WHO IS YOUR MOTHER?

Works-righteousness, Luther said, is the default mode of the human heart.

Instead of resting in God’s love and approval of me,

I am constantly building my own righteousness.

I want to have

“mother-righteousness,”

(are my children behaving well in front of others?)

“writer-righteousness,”

(are my books selling well?)

“home-maker-righteousness,”

(is my home impressively clean and beautiful?)

even “worship-righteousness.”

(Are others raising their hands in worship?

Perhaps I should too, though it is not how I usually worship.)

Who will deliver me?

In Galatians 4, Paul presents the dicey story of

Sarah, Hagar, and Abraham.

Adriaen van der Werff, 1699

He uses it as an allegory to help us understand

the difference between religion and the gospel,

or, to put it another way,

the difference between being an orphan or a true son.

It is a bit of a brain-twister, but the late John Stott, one of my great heroes,

is going to help us get it.

Stott has been credited by Keller as the founder of evangelicalism,

and by Christianity Today as the leading teacher of evangelicals.

He has a wonderful guide on Galatians:

Here is just one of the wonderful quotes from this guide:

His quote about this brain-twisting allegory in Galatians

turns the light on.

Three religions claim Abraham as their father:

Islam, Judaism, and Christianity.

But Stott says, “The real question is: who is your mother?”

Once you get this allegory,

it can truly help free you of all kinds of chains

and to live,

not for the praise of man,

but to glorify the God who loves and saves you.

This can restore the joy you once had.

Paul asks, in this chapter:

“What happened to all your joy?”

For the Galatians had reverted,

as we all do, to works-righteousness.

(We won’t get to this important passage until Wednesday,

for we must look at two extremely important truths first.)

Sunday:

1.What stands out to you from the above?

2. What kinds of righteousness are you vulnerable to rather than trusting Christ’s righteousness? (See my various forms of “works-righteousness.”)

Monday: In Christ There is No Male Nor Female

Before we dive into the very meaty Galatians 4, I don’t want to jump over this important verse for those who are often treated as lesser by cultures.

Having come to Christ as an adult, I was a bit shocked at the way women seemed to be viewed in my church, which is not, I know, how Christ viewed women, but how that Christian culture viewed women. It wasn’t true of everyone, but it was true of many in leadership and many of the women themselves. They felt women should not be in leadership except with women and children. They couldn’t be the treasurer, a worship leader, or hold any leadership role over men. I’m not going to try to tackle some of the thorny passages, but to say it is obviously complicated, for God did call women to be leaders in biblical days, including teaching men — yet, there are passages that make you think they shouldn’t teach or be in authority. So this is a paradox that I will address another time.

What I want to do today is to have you see that the Lord doesn’t see us as lesser, and to show you how Jesus consistently treated women in a culture that consistently thought of them as lesser. This is all part of helping the penny drop to our hearts on how deeply loved we are as His children.

3. In the following passages, Jesus consistently stood against that culture’s treatment of women. See if you can discover how:

A. The needs of men were given priority over the needs of women.  See Luke 8:40-56 to see how Jesus saw this.

B. Women were told not to sit at the feet of a Rabbi. See Luke 11:38-42 to see what Jesus did.

C. Women were considered unable to understand deep theological truths. See John 11:21-27.

D. A rabbi did not usually speak to a woman directly. See John 4:27

4. Our culture has its own prejudices against women. But do you truly believe that Jesus values you as much as He values men? Why or why not?

Tuesday: What Happened To All Your Joy? 

I believe there are two ways to lose your joy: legalism (which Paul addresses here) and antinomianism (meaning against the law) which is addressed in other passages. Tertullion, an early church father, used this graphic picture: The gospel is continually being crucified between two thieves: legalism and antinomianism. I know I can, as David did (see Psalm 51:12) lose my joy by going against the moral law, but that when I truly repent, God will restore my joy. But if I believe that God has stopped loving me because of my sin, I have fallen off on the side of legalsim. I did nothing to earn God’s love and I can do nothing to lose it.

5. Read Galatians 4:8-20

A. What two questions does Paul ask in verse 9?

B. How does legalism or works-righteousness enslave you?

C. According to verse 14, how did the Galatians first treat Paul and why?

D. What two questions does he ask in verses 15 and 16?

6. How would you assess your joy? If you have lost it, why do you think you have? (Important to ponder!)

Wednesday: We Are Sons of Abraham!

I am assuming you know the story of Sarah and Hagar, but if you do not, read Genesis 16 and Genesis 18:1-15.

7. For context, read John 8:31-41.

    A. What does Jesus tell the Jews in verse 32? And how do they respond in verse 33?

    B. Why does Jesus call them Abraham’s descendants rather than Abraham’s sons?

8. Now, turn to Galatians 4:21-23

    A. How many sons did Abraham have and who were their mothers?

    B. What was the difference between the sons of these two mothers?

Thursday: Who Is Your Mother?

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John Stott asks this penetrating question in his Galatian’s guide: Who is your mother? Sarah or Hagar?

9. Read Galatians 4:24-26 (The brain-twister!)

A. What covenant does Hagar’s son represent and why?

B. What covenant does Sarah’s son represent and why?

10. Go back to Galatians 3:2-3. Here Paul expresses this same truth plainly. What does he say?

11. John Stott said the real question is not who our father is (for 3 major religions claim Abraham as their father: Islam, Judaism, and Christianity), but rather, who is your mother? What does he mean?

12. Who is your mother and why do you say that?

Friday: Rejoice Oh Barren Woman

In biblical culture, a barren woman carried shame, for child-bearing was how a woman found value. In the world’s culture today, beauty, youth, and power give a woman value. But we have our own artificial standards in the Christian culture as well. There may be pressure to be a “Proverbs 31 woman.” Are we amazing homemakers who are sewing our clothes, baking our bread, and working late into the night? (This is another whole study in itself, but I’ve seen how that chapter has been used to bind women in various ways, when instead, it is a picture of a beautiful composite woman — perhaps a picture of the bride of Christ.) There are other forms of legalism for Christian women that have crept insidiously into our culture: a rejection of any kind of schooling other than homeschooling, a rejection of any kind of medicine other than herbs and homeopathic remedies, and a rejection of any secular books or music. These are burdens that the culture, not Jesus, puts on us — stealing our freedom.

13. Have you experienced the slavery of artificial “Christian” standards put on you? If so, share. If not, share how you have been kept free.

14. Read Galatians 4:27. What does it say and what does it mean? Translate it to our culture.

The next passage is very interesting. John Stott explains that often our persecution comes not from the world, but from the church, because we are not living up to their self-imposed standards. It could be anything from immunizing our children to raising our hands in worship.  

15. Read Galatians 4:28-31

 A. How did the son of the slave woman (Ishmael) persecute the son of the free woman        (Isaac). What parallel is Paul making?

B. Have you ever judged a sister in Christ unfairly for not living as you feel is best, but is not prescribed by Scripture?

C. If you have felt judged by others on a non-scriptural choice, how should you respond according to Romans 14:22?

Saturday:

16. What is your take-a-way and why?

 

 

 

 

 

 

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9. Read Galatians 4:24-26

A. What covenant does Hagar’s son represent and why?

Hagar’s son represents the covenant made at Mount Sinai. That is where the Law was first given to Moses and the people. Paul says that Mount Sinai corresponds to the present day city of Jerusalem, where the people live in slavery. What were they in slavery to? They were people living in darkness, in slavery to sin and death. Hagar and her son represent slaves and slavery.

