20 Now concerning the things which I write to you, indeed, before God, I do not lie. 21 Afterward I went into the regions of Syria and Cilicia. 22 And I was unknown by face to the churches of Judea which were in Christ. 23 But they were hearing only, “He who formerly persecuted us now preaches the faith which he once tried to destroy.” 24 And they glorified God in me (Galatians 1:20–24).
I admire these folks. They responded beautifully. There is so much competition in the body of Christ today, that new believers have to prove themselves to the older folk. What the man or woman preaches will prove themselves. Look at what Paul did. Within days of receiving the Lord as his God and Savior, he was preaching in the synagogues. He went boldly into Syria and Cilicia with the Word of God. Look at what the people did. They glorified God for what He had done in this man’s life. So the boy who used to mow your lawn, and then cut your flowers to run home to his mom with them, and now he’s a preacher?
17 …nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me, but I went to Arabia, and returned again to Damascus. 18 Then after three years, I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and remained with him fifteen days. 19 But I saw none of the other apostles except James, the Lord’s brother (Galatians 1:17–19).
I like Paul. I like his writings, his explanations, his descriptions, his depth—I just plain like him. Here he is showing us how he gathered his knowledge. After all, he was killing Christians before the time he writes about here. He knew nothing of Jesus and His teachings. All he knew was that Christianity was turning his world upside down, and he didn’t like that. So, when he became one of them, he had some fast learning to do. Here’s what I like about the way he obtained his knowledge. He didn’t ask every man, woman, and child what they knew about this man named Jesus and the religion he seemed to have fostered.
15b Then it pleased Him 16 to reveal His Son to me so that I would proclaim the Good News about Jesus to the Gentiles. When this happened, I did not rush out to consult with any human being (Galatians 1:15b–16 — The Life Recovery Bible).
Has Jesus been revealed to you? If God will reveal His Son to one, He will reveal Him to all. There is no private interpretation of the Bible, no privileged place on the throne waiting for special ones to come and sit. No, we all have a seat on that throne. What is it that makes one Christian to appear more favored than others? Zeal for Him. If I see anyone whose walk with the Lord is precious to them, I know that person has spent time with the Lord. That person has put aside other matters, other time-consuming projects and has sat at the feet of Jesus eager to learn and to understand Him with wisdom. God is waiting for us to initiate the discourse. That’s what Practicing His Presence is all about —Waiting on Him.
13 You know what I was like when I followed the Jewish religion—how I violently persecuted God’s church. I did my best to destroy it. 14 I was far ahead of my fellow Jews in my zeal for the traditions of my ancestors. 15 But even before I was born, God chose me and called me by his marvelous grace (Galatians 1:13–15a — The Life Recovery Bible).
What good intentions we all have had in our desire to serve God and do what seemed right at the time. Today we have fellow Gentiles who are zealous for tradition rather than having zeal for God. Yet God called you, and me, and them. When? Before we were born! Today let’s read Psalm 139 and put our names in those Scriptures. We have been God’s darling from long before we were born. He created you and me and all those unbelieving gentiles and was well pleased with His creations. May we all come to a full and complete understanding of Him and of His calling.
11 Dear brothers and sisters, I want you to understand that the gospel message I preach is not based on mere human reasoning. 12 I received my message from no human source, and no one taught me. Instead, I received it by direct revelation from Jesus Christ. (Galatians 1:11, 12 — The Life Recovery Bible).
Direct revelation is the preferred way that God teaches us. Yes, we all want to be taught, and we admire our human teachers, but when God speaks to us directly, we are more prone to look up and pay attention. The most common way that God speaks to us is directly through our spirit, though seldom do words come from that place. Our spirits, according to the Bible, are in our gut, or our bellies, or our intestines. The seat of the spirit upholds all of the soul. Our emotions are above our spirits—as are our minds and our wills—all three of which also have specific locations, and all three have a voice. The emotions are seated around the organ we call a heart. Scientists have recently discovered that the heart has a voice with which it communicates with the body. The will has a seat around the vocal cords. (I’m sure you realize that what you say is what you will.) Our minds are not our brains, but our minds are seated around our brains. Perhaps you can see from this brief description that we are a spiritual being, and the tools our spirit uses are the elements of our souls—our minds, our emotions, and our wills. God uses all of these to teach us.
