Random Ramblings

Reflections on my walk with God


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Let your yes mean yes….

In my meandering walk through #Rom2Rev, I have just re-read the book of James. I am reminded that the Old and New testiments have very different instructions in many things and one in particular caught my eye (again) – taking vows or oaths. As was often the case Jesus turned the old ideas on their heads.

In numbers 30:1-16 there are very specific instructions about taking vows and in particular, about the vows taken by women. In this long and detailed passage the message is that women can only make vows if those vows are approved by their father (if they are unmarried) or husband (if they are married). It is incredibly convoluted and as with many of the OT laws/rules must have made life difficult, particularly for women.

Reading this passage as part of a YouVersion plan last year, I looked at the views of other YouVersion readers for their thoughts. I noticed that most are pondering why women were not allowed to make up their own minds. However, some writers have taken this passage as instructions that even today we women cannot make our own decisions, but that we must always defer to our father and subsequently our husband or Pastor!

We no longer live in Old Testament times, we are not bound by the rules and regulations that the Ancient Jews had to follow.

We are commanded by Jesus not to make vows at all.

Matthew 5:33-37.
“Again, you have heard that the ancients were told, ‘You shall not make false vows , but shall fulfill your vows to the Lord .’ But I say to you, make no oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, or by the earth, for it is the footstool of His feet, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King . Nor shall you make an oath by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. But let your statement be, ‘Yes, yes’ or ‘No, no’; anything beyond these is of evil.

This is reiterated by the Lord’s brother in James 5:12
But above all, my brethren, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or with any other oath; but your yes is to be yes, and your no, no, so that you may not fall under judgment.

Jesus tells us to simply let our Yes mean Yes and our No mean No!

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Grace

I’m still working my way through the NT though have slowed down considerably – work keeps interfering! My study Bible notes that Paul begins and ends each of his letters with “Grace”. A quick search on the Bible gateway concordance revealed that Grace appears 84 times in Paul’s letters.
So I thought I’d gather together the opening and closing verses of Paul’s letters.
Grace to you all today. All scriptures are from the NASB.

Romans 1:7
to all who are beloved of God in Rome, called as saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Romans 16:24
[ The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.]

1 Corinthians 1:3
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
1 Corinthians 16:23-24
The grace of the Lord Jesus be with you. My love be with you all in Christ Jesus. Amen.

2 Corinthians 1:2
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
2 Corinthians 13:14
The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be with you all.

Galatians 1:3
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ,
Galatians 6:18
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brethren. Amen.

Ephesians 1:2
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Ephesians 6:24
Grace be with all those who love our Lord Jesus Christ with incorruptible love.

Philippians 1:2
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Philippians 4:23
The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.

Colossians 1:2
To the saints and faithful brethren in Christ who are at Colossae: Grace to you and peace from God our Father.
Colossians 4:18
I, Paul, write this greeting with my own hand. Remember my imprisonment. Grace be with you.

1 Thessalonians 1:1
Paul and Silvanus and Timothy, To the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace to you and peace.
1 Thessalonians 5:28
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.

2 Thessalonians 1:2
Grace to you and peace from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
2 Thessalonians 3:18
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.

1 Timothy 1:2
To Timothy, my true child in the faith: Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.
1 Timothy 6:21
which some have professed and thus gone astray from the faith. Grace be with you.

2 Timothy 1:2
To Timothy, my beloved son: Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.
2 Timothy 4:22
The Lord be with your spirit. Grace be with you.

Titus 1:4
To Titus, my true child in a common faith: Grace and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Savior.
Titus 3:15
All who are with me greet you. Greet those who love us in the faith. Grace be with you all.

Philemon 1:3
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Philemon 1:25
The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.


