“You Were Running the Race So Well”

7 You were running the race so well. Who has held you back from following the truth? 8 It certainly isn’t God, for he is the one who called you to freedom.– Galatians 5:7-8 NLT

The new converts had started off “on fire” but now they were being hampered by those around them. Let each of us think back to the time that we accepted Jesus as our Savior and Lord. Now, let each of us compare our enthusiasm and boldness for telling others about Jesus then and our enthusiasm and boldness for doing that now. Who or what “cut in on us” or kept us from spreading the Good News about salvation. Was it the mocking of “friends” or the cares of this world that hampered us? Are we more concerned about other people’s opinions of us than we are about what Jesus thinks about us? Does it even matter if we tell others about Jesus and His mercy? Do we think that Jesus isn’t watching? Or do we do the things we do and act the way we act because we know that Jesus will forgive us but our family, friends and neighbors might not? That kind of thinking does not come from the Holy Spirit.

1​ ​Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us​.​–Hebrews 12:1​ (​NIV)

“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” -Anonymous

“Don’t Get Tied Up Again”

1 So Christ has truly set us free. Now make sure that you stay free, and don’t get tied up again in slavery to the law.​ – Gal. 5:1 NLT

Gal, 5:1-6 NLT

Paul keeps encouraging the new converts to go forward and not turn back to the old law and traditions. Since we now live under grace, we are no longer bound by the laws of the Old Testament. Why? Have they been destroyed or nullified by God? No, definitely not. Why, then? Because, as Jesus Himself said:

17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.—Matt. 5:17 (NIV)

Since Jesus fulfilled the law, we are no longer bound by that law. We live under the covenant of grace. If we believe keeping one point of the law is necessary for salvation, then we are bound by all the points of the law. If it were possible for man to fulfill every point of the law, then Jesus died a useless death on the cross. Our salvation comes only by “grace through faith” in His finished work at Calvary. Does this mean we just accept Jesus and do nothing? No, there is work for us to do, but the work does not add to our salvation.

8 For it is by grace you have been saved,through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.–Eph. 2:8-10 (NIV)

Jesus “paid it all” and we are the beneficiaries of His death.

“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” -Anonymous

“Children of The Free Woman”

31 So, dear brothers and sisters, we are not children of the slave woman; we are children of the free woman.- Gal. 4:31 NLT

Gal. 4:27-31 NLT

Just as Ishmael mocked Isaac, the crowds had mocked and persecuted Jesus. Both Isaac and Jesus were born to fulfill a promise. Isaac was the fulfillment of God’s promise to Abraham. Even though both Abraham and Sara were well past child-bearing age, Isaac was born to them. Even though Mary had never known a man she conceived and brought forth a Son. Jesus was a fulfillment of the promise that God would provide a Redeemer for His people. He would also be a Redeemer and Savior for all who would call upon His Name and accept Him as Lord of their life. Because of that, we who have accepted Jesus are children of the promise. Accepting Jesus and turning from the world, (the slave woman) we are no longer slaves in bondage to our fleshly desires. Even though we sometimes fail, it should be our heart’s desire not to stay fallen and return to our old habits. Jesus died that we might be free from those entanglements.

1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.–Hebrews 12:1-3 (NIV)


“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” -Anonymous

“She Is Our Mother”

26 But the other woman, Sarah, represents the heavenly Jerusalem. She is the free woman, and she is our mother. – Gal. 4:26 NLT

Gal. 4:21 -26 NLT

As we have seen in the earlier verses, the Jewish leaders have been trying to convince the new converts to return to the old Jewish traditions. Paul is making the point here that they need to consider the hardships and severity of the law before they turn back to it. He is using the birth of Issac and Ishmael to demonstrate the difference in natural and spiritual things. Those that return to worldly things (the natural Jerusalem) are still in slavery to those things. But since Issac was born to fulfill a divine promise, there is now a choice that we can make. We can follow the fleshly lineage and remain slaves or we can follow the divine lineage, accept Jesus and become citizens of the Jerusalem which is above.

20 But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ​, 21 who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.–Phil. 3:20 (NIV)

But one day, New Jerusalem will come down to earth and all those that have chosen the divine lineage (Jesus) will be citizens of the New Jerusalem.

I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband—Rev.21:2 (NIV)

“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” -Anonymous

“Their Intentions Are Not Good”

17 Those false teachers are so eager to win your favor, but their intentions are not good. They are trying to shut you off from me so that you will pay attention only to them. – Gal. 4:17 NLT

Gal. 4:17-20 NLT

When Paul came to a new town, it was usually his practice to preach first to the Jews, if any were living there, and then to the Gentiles. This was the case in Galatia. Of course, the newly converted Jews would be under pressure from the religious leaders to turn back to the law and the old covenant. The newly converted Gentiles would be pressured by the local leaders to turn back to their practice of worshiping idols. The leaders were zealous in trying to turn the people back to these old ways but for the wrong reason. Both the religious leaders and the local leaders were dependent on the people for their livelihood. Paul says it is good to be zealous for the right reasons, but they must be strong enough to stand even when he is not with them. Since they were not able to stand alone, he must now treat them again as babies in Christ. Today, we have the same situation because we “go and make converts” and then we leave them to fend for themselves.Jesus said to “go and make disciples”. Receiving Jesus as your Savior without any further instructions is not likely to make many disciples. Mentoring others takes a lot of love, patience, kindness, and time.

