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Free Daily Bible notes by Rev Stephen Thompson

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December 2013

Daily Bible thoughts 513: Thursday 19th December 2013

2 Chronicles 28:9-27

‘Imagine the monstrous evil of a religion that offers young children as sacrifices. God allowed the nation to be conquered in response to Ahaz’s evil practices. Even today the practice hasn’t abated. The sacrifice of children to the harsh gods of convenience, economy, and whim continues in sterile medical institutions in numbers that would astound the wicked Ahaz. If we are to allow children to come to Christ (Matthew 19:14), we must first allow them to come into the world.’ Life Application Study Bible.

Well that relates to yesterday’s passage, but I thought it was a highly pertinent comment.

Moving on in the story, we see how a prophet named Oded saved the day (9-15): The Israelites were used by God to execute punishment on the people of Judah. But they over-stepped the mark. They went above and beyond the call of duty, you might say: Stop right where you are and listen! GOD, the God of your ancestors, was angry with Judah and used you to punish them; but you took things into your own hands and used your anger, uncalled for and irrational, to turn your brothers and sisters from Judah and Jerusalem into slaves. Don’t you see that this is a terrible sin against your GOD? The Message. In wrath, God remembers mercy.

Thankfully, there were leaders present who humbled themselves under God’s Word and responded appropriately to it (12, 13). This is something we must always do if we are to prosper and flourish in life in the truest sense. Whatever Jesus says to you do it. Respond quickly once you are certain you are hearing His voice, and He will be with you in the doing. He will call you out of your ‘boat’ to walk on water. You cannot do that, but fixing your eyes on Christ you will.

This is, generally speaking, an ugly chapter and it doesn’t have a pretty ending (16-25). ‘Instead of repenting and turning to the God of his father and grandfather, Ahaz adopted the gods of the victorious enemy. It seemed logical to him because the enemy was winning! Instead of going by the Word of God, he took the pragmatic approach (Prov.3:5-6). Have you ever done that? It is dangerous! Warren W. Wiersbe: ‘With the Word’, p.248. Whenever we turn to other ‘gods’, whatever shape or form they may come in; when we trust in people and things other than the Lord, we get trouble instead of help (20). May we learn this lesson well so that we will not have to suffer as Ahaz and Judah did.

Simple trust in God will get you through. It is foolish and futile to look elsewhere. Broken cisterns always fail.

Prayer: Lord I want to be someone who trembles at your Word and responds swiftly when you speak. I desire a heart that is soft and sensitive towards you.

Daily Bible thoughts 510 2 Chronicles 26: 16-23

Sadly, we come to the sting in the tail. This has been a great story so far, but it nosedives in the final chapter. In the end it’s a tale of:

Pride (16): God’s law of gravity says that whatever (whoever) goes down must come up (Lk.14:10; Phil.2:1-11; Jas.4:10; 1 Peter 5:5). On the other hand, if you lift yourself up you will be put down. Someone said, ‘If the Lord’s going to raise you up, let him raise you up. But whatever you do don’t raise yourself up.’ That is sound counsel. Pride still goes before a fall (Prov.16:18).

Presumption (16b): One day, contemptuous of GOD, he walked into The Temple of GOD like he owned it and took over, burning incense on the Incense Altar. The Message.He went beyond his calling. He had a high and holy vocation as king, but this did not include the priesthood. He trespassed into territory that was not marked out for him and he should have known better. It wasn’t that he didn’t know God’s Word. The implication is, I believe, that he must have done. But he still wantonly crossed the boundary line. Beware of passing greedy eyes over someone else’s ministry. You’ve been given a ‘lane’ to run in, so stick to it. There is no anointing that will be given you for someone else’s task. Don’t meddle with matters that are none of your business.

Protest (17, 18): It was a big deal to rebuke a king. He held the power of life and death in his hands. But there comes a time to courageously confront things that are wrong. 81 men raised their voices and pointed out that the king was straying into someone else’s lane. They did so in the clearest terms. There are moments in life when you can’t sugar-coat the pill for anyone; you just have to say it how it is

Punishment (19-23): Uzziah’s punishment was real and severe and undiminished to the end of his life. It brought about great loss. He had to live in quarantine. He could not enter the temple. Management of the country and governance of the land passed to his son Jotham Also, he could not be buried in the royal cemetery, but in a field next to it. It makes all the more tragic reading when you consider that for many years he walked with God and was a great king. But no-one can defy God’s Word and get away with doing so. No-one. There are no loop-holes and no exemptions for anyone.

