Feel the Burn – Amos 7. RBT Notes, 8th June

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1.    What are the lessons for us about prayer, punishment and grace in the two visions of vv.1-6?

2.    How do vv.7-9 remind us that God will not compromise His holiness?

3.    How is Amos’ experience of the stress and cost of ministry a foreshadowing of the life and work of the Lord Jesus (vv.10-17)? And how does 2 Timothy 3.12 tie our lives to this suffering?

 

A Prayer to Pray

Lord God, teach me to care about Your Kingdom, and make me into a disciple of courage. So shape me, that suffering doesn’t surprise me when it comes, and that sacrifice and loss will never move me from my commitment to the Lord Jesus. For His sake, amen.

Heart-wise – Amos 5. RBT Notes, 6th June

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1.   Bethel, Gilgal and Beersheba were places of alternative worship (vv.4-5). What is it in our hearts which makes us seek idols, and what is the remedy?
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2.   What is God’s charge against the people for their lack of justice (vv.7-17)? Why is this such a big deal for God?
3.   What does God want, and what does He get, from His people (vv.21-27)? How do we guard our hearts in order to give God full-hearted discipleship, rather than empty religion?
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A Prayer to Pray
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Lord God, every heart is open before You, and no secrets are hidden from You. Pardon me from my many sins, above all, the sin of a hypocritical heart. Show me the heart of love You have for me, as I see it at the Cross, so that I may give You a life of commitment, in the power of the Spirit. Amen.

Longing – Psalm 84. RBT Notes, 4th May

1.    The Psalmist longs to encounter God (vv.1-4). How are your desires to know Christ? What can you do with your desires – however weak – before the Lord?

2.     Sometimes we seem to have little strength to love God. How do vv.5-9 encourage us to press on in seeking Him?

3.     What do the prayers and promises of vv.10-12 look like in your life now, and then as fulfilled ultimately in heaven?

 

A Prayer to Pray

Lord, it is my chief complaint that my love is weak and faint. But I love You, and adore, O for grace to love You more. Amen.

 

 

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Wisdom Speaks, and Acts – Ecclesiastes 10. RBT Notes, 12th April

microphone_black_background2Wisdom: What is v.10 teaching us about how we labour for Jesus?

 

Words: Why do we need to give absolute care to what we say (v.20)? Compare Matthew 12.36.

 

Work: What is the warning about laziness in v.18? What particular areas of your life do you need to bring that warning to?

 

A Prayer to Pray

Lord Jesus, there is so much to do, and say and to think through as I try to live for you. Please keep me from rushing into things – with my words as well as my actions. Help me to do what’s best, in the best way, for Your Glory. Amen.

No Compromise – Acts 20. RBT Notes, 23rd March

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The Gospel is not going away. There will be periods of history and places in the world where is it angrily resisted (as in Paul’s world), and places where it will be mocked and ignored (as in ours). Our calling is not to lose our nerve, or our heart. The Gospel will outlive our culture and our own lives. The only worth of our lives, ultimately, is in whether we have loved it, believed it and passed it on.

Paul is compelled by the Gospel. There is no resting up after Ephesus, but after more work in Macedonia and Greed (and more attempts on his life, v.3), he’s working his way east with his heart set on Jerusalem (vv.1-6). Poor old Eutychus is one of the many surely who couldn’t keep up with Paul’s zeal to expound the Scriptures, and a sermon turns unexpectedly into a miraculous resuscitation exercise (vv.7-12).

Next, Luke records one of Paul’s great sermons, here to the leaders of the church in Ephesus. His words are searching, and instructive. Here are his key lines of thought, as he explores true Gospel ministry for all times:

There is one message for all (vv.18-21). Paul does not speak different words to different people. All need to hear the same truth about Jesus. Repentance and faith are never popular demands, but God has given us no other mandate. Stick to this.

Authentic ministry is cross-shaped (vv.22-24). What do you value in life, and what would you give your life for? Paul knows that life’s worth (his own as well as ours) is measured in giving it up for Jesus Christ. His life’s direction is Christwards, and he knows that living for Him means suffering for Him. Do we have the same perspective, and passion?

Ministry is never free from responsibilities, or dangers (vv.25-31). The wolves are coming for the sheep, is Paul’s warning (v.29-31). Do you recognise them? With their glinting smiles, they want your allegiance, money, unquestioning obedience and anything else you might be unwise enough to surrender to them. Don’t. They slaughter the sheep and oppose Christ (v.29). Jesus shed His blood for His church; don’t allow any of His sheep to be torn apart by false teachers.

God really can be trusted (vv.32-38).  He really can. Paul leaves this tearful scene committing them to the trustworthy God (v.32). They can trust Him for the church, and Paul can entrust to Him his own life, though he knows he is facing hardship and probably worse. Trust Him, and lay yourself out in sacrifice, is what Paul is modelling, and urging upon us all. Jesus really is worth it. Refuse to compromise.

 

A Prayer to Pray

No, Lord, I don’t want to compromise. Please give me such a vision of Jesus and His mighty sacrifice for me that I will ransack my heart, searching for whatever it is You are asking for, and bringing it gladly to  Your throne. May love be the fuel for the sacrifice – and may I be the offering. Amen.

All the Way to Heaven – Revelation 2.12-3.6. RBT Notes, 4th February

myoldbootsonshelfBW_blogIt’s not enough to love Jesus and keep your head down when there are problems in the church. You can keep true to your beliefs, but when others around you are losing theirs, the Lord is calling you to be involved, not to be a pious bystander. The church at Pergamum has some shining Christians, who have endured persecution and come through with flying colours (vv.12-13); but their Lord charges them with tolerating false belief and immoral living in their church (vv.14-15). Deal with it, is the command of Jesus (v.16).

Thyatira has similar problems. Although the church is faithful (vv.18-19), she is tolerating a faithless woman amongst her, who is leading some believers into sexual sin (v.18). Jesus knows (v.19), and will act swiftly (vv.22-24). He is a King, afterall (v.27), and He rewards those who actively live under His Kingship (v.28).

Among the tests of faith, we must never take our eyes off the goal of our faith. Heaven is a place for those who love their Lord, and stay faithful until the end (v.5). Do we need to wake up from a sleepy attempt at faith, like those at Sardis, one which fixes on our problems rather than on our Lord? The Gospel promises us persevering grace. And those who love Jesus day by day? “They are worthy” (v.4).

 

A Prayer to Pray

Lord, it pains me when I think that You see and know all that I really am. Thankyou, though, that You love me, and that grace covers my every sin. By Your Spirit’s power, work a deep repentance in me at my laziness and cowardice. Fill me with zeal to live entirely for you, whatever the cost. Amen.