Bible Study 2023



Christmas Devotional 

( How to get ready for Christmas )


Reading :  LUKE 1: 46-55

This is Mary's song of praise and is more commonly known as the Magnificat 

( from the word ‘magnify’) 

Following on from the first announcement by the angel, it began to dawn on Mary what all of this would mean : what she was doing, who she was carrying in her womb and the implications / consequences of it all.

Mary, a teenager responds with praise to the Lord for the favour God has shown to her. She is the one chosen to give birth to Jesus, God in the flesh the One who would save people from their  sins. 

Here are a few traits / attributes of Mary that we can ponder on this Christmas season :

1- MARY IS WORSHIPFUL ( vv 46-47 )

Mary, a teenager (?14 year old ) offers such a prayer/ song of praise  to God. In response to the most shocking news of her life, she gives God the praise.From the deepest part of her being she is exalting God , rejoicing and boasting in the Lord. 

She did not let this news that she is carrying the Son of God inflate her ego. God blesses her and her focus is on the Lord , not herself. It tells us a lot about her depth of spiritual maturity and her relationship with the Lord she is magnifying.

Like Mary, we must worship and stand in awe of the God she worshipped.Allow God to fill our spiritual hunger with good things

2- MARY IS HUMBLE ( vv 48;52 ) 

She recognises her unique role in God's salvation plan to birth / deliver the One who would be the deliverer and Saviour .Such a role could make a person puffed up with pride. The honour she has is only because of God's gracious nature

This poor, obscure and young teenager from Nazareth describes herself as God's maidservant

God has come to her - ‘a nobody from nowhere’ and in humility she submits to her new role. 

Like Mary we deserve nothing. As we humbly submit to Him, He can use us as He did with Mary to reveal Jesus to the world. God still exalts the humble.


There are many references to Old Testament scriptures in Mary's song. It is steeped in Old Testament truth.

For example : V46 echoes Psalm 34:2 -“My soul shall make its boast in the Lord…”

                    V47 sounds much like Isaiah 45:21 - “ There is no God beside Me, A just God and    Saviour 


                       V 49a echoes Psalm 126 :3 -“The Lord has done great things for us..”

                       V49b is a direct quote from Psalm 111:9- “And Holy is his name”

                       V53 - she knows about the covenant with Abraham ; she knows God will be true to 

His promises to His people ( Genesis 22:16-18 )

The song can be compared to Hannah's song from 1 Samuel 2:1-10

This is an attribute that we all can strive to emulate : To become more familiar with scriptures so in  prayer, we can make declarations like Mary does.


This is such a beautiful example of using Scripture and God's promises ( that are embedded in our hearts) to keep a Biblical perspective in the ups and downs of life.

Like Mary, knowing and believing in God's Word and promises gives us faith to praise Him.This is especially so when we have to deal with unexpected situations ( when life does not turn out the way we think it should )

4- MARY IS NEEDFUL ( vv47,50 )

Mary has need of salvation.Her “spirit rejoices in God my Saviour”.

Who needs a Saviour ? A sinner needs a saviour. The Saviour is only good to somebody who needs saving - Jesus, the Saviour does what a person cannot do : saves and delivers from sin

This was Mary's greatest need. This is our greatest need that as a sinner we are in need of salvation and God's mercy. “His mercy extends to those who fear Him..”

         Response : 

So how do you get ready for  Christmas ? How do you get into the ‘Christmas spirit’ ?

Worship the Lord your Saviour. Stay humble as you serve Him. Be scriptural, declare the truth of God's Word daily. Thank Jesus for meeting your greatest need - for being your Saviour and Lord

Take time to personalise this song ( rather than other secular songs )Let it become your song of praise and worship to your Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ 

You are declaring Truth over your life and circumstances 

          The baby Mary delivered ,one day delivered and saved her and you too as you trust Jesus


Thursday 7th December 2023


We are now in the season known in the church calendar as Advent. The word Advent itself means “arrival”, “appearance” “coming”. In the early church, Advent was not only celebrated for the birth of Jesus, but was also celebrated as the preparation for His return.

In church tradition there is the lighting of a candle on each of the four Sundays leading up to Christmas, and these candles represent Hope, Peace, Joy and Love.
Today we are going to look at Joy, which is traditionally the candle lit on the third Sunday in Advent, to remind us of the world’s joy at the birth of Jesus.

Reading: Luke 2:8-20

In ancient Israel shepherds were generally considered “unclean” in the community of God’s people because of the work they did. Because of living with their sheep day by day in most unhygienic conditions, they were looked down upon and despised by many of the Jewish leaders and also ordinary Jews.

So, who were these shepherds we read about in Luke 2?

They were not “ordinary” shepherds. The shepherds we read about here were known as “Levitical shepherds.” They were carrying out their Temple duties and the only people who could carry out Temple duties were the priests.

How do we know this?

Thanks to the Mishnah – a group of documents from the Hebrew Oral tradition that had been written down and which governed the Hebrew people at the time of the Pharisees.

One of the rules says this:

“It is strictly prohibited to keep flocks in the territory of Israel unless they are in the desert. The only exception to this rule are those flocks which are used for the Temple sacrifices.”

These shepherds were in the fields near Bethlehem, NOT in the desert where all the other flocks had to be. Therefore they had to be Levitical shepherds, otherwise they would have been in the desert with their flocks.

These were priestly shepherds overseeing the birth of lambs to be sacrificed in the Temple. In fact, in his book, The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah, Alfred Edersheim writes in Chapter 6, The Nativity of Jesus the Messiah,

“That the Messiah was to be born in Bethlehem, was a settled conviction. Equally so was the belief, that He was to be revealed from Migdal Eder, ‘the tower of the flock.’ This Migdal Eder was not the watchtower for the ordinary flocks which pastured on the barren

sheep- ground beyond Bethlehem, but lay close to the town, on the road to Jerusalem. A passage in the Mishnah leads to the conclusion, that the flocks, which pastured there, were destined for Temple- sacrifices.”

This is because of a prophecy in Micah 4:8, which says, “And thou, O tower of the flock, the strong hold of the daughter of Zion, unto thee shall it come, even the first dominion; the kingdom shall come to the daughter of Jerusalem.”

The “tower of the flock” in Micah 4:8 refers to the Migdal Eder outside of Bethlehem, which Micah 5:2 identifies as the birthplace of the Messiah: “But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.”

It was at Migdal Eder that the priestly shepherds oversaw the birth of lambs to be offered up as sacrifices in the Temple. As the lambs were born the shepherds carefully inspected them and then, if they were acceptable, wrapped cloths around them and laid them aside in mangers to protect and calm them while setting them apart from the other lambs.

These particular shepherds had been chosen and trained to attend the flock of sheep that were to be used as sacrificial lambs in the Temple. Sacrificial lambs had to be “spotless and without blemish.” They required special treatment and looking after. According to the laws of the time, the sheep to be used for the offerings had to be a one-year-old male sheep that had been outside for 365 days (one year). When they were ready, they were taken to Jerusalem to be sacrificed on the Sabbath in the Temple.

Imagine then the significance of the angel’s announcement to the shepherds in Luke 2:11-12

Luke 2:11

“Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.”

The Levitical priests had heard about the Messiah from the Prophets, and therefore knew that when the Saviour of the world was born, animal sacrifices would no longer be necessary.

Luke 2:12

“This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths (swaddling clothes-KJV) and lying in a manger.”

What was the sign for the shepherds?

The cloths or swaddling clothes.

These were not just simple strips of cloth or rags that maybe Mary and Joseph had brought from home, or even found in the place where Jesus was born. These were the same swaddling cloths used by the priests in the Temple – and by these shepherds – to keep the lambs pure and without blemish whilst they were being prepared for sacrifice.

We don’t know how Mary and Joseph came to have these swaddling cloths but some theologians have speculated that they could have come from Zaccharias the priest, the husband of Mary’s cousin Elizabeth. Let’s remember that Mary had stayed with Elizabeth for 3 months during her pregnancy, so they could have been given to Mary as a gift, as they were aware that her son was the Saviour of the world, as well as the Son of God. When the shepherd-priests found Jesus wrapped in the cloths used for those lambs singled out as the sacrifice for the atonement for sin, they recognised that this was the sign the Angel had spoken about, Because He was, after all, set apart to be our Sacrifice. Even in this narrative of the birth of Jesus we are given an amazing link to Jesus’ sacrificial death on the cross.

It is impossible to separate Christmas from Easter.

Luke 2:13-14

“Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,

“Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favour rests.”
Why was there a “great company of the heavenly host” with the angel?

This is my theory.
The heavenly host was not the celestial choir. It was the celestial army.

The Bible typically describes the Heavenly host as being made up of angels, and gives several descriptions of angels in military terms, such as their encampment (Genesis 32:1–2), command structure (Psalms 91:11–12; Matt. 13:41; Rev. 7:2), and participation in combat (Job 19:12; Rev. 12:7).

Therefore I have come to the conclusion that the heavenly host could have been there to ensure that the birth of Jesus actually came about, because without being born, He could not have gone to the cross and satan would not have been defeated.

What was the reaction of the shepherds after they had seen Jesus with their own eyes?

Luke 2:20

The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.

To sum up – the good news had been announced to shepherds – however not just to simple shepherds but to shepherd-priests who would have known exactly the meaning of the symbolism of Jesus being wrapped in swaddling cloths used for those lambs destined to be sacrificed as a sin offering.

As we celebrate Christmas together, let us not forget the miraculous beginnings of a Babe who was called Jesus or Immanuel (God with us). He became our Sacrificial Lamb and is now our Shepherd and King.

John 1:29

“The next day he (John the Baptist) saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!

As Isaac Watts put it: JOY to the world, the Lord has come!



The Battle For Your Mind 


We are continuing to study Bible verses that relate to emotional / mental health.

So far we have covered topics as Anxiety, and Strongholds : capturing negative, toxic thoughts before they wreak havoc in our lives. Theses critical thoughts are to be corrected and made obedient to Christ 

Today we are studying the topic of ‘The Renewed Mind’. Read Romans 12:1-2

Paul writes to Christians in Rome. He explains God's plan of salvation made possible by faith in all that Jesus Christ accomplished on the cross and by His resurrection 

Basically, Chapters 1-11 cover what we should believe ( doctrine ).Chapters 12-16 provide the practical application ( how we should behave )

Verse 1- Paul says ‘I appeal to you ,exhort, command you ,in view of God's mercy….’. We are to live this life for God

What is the right response because you have received  the mercy of God ? You must give yourself to Him sacrificially. This is a command / imperative 

The Old Testament sacrifices were dead sacrifices. Paul says here because of the mercies of God that you have received, offer your bodies as a LIVING sacrifice.

This means we bring the whole person to God : not just your “Sunday best / self” but even the Monday madness or how terrible and chaotic you were on Tuesday too”. It involves our thoughts and things we do (especially as the Christmas season approaches !)

> A living sacrifices :- is not a one - time offering but a sacrifice that happens all the time to God in everyday actions with thanksgiving. It is the logical outflow because of what God has done for you.It is about doing what is holy and pleasing to Him so our worship to Him is a way of life, a lifestyle.

