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First Baptist Church - Palestine, TX

I Give Thanks to My God – Blog & Podcast

In Philippians 1, beginning in verse 3, Paul gives a greeting not unlike what he gives to the recipients of his other letters. He expresses his love and thankfulness for those people, but in that, he gives credit where credit is due. Let me read a little bit of this passage and see if you can see what I’m talking about. See if you can grasp who he is really thanking.

Philippians 1:3-7a, “I give thanks to my God for every remembrance of you, always praying with joy for all of you in my every prayer, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. I am sure of this, that he who started a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. Indeed, it is right for me to think this way about all of you, because I have you in my heart, and you are all partners with me in grace…

It is clear that Paul understands who to thank for all of the blessings. In this case, the blessings that brought him together with the people of Philippi for partnership in the gospel. It is God who initiated it, God who, by the power of the Holy Spirit, drew Paul unto Himself and saved him. It is God who, by the power of the Holy Spirit, revealed himself to these Philippians and built a community of faith there. It is God who enabled them to do Kingdom work. It is because of the work of God that Paul can give thanks and have deep affection for the Philippians believers.

When I reflect back on my life, I am aware of the fact that nothing good has happened in my life apart from the hand of God. I have breath to breathe, grace to live each day, a family that loves me, friends, church…so many blessings.

But what if things weren’t going so well in my life? Would I be able to still give thanks to my God for blessings?

I heard a saying once that “It may not be well with my circumstances, but it is well with my soul”. A mistake we often make is in evaluating God based upon our circumstances. If things are going well, then praise the Lord. If things are tough, then I need thee, O I need thee. The truth is, God is so much bigger than our circumstances.

I was in a seminary class one time and in the prayer time before class began a young pastor shared that his wife was due to give birth any day, and the doctors had concluded that the child would very likely not survive. Another young pastor stood up and said that he and his wife had gone through a similar situation and that he wanted to share something. He said “If God gives you and your wife a healthy baby, then God is good. If He chooses not to give you a healthy baby, then God is still good.” That penetrated my heart and still resonates today. It’s true.

God is not good based upon what is happening in my life. God is good because He is. Because He is God. Because He IS good.

I have much to be thankful for. I have many people in my life that have been a tremendous blessing to me and I need to tell them how thankful I am for them. But Paul had it right. I need to tell them that I thank God for them. Paul said, “I thank my God for EVERY remembrance of you”. That is powerful.

Paul’s perspective is right. It is He who started the good work in me and it is He who WILL be faithful to complete it. I give thanks to my God, for He IS good, and He IS faithful.

Tony Watson
Senior Pastor
First Baptist Church
Palestine, TX

Christ is Enough…to Keep us Running Well – Blog and Podcast

A few years ago, I was serving as the announcer for a high school track meet. It’s something I have done a number of times and it’s always fun to get to see these students put all of their hard work on display as they compete not only against other competitors but also the clock and, in the case of field events, standards of distance for each event.

On this particular day, I began to hear talk early in the day about a particular young lady who would be racing in the 100-meter dash. She was widely recognized around the area as one of the better sprinters and it was my understanding that perhaps even a college scout or two or three might be in the stands to watch.

We took the break after the field events and as people began to come back into the press box, the talk began again. I found myself much more interested in that particular race than I thought I would be, because I thought “this girl must be something to see”.

As we approached the 100-meter dash, the stands were the fullest they had been all day. The press box had more people than it should have had. You could feel the excitement in the air. I made the last call for participants in this race and announced the lane assignments. I leaned out of the press box to get the best view of this as I looked down to see the runners doing their final stretches and getting into the starting blocks.

The starter called the runners to their marks. The runners put their hands on the line and got into their sprinter’s stance. The starter’s arms went up, he called “SET” and he fired the gun. The runners took off. This girl was in lane two. The runner in lane one, perhaps feeling the anticipation of running against this top athlete, slipped a little bit and her momentum had her lean into the runner everyone had their eye on, knocking her out of her lane and ruining her race. She tried to get it back, but there was no use. We thought her chance had passed. There was great disappointment all around.

After a consultation with the race officials and a pleading from her coach, the officials agreed to let her run in the next heat, since they all agreed she had done nothing wrong. So, the anticipation starts all over again. The runners take their marks. The starter yells “SET”, and then, it happened. This girl, feeling all of the eyes of everyone on her and wanting to get out ahead of her competition, she springs out of her stance just before the starters gun fired and she’s called for a false start. She’s disqualified. After all of the anticipation, she didn’t even get to run the race, because she lost her focus.

Paul tells the Galatians in Chapter 5… “You were running well. Who prevented you from being persuaded regarding the truth?” The Galatian church had lost their focus and had allowed some false teaching to come into the church and to disrupt them from running well.

Has that ever happened to you? Were you running well in your Christian walk at some point…until you weren’t?

Paul reveals 4 potential hindrances to running well. See if you can identify with any of these.

The first potential hindrance is “Leaving the leaven”. Verse 9 warns that “A little leaven leavens the whole batch of dough”. It only takes a small bit of yeast to make an entire loaf of bread rise. It only takes a small entrance of sin in our lives, left unattended, to spread throughout our heart and hinder our walk with Christ. We have to deal with the leaven, remove it, walk away from it, and not make the choice to allow it back into our lives. We cannot blame losing our joy, getting distracted in the race, or faltering on someone else. Ultimately, we make those choices. Let’s deal with the leaven and get back in the race.

The second potential hindrance is “Curtailing the cross”. In verse 11, Paul apparently is being accused of preaching circumcision, which abolishes the need for the cross. Paul was so disturbed by this that he wishes that those who were preaching circumcision would go ahead and have themselves castrated, take it to the next level. We can never lose sight of the fact that every blessing we have is made possible because of the cross. We must make much of the cross.

The third potential hindrance is “Freeing the freedom”. While it’s true that we are totally free in Christ, Paul cautions in verse 13 that using our freedom to fulfill the desires of the flesh is counter-productive and makes salvation about ourselves. Everything is lawful, but not everything is beneficial. Let us not use our grace as an excuse to satisfy the desires of the flesh.

The final potential hindrance is “Neglecting your neighbor”. We are told in verse 14 to “Love your neighbor as yourself”. We don’t have any difficulty in looking out for our own interests, providing for ourselves, and seeking to have all of our needs met. Paul states the same thing that the Apostle John states in I John, that the evidence that we are in the faith is that we love God and we love others. We should take the same interest in helping provide the needs of others. Praying for one another, bearing with one another, encouraging one another, and counting others more significant than ourselves are all evidences of not neglecting our neighbors.

Is there some leaven in your life that is taking over too much space? Have you lost your focus of Kingdom things?

Have you taken the freedom and grace of Christ for granted and fulfilled the desires of the flesh? Are you investing love in others? The race is far from over, for God gives us fresh starts when we need them. Get back in the race and you’ll see that the things you have been through will help make your faith deeper and stronger than ever.

Tony Watson
Senior Pastor
First Baptist Church
Palestine, TX

Christ Is Enough…to Be Our True Hope – Blog and Podcast

Do you ever get concerned that too often we do not place our emphasis on the right things? That we major on the minors? You’ve heard of this, or maybe you’ve been a part of a church that got worked up about carpet color, décor, temperature, or something else that had no eternal consequence, but was a big deal to a group of people. I was part of a church one time that had a town hall-type meeting regarding the purchase of an ice machine. Another time, in another church, a lady told me that the color of the bulletin was offensive. Hey it was a purple color – isn’t that the color of royalty?

We have people in our neighborhoods that are living and dying without Christ, our living hope, this is the major that should be our focus. We have believers, in the church, who need to be discipled to a deeper walk, so they too can re-produce disciples.

In Galatians, the Judaizers were majoring on the minors. They were hung up on things like circumcision and ceremony and lost sight of True Hope. Paul wasn’t saying circumcision was bad, but belief that it would save you was simply not true.  There are no saving rituals, only a saving relationship.

For example, if I run a red light and I get pulled over, telling the officer how many laws I’ve kept or how many good things I’ve done won’t help. I still have to answer for my offense and pay the price. The Word tells me if I’m seeking to be justified by the law, if I break one law, it is as if I have broken all of them. If I put my hope in Christ, He already paid the price.

Galatians 5:1-6,For freedom, Christ set us free. Stand firm then and don’t submit again to a yoke of slavery. Take note! I, Paul, am telling you that if you get yourselves circumcised, Christ will not benefit you at all. Again I testify to every man who gets himself circumcised that he is obligated to do the entire law. You who are trying to be justified by the law are alienated from Christ; you have fallen from grace. For we eagerly await through the Spirit, by faith, the hope of righteousness. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision accomplishes anything; what matters is faith working through love.

Let’s look at three realities that teach us about the True Hope, this Hope of Righteousness

  1. For freedom, Christ has set us free– Why did Christ set us free? The Word says it was FOR freedom that He set me free. If I’m seeking to be justified by my works, aren’t I really serving God out of a fear that I won’t measure up? Is there any joy in serving God out of fear? Paul equates the Judaizers’ efforts at salvation to submitting to a yoke of slavery. In a yoke – someone else has control over your life without your involvement. You are bound to whoever has control over you. Freedom does not mean abandonment of the law, but I choose to use my freedom to honor Christ. My freedom was purchased with a price – by One who loved me before I was born and has a plan for my life. In Christ, I am truly free. The devil can tempt me, life can test me, but my soul’s hope is secure in Christ.
  2. Justification by law is alienation from Christ– Paul is not saying you can lose your salvation if you go back to seeking to be justified by works or the law. Actually, if you could lose it that way, you never really had it to begin with. Justification by law says that you view Christ as insufficient, that grace is not good enough. As Christ becomes more real in my life, I find that I want to honor Him more, not be alienated from him. The word for alienated here means, “to be separated”. If I’m seeking to be justified by the law or works, I’m actually working against what I believe I’m trying to do. I’ve found in life that we often are running FROM something or running TO something. Justification by law is running FROM Christ, running FROM bad behaviors, and it involves looking over my shoulder in fear, to see if anyone is watching. Justification in Christ is running TO Christ, always looking forward, eyes on the prize, the Hope.
  3. We eagerly await the hope of righteousness– Where is our hope found? Our hope is found in the cross, through the Spirit. The cross is an unusual symbol of hope, for it means that someone was crucified on that cross, but it’s in the cross that I find freedom, in the cross that I find hope. The cross is where I can leave my sin. It’s in the cross that I can rise up in victory, that I can have Christ’s righteousness imputed to me. It’s in the cross that my mind, my heart, my words and my actions can be led by the Holy Spirit. The cross is my only hope , for the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life IN Christ Jesus.

Verse 5 of our text says, “For we eagerly await through the Spirit, by faith, the hope of righteousness”. It’s not circumcision or adherence to any law that brings freedom, but it is the cross that purchased my freedom.

  • Colossians 1:18, “For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but it is the power of God to us who are being saved.”
  • Galatians 2:20, “I have been crucified with Christ, and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”
  • Colossians 2:14, “He erased the certificate of debt, with its obligations, that was against us and opposed to us, and has taken it away by nailing it to the cross.”

Church, it’s time to put aside all of our evaluations, time to take stock of all of our involvements and focus on what brings hope. Let us look at our families through the lens of the cross – don’t worry about making everybody happy but making disciples. Let us look at our church through the lens of the cross – may we never be guilty of majoring on minors. Let’s keep the main thing as the main thing. Let us look at our neighborhood through the lens of the cross – who around me doesn’t know the hope of righteousness? Let us look at our state, our country, our world, through the lens of the cross, the hope of righteousness.

Are you willing to make a commitment to join me today in making the cross a priority? You’ll find freedom if you do.

Tony Watson
Senior Pastor
First Baptist Church
Palestine, TX

Christ is Enough…to Transform the Inner Man (Blog & Podcast)

Recently I heard the testimony once again of Russ Taff. For those who don’t know, Russ Taff has been a popular singer in Christian music for nearly 40 years. He joined the Imperials in the early 1980’s, when they were at the top of the Christian music world. He’s won many awards as a soloist and is also a former member of the Gaither Vocal Band. But, as much as it has it has appeared that Russ had it all together on the outside, he would tell you a different story.

Russ Taff grew up the son of a Pentecostal preacher, but his home was far from perfect. His parents continually told him that he and his brothers would never amount to much and that they weren’t worth anything. As it turns out, Russ’s dad struggled with his own sense of worth and couldn’t deal with the guilt of trying to “measure up” to the Lord. The way he dealt with his guilt was to try and forget about it by turning to alcohol. Russ said he was always in love with Jesus but was always afraid of him. However, he had musical talent and wanted to sing for the Lord, so he began to do that and had good success. However, the pain never really went away. One night he turned to alcohol and discovered the pain was gone for a few hours. You can guess how the story developed. He felt he was living a double-life and ended up depending on alcohol to manage life.

He will tell you that it could have been avoided if he had known the grace of God earlier in life. The God he was taught about was a God who rewards obedience and punishes disobedience.

This is much the same principle as Paul was dealing with in Galatians with the Judaizers trying to convince the new Galatian believers that their freedom was a lie and that they needed to go back to the old ways of being justified by obedience to the law. Just as Russ Taff found out – we can never be good enough, do enough, or earn enough.

Galatians 4:28-31, 28 Now you too, brothers and sisters, like Isaac, are children of promise. 29 But just as then the child born as a result of the flesh persecuted the one born as a result of the Spirit, so also now. 30 But what does the Scripture say? “Drive out the slave and her son, for the son of the slave will never be a coheir with the son of the free woman.” 31 Therefore, brothers and sisters, we are not children of a slave but of the free woman.

Paul uses the story of Abraham and Sarah from Genesis to give a Biblical picture of justification by the law, or slavery, versus grace. Abraham was called by God at age 75 to “go” to a land he would show him, and that he would have many descendants. Up to this point, he and Sarah had been married many years and were unable to have children, which many interpreted as a sign of a curse. Ten years later, Abraham is 85 and there is no child yet. Sarah becomes impatient and offers her maidservant Hagar to Abraham to give him a male heir. This is legal, but not in the will of God. Hagar gives birth to Ishmael and Sarah grows jealous. Jealous to the point that Abraham sends Hagar and Ishmael away, but God intervenes and brings them back. Twenty-four years after the initial call, at age 99, Abraham receives God’s revelation again. He will have a son, and he should be named Isaac. God later appears to Sarah and reveals this to her. Sarah laughs, but Isaac is born. Oh, by the way, Isaac means “laughter”. When Isaac turned 3, it was time for his weaning ceremony. Ishmael is 17 by this time and he comes and mocks Isaac and causes a scene. Once again, Abraham feels it necessary to send Hagar and Ishmael on their way.

You see the child that was born through the flesh kept causing issues because they took the issue into their own hands and couldn’t fix the issues. The child of promise, Isaac, was used by God to father Jacob, who was later re-named Israel. We have Ishmael – born through flesh and Isaac – born through promise. We have Hagar, who was a slave woman and Sarah, who was a free woman. We have Hagar and Ishmael, representing slavery and Sarah and Isaac, representing freedom. We have Ishmael who was persecuting and Isaac who was persecuted. We have earthly Jerusalem, representing the world, and slavery and the Heavenly Jerusalem representing freedom. What we have is a wonderful picture of the curse of trying to be justified by the law and the blessings of the grace of God.

The Judaizers were trying to demonstrate their obedience through external means, through works, but the what God is looking for is a willing vessel so that He can transform the inner man, which then will affect the behaviors.

Here are 3 Truths from Abraham and Sarah about Transforming the Inner Man

  • The old nature cannot be controlled by the law– Only the Holy Spirit can control strongholds. We cannot.
    • Romans 6:6, “For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be rendered powerless so that we may no longer be enslaved to sin,”
  • Slavery should be identified and cast out– Whatever troubles you, walk away from it, change your circumstances.
    • 5:1, “For freedom, Christ set us free. Stand firm then and don’t submit again to a yoke of slavery.”
  • Transformation brings freedom to the inner man– It’s the inner man that condemns us, not the outer man.
    • 2 Corinthians 4:16, “Therefore we do not give up. Even though our outer person is being destroyed, our inner person is being renewed day by day.”

Russ Taff grew up believing that none of us could ever be good enough, and he’s right, except for grace. Grace transforms, grace heals, grace restores, grace keeps, and grace never let’s go. Let grace transform your inner man today and leave the results to God.

Tony Watson
Senior Pastor
First Baptist Church
Palestine, TX

Christ is Enough…to Make us to Become Like Him – Blog & Podcast

When I was a child, I was drawn to sports and the athletes who played them. Baseball was my first love, but I also developed a love for football and basketball as well. I collected trading cards from all three sports and I would study the statistics on the back. I would watch games and I had my favorite teams. In professional sports, I was a big fan of all of the Houston teams, because that’s where we lived: the Astros, Oilers (at that time) and the Rockets.

I would picture myself with the batting stance of Bob Watson, the downfield passing arm of Dan Pastorini or the jump shot of Rudy Tomjanovich. As much I imitated their mannerisms or sought to reflect their identity, that alone did not make me a successful athlete.

As I’ve grown older, I’ve learned that it’s more important to be transformed by the power of Christ than any external skill or ability. When Paul spoke to the Galatians, he was concerned that they were imitating other believers on the outside, but on the inside they were not truly being followers of Christ. Outward behavior does not transform the heart of man. The heart of man affects outward behavior.

Paul said it this way…Galatians 4:12a,12 I beg you, brothers and sisters: Become like me, for I also became like you.

Paul says, “Become like me, for I also become like you.” Is he saying become my disciple? No, not at all. Paul is saying follow his example of following the freedom in Christ rather than trying to be justified by the law. You see, the Galatian believers had come to Christ but then had given in to the pressure by the Judaizers to go back to trying to prove themselves faithful by obeying the law and performing all of the rituals that go with it. Paul was concerned that they were missing the joy of the freedom of walking in Christ.

He goes on to say this…Galatians 4:19, 19 My children, I am again suffering labor pains for you until Christ is formed in you.

Paul has such compassion for them, such a desire that they once again find the freedom in Christ, that he describes it as “labor pains”, such as a mother feels in childbirth, anxiously awaiting the birth of a child. He is anxiously awaiting, praying, and hoping for them to find that freedom once again.

Obeying the works of the law are not necessarily an indicator of our relationship with Christ. We can be religious without having a relationship. However, as we are pursuing Christ, we can see some evidences in our lives that begin to bear some fruit. Are you seeing these evidences in your life?

