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Free Daily Bible notes by Rev Stephen Thompson

Daily Bible thoughts 1236: Monday 26th September 2016: John 12:37-50: Stubborn blindness.

John 12:37-50: Stubborn blindness.(please click for todays passage)

”Jesus is the window into God.” Michael Green.

John makes a remarkable statement about Isaiah (41), but it is even more a staggering assertion about Christ. It probably refers to the vision of God’s glory the prophet saw, recorded in chapter 6 of the book that bears his name. John says that in fact he ”saw Jesus’ glory and spoke about him.” To see Jesus, is to see the Father (44, 45; 14:9).

I find it helpful, in looking at verses 37-41, to see that it first says ”they…would not believe in him” (37) before it says ”they could not believe” (39). There are ‘none so blind as those who will not see.’ You can’t see if you won’t see, and in the previous section Jesus had warned about making the most of ”the light” while they still had it (35, 36). There can come a time when our hearts are so hardened that we cannot repent, and ultimately all must face judgment (48). 

Yet again though, Jesus was not met with wall to wall spiritual blindness (42). There were ”many even among the leaders” who believed. However, it was a response without backbone. Something was lacking. As Bishop J.C. Ryle said, a soldier is not ashamed of his uniform.

Daily Bible thoughts 1235: Friday 23rd September, 2016: John 12:31-36: The wondrous cross.

 John 12:31-36: The wondrous cross.(please click for todays passage)

Come with me, and let us ”survey” something of ”the wondrous cross”. See:

  1. The necessity of the cross: There is a ”must” about it (34b; see also 3:14,15). There can be no work of saving the human race apart from the cross.
  2. The glory of the cross: (32, 33, 34; see also verses 28-30). In John’s gospel, the cross is repeatedly spoken of in terms of lifting up. Of course, someone crucified was physically lifted up on a stake (33). But there is more to it than that. What,to men, was the ultimate in shame, Jesus saw as the utmost in glory. ”May I never boast (glory) except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ…” (Galatians 6:14).
  3. The achievement of the cross: What Jesus achieved on the cross may be expressed in a number of ways. Here are two of those results (31): a.) the judgment upon all the world’s sin – and Jesus drank the cup of God’s anger against sin to its dregs, being substituted for us; b.) victory over Satan. The devil may not yet be driven out of the world, but Jesus won the decisive battle against him at the cross. The day Jesus died was ‘D day’. The final triumph is not in doubt.
  4. The magnetism of the cross: ”And I, as I am lifted up from the earth, will attract everyone to me and gather them around me” (32). Jesus wasn’t saying that everyone will be converted. We have to compare Scripture with Scripture, and not interpret one part of the Bible to the hurt of other parts. God’s Word does not say that all will be saved,but we can expect many to be drawn to the crucified Lord.
  5. The opportunity presented by the cross: It’s an opportunity that will only exist for ”just a little while longer” (35). If you do not respond to ”the light” God shows you while you still have the chance, you may find that a day comes when you want to search for Jesus, but you are unable to find Him (36b).

 As I have written these notes my own heart has been ‘strangely warmed’.                                I pray it is so for you.

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, once more I find myself asking that you will keep me near your cross.

Daily Bible thoughts 1234: Thursday 22nd September 2016: John 12:27-30: Man of sorrows.

John 12:27-30: Man of sorrows.(please click for todays passage)

Isaiah saw Jesus as ”despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and familiar with suffering” (Isaiah 53:3).

Have you ever felt so troubled that you didn’t know quite what to say? Jesus can sympathise; indeed, empathise (27). ”Right now I am storm-tossed. And what am I going to say?” The Message. Perhaps your heart is weighed down as you read this? Well, Jesus knows, and He cares. He is not sitting up in heaven watching impassively as you are buffeted by winds and waves of trouble.

”For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathise with our weaknesses…” (Hebrews 4:15).

In trouble, you can follow His pattern, and just raise your eyes towards heaven and say, ”Father…” (27).

But in Jesus’ own case, He knew He would not ask to escape from the net (27b). The shadow of the cross falls over the whole passage from (20-36). Jesus was well aware of His destiny. He knew why He had come into the world. As He began to feel the darkness closing in more and more He would not request an exit strategy.

There is such help here.

You find yourself in trouble, and it may be that God does want to save you from it. He often does – but not always.

It may also be the case that He has a great destiny for you in your trial. Whether in or out of trouble ( and ”In this world you will have trouble…” 16:33) it is always right to pray that God will glorify His Name in your life. When Jesus prayed this prayer (28a), it was clear that the Father had answered it (29), and it is for our ”benefit” that He did.

Pray it again! It’s a prayer the Father always delights to answer.

”Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name…” (Matthew 5:9).

Daily Bible thoughts 1233: Wednesday 21st September 2016: John 12:20-26: Who do you want to be like?