Worship is not just about singing songs but living lives that are pleasing to God 

Verse 2-How can you give yourself to God ,thus living a life that pleases God ? How can you come to the right mindset to do that ? Paul shares the key by giving another imperative or command :

“Don't try to fit in with this world ( present age) but be transformed  by the renewing of your mind….” ‘Don't go along to get along’.Our thinking needs to change with God's truth

‘Be transformed’ is like an inward ( heart ) change that produces an outward change. It is from the Greek word ‘metamorphoo’.The English equivalent is the word metamorphosis - changing from immature to mature / adult form in distinct stages

A caterpillar undergoes a metamorphosis and changes into a butterfly. It’s destiny is to fly but it has to go through the process of change.

Every time you think a thought, a new pattern of thought is created. It is like a mental trail (neural pathways ) which gets deeper when the thought is tied to a strong emotion . 

For example, the more you rehearse a negative thought, the more you perpetuate the very action you are longing to stop. Like you're stuck in a rut !

The more you think a thought, the more dominant it becomes. This is good if you are thinking God's Truth.It is bad news if you are believing lies of the enemy.

So every thought matters. Your life moves in the direction of your dominant thoughts. What comes into your mind will very likely be evident in your life. 

Filling the mind with truth will ‘uncross the wires that are crossed’ and that have been causing you to believe lies like : “you’re not good enough, God can never use you ..”

Renewing your mind with new thoughts is crucial. New thoughts come from new perspectives. A new perspective from God's Word can bring new ways of thinking. Changing the way you

think, will change the ways you act and react.You don't have to stay stuck in patterns of negative actions / reactions.

Dr Caroline Leaf : “Through our thoughts we can be our own brain surgeons as we make choices that will change the circuits in our brains. We are designed to do our own brain surgery and rewire our brains by thinking and choosing to renew our minds. Spiritually the power of our mind to change the brain can be described ‘as a man thinks, so is he’ ( Proverbs 23:7)”

            How do you do  renew mind ?

**Saturate yourself with Scripture - you get God’s  view. Ask yourself what truth empowered by God's living word will obliterate the stronghold, toxic or critical thought. Then as you meditate / focus, a new pattern of thought is created

“Think it. Confess it..until you believe it.” God is renewing your mind with His truth.

Example - if you feel insecure, or fearful you can write and confess ‘My confidence is in Christ alone.His Spirit lives in me.I am not a slave to fear’

>>By the power of Holy Spirit, change is possible through transformed thought patterns.We are not destined to stay as we are.

**Surround yourself with God - fearing people : this way you are accountable to someone 

**Submit yourself to the authority of God's Word. Thus, you begin to think in a way that pleases God. So your life is characterised by fulfilling the will of God.

You must renew your mind so you can discern His will

            Please refer to the website

            Click ‘Bible Study’ and see weekly notes regarding this topic : “The Battle For Your Mind” 




We continue with the short study series on ‘The Battle For Your Mind’

We are looking at Bible verses that deal with mental / emotional health.One of the first steps in finding freedom in Christ and enjoy life is getting your thoughts disciplined and under control

Last week we ‘dug deeper’ into verses from Philippians that relate to Anxiety.These are verses that deal with mental / emotional health.

Read 2 CORINTHIANS 10:1-5  Focus verses are 3-6. 

Paul the apostle writes to the Christians in Corinth. He encourages the believers to be reconciled with him and to reject false apostles. 

This group of men had come to Corinth and were challenging Paul's personal integrity and his authority among other things. They were negative critics calling Paul weak and ridiculing his speaking skills . It was a serious situation because it was creating dissension in the church.

One can only wonder what was going through his mind when he heard about these negative and vicious whispers. 

In life when we hit painful bumps like Paul it can be hard not to start thinking harsh thoughts. These negative thoughts can bring us down. If we are not careful they can keep us from living the life God purposed for us

Paul shares how we can keep our thoughts, thus our lives, moving in a God - honouring direction.

Firstly, Verses 1-2: in the humility and gentleness of Christ, Paul makes an appeal to the Christians to take note of all that he is saying. So that when he visits them he will not have to be bold as he has to be with those who think that we Christians can live by worldly standards.

Verse 3: What is the reason for Paul's appeal and intention to be bold and firm to some ? 

Because we don't fight our battles as people who belong to the world. Yes, have trials and temptations of the old fallen nature, in this life.Yet when it comes to spiritual battles/ warfare ,we only engage in the spiritual realm

The enemy,Satan loves to get you to fight in the flesh ( as the world does ): e.g. react angrily, or  behaviour like ‘I know how to use my voice to get what I want’, or  take things in your own hands, etc.

Verses 4-5: Why do we engage in spiritual warfare rather than fight like the mind of the world ?

‘The weapons we fight with are not carnal, but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds…..’ The weapons have God’s power that shatters the enemy’s strongholds that oppose us

‘Strongholds’- mental habit patterns of thought that are not in line with God's word.They usually show themselves in something less than Christ- like temperament or behaviour. These are established through environment ( fallen world is hostile to God), traumatic experience and temptation 

This is like a strong defence or  a ‘false argument’ in which a person seeks shelter to escape reality. 

‘Arguments ( rational reasoning ) and every high thing ( pride, like a barrier to knowing God )..’ - like institutions as universities holding to science and higher learning yet hostile to God, or  transgenderism thinking.

>Point to note : even when praying for the unsaved, it is a verse we can declare .Call the person’s name, and call out  the specific stronghold/ argument.Bind the belief system and thought pattern that keep them from seeing Jesus. Ask that Holy Spirit’s power will be released in their minds and hearts, for example.

So they're negative thoughts being sown in the minds of Christians by strongholds and arguments, etc. It undermines faith and therefore these thoughts are to be dismissed at once. 

Paul is saying that there is a spiritual battle being waged and it's happening in your mind- the thought life : ( thought —>>attitude —>>habit —>>lifestyle )

And we have the weapons like the Word of truth and the Spirit of truth - the truth will always overcome every false ways of thinking

V 5b : How can the Christian deal with these critical, toxic or negative thoughts ? 

Capture these negative thoughts by focusing on truth. Accept only those thoughts that glorify Jesus so you might obey Him. 

Dr Caroline Leaf : “The ability to quiet your mind, focus your attention on the present issue, capture your thoughts, and dismiss the distractions that come your way is an excellent and powerful ability that God has placed within you…So that we can tune in and listen to God.”

Three questions you can ask as you aim to correct a critical thought :

1- is this thought in line with truth ? 

2- is this thought in line with who God say I am ? 

3- is this thought in line with who I want to be ?

If the answer is ‘no’ , then correct and redirect that thought with God's Word , prayer and worship 

God calls us His children. We have to choose to live out that legacy ,growing in Christ through our thoughts and actions




We are starting a short study on ‘The Battle For  Your Mind’.

Our mind is a battlefield where most of life’s battles are won / lost. The life you have is often a reflection of the thoughts you think. 

Today we are talking about Anxiety. Anxiety is a problem that can affect any individual at any stage in their life.

Read : PHILIPPIANS 4:6-9 : Paul the apostle is writing from a Roman prison.He is under house arrest waiting for potential execution. He writes these powerful words under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

The word “anxious” in the Greek can be translated as ‘worry, anxious, care’.This Greek word ‘merimnao’ are really from two words : 1st word means  -‘separate, tear or to divide’. The 2nd word means-  ‘the mind’. Together they literally mean ‘to divide the mind’

Anxiety can be described as when your mind is divided between good, legitimate thoughts and  destructive thoughts 

Verse 6- What is the command Paul gives ? Stop worrying and replace that with this prescription : 

The antidote for anxiety ? Prayer or worship ; supplication or strong crying out to God so your emotions are engaged ; thanksgiving- for those trials are tools God is using to make you mature in Christ. Replace your anxiety with these 

Worship and worry cannot exist in the same heart.They are mutually exclusive 

You are being conformed to His image as you make requests to God. You are dependent on Him

Verse 7- What is the result of engaging in worship, petition, thanksgiving and making requests ?  Peace of God - ‘Shalom’ which means wholeness, total -wellbeing. It is  not like the world's peace with the absence of war and conflict. It is the opposite of anxiety .It is a  supernatural gift from Jesus to His disciples. To live in relationship with Jesus is to live in peace.

How does Paul describe this peace ? beyond human understanding, you can't fully explain it. This peace guards like military personnel.So when those anxious thoughts come that could divide your mind, the guard says ‘you are not going there to disrupt ,I am the peace of God protecting this heart and mind.’

Verse 8 - How can we have a healthy, godly thought life ? Follow the pattern Paul commands - ‘Think’, ponder upon whatever is true and noble and right in God's eyes ; what is pure and lovely to Him ; what He admires , which is everything that is excellent and worthy of praise.

So what are you filling your minds with that distracts you from such healthy thinking ?

Ask yourself as you ‘think’, what will help you think more like this verse 8 ?

Verse 9 : How can you ensure that the God of peace is with you ?

 *By doing -practising God's Word. Live out what you know ( as in Paul’s letter to the Romans ). It is not enough to know and study the Scriptures. 

You have to think godly thoughts. AND you have to live godly lives as the God of peace walks with you and guides you.

*By following other godly examples, so it reinforces good ,godly thinking as it is lived out

In verses 8 and 9 there are two commands :‘think’ and ‘do’.What we ponder about we eventually practice

>Some research has shown that prayer actually changes your brain. 

Dr Caroline Leaf has worked in the area of cognitive neuroscience.Her passion is to help people see the link between science and Scripture. The aim is that they will learn how to think differently and find their sense of purpose in life.

Dr Leaf made this comment about the brain and prayer in her book ‘Switch On Your Brain’: “it's been found that 12 minutes of daily focused prayer over an 8-week period can change the brain to such an extent that it can be measured on a brain scan”.

Prayer touches the heart of God but also changes / heals your brain.

The Lord wants His people to be at peace with Him; at one with Him, so that they can receive all He wants to impart to them

Application :

Three steps to follow so anxiety does not wreak havoc in your heart and mind :

1- pray honestly: praying connects our anxiety that overwhelms to the God who has overcoming power. It helps us focus on truths 

2- read God’s truths out scriptures that speak to the issues that seem difficult to overcome ( like past trauma/ abuse, you can't forgive someone, a repeated sin )'s the most powerful tool available !

3- Verbalise trust in God by declaring repeatedly and intentionally verses from the Bible such as :

Exodus 14:14 -“The Lord will fight for you and you will be at peace”

Isaiah 26:3 -“You  will keep in perfect peace , he whose mind remains centred on You, because he trusts in You”

John 14:27 - “I leave you with the gift of peace,It is My peace that I give to you….there is no need to allow your hearts  to become fearful or troubled”




We are concluding this letter by Paul the apostle to the Christians in Rome.

Today we are studying Romans 16:17-27

Paul is concluding his detailed letter to the Christians in Rome.This letter contains the fullest explanation in the New Testament of the salvation made possible through faith in all that Jesus accomplished on the cross.Without the gospel of Jesus, the world is hopeless. 

