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Free Daily Bible notes by Rev Stephen Thompson


December 2013

Daily Bible thoughts 520: Tuesday 31st December 2013:

 2 Chronicles 29: 4/5

Often times, in order to solve a problem, you just need to ‘bring in’ the right people (4). Get the key people assembled in the right place; gather them in the same room around the same table, and let them prayerfully tackle the issue. If they come together in an attitude of earnestly seeking God for His answer, whilst applying their minds to the subject, who knows what might happen? God has put such talent in the church, and I guess we’re not drawing on even half of it.

Hezekiah’s first appeal to these leaders was: Consecrate yourselves now… (5). Giving yourself fully to the Lord of the church comes before working for Him in it. (As someone said, ‘God must first do a work in us before He does a work through us.) Also, such dedication should not be delayed. If it’s the right thing to do, why procrastinate?  Do it now.

Hezekiah says: Listen to me Levites! An individual’s full surrender to God has time and again come in the wake of listening to a God inspired messenger/message. In the year ahead, let’s commit to pray more fervently than ever for the preachers and preaching in our churches that it will lead to many lives being fully yielded to God.

Such personal consecration to God will be impossible without genuine repentance. This morning the bin men came and took away a pile of rubbish we had been accumulating. We didn’t want it in the house. We put it out and, thankfully, they took it! There is a spiritual equivalent to this. We need to identify the refuse and get it out and into the bin as soon as possible. …give this much- defiled place a good housecleaning. The Message. Housecleaning, of course, is never done. We are always accumulating dirt and dust and other things we don’t want. So a life of total commitment to God will be one of constant hoovering, dusting, polishing and chucking out. On the eve of a new year, will you commit yourself to such a life?  Hezekiah’s formula for revival was simple: sanctification, sacrifice, and song. He started with the priests and Levites, for if God’s servants are not clean, God cannot bless their work. Then the priests sanctified the temple, offered the sacrifices, and sang the song of the Lord. Warren W. Wiersbe: With the Word, p.249.

Those who have consecrated themselves to the Lord will exhibit this in a commitment to holiness. But it will also be seen in a diligent approach to ministry, whatever the particular ministry may be; public or private, visible or hidden, I will want to give it my best. My sons, do not be negligent now… (11). It is instructive to read this verse in The Message: Children, don’t drag your feet in this! GOD has chosen you to take your place before him to serve in conducting and leading worship –this is your life work; make sure you do it and do it well. There’s a story told about a young man training in a Bible College. One day he preached at sermon class, and the principal wasn’t very happy with his effort. He called the despondent student into his office for a ‘chat’. ‘But it’ll do sir, won’t it?’ protested the lad. ‘It’ll do.’ ‘The problem is,’ replied the principal, ‘What will it do?!!’

God deserves our very best. There is no better time to remember this than at the borders of a brand new year.

Prayer: Lord God, please strengthen me to give myself fully to you that I may be enabled to work effectively for you.

Daily Bible thoughts 519: Monday 30th December 2013

 2 Chronicles 29: 1-3

Hezekiah was a young man and a good example (1). The two things need not be mutually exclusive! He was an example to people older and younger than him, as well as to those who were his contemporaries. Let us pray hard and work expectantly for the cultivation of such young lives in Christ’s church.

The second verse shows his zeal to do right. He didn’t just do what was right in the eyes of the LORD, but he did this just as his father David had done. He did what he did with fervent, large-hearted devotion. He wasn’t just coldly correct but warmly obedient. The ‘pan’ of his goodness had great ‘heat’ beneath it, and it boiled over. (By the way, the key thing in life is to do right in God’s eyes. There are things Christians believe, attitudes and standards we hold and ways we live, that may seem ‘wrong’ in the eyes of many people. But we are living for ‘an audience of one’; for God Himself. It is His approval we seek. In GOD’s opinion he was a good king… The Message. In the final analysis, His is the only opinion that truly matters.)

