Saturday, 11 Jan 2020
The Season of Epiphany
+ In the Name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Opening: (A Collect for Epiphany)
O God, by the leading of a star you manifested your only Son to the peoples of the earth: Lead us, who know you now by faith, to your presence, where we may see your glory face to face; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
Reading: Galatians 1 (NLT)
Greetings from Paul
This letter is from Paul, an apostle. I was not appointed by any group of people or any human authority, but by Jesus Christ himself and by God the Father, who raised Jesus from the dead.
All the brothers and sisters here join me in sending this letter to the churches of Galatia.
May God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ give you grace and peace. Jesus gave his life for our sins, just as God our Father planned, in order to rescue us from this evil world in which we live. All glory to God forever and ever! Amen.
There Is Only One Good News
I am shocked that you are turning away so soon from God, who called you to himself through the loving mercy of Christ. You are following a different way that pretends to be the Good News but is not the Good News at all. You are being fooled by those who deliberately twist the truth concerning Christ.
Let God’s curse fall on anyone, including us or even an angel from heaven, who preaches a different kind of Good News than the one we preached to you. I say again what we have said before: If anyone preaches any other Good News than the one you welcomed, let that person be cursed.
Obviously, I’m not trying to win the approval of people, but of God. If pleasing people were my goal, I would not be Christ’s servant.
Paul’s Message Comes from Christ
Dear brothers and sisters, I want you to understand that the gospel message I preach is not based on mere human reasoning. I received my message from no human source, and no one taught me. Instead, I received it by direct revelation from Jesus Christ.
You know what I was like when I followed the Jewish religion—how I violently persecuted God’s church. I did my best to destroy it. I was far ahead of my fellow Jews in my zeal for the traditions of my ancestors.
But even before I was born, God chose me and called me by his marvelous grace. Then it pleased him to reveal his Son to me so that I would proclaim the Good News about Jesus to the Gentiles.
When this happened, I did not rush out to consult with any human being. Nor did I go up to Jerusalem to consult with those who were apostles before I was. Instead, I went away into Arabia, and later I returned to the city of Damascus.
Then three years later I went to Jerusalem to get to know Peter, and I stayed with him for fifteen days. The only other apostle I met at that time was James, the Lord’s brother. I declare before God that what I am writing to you is not a lie.
After that visit I went north into the provinces of Syria and Cilicia. And still the churches in Christ that are in Judea didn’t know me personally. All they knew was that people were saying, “The one who used to persecute us is now preaching the very faith he tried to destroy!” And they praised God because of me.
The Good News of God’s Grace
Jesus gave his life for our sins, just as God our Father planned,
in order to rescue us from this evil world in which we live.
– Galatians 1:4 –
Introduction: Paul wrote to the churches of Galatia in response to Jews who claimed to be Christians and wanted Christians to submit to the authority of the Mosaic Law. Paul’s critics attempted to discredit him personally, claiming that his message was derived from human reasoning. In response Paul asserts that his message comes from Christ Himself.
What is the message that Paul has been given? It’s a message of “grace.”
“When Paul prays for grace on his friends, it is as if he said, ‘May the beauty of the wonder of the undeserved love of God be on you, so that it will make your life lovely too.’“ (William Barclay)
We are recipients of God’s grace because “Jesus gave his life for our sins.”
The purpose of Jesus’ self-sacrifice was that He might deliver us out of the control of this present evil age, the world system that dominates our present age. We are in the world, but we are free to live apart from the evil that dominates it thanks to Christ’s work for us.
Questions for consideration:
- What does God’s grace [God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense] mean to you? Please explain.
- Has legalism (obeying certain rules) ever robbed you of the joy of living by grace? Please explain.
- Paul views the world in which we live as evil. How do worldly values affect you? Please explain.
- Where do you personally need freedom offered through the loving mercy of Christ? Please explain.
Prayer: For God’s Grace
Thank you Heavenly Father for the great grace and love that You have poured out abundantly on me through Your Son, Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for my sins.
+ Give me the grace to truly accept that You have forgiven all my sins – past, present and future.
+Give me the grace to walk in newness of life in Christ, through the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit.
+ Give me the grace to rejoice in Your goodness and loving kindness towards me – past, present and future.
+ Give me the grace to I need to face my difficulties and the burdens of the day with confidence and joy.
+ Give me the grace to demonstrate the love of Christ under all circumstances to all people.
+ Give me the grace to rely on the strength and power of Christ, especially when I’m at my weakest.
+ Give me the grace to sacrifice what I want for myself, for what You want for me.
+ Give me the grace to embrace my advancing years with grace and enthusiasm, making every day count.
Heavenly Father: as an ambassador of heaven I pray that I may reflect Christ’s beauty and grace to others. May decrease in the sight of others so that He may increase in every area of my life – this I ask in Jesus name, Amen
“Grace To Grace” – Hillsong Worship
May the peace of the Lord Christ go with you, wherever He may send you. May He guide you through the wilderness, and protect you through the storm. May He bring you home rejoicing at the wonders He has shown you. May He bring you home rejoicing once again into our doors.
+ In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen