Paul Confronts Peter

11 But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. 12 For before certain men came from James, he was eating with the Gentiles; but when they came he drew back and separated himself, fearing the circumcision party. 13 And the rest of the Jews acted hypocritically along with him, so that even Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy. 14 But when I saw that their conduct was not in step with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas before them all, “If you, though a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you force the Gentiles to live like Jews?”

15 We ourselves are Jews by birth and not Gentile sinners; 16 yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified.

– Galatians 2:11-16

Psalm 119:1-35

Aleph

119 Blessed are those whose way is blameless,
    who walk in the law of the Lord!
Blessed are those who keep his testimonies,
    who seek him with their whole heart,
who also do no wrong,
    but walk in his ways!
You have commanded your precepts
    to be kept diligently.
Oh that my ways may be steadfast
    in keeping your statutes!
Then I shall not be put to shame,
    having my eyes fixed on all your commandments.
I will praise you with an upright heart,
    when I learn your righteous rules.
I will keep your statutes;
    do not utterly forsake me!

Beth

How can a young man keep his way pure?
    By guarding it according to your word.
10 With my whole heart I seek you;
    let me not wander from your commandments!
11 I have stored up your word in my heart,
    that I might not sin against you.
12 Blessed are you, O Lord;
    teach me your statutes!
13 With my lips I declare
    all the rules of your mouth.
14 In the way of your testimonies I delight
    as much as in all riches.
15 I will meditate on your precepts
    and fix my eyes on your ways.
16 I will delight in your statutes;
    I will not forget your word.

Gimel

17 Deal bountifully with your servant,
    that I may live and keep your word.
18 Open my eyes, that I may behold
    wondrous things out of your law.
19 I am a sojourner on the earth;
    hide not your commandments from me!
20 My soul is consumed with longing
    for your rules at all times.
21 You rebuke the insolent, accursed ones,
    who wander from your commandments.
22 Take away from me scorn and contempt,
    for I have kept your testimonies.
23 Even though princes sit plotting against me,
    your servant will meditate on your statutes.
24 Your testimonies are my delight;
    they are my counselors.

Daleth

25 My soul clings to the dust;
    give me life according to your word!
26 When I told of my ways, you answered me;
    teach me your statutes!
27 Make me understand the way of your precepts,
    and I will meditate on your wondrous works.
28 My soul melts away for sorrow;
    strengthen me according to your word!
29 Put false ways far from me
    and graciously teach me your law!
30 I have chosen the way of faithfulness;
    I set your rules before me.
31 I cling to your testimonies, O Lord;
    let me not be put to shame!
32 I will run in the way of your commandments
    when you enlarge my heart!

He

33 Teach me, O Lord, the way of your statutes;
    and I will keep it to the end.
34 Give me understanding, that I may keep your law
    and observe it with my whole heart.
35 Lead me in the path of your commandments,
    for I delight in it.

How Does Grace Get You Through?

By Silvanus, a faithful brother as I regard him, I have written briefly to you, exhorting and declaring that this is the true grace of God. Stand firm in it. 13 She who is at Babylon, who is likewise chosen, sends you greetings, and so does Mark, my son. 14 Greet one another with the kiss of love.  Peace to all of you who are in Christ.  – I Peter 5:12-14

There are many pitfalls in the marathon of life. But regardless of what you go through, you can count on God’s sustaining grace.

The Bible says in 1 Peter 5:12, “My purpose in writing is to encourage you and assure you that what you are experiencing is truly part of God’s grace for you. Stand firm in his grace” (NLT).

There are three things in life that can cause you to stumble, to get cast off to the side of the race, and to not finish well in life. And in each of these situations, God’s sustaining grace will get you through.

1. God’s sustaining grace helps you keep standing when you’re tempted.

Temptation is the first thing that causes us to stumble. The Bible says, “God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure” (1 Corinthians 10:13b).

God says, “I will provide the sustaining grace to always give you a way of escape.” It may mean turn the channel. It may mean run out the door. It may mean change the way you’re thinking. But he will provide a way to escape temptation.

2. God’s sustaining grace helps you keep standing when you’re tired.

Sometimes you’re not tempted. Sometimes you’re just tired! Life is often exhausting. It requires a lot of energy, especially when you’re trying to do the right thing rather than the easy thing. But where do you get the power to do the right thing when you’re dead tired? “It is God who enables us, along with you, to stand firm for Christ. He has commissioned us, and he has identified us as his own by placing the Holy Spirit in our hearts” (2 Corinthians 1:21-22a). The key is having the Holy Spirit in your heart to have the energy to do the things you can’t do in your own power.

