- INTRO - In the last two weeks Jennifer and I enjoyed the western Caribbean. Just prior to that, the last Sunday in this pulpit, I confessed how even pastors, using myself as in illustration, need to confess sin. Most especially, if I expect to follow Paul’s example, “become as I am” we noted in Gal. 4:12, I must always come clean with you my church brothers and sisters.In addition, upon our return, I took advantage of Don filling the pulpit in my absence, I hear he preached wonderfully by the way and I know you all treated him kindly. In addition, I put on my Associational Missions Strategist hat and visited a church plant that meets in the Minneola Elementary School. It was so great seeing this church plant already exceeding 130, nearly all younger people, in number. God is busy working in our community.Back to confessing, just one more confession before we take off again in our study of the book of Galatians, as much as I love you, I confess that I really wanted to remain in the Caribbean; it was so beautiful :-)But, now that I am here, it is great to see your smiling faces, love you.TRANS - Let’s begin with reading our text and then take time to pray.I beg of you, brethren, become as I am, for I also have become as you are. You have done me no wrong; but you know that it was because of a bodily illness that I preached the gospel to you the first time; and that which was a trial to you in my bodily condition you did not despise or loathe, but you received me as an angel of God, as Christ Jesus Himself. Where then is that sense of blessing you had? For I bear you witness that, if possible, you would have plucked out your eyes and given them to me. So have I become your enemy by telling you the truth? They eagerly seek you, not commendably, but they wish to shut you out so that you will seek them. But it is good always to be eagerly sought in a commendable manner, and not only when I am present with you. My children, with whom I am again in labor until Christ is formed in you— but I could wish to be present with you now and to change my tone, for I am perplexed about you.The Outline Bible puts this passage into a section entitled “Paul’s ‘Heart’ Words”
PAUL’S “HEART” WORDS (4:8–20)
A. The rebuke (4:8–11): Again he faults them for their return to legalism.
B. The review (4:12–18)
1. Paul reminds them that they once were his friends (4:12–15).
2. Paul wants to know if they are now his foes (4:16–18).
C. The rebirth (4:19–20): Paul will again suffer the pains of childbirth until Christ is fully developed in them.Today we are focusing on the review where Paul reminds them they were once friends, not turned foes. In addition, we’ll look at what the Outline Bible labeled “The Rebirth” in the last two verses.This passage teaches us that the solution is imitation; that is imitating Paul as he imitates Jesus.If you recall, we discussed the way forward is not standing still or going back, but is only moving in the right direction.Paul would have us pick up and follow him following Jesus. BTW, being a Jesus follower is the way forward for all of God’s children.Look at how Paul helps the Galatians get moving in the right direction:I beg of you, brethren, become as I am, for I also have become as you are. You have done me no wrong;Paul is urging the people to join him, not some stranger, but one who is with them in every way.The Galatians are in crisis and Paul is not abandoning them, but showing them the path forward.Our passage is far more than understanding words; its about taking action.The Galatians must agree to Paul’s gospel and walk his gospel-rooted way of life.Galatians has much to say about theological matters. Recall the Judaizers preach a faulty gospel that Paul had to confront in the last few chapters.But the problem is the faulty theology leads the people to practice a cowardly lifestyle; they are not willing to imitate Paul as he suffers for Jesus.The Galatians gave up on being Jesus followers. They seek their own desire in order to make their voice the one heard. They make the same mistake Herod did in silencing the voice, Herod killed John the Baptist who cried out in the wilderness. The Galatians attempt to rid themselves of the word just as Herod killed the Word by hanging Jesus.If the Galatians would begin to imitate Paul as he suffers for Jesus, the can end their practice of putting self before what matters most; Kingdom advancement.Comrade in Crosshairs (vv.13-14)The cowardly Galatians certainly changed their position. Paul reminds them how they originally were willing to do whatever was necessary for Jesus.V.15 even goes so far to note their willingness puck out their own eyes if it helped the cause of Christ.We need to note that Paul had a bullseye on his back. V.13 notes Paul bore in his body the marks of being a Jesus follower. Later he notes it this way:From now on let no one cause trouble for me, for I bear on my body the brand-marks of Jesus.Now, go back in history with me for a moment. In the time of Paul, people understood suffering as being the result of being on the wrong side of gods. They understood afflictions as diving retribution.Paul knows the people might see his condition as a sign from the gods as punishment or curse. That was the