  1. Freedom in Christ– Are you living in the freedom of a walking, talking, living, breathing relationship with Christ, or are you trying to prove yourself faithful with a series of works?
  2. Obedience Despite Circumstances– Are you discouraged from serving the Lord because it gets tough sometimes? God uses those tough times to shape and mold us for His glory.
  3. Compassionate Service– Do you lack compassion for people? Are you simply content with your circle of folks? Jesus reached outside of His circle frequently. He was blessed because of it and blessed many others.
  4. Growth in Truth– Are you purposefully growing in the Word of God? Are you walking daily in it?
  5. Intentional Witness– When is the last time you made it a point, or even followed an open door, to share Christ?
  6. Personal Investment– Do you have a person or persons that you are personally investing relationship in with Kingdom purpose?

Are there one or more of these areas where you feel you need to grow? Christ is enough to make you become more like Him. You don’t have to do it alone. For that matter, you can’t. Trust Christ, follow Christ, fall in love with Christ, and love His people. Everything else will come as a result of those things.

Tony Watson
Senior Pastor
First Baptist Church
Palestine, TX

Christ is Enough…No Turning Back (Blog & Podcast)

During my growing up years, one of my favorite hymns to sing at invitation time was “I Have Decided to Follow Jesus”. I don’t know if I was drawn to the simple melody, the easy to remember lyrics, or the message in the song…maybe all of the above, but it was one of my favorites. It became even more special to me in 1982 as I walked the aisle at the Glorieta Conference Center to give my heart to Jesus while hundreds of people were singing “I Have Decided to Follow Jesus”.

The last line of the chorus says, “No turning back…no turning back”. It’s stated twice for emphasis. I had no idea at that time how important that line would be in living out my Christian walk. There are times when it gets tough, times when life can be overwhelming, and times when it might seem easier to do something besides continue on this journey to follow Christ.

But Christ has transformed me, saved me, redeemed me, forgiven me, and taken my heart of stone and replaced it with a heart of flesh with His blood flowing through my veins. When I remember that and how He brought me to Himself when I did not deserve it, I once again sing “No turning back”.

Continuing in Galatians 4, we see Paul encouraging the Galatian church that they should be singing “No turning back” as well. They have been influenced to turn from the path of grace and back to a path of works. For many of the Galatian believers, they were never Jewish to begin with. They were pagans who were saved by grace through faith. They had no previous religious life to go back to. Not only did it have to be confusing, but it was also unproductive.

Galatians 4:8-19But in the past, since you didn’t know God, you were enslaved to things that by nature are not gods. But now, since you know God, or rather have become known by God, how can you turn back again to the weak and worthless elements? Do you want to be enslaved to them all over again?

Paul is addressing these folks from the heart of a loving pastor who wants to see them receive the full freedom in Christ. His message was the same as that of Jesus, who said in John 8:32, “You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” They have been freed from enslavement, freed from these chains of trying to prove themselves by their works.

Paul is trying to impress something on these Galatians that should be true for us as well. As believers in Christ, there should be “No turning back” to…

  1. Enslavement or Defeat– We cannot prove ourselves worthy, for Christ has already paid that price. There is also no turning back to your past life. Some people struggle to try and outrun their past mistakes. Church, your past does not define you, Christ in you does.
  2. Worthless Elements– Seeking a justification by works simply denies the work of Christ in His sacrifice. Trying to come up with the right formula of sacrifices, deeds or acts of service it simply worthless and fruitless.
  3. Lifeless Rituals– There is no life in festivals, sacrifices and deeds. Some of our remembrances have great value, such as the Lord’s Supper or Baptism, and they are very important. However, they have no redeeming value in and of themselves. The Lord’s Supper is a remembrance of what Christ already did. Baptism is a symbol of the transformation that Christ has already done in you.

In addition, there should be “No turning back” FROM…

  1. Freedom in Christ– Christ came and gave His life so that you would not have to be tied to works, but be free.
    • John 8:36, “So if the Son sets you free, you really will be free.”
  2. Building Relationships– We cannot let the hurts of the past, the fears, define us and hold us back from building relationships.
  • Hebrews 10:24, And let us watch out for one another to provoke love and good works,
  1. Gospel Investment– Church, there should be “No turning back”, from going, making disciples, baptizing, teaching, and having Gospel conversations.
    • Matthew 28:19-20a, 19Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you.

I have decided to follow Jesus…though none go with me, I still will follow. The world behind me, the cross before me. No turning back, no turning back.

Tony Watson
Senior Pastor
First Baptist Church
Palestine, TX

Christ is Enough…to Adopt Us Into our Forever Family – Blog & Podcast

One of the most beautiful pictures in our society, as well as in the Kingdom of God, Is the picture of adoption. One child, who needs a home, finds a forever family to provide the love, protection and support that they need. We are seeing many in the church rising up to meet the need, to provide good Christian homes to children who need a forever family, including several in my own church who are fostering and/or adoptive families.