B. What covenant does Sarah’s son represent and why?

Sarah’s son represents a new covenant, in which God would remove our hearts of stone, give us a heart of flesh, and put His Spirit within us….giving us His righteousness which makes us members of the “Jerusalem that is above”, which is free (v. 26). Sarah’s son’s supernatural birth represents our supernatural, spiritual birth into God’s family.

10. Go back to Galatians 3:2-3. Here Paul expresses this same truth plainly. What does he say?

Paul asks them, and us: How did you receive the Spirit? By observing the Law, or by believing what you heard? After beginning (your initial faith/belief in the good news) with the Spirit, are you now trying to live out your faith by self-effort? Are you the son of the slave woman-works, the law….or are you the son of the free woman….believing the promise? Under which covenant are you living? You can live by trying to climb up Mount Sinai – get yourself up to God with the ladder of your own righteousness, or you can accept that you can’t do it and rest in His promise and receive His righteousness. It is interesting that God named Sarah’s son Isaac, meaning laughter. When we are resting in His promise, can’t we smile and laugh and have joy because we’re not slaving and working to earn our own righteousness?

 

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    Wonderful from Susan:

     It is interesting that God named Sarah’s son Isaac, meaning laughter. When we are resting in His promise, can’t we smile and laugh and have joy because we’re not slaving and working to earn our own righteousness?

     

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      Yeah, Dee. I totally agree! Susan thanks for bringing the meaning of Issac’s name. Now, I don’t have to feel funny when I can smile my way through the day-there is a reason for our laughter and praise be to God who has called us into His family!

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11. John Stott said the real question is not who our father is (for 3 major religions claim Abraham as their father: Islam, Judaism, and Christianity) but rather, who is your mother? What does he mean?

My brain hurts!! Are we children of the slave woman Hagar, who represents the law, and remember, no one is justified by keeping the law, or are we children of the free woman, Sarah, who represents the promise which is received by simple faith and trust? Sarah didn’t even do a great job of believing God’s promise to her of a son: first, she tried to engineer an heir by her own plans, and then, she laughed with disbelief at God’s promise of a son. But the fulfillment of God’s promise didn’t depend on Sarah’s perfect record – it was given to her by His grace, by His power. If I am depending on myself, my works, my keeping the rules, then I show myself to be the son of the slave. If I am trusting in Christ’s righteousness and not my own, then I am free.

12. Who is your mother and why do you say that?

Even though I can fall into the trap of believing Satan’s lies and self-condemnation, I know that deep down, I know and believe that I cannot make myself right with God. I am in a sinking boat and I need to be rescued from above. I have no other hope but Jesus. Sarah is my mother, not because I deserve it, have earned it, but because God, in His mercy and love, chose me to be in His family.

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    Susan: love this!Gospel truth!!

    “Even though I can fall into the trap of believing Satan’s lies and self-condemnation, I know that deep down, I know and believe that I cannot make myself right with God. I am in a sinking boat and I need to be rescued from above. I have no other hope but Jesus. Sarah is my mother, not because I deserve it, have earned it, but because God, in His mercy and love, chose me to be in His family.”

     

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13. Have you experienced the slavery of artificial “Christian” standards put on you? If so, share. If not, share how you have been kept free.

I have been in studies in which the Proverbs 31 woman was held up as a standard, and left me feeling like “I hate that woman!” Because I felt like a total failure compared to this mythical woman. I have also been told that I must make my husband my “number one ministry” here on earth, and to reverence and revere him. That’s a Christian standard for Christian wives. As my daughter has applied to both secular and Christian colleges, it is interesting that the Christian ones have their rules, such as, “no sun bathing”, or promising that you won’t use bad language. Now, I do believe that a believer doesn’t intentionally want to use bad language, but occasionally, it may happen that you slip in this area. Some Christian schools say no dancing, impose curfews, say there will be random room checks. I understand the need for rules, but external rules don’t necessarily change the heart, or reflect by observing them what’s really going on in the heart. I know women who only listen to Christian music. I like some contemporary Christian artists, but I also like the secular group Coldplay! I don’t choose to listen to secular music with bad language, but I don’t think it’s a sin to listen to other types of music.

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    I agree that the Christian community often has way more rules and can be veryunloving to those who break those rules! I found a quote this morning that says our identity is the basis of our behavior…thought provoking indeed!

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John 8:32  Jesus says “you will know the truth & the truth will set you free”. The Jews responded that they were descendants of Abraham & had never been anyone’s slaves.

Jesus calls them descendants & not Abraham’s sons because they do not believe in Jesus’ teaching, & if they were true sons they would believe Him, & not be trying to kill him.

Abraham had 2 sons, one by a free woman (Sarah) & one by a slave woman (Hagar). The 2 women represent 2 covenants; the law & the promise.

Sarah is my mother because by grace & faith I am saved; in the promise of Christ. Beacuse I am free in Christ I am no longer a slave to sin & the law.

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    Susan…thanks for the commentary…loved this on verse 30…St. Bernard was one of the best of the medieval saints. He lived a chaste and holy life. But when it came to dying he did not trust in his chaste life for salvation. He prayed: “I have lived a wicked life. But Thou, Lord Jesus, hast a heaven to give unto me. First, because Thou art the Son of God. Secondly, because Thou hast purchased heaven for me by Thy suffering and death. Thou givest heaven to me, not because I earned it, but because Thou hast earned it for me.” If any of the Romanists are saved it is because they forget their good deeds and merits and feel like Paul: “Not having mine own righteousness which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ.” (Phil. 3:9.)

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I know we lost some because of the depth of this study this week, but I am so encouraged by the sharing I am reading!

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13. Have you experienced the slavery of artificial “Christian” standards put on you? If so, share. If not, share how you have been kept free. I confess that I had answered this question with the easy responses that I think are common among all women. Then I read the question below and deeper hurts surfaced. Two ways that I have experienced the ugly, ugly bonds of slavery from the “Christian” community are around a serious illness and infertility. My mother was diagnosed with breast cancer in her early 40’s and lived eight years before it took her life. There were those in the Christian community who said that our faith must not have been sufficient for her healing. Deeply wounding to say the least. My husband and I also faced the struggles of infertility. Although we did ultimately have 2 sons and God taught me much about Himself during that season…we heard many hurtful things from the Christian community. There were those who would use Scripture verses to show that we were supposed to be fruitful…that was always God’s will. The Lord opened my eyes to the many stories of barren women and how He often used them in His story! The verse below has been special to me since that time. 
14. Read Galatians 4:27. What does it say and what does it mean? Translate it to our culture.
 “Rejoice, O barren, you who do not bear! Break forth and shout, you who do not travail! For the desolate has many more children than she who has a husband.” My translation…rejoice and be deeply satisfied tho you feel as if your laboring has born no fruit! Raise the roof with your loud praises, you who know deep in your soul that working harder (being healed, bearing many children) is not the answer for the emptiness within you. You have not disappointed Me in any way because your life does not look the way your world tells you it should. For, it looks exactly as I designed it to! I am indeed a husband to you while those who are condemning you are the ones who truly lack the husband they flaunt in your face! You have chosen the better things! 
15. Read Galatians 4:28-31 
 A. How did the son of the slave woman (Ishmael) persecute the son of the free woman (Isaac). What parallel is Paul making? In Genesis, there is the hint that Ishmael taunted Isaac and as a result, Sarah had Abraham send Hagar and Ishmael away.  The parallel is that those who cling to the law often beat up and deeply wound those who cling to nothing but Christ…or those who have found their “freedom”. 
B. Have you ever judged a sister in Christ unfairly for not living as you feel is best, but is not prescribed by Scripture?
 Yes, and it was over something as inconsequential as tattoos! I am of an age and cultural background where only certain “kinds” of people had tattoos and they were not church people or women. But God has convicted me much about that! 
C. If you have felt judged by others on a non-scriptural choice, how should you respond according to Romans 14:22?
We can rest easy if we have a clean conscious before God on a matter. Take that accusation to the Father and if you have peace then celebrate your freedom. If you feel a sense of guilt, then confess that and make any changes God leads you to make. 

