• Tony Birkhead

BROKEN CHAINS 2019



Don’t Quit! God’s up to something!

INTRODUCTION

When have you seen someone make a small investment that led to a great profit?


When have you “kicked yourself” for failing to jump on an investment opportunity?


Business leaders and financiers make decisions based on the principle of ROI: return on investment. Before a business spends a lot of time, energy, and money on a new product, leaders want to know if the return—the profit—will be worth it.

This principle is nothing new to those in agriculture. You sow seeds in a field; you receive a full crop. The principle is equally applicable to our lives. The apostle Paul reminded us of this principle—the law of the harvest—and related it to the great good we could do in the lives of others.

KEY SCRIPTURE

Galatians 6:7-10

Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. 8 Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. 9 Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. 10 Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.


DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

Read Galatians 6:7.

What examples would you use to explain this principle in today’s culture, especially since so many people don’t live in an agricultural setting?


How does the fact that “God is not mocked” lead us to consider how we live our lives?


“You reap what you sow” is the law of the harvest. It’s a farmer’s way of describing cause and effect. This principle applies to how we walk with Christ. Just as a farmer who does not sow seed cannot expect crops, nor should the one who only sows to his flesh expect to yield spiritual fruit.


Read Galatians 6:8.

How would you characterize seeds sown to the flesh? Give examples.


How would you characterize seeds sown to the Spirit? Give examples.


What steps can we take to safeguard that we are sowing to the correct soil?


The “seed” we sow falls in only one of two soils: the flesh or the Spirit. Paul’s words were straightforward. Those who sow seed to the flesh will reap destruction, but those who sow seed to the Spirit will reap life. Paul also made it clear that this life is not produced solely by the efforts of the one reaping, but by the Spirit who gives life.


Read Galatians 6:9.

How did Paul encourage the Christians to endure in service?


What encourages you to keep going in Christian service even when you feel like giving up?


God promises to reward those who are faithful in the long run. One of the greatest frustrations in the Christian ministry, and a principal cause for “weariness in well doing,” is the inability to calculate the spiritual outcome of faithful labor in the work of the Lord. For this reason, we must be cautious in putting too much stock in what we often call “visible results.” We serve a sovereign God who has promised that His Word will not return void. The ultimate harvest is assured, but it will only come “at the proper time,” that is, in God’s own good time.


Read Galatians 6:10.

What is the Christian’s responsibility to those outside the faith?


What responsibility do believers have toward each other?


We have a dual focus: one is universal and all-embracing, “let us do good to all people”; the other is particular and specific, “especially to those who belong to the family of believers.” All persons are created in the image of God and are thus infinitely precious in His sight. Believers are bound to do good to all persons, whether or not they are Christians. However, there is a further obligation for the Christian to do good, especially to those who belong to the family of faith. We can’t meet every need we encounter, but we can step in “as we have opportunity.”


MOVING FORWARD

  • As a group, how can we encourage each other to not lose heart in doing good?

  • How can you help a member of your church with a particular burden he or she has?

  • How does perseverance in doing good shine a light on the truth of the gospel to those outside of the church?

PRAY TOGETHER

Ask God to convict us where we are not sowing good as we should. Thank Him for the opportunities He gives us to represent Him by serving others, and ask Him to keep us sensitive to new opportunities.

COMMENTARY

Galatians 6:7-10

6:7-9. To support his admonition to give, Paul shares a principle of cause and effect. A grave warning states that God cannot be mocked. Why? Because a man reaps what he sows. Mocked means “to turn up one’s nose” or “treat with contempt.” One who turns up his nose at God and sneers at him doesn’t change this immutable “law of the harvest.” Disregarding God’s counsel, we will always suffer. Each of us by our thoughts, attitudes, and actions is constantly planting for a future reaping. Time may pass before the crop ripens, but the harvest is inevitable. Consider the harvest! In this application of the harvest principle, by giving (sowing) to our spiritual leaders, we can expect to reap a spiritual harvest of abundant ministry. In contrast, a Christian who fails to support his spiritual leaders is sneering at God and can expect discipline. Such a selfish Christian spends his resources to gratify his own personal desires. In contrast, the Christian who shares his finances adds interest to the capital of eternal life. In a broader application of this principle, remember there are no miracle crops. You reap spiritually, relationally, mentally, and physically in direct relation to what you plant. It is foolish to think that you can live irresponsibly and not suffer damaging consequences. Yet to the generous, Paul shares an encouraging promise: Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. It is discouraging to continue to do good and not see a reward. Paul challenges the Galatians to keep on giving because God promises to reward those who are faithful in the long run.