Romans 16:17-27 ( Read )

Firstly we will comment on verses 21-24 ( to continue the flow from verses 1-16 ).

In verses 1-16, Paul greets and  acknowledges some friends / people (?26 ) who have served God’s Kingdom purposes.

He honours them for selfless service. Some made immense sacrifices for the sake of the gospel.Others worked tirelessly demonstrating true love for God and His people.

Although from different backgrounds, these people showed what a gospel- centred community looks like- characteristics worth emulating.

Verses 21-24

Paul continues to acknowledge and honour a few more friends.They are worthy of commendation:

Timothy - an associate of Paul in his ministry.He received the pastoral letters ‘1 and 2 Timothy’ written by Paul.

Jason - present with Paul during persecution. Jason was dragged before city officials and accused of harbouring Paul in his house and robbed of money ( Acts 17). Paul holds him in high regard.

All these friends suffered with Paul for the gospel. They are commendable 

Now Paul talks about certain people whom he does not want his friends to welcome/ greet :

Verses 17-20

V17:What is the warning / command that Paul gives to the Christians ? “Avoid” those causing divisions and creating obstacles in any way to hinder their faith. He says disregard and have nothing to do with those who do not teach truth or sow seeds of error. They try to divide, deceive and have their own agendas…contrary to God's Word.Don’t tolerate them 

V 18: How does Paul describe these false teachers and divisive people who have infiltrated the church ? They do not serve the Lord but use Bible language. So they sound plausible (‘smooth words’)  and reasonable. They are deceivers, stirring up divisions, serving ‘their own bellies’, and denying great Biblical truths. 

>>Titus 3:10-11 gives information as to how we should deal with divisive people

 ( also 1 Timothy 6:3-5)

Vv 18-19 :What are the reasons that we need to avoid false teachers and divisive people ?

V18:These people don't serve Jesus -they say what they need to say for selfish gain and not what they should say about God's Word to draw people 

V19:They will tempt you to betray the truth of  God's Word - these Christians were obedient to the truth of Scripture. Paul wants them to persevere in that obedience so that they are not tempted by these people. Stay the course, following Jesus only. Be wise and focus on what is good

——->They will tempt you in the name of tolerance, being progressive, of  being in 21st century. They may say we don't think that ‘Biblical’ way anymore, trying to lower the standards of the Bible 

V20: Paul gives great encouragement to the Christians as they engage in spiritual battle daily. He reminds the Christians that when Christ returns our victory is guaranteed 

He declares that the grace of God- the unmerited favour of God-is going to strengthen you as you persevere to maintain Biblical truth and  godly standards

Verses 25-27: The proper response to the gospel is to glorify God. Paul tells us that among many other things, the gospel was given to us to bring about obedience to faith. Then after believing in Jesus, we are to live a life of loving obedience. A vital part of that is a life of worship to the Lord

What are two reasons to glorify God ? 

Vv25-26 :God is able ( God’s empowerment ) to give you strength through the gospel and the revelation of who Jesus Christ is 

V27 : God - the only wise God- is worthy of worship through Jesus Christ, now and forevermore. Paul praises God for His plan of salvation- the way He planned and calculated all things that needed to be accomplished for our salvation.

It is by Jesus who gave Himself for us. So our praises ought to be full of the name of Jesus as we thank God for His plan of redemption 


Maintaining faithfulness to the Truth of the gospel is not easy. The world hates the Truth because it loves its evil deeds.Yet we must persevere in Truth and unity and avoid divisive people.

Keep reading your Bible. Keep praying daily. Keep growing in Christ Jesus 




Today we are studying some verses from Romans 16

Brief review : Paul has been sharing a lot on the practical application of our Christian faith.

In the first eleven chapters Paul has been explaining the wonderful salvation made possible through faith in Jesus Christ. 

By faith those who believe in Jesus have been made acceptable to God.

And then from chapter 12, Paul shares how Christians are to live in practical ways.It is their way  in response to their love for what He has done ( ‘behave what you believe’ now)


(for more information and help notes please visit , click on ‘Bible Study’)

Chapter 16 : Paul’s concluding chapter of his letter to the Christians in Rome.

Read :  Verses 1-18

VERSES 1-16 : in these verses we read of a list of names of  people to whom Paul expresses personal greetings. Note how often we see the word ‘Greet’( like a command ).

  It is like an honour roll whereby he commends them as he demonstrates his care for them.

The general question is why were these people honoured ?They were honoured because 

1-they were active in God's service.They served.

2- they suffered ,and 

3- they loved others, ministering to their needs 

Quote : “A name worth remembering is produced by a life lived for Jesus”.

So it's not about your social status - how many ‘likes’ you get because people recognise you on social media- or how prominent you are for examples.

Let us look a bit closer at these verse and identify some characteristics / marks of a Christian worthy of honour 

>Mark one : the worthy Christian’s life is one of selfless service

Verses 1-2, 9,12 

Vv1-2 :In Paul’s day women were not held in prominence or trusted. But how does Paul commend the Gentile Christian, Phoebe ? She is our sister in faith and a notable servant of the church. As a business person, she was never too busy to serve the Lord

Paul trusted her for its very likely she would have taken this letter in its original form, from Corinth to Rome. He says to the Christians to receive her and help her out because she has served many…including Paul ( financial support ). She shows loyalty to gospel and Christ, serving selflessly

V9, - note Paul's description : fellow- worker in Christ and his dear friend 

V12- Paul commends two sisters and another woman all of whom were hard- working women in the Lord’s purposes. They gave it all the got.

> Mark two : the commendable Christian life is characterised by a willingness to sacrifice for the sake of the gospel

Verses 3-4 : what commendation is Paul giving to Priscilla and Aquila ? 

They risked their lives for Paul , valuing the work of God ( the gospel ) more than themselves.  All the churches among the nations are thankful to God for them.Paul says ‘let them know that I remember them ,honour them.’

> Mark three : the life of a Christian worthy of honour is characterised by hard work for the Lord and His people ( whatever God called them to do )

 Verses 6,12 : Why are these women worthy of being mentioned by Paul ? They worked  tirelessly for those in Christ, serving the Lord’s purposes. Christian services was a priority 

V10- Apelles has been through times of testing .Persecuted for the gospel, possibly ?? He has proved himself to be approved in Christ. Paul is saying greet him , you can depend upon him.

> Mark four : a commendable Christian shows true love for God's people 

Verses 1-16 : all these sisters and brothers are family in Christ. Paul says greet them and treat and love them as you would do relatives ( not like acquaintances ). Reach out with Christian warmth and care

How can we love like these people ?

Follow Jesus’ command in John 13:34-35.Jesus shows us how to love and how to serve sacrificially. 


What is the priority for you ? Is it to serve the Lord sacrificially in love ?

Be encouraged to follow the example set by these individuals. In these crucial times persevere in serving the Lord

May we be the loving people God commands us to be. Remember how Jesus did it .He lived for others not Himself and laid down His life for you




We are continuing in Romans 15 today 

Last week in review ( vv14-22): Paul gives some reasons for his satisfaction with the ministry going on at the church in Rome. 

He commends / praises the Christians for their spiritual maturity. He reminds them about dependence on the grace of God.

His responsibility of sharing the gospel is top priority, describing it as priestly duty. 

Bringing people into relationship with Jesus was like an offering well pleasing to God . People whose lives you influenced for Jesus will last for all eternity.

Paul shows the involvement of the Trinity in his ministry.This is foundational to the Christian faith

He is reliant on the power of the Holy Spirit to accomplish God's work

He takes no glory for himself ; rather gives Christ the glory for the many that has come to faith

>These are some characteristics / principles of the Christian life that we can seek to emulate too


The aim today is to show us that, like Paul, God can use us too to make a difference in people's lives as we submit to His will. Wherever we are, whatever we do, whatever our plans might be , we are to be representing Christ always and walking in His will 

Paul makes godly plans for the future. This is a good example for us.There are some principles here that can help us as we allow God's will in our lives. Some individuals live from day to day with no sense of direction, no plans for the future

Verses 22-24 :  What is Paul's plan - what does he want to do ?


He wants to visit the Christians in Rome for mutual encouragement in the faith.( see 1:9-15 )

He wants to enjoy refreshing fellowship with them for a time 

Why was he hindered / prevented from coming to these Christians?

The call of God on his life to share the gospel in unreached territory. His focus is still to do God's will. That calling is now fulfilled so he has a window of opportunity to visit them en route to Spain 

V24- We see Paul's passion and commitment to keep in the will of God and proclaim the Good News in Spain

NKJV ‘to be helped on my way’ - Paul looks forward to prayerful and financial support. He wants to use the church at Rome as a base and get them to ‘take the next step’ and be involved in this mission into Spain

>>Paul is determined to submit to God's will even when sacrifices are necessary.God’s will is always about His purposes. There are going to be times when our desires will come in direct conflict with His will for our lives.Then we have to choose : either His will or our convenience

Verses 25-29 : What does Paul actually do now ? 

He is going to Jerusalem to serve the saints / fellow believers there. There was a severe famine in the Roman Empire. Christians living in Jerusalem were severely affected. They were impoverished and suffering. Paul is taking financial gifts /aid to them raised by other churches

Vv 26-28: How did the believers in Macedonia and Achaia respond to the needy believers in Jerusalem?

They raised financial aid to help meet the needs of God's people in Jerusalem 

Taking up an offering came from hearts filled with joy to help the believers in Christ. It was their pleasure / privilege to have this opportunity to help. ( reference: 2 Corinthians 8:1-5 ) 

It was like repaying a debt - giving of their material blessings because they share in the spiritual blessings that are the inheritance of the Jews.

Paul is not distracted - he will see the Christians in Rome after he has delivered the financial aid.Then it will be the right time to impart great blessing - sharing mutual encouragement in Christ

>>So like Paul’s example, we must be determined to follow the will of God to completion

Verses 30-33 : What does Paul need the Christians to do ? To be in fervent, agonising prayer with him for God’s provision in obeying His will .Paul sees this as very important as it is through prayer you discern God's will

Paul strongly encourages ( commands ) the Christians using two means of Authority : by the lordship of Jesus Christ and by the mutual love we have through the Holy Spirit 

Paul shares three prayer requests - for safety, success in his mission and that in God's timing he will  come to these Christians and together they may be refreshed by the Lord. 

All three requests were answered perhaps not in the way Paul anticipated but according to God's sovereign will ( see Acts 21;28 )

Application points to ponder:

*Invite God into your plans , let Him order and direct the plans.

*If you're going to walk in God's will, this will take power you don't have. You have to operate in God's power 

*Walking in God's will is not easy but don't lose heart ; in Christ you are at peace with God and you are becoming more like Jesus




Today we are studying Romans 15 :14-22

Brief review: Paul has been teaching Christians living in Rome how to deal with differences.Differences can often lead to conflict. The Christians were made up of both Jews and Gentiles. Many differences existed even when they became believers in Christ . Paul has been spending much time in his letter teaching that we should be building each other 

The first thirteen verses of Chapter 15 : Paul describes some actions to take as we seek to build each other up : - bear one another (v1); please one another ( v2 ); receive one another ( v7)

We are to follow Christ’s example.

