14 May 2018

It’s Monday, and whether you have the privilege of a day off, are on study leave, or are working as normal today; thank you for making the time to listen to the Foundations Daily Podcast. My name is Helen, and I am excited to be continuing our journey through the book of Galatians this week.
Our Bible passage today is Galatians 3 v1-9.

REFLECTION:

Some people describe Galatians as the letter in which Paul shouts the most. There are certainly a high number of exclamation marks and rhetorical questions. If Galatians was a text message, it would all be written in capital letters, with a lot of cross faced emojis! It’s fair to say that Paul is pretty cross with the church in Galatia, and this letter addresses the fact that they have become obsessed with circumcision as a sign of someone being truly saved, rather than faith in Jesus alone.

And so, Paul starts Chapter 3 brusquely; “You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you?”

Now, I doubt there are many people listening to this podcast today whose minds are obsessed, or bewitched, by the fact that they – or the men they know – must be circumcised. However, just because Paul’s letter is written to address a specific issue, at a certain time, in a particular place, it does not mean that we can just bypass this bit of the Bible. So, what is God saying to us today through these verses?

Some of you may remember a TV show called ‘Bewitched.’ It was an innocent comedy about an American housewife, who was in fact a witch, and could do magic by twitching the end of her nose. The programme was so popular that in 2005 a Hollywood romantic comedy – also called ‘Bewitched’ – was made about a group of actors attempting to re-make the TV show. And, you’ve guessed it, the female lead was actually a witch!

However, Paul’s tone does not suggest that being bewitched is something innocent and comical. Let’s look at some different translations of verse 1:
“Has someone now put an evil spell on you?”
“It seems as though you have let someone use their magical powers to make you forget.”
“You let someone trick you.”
“What magician has hypnotized you?”
“Did someone put a hex on you? Have you taken leave of your senses?”
And finally, “Who is interfering with your brain waves?”

The wording of this verse should leave us in no doubt that being bewitched by something or someone is not a laughing matter, especially when it alters or undermines our relationship with Jesus. So, what should our response to this be?

Firstly, we should ask ourselves if there is anything interfering with our brain waves!  Maybe our minds are consumed by worry and fear about the future, and we have forgotten that Jesus is Lord over our lives. Perhaps our thoughts are dominated by the power of social media and the evil spell of comparison. Have we been tricked into believing that our image is more important than our identity in God? Or have we been so bewitched by the desire to be popular, that when we are with our non-Christian friends we take leave of our senses, and speak and act in ways that deny our faith in Jesus?

The second question to ask is, “Have I let this happen?” Whilst Paul is angry with those who have presented a different gospel, he is equally as cross with the Galatians themselves for being so foolish as to believe this false teaching. He says “you let someone” do this to your faith and relationship with Jesus. How can we guard ourselves against letting this happen to us? The answer is simple: read the Bible and pray.

For the past 4 years, I have gone to the Hillsong Colour Conference in London. Each year there have been great speakers, but what always impresses me is how much these men and women love the word of God, and are committed to reading it and knowing it. One speaker this year said, “The Bible is like a good deodorant, it needs to be applied!”

Jesus puts it slightly differently when in Mark 12 v 24 he says, “Your mistake is that you don’t know the Scriptures.”

And in terms of prayer – this was always Jesus’ number one priority. We need to be passionate about establishing prayer as a priority in our own lives.

If we are not passionate about prayer, if we don’t read the Bible each day, whose fault it this? We need to take personal responsibility for making sure that we do not let someone or something bewitch us, make us forget, or interfere with our brain waves.

However, if we do commit to reading the Bible every day, and make prayer our top priority, then we will ensure that our faith is built firmly on and securely rooted in, a relationship with God and Jesus. Although the distractions and false teaching of this world will not disappear, we will find that they have no power to bewitch our thoughts and actions, and nothing will interfere with our faith in Jesus, and the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives.

PRAYER:
Dear Jesus, help us today to grow and develop our faith and relationship with you. Show us if anything is bewitching us and drawing us away from you. Challenge us if we have let this happen, and draw us back to your word in the Bible. Give us an increased passion for prayer and help us to make it a priority each day. Amen.

READING: Galatians 3:1-9

You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified. I would like to learn just one thing from you: did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by believing what you heard? Are you so foolish? After beginning by means of the Spirit, are you now trying to finish by means of the flesh? Have you experienced so much in vain – if it really was in vain? So again I ask, does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you by the works of the law, or by your believing what you heard? So also Abraham ‘believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.’

Understand, then, that those who have faith are children of Abraham. Scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, and announced the gospel in advance to Abraham: ‘All nations will be blessed through you.’ So those who rely on faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.