Before Emmaline started her first week of kindergarten, my mom gave her a special gift. It was a necklace, very similar to the one she had had as a child. When my mom was younger, she had worn a necklace that she treasured that she held close around her neck, especially when times were tough. It was a mustard seed necklace and my mom shared with Emmaline about having faith as small as a mustard seed was still enough to get her through tough times. She told Emmaline to squeeze it tight and remember that if she was nervous that first week of school, or didn’t know the answer, or didn’t have a friend nearby, she could squeeze that necklace pendant and know that even the smallest bit of faith made a world of difference. And that God would be with her.
This past Sunday, Pastor David preached on faith and how it manifests itself in our walk with Jesus. We watched a clip from the movie, O Brother Where Art Thou, of the scene of a community river baptism. We asked the question together as a church if having faith was all there is. In other words, is it just about belief or does Jesus require more of us.
Galatians 2:15-21 was our Scripture text on Sunday morning where we talked about the Apostle Paul’s words to both his original audience and the way his words speak directly to our hearts today. We reflected on our own sin and contemplated how we had missed the mark. For whatever reason, in our Post-Christian world mindset, we really don’t like to dwell on our sin or speak aloud how we have missed the mark. I will tell you though, I have only been up and functioning for about three hours now and I have already had to apologize and ask forgiveness from two people I love most, because I miss the mark more times than I care to share. While early on in ministry I struggled to admit my failures or show my weaknesses, I have learned over 11 years of being a pastor and almost 8 years of counseling and Spiritual Direction, just how life-giving the naming of sin and the admittance of failures can be. This is part of why I will always encourage using the Confession and Pardon liturgy during our sacrament of Holy Communion. Here are the words again:
We confess that we have not loved you with our whole heart.
We have failed to be an obedient church.
We have not done your will,
we have broken your law,
we have rebelled against your love,
we have not loved our neighbors,
and we have not heard the cries of the needy.
FORGIVE US we pray.
FREE US for joyful obedience
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
A goal for our Reset sermon series is to read through the entire book of Galatians as a church family. We invite you to participate in the scripture devotional below.
Galatians 2:1-21 NIV
Paul Accepted by the Apostles
2 Then after fourteen years, I went up again to Jerusalem, this time with Barnabas. I took Titus along also. 2 I went in response to a revelation and, meeting privately with those esteemed as leaders, I presented to them the gospel that I preach among the Gentiles. I wanted to be sure I was not running and had not been running my race in vain. 3 Yet not even Titus, who was with me, was compelled to be circumcised, even though he was a Greek. 4 This matter arose because some false believers had infiltrated our ranks to spy on the freedom we have in Christ Jesus and to make us slaves. 5 We did not give in to them for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel might be preserved for you.
6 As for those who were held in high esteem—whatever they were makes no difference to me; God does not show favoritism—they added nothing to my message. 7 On the contrary, they recognized that I had been entrusted with the task of preaching the gospel to the uncircumcised,[a] just as Peter had been to the circumcised.[b] 8 For God, who was at work in Peter as an apostle to the circumcised, was also at work in me as an apostle to the Gentiles. 9 James, Cephas[c] and John, those esteemed as pillars, gave me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship when they recognized the grace given to me. They agreed that we should go to the Gentiles, and they to the circumcised. 10 All they asked was that we should continue to remember the poor, the very thing I had been eager to do all along.
Paul Opposes Cephas
11 When Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. 12 For before certain men came from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles. But when they arrived, he began to draw back and separate himself from the Gentiles because he was afraid of those who belonged to the circumcision group. 13 The other Jews joined him in his hypocrisy, so that by their hypocrisy even Barnabas was led astray.
14 When I saw that they were not acting in line with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas in front of them all, “You are a Jew, yet you live like a Gentile and not like a Jew. How is it, then, that you force Gentiles to follow Jewish customs?
15 “We who are Jews by birth and not sinful Gentiles 16 know that a person is not justified by the works of the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in[d] Christ and not by the works of the law, because by the works of the law no one will be justified.
17 “But if, in seeking to be justified in Christ, we Jews find ourselves also among the sinners, doesn’t that mean that Christ promotes sin? Absolutely not! 18 If I rebuild what I destroyed, then I really would be a lawbreaker.
19 “For through the law I died to the law so that I might live for God. 20 I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. 21 I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!”
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Galatians 2:1-21 (NRSV and The Message)
Has your present ever been slowed down by your past? Do you find yourself reliving certain situations or scenarios from your past that you wish were handled differently? Do you live in the past, or do you live in the present?