This results in harmony and hope

READ VERSES 14-22: Now Paul adds a brief section on his personal ministry. He gives some reasons why he is satisfied with the ministry going on at the church in Rome. Remember Paul writes to relatively young Christians who are seeking to grow and become strong in the Lord.

He explains some characteristics of his ministry which evidence the message of God's grace. These are positive examples we will do well to follow

Verse 14:Paul shows a high regard for the Christians.What are three things he commends them 

for or reminds them about ?

  • they want to live good lives : maintained a high standard of morality and reached out to people in need with kindness and compassion 
  • they are filled with knowledge, they understand God's purposes and he reminds them of this 

-they are able to teach, encourage and warn each other as they grow in the Lord

Paul praises them rather than criticise them as they seek to become strong followers of Jesus. People respond better to genuine praise.

Verses 15-16 : Paul knew his calling. What is he dependent on as he serves the purposes of God ? He is always dependent on the grace of God to minister faithfully to the Gentiles (v15)

How did he see this responsibility? Sharing the gospel was like priestly service doing so with dedication and devotion . The people who trusted Christ through his witness, he offered to God as an offering ‘made Holy by God's Spirit and set apart for  God's purposes.’The Holy Spirit does the heart work. 

Note :We see here the involvement of the Trinity in the ministry of the Word - Paul is a faithful minister of Jesus Christ ,he proclaims ‘the gospel of God’,serving in the power of Holy Spirit 

Sharing the gospel is top priority. Bringing people to Jesus was an offering well pleasing to God

>Point to ponder : what do your priorities in life look like ? Does it include serving the eternal purposes of God's Kingdom with dedication and devotion ?

Verses 17-19 : Another example we can follow is having a humble dependence on God's power

How does Paul respond to the the way God has used him ?

He boasts only in the Lord for it is only by God's grace he has been able to accomplish these things : 

bringing Gentiles to the obedience of faith in Christ ( v18b ) ; 

performing signs and wonders by the power of the Spirit so turning hearts to Christ ( v19a ) ; proclaiming the gospel from Jerusalem to Illyricum (fourteen thousand miles !  )even with primitive modes of transportation (v19b)

All he wants to talk about are those things that Christ has accomplished through him

( see 2 Corinthians 4:7 )

We don't do anything for God. He in His grace chooses to work through us when we are clean vessels 

Verses 20-21 : To what goal was Paul committed  ? To preach the gospel in places where people have never heard of Christ. Being a foundation layer is difficult . Paul quotes Isaiah 52:15 as approval to have a pioneer ministry and take the gospel to new territory; not build on foundation laid by others 

Summary : 

Some principles we can take away today as we follow Paul's example ( who followed Jesus’ example ) are :

-Choose to hold others in high esteem and give encouragement. Spiritual growth results 

-Keep focused on God's purpose for your life, relying on His grace to follow His will

-Stay humble and see the great, new things God will accomplish through you so you boast ONLY in what God has done 


Thursday 28th September 

Romans 15:1-6

Living to Bless Your Brothers & Sisters in Christ

In these verses we find further teaching about not living for ourselves but for Christ, & therefore as an extension also for others. 

Behind the principles that Paul teaches is a godly concern for the welfare of others, rather than self-concern. 

Being Filled in the Christian Life : 

Filled With Care & Concern for Others 

‘We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak 

& not to please ourselves. 

Each of us should please our neighbours for their good, to build them up.’

Romans 15:1-2 NIV

If you consider yourself to be strong in comparison to your brother or sister, 

use your strength to serve your brother or sister in Christ.

Other versions say ‘now those who are mature in their faith.’ 

As opposed to using your strength to benefit yourself, 

that is to say for your own personal advantage or gain.

Bear with or support those who are weaker than you are in the faith. 

This goes against our modern-day culture which tells us to look out for number one 

& to promote selfish ambition by going on an ego trip. 

A Christian who is strong in the faith ought to support the weaker brother or sister.

Even Jesus, didn’t please Himself, & neither should we!

This calls for patience, but the ‘God of patience’ can give us a 

like-mindedness & a desire to glorify Him which will make us want to please others rather than follow our own personal preferences. 

This is an ongoing theme, as the Apostle Paul earlier wrote these words :- 

“Be devoted to one another in love. Honour one another above yourselves.”

Romans 12:10 NIV

Let each of us please his neighbour, Paul also wrote about this 

in Philippians 2:3-4 where he says these words :- 

“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. 

Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 

not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.”

Philippians 2:3-4 NIV

This is to lead to edification, building up, or encouraging another person in the faith. 

What are some active ways in which you have done that personally?

Please feel free to share at this point, 

if you have any personal testimonies regarding this matter.

Filled With the Example of Jesus, Who Always Put Others First

‘For even Christ did not please himself but, as it is written: 

“The insults of those who insult you have fallen on me.” (Psalm 69:9). 

For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, 

so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and 

the encouragement they provide we might have hope.’

Romans 15:3-4 NIV

Often when someone doesn’t want to do things our way 

we have an English expression that goes like this : 

‘Please yourself, then!’ 

It can suggest that you are annoyed or can’t be bothered with that person 

at least not for the time-being anyway! 

The Starfish Story   

‘A young man is walking along the ocean and sees a beach on which thousands and thousands of starfish have washed ashore. 

Further along he sees an old man, walking slowly and stooping often, 

picking up one starfish after another and tossing each one gently into the ocean.  “Why are you throwing starfish into the ocean?,” he asks.  

“Because the sun is up and the tide is going out and if I don’t throw them further in they will die.”  

“But, old man, don’t you realize there are miles and miles of beach 

and starfish all along it! 

You can’t possibly save them all, you can’t even save one-tenth of them. 

In fact, even if you work all day, your efforts won’t make any difference at all.”  

The old man listened calmly and then bent down to pick up another starfish 

and threw it into the sea. “It made a difference to that one.” ‘

Elisabeth Elliot said these words :- 

"Love is the way to maturity. 

Selfishness stunts growth and keeps us in a spiritual playpen. 

The world is full of emotional babies, crawling over each other, 

screaming, “Mine! This I want, and this I shall have, 

and never mind what it does to anybody else!”

What a relief, what peace, when one who has reached spiritual adulthood, 

who by love has grown out of himself, comes along. 

He freely gives up his own aims and ambitions, his safety and his cherished plans, 

his possessions, his feelings, anything at all that will help and says my life for yours. Such a one comes as a rescuer.

To give myself up is the last thing I think of doing. It looks like weakness. 

In God’s eyes, though, it is power."

Again, it’s a matter of attitude. 

Christ did not please Himself. 

Jesus is the ultimate example of One Who did not please Himself, but put others first.

Read Philippians 2:5-9. 

‘In your relationships with one another, 

have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, 

did not consider equality with God something to be used to His own advantage; rather, He made Himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, 

being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, 

He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross!’

Philippians 2:5-9.NIV

In what ways did Jesus set an example for us all to follow in this passage?

He did not consider equality with God something to be grasped.

He didn’t use the fact that He was God’s One & Only Son to His own advantage.

His motives weren’t self-seeking. 

He took on the role of a servant.

He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to death, even death on a Cross. 

He died a criminal’s death. 

Jesus, suffered wrong for God’s Glory.

He fulfilled what was written in God’s Word.

When we respond rightly to the reproaches the world casts against us 

for the sake of Jesus, it may irritate or rile them all the more!

It goes to prove that through patience & comfort of the Scripture 

we might have hope. 

Perseverance is also a key aspect of the Christian Faith. 

A Prayer for Fulfilment of the Attitude of Jesus to be Displayed 

in & through Our Lives 

‘May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you 

the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, 

so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify 

the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.’ 

Romans 15:5-6 NIV

In these two verses (verses 5&6) what things does God give us?

Endurance & encouragement.

The same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had.

For what reasons does God give us these things? (Verse 6)

So that with one mind & with one voice we may glorify 

the God & Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Our God is the God of patience. 

We are often in a hurry & God may seem to be working too slowly 

according to our time schedules & plans. 

Sometimes the purposes of God may seem to be delayed, 

but rest assured they will always be fulfilled.

Everything that He has said & promised will come to pass, 

for He is a faithful God.

We just need to frequently remind ourselves that things will take place 

in His timing & not ours!

Remember though that God’s delays are not denials.

He has a loving purpose & is teaching us important lessons 

during our times of waiting!

We love God to be patient with us as His people 

& we need Him to be patient with us.

Yet we frequently can get frustrated & impatient 

during times of waiting, rather than being eagerly expectant 

for God to carry out His plans & purposes at the right time.

The unity for which Jesus prayed for before going to the Cross

is only accomplished through the Holy Spirit.

Our goal should be to Glorify the God & Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,

by working together to fulfil His mission. 

‘God’s truth will encourage us to persevere through the testing times 

& will help us to maintain our Hope 

that we shall see the fulfilment of God’s purposes.

God Himself enables this perseverance & gives us encouragement.

So may He cause the Spirit of unity to be imparted to you 

so that you may give Glory & Honour to God the Father 

& the Lord Jesus Christ with both your hearts & mouths.’ 

(Romans 15:4b-6, The Truth New Testament). 

Filled With Love for Others & 

Joy & Peace by the Holy Spirit 

In Romans Chapter 14 the Apostle Paul started with these words :- 

“Accept the one whose faith is weak, without quarreling over disputable matters.”

Romans 14:1 NIV

Now we pick up our passage in Romans 15:7-9, where he continues in a similar vein :- 

‘Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, 

in order to bring praise to God. 

For I tell you that Christ has become a servant of the Jews 

on behalf of God’s truth, so that the promises made to the patriarchs 

might be confirmed and, moreover, that the Gentiles 

might glorify God for His mercy. 

As it is written: “Therefore I will praise you among the Gentiles; 

I will sing the praises of Your name.” ‘ (Psalm 18:49).

Romans 15:7-9 NIV

How do we put into practice what we have learned in verses 7-9

& show we love others? 

To love others is to accept them, not judge them.

Having been accepted by Christ, we are to accept one another 

as brothers & sisters in Christ to bring praise & glory to God. 

This theme has continued from our earlier Bible studies in Romans chapter 14, 

so the Apostle Paul is reinstating the points once more that we should accept 

our brothers & sisters in Christ & the outcome of this is giving praise & glory to God. 

We must receive others with the same servant-like attitude of Jesus, 

Who accepts both Jews & Gentiles.

Again, it says, “Rejoice, you Gentiles, with His people.” 

(Deuteronomy 32:43).

And again, “Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles; let all the peoples extol Him.”

(Psalm 117:1).

Romans 15:10-11 NIV

There is much reason to praise Him & rejoice in Him.

Such joyful believing will produce peace & hope by the power of the Holy  Spirit.

These things are far more important than secondary matters or petty squabbles! 

Paul emphasises again that as Gentiles we should praise God. 

