With Christ

Galatians 1-3


Social conversations today sometimes revolve around issues and individuals with whom we can relate or identify. For example, I am a fan of the Arizona Cardinals and when there is an exciting play on the field, I tend to get loud. And when the team wins a game, I feel like there is some part of me that also wins, even though I watch the game from home while ironing clothes for the week ahead. If the team loses a game, I feel bad for the team knowing how hard they fought to bring home a victory for all those who choose to cheer them on! I might not ever get the chance to score a touchdown or take a ready position on the offensive line trying to protect a quarterback, but I still feel like I am part of the team. 

When I read the words written by the apostle Paul in his letter to the Galatians, I claim his declaration in chapter 2 verse 20 as my own. “I have been crucified with Christ” is a phrase that I believe I might have written myself if I were the one penning this epistle. When Jesus offered his life on the cross, he wasn’t doing it just for himself. He wasn’t doing it for all of the believers who were alive at the time. He allowed nails to be driven into his wrists and feet and his blood to pour out for all of us. This is something that I identify with. Jesus was willing to die for me. It’s a gift that I am willing to accept so that I do not have to pay that debt myself. I claim that Jesus is my Savior.


But Jesus is not just my Savior, he is also my Lord. “I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.” Because of what Jesus has done for me, the only response that I can have is to dedicate my life in service to him. The thoughts that I think, the words that I speak, the actions that I take, are all a reflection of what it means to “live by faith in the Son of God”. Make no mistake, I mess up often. But thankfully, because the grace of God is never ending, I can be made right again upon confession and repentance. 

And so I ask you, with whom do you identify? Is it your family? Is it your school or workplace? Is it with a professional sports team? Is it your church? While all of those people and organizations are most likely good people and places to associate yourself, remember that the ultimate person with whom you can identify is Jesus the Messiah. He died so that you wouldn’t have to. 


So what will your response to this sacrifice be? Will you align yourself with Christ? Will you choose to be on his team and play every play on the field with all of your heart? Will your thoughts, words, and actions reveal your true allegiance?

I challenge you that if you haven’t already accepted Jesus as your Savior, to do that today! And if you have already done that, remember that he is Lord of your life too. Now is the time to start living like it!  

-Bethany Ligon

Today’s Bible passage can be read or listened to at BibleGateway here – Galatians 1-3

Tomorrow we will read the rest of Galatians, chapters 4-6.

Passion for God’s Word

Acts 13-14

Today, we pick back up with Paul, and we have yet to mention his main companion that shows up in chapters 13 and 14 – Barnabas.  Barnabas means “Son of Encouragement”, as he was an encourager to those around him.  Barnabas travelled with Paul frequently when Paul would go to a different region to share the gospel message.  They mostly got along great and accomplished a lot, but they did reach a disagreement down the road.  Barnabas wanted to take his cousin, Mark, with them during one of their missionary journeys, but Paul did not since Mark abandoned them on a previous trip.  We are getting ahead of ourselves a bit here though, so let’s rewind to chapter 13.

            In chapter 13 of Acts, Paul and Barnabas set sail and visited a couple of places, most notably Cyprus and Antioch.  It was at these different locations that they took advantage of their opportunity to share God’s message with others.  It’s important to note that some places that they traveled to the gospel message already was presented and spread a bit, as they weren’t the only ones around spreading this gospel message.  However, they were certainly instrumental in furthering the spread.

            In verses 16-41 of chapter 13, Paul delivers a message to the people on the Sabbath.  At the conclusion of this message that he presented, “the people begged that these things might be told them the next Sabbath,” (Acts 13:42).  From a preacher’s perspective, this would be a dream come true!  The people were so eager to hear the gospel message that they BEGGED!  They didn’t just ask or hope or want, but they BEGGED to hear the gospel message.  When was the last time that you were so eager to hear God’s message being shared?  For most of us, it probably has been a while.  Somehow, someway we need to find that passion again for God’s Word.  Pray to God today, that he would fill your heart with a passion and desire to dig deeper into His Word.  That would be a great place to start.

            We fast forward a week from Paul’s message in verses 16-41, and we arrive at the next Sabbath in verse 44.  Verse 44 reads, “The next Sabbath almost the whole city gathered to hear the word of the Lord,” (Acts 13:44).  How awesome would that be?!  The week prior, the people begged to hear more of God’s word being spoken, as they had so much excitement.  It is evident that they didn’t contain their excitement to themselves.  Apparently, their passion for God’s Word drove them to share with their friends and family about the word of God that they just listened to.

            It’s a general notion that word of mouth is the best mode of advertisement.  The group who listened to Paul’s first message did a great job of advertising to others by word of mouth.  This proved to be extremely effective, as almost the whole city showed up the following week.  This serves as a good reminder for us to advertise God’s Word by word of mouth with our friends and family.  When was the last time that you shared a bit of God’s Word with someone who is not an active believer?