When I read and re-read the second chapter of Galatians, I can’t help but feel for the Apostle Paul. He is struggling to live in the present, but the new believers he is trying to teach and disciple keep him going in circles and having to relive the past. We all know people like that. The game begins at the end of chapter 1, verse 18 when Paul begins recounting his ministry experience from three years ago. Then in this chapter, chapter 2, he dives even further back to 14 years ago when he first began preaching the Gospel to the Gentiles. He is doing all of this to defend himself and his character. Paul is clearly frustrated but trying to explain, that he has been at Gospel-Proclaiming a long time and has not wavered; they are the ones going astray.
What were you doing 14 years ago? I was finishing my Junior year of college and arguing with God about what was next. I had heard my call into ministry at age 14 at Warren W. Willis Summer Camp but had run away from it. And so, by this point, I was tired of running and I was ready to strike a deal with the Creator of the Universe (not my wisest moment). I told God that if God wanted me to be a pastor, God would have to not just open doors, but fling open the windows as well. You all know what happened next. I started the Candidacy Process, began meeting with my mentor, and let the dream of being a Music Minister go. I started researching seminaries and planned a Spring Break road trip with my friend Casey to visit United Methodist seminaries in the South East. You know, just the “normal” thing that every College Junior spends her Spring Break doing at age twenty-one! The rest, they say, is history. But that is what I was doing 14 years ago. While I am not in the same place that the Apostle Paul was in, it helps me to remember what God was doing in my life in that season.
For Paul, in Galatians chapter 2, he is reflecting on his past and remembering the struggles and the challenges he had to overcome and he is citing this in his letter to offer validity to everything else he has worked to establish. How very frustrating, but how very human of him too. Sometimes we live in the past because someone else has dragged us there. Sometimes we revisit the past because we have to help others know that we mean business. And other times we creep back to the past of our former lives because we need help remembering what God has been at work doing from the beginning.
I don’t know which past you revisit or how long you stay there, but here is my question. What is God teaching you as you look back on who you used to be and what you used to be about? Was that different 14 years ago and how was it different? Each year we get a chance to reflect on the person we are becoming as the Holy Spirit works within us. I invite you to spend a little time today reflecting on your past; what you learned, what you took for granted, what relationships you built up, and which ones you let go of. And then I invite you to read aloud this Scripture from The Message version of the text and spend time with it in prayer this week.
“ 19-21 What actually took place is this: I tried keeping rules and working my head off to please God, and it didn’t work. So I quit being a “law man” so that I could be God’s man. Christ’s life showed me how, and enabled me to do it. I identified myself completely with him. Indeed, I have been crucified with Christ. My ego is no longer central. It is no longer important that I appear righteous before you or have your good opinion, and I am no longer driven to impress God. Christ lives in me. The life you see me living is not “mine,” but it is lived by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I am not going to go back on that.” Galatians 2:19-21 The Message
As you reflect on the past you have lived, what you learned and how you grew, can you see where God was in the midst of those moments? Are you able to say, who I am now is not who I once was and “I am not going to go back on that!”
In the name of the Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer. The God of our past, our present, and our future.
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In this series, we are going back to the basics with a deep dive into the book of Galatians. Over the next nine weeks, we will explore topics including salvation in the gospel, justification by faith, the sufficiency of Christ, and what it means to walk by the Holy Spirit. Join us as we RESET our faith TOGETHER. Learn more about our worship services here.
Hit The Surface!
There will be a weekly reading from the Book of Galatians to follow along with this sermon series. Our pastors will also provide devotionals each Tuesday and Wednesday for us to learn more. Make sure to subscribe to our church-wide e-newsletter here.
A goal for this is to read through the entire Book of Galatians together as a church family. Below are 3 reading options for you to follow along.
Option 1: One Time
Read or listen to the entire letter in one 30-60min sitting. There’s something extraordinary about reading or hearing the letters in the way they were intended to be heard in one reading.
Option 2: Weekly
- Week of Aug. 8: Galatians 1:1-24
- Week of Aug. 15: Galatians 2:1-21
- Week of Aug. 22: Galatians 3:1-18
- Week of Aug. 29: Galatians 3:19-29
- Week of Sept. 5: Galatians 4:1-20
- Week of Sept. 12: Galatians 4:21-5:15
- Week of Sept. 19: Galatians 5:16-26
- Week of Sept. 26: Galatians 6:1-18
Option 3: Daily
Spend time and pray over these short pieces of scripture. Listen to God. What is He telling you?
Please note, this section will be updated each Monday!
Week of September 26:
- Day 1: Galatians 6:1-2
- Day 2: Galatians 6:3-5
- Day 3: Galatians 6:6-10
- Day 4: Galatians 6:11-13
- Day 5: Galatians 6:14-18