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Free Daily Bible notes by Rev Stephen Thompson


March 2014

Daily Bible thoughts 584: Monday 31st March 2014:

 2 Corinthians 4:1-6
Here are some marks of an authentic ministry. There are things you do not do:

  • You do not lose heart (1): You recognise that you’re in this ministry because of God’s calling. It’s a privilege you do not deserve. He got you into this and He will help you in it and through it. He will enable you to finish strong if you keep looking to Him. Since God has so generously let us in on what he is doing, we’re not about to throw up our hands and walk off the job just because we run into occasional hard times. The Message. You might have a lot of rubbish tipped over you, like Paul did, but you focus on God and don’t give up. After all, He’s the One who gives genuine success and changes lives (6). Paul recognised that he was a Christian because of a sovereign work of God. What the Lord had done for him He could also do for others.
  • You do not go down the way of trickery, dishonesty and manipulation (2a): like Nathanael, you will be without guile (John 1:47).You are straightforward and easy to deal with, not slippery as an eel (or serpent?!) You refuse to get sucked into politics and power struggles. Such things should not have any place in genuine Christian lives and churches. You will not try to twist arms and resort to under hand tactics. You will pray and trust God to work things out. You’re not in it for yourself or to climb any perceived career ladder. You know that the highest position in the kingdom of God is that of a ‘servant’ (5). We refuse to wear masks and play games, We don’t maneuver and manipulate behind the scenes. The Message.
  • You do not tinker under the bonnet of truth in order to change things, however subtly (2b). You know it is not your job to dilute the Scriptures to taste or change them in any way. What they say may prove unpopular, but you will stick to the script handed to you like superglue. And we don’t twist God’s Word to suit ourselves. The Message.
  • You do not use the pulpit to glorify yourself (5). This is not about you. It never has been; never will be.

There are some things you do do:

  • You clearly and plainly state the truth (2c): In your ministry you aim for utter clarity. You are not a philosopher using words that obscure, like opaque glass. Your words are like freshly cleaned windows. The light shines through them.
  • You preach Jesus Christ as Lord (5): At every opportunity you lift up His Name, and not your own. Remember, our Message is not about ourselves, we’re proclaiming Jesus Christ, the Master. All we are is messengers, errand runners from Jesus for you. The Message.
  • You live as a servant (5b), and not as some petty autocratic tyrant, lording it over others in what is, after all, Christ’s church.
  • You minister always in the sight of God (2c). You know that you are completely under scrutiny and you will, ultimately, be held accountable.
  • You live with a sense of reality (3, 4). It’s tough out there on the ‘mission field’. You acknowledge the fact. This is a fallen world, and the devil has successfully blindfolded people so that they cannot see the wonder and beauty of Jesus; they are unable to see who He is or why He came into the world. They’re stone-blind to the dayspring brightness of the Message that shines with Christ, who gives us the best picture of God we’ll ever get. The Message. So you know you will meet resistance to your preaching. There will be both antagonism and apathy. There will be disappointment and discouraging times. But, in it all…
  • You serve with the understanding that God is real, and He can turn the light on in any heart (6; see also Genesis 1:1-3 and 2 Cor.5:17). He can and He does. We see it happening everywhere: sheer miracles of grace; people saying, ‘I can’t explain it, but whereas once I was blind, now I see.’ If someone like Saul of Tarsus could be enlightened, it could happen to anyone.

Prayer: Thank you Lord that all opportunities for ministry come from you; let all the glory go to you.


Daily Bible thoughts 583: Friday 28th March 2014:

 Micah 4:6-13
This section of Micah combines both hope and warning. The hope shines even more brightly against the dark backdrop of the story of coming judgment. Bad times are in the foreground, but in the distance good times are coming. Beyond the pain of banishment (like that of childbirth, verse 10) there lies the blessing of restoration and triumph. Defeat will be transformed into conquering, rampaging victory: I will transform the battered into a company of the elite. I will make a strong nation out of the long lost, A showcase exhibit of GOD’s rule in action, as I rule from Mount Zion, from here to eternity…But for right now, they’ve ganged up against you, many godless peoples, saying, ”Kick her when she’s down! Violate her! We want to see Zion grovel in the dirt.” These blasphemers have no idea what GOD is thinking and doing in this. They don’t know that this is the making of GOD’s people, that they are wheat being threshed, gold being refined. On your feet, Daughter of Zion! Be threshed of chaff, be refined of dross. I’m remaking you into a people invincible, into God’s juggernaut to crush the godless peoples. You’ll bring their plunder as holy offerings to GOD, their wealth to the Master of the earth. The Message.