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    Truth has sustained you Lucy in the midst of persecution!

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    Oh Lucy my heart goes out to you! How hurtful & judgemental Christians can be! Thank you for sharing your heart with us. Praise God for comforting u…may u be wrapped in His arms of love.

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    Lucy, your answer to #13 makes me feel both sad and mad….to blame the pain and suffering of another on their weak faith….I once did that to myself, when I was very depressed after my daughter was born, and going to my doctor, cried in his office that if my faith was stronger, I wouldn’t be having this problem. He gently took a hold of my hands and said, “Well, we’d all be in trouble then, wouldn’t we?” He was a Christian and gently reassured me that this was not my fault. It’s a perversion of the gospel to believe that we won’t have pain and suffering in this life.

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5. Read Galatians 4:8-20

A. What two questions does Paul ask in verse 9? Why are you turning back to the foundational rules even after knowing the truth of the Gospel and why do you want to be enslaved again?

B. How does legalism or works-righteousness enslave you? There is something about tradition that is steeped deep within so that when we do not practice what is “usual” it feels “wrong.” And so instead of evaluating each situation and being in prayer about our response and action/reaction we depend upon that feeling of “usual.” If I do not steep myself in the Word and know His wisdom then my traditions and ‘usual’ will become my guide and my God. There are those, too, who would use rules to manipulate others into doing it their way. There is nothing wrong with tradition, indeed, even God commanded traditions to remember His works, but we must let His Word and works be the fuel for those traditions not a vague sense of fear or incompleteness.

C. According to verse 14, how did the Galatians first treat Paul and why? He was a trial to them but they did not treat him as such. They received him with grace. The text goes on to say that they cared for him so greatly that they would have given him their own eyes had he had need of them. Why? I cannot find in the text a reason for their kindness.

D. What two questions does he ask in verses 15 and 16? What has happened to the blessing you felt? (Some translations state “joy” instead of “blessing.”) the second question is “Have I become your enemy by telling the truth.”

6. How would you assess your joy? If you have lost it, why do you think you have? I would assess my joy as “fragile.” It is there and when things are quiet and I have time to ponder Truth I have joy and gratitude but when things start to get chaotic and disruptive I start to complain and then where is my joy? My joy is more based on things going well or easy than on walking with the Lord through difficulties, small or large. However, there is a contentment that maintains even during hard days, it is deep and almost not noticed  but easily breathed in and spotted when red flags of discontentment arise…. He is good and my feet are upon His salvation.

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    Jill,

    I have read through your response to number 6 a few times.      I related to all of it.   Loved your closing words:

    “…. there is a contentment that maintains even during hard days, it is deep and almost not noticed  but easily breathed in and spotted when red flags of discontentment arise…. He is good and my feet are upon His salvation.”

    Makes me think of the Sara Groves song entitled Enough.     There are two lines in that song that really caught my attention:

    In these patches of joy
    These stretches of sorrow

    Here’s the link for Sara’s song if you want to listen:    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NJ_gQlHThjc

     

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    Jill…your response to B ministered to my heart this morning…There is something about tradition that is steeped deep within so that when we do not practice what is “usual” it feels “wrong.” And so instead of evaluating each situation and being in prayer about our response and action/reaction we depend upon that feeling of “usual.” If I do not steep myself in the Word and know His wisdom then my traditions and ‘usual’ will become my guide and my God.

    Lord, may I steep myself in Your word and become saturated!

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    Jill,

    Sometimes I wish I could place a big ♥️ next to answers I love. I love your answer to B about being steeped in tradition and when we don’t do the “usual” it feels “wrong”. I believe it is so true and I have been there!  If we rely on the usual our relationship with the Lord grows stale and boring. I believe God is always doing new things in us and through us. If we rely on the usual we will miss out!  You have a beautiful way of communicating!

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Laura- I saw your question on the previous page… I cannot remember where I have heard that about Hagar and the Islamic faith, but I have a Muslim/Catholic friend and have asked her if it is accurate or not. I will post when I hear from her. Thank you for keeping me accountable to being truthful and not just assume things!

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    Thanks Jill! Just very curious 🤷‍♀️.

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13.  I’ve sure felt the pressure to conform to others ideas of how to live, specifically about not homeschooling and what kind of house we live in and not being a missionary. Even about what kinds of food to eat. For the most part, we’ve prayed about each pressure while searching Scripture, and then did what we believed God was calling us to. As I write this it dawns on me that most of this pressure has come from the same set of friends. Maybe in our case it is because we’ve been closer with these people (they lived with us for four months when we first knew them), or because in their love for us they wanted us with them in their decisions. Eye opener, whatever the cause.

 

14.  The verse in Galations; I think it means that not having the fruit/children/works of this world is seen as shameful; that you are to be pitied/looked down on. But God says that having the fruit/children/works of the Spirit is much, much better.

Translation to our culture: the world thinks a woman needs a career, the gym, community involvement, and an optional man to be a success. Even for Christian women, the things you listed can be the sign is success. But a woman who lives free in God will have a life that is more blessed, whether it fits a model or not. The important thing is following the path God has for you.

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15.a.  Ishmael mocked and laughed at Isaac. Paul says that’s the same way with any slavery. It will mock and laugh at freedom.

b.  Have I ever judged? Oh yes. Even down to when to take your thyroid medicine. And I’ve been roundly, and rightly, put in my place because of it.

c.  Yes, I’ve been judged and pushed to fit a mold. I’ve already written much about that. How should we respond? Quietly, keeping our beliefs to ourselves and God. It is interesting that Paul doesn’t tell us we should change, but just to not our differences grow to fights and dissension.

 

16.  Take away. My take away is to guard my freedom and at the same time, allow others to have theirs.

I’m writing this early because we fly out to Yuma AZ tomorrow for a week long short term mission trip. I won’t be able to participate, but I hope to read what all of you are thinking and writing.

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Friday

13.   Have you experienced the slavery of artificial “Christian” standards put on you? If so, share. If not, share how you have been kept free.

