Rigtheousness: It’s the goal for every Christian. How do we reach that goal? What resources do we have to help us be successful?
Key verse: For through the Spirit, by faith, we ourselves eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness. For in Christ neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love. Galatians 5:5&6.
Righteous, Forever by Faith
Righteousness, according to this verse, means proper. What is proper to God, or deemed by God to be “right” or approved in His eyes. While the Galatians had initially been made right by faith, they tried to continue on by human tradition and understanding.
Which of us would ever count on circumcision as a means to receive God’s favour? That idea seems ridiculous, doesn’t it? In North America, medical issues are of the few reasonable explanations for circumcision. Yet, don’t be fooled! Just because you and I aren’t mutilating our flesh to make ourselves (more) acceptable to God, doesn’t mean we aren’t trying to manipulate Him.
At any given time, we will rely on our own means to righteousness. We know we are justified by faith in Jesus and His shed blood. However, forever righteous only by faith? Come on! There must be something I can do to fix myself.
By No Other Means
When Paul told the Galatians they had severed themselves from Christ (vs:4); they had fallen away from grace; he didn’t mean they were no longer saved. However, their decision to continue on by works did reveal their lack of faith.
Perhaps they had grown impatient. Maybe they were bored with God’s process. Whatever the reason, they decided to take this righteousness thing into their own hands. Surely, if God saw the Galatians mutilating themselves for His sake, He would have more compassion. His presence would be more tangible, more frequent, more fulfilling. Their reward even greater.
It’s important to recognize; the Galatians had faith. But it was in their own works. How ’bout you? Please hear me; this does not mean we don’t need to work. Many people claim to have faith but their priorities indicate otherwise. James 2:26 reminds us that faith without works is like a body without a spirit – dead! However, that one verse is often taken out of context. It becomes another works-based system.
There is no other means. To be saved, to continue being sanctified, requires only one thing: the righteous must live by faith! Romans 1:17.
Questions To Ask Ourselves:
- 1. Why do I really go to church
2. What’s my motivation for serving at church
3. Through prayer, what do I really hope to accomplish
4. When I’m convicted of my sin, what is my true inner regret
5. After a personal failure, how and when do I return to God
Developing good spiritual disciplines is a really good idea. IF it’s done for the right reasons. I don’t know about you, but I often begin for the right reasons. However, like the Galatians, I get derailed. In Romans 10:3, Paul said, For they [Israel] just did not understand God’s way of making people right with Himself. They refused to accept God’s way, they cling to their own way of getting right with God. NLT.
To put this in context, read your Bible because you believe God speaks through His word. Pray as though you believe God is really listening. Confess and repent because your sin has grieved the God you love. Just remember, those actions don’t make you a better Christian! Only Christ can do that for you.
Wait For It
Avoid the Starbucks line-up? Mobile order. Traffic backed up? Google will give you an alternate route. Sick of the waiting through health care delays? With privatized health care, you’ll get through sooner.
1.stay where one is or delay action until a particular time or until something else happens.
In North America, we’ve conditioned ourselves to avoid hold-ups. Why stay where we are at? We’re happy to pay a little more, in order to save precious time.
We can control and avoid all kinds of delays. The only thing we can’t seem to do is control/avoid God’s timing! Wait for it, we must!
The Danger of Our Impatience
On December 18, 2017, an Amtrak train carrying 77 passengers was derailed near DuPont, Washington. Train cars dangled over Interstate 5, injuring 8 people on the ground. On board, there were multiple injuries and 3 fatalities. It was the train’s inaugural run.
Two contributing factors stood out immediately; 1) it was reported that the conductor was in the process of familiarizing himself with the route. 2). Speed. The train was traveling at an estimated speed of 78mph in a 30mph zone. Up until the accident point, the speed limit was 80. At the last moment, the conductor noticed the speed reduction, applying the brakes too late.
The route was designed to shave 10 minutes off of the four(ish) hour commute between Seattle and Portland. I’m mystified. On a four hour commute, what difference does 10 minutes really make?
We want perfection and we want it NOW! The world should be a better place. People should be different. I SHOULD BE DIFFERENT! I’m impatient and impulsive. Why wait for God?
- 1. In which ways do you typically try to usurp God’s timing?
Look up Hosea 12:6
2. How often are you instructed to wait for the Lord?
Read Psalm 24:7
3. What does it require from you to wait for the LORD?
4. What does the LORD long to do?
5. Why is He delaying?
6. What is our hope during the wait?
7. According to our key verse, how are we to wait?
8. From these verses (you’re welcome to do your own search) what is the best way to expedite God’s process?
We do try hard to bypass the waiting. In our own understanding, by our own means. It’s a soul-exhausting, futile effort. Try as hard as you like, you can’t not rush God.
- Isaiah 40:31
9. What is your hope in the waiting?
Friend, this is our inaugural run. We’ve never been on this journey before. How can we possibly think we can speed things up, when we don’t the way? Impatience will only serve to derail us. Perhaps it is better to GO SLOW!