Matt. 28:18-20 NLT

The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” -Anonymous

“You Took Me In”

14 But even though my condition tempted you to reject me, you did not despise me or turn me away. No, you took me in and cared for me as though I were an angel from God or even Christ Jesus himself. – Gal. 4:14 NLT

Gal. 4:12-16 NLT

In this letter to the Galatians, Paul reminds them that he became as much like them as possible without violating his conscience. In our words today, we would probably say that he spent time making friends and building a bridge of confidence so that they would be more willing to listen to him. As the saying goes “people have to know you care before they care what you know”. As it turns out, Paul got to spend quite a bit of time in southern Galatia because of his sickness that he developed. This may have been the beginning of what Paul later referred to as “a thorn in the flesh”. It was very possibly a severe eye disease causing some amount of pain and facial dis-figuration. Paul implies that it might have made some of the people treat him badly and others would have plucked out their own eye and given it to him. But Paul pushes on and asks them the same questions we must ask ourselves and others today. Does our telling you the truth make us your enemy? Or once you know and understand the truth, does it make any sense to turn away from it? Just as Paul did, we have to get the people to understand that our witnessing to them is not because we feel that we are better or more holy than they are. It is because Jesus died for all of us simply because He loved us enough to do that for us. And His love for us requires us to show that same love to others.

“I Lay Down My Life’

17 “Therefore My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again. 18 No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This command I have received from My Father.”–John 10:17-18 (NIV)

The Holy Spirit has been given to us as our guide, but He will never make us do anything against our own will. We have the power and the authority to make the same decision that Jesus made. We can decide to hold onto our earthly, physical lives if that is what we want or we can decide to put our lives on the cross that Jesus gives us to bear. We will never do this as long as our own pride and other people’s opinions of us are more important than pleasing God. There is one funeral that we all need to attend and that is the death and burial of our fleshly desires. Anything that we put above our love and obedience for God has to be removed. It is a decision that Jesus had to make and so must we. In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus ended His prayer with “not My will but thine be done”. So should our prayer be as well.

44 Now it was about the sixth hour, and there was darkness over all the earth until the ninth hour. 45 Then the sun was darkened, and the veil of the temple was torn in two. 46 And when Jesus had cried out with a loud voice, He said, “Father, ‘into Your hands I commit My spirit.’” Having said this, He breathed His last.–Luke 23:44-46 (NIV)

Are we ready to commit our whole lives, mind, soul, body, and spirit into the hands of God? The way of the cross leads home, but we have to go through the cross, the blood and the darkness to get there.


“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” – Anonymous

“Give Up Your Life”

24 If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it. – Luke 9:24 NLT

Luke 9:22-24 NLT

After all the trials and the persecutions that Jesus went through on Thursday night, early Friday morning, He had to take up his Cross and carry it out of the city. Along the way, Simon of Cyrene was ordered to help carry the Cross for Jesus. While we can’t carry the actual wooden cross that Simon bore for Jesus, we each have a path that God has laid out for us. Somewhere along that path, we will meet Jesus. Then we will either accept Him or reject Him. If we accept Him, there will be a cross for us to bear. The cross may be financial, it may be physical, it may include rejection and persecution, but whatever cross we are called to bear, we can be sure that if we have listened to the whispers of the Holy Spirit and we have been obedient, we will be prepared for it. If the cross seems more than we can bear, it may be because we have not yet decided to die to our own desires. The only way to save our lives is to lose them for Jesus.

“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” -Anonymous

“Now That You Know God”

9 So now that you know God (or should I say, now that God knows you), why do you want to go back again and become slaves once more to the weak and useless spiritual principles of this world? – Gal. 3:9 NLT

Galatians 3:8-11 NLT

Before we accepted Jesus as our Savior, we were enslaved by our sinful flesh, just as the Galatians were back then. Before Paul came into Galatia, they worshiped idols made by men and were in bondage to all sorts of immoral acts. Once, they accepted the Good News, they were free from that bondage. Paul had started churches in the area earlier. After he left the area, the people started to fall back into their old worldly ways, practicing useless traditions of men. Eat this , don’t eat that, do this on this day and not any other day, etc. Paul was writing to them to encourage them to continue on their new Spiritual journey. We see the same thing still happening today when the founder of a new church retires or moves on. We have to focus on Jesus and the Gospel message, not on the messenger. Except for Jesus, there never has been, isn’t now, and never will be a perfect man. We all fall and come up short. Just don’t make falling a lifestyle. Ask for the forgiveness that Jesus has already paid for and move on. Let’s learn to be “Jesus conscious” and not “sin-conscious”. If satan can keep us focused on our failures, he has won the battle and we will live defeated lives, Focus on Jesus, our Champion and our Defender. We can be more than conquerors.

15 He said: “Listen, King Jehoshaphat and all who live in Judah and Jerusalem! This is what the LORD says to you: ‘Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s.—2 Chron. 20:15 (NIV)

“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” -Anonymous

“God’s Own Child”

7 Now you are no longer a slave but God’s own child. And since you are his child, God has made you his heir. – Gal. 4:7 NLT

Galatians 4:1-7 NLT

It was God’s plan from before the beginning of time as we know it that every person that was born would have an opportunity to become His child and an heir. Under the law, man was a slave to that law and could not become an heir. When the set time had come, God sent his Son. Born under the law to a fleshly woman. God did this so that we could be adopted into His family. Now that Jesus has been resurrected, we have the opportunity to become children of the Most High God and He would send His Spirit to make His home inside us. Because of the indwelling Spirit, we can call out “Abba”, which is Aramaic for Daddy. We are sons and heirs of God, not because of anything we did or could do, but simply because God loved us enough to make a way for us. He is not only our Father, but we have a closer, more intimate relationship with Him. So close that no matter how big we may get, we can still crawl up in His lap and He will hold us and love us.

38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.–Romans 8:38-39 (NIV)