This is something my husband and I struggle with because of our upbringing…he being a preachers kid and me a missionary kid, we were held to a higher standard within the church.  I know my husbands family would close the drapes in their home when they played Rook because playing “cards” was a sin!  My parents wouldn’t let us go to movies because what if someone from the church saw us.  These are just two examples of many that still to this day cause us to be slaves to artificial “Christian” standards.  It wasn’t until we were leading a Bible study in 1 Corinthians where in chapter 8 Paul talks about “causing other believers to stumble” that a light bulb came on.  There was a method to our parents reasoning…I just wish we understood that method earlier because legalism has became so deeply engrained within us.   Thankfully to this study and others we are experiencing more and more of the freedom we have in Christ…God is good!  Please know that neither one of us would trade our up upbringing for anything…very thankful for our parents!

14.  Read Galatians 4:27. What does it say and what does it mean? Translate it to our culture.

I’m not really sure I know what it means.  I know Paul is quoting from Isaiah 54:1 where Isaiah is cheering up the captives in Babylon and promising that one day they would return to their land where the women would flourish, reproduce and Israel would grow and grow.  Maybe the message for us is, Rejoice, because you no longer have to live a life in captivity, as a slave.  I have given you a promise that brings new birth, a birth in Jesus Christ…He is your husband and He gives you freedom where you can grow and grow in Him.  So sorry if this is out in left field somewhere, but it’s how I see it.

15.   Read Galatians 4:28-31.

A.    How did the son of the slave woman (Ishmael) persecute the son of the free woman  (Isaac).   What parallel is Paul making? 

In Genesis 21:9 it says, “ And Sara saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, whom she had born to Abraham, scoffing.”  This was in response to Abraham giving Isaac a great feast the same day he was weaned.  Maybe Ishamel scoffed because he firgured he’d be the heir.  Ishamel hated Isaac as Hagar hated Sarah.  The parallel Paul is making is, those who bring legalism into the church, Christian or not, and try to take away the freedom the gospel offers, are persecuters of that freedom. I just want to share there are a few churches in our area that are strongly legalistic.  Women can’t cut their hair, no skin showing, no drinking or smoking…I have a very good friend who’s husband was raised in one of these churches and no longer goes to church cause he associates the hypocrisy he saw with all churches!  So much damage can be done through the persecution of legalism.

B.   Have you ever judged a sister in Christ unfairly for not living as you feel is best, but is not prescribed by scripture? 

Yes, within my thoughts.

C.   If you have felt judged by others on a non-scriptural choice, how did you respond according to Romans 14:22?  

Keep it between you and God if you feel you have done nothing wrong.  We’re blessed if we don’t feel guilty for doing something we’ve decided is right.

Dee– such thought provoking questions…thanks for stretching me😊

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    Sharon, I think you are on the right track in your response to 14. Isaiah’s encouragement is to all of us who believe in the promise and will be delivered from our captivity!

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This is my first attempt to jump into one of Dee’s studies publicly. I’ve been a little intimidated to say anything because it might not be “right” and I can see how that itself is a form of cultural slavery!

10. Gal. 3:2-3. The Spirit does not come to a person by obedience to the law. Therefore it cannot be kept by observing the Law. All life is grace. There is nothing I deserve from God nor can I do anything to earn God’s love or make myself more acceptable to Him. He loves me with an everlasting love.

13. Slavery comes from all kinds of places. There was a season in my life when even my quiet time with the Lord was out of “slavery” to the expectations my family had of me. I knew they expected to see me getting up before everyone else and sitting in the same chair with my Bible. I’ve lived much of my Christian life based on what others expect of me. Dee’s reference to hands lifted in worship really resonated with me. I loved the various words Dee put with works-righteousness. I could put fitness-righteousness, fashion-righteousness, worship-righteousness, and the big one…mother-righteousness. I’m 67 and that’s still a source of fear and “what will people say?”

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    Oh Laurie — welcome welcome — love you already with your vulnerability! But don’t let me push you into “vulnerabiity-righteousness!” :-)

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    Laurie-welcome! I love your heart! You’ve convicted me of more types of  “righteousness” to add to my list to pray against! :)

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    Welcome Laurie, don’t be afraid to jump in. We all are seeking the truth. Thankful to jumped in on this one.

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    Welcome dear Laurie! Your honesty & openness is such a blessing & encouragement…..we are all FAR from perfect, but yes, loved with an everlasting Love!  :)

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    Welcome, Laurie! This is one of the few best places I have ever been in terms of vulnerability (smile), depth and hang your hair down and let’s talk it out. LOL I have a lot of fun here as well learning from women who loves the Lord and His Word. and I get to practice my English as my second language without fearing I am messing up with my grammar.

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    Welcome Laurie  :)   May you be as deeply encouraged and challenged here as I have been over these past four and a half years after “stumbling” on to this blog.    I too was hesitant to say much at first.     This is a safe and beautiful place to come together for significant encouragement.

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15. I was intrigued by the Msg translation of this passage. It says “the son of the slave woman was born by human connivance, the son of the free woman was born by God’s promise” isn’t that always the way? I try to work things out my way so I will be happy, content, complete, satisfied. I am conniving, which in our language has an element of deceit and manipulation.

Again, from the Msg: the child who came from faithless connivance (Ishmael) harassed the child who came – empowered by the Spirit – from the faithful promise (Isaac). Harassment we now experience from the world and even other Christians follows that old pattern of mocking and shaming. The world resents freedom, culture always calls us to conformity. If the Son sets you free, you are free indeed!

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    Your comment, Laurie, reminds me of what Keller says that in America right now the most common form of persecution is the smirk.

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Thanks, Dee. I’ll try not to fall into that one!

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    :-)

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5. Read Galatians 4:8-20 
A. What two questions does Paul ask in verse 9? 
“But now that you know God—or rather are known by God—how is it that you are turning back to those weak and miserable forces? Do you wish to be enslaved by them all over again?”Galatians‬ ‭4:9‬ ‭
B. How does legalism or works-righteousness enslave you? 
No matter what we do we can not keep the whole Law. Trying to attain the unattainable is a trap.  God never intended for us but that the law would point us to Jesus.
C. According to verse 14, how did the Galatians first treat Paul and why?
He was welcomed as if he was an angel pa as if he was Jesus B.B.
D. What two questions does he ask in verses 15 and 16? 
Where is my blessing now?  Have I become your enemy because I spoke the truth?
6. How would you assess your joy? If you have lost it, why do you think you have? (Important to ponder!)
I realize during difficult times my joy level goes down. It frustrates me to see this happen but when I am working something out this is my typical response. However, I still faithfully worship my God. It may be a sacrifice to lift my voice or my hands in these times but I think God is ok with that. As I begin to work through a challenge or a trial I will find rest and my joy level will go up and stay up. I work hard to enter into the rest God has for us so that my joy stays full! When I see myself becoming critical or negative, I purpose to get into God’s presence by reading my Bible, praying, worshiping and speaking God’s word aloud and that does it for me. My joy comes right back!

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13. Have you experienced the slavery of artificial “Christian” standards put on you? If so, share. If not, share how you have been kept free.

I think I have done this to myself in different areas, at different times–probably starting with a Prov. 31 book study my first year married that nearly scarred me! Thankfully, after 25 years, I can appreciate the Scripture now, but I definitely used it to apply certain standards and rules to myself that were legalistic in nature. I’m not a home school mom, I never birthed a child, and never breastfed…there have been times when I felt others judged me as “less than” for those things even more than I have myself.  It seems many women’s books, Bible studies seem to use pregnancy or nursing as reference points and sometimes it can still sting, just to realize how assumed it is and how “dysfunctional” I am. But it’s funny, in a prayer group this week at work the topic came up, and I just smiled and listened, and noticed the absence of the pain. Instead of feeling sensitive or uncared for–I felt a peace that He chose me; that yes, some have to walk the road I have and He chose me to be one who will do it without bitterness towards Him, and allow it to give me a heart of compassion towards those who don’t feel they measure up in some way.