Once a child comes into that family, they become a part of that family, a part of that legacy. Studies have shown that newborn babies will begin to imitate the sound of their mother’s voice. Adopted children begin to take on characteristics and behaviors of their new forever families over time. It’s really pretty incredible.

We see adoption introduced in the Bible. Take for example the story of Moses. Born as a Jew, he was set out in a basket on the water to avoid being destroyed by Pharaoh. Ironically enough, it was Pharaoh’s daughter who found him, welcomed him in, adopted him, and raised him as an Egyptian. He had the heritage of a Jew but the education of an Egyptian, which equipped him for the call of God on his life.

In Galatians 4, Paul states that those who have been baptized into Christ have received their adoption as sons, with all of the rights and privileges of being sons and daughters of God.

Galatians 4:4-7, When the time came to completion, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba, Father!” So you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then God has made you an heir.

Before we were baptized into Christ, we were slaves, slaves to the world, slaves to the desires of ourselves. The Word says when the time came to completion, when the appointed hour came which God ordained, Christ came, born of a woman, born under the law, but perfect, to redeem those under the law, us, so that we might receive adoption as sons. We no longer have to look over our shoulders and wonder if we are “good enough”, for we’ve been freed! We have been adopted as sons and daughters of God. His blood flows through our veins. We are heirs of everything God has.

Sonship is a privilege extended to us by the grace and mercy of God. The privilege of sonship brings us

  1. A New Identity– We have been baptized into Christ, clothed with Christ, and united in Christ. We’ve been given the Spirit of His Son – the Holy Spirit now dwells within us and transforms us into His likeness. 2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, and see, the new has come!” He looks at you and says “that’s MY son…that’s MY daughter” and He beams with pride. The privilege of sonship brings us…
  2. A New Father– We have an Eternal Father, a guardian, and because of that, we also have an Eternal family and an Eternal home. Our earthly fathers will one day leave this earth, but our Heavenly Father will never leave us, nor will he ever stop providing for us in every way. Verse 6 speaks of our heart’s cry to our new Father, we cry “Abba! Father!” Abba is a term of endearment for a father, like we might say “daddy” to our loving father. The word father comes from the Greek word “pater”, which means one who provides, protects and supports. He provides all we need, including being that loving Father that we can have a close relationship with and share all of our heart. This Father doesn’t look at us like an evaluator – He looks at us as children He adores, and we are receivers of grace. The privilege of sonship also brings us…
  3. A New Inheritance– You are sons and daughters of the King. He lavishes His gifts on His children. Whatever stronghold you are walking through, God is using it to draw you closer to Him and will give you the grace to walk through that. Whatever God has allowed to come into your life, it is part of the inheritance He has chosen for you and will help you to glorify Him through it. Enjoy your inheritance and give Him glory for it.

If you’ve been baptized into Christ, you are sons and daughters of the king – don’t live beneath your privilege. Enjoy your new identity, your new Father, and your new inheritance.

Tony Watson
Senior Pastor
First Baptist Church
Palestine, TX

Christ is Enough…to Answer Life’s Questions – Blog and Podcast

Does the Bible truly speak to every aspect of my life? Is it just a guidebook, or is Christ really interested in every part of me? 2 Timothy 3:16-17, “16 All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness, 17 so that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” If I embrace the Word of God into my life, it will make me complete, which means the Bible does speak to every aspect of my life. I need not add anything to it, and I certainly should not take anything away from it. It is sufficient unto itself.

As we continue our walk through Galatians, we see that the Galatians’ believers’ main problem was they wanted to add things to God’s Word. Paul confronts the Galatian believers with a number of questions in Galatians 3. He answers their temptation to go back to attempting to be justified by the law by sharing with them that righteousness has been received through faith from the time of Abraham. We will look briefly at a number of questions Paul asks through this chapter and see where the Bible addresses some of life’s questions.

Galatians 3:27-29, “27 For those of you who were baptized into Christ have been clothed with Christ. 28 There is no Jew or Greek, slave or free, male and female; since you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, heirs according to the promise.

Paul asks questions such as these…

  1. You foolish Galatians! Who has cast a spell on you, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified? The word foolish comes from the Greek word “anoetos”, referring to mental laziness and carelessness. He is saying they are not stupid, just lazy, for they are witnesses to the crucifixion.
  2. Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law or by believing what you heard? Are you so foolish? He’s reminding them that they came to Christ through faith and it would be foolish to trust in works now.
  3. After beginning by the Spirit, are you now finishing by the flesh? In other words, are you saying that the work of the Holy Spirit in you was not good enough?
  4. Did you experience so much for nothing—if in fact it was for nothing? Was your belief in grace for nothing?
  5. So then, does God give you the Spirit and work miracles among you by your doing the works of the law?
  6. Or is it by believing what you heard—just like Abraham who believed God, and it was credited to him for righteousness? Genesis 15:6, “Abram believed the Lord, and he credited it to him as righteousness.”. Paul emphasizes that from the time of Abraham that we are justified by faith. Faith came before the law.
  7. Why then was the law given? Verses 24-25 states the law was a guardian, a protector, until the Seed of promise, who is Christ, would come.
  8. “Is the law therefore contrary to God’s promises?” Paul answers – “absolutely not!”, but there’s no life in the law.