Our Hopeless State
Hope? Our planet is being shaken violently. And the earth groans. The land and vegetation are beginning to wither. Our resources are drying up. The temperature is too hot or too cold. Too dry or too wet. The air isn’t fit to breathe. Even the animals are dying a slow and painful death.
We were kicked out of the Garden of Eden because of sin. Ever since, we’ve been trying to create our own utopia. However, there is no Goldilocks outcome. No fairytale happily-ever-after. Nothing will ever be just right – here!
People are self-righteous, self-centred, and mean-spirited. Morality is almost non-existent. Everyone decides what’s right in their own eyes. They’ve turned their backs on God. And that’s just in the church, never mind what the world is doing.
Our ONLY Hope
I can’t even count myself separate from “them”. I want to do what is right, but I always seem to do the wrong. There’s no self-help strategy to fix my messed up soul. I remind myself: there is no one coming. No government official. No human – king, queen, president, or CEO – man or woman – to set this world right.
Physically, mentally, spiritually, I ache all over. Inconsolably, I long for Heaven. Maranatha, I cry. Sometime I wonder, “will we ever be delivered? Is Christ actually coming back, or has He forgotten us?”
Of course, I know the answer. My hope is not here. Not yet. But soon. Our Only Hope is in Christ, and He’s waiting patiently, for those who will yet turn to Him.
- Philippians 1:6
1. What did God begin?
2. In whom?
3. When will His good work be complete?
This verse has become one of my most precious promises. I am convinced; the patient, prolonged return of Christ is also on account of me! Jesus said, “blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness”. My faith gives me confidence that what I hope for [righteousness] will come to pass. IF I wait for Him!
Faith. Wait. Hope. I do not want to give up! Do you?
Faith Expressed Through Love
We read in chapter 4 of how Paul ended up in Galatia. An “unexpected” condition. It wasn’t Paul’s plan to be in Galatia, but it was God’s, and Paul knew it. Seizing the opportunity, Paul shared the Gospel with the Galatians and a revival broke out. WOW.
- Galatians 4:12-15
1. In verse 14, Paul said, “I know my condition was a ________ to you.”
The word trial comes from the Greek word, peirasmos. It means an experiment. It was both a temptation and a test. In other words, Paul’s condition was inflicted by Satan and used by God – as a test!
- 2. In this situation, who was tested?
If you said the Galatians, you’re right. If you said Paul, also right!
- 3. From verse 14, how did Paul expect the Galatians to react to caring for him?
4. When faced with these types of circumstances (your own sickness, or caring for another) what is your first reaction?
5. How did Paul perceive his condition?
6. Instead of a burden, how did the Galatians receive Paul?
I’m touched by Paul’s words, “You treated me like an angel, as if I was Christ Jesus.” Whatever you do for the least of these…
Not Without Cost:
I’ve had a disquieting week. Last Wednesday evening, we received a call. Kelly (my husband) had an uncle who was on life support. He subsequently passed away. To the best of my knowledge, he had no faith in Christ. Before he passed, however, we had a short time to pray for Uncle Doug. I’m thankful for that opportunity.
We hadn’t seen Doug for years. There’s no wife or kids. He outlived all of his siblings – including Kelly’s dad. He was a bit of a loner. Doug lived a slightly dysfunctional lifestyle. All other living relatives were estranged from him. My heart grieves to think the man died alone.
It’s what came next that blindsided me; the hospital called and asked us to claim his remains. There’s also an apartment and his belongings to deal with. A tax return and other paperwork to file. He had no money, so there’s a financial cost. It’s a five hour trip across a snowy mountain-range in order to deal with his small estate.
A New Perspective
As the information and expectations kept coming, I felt even more overwhelmed. Then, almost in a flash-vision, I saw the privilege. As if I was standing at the foot of the cross, receiving Jesus’ own dead body. To care for Uncle Doug’s last earthly needs, is to care for Christ Himself. I’m humbled.
Please see this attitude-shift as a miracle. It’s not of my own willingness. I confess, my first thought was, “why us?” The Galatians are an inspiration to me. Please pray that I won’t get derailed by self-serving motives. I’m prone to do that.
With that in mind, I remember, it was of great personal cost to the Galatians that they took care of Paul. In his time of need, they literally would have gauged out their own eyes, if it would have helped Paul. That is faith expressed through love. How do we reach our goal?
Faith. Wait. Hope. Love.
Righteousness: It’s the goal for every Christian
What is our goal? Righteousness! There’s no “get righteous quick” scheme. Try to speed it up, you’ll get derailed. Try to do it on your own, you’ll surely fail.
Billy Graham passed away last week. He said, “Being a Christian is more than just an instantaneous conversion – it is a daily process whereby you grow to be more and more like Christ.” I’m jealous! God’s work is now complete in Billy.
Let’s be like Billy. Wait for God to complete our righteousness. God has promised that He will complete the good work HE began. Faith Wait. Hope. Love. Repeat, until you arrive in heaven.
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