Encourage your group members to choose a verse or passage of the Bible that illustrates:
- A way they would like to grow in Christlikeness.
- A promise they need to remember.
- An attribute of God’s person they want to know more deeply.
- A precept they want to apply to an area of struggle, pain, or temptation.
And, to be clear, Jesus does encourage. He offers words of strength to the weary and comfort to the hurting. In a world where we so often feel we don’t measure up, we need his encouragement daily. By focusing on only part of his message, however, I’m concerned that we’ve reduced Jesus to a spiritual cheerleader. And, in turn, that’s what we’ve become to one another. We offer words of affirmation, but not rebuke; words of forgiveness, but not repentance. We rightly celebrate his grace, but often forget to mourn our sin.
Take your thoughts captive and examine them closely. Bring them into submission. Consider the fruit. Then fight back with gospel truths. This is how we go to war.
What can we do when we’re unmoved by God’s love and the gospel’s power?What can we do when we’re unmoved by God’s love and the gospel’s power?
You can have the best spouse on the planet and enjoy the most fulfilling sex life imaginable, and still this fact remains: if our hearts are not satisfied in God, they will never be satisfied. Spouses can be wonderful helpers, but they are sorry saviors. The best way to have a blessed sex life is to delight in the God who gives the gift. Jesus is always better than any gift he gives you, including sex in marriage.
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.
This week’s lesson at BSF was on John 3, where Nicodemus approaches Jesus and learns that all who believe in Jesus are born again and have eternal life. Salvation is the necessary prerequisite to access the kingdom of God and eternal life. We become children of God when we receive Him, believe in our hearts and confess in our hearts that Jesus is Lord. I love the song and the lyrics below because they express this point in a beautiful way. Salvation is to be found in no other name but the Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 4: 12). There is only way to heaven, not many.
There is Love
That came for us
Humbled to a sinner’s cross
You broke my shame and sinfulness
You rose again victorious
Faithfulness none can deny
Through the storm
And through the fire
There is truth that sets me free
Jesus Christ who lives in me
You are stronger
You are stronger
Sin is broken
You have saved me
It is written
Christ is risen
Jesus You are Lord of all
No beginning and no end
You’re my hope and my defense
You came to seek and save the lost
You paid it all upon the cross
A snippet from my diary
So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. (Colossians 2:6-7)
In the last couple of years I have started to look at a theme word and then gotten a verse for the following to keep me grounded. As 2015 drew to a close, I started to look at the last couple of years and the word that came to mind was “centred” or “rooted” as it felt like the previous years had been in some kind of flux. An alternative word was abide which always calls to mind being at peace and being deeply connected to something or someone as it were.
I love this verse above because besides so many other things it connects being established and rooted in Christ while at the same time talking of gratitude which was something else that I felt about 2015. God has been so good to me and mine in this year that I want to begin another year reminded of this and almost saying to myself to count my blessings, each and everyone of them every day.
So I look forward to a calming year with my focus on my Lord and Saviour as well as a spirit of gratitude!
Posted in Heart matters, home
Tagged 2016, belief, family, Heart matters, home, Jesus Christ, life, love, prayers, thanksgiving, theme verse
For unto us a child is born, unto us a child is govern
This day in Bethlehem is born a Child of the Virgin
My prayer is that Christ may be reborn in your hearts and in your midst this day. God Bless and richly scatter His favour upon you and your family!!
For the past two Sundays I have listened to a sermon preached about Mary’s response to the Angel in Luke 1 when she finds out she will be with child. About her obedience and the fact that she knew the character of God and His promises from everlasting to everlasting. Yesterday we sung the following hymns that also speak to this message.
Tell out, my soul, the greatness of the Lord!
Unnumbered blessings give my spirit voice;
tender to me the promise of his word;
in God my Savior shall my heart rejoice.
Tell out, my soul, the greatness of his Name!
Make known his might, the deeds his arm has done;
his mercy sure, from age to age to same;
his holy Name–the Lord, the Mighty One.
Tell out, my soul, the greatness of his might!
Powers and dominions lay their glory by.
Proud hearts and stubborn wills are put to flight,
the hungry fed, the humble lifted high.
Tell out, my soul, the glories of his word!
Firm is his promise, and his mercy sure.
Tell out, my soul, the greatness of the Lord
to children’s children and for evermore!
- I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. Galatians 2:20
- You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. Ephesians 4:22-24
- Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it. Luke 9:23-24
We are not our own, we have bought with His precious blood in order to live a life worthy of the calling we have received (as prisoners for the Lord) Ephesians 4:1! The life we live must show that we are Christ’s redeemed, being renewed by the transformation of our minds (Romans 12:2) and shedding light as a light on the hill (Matthew 5:14).
Posted in Heart matters, life
Tagged Christianity, Ephesians, faith, freedom, Galatians, Heart matters, Jesus Christ, journey, life, Matthew, purpose, renewal, Romans, transformation
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. (1 Peter 1: 3- 5)
I love this verse because it helps me to contextualise the present and remember that it is only temporal and that the imperishable is where we need to focus our energy and efforts. This body is fading away and this body will perish but our glorious riches have been purchased by the Blood of Christ and we can be sure that it will neither fade nor spoil.
I also LOVE THIRD DAY and it has been satisfying to hear this song and realise that it was drawn heavily from the Scriptures.
Posted in home
Tagged belief, Bible, Christianity, faith, home, hope, Jesus Christ, music, purpose, reason, Righteousness, Salvation, Third Day