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Love

When I suggested that we might follow the hugely enjoyable #luke2acts Twitter Bible study by reading the rest of the New Testament,  I think I really didn’t know what I was letting myself in for!  The original plan was to read a chapter a day and so finish by mid-December. We are now reading and commenting on #Rom2Rev at a much more relaxed pace ;-), may finish sometime next year….   I keep getting behind due to “inconvenient” family health issues and spending a lot of time at hospitals. This post is my thoughts on 1 Corinthians 11-13, although we have just finished Galatians…..
All quotes are from the NASB translation unless otherwise noted

When I teach I always try to get my students to see the big picture before looking at the details. The big picture here is that Paul very much wants the Corinthians to understand that although they no longer have to follow strict rules and laws about food, behaviour, dress etc., they should act in ways that demonstrate their salvation. If we bear this in mind and, as always, remember that this is a letter (no chapter or verse divisions) perhaps some of the more troubling sections make more sense.

The beginning of Chapter 11 is one of those sections of scripture that we shy away from. It seems on the surface to be undeniably misogynistic. Paul lays down the law about the behaviour of women in church. I leave delving deeply into that to the theologians. However the HCSB study Bible points out that many behaviours (for all believers) were required to avoid alienating the Jews and/or avoiding doing anything which seemed to align them with pagan practises or rituals. If I may quote an example from my Pastor. He recently told us that whilst there is nothing in scripture to prohibit him preaching to us in his pyjamas, it would be inappropriate and would certainly upset many of the congregation. It would also give the wrong message to outsiders. A trivial example perhaps, but one which helps us to see why it is so important to not only do what is right, but be seen to do what is right.

In the next section of this chapter, Paul denounces the behaviour of some of the believers with regard to the Lord’s Supper. He has heard that many take it as an opportunity to eat and drink to excess. Perhaps even worse, whilst they are feasting, some of the brethren are eating very little. Such behaviour is wrong on so many levels, they are not sharing their food, they are exhibiting glutony, they are ignoring or even abusing the poor, they are disrepecting the institution of the Lord’s Supper, and in so doing dishonouring Jesus himself. This should be a a time of sharing and fellowship, there should be no distinction between them, certainly not based on wealth.

For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, abounding in riches for all who call on Him; (Romans 10:12)

The sharing of the Lord’s Supper should be distinct from general eating and drinking, believers are advised to eat before coming together for the Lord’s supper. We can perhaps assume that if they were celebrating communion as part of general fellowship, they would be expected to share all that they had, so that each received sufficient food. Paul urged them (and us) to make sure that they were worthy; in particular they should confess unforgiven sin and make themselves right with each other before sharing the bread and wine.

Therefore whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner, shall be guilty of the body and the blood of the Lord. But a man must examine himself [herself], and in so doing he is to eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For he who eats and drinks, eats and drinks judgment to himself if he does not judge the body rightly. (1 Corinthians 11:27-29)

During fellowship it would be commonplace to talk about how the Lord was working in the lives of the believers. Perhaps Paul had heard that some thought themselves better than others because they had “superior” gifts.

For to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, and to another the word of knowledge according to the same Spirit; to another faith by the same Spirit, and to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, and to another the effecting of miracles, and to another prophecy, and to another the distinguishing of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, and to another the interpretation of tongues. But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually just as He wills. (1 Corinthians 12:8-11)

As we share in the Lord’s Supper and share fellowship, so we should share the gifts that we have been given.

There are varieties of effects, but the same God who works all things in all persons. But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. For to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, and to another the word of knowledge according to the same Spirit; to another faith by the same Spirit, and to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, and to another the effecting of miracles, and to another prophecy, and to another the distinguishing of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, and to another the interpretation of tongues. But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually just as He wills. (1 Corinthians 12:6-11)

The gifts are given not to glorify the individual but to allow believers all to work together. Just as a healthy body needs all of it parts to function correctly and work together, so a healthy church needs all of it’s members to use their gifts and work together. No member of the church is more important than another, though perhaps it can be argued that some are more essential. Just as the heart and brain are essential for life, so some members of the church may have more important roles, but all members are equal in their relationship with Christ.

