- 1 Thes 4:11 “make it your ambition…work with your hands…so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders”. I was reading this part on my way to work, where I work manually using a lot of my physical body to lift things and put them down. This verse was a really great encouragement that my work, although seemingly insignificant to the vitality of the Church, is commended by God and scripture! It also may be a tool to win some to Christ. Such a wow moment on the bus to work at 6am!
- 2 Thes 1:11 To be honest this verse stood out to me because I had recently heard a talk from John Piper on this passage. It talks about how Paul prays that God would bring to fruition by His power every good resolve! This hit bang center a lot of the issues on driven-ness, that I had been thinking about so much recently. God’s timing seems so evidently perfect in this verse.
- 2 Thes 3:6-15 Again this verse hit on the danger of idleness. Since finishing my degree I have had a lot of free time. And surprisingly, to me at least, I have not spent that time very wisely. Whereas whilst I was revising for exam, in my free time then I would journal, blog or do something useful. However without any work I invested a lot of time into tv, computer games etc. So now with me taking up more hours at Sainsbury’s and preparing talks for the youth camp (i will explain more about this more some point later), I do find myself spending free time more wisely. (The tension here being: I am aware God intends for me to rest as well…)
- 1.5&27 “Christ in you, the Hope of Glory”…As I was reading Colossians, the word hope stood out to me. When I consider the hope I have because of the gospel: eternal life, a glorious inheritance etc, my perspective on my current situation changes. I want to live my life in light of this hope. I want to see the difficult and positive circumstances with the lenses of the Hope I have received as a result of Christ.
- 3:1-5 The setting of the mind and heart on things above. What do I think about, what do I care about. Are they heaven focused, good, Godly? This passage reminds me of the active role I can play in what I think about and what I care about. This is a command “Set your hearts…set your minds”, how am I doing that?
- 4.12 “always wrestling in prayer for you”…I want to be referred to as someone who wrestled in prayer for others. My colleagues, the guys at Navs, the young people at CYC, my family, my Church. Surprisingly when I am regularly journal-ing my prayers and writing them down, I am more conscious of other people’s needs. I would recommend it as a method to remind you to “wrestle in prayer” for others. I was reminded recently that when Jacob wrestled with God in Genesis, God gave him a new name: Israel – which means one who wrestles with God. I find it so interesting that God makes a covenant with a people called Israel who wrestle with Him. I get the feeling that God gets joy when we take our prayers seriously to Him and repeatedly ask Him to act/respond. Whether it is a friends salvation, a personal battle with sin, a financial need…I resolve to bring it to God in prayer.
- 1.6 God will carry out to completion the good work in me. The longer I walk with God the more I see of my sin and brokenness. At first my sins are obvious and obviously bad, however as God continues His work in me I see me of my “respectable sins”. Pride, independence, unbelief, fear, worry. But this verse reminds me, no matter how bad it looks God is committed to completing His good work in me!
- 2:1-11 Simply I want to be a humble person. Reminding me to seek to serve.
- 4.6 Again, a popular verse from Philippians: do not be anxious about anything, but in everything…present your requests to God. One of the biggest worry factors in my life, especially as a married man with a wife and a degree of financial responsibility is MONEY! My wife knows this and one valentine’s day she ordered a mug off moonpig with that verse written on it! A couple of weeks ago we had a bit of a problem financially, we had just moved into our new flat (so we had had to pay a deposit and first months rent), and then we had to buy a new washing machine. My budget sheet was knocked off balance. Then my wife didn’t get the pay she was expecting from her work. Long story short, I forgot God, panicked, and stressed. This verse is one that I need to hear, pray, meditate and preach to myself on a daily basis.
Also sorry, if these BRT posts seem a bit rushed…they are. I have a lot of catching up to do. Will try to get a regular routine down for blogging, as I understand that is best…
- 1.17-18 To be honest there were several times in Ephesians where I was reminded about how hard Paul prays for the Church in Ephesus. It was a strong reminded to me about the power and importance of Prayer. Particularly as I come closer and closer to working with the Navigators and the Youth Camp this summer. Am I praying for the young people, am I praying for the student? And am I praying lie Paul prays: “God open their hearts in order that they know the hope! God give them a Spirit of wisdom and revelation that they might know You better!” Also Paul says in verse 16: I have never stopped…remembering you in my prayers. As a response to this verse I stuck a note on my bathroom mirror reminding me to pray for the young people attending the summer camp.