Now am I trying to win the favor of men, or of God? Do I seek to please men? If I were still seeking popularity with men, I should not be a bond servant of Christ [the Messiah] (Galatians 1:10 — The Amplified Bible).
If we try to please men, then we will water down the great message from Jesus Christ. Men want power. They want control. The message from Jesus includes the fact that He has all control. That’s why He speaks against the spirit of Jezebel in the book of Revelation because that spirit wants all control. The spirit of Jezebel and the Spirit of God are in constant conflict with each other. We choose. Men like the spirit of Jezebel, which is the ultimate embodiment of machoism. But we like the Spirit of God, which is the ultimate embodiment of power.
Being a bond servant means we have chosen love; we are love servants of Christ. We have chosen Him over being harnessed to the devil. Seeking the popularity of men is the dirtiest way to live. Pleasing God is the highest way to live.
8 But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to and different from that which we preached to you, let him be accursed [anathema, devoted to destruction, doomed to eternal punishment]! 9 As we said before, so I now say again, If anyone is preaching to you a gospel different from or contrary to that which you received [from us], let him be accursed [anathema, devoted to destruction, doomed to eternal punishment] (Galatians 1:8, 9 — The Amplified Bible)!
Watch out! When the Bible repeats itself, as it does here in these two verses, it means the matter is very serious! God’s Word is God, and God is His Word. Knowing the Bible is imperative! That’s why reading it from cover to cover is imperative. For instance, so often people will say, “God helps those who help themselves.” WRONG! That is contrary to what the Bible says. God helps those who trust and obey Him.
6 I am surprised and astonished that you are so quickly turning renegade and deserting Him Who invited and called you by the grace [unmerited favor] of Christ [the Messiah] [and that you are transferring your allegiance] to a different [even an opposition] gospel. 7 Not that there is [or could be] any other [genuine Gospel], but there are [obviously] some who are troubling and disturbing and bewildering you [with a different kind of teaching which they offer as a gospel] and want to pervert and distort the Gospel of Christ [the Messiah] [into something which it absolutely is not] (Galatians 1:6, 7 — The Amplified Bible).
People often tell me they want to read the Bible, but when they try, they find they don’t understand what they are reading. Let me explain. There are four ways to read the Bible, and one way leads to the next and so on. The first way is to read the Bible cover to cover, preferably out loud to yourself, without any understanding of what you have read. This is a spiritual reading. Your mind cannot figure out what you are doing, but what you are doing is essential! You are filling your spirit with the Word of God.
The second way is slower, but now you are digging into more depth. Buy yourself a Bible Dictionary, and when you come across words which perplex you, look them up. I recommend you write little definitions in the margins of the pages of your Bible so you can remember them. Do this from cover to cover in your Bible.
3 Grace to you and peace from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ, 4 who gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, 5 to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen (Galatians 1:3–5 — New King James).
In this greeting He wants to deliver us from this present evil age. I’m old enough to be able to look back and see that an evil age has always been present. But we can rest easy. Jesus defeated the leader of that present evil. All we have to do is stand up and receive what He gave us—He took our sins! We’re delivered!
What does one do when one has been delivered? We give glory to our God and Father. How do we give glory? I can think of a number of ways, but I’d like to press in on one in particular. He likes it when we dance. He dances over us, so why not dance over Him. Nobody has to see you, except Him, and He loves our efforts. Don’t waste your time; just do it!
1 Paul, an apostle (not from men nor through man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father who raised Him from the dead), 2 and all the brethren who are with me (Galatians 1:1, 2 — New King James).
Paul speaks of his apostleship in these two verses. He quickly points out that only God assigns an office to a believer, not a man. No one has the right to be self-proclaimed. These offices, which are delivered to certain individuals by Jesus alone, are part of the Lord’s ministry.
11 And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, 13 till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; (Ephesians 4:11–13 — New King James).