Hezekiah, as a young man, sought first God’s Kingdom and righteousness. He wasted no time in getting down to business (3) In The Message it reads like this: In the first month of the first year of his reign, Hezekiah, having repaired the doors of the Temple of GOD, threw them open to the public. The ‘church’ of his day had been closed down, but Hezekiah went to work with a will and got it repaired in no time at all. The so-called ‘Seeker-sensitive’ churches are, I believe, much misunderstood and misrepresented. As I see it, they have a large concern for the ‘doors’ of the church. They don’t want to shut people out unnecessarily. They understand that there is an ‘offence’ in the gospel itself, and they in no way want to compromise this. But what they are saying is, ‘Let’s remove all the unnecessary barriers to people hearing the gospel in the first place.’ There are ways in which we have traditionally ‘done’ church (and continue to do it) that might cause needless offence, or just get in the way. For the sake of ‘lost’ people, surely we need to dismantle these things? Let’s ensure that the doors of ‘the temple’ are wide open so that those who want to get close to God are able to do so. (As we will see, the state of affairs in Judah at this time was such that people couldn’t approach God in His temple.)

Paul teaches in his first letter to the Corinthian church that you and I are temples of God (Christian people that is). Your body is His sanctuary; so is mine. Here’s a challenge then: as temples of God, where do we need to be more ‘open’ to people so that they can come close to the God who is everywhere, but who also dwells in our hearts? Are we living relatively closed, self-contained lives? This should not be. Like with our Lord Jesus, we should be open to friendship with people who are far from God. I like to say, ‘If you build a bridge of friendship with someone who doesn’t yet know Christ, you are building something that Jesus can walk across from your life to theirs.’

So, where do I need to be more ‘open to the public’, and also, what needs repairing in this temple that is my life; a life given over to God to fill with His glorious presence?

Finally, I am reminded that Jesus is the door. It is only through Him that we may enter into God’s presence and find our true life and home. Jesus Himself is that door standing open in heaven (Revelation 4:1).

Prayer: Lord God, help me to live a life of complete openness to you and to others.

A very Happy Ch…

A very Happy Christmas to all my friends.

‘ Someone said …

‘ Someone said that in His mercy God does not give us what we deserve (judgment) and in His grace He gives us what we do not deserve (Forgiveness and all that goes with this blessing.) His forgiveness is total.’

Someome said, ‘…

Someome said, ”God buries our sins in the deepest sea and puts up a big sign, ‘NO FISHING!’ ”

Daily Bible thoughts 518: Friday 27th December 2013

Psalm 103: 6-12

This next section of David’s beautiful psalm brings us to the heart of the gospel, long before Jesus came into the world. But it expresses why Jesus did indeed travel to earth (8-12): He came to embody, to fully express, the compassion, the grace, the mercy, the abounding love of God, and to reveal its height (Eph.3:18). This is the One who genuinely wants to forgive and not judge us. This is His heart towards lost mankind. He so loved us that He sent His one and only Son to die for us. His great busting heart longs to restore us to Himself.

Verse 10 shows His mercy. Someone said that in His mercy God does not give us what we deserve (judgment) and in His grace He gives us what we do not deserve (Forgiveness and all that goes with this blessing.) His forgiveness is total (12). The verse refers to an immeasurable distance: as far as the east is from the west. We must never treat born again people like their sin is still on them when it has been removed from them. As far as the sunrise is from sunset, he has separated us from our sins. The Message

Someone said: ‘‘God buries our sins in the deepest sea and puts up a big sign, ‘No fishing!’’

It’s been said that this psalm ‘pivots’ on verse 11. The word great is translated flooded in Gen.7:24. Here is an overwhelming love. But the God of love is also righteous. He will never adjust His holiness or dilute His standards. His righteousness is stamped on everything He does. The cross of Jesus is the supreme example of this, revealing God’s great flooding love for people, but also His righteous and just hatred of sin. There sin was punished so that sinners can go free.

The seventh verse tells us that God made known his ways to Moses. Moses was a man of God. He walked with God. He stood in the counsel of God. He communed with God. He took the time to do this. There was a wonderfully inspiring television programme shown on Christmas day, about Sister Wendy, the nun who has shared such wonderful insights into works of art on Biblical themes. It was very evident from the programme that silence is vital to her walk with God. She said we have a big problem today in that our world is full of entertainment and we are constantly distracted by it. We need times of silence to honestly face who we are and in order to encounter God. Many years ago I worked on a youth camp in the Lake District each summer. One year, many of the children were carrying ‘ghetto-blasters’ on their shoulders wherever they went. Do you remember that era? The camp staff used to meet every morning for prayer, and I remember strong concerns being expressed about this trend. Someone said, ‘It’s like the devil is filling their lives with noise so they have no time and space to really think.’ Let’s be careful that we are not similarly diverted. In the hymn: ‘O Jesus I have promised’ you find the words: ‘I see the sights that dazzle, the tempting sounds I hear.’ ‘The world is ever near me, around me and within.’ We have to take great care with our time. Let’s draw near to God and He will draw near to us. If we would know his ways this is essential.