John 12:20-26: Who do you want to be like?(click here for todays passage)

”Entrance to the kingdom of God is free, but the annual subscription is all you’ve got.”

I want to be like Andrew (22): I remember some words written by a commentator on John’s gospel. He said Andrew is mentioned only three times in this gospel, but on each occasion he is bringing someone to Jesus (see 1:40,41; 6:8,9 and here!) In that sense I would like to be like Andrew. My desire is to see many people come to know Jesus through my life and ministry

But most of all, I want to be like Jesus (23-26). Who would not desire the honour God the Father puts on those who truly serve Jesus the Son (26b)? To live under Heaven’s smile is a prospect to be coveted.However, here’s the challenge I face. Do I really want to be like Jesus in His death? The only way to have the effectiveness of Andrew; the only way to produce ”many seeds” (24b) is to fall into the ground and die. You have to die to the life you want and embrace the life Jesus calls you to. This cannot be done without pain. But it leads to a rich harvest.

”When Jesus bids a man come follow Him, He bids him come and die.” Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

So what will such dying mean for you today? I realise that the call to die must be answered every single day and many times a day. In which area(s) of your life do you need to feel the nails and thorns in order to live the resurrection life with Jesus? There are no doubt certain things you don’t want to do, but you know God wants you to do them. It won’t be easy, but the Holy Spirit will help you to go to the cross, just as He did with Jesus (Hebrews 9:14).Where your will crosses God’s will, there you experience a crucifixion – and the other side of it there will be a glorious resurrection.

It’s been said that Christianity does not mean pinning the cross, like a badge, to your old way of life; but nailing your old life to the cross daily.

PRAYER: Lord, help me to do the things I know I need to do today, even though they may be painful. Enable me, please, to do the right things, trusting in you.

Daily Bible thoughts 1232: Tuesday 20th September 2016: John 12:17-19: Word of mouth.

 John 12:17-19: Word of mouth.(please click here for todays passage)

A song says ”It’s only words…”

But words are important. They are powerful. The Bible has so much to say about words.

It says, for example, that ”The tongue has the power of life and death…” (Proverbs 18:21a).

It says, for example, that ”…men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken.” (Matthew 12:36).

It says for example that ”Not many…should presume to be teachers…” Because those who teach will be ”judged more strictly” (James 3:1).

It says so much about words.

And words are important in our testimony about Christ. There has to be a vital combination of both life and lip. So here are two thoughts from today’s reading:

  1. Persevere in witness to Jesus (17): ”continued” – there was consistency in their speaking. They did not give up, even though hostility buzzed around their heads like mosquitoes. There were people who were not happy about what they were doing (19), but they would not be silenced.
  1. Persevere in verbal witness to Jesus (17, 18): ”continued to spread the word”… Listen to the impact: ”because they had heard…went out to meet him.” (See also John 4:30/39-42).

You never know what impact you may have. The Pharisees may have been exaggerating in their frustrated exclamation (19), but see behind it the ”Many people” (18) who were being impacted. These outstanding results came from persevering verbal witness to Jesus. As our church’s youth pastor reminded me in a recent conversation, the seed is the Word. ”Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how.”  (Mark 4:27). There is life in the seed; there is power in the seed. So let’s keep sowing.

Daily Bible thoughts 1231: Monday 19th September 2016: John 12:12-16: The palm and the donkey!

John 12:12-16: The palm and the donkey!(please click for todays passage)

As I read this passage it struck me forcibly that here are two keys to living the Christian life, in all circumstances:

  1. Wave the palm branch (12, 13): Choose to be a praising person. And realise that praising Jesus also involves ‘going public’ about your faith in Him. It says here that ”the great crowd” were ”shouting”.  Later on we read that they ”continued to spread the word that he had called Lazarus from the tomb” (17).They were not ashamed to identify themselves with the Lord – to speak to Him and to speak about Him in praise. Their allegiance was highly audible and visible. I know it is sometimes said that the people in this welcoming group on Palm Sunday later were part of the throng baying for Jesus’ blood. But I don’t think the Bible ever explicitly says so. That may be the case. Or it may be true of some of them. But we cannot say it with any certainty. Taking this passage at face value, I simply want to highlight the good things we see here, and say, ”May we also wave our palm branches.” Jesus is worthy of all our praise.
  2. Ride the donkey (14-16). Take the humble, lowly path. True, in the Bible, the donkey is a magisterial beast, but less obviously so than a white charger! Jesus took the basin and towel and washed the feet of His disciples. He deliberately took upon Himself the task that was entrusted to the ‘least’ person. He came among us as One who serves, and He calls us to follow Him along this meek roadway (John 13:12-17). It does not lessen our authority in Christ, but all the more clearly defines it.