Now you are Christ’s body, and individually members of it. And God has appointed in the church, first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, various kinds of tongues. (1 Corinthians 12:27-28)

Paul finishes this part of his letter (chapter 12) with a series of questions and then goes on to “show us a more excellent way”. Chapter 13 is such a well known passage of scripture. It is a wonderful description of what love should look like. However, if we read it in the original context, i.e. continuing on from chapter 12 with no chapter or verse breaks, it becomes even more wonderful. Paul is clearly telling us that gifts are useless, if they are not used in and with love.

All are not apostles, are they? All are not prophets, are they? All are not teachers, are they? All are not workers of miracles, are they? All do not have gifts of healings, do they? All do not speak with tongues, do they? All do not interpret, do they? But earnestly desire the greater gifts. And I show you a still more excellent way.
If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing. Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails; but if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part; but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away. When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known. But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love. (1 Corinthians 13)

Roman13:10 Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.


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Freedom to Obey

When I suggested that we might follow the hugely enjoyable #luke2acts Twitter Bible study by reading the rest of the New Testament,  I think I really didn’t know what I was letting myself in for!  The original plan was to read a chapter a day and so finish by mid-December as outlined here. After our Struggles with Romans, we are now reading and commenting on #Rom2Rev at a much more relaxed pace ;-), may finish sometime next year….   I keep getting behind due to “inconvenient” family health issues and spending a lot of time at hospitals. This is my second catch up blog. My first, Time to grow up and be foolish, had thoughts on 1 Corinthians 1-4. This post is my thoughts on chapters 7-9.

These 3 chapters are very much about rights and responsibilities. As believers we are not bound to the Mosaic law, Paul was very concerned that the Corinthians understood that Salvation is absolutely not dependant on works and cannot be earned by obedience to the old covenant. However, freedom in Christ is not freedom to do what we want, and so Paul laid out the way that believers should act. When they were saved they became part of the Church, which is the body of Christ, as such the Corinthians should behave appropriately. Chapters 7&8 deal with the specific issues of sexual behaviour and dietary laws. The Corinthians apparently thought that sexual relationships should be avoided even within marriage, Paul corrects this idea:

The husband must fulfill his duty to his wife, and likewise also the wife to her husband. The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does; and likewise also the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. Stop depriving one another, except by agreement for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer, and come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control. (1 Corinthians 7:3-5 NASB)

We notice that husbands are not given absolute authority over their wives, they are considered equal and must not “deprive each other”. Sex is considered to be a right within marriage but as directed in chapter 5, believers must not indulge in sex outside marriage. We must remember that Paul and the other Apostles expected Christ to return very soon. His admonitions that it was better for the Corinthians to stay single than to marry were to encourage them to prepare for the second coming.

Couples should not divorce because one is saved and one unsaved. Hopefully, the witness of the believer will bring the unsaved spouse into a saving knowledge of Christ [certainly my hope!]. In many ways Paul’s ideas were radical for the time. Men and women were expected to marry. Single women were pitied and widows often looked down on (despite Levitical laws, which required that widows and orphans be taken care of). Paul was in effect saying that all are equal in Christ and their chief concerns should be devotion to the Lord; married people will be distracted (rightly) by their devotion to each other.

This I say for your own benefit; not to put a restraint upon you, but to promote what is appropriate and to secure undistracted devotion to the Lord. (1 Corinthians 7:35 NASB)

One of the key messages in this letter was that believers should remain as they were when they were saved.

Only, as the Lord has assigned to each one, as God has called each, in this manner let him walk. And so I direct in all the churches. Each man must remain in that condition in which he was called. (1 Corinthians 7:17, 20 NASB)

Just as believers should remain in the same marital state that they were in when they were saved, so slaves should remain with their earthly master. In all cases they actually only have one master, Christ himself. As stated in the HCSB study Bible “Regardless of a person’s situation, he should live for the Lord. Two realities should heighten our emphasis on such a lifestyle of devotion: the time is limited and the world . . . is passing away.”

