Devotions April 24-28

Friday, April 28
Galatians 1:3-5
And peace from God

3 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, 4 who gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, 5 to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen. (Gal. 1:3-5 ESV)

As Paul writes his introduction, he couples grace with peace. Together those two words encapsulate Christianity. Grace is the source of our salvation while peace is the result.

Before we were in a state of grace, we were at war with God. We like to think of war in active terms, making a conscious decision to engage with someone we have designated as our enemy. At this point, you might protest, “But I am not at war with God; I’m just indifferent.” That may be true, but even indifference puts you at war with God. Colossians 1:21 says, “And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds…” Before grace, we were not thinking about God, not concerned about God, and perfectly content to continue in our evil deeds like jealousy, gossip, selfish ambition, sensuality, and anger. Even being friends with the world makes us an enemy of God (James 4:4).

Even worse, we do not have the capability to negotiate peace with God. The stronger party in a conflict is the one who dictates the terms of peace. God is the stronger party and has done exactly that. Incredibly, God gives us unilateral peace through Jesus Christ. God did not outline 75 points that we must abide by to remain at peace with Him. After He bestows grace on us, He then gives us peace as well. That is why Colossians 1:21 finishes with, “He has now reconciled” us to Himself through the death of Jesus Christ.

In John 14:27 Jesus says, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” We do not have troubled hearts because God put aside His wrath toward us. This brings us freedom and impacts how we live our lives today. Since God has set aside His wrath, we do not need to live in fear of God. The freedom of God’s peace tells us God is not out to get us. We do not have to live our lives always looking over our shoulders, waiting for God to make us His enemies again. Once God has given us His peace, we will never be His enemies again.

“Father, thank you for giving us peace. Thank you that we will see the fullness of that peace in eternity with you. Today, may we live as free people, resting in the knowledge that you are at peace with us because of the work of Jesus Christ on the cross. Amen.”

Wednesday, April 26
Galatians 1:3-5
Grace to You

3 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, 4 who gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, 5 to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen.  (Gal. 1:3-5)

“Amazing grace, how sweet the sound.” Grace is one of the grandest words in all of Christianity. Grace is God’s unmerited favor and love displayed toward you. As grand as it is, it is easy to miss in the opening verses.

Verse 3 simply states, “Grace to you.” Those three words tell you that grace is directional. As a direction it has a beginning and an ending. Grace begins with God. It originates from within Himself based solely on who He is. Grace is not a characteristic of God; God is grace. God’s grace ends with you. God says you are to be on the receiving end of His grace. God wants you to know what it feels like to have complete and total unmerited love lavished upon you. God wants you to bask in the truth that there is nothing more you can do to make God love you more than He loves you right now. Nothing.

Even the things you do to be a “good” Christian — Bible reading, prayer, good works, giving, fasting, and the list can go on — will not make God love you more. Make no mistake, you should be engaged in those activities, but those activities, as good as they are, will not earn you one more ounce of God’s love. If they could, then God’s grace would not be unmerited. Yet, that’s exactly what God’s grace is.

Since you can’t earn it, don’t try. Since you can’t purchase it, don’t bother. Since you can’t make it increase, don’t attempt to. What then should you do? Delight in it. God wants you to delight in the grace He lavishly pours out on you. The world tells you to work for everything. You get what you earn. God’s grace says just the opposite. God’s grace tells us to stand still and delight in His unmerited favor and love. Just as waves at the ocean will never cease lapping the sand, neither will God ever cease to lavish His grace on you. Today, delight in God’s grace as it washes over you. After all, grace is something you don’t want to miss.

“Father, thank you that grace starts with you. Thank you that you freely lavish your grace on us, sinners, who do not deserve it. May we stop trying to earn your grace, and instead, simply delight in it as it washes over us today. Amen.”

Monday, April 24
Galatians 1:1-5
Set Free

1 Paul, an apostle–not from men nor through man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead– 2 and all the brothers who are with me, To the churches of Galatia: 3 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, 4 who gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, 5 to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen. (Galatians 1:1-5)

The Book of Galatians is a book about Christian freedom. That is why it has been variously called the Magna Charta of Christian liberty, the declaration of Christian freedom, and even the rallying cry of the Reformation. Contained within the 6 chapters, Paul outlines what it means and looks like to live the life of freedom, which is only found in knowing Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.

Why did the Holy Spirit inspire Paul to write this book? The answer can be traced to Acts 15. Here we see a group of people, called Judaizers, troubling the new believers with a false teaching. If you wanted to be saved, then you must accept both Jesus and also the Jewish laws and customs. They were teaching a Jesus plus way of salvation. Now those same people are troubling the brethren in Galatia. (Compare Acts 15:24 with Galatians 1:6-7.)

Even today, Jesus plus salvation sounds right to us. We have a hard time believing salvation is a completely free work of God. We think we should have to do something to be saved: follow the law, good works, obey all of Jesus’ commands, give, be a missionary, and the list goes on. Those thoughts are a Jesus plus view of salvation. A Jesus plus view of salvation enslaves us to whatever we define as the plus. Jesus did not save us from the bondage of sin and legalistic obedience to the law to then enslave us to a new law. Jesus set us free from the bondage of sin and legalism when He saved us. “For freedom Christ has set us free” (Gal. 5:1). For freedom Christ has set YOU free. Galatians inspires us to live as the free people we are.

“Father, thank you for setting us free. Thank you for the true freedom we have in Jesus Christ. May we live today, tomorrow, and every day until we see Your face as the free people we are now. Amen.”

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