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Free Daily Bible notes by Rev Stephen Thompson


January 2014

Daily Bible thoughts 543: Friday 31st January 2014:

 2 Chronicles 33: 1 – 9

There is no cast iron guarantee that your children will share your faith and live as you want them to. You can be an example to them, pray for them, point them in the right direction, and give them an environment in which to flourish spiritually. But if that doesn’t happen, it does not necessarily reflect badly on you, even though the devil will accuse and slander you and tell you that it most definitely does! Godly people can have ungodly children. No doubt Hezekiah’s heart would have been broken if he had seen what this tender plant of boyhood flowered into: an ugly weed of a God-dishonouring life.

He reintroduced all the moral rot and spiritual corruption that had been scoured from the country when GOD dispossessed the pagan nations in favour of the children of Israel (2). The Message. The fact that God had driven out the nations who followed these practices before the Israelites should have been a big clue to Manasseh that he ought not to go down that route. But he did. We can be blind to glaringly obvious lessons. It seems to me that Manasseh was wilfully blind and deliberately deaf. He put in the ear plugs. He did not want to know. He did not learn from the past or listen to the prophets, so he had to live with the punishment God sent him. Some people only learn the hard way. Warren W. Wiersbe: With the Word, p.251.

You can only be faithful in your generation. After you there may come someone who undoes all your good work (3-5). You can’t do anything about that. Just make sure you keep to your lane and run a good race yourself.

He rebuilt the sex-and-religion shrines that his father Hezekiah had torn down, he built altars and phallic images for the sex god Baal and the sex goddess Asherah and worshiped the cosmic powers, taking orders from the constellations. He built shrines to the cosmic powers and placed them in both courtyards of the Temple of GOD, the very Jerusalem Temple dedicated exclusively by GOD’s decree to GOD’s Name (‘’in Jerusalem I place my Name’’). He burned his own sons in a sacrificial rite in the valley of Ben Hinnom. He practiced witchcraft and fortune-telling. He held séances and consulted spirits from the underworld. Much evil – in GOD’s view a career in evil. And GOD was angry. The Message.

Things went from bad to worse under his leadership (7-9). It was an appalling situation.

Manasseh was vile. They don’t come any worse than this man do they? There surely could be no hope for such as him. Well, if you think that, it’s understandable, but you would be mistaken. We are about to witness a miracle. So stay tuned.

Prayer: Thank you Lord that at the darkest hour the daylight can come flooding through.

Daily Bible thoughts 542: Thursday 30th January 2014:

 2 Chronicles 32: 27-33

It is repeated here that Hezekiah had very great riches (27, 29). Some people do. There are those who are entrusted with more than others. What we must always remember is that our wealth is a sacred trust. It is not ours but God’s, and we must use it as He directs (and not turn a deaf ear when He says to give and share.) Hezekiah ended up very wealthy and much honoured…God saw to it that he was extravagantly rich. The Message

Hezekiah had very great honour (27, 23). In the wake of the deliverance from Sennacherib he was highly regarded by all the nations (23).But remember A man can receive only what is given him from heaven (John 3:27), and some are handed more resources than others; some are granted more power and influence and eminence than others.

Hezekiah had very great success. In verse thirty we are given just one example of this in his work on a great water supply project.

So Hezekiah had a lot going for him. However, if you are given much, much will be required of you. Sad as it is to say:

Hezekiah also had a great fall (31). No matter how great you have been or how outstanding your record may be, pride will take you down. I remember a friend of mine, a fine church elder I worked with at one time, saying, ‘’I don’t want to be a proud man, because God says He ‘opposes the proud’, and the Lord makes a formidable opponent. I don’t want to have Him opposing me!’’ (See James 4:6) I remember the utter sincerity with which he said this. He was clearly aware of the insidious temptation to be proud, but didn’t want pride to rule his heart and have the final say in his life. But when the rulers of Babylon sent emissaries to find out about the sign from God that had taken place earlier, God left him on his own to see what he would do; he wanted to test his heart. The Message. A church leader was writing about a much esteemed colleague. He said that he was a man with great gifts, and he wondered why his friend had remained in a fairly small sphere of service and not received greater recognition. When he mentioned this to him one day his reply was to the effect that he didn’t think that he would be able to handle such success. This response showed great self- awareness and humility of heart. It is no doubt true of some of us that we could not handle elevation in the eyes of men. God’s law of gravity says that ‘what goes down must come up’ (1 Pet.5:5, 6). But what goes up can come crashing back to earth with a bang and cause serious injuries. He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God (Micah 6:8).

However, the last word on Hezekiah is a good word. We can thank God for His grace and mercy. One blot on the page doesn’t have to totally ruin a life’s work and won’t necessarily disqualify from a good overall mark. I believe the Lord was pleased with his ‘paper’ and the Biblical record shows this. We marvel at such grace, that no fall need be fatal or final.

Everyone in Judah and Jerusalem came to the funeral. He was buried in great honor. The Message. May the autobiographies we are writing with our minutes, hours and days reach a good conclusion. Make it your aim, by God’s grace, to finish strong and finish well.

Prayer: Lord God make my life an inspiration to others.


Daily Bible thoughts 541: Wednesday 29th January 2014:

 2 Chronicles 32:24 – 26

Either side of the story of Hezekiah’s miraculous deliverance, we are shown that bad things can happen to good people (32:1, 24). Just because you belong to God it doesn’t mean that you won’t run into illness and trouble. At the peak of his God-given success and fame (In those days: verse 24) the king got deathly sick. But that was not the whole story, because he also got healed. Derek Prince said that he once did an exercise. He took a blue pencil, and went through the entire Bible, underlining every reference to divine healing. ‘What do you think I ended up with?’ he asked. ‘A blue Bible!’ was the answer. The Lord still answers prayer for healing; in these days He goes on giving miraculous signs. Don’t lose sight of the fact that Hezekiah was at the point of death. We do often throw in the towel when we see a person drawing near the gates of death. We tend to feel it’s all over before it is. It’s a good job Hezekiah didn’t let the evidence of his body choke off his prayer. Pray to the LORD. He is ‘Lord’ of life and ‘Lord’ over death; ‘Lord’ over every sickness and disease.

We have seen that Hezekiah was a great and godly king, but he was also an imperfect man. He was flawed. But the sign, instead of making Hezekiah grateful, made him arrogant. The Message. If God should entrust us with miracles (or further miracles) will we be thankful or become proud? How we respond to trial is an index of character. But we also expose something of our true selves in our reaction to God-given blessings and His supernatural interventions. Some people allow these things to go to their heads. This story also reminds us not to put any leader on a pedestal. We get some surprises; there are nasty shocks in the Christian walk. When certain people fall we can be devastated because we regarded them as such heroes. So while it is right to respect our leaders, let’s not pin our hopes on anyone but God Himself. He is the only One who will never let us down. Only He is totally trustworthy.

Pride has repercussions (25). All sin does. It leads to unwanted consequences. And, sadly, when leaders fall they usually take other people down with them. They are tied together by an invisible rope. Leaders affect their Judah and Jerusalem; their sphere of influence. But God is gracious and merciful (26). If we will repent of our wrongdoing, whatever form it takes, we will find real forgiveness. Let that thought encourage you today and drive you to your knees if necessary.

There are two references to Hezekiah’s heart in (25, 26). ‘The heart of the human problem is the problem of the human heart.’ Physically Hezekiah got better; spiritually he developed (or started to manifest symptoms of) heart trouble. So, Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life (Proverbs 4:23). Your life and ministry flow from your heart. Keep that ‘well’ unpolluted and uncluttered.

Hezekiah weathered the invasion and the illness, but he capitulated to pride. It began when he failed to thank God for sparing his life, and apparently even God’s chastening did not cure him. The extent of his wealth and the praises of the visiting dignitaries made Hezekiah proud, and God had to deal with him…You may be in greater danger when things are going well than when you are fighting a battle, so keep alert. Warren W. Wiersbe: With the Word, p.251

We will think more about those visiting dignitaries tomorrow.