14. Read Galatians 4:27. What does it say and what does it mean? Translate it to our culture.

Paul is quoting Isaiah 54:1, where Isaiah prophesies about the future of Israel after her captivity to Babylon. God has promised to bring more children under the new covenant.

15. Read Galatians 4:28-31 A. How did the son of the slave woman (Ishmael) persecute the son of the free woman (Isaac). What parallel is Paul making?

Ishmael mocked Isaac (Gen. 21:9), and Paul makes the parallel of the legalistic compared to those free in Christ. It is interesting to me where Paul quotes Sarah saying ” ‘Cast out the slave woman and her son…’ ” . There is a strong reminder that we cannot love two masters, we must cast out the lies of the enemy and self-righteousness to receive and live in the freedom of the Gospel.

B. Have you ever judged a sister in Christ unfairly for not living as you feel is best, but is not prescribed by Scripture?

Sadly, yes, I have been judgmental of certain lifestyle choices, language, or media choices. But I do have a question here too–sometimes I struggle though too because I think Phil. 4:8 does speak against certain choices, recognizing I daily fall short of its standard myself, but sometimes I hear Christians talk as if certain things are “gray” areas, and I’m not so sure I agree? I know they are not ESSENTIALS to faith, but gray? Of course I have to be careful of my tendency towards legalism and loving black & white ;)

C. If you have felt judged by others on a non-scriptural choice, how should you respond according to Romans 14:22?

I think this answers my “questions” in B, above. This is so good to remember whether I am the one feeling judged or the one judging others–to trust it to the Lord, asking Him to search my heart, convict me where needed, but keep it between God and myself…and trust Him to convict others if needed.

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    Pondering your hurt over metaphors of birthing and breast-feeding. As I head to Georgia to film, one I was going to use was “Can a mother forget the baby at her breast?” Pray I know if I should or not! I want to heal, not hurt.
    Would it help if after I said, “A mother can’t forget for her breasts become painful until the baby nurses — for those of you whom God called instead to mother in other ways — you might think, can a mother forget to cover her shivering baby — and yes, though she may forget, God will never forget us.” Help me, Lizzy!

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      oh Dee–so sorry to just see this! You have NEVER offended me in ANY of your writings, and not just because I know your heart! You are gracious and careful–and truly, it is something I needed to work through with Him and where He has me now, I feel more “chosen” than “dysfunctional” (in most ways!) :D

      Praying for this time in Georgia--Oh Lord, we ask that You bless Dee’s travels, that flights would be easy and on time, for Your blessing over all the many logistics of planning and technology, women who come–for hearts to be soft and ready to hear Your truth, we ask that You would cover every detail of what is shared, what is heard, and that You alone Lord would be glorified. In Your Name we ask, Amen.

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    Lizzy,

    Your words pierced me here this morning.   Reminds me of how He alone can make the bitter water sweet.  (Exodus 15:22-27)

      He chose me; that yes, some have to walk the road I have and He chose me to be one who will do it without bitterness towards Him, and allow it to give me a heart of compassion towards those who don’t feel they measure up in some way.

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    Phil 4:8 has been one way God has shown me to handle strong emotions like anger or intense worry and anxiety…when these emotions surface…I am to purposefully let my mind dwell on “these things”- those that are true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, of good repute, excellent, and worthy of praise. By directing my mind to dwell on those things I am kept from being judgmental and bitter.

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9. Read Galatians 4:24-26 (The brain-twister!)
 
A. What covenant does Hagar’s son represent and why? – Children of slavery because this birth was decided upon by man and not God.
 
B. What covenant does Sarah’s son represent and why? – Children of freedom because this birth was of the Spirit. 
 
10. Go back to Galatians 3:2-3. Here Paul expresses this same truth plainly. What does he say? – “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?
 
11. John Stott said the real question is not who our father is (for 3 major religions claim Abraham as their father: Islam, Judaism, and Christianity), but rather, who is your mother? What does he mean? – Is this depending on how the mother conceived? If by praying and waiting for the Spirit to intervene you would be conceived by faith, but if you took things into your own hands and didn’t wait for the Lord, than it was not done by faith.
 
12. Who is your mother and why do you say that? – I would say both Hagar and Sarah are since I am still a work in progress and sin every day, but asking for forgiveness and repenting allows me to be Sarah’s child as well.
 

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13. Have you experienced the slavery of artificial “Christian” standards put on you? If so, share. If not, share how you have been kept free. – I think back and believe that maybe I did have the artificial “Christian” standards put in to my mind. When I first became a Christian I was made to think that you had to be able to have the gift of speaking in tongues, and you had to remove anything NOT Christian from your home. I believe that all of these things are gifts but not mandatory to get into Heaven or have a relationship with Jesus. I do watch what I allow to come into my mind, I sensor what my eyes take in, but I think that God created everything that is good whether it is secular music or Christian music. I also think that not every one is gifted to speak in tongues. How sad to look back at this now, this could really put someone in a bad way and very stressed out over how they live their lives.
 
14. Read Galatians 4:27. What does it say and what does it mean? Translate it to our culture. “Rejoice, O barren one who does not bear; break forth and cry aloud, you who are not in labor! For the children of the desolate one will be more than those of the one who has a husband.” At first I’m thinking that it means that being barren is no longer a negative status, but as I read on, I see that it says the children of the faithless have out numbered the free and the free are being harassed by the faithless. Does this mean that our society has overwhelmingly done what it wants and not had faith in Christ to wait for Him to move?
 
The next passage is very interesting. John Stott explains that often our persecution comes not from the world, but from the church, because we are not living up to their self-imposed standards. It could be anything from immunizing our children to raising our hands in worship.  
 
15. Read Galatians 4:28-31
 
 A. How did the son of the slave woman (Ishmael) persecute the son of the free woman        (Isaac). What parallel is Paul making? – I guess I got a head of myself. I think I’m asking this in the above question. 
 
B. Have you ever judged a sister in Christ unfairly for not living as you feel is best, but is not prescribed by Scripture? – I thinking that I may have when the woman who had part in bringing me to Christ got sick, she waited and waited for the Lord to heal her, when she could possibly still be alive is she would have gone and had surgery to remove her cancer. I never said anything to her, but in my mind I kept wondering, and though, just go and have surgery, maybe the Lord is providing this doctor for you to live.
 
C. If you have felt judged by others on a non-scriptural choice, how should you respond according to Romans 14:22? – I need to step back, review my life and my outward actions to see if maybe they see something that I don’t realize I’m doing. OUCH! THAT HURT!
 

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    15C — That’s good Julie. I think also, to realize God looks at the heart that is endeavoring to glorify Him, even if we have stepped into legalism or rejected what actually does please Him.