- The whole of Chapter 4 as it describes what our lives should look like if they are to be an appropriate response to the good news…The list is self explanatory and also highly convicting. God manifest these fruit in my life more! Completely humble, gentle, patient, united, truthful, encouraging, forgiving, etc.
- 5:10&17 This call to find out God’s will. How much of my communion with God is seeking His will, and how much of it is me asking Him to bless my will. This takes quietness and an eagerness to listen and wait.
- 1.10 “If I were trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ”…This verse challenged me about my expectations of being a Christian. I find it so easy to slip into thinking that I deserve a comfortable life. But actually being a Christian, does make people who don’t know God uncomfortable, and therefore can lead to being mocked. I often try to get the best of both worlds, pleasing people and serving Christ. Whilst there is definitely a degree of tension in this, trying “as far as possible to live at peace” with others, I doubt that it should ever come at the expense of limiting our service to Christ. I need to be cautious when people like me, and ask myself the difficult questions: am I serving Christ wholeheartedly?
- 2.1 “I took Titus along also.” I have just recently had to give a sermon (a practice one on a passage in Titus), what I got from this verse and that sermon is how invested Paul was in Titus (and also Timothy). He showed them how he did ministry, how he served the Church. In fact, 2 Corinthians 7 talked a bit about how Titus witnessed Paul rebuking the Church in Corinth, and then later in Titus 1 is instructed about rebuking. This verse got me thinking about “Who will take me along to learn?” and also “Who will I take along?”. I love the pattern of discipleship/teaching demonstrated in this small verse.
- 4:18 It is fine to be zealous, provided the purpose is good, and to be so always….Am I zealous to God, what does this look like? And also, what are the things I am zealous/excited/passionate about which aren’t serving a good purpose.
I have not been blogging regularly, so the next few posts are all a catch up of the last few weeks (feels like months) of my BRT notes:
- 3:18: This verse connects the idea of “contemplating the Lord’s glory” and “being transformed into His image”. This verse was significant for me, because so often I rely on other things to transform me. For example, sermons, mentors, books, even scripture. These things can all be used by God to make me more like Christ, but this verse reminds me that keeping my eyes on God’s glory is a sure way to be transformed. My prayer is that I would be like the lady who sat at Jesus’ feet and listened, rather than busy myself with other “good works”. Then I will reflect His beauty!
- 4:16 “Though outwardly we are wasting away, inwardly we are being renewed day by day”. This for me emphasized the importance of God’s work on my heart over what goes on on the outside. God is doing a good work in me, even if my outside doesn’t show it. For example I may not be able to exercise for a week because I pulled a muscle in my shoulder (actually happened), but God is building my character inwardly, strengthening me, encouraging me, and leading me.
- 7:10 Godly sorrow leads to repentance that leads to salvation (& earnestness, eagerness, indignation, alarm, longing, concern, readiness for justice)…worldly sorrow brings death! Part of this verse was a challenge to the kind of sorrow I often feel towards my sin – more of a worldly sorrow it seems. And part of it reminded me to pray for true sorrow for my sin.
I love this book so much! There were four things to pick this week. One of them will be a really short blog post later this week (or at least that’s the plan), because it came up last year.
- 9.24-27…This one fits in very well with another post I made earlier, and a theme I have been thinking about for a while (without any real answers) the tension between making every effort and doing everything in God’s strength. In this passage Paul talks about “strict training” and “striking a blow to my body”. How good Godly discipline is to our maturity. Lord please help me understand what it means to do this in a way that doesn’t lead to pride, but allows You shine brighter through me.
- 15.10 “By the Grace of God I am what I am…” This verse later goes on to talk about working hard but that work being God’s grace! But it was this line in particular that stood out. Paul’s acknowledgment of God’s Grace to make him who he was. Let me always be pointing to Jesus and bringing Him glory! Paul’s identity is found and so tightly tied up in God and His Grace. Lord whether I am at Sainsbury’s or Uni, with friends or whoever may I always acknowledge that I am who I am because of You.