Prayer: Thank you Lord that you still heal today. Thank you for my ‘blue Bible’. This day I ask healing for… (fill in the blank with names of those you want to pray for.)

Daily Bible thoughts 540: Tuesday 28th January 2014:

 2 Chronicles 32: 20 – 23

What do you do when you are ‘in it up to your neck’? Where do you turn when you are up against overwhelming odds? As we have seen, Hezekiah did what he could. It would appear that he did everything he could. But in all of that, and above all, he put his trust in God. Confidence in God did not preclude prudent action, but wise decisions alone were not enough.

So Hezekiah formed a prayer alliance with the prophet Isaiah (20). What a prayer partnership this was! Jesus taught that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them (Matthew 18:19, 20). It is a powerful thing to pray in agreement with a fellow Christian. When you have a mountain to move, why not ask someone you trust to pray the situation through with you.  For three separate years I had a prayer partner. I asked three different people to join me in prayer and Bible Study for a twelve month period each. During that time I was facing a major crisis in my family, and I drew great strength and encouragement from these prayers. Over a period of time there was progressive healing, and I believe God heard and answered marvellously. (Of course, the prayers of a Christian husband and wife can be so effective, and this supplies a big reason why the devil wants to stop marriage partners praying together.) When two of you get together on anything at all on earth and make a prayer of it, My Father in heaven goes into action. And when two or three of you are together because of me, you can be sure that I’ll be there. The Message.

The Biblical record is clear in saying that God:

  • Saved the day (22a);
  • Took good care of His people (22b);
  • Elevated Hezekiah ( 23b: All the surrounding nations were impressed – Hezekiah’s stock soared. The Message.)

The great deliverance came about in answer to prayer. Who would have thought though that it would come about in the way it eventually did? Sennacherib was forced to return home in disgrace, tail between his legs. When he went into the temple of his god, his own sons killed him (21). The Message. Who could have imagined God dealing with the seemingly immoveable problem in this fashion? Sennacherib was overthrown from within the intimate bonds of his own family.

F.B. Meyer  makes the point that verse 20 follows naturally from verse 19: It was the indignity done to Jehovah that stirred these two holy men to the heart. Not that their lives, and the lives of their people, and the beautiful holy city were in danger; but that Sennacherib spake against the God of Jerusalem, as against the gods of the people of the earth, which were the work of the hands of man.Oh that we were possessed with a similar zeal for God, so that we might look at sin as it affects Him, and lament over the awful wrongs which are continually being perpetrated against his holy, loving nature! What an argument this would give us in prayer.

Prayer: Thank you Lord that Everest-sized mountains are still moved by faith. And thank you for all those who pray with me and for me. You are good.

Daily Bible thoughts 539: Monday 28th January 2014:

 2 Chronicles 32:16 – 19

The messengers felt free to throw in their personal comments, putting down both GOD and God’s servant Hezekiah. The Message. Even Sennacherib’s officers felt free to pitch in with further derisory comments. It would not be true to say that such scoffing does not affect us. This is perhaps one of the main ways we are persecuted in the U.K: through cynical mickey-taking. It can hurt deeply and draw emotional blood. But however much mockery, scorn and derision may come our way, may God strengthen us to stand firm in the faith and to stick by Him and His cross. However loud the laughter and however raucous the language, it does not alter the reality of God nor the fact that ‘in the end, Jesus wins!’ (That’s how a simple man summed up the Book of Revelation.) Don’t let such a toxic atmosphere drive you into hiding as a Christian. If we confess Jesus before men, He’ll confess us before His Father. Don’t cease to be his servant (16). Don’t stop serving your Master because many senseless people don’t like Him and speak ill of Him. One day you will glad you were not ashamed when He shows Himself unashamed of you.