Chapter 8 deals with the vexing issues of food laws. The Jews were bound by the Levitical laws, which are incredibly strict. Some Jews thought that hey must continue to keep all of the laws and that gentile converts must also conform to this practise. Paul himself had to receive a direct message from God to be persuaded that all foods can be eaten (Acts 10 and 11). As with other freedoms, just because we can eat anything doesn’t mean that we should! Paul instructs the Corinthians that they should respect the behaviours of others, not criticising them for having certain ideas about food, not antagonising them. We can apply this to today, not only to remind us to accept the restrictions that others place upon themselves with regard to e.g. meat and alcohol; but also to be aware that as part of the body of Christ, we should respect our own bodies. This idea was explored with regard to giving up smoking by Christine.

In chapter 9, Paul seems to be answering direct questions which challenge his rights as an apostle. Again really he is very much focusing on the freedom that we have in Christ. Like the other Apostles, Paul and Barnabas had the right “to eat and drink, ….take along a believing wife,….and …refrain from working..” (1 Corinthians 9:4-6 NASB). Paul did not insist on these rights, he was not married (probably!) and did work to support himself (Acts 18:3); however he and the other Apostles should be free to evangelise and not have to worry about bed & board.

And He was saying to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest. Go; behold, I send you out as lambs in the midst of wolves. Carry no money belt, no bag, no shoes; and greet no one on the way. Whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace be to this house.’ If a man of peace is there, your peace will rest on him; but if not, it will return to you. Stay in that house, eating and drinking what they give you; for the laborer is worthy of his wages. Do not keep moving from house to house. Whatever city you enter and they receive you, eat what is set before you; (Luke 10:2-8 NASB).

It is important to remember that Paul is apeaking to believers in all his letters and therefore the behaviours expected of the Corinthians (and us) are not the same as for unbelievers. We must live in the world but we are not of the world. We must work at whatever God have given us to do, as if competing in a race. We must train hard and try to do our best in all things, at all times.


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“Your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit that is in you” a Guest Blog

I am really happy to host my first guest blog! Christine is one of the regular contributors to the #Rom2Rev Twitter Bible study that I’m participating in. We are currently reading 1 Corinthians and are being challenged once again by Paul’s writing, but Christine tells us how Paul’s words inspired her in this short testimony. 

“Your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit that is in you”
1 Corinthians 6:19

Paul wrote these words in a passage about sexual immorality but for me these words were my ‘Get out of jail free’ card in my struggle with my addiction to cigarette-smoking.

Like several smokers, I had several smoke-free ‘seasons’ in my life and I thought I’d given up for good, only to get ‘hooked’ again when the going got really tough.

I realise now that that my earlier efforts to give up failed in the long-term because of my main motivation: pride. I didn’t want to be beaten by ‘Lady Nicotine’.

Another thing I found hard, when I was a smoker, was the condemning attitude of some (but by no means all) Christians I knew, despite the fact that I did not smoke in their presence and they were not affected by ‘passive smoking’. However, their condemnation was not my greatest problem. I had a far greater problem with the way I responded to the condemnation – in my heart and sometimes verbally. I became embattled, trying to think of ways of defending myself and giving people subtle and less-than-subtle reminders that they weren’t saints either: pride, again! This preoccupation was turning me away from God in that I was becoming self-righteous and judgemental myself.

1 Corinthians 6:19 won where my pride lost because – probably thanks to the work of the Holy Spirit in me – I became overwhelmingly thankful for God’s gift of life and overwhelmingly heart-broken that I had treated my body so badly by invading it with cigarette toxins. This was not what God had in mind when he created me. Yet I knew that God had forgiven me and I was overwhelmed by that, too.

I wept many tears of remorse.

I wept many tears of joy and relief.

I have not smoked since. I was set free from my ‘prison’ of addiction.

‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon me…
He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives…’
Luke 4:18,19

‘For you were bought at a price;
Therefore glorify God in your body
And in your spirit,
Which are God’s.’
1 Corinthians 6:20

Christine Quinn-Jones 17-08-2014


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Time to grow up and be foolish

After our struggles with Romans we are now reading 1 Corinthians in the Twitter Bible study #Rom2Rev.  Due to family health issues, I have gotten behind the discussion, though not the reading.  Here are some (non-theological) thoughts on 1 Corinthians 1-4.