3. God’s sustaining grace gives you the power to keep going when you’re troubled.

There are some hurts that all the wishing in the world won’t make go away. There are some things in life that are unplanned, unrelenting, and undeserved — and they hurt the most.

What do you do in those situations? You first stop doing the “If only” game and instead focus on Christ and his sustaining power. Isaiah 41:10 says, “Don’t worry, because I am with you. Don’t be afraid, because I am your God. I will make you strong and will help you; I will support you with my right hand that saves you” (NCV).

That’s how you get sustaining grace.

Talk It Over

  • How have you seen God’s sustaining grace carry you through difficult times?
  • How can you extend God’s sustaining grace to others?
  • What do you think it means to play the “If only” game? When have you used this excuse?

– Rick Warren
Daily Hope

Being A Servant by Following the Example of Christ

So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, 2 complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. 3 Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. 4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. 5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. 9 Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth,11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

– Philippians 2:1-11

A Prayer for a Non-Grumbling, Grace-Fueled, Grateful Heart

Do all things without grumbling or bickering.  Phil 2:14

Do not grumble against one another.  James 5:9

Show hospitality without grumbling1 Pet. 4:9

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you1 Thess. 5:18

     Dear heavenly Father, ouch. I’d forgotten how many times in the Scriptures you confront our default-mode attitude of grumbling. You tell us to do all things without grumbling, because we can always find something in everything about which to grumble.

We grumble about the weather. It’s too hot or too cold; too wet or too dry; too windy or too still. We grumble about politics—often more agitated by who’s sitting in the White House than consoled by Who’s sitting on heaven’s throne. We grumble about money. We’ve got too little and taxes take too much. We grumble about people who grumble.

We grumble about worship. It’s too loud, or too quiet; too “hymn-y”, or not “hymn-y” enough. We grumble about our ungrateful children, disconnected spouses and nosy parents; our loud neighbors, irritating co-workers and complete strangers.

We grumble about bad traffic, long lines, and slow waiters. We grumble about our not-with-it churches, long-winded pastors, and we even grumble about You—wondering why in the world you haven’t answered our prayer, by now, to send Jesus back!

Father, have mercy on us; have mercy on me. It is your will for us to give thanks in allcircumstances; it is your grace towards us that makes this calling “doable”; and it is your delight in us that makes our grumbling so offensive, unnecessary, and inexcusable.

We begin, and will continue this day, completely forgiven and robbed in Christ’s righteousness; with the Spirit praying in us and Jesus praying for us; as citizens of heaven and your servants in this world; with a new name, “Beloved”; a new heart, and a secure inheritance; called by you, secure in you, and kept for you. Hallelujah, many times over.

Father, by your Holy Spirit, ignite our joy, humble our hearts, and gentle our words. Don’t let us confuse perfectly good and appropriate lamenting, with snarly, self-pity-laced grumblings. So very Amen we pray, in Jesus beautiful and beautifying name.

– Scotty Ward Smith
Heavenward

Giving Thanks for God’s Deliverance from Trouble

107 Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good,
    for his steadfast love endures forever!
2 Let the redeemed of the Lord say so,
    whom he has redeemed from trouble
3 and gathered in from the lands,
    from the east and from the west,
    from the north and from the south.

4 Some wandered in desert wastes,
    finding no way to a city to dwell in;
5 hungry and thirsty,
    their soul fainted within them.
6 Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble,
    and he delivered them from their distress.
7 He led them by a straight way
    till they reached a city to dwell in.
8 Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love,
    for his wondrous works to the children of man!
9 For he satisfies the longing soul,
    and the hungry soul he fills with good things.

10 Some sat in darkness and in the shadow of death,
    prisoners in affliction and in irons,
11 for they had rebelled against the words of God,
    and spurned the counsel of the Most High.
12 So he bowed their hearts down with hard labor;
    they fell down, with none to help.
13 Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble,
    and he delivered them from their distress.
14 He brought them out of darkness and the shadow of death,
    and burst their bonds apart.
15 Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love,
    for his wondrous works to the children of man!
16 For he shatters the doors of bronze
    and cuts in two the bars of iron.