Mark Twain said, ‘A lie will travel half way round the world while the truth is still putting its boots on.’ But a lie is still a lie, no matter how many times it has had its passport stamped! Here is a repetition of the lie so loudly and forcefully proclaimed previously (17;13-15). For all that the volume is turned up loud it remains a lie. This lie was soon to be exposed, as all falsehood eventually will be. ‘Truth will out.’  You can’t stop it. May God give us eyes to see through the camouflage of deception and hold onto the truth, even though it may be in the face of a torrent of error. Verse 19 shows how mistaken Sennacherib and his crew were: They contemptuously lumped the God of Jerusalem in with the handmade gods of other peoples. The Message.

As we have seen in recent days, our enemy seeks to get our knees knocking on the way to crumbling altogether. He doesn’t want us standing, but on the floor. He uses intimidation tactics (18): The messengers would come up to the wall of Jerusalem and shout up to the people standing on the wall, shouting their propaganda in Hebrew, trying to scare them into demoralized submission. The Message. In the Ephesians 6 passage, where Paul calls four times for believers to stand in the face of the great battle we’re involved in (11, 13, 14), he also says this: In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one (16). In those days they had a sort of early version of the Molotov cocktail. It was an arrow, dipped in pitch, and set alight. It was then fired at the opposition. But the Roman soldier had a great body length shield to hide behind. It was made of wood and covered with leather. When the arrow whooshed into it, the flame just went out. Our enemy has many ‘fiery darts’ of fear that he regularly hurls our way. But through faith in God we can put them out. They need not harm us. There is a saying that goes, ‘Fear knocked at the door; faith answered, and there was nobody there!’ Somebody estimated that there are 366 ‘Fear not’s’ in the Bible. He said, ‘That’s one for every year, including leap year!’

Prayer: Lord grant that trust in you will evict all fear from my heart.

Daily Bible thoughts 538: Friday 25th January 2014:

 2 Chronicles 32:9-15

Beware when you are in the epicentre of success (9). It can warp your perspective and cause you to believe your own reviews. It can make your head expand. It may lead you to ‘shoot off at the mouth’, to make grandiose claims, and cause you to be over-confident. There is much danger in that. Just because you’re doing well in ‘Lachish’ it doesn’t necessarily mean that you will win in ‘Jerusalem’. No-one wants to fail, but we probably learn more from failure, disappointment and set-backs than we do from rip-roaring success.

Generations of Christians reading this verse (10) have laughed and shouted back at Sennacherib, ‘’We are basing our confidence on the living God who has never yet let His people down yet and who never will! That’s why we stay put when everything seems to say ‘run.’ That’s why we do these seemingly illogical things. Because we know our God is real, and He is with us, and He will bring us through.’’

Our enemy is a liar (11). Jesus spoke of him as: …not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies. (John 8:44). Just like Sennacherib here, he will lie about God’s Word. He’ll contradict it in your mind. He will do all this to intimidate and weaken you with fear. You poor people – do you think you’re safe in that so-called fortress of Jerusalem? You’re sitting ducks. Do you think Hezekiah will save you? Don’t be stupid – Hezekiah has fed you a pack of lies. When he says, ‘GOD will save us from the power of the king of Assyria,’ he’s lying – you’re all going to end up dead. The Message. It’s interesting isn’t it how, in his lying, the devil will try to tell you God is lying?! He will also attempt to twist things and to get you to imbibe half-truths. He will bait you with the half that is true, in the hope that you will swallow the other half that is false. He catches many ‘fish’ that way. Here, Sennacherib referred to something that had happened (12), but what he said was only partially correct. Hezekiah had not removed God’s altar but in fact he called the people back to it. It was the pagan altars that he’d scrapped.

It is interesting to read the remaining verses of today’s passage in The Message: Do you have any idea what I and my ancestors have done to all the countries around here? Has there been a single god anywhere strong enough to stand up against me? Can you name one god among all the nations that either I or my ancestors have ravaged that so much as lifted a finger against me? So what makes you think you’ll make out any better with your god? Don’t let Hezekiah fool you; don’t let him get by with his barefaced lies; don’t trust him. No god of any country or kingdom ever has been one bit of help against me or my ancestors – what kind of odds does that give your god? The Message. We believers read this with a wry smile. We know that one day soon all mockers, like Sennacherib, will have those insolent looks erased from their faces. Sennacherib made the mistake of thinking that the God of Israel was just another god such as those he’d encountered before. But those idols were all dead. He was about to encounter the living God, and lose! The ‘score’ would be remarkably different this time.