Throughout these chapters Paul is instructing the Corinthians to be wise and foolish! They are to follow the wisdom of the Gospel message which seems to be foolishness to non-believers.

I once read an article in which the writer discussed our “strange dead God”.  He had been questioned by someone of another faith who could not understand why we worship a dead God.  From his perspective this was beyond understanding and probably “foolish”. Paul preached Christ crucified – this was the centre of his message and in isolation would indeed be foolish. However, as we know, Christ did not stay dead – He rose and is alive. This is absolutely fundamental to our faith, as Paul explains later in this letter:

But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, then our proclamation is without foundation, and so is your faith. In addition, we are found to be false witnesses about God, because we have testified about God that He raised up Christ — whom He did not raise up if in fact the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, Christ has not been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins. (1 Corinthians 15:13-17 HCSB)

Paul’s message to the Corinthians, and to us, is that Jesus is not what the world expects. The Jews looked for a great warrior king who would sweep away the Romans and other conquerors for ever. The gentiles, while having no messianic expectations, had pretty definite ideas of what a diety should look like. The crucified Christ was, and is, offensive. He does not meet worldly expectations. Chapters 1 and 2 exhort the readers to follow Christ, not Paul, Apollos or any other leader/teacher. The readers are urged to be spiritually wise, not worldly wise. How many of our unsaved friends and family shake their heads and roll their eyes at us? As saved, Christ-followers we are deemed to be foolish by the world’s standards. Paul emphasises that this foolishness is wisdom in God’s eyes.

The Corinthians were so busy following particular leaders and worrying about looking wise in the eyes of the world that they were not spiritual, their faith was superficial. They were really no different from the non-believers around them. In fact they were much worse because they had heard the truth, had acepted it but were not living it. Chapter 2 going into 3 tells the believers that they should be spirit-lead and as such they cannot be judged by the world, which does not understand God’s wisdom. The book of Proverbs gives much advice on the importance of wisdom and understanding:

Get wisdom, get understanding; don’t forget or turn away from the words of my mouth. Don’t abandon wisdom, and she will watch over you; love her, and she will guard you. Wisdom is supreme — so get wisdom. And whatever else you get, get understanding.(Prov 4:5-7 HCSB)

Knowledge is not enough, we can know all things but if we are not wise and can understand the knowledge, then we cannot apply it to our lives.

Paul leads on from his instructions about wisdom to being spiritual (we had an interesting discussion about this on Twitter). The spiritual person is one who has accepted Jesus as her/his saviour and is living life accordingly. The Corinthians were still living in the same way as the gentiles who knew no better, they were not mature as Paul expected that they should be.

The spiritual person, however, can evaluate everything, yet he himself cannot be evaluated by anyone. For who has known the Lord’s mind, that he may instruct Him? But we have the mind of Christ.
Brothers, I was not able to speak to you as spiritual people but as people of the flesh, as babies in Christ.  I gave you milk to drink, not solid food, because you were not yet ready for it. In fact, you are still not ready,  because you are still fleshly. For since there is envy   and strife among you, are you not fleshly and living like unbelievers?  For whenever someone says, “I’m with Paul,” and another, “I’m with Apollos,” are you not unspiritual people? (1Cor 2:16-3:4)

How this resonates with today’s church. People follow “famous” (and sometimes infamous) preachers/pastors/leaders etc. and are distracted from the central Gospel message of Christ crucified.  Paul, Apollos, Peter etc were “co-cworkers with God”. Paul uses two anologies referring to the Corinthians as a field which Paul and Apollos have planted and as a building for which they have laid the foundation. I find these comparisons rather confusing. The field is the Corinthian congregation which Paul has planted, Apollos has watered but the growth is completely attributed to God. In the building analogy, Paul has laid the foundation, which is Christ, but the church are the builders. I understand both analogies, but they seem to be very different to me (thoughts appreciated). Confusion not withstanding, the message is that it isn’t enough to simply say “I follow X, and therefore I’m Ok”. Our wisdom and understanding must grow and keep growing. Paul was dissapointed that the Corinthians had not matured beyond petty disputes. They should have been taking in meat but were still on milk, they were still spiritual babies.