So, in all circumstances, choose to wave the palm branch and ride the donkey.

Daily Bible thoughts 1230: Friday 16th September 2016: John 12:1-11: Perfume.

 John 12:1-11: Perfume.(please click here for todays passage)

Worship is costly. It is a sacrificial response to the sacrificial love of Jesus. Our sacrifices are small by comparison, but if ‘the cross’ does not lie at the heart of our offering it is not worship. As far as we are concerned, if we are worshipping Jesus it will be costly. Someone said, ”Ministry that costs nothing accomplishes nothing.”

Worship that pays the price will perfume the world. There is a fragrance, a lovely scent, an aroma of Jesus surrounding those who are deeply in love with Jesus.

Worship involves abandonment and self-forgetfulness. Therefore those who worship may draw criticism from merely religious people. When it comes to spiritual things, there are those who can ‘talk a good game’; they can use the terminology, the vocabulary, but their hearts are deeply polluted wells of corruption. They hate genuine worship.

To truly worship you have to have a generous spirit. This touches every area of life – not just money. But it will be shown in our attitude towards finance, so that we give freely, joyfully and with faith-filled hearts.

”One person gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty.” Proverbs 11:24.

PRAYER: Lord, let me carry your fragrance everywhere.

Daily Bible thoughts 1229: Thursday 15th September 2016: John 12:1-11: Get your Lazarus.

John 12:1-11: Get your Lazarus. (please click for todays passage)

Here are three simple points from this passage:

  1. Jesus raised Lazarus to life (1): I am struck by the words, ”where Lazarus lived, whom Jesus had raised from the dead.” If Jesus raises you – you live! There are no half measures where His work is concerned.
  2. Jesus raised Lazarus to intimate fellowship (2): He got to be ”seated with Christ” (Ephesians 2). He who had so recently been laid in the grave was once again able to enjoy food, and company and other blessings. In the East, the table was the place of intimate and leisurely communion. It’s a delightful picture. This actually happened to Lazarus, but it also portrays our experience. We honour the Lord Jesus who raised us by enjoying His company, feasting on Him, as it were, and ‘reclining’ on Him. Our life now is not one of self-reliance, but we lean on Him. We rest on Him and His finished work. A missionary was living with a remote tribe in order to translate the Bible into their language. He was, however, struggling to find the right word for ‘trust’. One day, a native came into his hut. He was weary from a long day’s work, and as he gratefully sank into the missionary’s chair, he expressed that it was good to be able to ”lean his whole weight” upon it. The missionary realised that he had found his word for trust.
  3. Jesus raised Lazarus to be living evidence of His power (9-11). The great Methodist preacher, Samuel Chadwick, asked the question, ”Do you want to know the secret of filling your chapels Sunday by Sunday?” He said, ”Get your Lazarus!” How obtuse people can be though. They wanted to put Lazarus back in the cemetery rather than accept what his life was saying about Jesus. It’s a wonderful thing to be given resurrection life by Christ, but it’s also dangerous! He calls us out of the grave into ‘risky living.’

Daily Bible thoughts 1228: Wednesday 14th September 2016: John 12:1-3: Living worship.

 John 12:1-3: Living worship.(please click for todays passage)

Although we ‘focus’ our worship in specific acts of worship, on a Sunday, and at other times; worship is actually a 24/7 calling. I read a book many years ago entitled ‘Worship the Lord’ by Jock Anderson. In it, the author said this: ”God wants worship that is living and living that is worship.” I think partly through the influence of that book, I came to see that everything we do should be offered to God in worship, and if we can’t worship by doing it, then we probably ought to avoid that particular thing.(David Pawson said that for the Christian, the whole of life is sacred, and the only thing that is secular is sin.) The worship of Jesus, who raised us to life, is a beautiful thing (3). There is a fragrance about worshipping people, and also in the very atmosphere they carry about them. But also, when we grasp that worship is about the lives we lead as well as the words we say and the songs we sing, we begin to experience that there is a cost to worship. When you worship with the whole of your life there is a price tag. It may even be true to say that the greater the cost, the sweeter the scent; the more powerful the aroma. Whatever, let us not be ashamed to show our love to Jesus. I once knew a girl who loved the Lord so much that her expression of worship, in church, was quite extravagant. But I am certain she was not being exhibitionist in any way. She just adored Jesus and was ‘lost’ in worship. She was oblivious to what anyone else thought.

As we see here, we may eat in Jesus’ honour (2). It reminds me of Paul’s words:

”So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31).

The Lord wants living that is worship:

”And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him” (Colossians 3:17).

If Jesus has made you alive (1) you will surely want to do just that.

PRAYER: I am so aware Lord Jesus that you have imparted abundant life to me. So I ask that the life I lead in this world will be a beautiful and fitting response to you. Let me carry the scent of Jesus wherever I go.

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