Prayer: Lord enable me to see the truth and hold on to it. Thank you for its liberating power.

Daily Bible thoughts 537: Thursday 23rd January 2014:

 2 Chronicles 32:6-8

We continue today with the wonderful story of Hezekiah and his magnificent leadership. (It certainly was at this point.)

  1. What he did (6b): To ‘encourage’ is literally ‘to put courage in.’ It is an indispensable part of leadership. Discouraged people won’t serve to the best of their ability, and some may put a brake on serving altogether. Leaders need to learn how to speak and act in encouraging ways. Yes, we have to challenge people. There is a definite time and place for that. But we need to remember that week by week assembled…before us are people who are often facing great fears and overwhelming odds. Our leadership should exhale the air of encouragement.
  2. What he said (7, 8): As noted previously, Hezekiah was a realist. He did not hide from the brutal truth or attempt to shield his people from it. He just told them a greater truth. He acknowledged the presence and power of a contemporary ‘Goliath’. But he told the people that they needed to see him, as David did, in the light of God. The Himalayan peak of trouble is dwarfed before the infinite Almightiness of our God. Perspective is regained. Hezekiah’s approach was simple. He admitted that the army amassing against them was big, but he said ‘our God is bigger.’ In fact, ‘He is much bigger.’ Again and again we preachers have to stand in the pulpit and say, ‘’Yes, it is true that our world is like this. It is, as someone said, ‘going to hell in a hand cart.’ And yes, it is true that our personal problems often loom ominously over our heads. But here’s a larger truth: God is greater than all of this.’ Acknowledge the gloomy truth, by all means, but then ‘check mate’ it with the glorious truth. Play the ‘trump card’ of revealed truth. When we get a vision (and at best it can only be a glimpse) of who God is, it takes our breath away, and we are encouraged. The truth sets people free. Our task; our calling as leaders is to state it and restate it in all its sparkling clarity and simplicity. ‘There is a great enemy against us. How true! But there is a greater power with us.’  Hezekiah rallied the people, saying, ‘’Be strong! Take courage! Don’t be intimidated by the king of Assyria and his troops – there are more on our side than on their side. He only has a bunch of mere men; we have our GOD to help us and fight for us! The Message.
  3. 3.       What happened (8b): I had to smile to myself. For a number of years a Bible College student spent around three weeks with us at ‘Bridge Street’ church in Leeds. Every year we had someone different, and they came to get some practical training experience. It was always a joy to have them. But I remember one rather cool young guy asking the senior minister, ‘Did you get a result last night?’ It makes me smile still today when I think about it. He was referring to a visit the senior pastor had made the previous evening, and I knew that my esteemed older colleague would not have used those terms! However, as I recall, I think he did ‘get a result’ on that visit!! There was a good outcome. Hezekiah certainly got his result. And the people gained confidence from what Hezekiah the king of Judah said. This is how it reads on the Message: Morale surged. Hezekiah’s words put steel in their spines. Result! (With a capital ‘R’)

Prayer: Lord, take my tongue and speak through me words that build and fill others with courage and hope.


Daily Bible thoughts 536: Wednesday 22nd January 2014:

 2 Chronicles 32:1-6

After all that Hezekiah had so faithfully done, Sennacherib king of Assyria came and invaded Judah (1a); And then, after this exemplary track record, this: Sennacherib…came… The Message.  These opening words bring us face to face with the fact of unjust suffering. There is so much of it in this old world which, like Humpty Dumpty, has ‘had a great fall.’ It is not what God intended it to be. The reality is that ‘bad things happen to good people.’ Living a godly life is a good thing, but don’t think it is an inoculation against suffering. Don’t fall into the trap of surmising that you’ve had the vaccination and got the certificate and you will be okay. There seems to be an emphasis here on the great faithfulness of Hezekiah. He showed no ordinary godliness of character: so faithfully (underlining mine.) Even so, he ran right into trouble, although he was to come out of it well.