God does some of His best work on us and in us during hard times. One of the most meaningful messages we received following the death of my mum made reference to these words: You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand. (John 13:7). At that time (and from that time onwards) Romans 8:28 took on a bright, shiny new meaning for me: And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. (Underlining mine). Today you may be facing a situation that looks hopeless. It may be something you have contributed to yourself. Or it may have visited your door uninvited. But realise, if you are a Christian, that the Sovereign Lord is in it, and He is on your side. He is working for your good in every situation, and there will be something positive, for your benefit, amidst this negative stuff. The Lord turns things around.

A song by Jamie Owens-Collins states: ‘The hard times make you strong.’ I would qualify that by saying they can. But there is nothing automatic or inevitable about it. We have to co-operate with God in what He is doing; with what He wants to bring about, and submit to His will. Then we will see what He will do with it. He makes delicious meals with unpromising ingredients.

Prayer: Help me Lord to really know in the depths of my heart that you are in control. Enable me to believe my beliefs.


Daily Bible thoughts 582: Thursday 27th March 2014:

 Micah 4:1-5
These beautiful words are also found in Isaiah 2:1-4. (I believe I am right in saying that glorious words from verse three are to be found in the U.N. building in New York City. The people who work for that organisation must often feel that this is an unattainable ideal, but they don’t give up. Someone has suggested that the U.N. should move their headquarters to Jerusalem, because one day Jesus is going to achieve universal peace from there.) As you listen to and watch the news, you can’t help but long for the day when this prophecy fully comes to pass and Nations will quit fighting each other, quit learning how to kill one another. Each man will sit under his own shade tree, each woman in safety will tend her own garden. The Message. This is not the world as we find it now, but we can be sure that it is how it will one day be, for the God of truth has spoken.

You will note, I’m sure, a dramatic gear change between 3:12 and 4:1ff. The temple hill in Jerusalem will become a mound overgrown with thickets (3:12); but in the last days (4:1) the mountain of the LORD’s temple will be established as chief among the world’s mountains. He is referring to a time when the Messiah comes; days that began with the first coming of Jesus and that will culminate in His second advent. Already, to some extent, there is a fulfilment of these words. Today, under the reign of Jesus, His church, comprised of Jews and Gentiles, is being built as a city set on a hill that cannot be hid. The Word of God goes out from the church and Many nations are streaming into it. Under His rule there is peace, security and willing worship. But the fullest realisation of the prophecy will be seen when Jesus returns to the earth and establishes His Kingdom over it. I remember our highly intelligent and very godly Director of Studies at Bible College saying that there are passages in Scripture that really only make sense if there is to be a literal reign of Christ over the earth. This is one of them.

By the way, (5) is not implying that it’s okay for the pagan nations to walk in the name of their gods. He is just stating what the norm is currently; what is likely to happen. This is how it has been throughout history, but when Jesus comes back all will submit to Him (Phil.2:9-11).

F.B. Meyer writes eloquently about this passage in Great verses through the Bible,p.352: In a deep and true sense it has come to pass that the Lord’s house has been established in the top of the mountains, and has been exalted above the hills. The church is a conspicuous and influential object among the forces of the world; and peoples are flowing towards it. In very many cases whole nations have flung away the religion of their ancestors, and gathered within that Christian temple which has been built upon the foundation of Judaism. Out of Zion there has gone forth the law; and from Jerusalem the Word of the Lord. In Jesus, the Jew is still the centre of the world’s vision. But the full accomplishment of these words waits behind the curtain that is so soon to be rent at the coming of our Lord. Then holy influences will proceed from the chosen people who shall have been led to recognize Christ as their Messiah. From these the Gospel shall go forth unto all the world. Beneath the hallowing influences of that age…the canon shall be as obsolete as the tomahawk; the explosives of war shall be stored in museums; whilst schools for training the art of war shall be used as missionary seminaries. There shall be no war, because there shall be no fear…And there shall be no fear, because universal love shall reign towards God and man.

Prayer: I thank you Lord Jesus that a day is coming when you will make all wars to cease across the earth. Even so, come Lord Jesus.


Daily Bible thoughts 581: Wednesday 26th March 2014:

Micah 3
This is a frightful picture (1-4) of the political and religious leaders in Israel and Judah cannibalising their people, metaphorically speaking. They were devouring them instead of defending them. Again and again in history we have seen the kind of leadership which is cruel to people and not kind; where those in power care only for themselves and not for those entrusted to them. The people of these kingdoms could not find justice where they should have been able to locate it. Isn’t justice in your job description? But you skin my people alive. You rip the meat off their bones. You break up the bones, chop the meat, and throw it in a pot for cannibal stew. The Message. The leaders doing these terrible things, however, will not get away with it. Sin that is unconfessed and unrepented will be a barrier to prayer (4). The time’s coming, though, when these same leaders will cry out for help to GOD, but he won’t listen. The Message. There will come a day, Micah says, when these leaders will find themselves ‘devoured’ by the Assyrians and they will give God a call for emergency help. But they will find a ‘dead’ tone on the line. There will be no response. Those who show no mercy cannot expect to receive it. (Verses 9 -11a expand on the theme of the leaders ‘skinning the people alive’. There you will find a list of some of the evil things they were doing. It makes disturbing reading)

