Grace: 2

‘Do not nullify the grace of God.’ Galatians 2:21

Chuck Swindoll says that believers are often intolerant ‘of those who don’t fit our mould—an attitude that reveals itself in the stoic stare or caustic comment. Such reactions will thin the church ranks faster than fire in the basement or flu in the pew. Paul rebuked the Galatians for “deserting Christ” (see 1:6), “nullifying the grace of God” (see 2:21), and becoming “bewitched by legalism” (see 3:1)… Sure, there are limits to freedom. Grace does not condone licence… The opposite of legalism isn’t “do as you please”. But the limitations are broader than most of us realise. I can’t believe, for example, the only music God smiles on is highbrow or hymns… Nor do I believe the necessary garment for entering the Veil is a suit and tie… Let’s remember who gets wrought up over outward appearances. It’s not God! He “looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7 NASB)… Jesus reserved His strongest and longest sermon… for… legalists—present-day Pharisees. When it came to self-righteous showing off, Jesus pulled no punches. He found it was the only way to deal with those who hung around places of worship disdaining and despising others. No less than seven times He pronounced “Woe to you”, because that’s the only language a Pharisee understands…

Two final comments:

(1) If you tend towards Phariseeism in any form, stop it! If you’re the type who bullies and looks down on others… you’re a twentieth-century Pharisee.

(2) When modern-day Pharisees try to control your life, stop them. Remind those religious phonies that the splinter in your eye is between you and God, and they should pay attention to the tree trunk in their own eye.’

SoulFood: Phil 1–4, Mark 2:1–12, Ps 43, Pr 10:10

word4today an adaptation of The Word For Today is authored by Bob and Debby Gass and published under licence from UCB International Copyright © 2021

Today’s Readings

Philippians 1–2:22

1:1 Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus,

To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are at Philippi, with the overseers and deacons:

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. It is right for me to feel this way about you all, because I hold you in my heart, for you are all partakers with me of grace, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel. For God is my witness, how I yearn for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus. And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, 10 so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, 11 filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.

12 I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel, 13 so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard and to all the rest that my imprisonment is for Christ. 14 And most of the brothers, having become confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.

15 Some indeed preach Christ from envy and rivalry, but others from good will. 16 The latter do it out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. 17 The former proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely but thinking to afflict me in my imprisonment. 18 What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice.

Yes, and I will rejoice, 19 for I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance, 20 as it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death. 21 For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. 22 If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. 23 I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. 24 But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account. 25 Convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all, for your progress and joy in the faith, 26 so that in me you may have ample cause to glory in Christ Jesus, because of my coming to you again.

27 Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel, 28 and not frightened in anything by your opponents. This is a clear sign to them of their destruction, but of your salvation, and that from God. 29 For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake, 30 engaged in the same conflict that you saw I had and now hear that I still have.

2:1 So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

12 Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.

14 Do all things without grumbling or disputing, 15 that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, 16 holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain. 17 Even if I am to be poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrificial offering of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all. 18 Likewise you also should be glad and rejoice with me.

19 I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you soon, so that I too may be cheered by news of you. 20 For I have no one like him, who will be genuinely concerned for your welfare. 21 For they all seek their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ. 22 But you know Timothy’s proven worth, how as a son with a father he has served with me in the gospel.

Mark 2:1–12

2:1 And when he returned to Capernaum after some days, it was reported that he was at home. And many were gathered together, so that there was no more room, not even at the door. And he was preaching the word to them. And they came, bringing to him a paralytic carried by four men. And when they could not get near him because of the crowd, they removed the roof above him, and when they had made an opening, they let down the bed on which the paralytic lay. And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” Now some of the scribes were sitting there, questioning in their hearts, “Why does this man speak like that? He is blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?” And immediately Jesus, perceiving in his spirit that they thus questioned within themselves, said to them, “Why do you question these things in your hearts? Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise, take up your bed and walk’? 10 But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he said to the paralytic—11 “I say to you, rise, pick up your bed, and go home.” 12 And he rose and immediately picked up his bed and went out before them all, so that they were all amazed and glorified God, saying, “We never saw anything like this!”

Psalm 43

43:1   Vindicate me, O God, and defend my cause
    against an ungodly people,
  from the deceitful and unjust man
    deliver me!
  For you are the God in whom I take refuge;
    why have you rejected me?
  Why do I go about mourning
    because of the oppression of the enemy?
  Send out your light and your truth;
    let them lead me;
  let them bring me to your holy hill
    and to your dwelling!
  Then I will go to the altar of God,
    to God my exceeding joy,
  and I will praise you with the lyre,
    O God, my God.
  Why are you cast down, O my soul,
    and why are you in turmoil within me?
  Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
    my salvation and my God.

Proverbs 10:10

10   Whoever winks the eye causes trouble,
    and a babbling fool will come to ruin.

Thu 15 April, 2021


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