Chapters 3 going into 4 again appeals again for the Corinthians be “foolish” in the world’s eyes in order to be truly wise. They must avoid worrying about looking good and being the best, it is enough to know and follow Christ. Apparently the leaders were acting in a superior manner, Paul reminds them that they should be servant leaders, just as he and Apollos were. I’m very much reminded of the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector:

He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and looked down on everyone else: “Two men went up to the temple complex to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee took his stand and was praying like this: ‘God, I thank You that I’m not like other people — greedy, unrighteous, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give a tenth of everything I get.’ “But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even raise his eyes to heaven but kept striking his chest and saying, ‘God, turn Your wrath from me — a sinner! ’ I tell you, this one went down to his house justified rather than the other; because everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.” (Luke 18:9-14 HCSB)

When I first read Paul’s letters, it seemed to me that in places he was terribly arrogant, I think that parts of this letter give that impression.
However as always, context is essential. Paul is their spiritual father, he knows what is best for them and loves them. He does not want to chastise them, but will if it is necessary. Paul concludes this section of his letter with the words:
What do you want? Should I come to you with a rod, or in love and a spirit of gentleness? (1 Cor 4:21 HCSB)


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Struggles with Romans

I initially hesitated when an idea was posted on Twitter to do a Bible study which covered the Gospels of Luke, John and the book of Acts (#luke2acts), as I had never done a Twitter Bible study before, and had just finished reading Luke-Acts. I am so glad that I decided to join in for many reasons. Reinforcement of the daily discipline of scripture reading was only one of the benefits. There was no pressure and people felt able to dip in and out as they were able. There were enough of us involved that if any slipped behind we knew that someone else would have commented. As happens in the twittersphere, new contacts were made and older ones renewed.

I enjoyed it immensely. I had previously completed book-based and online Bible studies alone, but the daily interaction and encouragement really supported my own studies and I learned a lot. Hungry for more when we finished, I suggested that we carry on! Romans to Revelation suggested itself and so #Rom2Rev was born.

I have read Romans before, twice all the way through as part of “Bible in a Year” studies (which took about 3 years and 15 months, respectively), and various chapters and passages at other times. In my previous reading I had tended to “leave to one side” the parts that are troubling. As many of us do – and not just with Romans.

I feel a real kinship with those who are participating in #Rom2Rev.  We have collectively struggled with the difficult scriptures, not necessarily finding answers but the act of delving deeper is rewarding in itself.  There are fewer of us participating in this study and along with the complexities of the material we are all having difficulties in to keeping up.

At no time have I considered myself to be the leader – just the impetuous one who thought it would be fun to carry on and so put together a timetable for the study. It has been suggested that we  take 2 days per chapter, I think that would be useful for the rest of Romans, and we may need a week or so to collect our thoughts before continuing! The other letters, hopefully, will not be so taxing so maybe we could have 2 days for the longer chapters, but stick with a day for the shorter ones. We may need much more time for Revelation!

The thought does occur and should be spoken – do we want to continue after Romans? It is a time commitment, and Twitter is certainly not the best vehicle for deep discussion, however for myself the act of trying to sum up ideas succinctly helps my understanding. I do think that none of us should feel obliged at any time to comment on every verse or even every chapter, it is enough to know that others are reading along and struggling/learning/rejoicing with us.  If time only allows the highlighting of one verse,  or even the acknowledgement of having read that day’s chapter, I think that’s enough. 

We can never aspire to truly grasp the whole meaning of these writings on this side of eternity; at present “we see in a mirror, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know fully even as also I was fully known.” (1 Corinthians 13:12 )

Please comment or Tweet your thoughts.