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The Journal

Joy is our DNA

Jesus is interested in the vertical and the horizontal The Gospel of Jesus works in both a vertical and horizontal direction. God’s anger at our sin has been satisfied and turned away (propitiated) by the work of Jesus dying on the cross for our sin and receiving the punishment we deserve. This means that through God’s initiative our vertical relationship with God has been restored and so we can approach him with confidence and enjoy His friendship. But God’s work doesn’t stop there. Jesus through the power of the Gospel also reconciles us to other people who accept Christ. This is the horizontal dimension. In Paul’s letter to the Christians at Philippi he speaks of the partnership or fellowship which he has because of Jesus. God creates a family or a new community of people who experience God’s love and then learn to love other people. Paul says in 1:4-5 that he has joy because of the partnership which he has with the Christians at Philippi. This is not something which is achieved by us rather we share together in God’s grace - 1:7. Conversion to Christ teaches us to love other people and reach out to them. Paul speaks of longing for these other Christians and having an affection for them 1:8. This leads to him prayer to God that their love may grow. When we really grasp the Gospel we are brought into a new relationship with other Christians and they matter ! God’s Blessing Rev David O’Mara 

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Not rules but New Creation

Boasting only in the cross of Christ Today is our last message from the book of Galatians. Paul sums up his message by “writing in big letters” which in modern speak means that he is underlining the main point of his message to the Galatian Christians. His main point is that the death of Jesus is the heart of the Christian faith. In 6:14 he says that the only thing he wants to boast in or have confidence in is the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. Paul recognises that there is a power in the death of Jesus which when apprehended by faith leads to us being saved and delivered from judgement. We are set free from the values of the world. This is in contrast to the false teachers who are driven by wanting to impress people by what they do such as promoting circumcision. Paul refuses to do this and rather accepts the offence of the cross. The cross humbles us by exposing our pride & says the blood of Jesus alone saves. God’s Blessing Rev David O’Mara  

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Growing in holiness

God wants us to grow in holiness & provides the power to do so The book of Galatians is about justification by faith & the application of this. God expects and desires that we will grow in holiness. Growing as a Christian is hard work. Galatians 6:6-10 recognises that there is a spiritual battle between our old sinful nature and our new nature in Christ. Paul exhorts the Christians to resist sowing to please our sinful natures because this will lead to destruction. Rather we are to sow to please the Spirit. The good seed which God plants in us is His Word that can only produced His godly character of love and joy , peace and patience etc. But we must co-operate with God’s work in our lives by setting our mind on things above Colossians 3:1-2 and recognising that the life we live is by faith in the Son of God - 2:20. We must exercise faith to take hold of our new identity in Christ and repent of sin or wrong attitudes. Paul also instructs us that just like a farmer plants a crop and has to be patient for the crop to grow we also must not become weary in doing good but must be patient and trust God’s timing in HIs development of our character. We also notice that sowing to please the Spirit is shown by doing good to other people and serving them and loving them. God’s Blessing Rev David O’Mara 

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Relationships shaped by grace

Relationships shaped by grace  In Galatians 16-6:5  Paul is concerned that we live godly lives & do not allow sin to dominate our lives  5:16.  Faith in Jesus naturally affects how you live which includes your attitude toward God and your attitude to other people. There is a battle going on inside each of us between what God’s Spirit is leading us to do and what He is growing in us and what our old nature wants to hang onto.  Paul outlines the acts of our sinful nature 5:19-21 and contrasts this with the character which the Holy Spirit builds in us 5:22-23.  There is a warning that if we continue to indulge our sinful nature we may not inherit eternal life because we don’t belong to Jesus 5:21,23. The key to growing in godliness is not to try harder. Rather it is by faith to take hold of the work of Christ on the cross and that our sinful natures have been crucified with Christ. True conversion produces new desires in us through being given a new heart by the Spirit as He applies the benefits of Jesus’ death.  If we don’t live by the Spirit our old sinful nature will rise up and one of the consequences is that is that we struggle to live well with others - 5:26.  Paul instructs us 6:1-6 on how to help others when someone  is caught in sin. The emphasis in dealing with sin is on restoration and being gentle.  Our attitude to sin should be that it doesn’t surprise us when we see it in ourselves or in others but neither do we indulge it but seek to repent of it and seek God’s power to resist it. God’s Blessing Rev David O’Mara  

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The goal is love

The goal is love In Galatians 5:1-15 Paul reminds the Christians of who they are in Christ. They have freedom. They are free from condemnation, they are free from fear and guilt and so because of their new identity in Christ we are to stand firm and not allow ourselves to be burdened by the slavery of trying to obey the Law as a basis for acceptance before God. Standing firm is a military term and carries the idea of being vigilant and not letting yourself be robbed of Christ’s blessing through the lies of the devil. Anything other than faith alone in Christ is slavery. Jesus spoke about the yoke he gives which brings rest in Matthew 11. Jesus means that we rest from trying to prove ourselves or justify ourselves. If these Christians agree to be circumcised then they are committing themselves to obey the whole Law as the basis for salvation. The Christian life is lived through the power of the Spirit by faith. We make progress and grow in the Christian life in the same way that we first became followers of Jesus. It is through faith alone in what Jesus has done. We must not forget that we are righteous through faith v6. This new identity however is not an excuse to go about and sin. In fact if we have faith in Christ we have a new nature which is loved by God and so wants to please God because of the great security which we already have. Throughout this passage Paul highlights that our motive for doing things is very important. The Christian motivation is faith which expresses itself through love. True faith in Jesus leads to loving others. God’s Blessing Rev David O’Mara 

