a chance to shake off the blow. 

One morning we had a doctor's appointment and I was rushing to finish to get there on time.  I was in my bedroom blow-drying my hair and my youngest daughter came running in crying that a bird had crashed into the window.  Without a thought I said, "Put him in a shoebox and we will see if he is ok."  I continued rushing to get ready and she walked into the bedroom with a shoebox containing a Pileated Woodpecker!  Expecting a wren or a sparrow I was shocked to see this huge bird looking dizzily at me with one eye.  I looked at him and he looked at me, I don't know who was more surprised.  I screeched, "Put it down. . . that thing could peck your eyes out!"  He was either so dazed that he was incapacitated, or he was just glad the cat hadn't found him before my daughter.  We left him on top of the arch and he was gone when we returned.  So my daughter is a bird whisperer and I should pay more attention.  This is a cute story that could have turned out badly.  We can't always think that life is business as usual.

Scripture speaks of this condition and how detrimental complancency is to our spiritual health.  We are told to wait and watch for Jesus' return numerous times.  One example is Matthew 24:42,
"Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come."  It behooves us greatly to keep the Lord's return at the forefront of our minds and prayers.  It changes the way that we operate our lives and it changes our prayers.  Revelation 1:1 opens the last book of the Bible with these words, "The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John. . ."  The phrase "shortly come to pass" is translated in part, from the Greek word, tachos.  Many have used this translation to support the preterist view that the prophecies of the Bible have already occurred.  They theorize that if these things were shortly coming to pass at the writing in approximately AD 96, that 1900 plus years later that they surely have.  This Greek word tachos speaks of suddeness, quickness and speed.  II Peter 3:10 tells us,"But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up."  What Revelation 1:1 is saying is that these things will come quickly and without warning.  Complacency is a deadly matter in spiritual currency.

Dear Lord,
Thank You for Your Word.  I love and praise You.  Please help us to dig deeper into scripture to understand exactly what it is that You are saying to us.  Please help us to not be complacent and look at life as business as usual, because everything can and will change in an instant.  Lord, I pray that You put Your arms around people who are hurting and are in need of the emotional healing that only You can give.  Thank You for our service men and women and for all the valiant souls who have fought for the freedom of others on this earth.  Lord, please bless the families of those who have lost their loved ones in battle.  Thank You.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Wounded by God's People by Anne Graham Lotz

Matthew 25:40
"And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me."

I have agreed to write this unbiased review of Anne Graham Lotz's book entitled "Wounded by God's People" for for no other remuneration than the free copy of this book.  The opinions contained in this review are mine as they coincide with scripture as I understand it.
Wounded people wound people, while this statement is true, it isn't a reality that one would desire to find in Christ's church where the ailing and burdened are beckoned to come.  "Wounded by God's People" by Anne Graham Lotz, the daughter of Billy Graham, is written with an eye to the wounded and the wounders.  Lotz's book, published by Zondervan is well-written and she uses many personal stories to illustrate the truth that she is expressing.
Lotz shares an account of a young investigative journalist, who as a Christian, had become disenchanted by the hypocrisy of the organized church that he had eventually walked away from God.  Having an opportunity to speak with this man, she relates her conversation with him, "I told William I was so sorry for the way we--God's people-- had behaved.  I apologized to him for the very real hurt Christians had inflicted on him. . .I told him that while we had had similar experiences, we had come to dramatically different conclusions.  Rather than drive me away from God the hypocrisy. . .had caused me to run to God" (Lotz 2013, 166).  Much of the church has become like the Pharisees of Jesus' time, mixing their own customs and notions with God's Word to the degree that it drives men to their knees with its weight.  Jesus said in Matthew 11:30, "For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” 
Lotz illuminates the plight of the church and those wounded by it well in this book.  Coming from the family of Billy Graham she has certainly seen both sides of this issue and is able to identify it.  Honesty, with ourselves as well as God, the strength to go against the status quo and integrity as Christians and as human beings is what is necessary for this tragic maleficence to cease.  Certainly it is the responsibility of Christian leadership to not allow these actions to persist.  When the dictates of popular opinion, favoritism and self preservation intervene, leaders must stand strong in the commission they have been given.  We all must stand before the same God and give account of our actions, in that mind-set what is more important than preserving God's Word and dividing it correctly to His people in the spirit of love.
Lord, in Jesus' name, I pray for the people who have been wounded by the church and have broken relationships with You as a result.  I pray that You draw them to Yourself and heal the rift that has been carved in their spirits.  I also pray for the wounders, that they recognize their sin and lay it at Your feet in repentance.  Lord, the time is short and I pray that Your church, Your remnant rise up and accept the charge that You have given them.  I thank You and praise You for Your great love for us.  Amen 
Rev. Patricia Paige Harrison

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