Daily Prayer De…

Daily Prayer December 13th 2013:
Lord, I yearn for true Kingdom success. I ask that I will not hold on to any misplaced praise that comes my way, but lay it at your feet in worshipful tribute.

Daily Bible Thoughts December 13th 2013 (509)

2 Chronicles 26:6-15

I read a Youth Bible that suggested what fun it must be to be 16, and king, and have everyone obey your decrees. What might be the first law you would pass? Maybe one banning homework!!

Leaving that trivial thought behind, we do see that Uzziah was a highly successful man. He was good at battling and building. He grew rich and powerful and famous (6-8). He had various interests and abilities. The last part of (10) reads like this in The Message: – he loved growing things. (I make the observation that unfortunately the growth of his inner world did not keep pace with his burgeoning outward success, and it was to be his undoing.) The passage shows also that he was a resourceful military leader (11-15): He also installed the latest in military technology on the towers and corners of Jerusalem for shooting arrows and hurling stones (15a). The Message.

However, it is also transparently clear that Uzziah’s success was God-given (5b, 7 and 15b). He became great with the great help of God.

Now success can go to your head. You can start to read and believe your ‘reviews’. Major league success can be a dangerous thing. You can easily forget who it was who gave you the success and (perhaps subtly at first) lose your sense of dependence. The danger, however, is that we should become strong in our own conceit, and credit ourselves with the position which is due to the grace of God alone…God cannot trust some of us with prosperity and success, because our nature could not stand them. F.B.Meyer: Great verses through the Bible, p.159. A man was writing about a friend, a colleague in ministry, and he said he had always wondered why this guy, with his great gifts, hadn’t become prominent. He had conducted a fairly ordinary looking ministry and had not appeared to achieve anything spectacular. One day he happened to mention this to his friend. The man replied with a disarming, humble honesty, saying that he believed God had denied him such success because He knew he wouldn’t be able to handle it. Warren Wiersbe writes: ‘The starting point in Uzziah’s success was his seeking God and wanting to do his will (v.5)…The turning point was his pride (v.16)’: With the Word, p.247. Everything seemed to go his way. But then the strength and success went to his head. Arrogant and proud, he fell. The Message.

Here, then, are the ‘take homes’ from today’s passage:

  1. Be a man/woman of prayer;
  2.  Get your success from God;
  3. Give God all the glory for every good thing that happens in your ministry;
  4. Stay, humble and obedient;
  5. It is possible to be in great blessing today, and in disgrace tomorrow. (No wonder Paul said he beat his body and made it his slave, so that after preaching to others he would not himself be a castaway: 1 Cor.9:27).

A wonderful song says something like this: While walking in this world, we are nothing in ourselves; but God’s chosen to use us in His mighty will. And the Master’s plan requires human instruments, but they must not ever glorify themselves…All the glory must be to the Lord…      

Daily Prayer 12…

Daily Prayer 12th December 2013
Lord God, in these last days please pour out your Spirit. May our sons and daughters prophesy and our young men see visions (Acts 2:17).

Daily Bible Thoughts 12th December 2013 (508)

2 Chronicles 26:1 – 5

No one should despise youth.

Young people can be involved in leadership (1). It is part of the task of leaders to identify younger people who have potential and mentor them. It seems Zechariah (5) was a key figure in Uzziah’s life I think, as I write, of a highly effective youth leader who identified his successor and had him in his home every week for a year to try to encourage and develop him. That young man effectively picked up the mantle of his ‘Elijah’ and led the large youth work (as big as some smaller churches) with distinction. He is now a respected pastor.

Not only can younger people be involved in leadership. It is also true to say that they can achieve great things (2). Let’s endeavour not to stymie anyone’s progress by our lack of confidence in them (and most of all, a deficient confidence in God and His ability to do great things through them.)