‘And again, Isaiah says, 

“The Root of Jesse will spring up, One who will arise to rule over the nations; 

in Him the Gentiles will hope.” 

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, 

so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

Romans 15:12-13 NIV

How would you define the word ‘Hope,’ in the context of verses 12-13? 

‘Hope’ in the Bible is not something uncertain, vague, or wish-washy.

It is the certain fulfilment of all that God has promised.

The Holy Spirit encourages us as God’s children to be a people of faith

for the present & of hope for the future. 

The God of Hope fills us with all joy & peace.

How is this achieved? 

By trusting or some versions say believing in Him.

And the outcome of this is that we will overflow with Hope 

by the power of the Holy Spirit. 

Before we have an opportunity to pray & then sing two songs, 

I’d like to read out Romans 15:12-13 from The Truth New Testament :- 

‘Isaiah prophesied that from among the Jews God would raise up 

the One Who would rule over all the nations; 

& He would be the hope of all people everywhere.

So I pray that this God of hope, Who keeps us looking 

expectantly to the future, will fill you with His joy & peace 

as you continue to live by faith in Him.

May the power of the Holy Spirit work in you in such a way 

that you will always overflow with hope, 

expecting God’s best!’ 

(Romans 15:12-13, The Truth New Testament) 

I came across this prayer of Florence Nightingale which seems very apt for these days. 

‘In our devotion to the needs of others, O God, let us not neglect the wisdom of your counsel. In the midst of our work let us not lose sight of your great purposes. In our path of service let us not snatch the management of the world from your hands. Amen. May it be so.’



Some review points of Romans 14: 1-13

The major theme of this practical section is still love.Love must govern how we deal with gray areas / differences 

The weak in faith are those who are deficient in spiritual maturity because they lack some understanding of God's Word.( feel obligated to obey rules )

The strong in faith are those who understand their spiritual liberty in Christ ; this knowledge causes them to look down on the weak 

In trying to achieve the goal of getting along, 1-we are to accept / welcome one another, 2-don't despise, and 3- don't condemn / judge.

Such attitudes are vital even when we disagree with others in these gray areas 

We should reach out with warmth and grace to sisters and brothers in Christ in this way because:

  Believers belong to the Lord - not you

  Believers live for the Lord

  Believers answer to the Lord

ROMANS 14:13-23 (READ)

Paul shares another example of how to put the love principle into action.

Aim : to help limit the use of Christian liberty so others are built up in Christ 

Question : are you a stronger sister or brother or a weaker brother / sister ?You are both : there are instances when you are stronger and instances when you are weaker 

Verse 13(a) .- ( “therefore”) Paul says that because Jesus is Lord and Judge, we are not to pass judgment on one another. No nitpicking, don't be cynical or hypercritical, seeing if others are measuring up to our standards in these gray areas

How can we resolve this ? What  are are we to do instead of judging ? 

Decide / be determined never to put a stumbling block. / hindrance in another's way. This word ‘decide or be determined’ is a command / imperative 

Don't worry about being critical- be concerned that you are not the cause of another's temptations.

How can you be the cause of someone else's temptations ? Paul uses two phrases : ‘stumbling block’ and ‘obstacle or hindrance’

 The word ( proskomma ) Paul uses for ‘stumbling block’ pictures a  path with stone which make it almost impossible to walk ; so it's some kind of hindrance to the person’s spiritual growth giving occasion to fall - moral embarrassment 

The second word ‘obstacle / snare’ (from the Greek word skandalon from which we get ‘scandal’ ) pictures a trap designed to catch an animal out in the woods. Could be a snare or offence that causes error

The point here is that there are some activities that you can freely engage in to God's glory.  If these same activities are practiced by a weaker Christian,  he/ she can be trapped in sin and would not be able to escape.

Your responsibility : Paul says that you are not to do anything in your life that could be looked at by other Christians as scandalous. 

VERSES 14-18 show three reasons why we should not put a stumbling block or a cause to fall in another Christian’s way :

Firstly Vv14-15 :ACT IN LOVE . How can we ,being mature, act in love ? By not indulging in anything that might cause a weak Christian to do what for  him/ her would be sin. Avoid doing things that cause unnecessary distress to the weak person's spiritual walk. Christ died for them too

Secondly V16 :BE A GOOD TESTIMONY. Don't allow others to speak negatively of what you consider to be good and right. Outsiders are going to see lack of concern as you argue over using Christian liberties

Thirdly Vv17-18 :FOCUS ON THE GOSPEL. How is the reality of the Christian faith expressed or demonstrated ? Primarily by righteousness, peace, and joy through Holy Spirit living in us

This is where our focus needs to be. V18- God is delighted when we are truly serving Christ and we will be well thought of by others

VERSES 19-23 show the responsibility Christians have in helping others in their spiritual growth and walk

Verses 19-21: BUILD UP OTHERS :In what ways can we live to encourage spiritual growth and unity among Christians?

V19- build each other up in an atmosphere of peace and harmony.Nobody is built up when Christians wrangle about trivialities 

V20- do not damage the cause of God's Kingdom for the sake of differences over anything that may cause another to trip and fall into sin

V21-God wants us to build people up, not break them down.Look out for the good of others even if it means limiting your own freedom. So you are not the cause for them to stumble 

Verse 22-BE DISCREET as you use your liberty in Christ. How can you do this ? The weak person needs to know that spirituality is not measured by a list of man-made rules but by Holy Spirit’s control. 

Yet do not flaunt or dangle your liberty before the weak person. This causes conflict. 

Verse 23- BE SENSITIVE when there are doubts. What does this mean ? You are not to force your convictions on others. For if there are doubts in your mind, if you are acting against your conscience - what you believe is right - that is sin. Goal here : honour the Lord

Application :

Commit to building up the body of Christ never causing even one to stumble, with Holy Spirit's help

Aim to not allow debatable matters of faith to cause division 





In this letter Paul is writing to Christians , both Jews and Gentiles living in Rome

The big picture that we are to remember is Paul's explanation of the gospel and the power of the gospel to transform us .Paul presents the overarching story of God's plan of salvation.

The truth is that it is only through the gospel’s redemptive power can we witness the change we long to see in our lives, relationships and our world 

Now in Chapters 1-11 Paul explains what the gospel is. In Chapters 12-16 Paul gives some practical application - how the gospel should affect our everyday lives.

Today we start ROMANS14. READ VERSES 1-13

Paul addresses the issue of differences of opinions as regards rules related to food and special days. 

The fact is we all have differences. Paul is more concerned about HOW we deal with differences 

An important part of the Christian life is getting along with brethren ( not easy ! )

Paul gives some principles ( admonitions ) we can follow and by which we can be guided.Paul gives warnings to those who are weak in the faith and those who are strong in the faith

Verses 1-4 :How are we treat each other ? 

We are to ‘accept’ those who are weak in the faith. ( An imperative ‘accept’ ) ‘Accept’ means to welcome despite the differences and not despise  the weak ( 1-3a ) , encourage faith in others .Don’t judge ;rather love people. ‘Welcome them into your circle’.

WEAK IN THE FAITH - someone who is deficient in spiritual maturity because they lack some understanding of God's Word. Immature believer who feels obligated to obeying legalistic rules

STRONG IN THE FAITH - someone who understands their spiritual liberty in Christ ; so not enslaved to follow legalistic rules, etc. But this knowledge causes them to look down on the weak 

The weak are not to judge those God approves ( 3b-4 ).Don’t look at them with critical eyes. God has accepted and shown love to fellow believers so we are not to judge them. You cannot love and judge people at the same time.

Those who are a little bit deeper in their understanding of God's truth should not get frustrated or contemptuous towards those who are not where you are yet.

With a humble gracious attitude, we are to welcome each other in the faith whether weak or strong. Believers belong to God ;it's Jesus’ gospel of grace we believe 

Verses 5-9 : How can we be true to the Lord in working through differences like these ?

V5: be fully convinced in your own mind - before God you have a clear conscience in what you are doing in regards to matters of Christian liberty. Prayerfully consider what you do and don't criticise those who differ from your conclusion.

Vv 6-9 : In all matters whom are we to please / honour ? The Lord - whatever you do , do as to the Lord.. this is the principle that we serve the Lord in ways that please Him. The common thread here for all those Christian liberties : you do it for the honour of the Lord..with a sincere , worshipful, fully convinced ,clear conscience before God .We answer to Him

V7 - 8 the point of our existence is we live to the Lord - whatever you eat , when you worship - do it to honour Jesus, His Lordship. That comes about by giving yourself as a living sacrifice and with  renewed mind 

Verses 10-12 :

What are the reasons why we should not judge one another ? That's not our role.Paul reinforces this point - answering to God- with a quotation from Isaiah 45:23. At that time we will not be able to attribute blame to others for our actions

Vv10-12 : Christ is to be our judge - Jesus is the judge of all.He can do a better job at this 

               Each of us will be held responsible for every careless word spoken

               So while we live here ‘Be nice’ for Jesus is Lord of all

Verse 13 : What must we  be committed/ determined to do ?we must be determined not to cause any of our fellow believers to stumble or hindering their spiritual growth. Our actions have consequences.

Make  sure you are not the cause of someone else’s temptation to sin

We don't have to be critical, seeing if someone else is measuring up to our standards 

Application :

Is there something you are doing in your life where you may need to ask this question : Am I doing this to honour the Lord ? 

Unity in the Church can be maintained even when we might disagree on non- essentials 

Don't allow differences of opinion in gray areas of life to drive a wedge between you and disrupt the oneness we have in Christ. This undermines the witness the church is to be in the world

Keep love in focus so we remain a grace - filled fellowship of Christ- like believers 

Thursday 20th July 2023

Romans 13:7-14


Earlier, in chapter 12, Paul admonished, “Therefore I urge you, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service. Don’t be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what is the good, well-pleasing, and perfect will of God” (12:1-2). He then went on to explain in detail what that means. Christians are to love their enemies (12:9-21); to subject themselves to authorities (13:1-7). Last week we looked at being subject to authorities in the light of the actual situation of the Christian community in Rome, and saw that Paul was encouraging them to act in love in all they did – not with aggression – so as to win over their Roman governors.

So let us remember the context the Christians in Rome were living in as we continue looking at the rest of this chapter.

V.7 Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect: if honour, then honour. V.8 Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law.

Why should continuing to love one another be an outstanding debt? To whom?

While we should not be a party to financial obligations that go on and on, we do have another obligation—the obligation to love—that does go on and on. Just as we receive ongoing love from God, as God’s agents we are to give ongoing love “one another.” Most scholars agree that, in this context, Paul does not mean to limit “one another” to other Christians, but rather means to extend it to all with whom we come in contact—our neighbors in the broadest sense.
The giving of love fulfills three purposes. First, it blesses the person who receives love. Many people are desperately in need of a kind word or some small demonstration that someone cares about them. Second, the Christian who shows love for his/her neighbour becomes a powerful witness for Christ. Third, as Paul states next, love fulfills the law.