What’s Paul’s message here? Trust in Jesus, not in your ability to obey the law–Christ is enough…to answer life’s questions

  • What is God’s plan for my life?Paul is trying to communicate to the Galatians that they were living it, then…
    1. Matthew 22:37-38, 37 He said to him, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.38 This is the greatest and most important command.
  • How can God use me?Matthew 4:19, And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.”
  • Why do tough times happen? For all of the challenges, these Galatians were simply in a test of faith – had purpose
    1. Romans 8:28, We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.
  • Where do I go when I’m stressed, tested, tried, frustrated, angry, desperate, needy, offended, hurt, & feeling done?
    1. Matthew 11:28, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”
  • What purpose does suffering have in my life?
    1. I Peter 5:10, “And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.”
  • What do I do if I’ve been hurt?
    1. Matthew 18:21-22, 21 Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?”22 Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times.

Whatever your questions are in this life, Christ and His Word are enough to answer them.

Tony Watson
Senior Pastor
First Baptist Church
Palestine, TX

Christ is Enough…to Change What Needs Changin’ – Blog and Podcast

In the last half of Galatians 2, Paul tells of Peter coming to where Paul was in Antioch. Antioch is where the believers were first called Christians. Paul felt need to confront Peter for something that Peter was doing. In Acts 10 we read of Peter receiving a vision from the Lord in a dream. In this vision, Peter was told by the Lord to kill and eat some animals that had always been forbidden for Jews to partake of, they were not kosher. The Lord was communicating to Peter that no longer were certain foods declared to be forbidden for kosher reasons. It was part of breaking down the walls between Jews and Gentiles and uniting everyone under the grace covenant – under the Lordship of Christ.

Peter began regularly eating with the Gentiles, with not only the dietary, but the spiritual dividing wall being torn down by the tearing of the temple curtain when Jesus said, “It is finished”. However, once the Judaizers came to town, Peter withdrew from that crowd and separated himself from them. Others in their crowd began to join in that, including Paul’s companion Barnabas.

You can call it what you want, but some would call it hypocrisy, others might call Peter and the others two-faced. This said to the Gentiles that you are okay for me to fellowship with until my radical Jewish friends come to town. After they go away maybe I’ll be able to fellowship with you again. If you are the Gentiles, what does that cause you to think? For centuries you’ve been told you are second-class citizens, now Jesus has come and removed the dividing wall only to have a few bullies come to town and cause Peter and the others to cave on their beliefs.

Not only is it two-faced, it says what they think about their faith. They aren’t confident enough in their trust in Christ. They feel they have to prove themselves righteous, demonstrate their holiness by refraining from certain foods and not fellowshipping with these Gentiles. That is textbook hypocrisy. Paul states it well here.

Galatians 2:19-20, “19 For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live for God. 20 I have been crucified with Christ, and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”

Changing who we are depending on the crowd we are in really just means we aren’t really who we believe we are.

It is Christ who saved us, Christ who changes us, so that we could be freed from all of those earthly expectations and put our faith and trust and hope in Him.


Paul says when I received Christ…

I died to the law (so that I might live for God) – He is not saying obeying law is bad. Christ came to fulfill the law, but to try and find your justification in it would be exhausting, and fruitless.  Paul acknowledges that to receive the blood of Christ on his life and then to go back to the Jewish ways is not living for God but living for the law. The law would become his god and the very first commandment is “Thou shalt have no other gods before me.”

Paul says when I received Christ…

I am crucified with Christ– not that I physically die, but the man of flesh, the former me that lived for me is dead and buried. As I pursue my walk with Christ, He continues to crucify unnecessary things in my life, but it is He that does that work. I simply follow His lead and obey.

Paul says when I received Christ…

I live by faith (in the Son of God)– No longer am I trusting in whether I’m good enough, Christ has declared me righteous. I now rely on Christ’s Spirit within me, Christ’s Word implanted in me, and Christ’s church as my allegiance. Does that mean if I’m free from the law that I can go on living in sinful ways? Romans 6:1-2, “1What should we say then? Should we continue in sin so that grace may multiply? 2Absolutely not! How can we who died to sin still live in it?”