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Depending on God for righteousness

Depending on God for righteousness In Galatians 4:8-20 Paul is shocked that the Galatians are leaving the Gospel which brings freedom and listening to the false teachers. Before these people became Christians they were Gentile pagans and worshipped a variety of idols which affected every part of their life. In 4:8-9 Paul says that their desire to return to the basic principles of this world which are weak and miserable and have no power to change them is like embracing idolatry again. In 4:10 he indicates that these Christians are adopting special days and and seasons as a basis for their confidence before God. We are always tempted to trust in what we do to be right with God. The Bible says that at the Cross Jesus completed the work of salvation and we need do nothing else to be right with God except trust alone in what Christ has done. This is humbling because in life we are use to earning things and the importance of our performance for our sense of value. But with God it is all about grace. God’s Blessing Rev David O’Mara  

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The privilege of being God's children

Adopted children of God One of the most dynamic truths in the Bible is that God adopts us as His children through the work of the Holy Spirit. Paul uses the expression that we are clothed with Christ and equates this with being baptised into Christ 3:27. This union with Christ is expressed through God sending His Spirits into our hearts so that He calls out Abba Father. This means that we are God’s children who are safe and secure and can enjoy our relationship with Him and thrive. Our Christian faith is first and foremost based on what Christ has done. There is great joy in this because it means that we can experience God’s love for us personally. The work of Christ on the Cross is external but the work of the Spirit is internal and He impacts our whole being. Paul is indicating that the Spirit helps and enables us to call God our Father. Our adoption as children of God means that all God’s resources are available to us to enjoy and to strengthen us to follow Jesus. God’s Blessing Rev David O’Mara  

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Promise and fulfilment

Promise and fulfilment one way to get a handle on understanding the Bible is to use the framework of promise and fulfilment. In Galatians 3:15-25 Paul teaches us that before the Law came God initiated the relationship with Abraham through a promise of blessing to those who put their faith in God and His promises. We are taught that the blessings we receive from God are not achieved by obeying the Law. Paul establishes the logic of this teaching by explaining that the promises to Abraham came before the Law. In 3:18 he teaches that our relationship with God is based on grace or God’s undeserved favour towards us. So much of life is built on earning and deserving god things but the Bible says that God operates differently. He invites us into a relationship with Him based on the promises He gave to Abraham. Importantly these promises to Abraham find their fulfilment in Jesus who is able to give life. The Law shows us our need of forgiveness of sins through Jesus. But the Law has no power to forgive sin and to change our lives. This means that because these promises find fulfilment in Christ when we put our faith in Jesus we find God’s favour because of what Christ has done. We no longer have to strive to win approval with God or justify our existence because God loves us and offers us the opportunity of eternal life and a relationship with Him based on His promise - a gift. There is nothing more secure than this because God doesn’t break His promises. God’s Blessing Rev David O’Mara 

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Gospel Impact

Gospel Impact today we welcome Rev Ted Brush from BCA. Ted will be sharing about the ministry of BCA supporting Gospel workers throughout Australia. We already support James and Brittany Daymond who serve in Narromine with BCA. The opening of John 1:1-18 sounds like Genesis and this is intentional because God is doing something new and momentous and creative, even greater than the creation of the world. He is sending the word of God who we understand in 1:14 is Jesus Himself who became flesh. There is a mystery about the opening 4 verses because the Word is separate from God and yet is God and is also with God. This is the doctrine of the Trinity being described and especially as later in 1:32 we learn of the Spirit descending on Jesus at His baptism. We learn in these verses that we were made by God for God. Jesus is the source of all life and it is clear that if we reject or ignore Jesus we are cutting ourselves off from the source of life. That is why this world and we as people are not functioning well because we have not recognised Jesus and have not received Him 1:10-11 and mess up ourselves and others. Yet the passage is very hopeful because God offers us the incredible privilege of being His children through faith in Him and the work of the Spirit 1:12. This is why organisations such as BCA put such a strong emphasis on telling people about Jesus through the Word of God where there is little Gospel ministry. We are reminded in 1:14,18 that we can know God because Jesus comes close to us and reveals Himself us. God’s Blessing Rev David O’Mara  

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Gospel Impact

Gospel Impact in chapters 1-2 Paul has explained that the Gospel he preaches is from God and is not made up and that he must at all costs stand up for the truth of the Gospel - see 2:5,14. Now in chapter 3:1-14 Paul addresses the Galatians that when they first heard the message of Christ crucified it made a deep impact. The use of the word “clearly” is from a Greek word meaning graphically and when combined with the phrase “before your very eyes” Paul is indicating that then message of Jesus touched them deeply. Paul uses the term “eyes” in Ephesians 1:18 when praying for the eyes of the hearts of believers to be opened to the hope of Christ - that they will have and experience eternal life. The preaching of the Cross is accompanied by the work of the Spirit which results in our adoption as God’s children. Our most powerful experience of the Spirit is when we experience God’s love as His children being free of condemnation. Paul says we receive this gift through faith 3:8. He explains justification by referring to Abraham 3:6 who we remember was justified by faith or credited with righteousness - Genesis 15:6. To be justified is synonymous with being blessed and means to have God’s favour. We can’t be justified by obeying the law 3:10-11 because none of us actually obeys the law. He urges us to trust in what Christ has done in dying for our sins alone. God’s Blessing Rev David O’Mara 

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