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My take-away

In studying this passage, I cam across another quote from John Stott on the Law (cited from “The Bible Speaks Today”. He said:

“God intended the law to reveal sin and to drive men to Christ; Satan uses it to reveal sin and to drive men to despair. God meant the law as an interim step to man’s justification; Satan uses it as the final step to his condemnation. God meant the law to be a stepping-stone to liberty; Satan uses it as a cul-de-sac, deceiving his dupes into supposing that from its fearful bondage there is no escape.”

I am convicted that when I turn to works-righteousness either to justify myself or condemn someone else, I am helping Satan with his tactics. He desires to use the law to condemn, to hold captive, and that is what I am participating in.

This week I was reminded of the incompatibility of the Law and freedom.As long as I am trying to earn–anything–I cannot truly taste what it means to be freed.

Today I felt quickened by a wonderful sermon from Piper on being a vessel of God’s mercy–it seems to coincide with this lesson here, until we really see the mercy granted us, we cannot pour it out to others. To the degree that I know the freedom that the Gospel brings, I am free to share that grace with others. It reminds me of a lesson a few weeks ago–when Dee asked about our purpose. I really believe the more we see what we have been set free of and for–then we are willing to risk, to live differently, with eternity in mind, and that will change your course. When the goal is “simply” to bring Him glory, and we rest in the assurance of what we have been given, there are no chains, no limits. Sorry–think I rambled a bit!

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    Lizzy,

    I love this, “I am convicted that when I turn to works-righteousness either to justify myself or condemn someone else, I am helping Satan with his tactics. He desires to use the law to condemn, to hold captive, and that is what I am participating in.”

    This is so true and something I am working on presently.  I think of it this way, Satan is the accuser of the brethren and when I judge others, I am coming into agreement with Satan.  This thought has blown my mind this year.  The Bible mentions so much about agreement and unity.  I am purposing daily to not judge even in the slightest way (this is so challenging) and I am asking forgiveness daily.

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    So good — Lizzy found from Stott:

    “God intended the law to reveal sin and to drive men to Christ; Satan uses it to reveal sin and to drive men to despair. God meant the law as an interim step to man’s justification; Satan uses it as the final step to his condemnation. God meant the law to be a stepping-stone to liberty; Satan uses it as a cul-de-sac, deceiving his dupes into supposing that from its fearful bondage there is no escape.”

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    Oh, Lizzy! Thank you for putting these thoughts into words. I love how you tied it all together.

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13. Have you experienced the slavery of artificial “Christian” standards put on you? If so, share. If not, share how you have been kept free.
How to dress in church; long hair for men;
I think I go back to what we have studied here to stay firm with the non-negotiables like saved by faith, the Triune God. And to always remember that God loves me even if I have my own preferences.
14. Read Galatians 4:27. What does it say and what does it mean? Translate it to our culture.
The barren woman can be fruitfully raising children not of her own when she is in the Lord. Having a lot of children does not mean that you are more blessed than the one who does not have children at all. I need to be sensitive to my single lady friends-I do have a few of them. And they actually have been very loving, productive citizens of our community giving of their time, energy and resources that my other friends who have many children have not been able to give at this season of their lives.
15. Read Galatians 4:28-31
 A. How did the son of the slave woman (Ishmael) persecute the son of the free woman        (Isaac). What parallel is Paul making?
Not sure what is the answer to this question. I looked up the verses that may apply to this in Genesis 21. It mentioned Ishmael mocking Isaac and Sarah saw that.
Is Paul saying that the slave woman’s son will always be after our inheritance and thereby challenges our standing as freed citizens of the Kingdom?
A.   Have you ever judged a sister in Christ unfairly for not living as you feel is best, but is not prescribed by Scripture?
Yes and it is quite a temptation to do it often.
B.   If you have felt judged by others on a non-scriptural choice, how should you respond according to Romans 14:22?
To keep it between myself and God.. Only God is our judge.
 

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Saturday:
16. What is your take-a-way and why?
 To memorize Galatians (hah!) or at least frequently read it to remind me of who I am in Christ and how I can live in freedom.

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Wednesday: We Are Sons of Abraham!

7.    A. What does Jesus tell the Jews in verse 32? And how do they respond in verse 33? 
 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”They answered him, “We are Abraham’s descendants and have never been slaves of anyone. How can you say that we shall be set free?”
    B. Why does Jesus call them Abraham’s descendants rather than Abraham’s sons?
Jesus makes the distinction that he is doing what he has seen from his Father and these descendants are doing what they have heard from their father (devil).  Abraham’s sons follow God and descendants don’t.
8.  A. How many sons did Abraham have and who were their mothers?
He had two sons one by the slave woman and one by the free.  They represent the two covenants.  Sarah represents freedom and Hagar represents slavery
    B. What was the difference between the sons of these two mothers?
They represent the two covenants.  Sarah represents freedom and Hagar represents slavery.
 

 

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13. Have you experienced the slavery of artificial “Christian” standards put on you? If so, share. If not, share how you have been kept free.
 

Probably with homeschooling my kids; I couldn’t always do it because we needed my paycheck. I wish we had been more frugal and didn’t have the beautiful expensive home. Then we might have been able to continue homeschooling with me being able to stay home. We shouldn’t have worried about money.

 
14. Read Galatians 4:27. What does it say and what does it mean? Translate it to our culture.
 

He praises the desolate woman (Sarah) who was given the opportunity to finally have children just like the free woman.

 

Not it sure I can translate this one. I will try. The desolate woman was given not only the one son she physically had, but also all the descendants of that son. They are free because they have faith in the Lord, not the law. Those of us who have this faith are free and are sons of Sarah, not Hagar.

 
15. Read Galatians 4:28-31 
 A. How did the son of the slave woman (Ishmael) persecute the son of the free woman (Isaac). What parallel is Paul making? 
 

Ishmael would not share the inheritance with Issac. As far as the parallel goes…is he saying the Jews were hesitant to share the gift of Jesus and the freedom from the Jewish law with the Gentiles?

 
B. Have you ever judged a sister in Christ unfairly for not living as you feel is best, but is not prescribed by Scripture? 
 

Probably, if I’m honest.

 
C. If you have felt judged by others on a non-scriptural choice, how should you respond according to Romans 14:22?
 

I’m not exactly sure what a “non-scriptural choice would be? Most contentious things are stated in the Bible; food, drink, sexual relations, leadership, etc.

however….

I should keep it between myself and God.

 

 

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16. What is your take-a-way and why?

 

I think the idea of the two mothers is SO interesting! I have never heard of anything like it. I will remember who I want my mother to be (Sarah), and strive to have the faith that it takes to be one of her descendants. This is a difficult topic for someone who is young in their faith.

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    Yes, Laura — it is a brain twister.

    I found this verse from Isaiah (Motyer’s translation)

    Stubborn sons…bent on making plans, but not from me, bent on covering with a covering, but not my Spirit.

    That’s the Hagar way.

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      Dee, I love Motyer’s translation here. And a side comment on it. “Stubborn sons” not stubborn sons and daughters because I have learned that we women are called sons as well. Words and phrases have taken on more meaning for me. I really appreciate the depth by which you are leading us in this Galatians study. I have never felt as free in Christ! And my sisters here-so ever grateful.

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Another take away for me:

“Works-righteousness, Luther said, is the default mode of the human heart. Instead of resting in God’s love and approval of me,I am constantly building my own righteousness.”

Living the Christian life is a God-dependent life or else one will not have His help in countering the heart’s default mode of work-righteousness. Praying and staying attune to the Spirit sure requires a moment by moment dependence on Him.