            Paul continued to gain a following in the different locations that he traveled to.  On the other hand, though, his adversaries were continuing to grow.  In chapter 14, Paul was stoned nearly to death for his faith and his part in spreading the gospel message.  My mind cannot stop thinking about the differences in how the early Christians were persecuted versus how we are persecuted (or the lack thereof) today in America.  I’m grateful that we don’t have to experience some of the trials and tribulations that the likes of Paul went through.  However, I can only imagine how much more serious we would take our faith if we had to physically risk our lives in order to share the gospel message with others.  Something for you to ponder.

            We continue to see the great works of some of the heroes of our faith in Acts.  I hope that these great heroes, such as Paul and Barnabas, serve as an encouragement and lesson for all of us.  God bless.

-Kyle McClain

Today’s Bible passage can be read or listened to at BibleGateway here – Acts 13-14.

Tomorrow we will read James 1-5.

Say Bye to Your Friends and Family; Say Hi to God

Acts 9-10

            Yesterday, we took a look at how Saul, the author of nearly half of the books of the New Testament, was introduced to the scriptures.  We were introduced to a devout Jew who was persecuting the Jesus followers.  Today, we get a taste of redemption, as Saul dramatically turns his life around.

            Before we get that taste of redemption though, we open up chapter nine with Saul still breathing out threats to the Jesus followers.  Saul went on a bit of a scavenger hunt trying to find anyone who belongs to “the Way”.  “the Way” is just another “way” (ha, pun intended), to refer to the group of people who followed Jesus, as the term “Christian” was not a thing at that point in time.

            On Saul’s diligent scavenger hunt to persecute the group of Jews who followed Jesus, he went to the city of Damascus.  On his way to Damascus, Saul has a vision of none other than Jesus himself.  Again, this is the kind of stuff that the movies are made out of!  He ended up being blinded by the vision, and he didn’t eat or drink for three days.  Then a man named Ananias came and restored Saul’s sight through the power of God, and Ananias confirmed to Saul what had taken place.  Saul is also baptized and received the Holy Spirit.

As a result of this vision that Saul has of Jesus, he performs a complete 180 in his life.  He went from being a man who hunted Jesus followers to becoming a man who tried to create as many Jesus followers as possible.  He repented of his sins immediately and started proclaiming this message of Jesus in the synagogues.  This obviously created some confusion and amazement from the people, as just a couple of days ago he was seeking to have these same types of people killed and imprisoned!  Saul was so on fire for Jesus, that now nonbelieving Jews were seeking to put Saul to death.  What a crazy, dramatic turn of events.

Chapter nine then goes straight from Saul leaving Damascus to arriving in Jerusalem.  Luke, the author of Acts, chose to leave out a three-year gap.  Yep, you read that right.  There was a three-year gap between Saul leaving Damascus and arriving in Jerusalem.  We get this notion from Galatians 1:16-18.  After Saul left Damascus and before Saul arrived to Jerusalem, he spent about three years in “Arabia”.  N.T Wright talks about this three-year gap in his biography on Paul.  If you are an avid reader, then I would strongly suggest this book.

It is very possible that Saul spent a chunk of this three-year gap at Mt. Sinai getting ready for his upcoming ministry.  It’s pretty cool when you consider Moses and Elijah spent valuable time with God on Mt. Sinai as well.  I’m sure this time for Saul was extremely valuable, as he prepared to do so many good works for God and his Son Jesus.

It’s important that we find that quiet, alone time with God to prepare for our ministries as well.  I find that as a husband, dad, pastor, son, friend, and more, that it can be difficult to find that quiet, alone time with God.  Truth be told, it does not happen unless I am very intentional about it.  I’m guessing the same could be said for you as well.  I strongly encourage you to intentionally find and make that quiet, alone time with God.  Sometimes the best thing for us is to step away from our spouses, children, parents, friends, and coworkers, and have a close, intimate encounter with God.  I find that the best spot for me to do this is out by myself at our nearby park.  I’m guessing the experiences that I have with God out in his creation, by myself, are similar to the experiences that Moses, Elijah, Saul, and Jesus had with God.  So, get out there and say bye to your friends and family for a bit, and say hello to God.  Trust me, you won’t regret it.

We haven’t even touched on Peter at all yet.  Peter did a number of awesome things for the LORD in chapter nine and ten, these include: healing a paralyzed man, raising a woman from the dead (Yeah, Jesus isn’t the only one who was resurrected in the New Testament), and sharing the gospel message with a group of gentiles.  We could discuss these great acts of Peter for quite some time.  Instead, I’d rather us conclude and focus on this aspect of Saul spending that alone time with God for three years and preparing for his revolutionary ministry.

Please, please, please, find and make that quiet, alone time with God.  You can spend time reading God’s word, praying, meditating, and reflecting on all that God has done and will continue to do in your life.  For our southern friends who aren’t freezing outside, go find a park and spend that quiet time with God.  For our northern friends who live in the cold, shut yourself in a room by yourself with a cup of hot cocoa and spend that quiet, alone time with God.  Or, you can buckle down and spend a couple hours in the cold at the park with a jacket and blanket.  I mean Jesus spent 40 days without food; surely, we can spend a couple hours outside even if it is a little cold.

Get on out there!  Say bye to your friends and family; say hi to God.

-Kyle McClain

Today’s Bible passage can be read or listened to at BibleGateway here – Acts 9-10.

Tomorrow we continue with Acts 11-12.