17 Some were fools through their sinful ways,
    and because of their iniquities suffered affliction;
18 they loathed any kind of food,
    and they drew near to the gates of death.
19 Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble,
    and he delivered them from their distress.
20 He sent out his word and healed them,
    and delivered them from their destruction.
21 Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love,
    for his wondrous works to the children of man!
22 And let them offer sacrifices of thanksgiving,
    and tell of his deeds in songs of joy!

23 Some went down to the sea in ships,
    doing business on the great waters;
24 they saw the deeds of the Lord,
    his wondrous works in the deep.
25 For he commanded and raised the stormy wind,
    which lifted up the waves of the sea.
26 They mounted up to heaven; they went down to the depths;
    their courage melted away in their evil plight;
27 they reeled and staggered like drunken men
    and were at their wits’ end.
28 Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble,
    and he delivered them from their distress.
29 He made the storm be still,
    and the waves of the sea were hushed.
30 Then they were glad that the waters were quiet,
    and he brought them to their desired haven.
31 Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love,
    for his wondrous works to the children of man!
32 Let them extol him in the congregation of the people,
    and praise him in the assembly of the elders.

33 He turns rivers into a desert,
    springs of water into thirsty ground,
34 a fruitful land into a salty waste,
    because of the evil of its inhabitants.
35 He turns a desert into pools of water,
    a parched land into springs of water.
36 And there he lets the hungry dwell,
    and they establish a city to live in;
37 they sow fields and plant vineyards
    and get a fruitful yield.
38 By his blessing they multiply greatly,
    and he does not let their livestock diminish.

39 When they are diminished and brought low
    through oppression, evil, and sorrow,
40 he pours contempt on princes
    and makes them wander in trackless wastes;
41 but he raises up the needy out of affliction
    and makes their families like flocks.
42 The upright see it and are glad,
    and all wickedness shuts its mouth.

43 Whoever is wise, let him attend to these things;
    let them consider the steadfast love of the Lord.

Psalm 107

God is 4 Us

38 And they shall be my people, and I will be their God. 39 I will give them one heart and one way, that they may fear me forever, for their own good and the good of their children after them. 40 I will make with them an everlasting covenant, that I will not turn away from doing good to them. And I will put the fear of me in their hearts, that they may not turn from me. 41 I will rejoice in doing them good, and I will plant them in this land in faithfulness, with all my heart and all my soul.  – Jeremiah 32:38-41

PETE HAS A pretty skewed picture of God. Why? Because Pete’s dad is a top executive with a Fortune 500 company. He travels a lot and doesn’t spend much time with his family. Pete thinks God is like his dad: distant and unreachable.

Melissa has a pretty skewed picture of God, too. Her dad is an alcoholic, whose violent rages make the family run for cover whenever he starts drinking. Melissa thinks God is like her dad: angry and unloving.

Lisha’s picture of God is skewed for different reasons. Her dad buys her everything from the latest compact discs to the trendiest clothes. Lisha thinks God is like her dad: someone who’ll give her whatever she asks for.

Erick’s picture of God is also skewed. He never even knew his father. His parents weren’t married when he was born. His father never wanted anything to do with his son. Erick thinks God also has abandoned him.

What Pete, Melissa, Lisha, and Erick are doing is pretty common. They’re basing their ideas about God on what their earthly fathers are like. A lot of people do that. But such pictures of God are often pretty messed up.

No matter what Pete’s dad does, God promises to be with us always (Hebrews 13:5). No matter how Melissa’s dad acts, our heavenly Father loves us tenderly and unconditionally (Isaiah 54:10). No matter what Lisha’s earthly dad may do, her heavenly Father may not always give her everything she wants, but he will give her what’s good for her (Jeremiah 32:40). And even though Erick doesn’t have a father in his life, God promises to be a “father to the fatherless” (Psalm 68:5).

Your relationship with your earthly father may be good, or it may be poor. Your relationship with your dad may be stable, or it may change from time to time. And it may be hard to separate your image of your heavenly Father from your experience with your earthly father. But no matter how good or bad your relationship with your parents may be, remember that your heavenly Father only wants to do good to you. And he will-if you let him.

REFLECT: Has God ever done something good for you through something that you thought was bad or negative? Does God always reveal how he plans to work things out? Do you trust him to do what’s best for you? Do you trust him enough to obey him, no matter what the immediate results might be?
PRAY: “Lord, I know you don’t give me everything I ask for, but help me to trust you to give me everything that’s good for me.”

– Josh McDowell
Today’s Youth Devotional