The law prescribed in great detail how Israelites should deal with

each other and with others beyond their community. When a lawyer asked Jesus, “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the law?” Jesus replied, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. A second likewise is this, ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself.’ The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments”(Matthew 22:36-40; see also Leviticus 19:18). Paul’s comment that love fulfills the law is a restatement of this principle.

The only way we can repay this debt is by fulfilling our obligation to love others in return. Yet God's love will always be greater than our love. Loving others mean meeting their needs, not only physically but emotionally and spiritually.

V.9 The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not covet,” and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbour as yourself.”

Why do you think Paul specifies these commandments?

Paul mentions four of the commandments (from the Ten Commandments) that deal with our relationships with other people (rather than our relationship with God).

When a lawyer, seeking to test Jesus, asked, “And who is my neighbour” (Luke 10:29), Jesus replied with the Parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:30-37)—saying, in effect, that every person whom we encounter is our neighbour.

The person who loves his/her neighbour will not commit adultery with the neighbour or the neighbour’s spouse; will not murder the neighbour; will not steal from the neighbour; and will not covet the neighbour’s possessions. The reason is simple: Any action that would harm the neighbour is inconsistent with love.

V.10 Love (agape) does no harm to a neighbour. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.

In what way is love the fulfillment of the law?

Paul uses the agape love-word throughout this passage. Agape is one of four Greek words for love (the other three being philos, storge, and eros). Agape is a high form of love that is devoted to the well being of the beloved, and is the kind of love with which God loves us. This love is not based on emotions, but an act of the will. It is self-sacrificing, deliberate, active love. To love someone with God’s love is to promote that person’s best interests—to actively work not to harm but to bring good to that person. This love is directed not only toward fellow believers but to all people, even our enemies. Regardless of our emotional response to another person, agape love will act for his or her good, regardless of the cost. That is the kind of love Scripture speaks of when it says to love your neighbor as yourself. That kind of love is the fulfillment of the law – you shall love your neighbour as yourself.

V.11 And do this, understanding the present time: The hour has already come for you to wake up from your slumber because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed.

What is “this” Paul refers to at the beginning of the verse, and why does he exhort us to understand the present time?

“This” = The things Paul outlined earlier – to love our neighbour as ourselves.

Greek has two words for time—chronos and kairos. Chronos has to do with chronological time—clock time—the time by which we keep daily appointments. Kairos has to do with special time—special moments in time—the forks in the road that make all the difference —moments with the potential to determine destinies. Paul uses kairos here, signalling that he is speaking of a significant moment in time, not chronos or clock time.

“The hour has already come for you to wake up from your slumber“ Before electric lights, people rose early to take advantage of every moment of sunlight and to accomplish as much as possible before the coming of the afternoon heat. People awoke late at their own peril.

..because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed.

What do you think Paul is referring to here?

It seems clear that Paul is referring to the Second Coming and that he believes it to be imminent. Two thousand years later, we can see that it was not imminent. Paul, however, never claimed that Jesus would appear in his lifetime, but said instead that Jesus “comes like a thief in the night” (1 Thessalonians 5:2). He did not predict the time of Christ’s coming, but counselled Christians to keep souls and bodies sound and blameless so that they would be ready (1 Thessalonians 5:23).

V.12.The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armour of light.

Why is it not sufficient just to put aside the deeds of darkness? Why does Paul exhort us to also put on the armour of light?

Christ has come, and has pierced the darkness. The day has begun to dawn, but light is not yet shining full force. That will occur when Christ comes again. In the interim, we live in an in-between world where our “behaviour must be appropriate for the day, not the night”. It is not enough to put off works of darkness. We must put on armour of light to prevent the darkness from returning. We must be armoured for battle, because we can expect frequent temptations—a constant probing of our defenses—dangers arising from unexpected quarters—a lifelong battle against evil.

V.14 Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy.

Why is it important for us to “behave decently”?

Paul admonishes us to behave honorably, honestly, decently. For one thing, such behavior is appropriate to who we are—to whose we are. We are “children of light, and children of the day. We don’t belong to the night, nor to darkness” (1 Thessalonians 5:5).

Secondly, such behavior is important to our Christian witness. Nothing turns people away from Christ like a person who claims to be a child of the light but who behaves like a child of darkness. Nothing attracts people like a person of faith who loves them as Christ taught us to love—and whose personal life bears the stamp of integrity—the stamp of Christ.

Why you think Paul puts these sins in pairs?

“not in carousing and drunkenness” Seeking pleasure in alcohol and/or drugs—going out on the town with wild abandon. Such behaviour not only wrecks Christian witness, but also bears within it the seeds of self-destruction. Continuous going to parties can seem wonderfully exciting at first, but becomes less so as the person slowly loses control. What initially seemed glamorous and sophisticated slowly spirals downward, wrecking relationships, careers, finances, and health. The drunk is usually the last to recognize the problem, and often fails to pull his/her life together again.

“not in sexual immorality and debauchery (lustful acts)

Martin Luther wrote:

“This is an excellent sequence; for gluttony and drunkenness are the fertile soil in which unchastity or debauchery thrive. For this reason the pious Fathers declared that whoever desires to serve God must root out, above all, the vice of gluttony. That is a prevailing vice which causes much trouble.... Hence fasting is a most excellent weapon for the Christian, while gluttony is an outstanding pit of Satan” (Luther, 191).

The first two pairs of sins, revelling/drunkenness and debauchery/ licentiousness would be familiar to Roman Christians. The ruling classes of Rome were famous for drunken orgies, and lower classes copied such behavior insofar as they were able. The church at Corinth was beset with similar problems (1 Corinthians 5-6).

“and not in dissension (strife) and jealousy

We are surprised to see these apparently minor sins in Paul’s short list of poisonous sins. Christians who would never be guilty of drunkenness or sexual immorality seem little concerned with quarreling and jealousy. Paul puts these sins alongside drunkenness and immorality as one of the principle works of darkness.

V,14 Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh (sarx).

What does it mean to clothe ourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ?

Paul puts “Lord” first in this threefold title, placing emphasis on the Lordship of Christ. When we “put on” Christ (in the sense that we make him Lord over our lives) temptation loses much of its power. When we look first to Christ for guidance in major decisions, he helps us to avoid dead ends and blind alleys. When we seek to honour Christ in our relationships, he will help us to avoid hurting others and destroying ourselves. Temptation continues, but we can face it in the confidence that Christ will help us to overcome it.

Why does Paul tell us not to “think” about how to gratify the desires of the flesh?

Sarx is an ugly-sounding word that depicts an often ugly reality––a focus on bodily indulgence rather than on Godly service. In the New Testament, sarx is most frequently used as a contrast with that which is spiritual (John 3:6; 6:63; Romans 7:18; 8:3-6). In his letter to the Galatians, Paul contrasts “the works of the flesh” (adultery, sexual immorality, uncleanness, etc.) with “the works of the Spirit” (love, joy, peace, etc.) (Galatians 5:16-23).

To make a space in our lives by thinking about the sarx-flesh desires would reveal a lack of resolve to live a Godly life. In doing so, we would be taking the first step onto a slippery slope that would almost insure that we would succumb to fleshly temptations, as we know that our minds and thoughts are one of the battlefields the enemy uses to to engage in battle with us in our Christian walk.


Paul instructs us love one another (13:8-10) and says that faith must give rise to appropriate conduct. Christians must put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armour of light. (V.12)

Thursday 13th July 2023

Romans 13:1-7
Are we supposed to submit to evil governments?

The context for this passage on the Christian’s relationship to government is persecution, and how to overcome it with love (Rom. 12:14, 17-21). This subject would be very difficult for a Jewish reader, because they were accustomed to a theocracy—not submission to an autocracy. Therefore, Paul must have needed to speak about this.

Historically, Christianity had already become an issue at the highest levels of government in Rome at this time. Just a few years before Paul wrote this letter, the Roman Emperor Claudius had expelled the Jewish population for rioting in Rome over “Chrestus” in AD 49, which most historians believe to be a misspelling of “Christus” (i.e. Christ). Suetonius wrote, “Because the Jews at Rome caused continuous disturbances at the instigation of Chrestus, he [Emperor Claudius] expelled them from the city” (Suetonius, Claudius, 25:4). In the NT, we see that the authorities were frightened by the Christian movement, because in their minds, Christians had “caused trouble all over the world” (Acts 17:6 NLT). With this historical background in mind, consider Paul’s instructions regarding submission to government.

(13:1) “Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities.”

What is the difference between being “subject to” and “obeying” the governing authorities?

The word “subject” or “in subjection” (hypotasso) is used again in verse 5. Notice that Paul does not use the word “obey,” because the believer may find it impossible to comply with every demand of the government. Moreover, “subjection” does not mean inferiority, because believers are told to “be subject to one another in the fear of Christ” (Eph. 5:21). Therefore, Paul’s statement is neither absolute obedience, nor is it taking away the moral dignity or value of Christians who voluntarily submit to imperfect authorities.

For there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.” This is really a subversive statement, concerning the time and place. In this culture, the king (Caesar) was the ultimate authority. Yet, Paul writes that there is “no authority except that which God has

established.” Similarly, the OT repeatedly taught that God is sovereign over the kings of the Earth (Prov. 8:15-16; Isa. 45:1; Dan. 2:21, 37; 4:17; 5:21).
So does that mean that everything human authorities do is approved by God?

Just because human governments have authority, this does not mean that God approves of everything that they do. For instance, Peter referred to Pontius Pilate as one of many “godless men” (Acts 2:23; 4:27). But Jesus still affirmed Pilate’s authority: “You would have no authority over Me, unless it had been given you from above” (Jn. 19:11). At the end of history, God will give authority to the Antichrist or “the beast” (Rev. 13:5, 7) who will be the worst dictator in all of human history. But this does not mean that God approves of him. Even Satan has been given authority over this world—even though he is utterly evil (Lk. 4:6). These are all examples of God’s permissive will—not his directive will.

(13:2) “Consequently,whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.” This is similar to Jesus’ statement: “All those who take up the sword shall perish by the sword” (Mt. 26:52). If Christians had tried to violently revolt against Rome, they would have been crushed.

Why does Paul say that those who rebel against secular leaders will “bring judgement on themselves?
This could refer to receiving judgment from the secular leaders themselves, as verse 4 stipulates. “For the one in authority is God's servant for your good.”

By contrast, doing good will bring “praise” from these secular leaders (v.3). The goal is to win over these leaders for Christ—not to kill them.

(13:3) “For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from the fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended”

What about those countries where Christians are persecuted by the government just because they're Christians?
Clearly, governments do not perfectly carry out justice. Paul is simply giving a general maxim—not a universal statement of truth. Peter writes, “Who is there to harm you if you prove zealous for

what is good?” (1 Pet. 3:13) But he immediately follows this question by writing that Christians will still be persecuted: “But even if you should suffer for the sake of righteousness, you are blessed” (1 Pet. 3:14).

(13:4) For the one in authority is God's servant for your good.

Again, this is a subversive statement by Paul. While ‘God’s servant’ is an honorable title, it contains a reminder that the state is not God.
But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason.