He laid siege to the fortified cities, thinking to conquer them for himself (1b). What someone thinks to do and what they actually succeed in doing may well turn out to be two very different things. The enemy has plans to bring us down but his schemes don’t have to be realised. Our failure and his victory are not inevitable. Satan thought to defeat Jesus in the wilderness. But what he thought to do and what he did were not the same. He was the one who had to head for the exit a defeated foe. It’s true that he made other attempts. After a ‘time out’ in the corner he stood back up to fight. But he could never land the winning punch, try as he might.

Hezekiah saw the situation in its true colours (2). He faced the facts. He didn’t bury his head in the sand; he did not pretend things were rosier than they were. He was a realist. As he looked this scary situation fully in the eye:

  • He consulted (3). We’ve already seen that Hezekiah was not afraid to draw on the expertise and wisdom of others. He wasn’t too proud to ask: …and they helped him. This is usually how it works out when a leader reaches out to others around him or her and says the five ‘magic’ words, ‘please will you help me.’ We will get far more good stuff done in collaboration than ever we will in isolation.
  • He got to work (4-6). He worked hard and many joined him in this. They did what they could. You could say they prayed to the Lord and ‘kept their powder dry.’ As we are going to clearly see, this is essentially a story of trust in God. But that approach certainly does not preclude rolling up your sleeves and putting in some hard graft. They were going to look to God for victory against overwhelming odds. But they also took practical steps to help themselves and not assist the enemy.

Serving God faithfully is not a cast-iron guarantee that ‘Sennacherib’ will not come along. He regularly does. When you find yourself in such a situation you can trust in the Lord with all your heart. But also, do everything you can (in His mighty strength) to resist.

Prayer: Lord save me from an independent spirit and an impractical spirituality.

Daily Bible thoughts 535: Tuesday 21st January 2014:

 2 Chronicles 31:9-21

Hezekiah was a man who was prepared to consult and ask advice (9, 10). He listened to others, and was aware that he didn’t know it all. This is a good trait in a leader. At the end of the day you don’t have to follow anyone’s counsel, but you can prayerfully weigh it. Why would anyone reject the wisdom of good and godly people? You would need good reasons.

When Hezekiah and his officials came and saw the heaps, they praised the LORD and blessed his people Israel (8). They were correct to first and foremost thank God for the generous giving. It clearly was a work of God to move the people to such generosity. It was right to thank the people, but you would have to say, ‘To God be all the glory.’ The object of looking after the priests and Levites so they could concentrate on their ministries (4) was clearly achieved (10) through this torrent of giving.

In addition to all the other good things we have seen about Hezekiah, we can say that he was a man who sought God and worked hard (21). He did what was good and right and faithful before the LORD his God (20). Much of today’s passage highlights his prudence in storing the surplus, and his wisdom in ensuring there were good people who would get the resources fairly spread around (12-19).

What we do with our surplus is a challenge for us whether as individuals, churches or organisations. I remember hearing one church leader say how in good times in his church, he would ‘squirrel away’ spare funds and put them into an account for less prosperous days, when the church might need to ‘tighten its belt’.  The wisdom of experience told him that church life is seasonal and the graphs are not always going upwards. I need to add that he wasn’t being ‘Scrooge’ – like in his behaviour. This church has a generous heart and allocates significant resources to mission and helping the poor. But on top of that he wanted to wisely prepare for rainy days.

For all of us, we are stewards of God’s property, and we need to look to Him to direct us in the use of His money.

One of the first signs of spiritual awakening is the generosity of those whose hearts God has touched. Nobody had to plead or urge; the giving came from the hearts of people who were right with God. Warren W. Wierbe: With the Word,p.250

Prayer: Lord, teach me to be generous, just as you are.

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