Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
We recently read this at BSF and here are a couple of thoughts that I would like to share with you.
- Our response in sacrifice, follows God’s mercy to us, former sinners who now believe in Him, receive righteousness. and therefore belong to His family This is the right and reasonable response. Have you consciously made this choice to belong to Christ’s family?
- A living sacrifice signifies that it is a voluntary choice, continuous and implies a death to self. All Christians are called to die to self daily, take up their cross and follow Christ.
- Something holy is something consecrated and set apart. What we offer to God is different from what we offer to anyone else. This particular thought struck me because we live in a very secular world and I struggled to think of those holy things that I only set aside for God.
- The verse speaks of either the pattern of the world or a renewed mind. It is truly binary. God will not be mocked and we cannot fool Him by adding on anything to His word. Off the top of my head, I think of ancestral worship, superstition, witchcraft, modern/ humanistic thoughts. None of that compares to God, it is the world or Christ’s way.
- Ultimately, we all struggle with discerning God’s will. What is God saying, what does he mean, what should I do …? All of this is never easy or obvious but this verse makes clear that it is found by abiding in God’s presence and dwelling in His word, only then will one know His good, pleasing and perfect will.
Posted in Heart matters, home, life
Tagged bible god, Bible Study, bible verses, Book of Romans, BSF International, God, lessons learnt, Mercy, response, sacrifice
This is the reason why I am a Christian. Truths I have been reminded through the study of Romans in BSF.
- We are justified through faith because Jesus died for our sins and was raised for our justification (Romans 4:25). The great exchange: His life for ours; His righteousness for our sin.
- Knowing this saves me from striving for salvation. There is nothing I can do to save myself., I am powerless to do this. If I do not accept this truth, I strive and try to work at my righteousness through works. All I can do is accept this free gift of salvation.
- Christianity makes all men equal. Before salvation we were all sinners, after salvation we are all justified by faith. No one’s sin is greater than the other or the utter worst; none of us is more righteous once we have believed. God views all men as equal.
- As a believer, I know what I am saved from (the penalty of sin which is death) and what I am saved for ( eternal life) and while here to do good works that God has prepared in advance for us to do (Ephesians 2:10).
- While we wait for the day when we will be taken up to meet our Lord and Saviour, we have the Holy Spirit as a seal and a promise. He also reveals all truth and teaches us all things righteous.
So do you believe, and if you do not, will you tonight ask Him to be your Lord and Saviour (Acts 4:12 / John 14:6)?
Posted in Heart matters
Tagged belief, Bible, bible god, Bible Study, bible verses, Book of Romans, BSF, BSF International, Christianity, faith, Jesus Christ, Salvation
When I moved to Cape Town, I did not expect to like, or GASP love it, as much as I did Johannesburg. Two years on, I feel like I am cheating on my first love but here goes a list of things I love about the city.
- Franschhoek and the annual literary festival
- The Book Lounge
- The Mountain View
- Camps Bay – I don’t do this often because it gets touristy and it’s a big contrast to the daily inequality but occasionally, I do note its’ beauty and appreciate that.
- Wine Farms
- Unstuffy Markets – Mojo Market, Old Biscuit Mill and Oranjezicht. For some reason in Joburg, peeople need to dress up and then get to markets and look like they just walk up like that, URGGGH!!
- An Evening BSF Class
- The Promenade
- Being able to walk around to most places
- A main street that means not having to get into a mall unless you want to, Yay!!!
- Off-street Parking
- Kalk Bay
- A gorgeous CBD
- Love the pace of drivers and their general chill
- It’s a very outdoors and family-oriented place
Posted in books, good, Heart matters, home, life
Tagged books, BSF, BSF International, Camps Bay, Cape Town, driving, family, lifestyle, markets, Table Mountain, walks, wine
So far in BSF we have done Romans chapter 1 to 3 and if I could summarise my thoughts, it would be:
- God’s gospel has transforming power and we should not be ashamed to proclaim it widely (Romans 1:16)
- God’s wrath is now being revealed – meaning, right now, right this moment but also one that great final day, it will be revealed against those who have not believed in Christ (Romans 1: 18 – 32)
- Not one of us is righteous. None of us can stand on our own and claim that we are not guilty of sin. None of us, not even one of us (Romans 2:10 – 11).
