Devotions on Galatians 3:1-9, 23-29–Receiving the Holy Spirit
May 22-28, 2017
Monday, May 22, 2017–Receiving the Holy Spirit
“Did you receive the Spirit by doing the works of the law or by believing what you heard (Galatians 3:2)?
Lamar’s friend, Eduardo had had a religious experience. He had been baptized by the Holy Spirit and could speak in tongues. Lamar was interested in hearing his friend’s story and eventually wanted to be baptized by the Spirit, too. Eduardo brought Lamar to a small group of charismatics. They instructed Lamar to first accept Jesus as his Lord and Savior. Lamar then needed to fully commit his life to following Jesus. When Lamar had completed the first two steps, the group laid their hands on him and prayed that he be filled with the Spirit. Lamar was then told to speak whatever came into his mind. Though Lamar felt the Spirit, he never was able to speak in tongues.
The Galatians knew the answer to Paul’s question. They had not been circumcised and had not become “God fearers” before they had received the Holy Spirit. Rather, they had responded to what they had heard Paul say about Jesus’ life, death and resurrection, and the Holy Spirit had come upon them.
Try as we might, we are never able to control the Holy Spirit. The Spirit blows like the wind. Thankfully, though, God has breathed the Spirit into our lives and filled us with God’s presence and power.
Thank you, Lord, that you have decided to live in us and to move through us. Amen.
Tuesday, May 23, 2017–Receiving the Holy Spirit
“Does God supply you with the Spirit and work miracles among you by your doing the works of the law, or by you believing what you heard” (Galatians 3:5)?
We hear it over and over again. If we work hard enough, we can do whatever we want to do and become what we want to become. Throughout our lives, we work hard to meet the expectations of our parents, teachers, employers and even our friends. We survey our accomplishments and what we have accumulated and congratulate ourselves on jobs well done. We may even catch ourselves being proud that we never had to ask anyone for help. This is life in the world.
After hearing the lies of the world, it is difficult for us to live in the truth—that everything is a gift. Sure we work hard, still life is not dependent upon our hard work, but upon God’s love. There may come a time when we “can’t,” but God always “can.”
Lord, thank you for your gifts. Amen.
Wednesday, May 24, 2017–Receiving the Holy Spirit
“Just as Abraham ‘believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness’” (Galatians 3:6).
The story of Abraham and Sarah is a story of grace. Their story never indicates that they were special people. In fact, when we read about their doubts, fears and struggles, they seem very ordinary. The reason why we know about Abraham and Sarah four thousand years after they lived is because God spoke to them and invited them on a journey of faith. By faith, Abraham and Sarah accepted the invitation. The couple was righteous because they lived in faith that God had placed them in a right relationship with God.
God comes to us and extends the same invitation to a journey of faith. We may wonder at times why God chose the likes of us, but God has. Because of God’s actions in our lives, we are made righteous and we become followers of Jesus. This truth is humbling, overwhelming and empowering.
Lord, thank you for enabling us to live in the relationship with you for which we were created, and for inviting us to follow you on an adventure of faith. Amen.
Thursday, May 25, 2017–Receiving the Holy Spirit
“Those who believe are descendants of Abraham” (Galatians 3:7).
Kim Sue began her life in a South Korean orphanage. At the age of four months, a couple from the United States adopted her. The couple provided a loving home for Kim Sue from the early months of her life through her graduation from college this year. Though Kim Sue identified herself as Korean by birth, she also knew that her real family was with the couple who adopted her.
As followers of Jesus, we are a very diverse people. God’s gifts of grace and faith unite us. Along with Abraham and other forbearers we are all children of God. We are all family.
Thank you, Lord, for the fellowship of believers. Empower us so that together we can encourage each other in our faith and join together in service. Amen.
Friday, May 26, 2017–Receiving the Holy Spirit
“Therefore the law was our disciplinarian until Christ came” (Galatians 3:24).
Growing up, our families had certain rules. Bedtime was at a specific hour and we finished our homework before watching television. All of those rules were never meant to be the basis of our love for one another. Instead, they kept us safe and helped us live together as a family. Eventually we moved out and set up housekeeping on our own. We were then able to make a new set of rules.
The law was never meant to be a ladder into heaven. A list of “do’s” and “don’ts” could never make us good enough to win over God’s love. Those laws helped us live together and also made it apparent how much we needed God’s love and forgiveness in our lives.
Now Christ has come and our lives of faith are guided by a relationship and not be a set of rules. As the prophet Jeremiah wrote, “But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people” (Jeremiah 31:34). That new law is the Holy Spirit. Now as followers of Jesus, God invites to be faithfully obedient to the guidance of the Spirit in our lives.
Lord, open our hearts that we may discern the Spirit’s guidance and work in our wills that we may be obedient to that guidance. Amen.
Saturday, May 27, 2017–Receiving the Holy Spirit
“For in Christ you are all children of God through faith” (Galatians 3:26).
Every year the Grants have a family reunion. Grandparents and parents, brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles along with first, second and third cousins gather together for a weekend of food, fun, fellowship and a celebration of family. Over the years, the family reunion has grown. Distant family members heard about it and decided to attend, from all over the country. No matter how long people had been attending the reunions, every year there were always new people to meet and to be amazed that this diverse group of people were all one family.
For too long, Christians have forgotten that we are one family. Worshiping in our diversity we worship and serve together reminds us that we are family. As brothers and sisters, we come together from different places to build houses, feed the hungry, care for the homeless and allow others to see God’s love and grace in action. With open hearts and minds, we are amazed at all the people whom God has gathered into God’s family.
Work with in us and through us, Lord, so that people see what unites us rather than what separates us. Amen.
Sunday, May 28, 2017–Receiving the Holy Spirit
“There is no longer Jews or Greeks … for all of you are one in Christ” (Galatians 3:28).
Early Christians lived in a society that was class conscious. At the top were the ruling class and the land owners. The merchant class followed them in rank. There were the ordinary people and at the bottom were the slaves. The different classes did not associate with each other (any more than they had to), and the upper classes acted to assure that they did not share power or wealth with anyone else.
In the midst of this social milieu came the classless Christians. Masters and slaves, men and women, Jews and Gentiles came together to eat at the same table and to eat and to drink the same bread and wine. They were all God’s family; brothers and sisters because of Jesus life, death and resurrection.
In God’s presence, we are all people who are loved and recipients of God’s grace and mercy. All of us have been called to be God’s witnesses in our Jerusalems, Judeas, Samarias and to the corners of the earth. In God’s presence, we do not emphasis what we are not, but rather who we are—Children of God.
Forgive us, Lord, when we seek to lord it over others. Help us to see through your eyes—that all are people whom you love—and that makes us equal. Amen.