Today’s reading included Galatians 3. I am challenged each time I read this chapter – it is one of my favorite chapters of Scripture (but then I think I write something like that in every blog!).

1You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified. 2I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by observing the law, or by believing what you heard? 3Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort? 4Have you suffered so much for nothing—if it really was for nothing? 5Does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you because you observe the law, or because you believe what you heard?

6Consider Abraham: “He believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.” 7Understand, then, that those who believe are children of Abraham.
Galatians 3:1-7

Paul speaks to me and says “Foolish Sandy! Are you so easily deceived? Did you receive the Lord by your good works or by believing that Jesus is the Son of God and that He died for your sins? If God provides salvation through His Son Jesus, won’t He provide all else through Him? Are you trying to earn those other things on your own?”

And I am challenged to let go of striving and take hold of faith. I am challenged to see that my efforts are a slap in the face or a turning of my back on the One who gives freely.

Paul goes on to explain to the Galatians and to me, that the promises of God came to the Hebrews, not through the law, but through His covenant with Abraham. It is not obedience to the law that enables them to receive the promises of God, it is through the covenant that God initiated and made with them. Similarly, it is not through my works that I will receive God’s promises and the inheritance He has promised me, it is through the new covenant He has initiated with me.

1When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the LORD appeared to him and said, “I am God Almighty; walk before me and be blameless. 2I will confirm my covenant between me and you and will greatly increase your numbers.”

3Abram fell facedown, and God said to him, 4“As for me, this is my covenant with you: You will be the father of many nations. 5No longer will you be called Abram; your name will be Abraham, for I have made you a father of many nations. 6I will make you very fruitful; I will make nations of you, and kings will come from you. 7I will establish my covenant as an everlasting covenant between me and you and your descendants after you for the generations to come, to be your God and the God of your descendants after you.”
Genesis 17:1-7

God initiated the covenant with Abraham – it is by God’s grace that the covenant was established – His choosing, His reaching to Abraham, His goodness. It was not because of Abraham’s efforts or goodness that he became a party to the covenant, an inheritor of the promises.

God told Abraham to leave his country, his people and his father’s household and “go to the land I will show you” (Genesis 12:1). Scripture records simply “So Abram left, as the Lord had told him” (Genesis 12:4a). Abraham demonstrated his faith by leaving all that was familiar and following the Lord.

Likewise, God initiated His covenant with me by His grace. I didn’t go to God and ask for Christ to die for me. I didn’t reach out to Him before He reached out to me.

9This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 10This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.
1 John 4:9-10

I demonstrate my faith the same way Abraham demonstrated his faith – by leaving what I know and following God. By saying “Yes, Lord” with my feet and my hands and my heart and my head.

Recognize that following and saying “yes, Lord” means that we are not walking in front of Him, rather He is walking in front of us. And it doesn’t mean that the responsibility for the success of any one thing or everything I am doing doesn’t live or die with me. To believe that it does – or to act in such a way that reveals that I believe it does – puts me in the ranks of the foolish Galatians.

However, when I understand that my actions demonstrate the faith that I have and when I grab hold of the confidence that God has given me His many promises – where is there room for striving? There is none. There is only room for faithful obedience. Faithful obedience has reflects that we know that we know that we know that God is in control and there is no place and no need for my striving. Faithful obedience is full of hope and confidence that each step is a step toward the good things that God has prepared in advance for us to do.

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

God has prepared the works for us to do, friends, and He has prepared us to do them. There is no place for striving in it. Reading this passage this morning prompted me to pray. Including that prayer seems an appropriate way to end this blog. I hope that it is your prayer as well.

Lord, thank You for Your grace. I am awed and humbled and blessed beyond measure by it. Thank you for releasing me from the need for striving. Forgive me when I forget that it’s all about You and all about Your plans. And beyond that, Lord, forgive me when I make it about me by trying to achieve on my own. Help me to apprehend the life you have created me to live not through earthly means, but by following You.

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