- 16.2 My wife and I, have really struggled with tithing this year. Not because we can’t afford it, but because our pay has not been fixed. She got payed on a weekly basis rather than monthly, and I got paid a different amount each month according to how much overtime I did or didn’t do. Plus: Sainsbury’s pay every 4th week rather than on a set day of each month (which means we get 13 pay days a year). Because of these things, setting up a direct debit every month was not very practical. However 1 Cor 16.2 gives some really practical advice to us: “On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with your income, saving it up, so that when I come no collections will have to be made”. Here we see very short accounts, weekly, setting aside of money.
Catch up…sorry no blogs for a while, just moved flat, finished exams, had a holiday, lots and lots of excuses…today I catch up on my BRT notes. I think keeping a record of these things is very beneficial for me, even if it takes a bit of effort to type them up. I will appreciate it later.
So here are my three things for Romans
- 3.22 “Righteousness given through faith”. This was one of my favorite, because I often congratulate myself that I have faith and therefore I am saved and righteous. Which in a sense is very true. However, it is not really the faith that saves me and enables me to be righteous, it is what Jesus did on the Cross. I have faith in Jesus and His death and resurrection and that is what gives me righteousness. Therefore there is no room for pride. Righteousness comes through faith in Jesus. Hope that makes sense – I’m not saying Faith is not necessary.
- 6.11-12 “count yourself dead to sin” & “do not let sin reign” & v13 “offer every part of yourself to Him as an instrument of Righteousness”… These phrases were important to me, because they reminded me of the active role we play in our battle with sin. Yes, we turn to Jesus to give us strength. Yes, we look to Him and His beauty to change our desires. Yes, we put to death by the Spirit. Yes, self help does not help we need God’s help to fight sin. Yet, these verses remind me I’m not to be passive with the sin in my life, and just let it run its course – hoping that God will deal with my desires. I am to count myself dead; not let sin reign; offer every part of me to God. These are all very active things we should do to battle sin. I needed to be reminded of that, because I am tempted to adopt a lazy attitude towards sin.
- 11.29 Now I know the topic of Calvinism and Arminianism, seems to be quite hot among my Christian friends at the moment. But I don’t want to go into it, because this verse stood out to me for different reasons than that debate. God seemed to have brought this verse together with a Bible study that week we had had with Navs. We were looking at the story of Hannah (Samuel’s mother) and how she prayed for a long period of time for a son. I shared about a couple of people close to my heart who I have been praying for for a long time, who once called themselves Christians and now aren’t. And we encouraged each other to keep praying for these things even if the answer doesn’t come immediately. “God’s gifts and his call are irrevocable”… This verse in context is talking about Israel’s calling by God, however given the study I was encouraged by this verse to keep praying for my friends.
My 3 favorite things from Acts were:
- 12:5 “So Peter was kept in prison, but the church was earnestly praying to God for him.” Over the past few weeks I have been really appreciating the prayers of my friends (mostly from Navs) and also from Church. I mentioned it in a post a few weeks ago. But experiencing being prayed for is really encouraging to me, and also the fact that I get to pray for other people. This week I have been challenged to make an effort to pray “earnestly” for my friends as they finish off their exams… One other thing about this verse is that the Church collectively prayed. How cool is that! And what a privilege to be the subject of those prayers, and also stand side by side with other brothers and sisters and pray for others in their difficulties. “So [x was going through a tough time], but [there was a group of believers who were praying earnestly to God for them].” I get to be that “But” when I stand in prayer. Ramble over.
- 18:18 In this verse it explains that Paul had his hair cut because of a vow he had taken. It was this verse that really captivated my imagination for most of this week. I kept thinking about how Paul had made a decision/commitment to God from the heart and he was expressing it physically. It made me think of stories I’ve heard where people become a Christian and then change their name. I understand that Godly change doesn’t work outside-in, but starts from the heart and changes our outward life. Whilst I haven’t got any idea of vows I would like to make to God, it does make me wonder if my outer life displays the decisions I’ve made in my heart.
- 19:30-31 I was struck when reading through Acts this week by Paul’s enthusiasm for the Gospel. Here we have a riot in Ephesus where a bunch of people have gathered in a theater to stop Paul from ruining their businesses with the Gospel. They are so riled up that in v35-40 the city clerk has to step in to calm them down to prevent a Roman intervention. What is Paul’s attitude, he wants to use this opportunity, while the crowd are all gathered together, to preach to them. His friends and officials have to hold him back. I was challenged because when it comes to sharing my faith, I cannot remember a single time where I have had to be “held back”. I want that kind of passion for God’s work, that I forget about my own safety, dignity, reputation etc.