6:10. The believer is to do good to both believers and unbelievers with believers having priority. Christians in that era suffered great economic hardship as a result of rejection and persecution. With no government assistance programs, they had no one else to help but other believers. Though Christians should be willing to help anyone in need, caring for fellow believers is still a priority.


DAILY QUIET TIME GUIDE


HOW TO HAVE A DAILY QUIET TIME

The QT Guide is designed to help you MOVE with God through Bible Reading, reflection and prayer. It can be completed in about 9 minutes.

UPWARD: 1⁄2 Minute Preparing Your Heart:Invest the first 30 seconds preparing your heart. You might pray, “Lord, cleanse my heart so You can speak to me through the Scriptures. Make my mind alert, my soul active, and my heart responsive. Surround me with Your presence during this time.

FORWARD: 4 Minutes Listening To God:Take the next four minutes to read the Bible. Your greatest need is to hear a word from God. Allow the Word to strike fire in your heart. Meet the Author!

INWARD: 2 1/2 Minutes Talking To God (Prayer):After God has spoken through His Book, then speak to Him in prayer.

OUTWARD: 2 Minutes Preparing your Action:Ask yourself this question: How can I take today’s Quiet Time and put it into action throughout my day?


DAY 1

The next day Jesus decided to leave for Galilee. Finding Philip, he said to him, “Follow me.” Philip, like Andrew and Peter, was from the town of Bethsaida. Philip found Nathanael and told him, “We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” “Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?” Nathanael asked. “Come and see,” said Philip.

John 1:43-46

Nathanael was skeptical of Jesus because of where he came from. His gut reaction was that nobody worthwhile, or “good,” could be from the despicable town of Nazareth. So, what was so bad about this town? For most of my life, I’d understood that it was simply a nothing-burger of a town. An inconsequential, backwater village of about 150 people. Honestly, Nathanael, seems a bit harsh here, doesn’t here? Who in the world even cares about a town like this?!

Well, the real story of Nazareth gives us a surprising look into what Jesus’ life growing up may have looked like. You see, archaeological evidence tells a different story than I ever knew. Instead of being inconsequential, Nazareth was likely the site of a Roman garrison. A garrison was simply the home base for Roman soldiers. And because a large Roman bath was also discovered there, it indicates this was actually a pretty big garrison, too.

This means a couple of things. First, instead of living in a town on the fringe of the Roman empire, it would’ve actually been a bustling military hub. This would have meant Jesus had quite a bit of experience with the Romans growing up. Second, it’s likely that Joseph, Jesus’ earthly father, would’ve had lots of work as a mason (carpenter) for the Romans. So, it’s no wonder that Nathanael would’ve had a negative reaction to Nazareth. It was a town connected to the Roman empire. On top of that, it was likely a closely-connected “affiliate center” for Jerusalem, which some Jews (like Nathanael) wouldn’t have respected much. Regardless, Nazareth had more going on than I ever knew.

This matters because where we are from does not define us or our impact. Whether Jesus was from a small village without much going on . . .Or a Roman garrison town brushing shoulders with the evil empire . . . Jesus had a mission to save the entire world. Jesus’ didn’t! So, no matter where you’re from, God can use you to bring the Gospel in incredible ways. And I absolutely believe that he wants to.

Adapted From: http://shortdailydevotions.com


DAY 2

but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Romans 5:8

Gosh, I hear this a lot in Christian circles that it’s un-Christlike to not “like” someone. Well that’s a bunch of hogwash. All of us have different personalities, and it is unrealistic that you will “like” everyone, or be in relationship with them. There are four Greek words for love, two used in the Bible specifically: phileo and agape.

Now, phileo is a deep friendship type of love. This would be those people you hang with, your besties, the people you actually like to be around and “click” with. The other type of love is agape. Agape is a willful love, a purposeful love of the heart and the mind, that shows kindness in spite of whether or not you “like” someone. Hence, it’s a stronger love. It was agape love that drove Jesus, not because He liked people or what they did, quite the contrary. He liked a few close friends. He chose willfully to show kindness and mercy to even His enemies, those who profaned Him. It was agape love that kept Him on the cross so that His enemies could become sons and daughters.

We are told, “be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake has forgiven you.” (Eph 4:32) This is agape love, that you willfully show kindness, even when you don’t “like” someone; that you willfully forgive, even when you don’t feel like it. This purposeful agape love, therefore, makes it possible to “love your enemies and do good to those who misuse you” even when you don’t “like” them. If you’re struggling with this today, draw on His strength and His power!