natural way for the Galatians. The people had reason to shun or ignore Paul; a disfigured preacher.But, that is not what happened the first time around; they embraced Paul as a messenger sent by God; an “angle of God” (v.14).At the time of their conversion, the Galatians were fearlessly following the cross.That was until they were challenged. Some social pressure and perhaps persecution by both pagans and Jewish leaders sent the Galatians into their shells.Taking to the Gospel of Christ, the Jesus followers stopped worshiping other gods and that put them out of certain civic activities. People close to ancestral traditions undoubtly were concerned.The other group didn’t require the Gentile converts to enter the larger Jewish sect. If they attempted to enter a synagogue uncircumcised, they’d been stopped and considered not kinsmen.The result was Jesus followers were not part of society at large or even the family of Jewish faith. They felt awkward and abandoned.To switch up, Paul was not asking the new converts to become Jews. If, for example, a Gentile convert sought support in the local synagogue, and not circumcised, that was a non-issue for Paul and they’d be helped.Imagine the Galatian Jesus followers confusion when family, society, and previously held religious beliefs were abandoned as the Cross changed everything about them and their lives. Imagine their confusion as the Jewish community among the Galatians condemned their new found faith in Jesus.The Galatians did, at one time, love Paul as their comrade, as one who followed Jesus. What is more, they began to live a life of active service to serving Jesus.APP - Without going any further, we might ask ourselves, “What did I ‘do’ this week to see someone come to Jesus and that did cause me to struggle?”Let me be clear, the Bible’s message is not “live in such a way people know you are a Christian.” Their are lots of people living better lives than most Christians. No, the Bible’s message is always “go and make disciples,” “go in to all the word and preach the gospel,” and “be my witnesses…to the end of the earth.”TRANS - Okay, so we’ve noted Paul’s pattern of painting a big old bullseye on his chest. Once again he uses himself to help the people get back to serving Jesus.What happens when Jesus followers stop making kingdom advancement? What might we see, or say about the the people?Crowd off Course (vv.15-17)Paul notes the Galatians are different. Difficulty is no longer a blessing for them. That is why Paul asks:Where then is that sense of blessing you had? For I bear you witness that, if possible, you would have plucked out your eyes and given them to me.In addition to shying from suffering, Paul notes how they treat him differently:So have I become your enemy by telling you the truth?Get this, the Galatians were willing to pluck out their eyes for Paul and now will not do a thing to help him.Pretty sad? But, you know, it’s not just with Galatian believers.FYI - There are some reasons people aren’t serving in church. Ed Stetzer noted 3 in his March 20, 2015 article in Outreach magazine:Some people feel uselessnot thinking they have something to offernot knowing how they are giftedSome people are hurtinghurt by pastors or church leadershurting because they feel along in trying to serveSome people are lazyits natural; happens to everyoneits contagious, watching others do the work makes others think its okay to watch others do the workILL - I still recall our first Easter outreach. I trained people to be prepared to do altar call conversion counseling. That is, to be ready to talk to people who make a decision for Jesus following a message ending with an invitation.I had over 30 people come forward and ll the church people decided to stay outside and eat BBQ while the reason for the BBQ was going on inside the building. I ended up trying to do mass counseling that day.My point is, seeing others sitting around when God calls us to action does not make being lazy okay nor biblical.Okay, so there are reasons Christians get off track. Some are understandable, but none qualify a person or exclude them from doing what God commands.Mischievous agitators messed with the people Paul once counted on to do the work of God. The agitators led the church down an alternate and wrong way. Their influence destroyed Pauls work leading him to exclaim as we will see in another message:You were running well; who hindered you from obeying the truth? This persuasion did not come from Him who calls you.Unbiblical influences are often the cause leading to off course Christians.Why do Christian go off the wrong way? In my observation, its usually when someone else influences them. Thats what happening in our text. The agitators persuaded the people in another point of view to take another path.Note the agitators two-part plan. First they win the attention of the Galatians by saying “they eagerly seek you.” Sounds good right? Who doesn’t want to be eagerly sought? But, look at where the agitators then marginalize the people with “they wish to shut you out.”Anybody catching a familiar sound in that. How about this one, “I don’t think you will die. He’s afraid you’ll become like him and see everything.”The agitators sweet talk the Galatians