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My take away…from Galatians 4:30…There is a Scripture that tells us what to do (when we are being harassed)…Cast out, eject, expel, the bondwoman and her son (have to throw out both mother and son) for the slave son will not inherit with the free son!

The children of the free woman, who were born by the power of the Spirit (v. 29), must learn to express their freedom by walking in the Spirit. They must not submit to slavery under the Law or gratify the desires of the flesh. Identity is the basis of behavior: a clear understanding of who we are in Christ guides our conduct in the Spirit. (Taken from the Berean Bible Church website). Lord, may my identity be based in You and You alone! 

I think the casting out of Hagar and Ishmael is done by obeying 2 Corinthians  10:5 that says “We are casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.” We are each called to cast out our Ishmael (idols) and lay our Isaacs down (not resurrect our idols).

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My take-away.

My reading this morning from the Tim Keller Daily devotional based on the psalms closes with a prayer that beautifully and significantly coincides  and dovetails into our study here this week.  Keller’s prayer is my take-away prayer ~

 
Father, my mind knows the doctrine – that my salvation and standing with you depend not on my works but on Christ’s works.  Yet my heart doesn’t fully believe it, and so I go back and forth between pride and self-loathing, depending on my performance.  Let my heart fully grasp that “salvation is from the Lord” ~  Amen

 

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    Thanks so much for sharing this prayer!

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    Love this, Nila! Copying it on to my notebook. Thanks for sharing.

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Thursday: Who Is Your Mother?

9. Read Galatians 4:24-26 (The brain-twister!)
A. What covenant does Hagar’s son represent and why? 
 
The Ishmael represents the covenant of slavery and being under the law.  Abraham took the promise of God into his own hands and by the work of his flesh produced Ishmael with another woman Hagar.  This was never what God intended.  The promises of God comes alive to us by our faith in God and in his word.  It is only in believing not striving or good works (obeying the law) that bring to pass the promise of God.  Abraham is the father of faith and our example.  This applies to us for our promises…our lost children, husbands and family members.  The picture of hands raised up in worship represents hands off and lifted high in honor of the promise keeper that does for us what we are unable to do for ourselves.  God gets all the glory!
B. What covenant does Sarah’s son represent and why? 
 
Isaac represents the promise of God and freedom.  Freedom from the law that curses us.  The law that can never satisfy.
10. Go back to Galatians 3:2-3. Here Paul expresses this same truth plainly. What does he say? 
 
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?
11. John Stott said the real question is not who our father is (for 3 major religions claim Abraham as their father: Islam, Judaism, and Christianity), but rather, who is your mother? What does he mean? 
 
Sarah brought forth the promise with faith in God alone.  Sarah attempted to help out God by providing Abraham with her maid Hagar.  If we claim Hagar as our mother we are under the law (works) and have yet to receive the promise of God.
12. Who is your mother and why do you say that? 
 
Sarah is my mother because I have received the promise.  I am a child of God.  I am an heir.  

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13. Have you experienced the slavery of artificial “Christian” standards put on you? If so, share. If not, share how you have been kept free.
I homeschooled our boys during a time of transition with a corporate move from one state to the another.  In looking for homeschooling supplies, I attended a homeschool conference.  There were people selling grain to grind and make your own bread.  They were proclaiming  the message to be like the ant working hard and doing the very best for your family.  I was homeschooling during a time of transition because it was the best option for our family at the time.  I resented the message that it was the best and all the other works put on women to steal their freedom.  Women were made to feel less than by some if they didn’t make their own bread, keep their home, school their children.  To me, it was works and law and no freedom to decide what was best for your family.  Homeschooling should work for your family not the family working hard to be the perfect homeschooling family.
14. Read Galatians 4:27. What does it say and what does it mean? Translate it to our culture.
The barren woman with a husband represents Sarah.  Sarah represents freedom in from the law and living in the promises of God.  We are free to live and be lead by the spirit and to not have to adhere to rules that others love to put over us.
The next passage is very interesting. John Stott explains that often our persecution comes not from the world, but from the church, because we are not living up to their self-imposed standards. It could be anything from immunizing our children to raising our hands in worship.  
15. Read Galatians 4:28-31
 A. How did the son of the slave woman (Ishmael) persecute the son of the free woman        (Isaac). What parallel is Paul making?  There was persecution from the law (Ishmael) toward Isaac (the promise). 
 Ishmael doesn’t share our inheritance of freedom.  People in church are made of of those that understand their freedom and those that don’t.  Those in bondage try to bring others under it.
B. Have you ever judged a sister in Christ unfairly for not living as you feel is best, but is not prescribed by Scripture?
  Yes, unfortunately.  One of the things I am truly working on today is not judging at all.  People in the church are in different places in God.  I am not called to be a judge and when I do, it brings me back to a place of bondage.  I am  unconsciously identifying with the law, bondage, and works. 
C. If you have felt judged by others on a non-scriptural choice, how should you respond according to Romans 14:22? 
We should be quiet about our decisions to live in freedom and not make it a focal point, argue or make it a divisive issue. I have been guilty of this. We are called to live in peace and be peacemakers.  Satan is the accuser not the church.  We are called to love.
 

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7. For context, read John 8:31-41.

A. What does Jesus tell the Jews in verse 32? And how do they respond in verse 33? They will know the truth and the truth will set them free. They answer that they are not slaves, indeed, they are of a superior race so how can Jesus indicate that they ‘need’ anything let alone freedom?!

B. Why does Jesus call them Abraham’s descendants rather than Abraham’s sons? Offspring is a technical term. Sons is a term of endearment and belonging. The text goes one to say that their true father is the devil. So even though you may biologically have come from someone’s flesh and blood, father and son relationship can have a much different, deeper meaning.

8. Now, turn to Galatians 4:21-23.

A. How many sons did Abraham have and who were their mothers? Abraham had two sons, one with a slave woman (Hagar) and one with a free woman (Sarah),

B. What was the difference between the sons of these two mothers? There are a few obvious ones, but what stands out to me is that one was *meant* to be the mother of God’s promise people and the other was not meant to be that mother. So Ishmael was born out of a fear that led to a desire to control which is the opposite of trust.

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    Jill, love your wording to 8b! Made me stop and think.

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9. Read Galatians 4:24-26 (the brain-twister!)

A. What covenant does Hagar’s sin represent and why? Hagar’s son represents those who are in slavery, soecifically the current Jerusalem living in slavery, under the law. I think that there is even deeper meaning within the parallel to amount Sinai (for that is where the law was given?) but can not pinpoint it yet…. Hagar’s son represents slave children because she, herself, was a slave. But also because she conceived as a result of someone’s fear trying to force the fulfillment of God’s promise, which is a similar attitude to works based salvation…caring more about checking the box than about seeing how God writes the story.

B. What covenant does Sarah’s son represent and why? The “Jerusalem above” which I think means the new Jerusalem or heaven? That son represents the child of the Promise. Why… because God promised Abraham a son  through Sarah…she was the one that the promise was to come to. She could do absolutely nothing to make herself pregnant, she had to wait on God to open her womb. So, to, our salvation – I can DO nothing to secure my salvation, I must rely on God’s gift.

