Love’s Praise – Song of Songs 6. RBT Notes, 21st April

 

  1. Intimacy is exclusive. How does the allusion to intimacy here in vv.2-3 challenge our explicit and voyeuristic culture?

 

  1. We sing of who and what we delight in. What is the Lover saying of his Love in vv.4-9?

 

  1. Here is the first hint in the book of the presence of King Solomon (v.12). How does the presence of the Risen King in your life shape who you love, and how?

 

A Prayer to Pray

Holy Spirit, please show me the beauty of the Lord Jesus. May He be more and more the song of my heart, and of my mouth. Amen.

 

 

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The Lover and the Loved – Song of Songs 5. RBT Notes, 20th April

 

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This chapter gives one of the book’s fullest explorations of sexual and romantic longing and love. Don’t be confused – though much of the book looks like the delights and trails of courtship, the metaphors for sexual love in this chapter and elsewhere aren’t condoning sex outside marriage. There are two obvious options for reading these passages: in the Song of Songs we are either looking on at the lovers’ desire for this sort of intimacy as they look forward to marriage (as seems to be so in this chapter); or we are invited into their shared memories as a now-married couple. Either way, the Song exults in the expression of covenant marriage in passionate, love-fuelled sex!

 

  1. A garden, honey, wine and milk, and a door (vv.1-5). What are these images tantalising us to think about?

 

  1. “The path of true love never runs….” How does the disappointment of vv.6-8 remind us that we must never idolise love, but must always allow the inadequacies of human love to take us to Christ?

 

  1. Vv.10-16 idealise the Lover. How do these pictures of strength and beauty make you think about the Saviour? Spend some time reflecting and worshiping with this passage.

 

A Prayer to Pray

Jesus, Lover of my soul, let me to Your bosom fly. Thankyou, Lord, that You have so made the world and my heart, that whether I know the ecstasy of human love, or the anguish of human loneliness, Your love is always real, always comforting, always glorious. Command my heart, and give me grace to love You more. Amen.

 

 

Captured – Song of Songs 4. RBT Notes, 19th April

 

  1. “What you love you can’t keep silent about.” How is this true of the Lover speaking of his love in vv.1-7? What or who do you love to speak about – to yourself, to God, or to others?

 

  1. The Lover is totally captured by his Love (vv.9-15). How does this image speak of you of being taken up with Jesus Christ?

 

  1. Love demands intimacy (v.16). What does intimacy with Jesus look like for you at the moment in your discipleship? Are there practical steps you could take (sins to repent of, habits of reading, prayer and service to put on)  in order to deepen it?

 

A Prayer to Pray

Lord Jesus, You are the fairest of ten thousand, and yet I so often and eagerly give my heart to loves which turn out to be ugly, and frustrating. Please, capture my heart again, teach me Your love, and lead me into deepening and delightful intimacy with You. Amen.

 

 

The Garden Enclosed

Christianity against the Idols – Acts 17. RBT Notes, 19th March. Notes by Graham Thomson

The Gospel is a revolutionary message.  It says that Jesus is Lord over all that there is.  That’s often a hard truth to accept, because we’re so used to calling other things lord – be they our needs, our desires, thoughts, ideas, heroes, or dreams.  It was no different for these people Paul met.  He brought them a message that demanded their whole way of looking at life be turned on its head.  To a world which is upside-down, Paul here brings the eternal truth of the Gospel.

In Thessalonica Paul shows how those with an Old Testament worldview had turned God’s Word on its head.  They needed to know the Reality that the Scriptures shadowed, the Truth they promised.  So Paul opened up the Scriptures and showed them Jesus (vv.1-3).  And guess what?  Some people were saved (v.4), and others, literally, kicked off (vv.5-9).  Some heard the truth and recognised Jesus as Lord.  Others heard the truth, and still wanted Caesar as Lord (v.7).  Paul did the same in Berea (vv.10-12).  He opened the Scriptures and showed them Jesus.  And when he showed them Jesus, some people were saved (v.12), and other people caused trouble.  They didn’t want their king replaced with another!