just like the serpent in the garden. Then the agitators withhold the people form God just as the serpent led the first family from God.Mixed messages hurt, confuse, and are difficult to handle. The agitators goal is manipulative and self-serving. The want the Galatians to do their bidding; to serve them instead of God.Note the point here. The Judaizers are not self-giving but self-serving. They say nice things to the Galatians, but their purpose is, as Paul noted, “not commendably” done.The agitators select specific Bible verses and use fancy sounding theological reasoning to impress the people in order to take advantage of them. In a way, they slam shut salvations door and threaten them with the sort claim we see in Acts:Some men came down from Judea and began teaching the brethren, “Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.”The force them to undergo circumcision or face being shut out from the Kingdom of God.But, don’t mess with Paul and the people of God. We’ll later read Paul’s clarifying words:For those who are circumcised do not even keep the Law themselves, but they desire to have you circumcised so that they may boast in your flesh.TRANS - Paul is willing to walk with a bullseye on his back once again. First it was to bring the message and now to bring the people back to the message. The people, the church off the way of the Lord need reminder of where they once trod.Children from Childbirth (vv.18-20)ILL - I woke up Friday morning realizing that I’m way behind. Was I playing catchup, still in vacation mode, or a combination of both who knows? I was, this I do know, behind schedule with all the many things I like to do.I don’t know if you’re like me, but when I wake up focusing on things such as: got bills to pay today, have to get to grocery store, got to reschedule doctor’s appointment, the refrigerator is making a funny noise, and what are the cats into now? Well, at least for me, and add to that I am “feeling” behind schedule in many areas, with me that is sign to just stop!!!As a qualified immature Christian prior to taking seriously the necessary disciplines to grow, I usually that that kind of stuff keep me away from God. That is, I’d pray but I’d come out of my time with God feeling the same way. Funny how God will let me feel all mixed up, out of sorts, worried, anxious, troubled, and ill-at-ease for as long as it takes.Here is what happened. I recognized the signs of being distracted from God. I took action by thanking God for every good thing I could call to mind. When out of sorts, thats not often an easy task. Remember, the devil does not want us going to God.I don’t know how long it took; really does not matter. But, my feelings, the weight I formerly felt, it was gone. But note, that was just to get me to a point where I could purposefully listen to God.Now, here is something I’ve shared with you before. My morning devotion often relates to where I’m at when I wake. Case and point, I could had gone off and not heard from the Lord. Instead, I stopped to focus on Him so that I could listen.Now, are you ready for the title of my devotion. “A waiting God and a waiting people” drawn from one of Spurgeon’s sermons. How’s that for an on topic and on time God?TRANS - Okay, so hows this tie into this passage. Glad you ask. See, God working in and for us is not usually the way we want or expect. How often have you heard a statement like, “If that’s God, then I don’t want any.”See, people often try to make God do or behave in a way that the want or expect and that is rarely how God works. In our passage Paul notes just how self-seeking the agitators are; they’re not Christ-centered.Paul presents two pictures and asks the Galatians to determine which one is drawn by God. Paul presents his life and the one the agitators offer.Paul noted the agitators intentions:They eagerly seek you, not commendably, but they wish to shut you out so that you will seek them.In these last three verses Paul contrasts the agitators condemnable me-wants as opposed to Paul’s commendable manner.Look at Pauls words:But it is good always to be eagerly sought in a commendable manner, and not only when I am present with you.Paul suffers the Galatians much like a loving parent:My children, with whom I am again in labor until Christ is formed in you—Paul’s hurt is real. The people need a solution to a serious problem. The people need a powerful solution and Paul provides them something to consider; a do-over.The Galatians need to go back to Jesus and His life must once again take shape within the people.Christ must be formed once again within the people. They need to pattern their life after Paul’s life as he follows Jesus.ConclusionI’ll admit it is easy to put self first. It take lots of work to put Jesus the center of our lives.Suffering for others is helpful so Jesus can shape our live; Paul sets that example.Nutshell of this message: be a Jesus follower that takes up your cross in order to serve people in the power of the Spirit.Just as Paul invites the Galatians, this passage invites us to imitate Paul’s crucified life following the crucified Christ.The solution is being a copycat christian.(end)
- Pass Me Not
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