Go back to Galatians 3:2-3. Here Paul expresses this same truth plainly. What does he say? We receive the Soirit by faith. What was given to us by faith cannot be made better by our work filthy works.

11. John Stott said the real question is not who our father is, but rather, who is your mother? What does he mean? Is my mother a slave or a free woman? Am I bound by the law or free in the promise? Is my salvation by works or faith? This points to Christ, of course, but also is a question for my day to day faith – do I rest waiting with trust for God to fulfill His promises or do I not trust and try to make things work out the way I think His promises should work out?

12. Who is your mother and why do you say that? Will need to read others’ answers to see if I truly understand but I think: So simple yet so profound. I had anticipated some major lesson in Biblical genealogy … but instead a simple (impactful) revelation that Sarah is my mother because I am a child of God’s promise by faith and not by my own manipulation, works, or finagling.

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    Jill, again your great wording: Hagar conceived as a result of someone’s fear, trying to force the fulfillment of God’s promise.

    And right after that, Works based salvation is more about checking the boxes than waiting to see how God writes the story.

    Your comments will be part of my takeaway.

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Reminder to myself & us all this week:  Stay FREE in the freedom that Christ has bought for us & don’t become slaves again!

This is a challenge cause our default is to go into works rather than resting in the Lord’s provision for us by grace. Lord help us to behold You afresh, to rest in You & to know Your Joy!

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    Agree totally, Jenny! I am going to write the word free and tape it on several places at home and at school. Good idea for a stamp.

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13. Have you experienced the slavery of artificial “Christian” standards put on you? If so, share, sadly, yes. We  left our church a year ago because of the increasing list of actions that brought disapproval to the leadership. Nothing they said was “wrong” doctrinally speaking but the heart behind it was suffocating and judge mental… it was a difficult situation. As a woman aid was not even allowed to lead a song from the piano. Another example is that I know many who will look down on non-homeschoolers.

14. Read Galatians 4:27. What does it say and what does it mean? Translate it to our culture. I’m not fully sure. It is a quote from Old Testament and a Paul is using it to refer to Hagar and Sarah, slave and free. So Sarah, the barren one will have more children than ‘those that have a husband?’ Does this mean the barren one doesn’t have a husband? Sarah, the barren one, is the mother of many due to the promise. Children who are slaves are not a part of the sons of God.I don’t think I’m getting it right.

15. Read Galatians 4:28-31.

A. How did the son of the slave woman (Ishmael) persecute the son of the free woman (Isaac). What parallel is Oaul making? Ishmael laughed at Isaac after he weaned (not sure how long after…). Genesis doesn’t seem to indicate why, but it was enough to upset Sarah and think that Ishmael was a threat. The parallel is that the Pharisees were scoffing at Jesus. The slave children laughing at the true child of the promise.

B. Have you ever judged a sister in Christ unfairly for not living as you feel is best, but is not prescribed by scripture? Sadly, yes. Though I would like to say it is out of concern for their well-being (and truly it may be sometimes). But mostly (God forgive me) it is me noticing that that individual hasn’t quite gotten to “my level of maturity.” Ha! As if I were anywhere near “mature!” I see the Lord working here, though…He puts in me a call to repentance when this happens lately… even before pondering this questions!

C. If you have felt judged by others in a non-scriptural choice, how should you respond according to Romans 14:22? Do not cause a brother to stumble with your choice, either conservative or liberal (implied here). Keep the faith yto u have between yourself unselfish and God. This isn’t always possible with some more public choices but I see how this would provide a guideline for your ur responses to people’s questions.

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14. Read Galatians 4:27. What does it say and what does it mean? Translate it to our culture.

Paul is quoting from Isaiah in this verse, but to understand the meaning, I believe you have to go back to what he’s been talking about: the two women who bore the two sons of Abraham. One was the free woman and the other the slave. Paul says that “these things may be taken figuratively because the women represent two covenants.” So, I believe the metaphor in verse 27 of the barren woman: “Be glad, O barren woman, who bears no children, break forth and cry aloud, you who have no labor pains, because more are the children of the desolate woman than of her who has a husband”, figuratively this is Sarah. She is the “barren, desolate woman”, yet “more are her children” because through her seed came nations and kings and The King, and all the children of God.

Trying to put this in today’s words….perhaps we could say that we may be barren or desolate in some way, yet we should still rejoice, for the promises of God are great and are ours, and we shouldn’t envy those who seem to have it all but they don’t have God.

 

15. Read Galatians 4:28-31

A. How did the son of the slave woman (Ishmael) persecute the son of the free woman (Isaac)? What parallel is Paul making?

If I remember, Sarah had a party when Isaac was weaned, and Ishmael was mocking him. That’s when she demanded that he be sent away. Paul’s parallel is that the men who had come to these believers were persecuting them because of their freedom in Christ (the believers being “Isaac” and these men representing “Ishmael”). Paul keeps reminding them that they are sons of the free woman, so get rid of these people!

B. Have you ever judged a sister in Christ unfairly for not living as you feel is best, but is not prescribed by Scripture?

Yes, I have. I remember many years ago being in a study with a very lovely woman who had a fabulous body, and she dressed to show it and always looked like she’d just stepped out of the beauty salon. She said that she dressed for her husband and that’s what he liked, but in my mind I was thinking things like “you’re not being very modest….looks shouldn’t be so important to you….”.

C. If you have felt judged by others on a non-scriptural choice, how should you respond according to Romans 14:22?

This is great advice, both for when I may be judgmental of another believer or find myself being judged: keep it between yourself and God. Often when I feel critical of another believer, I tell myself that she is God’s daughter too, and He doesn’t play favorites, and He wouldn’t want there to be rivalry, jealousy, or bickering between His children.

16. What is your take-away and why?

To continue to examine myself in the area of ways I am trying to build my own righteousness, or living like an orphan and not a son, and when I feel my joy evaporating, to look deeply for the cause….is it legalism, idolatry, living like an orphan….ask myself Paul’s question, “What has happened to all your joy?” Ask myself, “who is my mother?” One of the chapters of Rose Marie Miller’s book opened with a wonderful quote: “To make sense and feeling the judges of our spiritual conditions, what is it but to make ourselves happy and miserable, righteous and unrighteous, saved and damned in one day….Be much in believing, and make only the Scripture the judge of your condition….If you resolve to make sense and feeling the judge of your conditions, you must resolve to live in fears, and lie down in tears.” I believe this ties-in with the struggles of these early believers that Paul was addressing in his letter….they were going back and forth between simple faith, belief, and trust, and legalism, and it had disastrous effects on them.

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Saturday: 
16. What is your take-a-way and why?
This study is powerful. I will never look at Galatians the same.

-God wants to deliver us from this evil age. We must cry out to receive his power.  It is possible to live above our natural desires.

-Any doctrine that requires more than faith in the completed work of Christ is a false gospel!  It is for freedom that Christ has set us free!!!

-The Law brings a curse upon us but faith in Christ brings liberty!

-Who is your mother?  I always identified with Abraham, the father of faith but who is your mother really pinpoints where you are.  Is your mother Hagar that represents the law? Or is your mother Sarah that represents freedom in Christ?

-Our freedom should not be a stumbling block for others. Nor should it be the topic to persuade, argue or point out the lack of freedom in the lives of others.

I believe Galatians may become my favorite book in the Bible!!!

 

 

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