- The good news, no the great news is that we are justified by faith apart from the works of the Law and this applies to all, Jew and Gentile alike. We are free from the penalty of sin which is death and free to claim eternal life if we only believe.
Will you believe? And if you have believed, will you persevere in your Christian walk?
8 The Lord is compassionate and gracious,
slow to anger, abounding in love.
9 He will not always accuse,
nor will he harbor his anger forever;
10 he does not treat us as our sins deserve
or repay us according to our iniquities.
11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his love for those who fear him;
12 as far as the east is from the west,
so far has he removed our transgressions from us. (Source)
Psalms 103: 12 reminds us that God forgives fully and removes our sins from us as far as the East is from the West. This truth came up recently when I met a friend to discuss the bible studies that we had both done separately over the BSF break, her Hebrews and me, James.
A theme that separately came up for each of us is belief and how it is also possible for us as believers not to take God at His word and put in caveats that are not there OR that limit our overall ability to enjoy the time spent with Him. And this way, practice unbelief. In my specific case, this came through in the area of prayers. For others in my life, I am able to pray big prayers and believe on their behalf that God is who He says He is and that He can do what He said He will but somehow somehow in my case my faith is muted and I doubt that He will do what He said He can. So my pal rightly asked me: “what’s that about?” And in that moment, I was reminded of the verse that exhorts fathers not to provoke their children to anger by how they treat them (Ephesians 6: 4 NLT).
We often approach God based on our earthly experiences rather than step out of those and experience Him as the eternal Father who loves perfectly. Who has been perfectly revealed through His son Jesus Christ (Heb 1:3) and His living word (the Bible).
This contrasts with the devil who speaks from both sides of his mouth. On the one hand he is the father of all lies (John 8:44) and in the other, the accuser of brethren (Revelation 12:10). However, we also know that Jesus has fully overcome the world on our behalf and though we will have trouble we should take heart and have peace (John 16:33). This means that I can overcome this burden of shame and this fear of intimacy with Christ due to past sin by entrusting my all to Him and believing fully in Him. Additionally, I know that Revelation 12:11 talks of overcoming the accuser through the words of our testimony. By what we declare and what we state can we be renewed and overcome his lies about us, God’s children.
Questions to Ponder
- In what ways do you struggle to take God fully at His word?
- What are some of your personal life experiences that hinder the development of a childlike faith in God the Father?
- How will knowing this truth of Christ now impact how you approach Him in faith?
Lord we thank you that you are eternal yet unchanging, that your word is true and that you can swear by none but yourself which further encourages our faith in you. Forgive me where I have doubted your word in how I have acted, thought or spoken. Help me always to trust in you ( in the following specific areas of my life ) and believe even when my old self wants to doubt. Teach me how to hold onto my faith unswerving and this way to bring glory and honour to you. I thank you that you are a good Father who gives good gifts to His children and who forgives us fully and does not hold our past sins against us.
Posted in books, Heart matters, life
Tagged about me, bible god, Bible Study, Book of James, BSF International, devotions, female friendship, friendship, God, relationship
- Discovering a lovely brand of tea.
- Sleeping in on a Saturday morning during the BSF break.
- A wonderful chat with my sisters and friends.
- I read my first Bessie Head (Maru) this week and it was lovely.
- Successfully parallel (flash) parking in one attempt.
- Trying a recipe and immediately knowing you will do it again.
- Enjoying Season 7 of My Kitchen Rules.
- Seeing my nephew and niece as they start to interact as siblings.
- Really enjoying the study of James. Quite challenging but very interesting.
- Discovering a great podcast and then going back to download all 80 episodes
Posted in books, Heart matters, home
Tagged Bessie Head, Book of James, BSF International, cooking, driving, friendship, My Kitchen Rules, Podcasts, recipes, siblings, sister love, tea
On the last night of BSF we typically have a sharing night where class members share with each other lessons and thoughts of the study. It is a very encouraging and motivating part of the lesson as the Holy Spirit continues to affirm that He is the one who reveals knowledge to each of us.
Below see some of my thoughts and I pray that you will be deeply encouraged/challenged as I was.
- The Father and the Son act in one accord always. Jesus acted in total obedience and submission to His father and was obedient to death, even death on the Cross (Philippians 2:8).