Young people can walk with God (3).Many people who become Christians do so in their childhood or teenage years. Lots of great revivals, I understand, have taken place among the younger generation. When I was a teenager, living in Wigan, I became friends with a remarkable young man, David, who was a similar age to me. He went to a local parish church; one not renowned for its evangelicalism. But he knew and loved the Lord. He was truly filled with the Holy Spirit. I think about him from time to time. We lost touch years ago and I often wonder what happened to him. Last July I spent 24 hours in Ambleside, in the Lake District, with my wife Jilly, and I recounted to her a story of a trip to that same town made with David years earlier. We decided to have a day out and took the train to Windermere, and then a boat from Bowness to Ambleside, and back. But we spent our away day predominantly talking about the Lord, and that really was because of David. He just loved to talk about Jesus. I would say he was filled to overflowing with the Holy Spirit. In 1 Thessalonians 1:5 Paul writes about full conviction, and someone said it implies a cup that is so full to the brim it just overflows. That was young David!

Young people can seek God (5). Like most people, I have struggled with prayer at times. But especially in my late teens, kneeling by my bed at home in Wigan, or out walking the leafy lanes of Surrey, close to my college, I began to have foretastes of intoxicating heavenly joy and to sense something of the sweetness of walking with God. There is no doubt that true success comes from seeking the Lord, and the earlier we learn this the better it will be.

Sadly, as we have seen so often, people can start well and finish badly. Brace yourself. We’re in for another big disappointment with this man. But we can learn so much from him.

Daily Prayer 11th December 2013

Thank you that you are the only wise God, and you know better than we do what will be for our ultimate good.

Daily Bible Thoughts 11th December 507

Psalm 102: 18 – 28

Let’s live with an eye towards the next generation. African pastor, Oscar Muria, made a big impact at this year’s ‘Global Leadership Summit’ in Chicago, with his insistence that ‘you never do ministry alone.’ He has a track record of training huge numbers of younger people to be pastors and leaders, three of whom were with him at the event. He talked about the importance of investing your life in people who are at least twenty years younger than you. He said the real measure of your leadership will be revealed after you’ve gone; you have to instil your vision in those who will be there after you’ve left the stage.

Well that was all inspiring and thought-provoking stuff, but this psalm looks beyond the next generation still alive to a future generation…a people not yet created…(18). In particular, the writer has two big things on his heart: praise and prayer.

·         He wants the generation to come be a praising people (18b, 21, and 22). Verses 21 and 22 read like this in The Message: Write it so the story can be told in Zion, so GOD’s praise will be sung in Jerusalem’s streets And wherever people gather together along with their rulers to worship him.

·         He wants this coming generation to be a praising people who know for sure that God  answers prayer (19, 20). They may face difficult days, as he himself did (23, 24) and as did his city, Jerusalem. But as we have already seen, at the heart of this psalm there lies the conviction that God hears and answers prayer. Even in the face of terribly bleak circumstances he can and does affirm this: He will respond to the prayer of the destitute; he will not despise their plea (17; see verses 1 & 2). He wants his words, his example to inspire a coming generation, so that they will live in God’s presence (28). He wants them to know that ‘coincidences happen when Christians pray.’

We live in a world of turbulence, turmoil and change. We, and all around us, are transient. But God is eternal (25-27). You have more years than you know what to do with! You laid earth’s foundations a long time ago, and handcrafted the very heavens; You’ll still be around when they’re long gone, threadbare and discarded like an old suit of clothes. You’ll throw them away like a worn-out coat, but year after year you’re as good as new. The Message. He stands at the centre of this Psalm. We may be surrounded by trouble and change on all sides, but He will be our solid Rock if we let Him.

Although this psalmist could not know it at the time, the words he addressed to God in prayer were the very words the Lord spoke to His Son Jesus (Hebs.1:10-12) as they together planned a future far superior than anything this writer could dream of. Through the coming of Christ into the world, His death on the cross, His rising again and ascension into heaven, a whole new life has been made possible. Through faith in Jesus all our wrongs can be forgiven; our broken relationship with God restored. Jesus doesn’t simply give a new start in life, but a whole new life to start with! The psalmist yearned to see the restoration of his city. God did far more than he asked or thought. Aren’t you glad that sometimes the Lord refuses your request but answers your prayer? He gives you an answer better than anything you could think to ask for.

Daily Prayer 10th December 2013

 Lord, grant me the ability to love as you do; to love as Paul and the great leaders of church history did. Please enable me to love in a way that faces into hard issues and does not avoid them

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