In it, but not captive to it

When asked what some of my favorite passages are in the Bible, I generally reference the people or writers I connect with for some reason. For me, the Pauline epistles and the Book of Proverbs are probably some of my most 'frequented' reading. I have found much that I connect with when studying the life of David and have learned much about how to connect with the heart of God through simple, honest sharing of my heart as he did. I have to say that the Pauline epistles speak to me about how we should live, treat others, and the hope we have in Christ Jesus. Regardless of where you find your greatest connection in the Word, the most important thing is that the Word is taken in regularly, meditated upon with much thought, and allowed to change you from the inside out. That is what God intended by giving us such a magnificent book - the Bible.

This letter is from Paul, an apostle. I was not appointed by any group of people or any human authority, but by Jesus Christ himself and by God the Father, who raised Jesus from the dead. All the brothers and sisters here join me in sending this letter to the churches of Galatia. May God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ give you grace and peace. Jesus gave his life for our sins, just as God our Father planned, in order to rescue us from this evil world in which we live. All glory to God forever and ever! Amen. (Galatians 1:1-5)

Paul never flaunted his ministry position as the 'pastor' to the Gentile church, but on occasion, we find him telling us how he came to be in that position and that he was called to encourage believers to live as they were called to live, fulfilling their 'position' in Christ Jesus. All we do is for the 'building up' of other believers - encouraging them to come into faith in Christ and then helping them to learn to walk out this faith on a daily basis. Paul's writings always point us to the finished work of the cross and all that was accomplished by Christ's life, death, and resurrection. The purpose of the cross was always redemption - to deliver us from all the evil in this world. The words of his letters still resonate with the present situation we face today, evil abounding all around us. As Paul opens this letter to the Galatians, he wants them to know Christ's death brought about the power to transform us even though evil still exists all around us.

It is the transformational power of the cross - of us saying "YES" to Jesus and then choosing to live a life of obedience to the principles contained within the Word of God - this is what overcomes evil around us. It also overcomes the evil within us. We no longer find ourselves giving into temptations that we once might have pursued with a passion - all because the finished work of the cross made it possible for us to realize an inner transformation. By faith, we are made anew in Christ Jesus. We might not ever feel like the 'pull' toward sin is fully gone, but the longer we pursue the truth God gives us and allow it to transform us, the less appeal those things will have. We will indeed find ourselves rescued from this evil world in which we live. We may not be 'gone' from it yet, but we aren't held captive by it any longer! Just sayin!

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