What does “the sword” refer to here?
“the sword” 
simply refers generally to the right of the government to punish those who violate its laws as we read at the end of this verse:
They are God's servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoers.

(13:5) Therefore it is necessary to submit to the authorities not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience.
What are the two reasons Paul gives us for why we should submit?

(1) self-preservation or “wrath” from the government and (2) the distorting effect that this could have on our own conscience. When believers suffer for the sake of Christ, their conscience is clear. Peter writes, “This finds favor, if for the sake of conscience toward God a person bears up under sorrows when suffering unjustly” (1 Pet. 2:19).

(13:6) “This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God's servants, who give their full time to governing.”
What did Jesus say about paying taxes? Matt.22:20-21

Again, the “servants” in government are fallible, and the taxes we pay are not used perfectly in a fallen world with fallen leaders. At the same time, without taxes, governments will collapse, and we will be left with utter anarchy.

In AD 58, citizens in Rome participated in a “tax revolt,” because of Nero’s “custom” tax, which was a “sales tax, customs duty, tolls and so on.” Paul wanted to avoid all of these problems for the Christian community in Rome.

(13:7) “Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes, if revenue then revenue...”
What does the term “owe” mean here?
The term “owe” (apodote) literally means “give back.” This term means “to give out” or “to meet a contractual... obligation” or “to give back, return.” Governments give us various services(e.g. paved roads, rubbish removal, firemen, police services, military protection, etc.). It would be hypocritical to benefit from these services without paying for them. Similarly, Jesus taught, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s; and to God the things that are God’s” (Mt. 22:21; cf. Mt. 17:24-27).

“..if respect, then respect: if honour, then honour”

Peter writes that we “honor” the king, but we “fear” or respect God (1 Pet. 2:17). Similarly, Paul writes that believers who do good do not need to fear” or be afraid” of the government (v.3). This tacitly implies that we should fear God alone.

So to sum up this passage, we see:

First, Paul was writing to the Romans, who were not ignorant of evil government. The context of Romans 13 is the persecution of Christians (Rom. 12:9, 14, 17, 21).
Second, the context of this passage is to avoid persecution through the means of Christian peace and love. Paul’s ethic for dealing with evil is to “overcome evil with good” (12:21). Earlier, Paul wrote, “If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men” (Rom. 12:18). Peaceful submission was the way to subvert evil—not violence. If Christians had tried to revolt against Rome, it would have resulted in destruction and heavier persecution for the burgeoning Christian movement. About a decade after Paul wrote this, the Zealot party in Israel attempted a violent coup to oust the Romans from Jerusalem. This resulted in the Jewish War in AD 66. Within four years, the Romans decimated Jerusalem and the Temple. Josephus recorded that 1.1 million Jews were killed, 200,000 were taken captive, and the Jewish children in the Roman siege of Jerusalem were canabalized! If the Christians had tried a violent revolt, it would’ve likely resulted in similar results. Instead, the Christians reached the Romans with the gospel. Now, centuries later, the Roman Empire is dead, and Christianity is thriving. This turned out to be the proper strategy!
Third, the purpose of government is to restrain anarchy. Paul’s purpose of writing Romans 13 is to explain the purpose of government. If human government did not exist, we would be in a

state of total anarchy. Even bad government is better than no government. Anarchy results in abject terror for people. Therefore, God is not approving of human government; instead, he is delegating human government for the purpose of restraining complete evil and anarchy.
Fourth, Paul’s message is actually subversive, considering the time period. Ancient documents have uncovered a lot about Roman culture. At this time in history, everyone in the Roman Empire knew that Caesar was the ultimate authority—even considered to be divine in some sense. However, Paul wrote that God is actually the ultimate authority (v.1), and Caesar is simply God’s “minister” whom God permits to rule (v.4). What a subversive message! As Christians, we are to voluntarily submit ourselves to human government, while we know that Jesus is the ultimate King.
Fifth, the rest of the Bible teaches cases where it is right to disobey human government.
Acts 4:19-20) Peter and John answered [the authorities] and said to them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to give heed to you rather than to God, you be the judge; 20 for we cannot stop speaking about what we have seen and heard.”
(Acts 5:29) Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men.”
(Acts 17:6-7) When they did not find them, they began dragging Jason and some brethren before the city authorities, shouting, “These men who have upset the world have come here also; 7and Jason has welcomed them, and they all act contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying that there is another king, Jesus.”
(Ex. 1:17) The midwives feared God, and did not do as the king of Egypt had commanded them, but let the boys live.
(Josh. 2:1-12) Rahab hid Joshua’s spies from the authorities. (Revelation) In the book of Revelation, we see the worst government imaginable—one which terrorizes and slaughters Christians. And yet, we read that the lead of this government is “the beast” who “was given” authority by God (Rev. 13:5,)
Sixth, Paul writes that we should submit to government for our conscience sake. Those who are unable to submit to human authority often have a difficult time submitting to God’s authority. Paul is explaining that submission to government is a way to be transformed into someone who can submit. In other words, God gives us poor human authorities to serve for our spiritual growth. Ask yourself: Do humans learn patience and forgiveness better

under a perfect authority or under an imperfect one? By serving unloving people, we learn to model Jesus’ example of sacrificial love.



Prayer Meeting 

Here is some encouragement from God’s Word as we pray today: 


The Power of  God's Word and Declarations in Prayer: 

The  Word of God is the greatest powerful weapon that we can use in prayer. We can tell God our needs. Yet we must always use the spoken word as we intercede for others and pray into situations and problems 

(Read ) Mathew 4:1-11 we see how Jesus responds to the devil's temptations ( requests/ suggestions)

Three times Satan tempted Jesus in an effort to defeat the Lord’s ultimate plan for our salvation.

V3 : the enemy appeals to Jesus’ physical needs

V6 : the enemy tempts Jesus to test God’s protection ,and 

Vv 8-9 : the enemy entices Jesus with an easy path to power and glory

In all three situations, we read that Jesus responded to Satan’s lures with God's Word, “It is written,” and quotes scriptures from Deuteronomy 8 and 6.

Jesus shows us how to counteract the deceiver - with truth from God's Word 

Jesus our greatest example used the spoken word .He spoke the Word of God. He used the spoken words of God as His number 1 weapon when confronted by Satan, against this attack.

In Ephesians 6:17, Paul calls this spoken word, the sword of the Spirit. The Greek term translated ‘word’ ( rhema), means spoken words.This is different to written words or unspoken thoughts.

So the sword of the Spirit  becomes a weapon when we say it or declare it as opposed to reading the Word or just thinking it.

In spiritual warfare, the Word of God on our lips is a powerful weapon against the enemy. We can trust His Word for God cannot lie.

When Satan engages us in battle, we must know and stand boldly and confidently on the Word of God. 

We are to speak God’s words into situations to see people’s hearts change and peace prevail. In our personal lives, the lives of others in our communities and the wider world, we are to speak God's words and allow Holy Spirit’s power to be released 

We are to  declare God's truth  as we pray .With every truth we declare, we are pushing out another lie of the enemy.

Some truths we can speak and declare ( examples ):

( Isaiah 54:17 )-No weapon that is formed against Your purposes in my life , in this land / community will prosper. So declare that any attempts of governments, institutions to reduce God's holy standards to unrighteous and evil ways will not prosper.Every voice rising up to accuse you will be silenced 

These are the benefits of the servants of the Lord

(1John 4:4 ) -My dear children, you belong to God., you have overcome .. .the One who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. So declare that God has given you authority over that overwhelming, troubling situation 

( 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 ) - Our weapons have God's power that shatters the enemy's strongholds that oppose us. With the weapon of truth, we demolish rational arguments that oppose the walk of faith. We take captive every thought, accepting those only that glorify Jesus so we obey Him always. So  declare that our spiritual weapons are fully able to disarm that spirt that is causing someone to feel imprisoned or enslaved . We use the weapons to tear down strongholds in family life that is not God- glorifying in Jesus’ mighty name


“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. 

Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.”

Galatians 5:1 NIV

“The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on Me because the LORD has anointed Me 

to proclaim good news to the poor. 

He has sent Me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, 

to proclaim the year of the LORD’S favour 

and the day of vengeance of our God.” 

Isaiah 61:1-2 NIV

This prophecy of Isaiah was fulfilled in Jesus Christ our Messiah 

when He came the first time & Jesus read part of this in the synagogue in Nazareth.

We can read an account of this in Luke 4:18-19, 

where Isaiah 61:1-2 is quoted in the following way:- 

““The Spirit of the LORD is on Me

because He has anointed Me to proclaim good news to the poor. 

He has sent Me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and 

recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, 

to proclaim the year of the LORD’s  favour.””

Luke 4:18-19 NIV

That is what He desires to fulfil in each of our lives. 

To speak the Good News into our lives.

To proclaim freedom for the prisoners. 

Recovery of sight for the blind. 

To set the oppressed free.

To proclaim the year of the LORD’s favour. 

Notice that Jesus didn’t fulfil ‘the day of vengeance of our God.’ 

That will be fulfilled in His Second Coming. 

A modern-day example of this being outworked in practice is when 

Christine & Nick Caine started the organisation ‘A21’ with a few passionate volunteers in their living room 15 years ago. 

Since that time, it has developed into a global organisation which now reaches 19 locations & spans across 14 countries. 

Over the last 15 years, they have seen millions of people reached through raising awareness & preventing human trafficking. 

Thousands of victims have been identified & numerous survivors have experienced restoration. 

Solutions have been put into place worldwide to break the cycle of human trafficking. 

There is still so much work to do. 

Their goals are to :- 

Prevent human trafficking before it begins by creating new awareness through sharing education & prevention resources. 

Identify & assist more victims through increasing access to hotlines around the world. 

Increase support for survivors by expanding their ‘Freedom Centres’ & ‘Child Advocacy Centres.’ 

Impact more countries by empowering a network of frontline partners, & multiplying the rate at which we see justice worldwide. 

Reach, rescue, & restore victims of human trafficking. 

If you want to find out more, you can visit their website:

For Freedom. 

Freedom is always worth fighting for. 

So let us pray for these goals to be fulfilled. 

May the Holy Spirit enable us to live this out in our everyday lives. Amen! 



We are continuing our study in Romans 12.

Paul is speaking about how Christians are to live in practical ways. This is the Christian’s response to God's love and mercy to him or her

Last week we begun studying the verses from 9-16. They are a list of short exhortations or commands - about 30 in total - to the end of the chapter. They reflect Christ- like living and this comes about by the renewal of the mind by Holy Spirit 

Paul is showing the believer in Christ ways in which unhypocritical love can be expressed. He is helping the Christian to see that when loving others is difficult, it is still possible to love . 

For true love becomes possible by being transformed, and having a different mindset or a renewed mind

It is noteworthy that Rome was becoming a very hostile environment for Christians (in AD 57). It was getting increasingly difficult for them to live out their Christian belief system. 

They  were under pressure from an unbelieving Roman world, yet Paul is exhorting the Christians to show love 

Paul speaks of love for other Christians ( vv 9-13 ). The challenge in verses 14-16 is to express Christ- like love to all generally.

