No Easy Message – Micah 1. RBT Notes, 18th November

You’re called to be a servant of God’s Word. How thrilling! What an exciting lifestyle, what privileges, what affirmation, what joy lies ahead. Who wouldn’t want to be called to minister the Word of the Living God? Except you’re Micah. Your godly parents have given you a wonderful name – Micah means, “who is like the Lord?” – and by grace you’ve come to know the truth of that question. But you’re discovering that the Lord has given you a hard ministry. There will be glimpses of light and joy, but this is a hard road you must walk. You will have to confront, and you will have to care.

God is not silent, and He’s always serious. God is bringing the witness of His truth to the world. Micah lived in the 8th Century BC, and was called to warn both Israel and Judah that God was against their greed and corruption. God wants the world to hear the charges He is bringing against His people (v.2). The church must never forget that He is the God of the whole earth, of those who do not acknowledge Him as much as of those who do. He comes like fire and earthquake, and He comes in judgement (vv.3-7). He is moved to anger by the sins of those who profess His name. Let the church beware.

A call to minister in the name of a Holy God like this is a call to care. Micah weeps over his people’s sins (vv.8-10). Feel the force of his words. Have you wept for other people’s sins? Have you wept for your own? Could you call others to see the depth of their sins, and to repent over them (vv.11-12)? Would you warn those you claim to love of the wrath to come, which only Jesus and a living, wholehearted faith in Him will save them from (v.13-16)?

Micah calls us to face hard realities. The hardest is God Himself. He doesn’t ignore sin. He sent His Son, to warn of sin, to weep over sin, and at the Cross to pay for our sin. In Him God is real. Will we trust Him, and serve Him? Who is like Him?

 

A Prayer to Pray

Lord, in a world and a church which doesn’t want to take You seriously, I confess that I am often just the same. I love the trivial, and the easy. In myself, I’m not ready for the hard call of obedience and faith. Your Spirit alone, Lord, can forge faith and strengthen discipleship. I am Yours, Lord, just as surely as in Christ You are mine. Make me a believer and servant of Your Gospel. Amen.

Don’t you dare! 2 Samuel 6. RBT Notes, 7th October

Everything’s going my way. So it felt for David. More than that, God was going his way, and had done so, all the way to the palace doors of Jerusalem. How wonderful it is to worship God when the sun is shining, and all our plans are going well (vv.3-5).

Then disaster. Thunder strikes, almost literally. As David makes his joyful way with the people to Jerusalem, one of David’s men, Uzzah, reacts entirely naturally to the slipping oxcart and tilting Ark of God, and is struck down for the presumption of touching it (v.6-7). Joy gives way to horror. How could God do this? It was His Ark, this was about His Glory, and in a blink a man lies dead, a people are terrified, and a king is confused, and furious (v.8).

Months go by, the Ark stowed away somewhere (hopefully) safe. And news comes that that place and those who live there are blessed (v.12). So the Ark is brought out, the Jerusalem procession starts up again, and David’s joy returns. But, like before, joy gives way to humiliation. Michal, Saul’s daughter,  mocks his praise (v.20). She, in turn, comes under David’s anger, and God’s (vv.21-23).

This is not a happy, easy chapter. God will protect His king, and His holiness, however hard people find that. He is still doing the same. “I am the Lord, that is my name. I will not give my glory to another, nor my praise to idols” (Is. 42.8). Jesus can’t be tamed, or even blamed. He is the Lord, He is holy, He works for His Kingdom. Guard your heart, and guard your steps.

 

A Prayer to Pray

Lord, my words are unthought-through, and so are so many of my actions. Lord, order my life. Show me how to think, and how to feel. Teach me a godly caution, and then a bold decisiveness as I serve your Glory. Amen.

 

Ripe – Amos 8. RBT Notes, 9th June

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1.   Look at vv.5-6: what sins are we guilty of as believers, where we take advantage of others? What do we need to remember about God (v.7)?

2.  How are vv.9-10 ultimately fulfilled at the Cross?

3.   Think about the church today. How might she be experiencing the warning of vv.11-12 as a people who won’t keep faith with Him?

 

A Prayer to Pray

God of all mercy, forgive me for when I am complacent, smug, satisfied, and deaf to Your Word. Teach me to repent, teach me to hunger and thirst for righteousness. May Jesus, Your gift of righteousness, be increasingly the One I long for. Amen.

Judgement – Psalm 94. RBT Notes, 16th May

1.   What do people who reject God forget about Him, and what do they need to remember (vv.4-11)?

2.   What do believers who are struggling need to remember about God (vv.12-19)?

3.    Does the thought of God’s judgement scare you? Why / Why not?  Spend some time reflecting on vv.20-23 in the light of the Cross.

 

A Prayer to Pray

Lord, as the old prayer asks, make me as holy as a pardoned sinner can be. So often I forget that You have judged my sin at the Cross, and so I can praise You; and I forget that You will judge all sin at the end of Time, so I can rest confident in You. Write these truths on my heart, so that I truly believe in You, and strive to live a holy life, trusting and obeying You. Amen.

 

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The Blessed and Only Ruler – and you. Psalm 82. RBT Notes, 2nd May

1.  Who is God speaking to? Actual ‘gods’, or the powerful in society (v.1)? What does that say about how God expects secular rulers to behave, then?

2.   What is God’s commission to these people, and what are His charges against them (vv.2-4)?

3.   What is the current reality of even the most powerful unbelievers, and what is their destiny (vv.5-8)?

 

A Prayer to Prayer

Sovereign Lord, I am the arrogant man. I am the one who so naturally wants to use others for my comfort, and advancement. I am the man who ignores the cries of the hurting and the oppressed. Forgive me for the many ways I spurn Your Lordship. Please give me a vision of Your great majesty and majestic compassion in Your Son, and commission me afresh to serve all in His Name. Amen.

 

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Jesus the Warrior  – Revelation 19.11-21. RBT Notes, 25th February

Jesus is gentle. He is. He is also uncompromising, fierce, mighty, furious at God’s enemies, and the bringer of God’s wrath. The open heaven John sees in vv.11-21 is the unveiling of Jesus, and here He is far more Lion than Lamb.

jesus-winsEvery detail of the vision contributes to this picture of Jesus in His avenging wrath. He rides a general’s war-horse, and He fights with God’s justice (v.11). He brings all of God’s authority, and is the full expression of God’s will as His Word (v.13). If His robes have been stained in the blood of His own sacrifice, they will soon be stained with the blood of His enemies (v.13). Heaven’s armies follow Him, ready to do His will (v.14). As the Gospel is proclaimed, the world not only hears of His Lordship, but encounters His Lordship, either as believers in the Gospel, or as deniers of the Gospel, and so, objects of His wrath. As John quotes Psalm 2, he knows that the world can refuse Jesus Christ, but the word can never evade His rule, or His wrath (vv.15-16).

And what a tattoo! The very ink on His thigh proclaims Jesus’ majesty (v.16). Earth must acknowledge it, and even the birds are called to recognise it, as they are invited to feast on the dead bodies of Jesus’ enemies (vv.17-18). When He rides to battle, the armies will be amassing against Him, but they will fall. All the religions, ideologies, isms and world-views and lifestyles which oppose Him will yield to Him (vv.19-21). Our call is to yield now in faith and obedience. One day, the time for that will be too late.

 

A Prayer to Pray

Lord Jesus, Word of God and Lord of all, You are the joy of all who believe. I lay my sins before You, and ask that You will trample them under Your feet. Please teach me to tremble before all that You are, and to live humbly before Your searching as well as loving gaze. Amen.