In Athens, Paul again showed people Jesus.  He had to start much further back with these folks, though.  They didn’t have an Old Testament worldview, and they didn’t want Caesar as Lord.  These thinking types wanted to know a reality beyond the power of men (v.22).  So Paul took them on a tour of biblical theology (vv.23-29), culminating in the Gospel truth found in Jesus (vv.30-31.)  Faced with such a different worldview, what did these Greeks do?  Some believed the Gospel and were saved (v.34), while some preferred the lords and the world they were accustomed to (v.32).

It’s no different today.  We’re called to share Jesus and the call to repentance and faith with those around us.  People’s lives must be turned upside down.  But Paul went to Thessalonica, Berea, and Athens only because he believed one thing, that when Jesus is shared, people get saved.  Lives are turned upside down, and idols are defeated as people confess that only Jesus is Lord.  Might it be that we don’t share Paul’s boldness to share Jesus, because we don’t share his faith that through the Gospel God actually does save people?

A Prayer to Pray

Thankyou Father that the Gospel is Your power to bring salvation.  Thankyou that you have given me grace to know Jesus as Lord.  Give me grace to share Jesus, knowing that You will save Your people and build Your Church through it.  Help me to believe Your Gospel promises in Jesus. Amen.

 

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Safe – Revelation 7. RBT Notes, 10th February

The world is not out of control, even when everything looks like it is. That was true for John, and his terrifying vision of the wrath of the Lamb must have increased his dread at the life he was living. Now he sees where real hope and security are.
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John is shown 144 000, the number of those sealed by God (vv.4-8). We get rid of any fanciful notions that this is a literal number, and we embrace the purpose of the number being revealed. John is effectively being told, “the number of those who are safe in Christ is a thousand times more than you could ever dare to dream!”
And they are called from the entire world (vv.9-10). John has heard the number, now he sees the crowds, dressed in the robes of purity and celebrating God’s salvation. All heaven stands with them, thrilled by the same shared salvation (vv.11-12).
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Here is the best bit: John’s vision, and Christian belief, are no set of abstractions. The Gospel isn’t a list of beliefs. The Good News is the good news about a Person. It’s Jesus. He invites us to belong to Him. He welcomes us, cares for us, provides for all of our needs, and comforts us in all of our sorrows (vv.15-17). Heaven is a safe place, because Jesus is our safety.
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A Prayer to Pray
Jesus, joy of heaven, hope of our hearts, I worship you as the Good Shepherd. Teach me that nothing can separate me or any of Your people from Your love, and write it on my heart by Your Holy Spirit. Amen.
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Brilliant – Revelation 1.9-18. RBT Notes, 2nd February

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Why don’t we use the word “brilliant” when we’re talking about the Lord Jesus Christ? For one thing, it means “shining”, and Jesus shines out the glory of God into a dark world. Because of that, there is no one like Jesus. His dazzling power, beauty, holiness and love put Him in a category of one. He is brilliant. Can you think of another, better word?

The Jesus John sees on Patmos is brilliant. A voice comes to him, giving him a message to record to seven churches (vv.10-11), and he turns to see his Lord. His description of Jesus reaches deep into images from Ezekiel and Daniel, and they are all pictures of majesty and lordship (vv.12-16). These details teach us that Jesus rules, sees, and commands. Jesus is dressed as a priest, and John can never forget that His offering for sin has reconciled him and all believers to God. The vision also teaches that He is eternal. Doesn’t Jesus Himself proclaim the good news we so need to hear (vv.17-18)?

Like us, John doesn’t need a pat on the back in his suffering, he needs to know that ruling over all things is a God of unimaginable greatness, who has conquered death. That is a message for all the world and the church to be confronted by (vv.19-20).

In the world we distrust power. Power spells pride, manipulation and worse. In Jesus, though, we see true power. Jesus is the brilliant majesty of God. His power comes to us in salvation and assurance. He is the only power we can fall down before with absolute trust, and with joyful surrender. Will we?

 

A Prayer to Pray

Lord Jesus Christ, Glory of the Father, Lord of all, Judge of the World, Saviour of the Church, I bow before you. In Your hands are my life and my eternal hope. Lord, above my trials today, let me see Your majesty, resting confident in Your work, completed at the Cross. And may it be a delight to call on Your saving name this day. Amen.