Freedom thru open ears: Tangible faith

One of my favorite Bible verses is Hebrews 11:1 –

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.

The phrase “things not seen” is oddly comforting to me. We believe in something that isn’t right in front of our face. We believe in something too big to hold, too big to put in one place.

God commanded the stars into place and He holds up the Universe. Would we want to relegate God to what we can see or feel?

If we thought about it for a moment, I don’t think we would. Believing in what we can touch and feel is our default zone though. We are doubtful of things unseen, stories that don’t leave a trail of proof. It feels too much like rumors, distrustful, lacking evidence.

The Galatian believers had the same problem. They had fallen in love with the one true God, a God that not only offered righteousness, but worked justice through grace and mercy. Why were they suddenly so easily deceived by a message of law, of must’s?

Read Galatians 3:1-6 and I think you’ll find some answers about the Galatians, but also about our belief and unbelief conundrum as well:

O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified. Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?Did you suffer so many things in vain—if indeed it was in vain? Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by hearing with faith— just as Abraham “believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”?

Works of the law, as Paul calls them – acts we can do, rituals we can perform, sacrifices we can touch – have a certain seduction, a bewitching:

It’s just easier.

And so often in life we just want something, anything to be easier.

While “do more,” “follow through,” “act this way,” sound harder, in reality they’re the default, the don’t-have-to-think-about-it choice. At our core, our sinful selves want an easier way that’s touchable, seeable, and absolutely tangible.

Paul gives a double-edged argument to the Galatians. He refutes the idea that God is in this tangible law of flesh while presenting the Gospel reality that God, while outside of what we can see, gave Himself as One who can be seen, who can be touched, who can be felt.

“It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ…”
“Did you receive the Sprit by works of the law or by hearing with faith?”

Christ came as man into this world, a touchable Savior.

Christ performed miracles in the lives of those in the New Testament, and in our own lives, works that we can see.

Christ suffered and died on the cross and was laid in a tomb, as part of a written-in-ink, held-in-someone’s-hands, historic record.

Christ left His living and active Word, so that we can hold it, eat its hope, and breathe in its sweet life-giving breath –

tangible.

We haven’t even touched on the water that brings the Spirit alive in our hearts, flowing over our heads, the bread and wine that sustain our souls, or the people that hug us on any given day as part of His living tangible Body.

God in His grace is unseen -too big for our eyes and ears and hearts.

Paul’s point to the Galatians is the same as ours, “Why would you want it any other way?”

God in His grace is seen – giving us eyes to see His glory and ears to hear His mercy, firsthand.

Let us throw off the default, let it drown in our Baptism each day.

Read Galatians 3:2-6 again below, and answer Paul’s questions for yourself:

Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith? When, where, and what stories and passages in the Scripture have had an impact on your faith walk?

 Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh? When has your flesh proved useless in this life, unable to do what you needed it to do and you needed to absolutely rely on God’s strength?

Did you suffer so many things in vain—if indeed it was in vain? When have you suffered in this life? How did or has God worked His grace in the midst of the struggle?

Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by hearing with faith— just as Abraham “believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”? What miracles, big or tiny, has God worked in your life? What passages of Scripture have you had the Spirit bring alive for you at a particular time?

God is at work, in the seen and the unseen. He’s not too big or too small for our restless, easily deceived hearts. He is so very faithful.

In our foolishness, He does some of His best work.

#lifetogether – Connect and send someone this week’s free downloadable Dear 52 card or order the whole set here

Discussion questions:

Choose one or more of the questions below to ponder on a journal page or as a group…

When, where, and what stories and passages in the Scripture have had an impact on your faith walk?

When has your flesh proved useless in this life, unable to do what you needed it to do and you needed to absolutely rely on God’s strength?

When have you suffered in this life? How did or has God worked His grace in the midst of the struggle?

What miracles, big or tiny, has God worked in your life? What passages of Scripture have you had the Spirit bring alive for you at a particular time?

YA bonus – Freedom in friendship without fear

Have you ever had a friendship you wish you could get back?

Sometimes friendships are for a season, and that’s ok. Sometimes friendships go the long haul and see us through the hardest sorrows and the most special days. Then there are friendships that slip out of your hands. There, and then missing. You might notice the void right away, or it may take years until you suddenly realize – “I let go of something that I should have held on tight to with all my strength.”

When I was in elementary school I had a very best friend. We performed musicals in her living room with homemade costumes and everything. We stayed up too late talking and laughing. We played Jeopardy and the Oregon Trail on this tiny computer screen that was like a square box and had a green cursor. I loved her. She loved me. I was a part of her family and she was a part of mine.

Then, we began to grow up. Suddenly, boys and studies and new friendships seemed so much more important and glamorous…to me. I’m the one who gave up on a friendship. I watched it fade to black and acted callous, like it didn’t matter. But it did.

There are few people in this life who love you just for who you are. People you’ve shared every fear with and they love you more for it. I traded trust for what looked good at the moment. And trust is where real freedom resides in a relationship.

This week, we aim for more freedom in our friendships as we look at Galatians 2:4-7 to understand the difference between false and real brothers, and holding on to what really matters.

Discerning friendship is rarely easy, but God’s Word gives us guidance, Christ’s love offers constant forgiveness, and trust begins and ends with a real and active, living God in our lives.

Dropping the yoke of fake friendship, freedom in trust and being real…

Question of the Week:

Is this friendship offering freedom or fear? Am I offering freedom or fear in friendship?

Did you download this week’s Dear 52 Chasing Freedom card yet? It’s free! 😉 Click on the link to find it and connect in friendship today.

Freedom from the Pendulum Swing of Self

Tell me if you can relate to any of this…

I’m a fun person.

I have a unique perspective, maybe it’s from my mom telling me I was great so much, but most of the time I think I’m am just that…pretty great.

The pendulum swings and I think I’m awful.

I am never on time. I have so many thoughts at once that most of them don’t come out nearly as coherent as they sound in my head, and I tend to be the angry mom more than I care to share. Enter, doubt, despair, shame.

Which of these do you struggle with more?

Which of these plagues you in your darkest moments? Love of self or hate of self?

Both are destructive. Both revolve around me, my ideas, my concept of who I am, my perceptions and intuition, insight and discernment.

God through the pen of the Apostle Paul proposes we see ourselves differently than the standard pendulum swing. Galatians 2:19-21 speaks truth. Find out more about recognizing and addressing the pendulum swing of self in today’s Chasing Freedom podcast.

Freedom in Identity in Christ alone.

Dropping the yoke of self love and self hate.

In case you missed it, here is this week’s video study archive –

This Imperfectly Perfect Life Together