- God is Sovereign – He ordains all things so that scripture will be fulfilled. This was confirmed for me particularly at the trial, crucifixion and resurrection of our Lord – He was in charge at all points, even when He gave His spirit on the cross.
- Through looking at the relationship between Father and Son, I was able to reevaluate my identity as a Child of God (John 1:12 -13) and to critically evaluate those relationships that were providing a pseudo identity. It particularly helped to read that believers are a gift from the Father to the Son (John 17:2) and we are securely held in the Father and the Son’s hand (John 10:28).
- Believers bear fruit as they abide in Christ. This forced me to look at the Fruits of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) again and ask those around me to help me identify where I am not bearing fruit. It was challenging to hear but definitely true and it gave me another reason to trust and ask God to help me overcome this area of growth.
- The character that most reminded me of myself is definitely Peter. Oh how I wish I could say I was like John but I saw repeatedly how self confident I am as opposed to being God-confident.
- I was struck at how unbelief in Christ existed throughout the gospel. I had previously thought that it only grow during that Holy Week but it was only present among the Pharisees and the other Jewish leaders throughout His life on earth. However as John explicitly says that he wrote this book that we would believe and by believing we would have eternal life (John 20:31), this is what I learnt about belief:
- Jesus confronts unbelief to expose the heart. I was particularly challenged at how praying small prayers ultimately demonstrated that I did not fully believe that God is able to achieve significantly above all I can think or imagine (Ephesians 3:20).
- A believers’ sole identity is in Christ and nothing (or no one) else.
- God provides evidence for each step of belief.
- I also learnt that obedience is the lens that allows us to see the purpose that we were created for. Also, through the depth of my obedience am I able to show my love for Jesus Christ.
Having learnt all of this, I can also say that my discomfort at the number of the unreached (unsaved) also grew. It is appointed for man to die once and after that to face judgment (Hebrew 9:27). My responsibility is purely to share God’s word and leave it to Him as he awakens faith in us and causes us to believe. While scary, failure to believe means meeting Jesus as Judge as opposed to as Saviour and Great High Priest. So I pray that we may continue to share the reason for our Hope when asked (1 Peter 3:15).
For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. (1 Corinthians 1: 18)
Through the intense study of John in BSF this year, I have had occasion to think of the verse above. To me, God’s word is living and inspiring and able to cut through flesh and bone. When I read the Bible, it speaks to me and I gain understanding and learn something about the character of God, about my faith and sometimes about myself. And this is different from my feelings – it is an internal working of the Holy Spirit in the heart of someone that is submitted to God. But, this verse also helps me understand that for those that do not believe the Bible is God’s inspired word (2 Timothy 3:16 – 17), it is all foolishness.
- For the freedom to worship God and to have a personal and meaningful relationship with Him.
- For a few years in the recent past I was involved in a four-part bible study called BSF (Bible Study Fellowship) International and this week with news reports of the Pope and Desmond Tutu, I was reminded again of why it is important to read God’s word and interpret it for myself (obvs in line with His teachings).
- We have had such a mild Winter this year and I am utterly grateful for the many beautiful days we have had!
- The unquestioning love of a mother? Definitely not a little thing but manifested in so many little ways each day that we live and experience it.
- I borrowed library books in June and they were due at the start of July, I returned them over three weeks later and the fine was miniscule. I love it when such surprises come along you way!
- Finding a parking spot close to the entry into the main building: once, while dropping my mum off at the airport (and check-in had already started) and secondly, at the office because by the time I usually get her allocated parking for the company is often almost full.
- I have resumed Pilates on Tuesday mornings! Only the best activity ever!
What little things have caught your eyes recently?
At BSF this week, we are learning about the blind man in John 9 and part of it is contrasted with the story of Job who lost everything and was nevertheless presented before God as blameless, upright and loving God. Part of it too was about the Pharisees’ spiritual blindness because they thought that by keeping the Law, they would actually see God even when He was standing right in front of them. How also although the man who was eventually healed was blind, he was not guilty. Those who were guilty were the Pharisees who while blind, thought themselves seeing (Jn.9:41) that just stopped me in my tracks! How often do I think I know only to later find out that in fact I didn’t and what I needed to do was trust in Him and just let Him be God, the Alpha and the Omega….like woah? I surrender and just quietly walk away from it all!