ROMANS 12:17-21 ( Read ) 

In these verses Paul is particularly focussed on showing love to those who hate and persecute Christians.

He amplifies that love helps in winning battles. “Love is the ultimate weapon..”

So how does God want us to respond when we face antagonism, opposition, harassment, or persecution for our faith in Christ ? Or how can we respond when someone is trying to make life miserable for us ?

Paul says that there are some things you don't do and there are things you do : negative commands and positive commands


Verses 17a, 19 , 21 : what are some things we don't do when we are persecuted or facing any kind of opposition ?

V 17a - the normal human reaction to someone who mocks us ,undermines authority or spreads lies about us is to pay them back in kind. So you are not to retaliate when anyone offends or hurts you 

V 19- why should we not seek revenge or try to ‘even the score’ ? It is God's job to judge . It is His prerogative to judge, punish and demonstrate His anger .He knows all the facts. 

If we try to ‘get even’, then we may mess up what God has planned. Until people are saved they are subjects of God's wrath ( Romans 1:18)

V 21a -Paul uses a military term with the use of the  word ‘overcome’. It means to conquer/ prevail. We are in a war, not with people, but with evil. And we must not let evil prevail by for example, trying to hurt someone back because they hurt us. Doing that means you lose the battle 


Verses 17b, 18, and 20 : So what are some things you can do ( positive statements)  as you express love to those who persecute you or want to make your life miserable ? 

Verse 17b - what does this mean ? You have a personal responsibility to do what is right ( honourable, excellent , beautiful as an outward sign of inward good ).It does not mean necessarily that we will follow what the world thinks because the world’s thinking is distorted by sin. Perhaps, think about : ‘what can I do for that person that  others will have to admit is honourable and good.?’ Then do it 

Verse 18 -what are the  two conditions to this command ?: ‘if it is possible’ and ‘as far as it depends on you’. 

These insinuate that at times living peaceably will not be possible. True love sometimes mean walking away. Yet you have to do your part - keep doing everything you can Biblically to encourage peaceable relationships.

Verse 20 -(Paul quotes from Proverbs 25:21-22 ) practically what are some ways you can show true love to your enemy, to those who have wronged you?

Giving food and drink represents a number of things you can do to meet their need.Example :maybe they need something fixed and you can do it.

“burning coals on his head” - doing good to the one who has wronged you may shame the offender into turning to Christ in repentance 

The goal is reconciliation- to see the relationship restored, even seeing them come to Christ

Verse 21b - so you would conquer or defeat evil by your goodness !

Application : God's Word shows you how to live.It is contrary to what the world teaches. Use love as the ultimate weapon with which you fight. See God's will unfold in your life              

Our perfect example is Jesus. Let's follow His example in Christ- like living

Follow Holy Spirit’s promptings as you take responsibility to maintain peaceable relationships.



Last week we began studying what Paul says about how we should behave as Christians.

Paul is providing some practical application now to what we believe as Christians 

Brief review : In Romans 12:1-2 , we see that our response to God's mercy is to offer our bodies a living sacrifice to the Lord for His purposes. Live your life for God.

Christians are to have a completely different mindset from that of worldly people. Christians are to bring their thinking in line with God's Word. This comes about by being transformed by the renewal of mind, leading to spiritual growth 

>>A New Perspective (from God’s Word ) —->New Way of Thinking——>New Way to Act/ React

In verses 3-8, we see what is the Christian way of thinking about spiritual gifts.It is from a humble mindset that we serve others , not selfish agendas. God graciously gives gifts to serve.We are to model Jesus’ example.

ROMANS 12:9-16 (Read )

Since we have received the mercy from God, we must live our lives for God. This means that we should be continually growing in godly characteristics. We are to be growing in Christ- likeness, including Christ- like love 

In these verses Paul gives a list of short commands ( 30 to end of chapter ) / exhortations that reflect characteristics of the Christian life.They reflect a mind renewed by Holy Spirit 

>Verses 9-13 ( challenge to express love to those in the Body of Christ ) 

 How should your life be characterised ?

Vv 9 -10 : by a deep,true love -  expressed in four ways :  ‘without hypocrisy’( as in NKJV), hating anything God regards as evil and embracing what is good, by loving each other as members of  God's family and through a culture of honouring others above ourselves

‘Without hypocrisy’ - the love that God has shown us is the same kind that we are to show to others. The love is to be free from hidden agendas . From the Greek- A hypocrite is an actor who wears a mask. We are to love without a mask. 

Example : You say something nice to someone and then when they leave you stab them in the back. That's fake love.

Vv11-13 : When loving is difficult ,how can the Christian keep serving the Lord ? with enthusiasm, “ aglow in the Spirit”( AMP ) , radiating joy because you are a person of hope, meeting the needs of God's people -love to give ,share your resources, caring and being hospitable. 

What is Paul's encouragement when you suffer affliction ? ( v12 )

bear it patiently and steadfastly and remain faithful in unceasing prayer.

‘Affliction’- distress, trouble , when you're feeling hemmed in, without options or no way of escape. “Keep on keeping on.”

When life becomes difficult, Paul admonishes the Christians to maintain spiritual zeal for they are serving the Lord, not men. This speaks here of a relentless determination in serving the Lord as you seek to be patient with ‘hard to love’ people.

>Verses 14-16 : ( challenge to express Christ-like love to all people ) 

Unhypocritical love is expressed in four ways as you seek to love as Jesus loved 

What are the four ways to express  love to  all peoples like Jesus ?

 seek the best for those who harm us-v14 ,share in others’ joy and sorrows-v15, live in harmony -v16a,  avoid a proud and haughty spirit - v16b.

V14- ‘bless’ means to ask God to send people His favour, to give them peace and prosper them

Sounds impossible when people treat you badly.( e.g Stephen in Acts 7:60 ).Yet remember how God has shown mercy on you.

V15- this may not be easy especially ‘rejoicing’.How can you rejoice with someone who for  example got the promotion on the job and salary increase instead of you? Someone you felt was less deserving than you . True love sounds impossible unless we are being transformed by renewal of our minds

Mourning or weeping with someone is easier as our hearts naturally go out to those in pain and suffering 

V16 (a)- ‘- ‘live in harmony…’ another expression of love when it is so easy to pick at things you don't agree with.

This little ditty says it all : “To dwell with saints in heaven above,  Oh that will be glory.   But to dwell with saints on earth below,  Now that's a different story !”

It helps to remember that our significance isn't found in the approval of other people or human standards. It is found in our relationship with our Saviour and Lord Jesus Christ 

V16 (b ) ‘don't be proud…’ sincere love is expressed when you avoid a proud spirit.

Pride destroys unity. If there are problems like people who have hurt you or a failing relationship the situation can improve and restoration can take place

To become that loving ,humble person like Jesus you have to open up your heart to Holy Spirit. A change of thinking needs to take place by the renewing of your mind


How can we possess all these characteristics as we live out the Christ- like life ?

 Allow Holy Spirit to look at our hearts and allow Holy Spirit to change us from one degree of glory to another.

Refer to what Paul urges in Romans 12:1-2



We are continuing to study this letter Paul wrote to the Christians living in Rome. Romans is by far the longest of Paul's epistles

As we move into Chapter 12, here is a brief summary of all that Paul has been sharing. 

Paul presents God's plan of salvation for all peoples whether Jew or Gentile.

Chapters 1-3 : we read about the sin problem.

Chapters 4-5 : Paul talks about God's provision of salvation 

Chapters 6-8 : God imparts His righteousness and the sanctifying process

Chapters 9-11 : Paul share on the principle of God's Sovereignty and how He deals with Israel 

Basically Chapters 1-11 cover what we should believe as Christians (doctrine)

In Chapters 12-16, Paul provides practical application of these Christian beliefs. So it's about how we should behave as a result of what we believe 

                   ROMANS 12:1-8 (Read ) 

Leading up to this passage, Paul has explained God's gifts of salvation and righteousness through faith in Christ Jesus.

Paul is now urging believers to consider all that God has done to restore their relationship with Him.He urges them to respond to the loving mercy which is at the heart of God's gifts 

> Verses 1-2 

V1- How are believers to respond to the wonderful mercy that God has shown ? Give our bodies to the Lord and to live sacrificially for His purposes. Surrender 

What does this involve ? body,  mind and soul - not only what we do but our thoughts and motivations related to our actions. Everything we are , think and do  we are to do out of love and gratitude rather than selfishness 

‘Living sacrifice’ - this is one of ongoing thanksgiving for what God has done in Christ. 

Paul appeals (‘beg’) to believers - shows the importance of believers choosing to make themselves available to God's will.

The purpose of this sacrifice ? As we truly embrace our new relationship with God, our hearts willingly surrender and overflow with devotion and worship 

V2- Paul shares a key to pleasing God. It has to do with your minds.

How can you  please God and be certain of His will for your life ? We need a completely different mindset to the patterns of this world.

What does it mean to be ‘transformed’? It comes from the word ‘metamorphosis’.The illustration of the caterpillar changing into a butterfly is helpful . Also this word is used when Christ was ‘transfigured’ and His appearance changed - ‘He was resplendent with divine brightness’

Being transformed means that something is changed from what it was to what it is becoming. It is radical and affects all areas / aspects of your life

So we don't have to stay stuck in thought patterns of negative actions and reactions ( as in a rut )

Through the power of God's Word ,we can be transformed- we can have renewal of minds where we begin to think differently.


> Verses 3-8

Paul outlines now the Christian way of thinking as regards spiritual gifts. Spiritual gifts are special qualities / abilities given graciously to believers by Holy Spirit to serve others…not ourselves

V3 :  How are we to think of ourselves ? We are to have a humble realistic mindset.

 ‘Sober judgment’ - when we are full of pride ( like being drunk ), we don't think straight. 

Paul says GOD gives grace and we are to ‘measure ourselves by the faith God has given’ ( NLT )

It is with this humble mindset that we are to live and serve one another with spiritual gifts

Vv4-6a  : Paul uses the analogy of the body to show that each believer is a living part of Christ’s body.As such, God gives different spiritual gifts to each believer.

How is this realised ? each believer has a part to play ;a gift ( s) to use. Since our different gifts are from God, we are to use them for His glory and not to our selfish credit. 

V5-‘in Christ’ - if you belong to Christ you are part of His one Body - like each part of the human body, each spiritual gift serves the body as a whole..not for self- edification.


NOTE : V6a - These gifts (or charismata ) are ‘grace gifts’ which are given to us by God's grace.And God's grace is always receive by faith. So we are trusting in God to be a blessing to others as these gifts are used. God gives the gifts so God receives the glory not you.

Vv 6b-8 : Paul lists seven gifts here as he encourages the use of gifts that God has graciously given. “Spiritual gifts  are tools to build with, not toys to play with or weapons to fight with.” ( Warren Wiersbe )

Conclusion :

A transformed mind thinks differently to the world. 

These ‘grace gifts’ when used humbly, model Jesus’ example of sacrificial service and ministry. Gifts are always balanced with the fruit of the Spirit