Paul says when I received Christ…

I embraced grace– Paul said if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died for nothing. The Judaizers wanted to say yes you should come to Christ, but you should also be as Jewish as you can. Putting those kinds of stipulations on the Gospel compromises it and makes it not the Gospel of Christ. It reduces grace to something that is earned, which is no longer grace.

 Christ doesn’t want you to add things to your life, but He may want to take away some distractions. Once again I say…

Changing who we are depending on the crowd we are in really just means we aren’t really who we believe we are.  

Living for Christ should not put a weight upon you but should take some weight away.Why are you trying to do things yourself when the grace of Christ is available to you to live as a Child of God?

I’m reminded of the David Crowder song that says, “All my hope is in Jesus. Thank God, my yesterday’s gone. All my sins are forgiven. I’ve been washed by the blood.”

Tony Watson
Senior Pastor
First Baptist Church
Palestine, TX

Christ is Enough…to Keep us From Running in Vain – Blog and Podcast

Many of the greatest experiences in my Christian life have happened because I was involved in the church. At an early age I was drawn to church, particularly to the music of the church. I learned about God through the songs we sang and was so encouraged by the people who gathered together, even as a child. Later on, I got involved in a youth group and God used other students in that group to show me what it looked like to have a walking, talking, living, breathing relationship with Christ. They talked about it in group discussions and talked about the need to share their faith. It was crucial to my early growth. Once I received Christ, I began to embrace those things in my own life.

Later as I surrendered to the call of God on my life to serve the church as my life’s work, it was the church, the people of the church, that taught me, encouraged me, and challenged me as I sought to follow God’s plan for my life. Today, the church is just an understood part of my life. I draw strength from the body of Christ, and it is essential for my life and growth.

Genesis 2:18,“Then the Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper corresponding to him.” Ecclesiastes 4:9a, “Two are better than one”, Ecclesiastes 4:12, “A cord of three strands is not easily broken.” We were never intended to live life, and especially the Christian life, in isolation. We were created to walk this journey together.

In today’s text, God shows us, through Paul, that He used the body of Christ in a number of ways to impact the work of the church and to further its work. Paul’s connection to the body of Christ kept him from running the race in vain.

Galatians 2:1-10, Then after fourteen years I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, taking Titus along also. I went up according to a revelation and presented to them the gospel I preach among the Gentiles, but privately to those recognized as leaders. I wanted to be sure I was not running, and had not been running, in vain.

Paul is trying to help the Galatian Christians deal with the Judaizers, and to keep the church focused on Christ. Paul is secure in his relationship with Christ and in his position as an apostle, called by Christ. But Paul wisely went to Jerusalem to get some Godly counsel in helping the Galatian Christians deal with this persistent problem. He speaks privately with the church leaders, most likely Peter, James and John, before speaking with the Jerusalem council. He simply shares a report of what is going on and the message that he is sharing. That message is the Gospel of Jesus Christ and that there is no salvation except by grace through faith in the death, burial and resurrection of Christ. They affirmed that he was not running, nor had he been running, in vain.

The church leaders affirmed Paul’s ministry and message, and that carried some weight in going back to the Galatian church. I want us to see today how Paul’s connection to the church, to the body of Christ affirmed Paul’s walk with Christ and brought unity to the church.

Being connected to the body of Christ, the church, helped Paul..

First of all, by fostering unity. Paul was wise not to be the lone ranger. He sought wise counsel to help deal with the disunity that was being brought by the Judaizers. There is strength in the church to help keep the health of the church, as long as the church is connected securely to Christ. The church cannot be unified if it is not connected, meeting together, and submitting to the Word together.

Seondly, the church helped Paul by ensuring accountability in his walk with Christ. All of us need people in our lives who are not only going to encourage us, but also will be there for us when we are struggling. We need people who will invest in us and walk alongside us on our journey.

Thirdly, the church helped Paul by providing affirmation in his walk. Though Paul was secure in his personal walk with Christ, the affirmation of the church was still a great encouragement of his ministry and his gifts to use in the church.

Fourthly, the church helped Paul by empowering partnerships. It’s a beautiful thing when the church gathers for genuine worship, when it works together, both inside and outside the church walls, and partners with other believers to do Kingdom work. That would be impossible outside of being active in the local church.

Finally, the church helped Paul by enhancing fellowship. There is nothing like the fellowship of the body of Christ, particularly at the local level. We do life together, we experience life together, we worship together, we pick each other up when things are challenging. Any believer who is not actively plugged into the life of a local church is short-changing themselves of incredible blessings.

Brothers and sisters, the church, if given the opportunity, will help you in your journey, and will help ensure that you are not running this race in vain. Are you taking full advantage of the fellowship of the local church?

Tony Watson
Senior Pastor
First Baptist Church
Palestine, TX