He showed Moses how he went about his work. The Message. I know I need similar tuition and I must be willing to pray the price for it.

Prayer: Lord, I am hungry for you. Please help me to translate my desire for you into earnest seeking of you and making time to just be ‘with’ you.

Christmas thoughts 517. December 25th and 26th

Daily Bible thoughts 517: 25th/26th December 2013: Matthew 2

The Lord of history stepped into a particular point in history. He was born in a messy place during an especially messy period in the history of mankind. Herod was a mean and nasty individual, and the birth of the new baby, who the King perceived as a rival (3-6), sparked off an explosion of violence (13-18). We are tipped off, then, that although the ‘Prince of peace’ has come, this will not mean universal peace and the end of all suffering yet! The Messiah, Jesus, brings peace to all who trust Him and submit to His rule. One day He will bring His shalom to the entire created order. But until that day His Kingdom will grow and spread amidst the terrible messes of this fallen world. We will see the most horrible and heart-wrenching tragedies (as in 13-18). But this chapter shouts that God is in control. He is the Director and Producer of the ‘Play’. He is also its Script-writer. No matter what happens on the ‘stage’ of the human drama in its successive acts, this story has a good ending. None of that venomous hatred of Christ by the devil, and expressed through willing human puppets, is going to have the final say. A simple man summed up the book of Revelation in these few words: ‘In the end, Jesus wins!’

When Jesus was born He came to a small and obscure town, and, in a new way, put it on the map. This was foretold by God hundreds of years earlier (6). When God turns the spotlight on a place He makes a good job of it. So, only this morning, on the BBC news, I saw television cameras trained on ‘Manger Square’ in the ‘little town of Bethlehem.’ God so often surprises us by what He does and where He does it. Preaching on ‘revival’ in Westminster Chapel in the 1950’s, Martyn Lloyd Jones highlighted the fact that God regularly does great works in unexpected places, and he commented that the next revival will probably break out in some remote hamlet. There is no place too small, unknown or out of the way for God to do a mighty work there.

It is interesting that it wasn’t Jews in this instance who came to see the one who has been born king of the Jews (2. See also 6b). Not only does the Lord do great works in surprising places, but He also draws unlikely people to Himself. (Unlikely in our eyes, that is.) If we perform our part in God’s ‘play’ (to be ‘stars’ : see Phil.2:14-16) then contemporary wise men (and women) will be drawn to Jesus. Some people will come a ‘long way’. They will travel a great distance along the scale from being far from God to drawing near and crossing the line of faith. It will happen as we shine like stars in the universe. They will see the light in our lives, but be drawn to worship Jesus (2, 9 -11; see also Mt.5:16). That’s how it should be. When they see us may they experience joy; when they go on to see Jesus, let them worship (10, 11) But let’s give them something to see. As stars we have to ‘appear’ (7) in the night sky. (Verse 2 can read: we saw his star when it rose). As I have prayerfully meditated on this wonderful chapter this Christmas time, I have been encouraged to believe that in this relatively obscure place where we live and serve, there are going to be genuine seekers who are going to come to Christ. We have already seen this happen, but there’s more to come. It may not necessarily be big numbers of people. (It can be, of course, but it might not be.) But those who are drawn will be genuine worshippers and highly significant in the story God is writing.

Remember, there’s a bigger picture. God is in control. He is directing movements. He will lead and protect. Ultimately, He’s the One who makes us bright and shiny, and He fills us with hope for the future.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, Son of God, Light of the world, shine in and through me.

Daily Bible thoughts (515) & Prayer: Monday 23rd December 2013

2 Corinthians 1:8-11

There are a number of things to note here:

  1. Don’t expect to have an easy life when you become a Christian (8). In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted…2 Timothy 3:12. As Juan Carlos Ortiz commented, ‘Jesus sets you free from your problems so you can have His, and His are a lot worse than yours!’ Hard as it is to face, we do need intelligence on what Christian brothers and sisters are going through in other places, so that we can pray for them, and be reminded of the true nature of Christianity: it is dangerous. The hatred with which Satan hated Jesus at His birth and tried to have Him destroyed (Matt.2:13-18) is now vented on Christ’s church. It is a real and violent thing.
  2. Whatever I am going through, it surely can’t be as bad as Paul’s sufferings (8b, 9a). Paul felt he was treading the borderlands of death and that he would soon cross over into it. We felt like we’d been sent to death row, that it was all over for us. The Message. We have all known ‘ups’ and ‘downs’ in the Christian life; experienced ‘mountains’ and ‘valleys’. But I know I have never been in depths as deep and dark and low as Paul’s.  So, if God could pull him out of his troubles He can bring me through mine. Take heart from Paul’s experience.
  3. Man’s extremity is God’s opportunity (9b). I once heard a preacher say that you can get so low that the only direction you can look is up; and when you do, you see God! The hard times make you strong, if you allow them to. Or rather, God strengthens us through our hard times. The hardships we face in living the Christian life break our self-reliance and cause us to cling to God. This can only be good, even if it is painful at times. As it turned out, it was the best thing that could have happened. Instead of trusting in our own strength or wits to get out of it, we were forced to trust God totally-not a bad idea since he’s the God who raises the dead! The Message. When you’re shut up to trusting God alone who is there better to trust in?
  4. 4. Paul’s focus was on God alone (10). God had got his full attention. Paul was looking to God for deliverance, not  to prayer. But he knew how important the prayers of his fellow-Christians were (11) and that it would be by means of prayer that the rescue would come. It would be the church making the ‘999’ call. Paul had absolute confidence in the power of prayer and regularly sought the intercessions of his Christian brothers. (See also Philemon 22 and Hebs.13:19 for a similar air of confidence about prayer).He knew that something definite would happen if they prayed. He looked forward with confidence to the praise that would flow when the prayers were answered. You and your prayers are part of the rescue operation – I don’t want you in the dark about that either. I can see your faces now, lifted in praise for God’s deliverance of us, a rescue in which your prayers played such a crucial part. The Message.

So here’s a little challenge for today: who are you helping by your prayers? Do you in fact believe that a real individual in your world can be rescued by means of your prayers?

Prayers: Thank you Lord for all who have prayed for me, and for those who still do. Don’t let me sin against anyone by failing to pray for them.

Daily Bible Thoughts & Prayer 20th December 2013 (514)

 2 Corinthians 1:1-7

‘Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a battle.’ John Watson

I visited a good friend yesterday. I’ve seen a lot of him this year, because back in the spring he had a heart attack. I was shocked when I heard the news, as, I think, were all who know him. He is in his early 70’s, but is one of the fittest people I know. He has run regularly for many years. He goes to the gym a few times each week. Actually, it was while he was running on the treadmill that he had his attack. We are thankful that an off duty policeman was also there that morning, and he massaged Gordon’s heart while the ambulance was on route to him. After about a week in a medically induced coma, Gordon returned to us all. He has made such good progress he is now back in the gym (with his doctor’s permission! He isn’t running anymore, but he is walking fast!!) He and I share at quite a deep level. He has walked with me through some dark days, and I have very much wanted to be there for him this year. Yesterday, as we chatted, we reflected on how going through deep waters gives you a credibility and extra ability to help others who are similarly going through the mill.

Paul says in this wonderful passage that when we suffer God comforts us, and what He gives to us is for the benefit of others. He comes alongside us when we go through hard times, and before you know it, he brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us. The Message.

Of course, Paul particularly had in mind the sufferings (persecutions) that come from following Jesus. We have plenty of hard times that come from following the Messiah, but no more so than the good times of his healing comfort – we get a full measure of that, too. The Message. (As we pray for the suffering church, it is good for us to know that there is a special comfort from heaven for them in their trials.) But although this primarily has reference to suffering for the faith, I believe the principle holds good across the board. On the way home from my mother’s funeral, a family friend said to me, ‘You’ll be a better pastor now.’ It seemed a hard thing to say on that day, but I believe it was correct. I look back on the ‘premature’ death of my mum, at the age of 51, as a defining moment in my life. I believe it gave me a deeper empathy than I might otherwise have known. I don’t see mum’s early death from cancer as a good thing, but I see how God has used it for good, and is still doing so.

 ‘God does not comfort us to make us comfortable, but to make us comforters.’ John Henry Jowett

Our God is a wonderful ‘Cook’. He takes all the ingredients of our lives (and let’s face it, there are some things in the pot that cause us to instinctively turn up our noses) and He mixes them together according to His divine ‘recipe’, and something so tasty emerges.

Prayer: Lord God, I pray that the difficult things I face in life will not make me bitter but better. May they equip me to serve you and others so much better than I would have done without them.

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