Adapted From: http://shortdailydevotions.com


DAY 3

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

James 1:2-4

Recently, I was invited by a friend to try a spin class. A spin class, if you don’t know, is a group of individuals sitting on stationary bikes, riding like there’s no tomorrow. In other words, it’s a cardio workout x’s 100! I’m in alright shape, but WOW, I was not prepared for this…. 15 minutes into the class, and I felt like I was going to be sick. Eventually, I had to take a break; so I went to the bathroom to throw cold water on my face. Once I was back with the group, I pathetically asked my friend “How long is this class?”. Trying to encourage me, she says “We’re half-way there, just pedal slowly, you don’t have to keep up with everyone”. I started praying “God pa-pa-pa-please help me get through this class, I don’t want to be a quitter and leave, I can do all things with You, God!”. Soon enough, I heard the instructor say “You’re half way there guys, don’t give up.”

I locked my eyes on a woman named “Rosa”; she was so strong, and her strength and ability inspired me to keep on pedaling. I started paying closer attention to the instructor’s words as he was encouraging his class; letting us know we were almost done, we were almost to the finish line. Just as he said this, the entire class kicked into high gear. It was then that I realized; this group has run this race before. They know and trust the instructor, and they’ve learned how to remain steadfast in this race, conserving their energy for when they need it most.

We go through trials in our lives, and we will forever encounter trying times. I’ve asked myself before; would it be easier to endure if we knew that the trial was temporary? Would we give it our best and pedal our little hearts out if we knew that we were almost done, and just about to claim our blessing? Well my friends, we do have that promise.

We know that for every trial, every hurt, every trying time in our life, we’re about to be blessed like we can’t imagine! When we are pushing through, we should call out to our Father for help!

And just like spin class experts, I think we have our mentors, our experienced/seasoned angels that have been through so much in their lives that they do breeze through them, because they know, that it’s not going to last forever, and that their blessing is going to be great. We should look at the “Rosa’s” in our lives and be encouraged to keep on keeping on!

Adapted From: http://shortdailydevotions.com


DAY 4

Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” 6 So we say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid.

What can mere mortals do to me?”

Hebrews 13:5-6

Craig Stowe served on a naval ship during World War II. As his vessel prepared for an attack, the commanding officer lined up the men. As usual, a volunteer was needed to ride out the battle in the crow’s nest and send pertinent information to the captain. No one stepped forward. Then, Stowe heard the Lord speak to his heart: I’ll be with you up there, as I am down here. The young man volunteered, and he endured without a single scratch. In fact, he reported that no harm even came near him.

Years later, Mr. Stowe told this story to his Sunday school class of teenage boys. The truth in that adventure made a profound difference to one of the students, who came from a difficult and chaotic home situation. He never forgot the life-changing message: “God is always with you no matter where you are.”

I was that young man. As I matured in my faith and studied Scripture, God confirmed what Mr. Stowe had taught me. I saw that Jesus stressed His abiding presence to His disciples. He knew how quickly a sense of rejection would settle in after the crucifixion. Moreover, potentially discouraging hardship awaited them as they carried the gospel to the rest of the world. So the Lord promised a Helper who would remain with Christians forever—the Holy Spirit.

Every day of a believer’s life is lived in the presence of Christ through His Holy Spirit. He comforts during hardship, encourages amidst difficulty, and strengthens in times of weakness. The benefits of a relationship with God are not postponed until heaven; we walk with Him now and always.

Adapted From: http://intouch.org


DAY 5

Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it.

1 Corinthians 9:24

One series of events in the Olympics that I especially enjoy is track and field. I love to watch the relay races, the long distant runs, and the short sprints. That is probably because I was into track and field when I was in high school.

I remember watching one Olympic race, a long-distance run, where one of the runners started off in the back. Then he moved up toward the middle. After that, with about four laps to go, he suddenly broke ahead and took the lead. I thought, Is he going to make it? Could he possibly win? Sure enough, in the last few laps, he fell back. The next thing I knew, he was in second place, third place, fourth place, and fifth place. He didn’t even win a medal.

I know what it is like to be in the last lap of a race, to be giving it your all, only to have your arms and your legs feel like rubber. It is so hard to keep running when that happens.

The Bible often compares the Christian life to running a race. In fact, the Apostle Paul frequently used athletic terms to describe what it is to be a Christian. In 1 Corinthians, he wrote, "Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it" (1 Corinthians 9:24). And in his farewell to the elders of the church at Ephesus, he said, "But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy . . . " (Acts 20:24). So let’s not quit running our race. Let’s run to win a prize. Let’s finish with joy.

Adapted From: http://intouch.org


MOVING FORWARD

One of the best ways to fight temptation and grow in your daily walk with Jesus is to memorize His Word. Begin to commit His words to your memory this week.

Memorizing may be as simple as repeating the passage aloud 10 times each day or writing it 5 times each day. It may be that you place a 3x5 card on your mirror to remind you each day. Whatever it takes you won’t be let down with His Word in your mind and heart. Consider this…


Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.

Galatians 6:9

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