There is also a devastating word for the false prophets (5-7; see 1 Tim. 6:9, 10); those who sell their messages for profit. They tell people what they want to hear if the price is right, and serve up what they don’t want if they don’t stump up the right amount of cash (or food!) Judicial blindness will come upon them from God: Here is GOD’s Message to the prophets, the preachers who lie to my people: ”For as long as they’re well paid and well fed, the prophets preach, ‘Isn’t life wonderful! Peace to all!’ But if you don’t pay up and jump on their bandwagon, their ‘God bless you’ turns into ‘God damn you.’ Therefore, you’re going blind. You’ll see nothing. You’ll live in deep shadows and know nothing. The sun has set on the prophets. They’ve had their day; from now on it’s night. Visionaries will be confused, experts will be all mixed up. They’ll hide behind their reputations and make lame excuses to cover up their God-ignorance.” The Message.

Micah, by contrast, was a true prophet of God, having insight into the real nature of things (8ff). He both saw and spoke clearly. He was anointed by the Spirit of God to spell out what was wrong and announce where it would lead. He had both insight and foresight from God. The leaders were behaving how Micah describes in (1-3, 9-11a) All the while posturing and pretending dependence on GOD: ”We’ve got GOD on our side. He’ll protect us from disaster.” Because of people like you, Zion will be turned back into farmland, Jerusalem end up as a pile of rubble, and instead of the Temple on the mountain, a few scraggly scrub pines. The Message. Micah saw through their empty words; the futility of their false confidence. By the power of the Spirit He courageously spoke out the truth to unwilling listeners. Nothing needs more of the Spirit of God than the preaching which declares to men their sins. No one is so thoroughly hated as the candid friend. Just because conscience attests the truth of our utterances, the soul of the sinner resents our plain speaking. You may condemn sin generally as much as you like; but when your hand comes near the broken bone, or the diseased flesh, then there is at once a violent outcry…We need might to withstand the opposition we shall inevitably meet. F.B.Meyer: Great verses through the Bible, p.352.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, please fill me with your Holy Spirit so that I may boldly speak your Word of truth to all.


Daily Bible thoughts 580: Tuesday 25th March 2014:

Micah 2:12, 13
Not only must we have a Biblical ministry in the church (a point emphasised yesterday), but it must also be a balanced ministry. We often find in the prophets that following strong and even severe words about judgment, you get others bringing comfort, encouragement and hope. These two verses look to a time in the distant future when God’s people will return to the land from exile. However, the word remnant reminds us that judgment is a terrible reality. Of those taken into captivity, only some (those who remained faithful to God) would return.

  • Following scattering there will be gathering (12; see also Isaiah 10:20-23): You can feel the tenderness and loving desire in these words. God wants His people back home. The Shepherd of Israel longs for the sheep to be in the safety of the fold. There is a certainty about what is going to happen. Look how the word surely is repeated. Beyond the dark night of judgment the sun will rise and a new day will dawn. This prophecy began to be fulfilled in a preliminary way when the exiles returned from Babylon, beginning in 538 B.C. However, the promise in verse 12 would only be completely accomplished in the Messianic age. (Consider, for example, John 10. It is being brought to pass through the coming of Jesus, and all that it means will gradually unfold.).
  •  Following reduction there will be expansion and growth (12b): …the place will throng with people. (a milling throng of homebound people! The Message. )
  • Following their King there will be breakthrough (13): ”…Then I, GOD, will burst all confinements and lead them out into the open. They’ll follow their King. I will be out in front leading them.” The Message. The key to breakthrough in every situation is to look to the Lord as your head; keep your eyes on Him and follow Him. He goes before (x2). He is the One who breaks open the way so that you can break through the gate. He is the One who will lead you out of captivity and bondage and into true freedom. But you have to let Him go before you. Your King will be your Shepherd. The mind of the prophet conceives of the people as captives in a foreign city, surrounded by lofty walls and frowning gates. Like impassable barriers, these lie between them and liberty. There seems no hope of their being able to break forth; but all suddenly a Breaker appears, who, summoning them to follow, breaks through the opposition of armed men and of mighty bulwarks. With resistless might, He breaks his way through; and they that follow Him are described as having broken forth, and passed on to the gate, and gone out thereat. First the Lord, then their king, and then hosts of men. No finer description could be imagined of the resurrection, which we celebrate as the first day of every week recurs…”The Breaker is gone up” before his redeemed ones. See! They too are breaking forth, and passing on through the gate – their King passing on before them. This is also true of every new era of time and novelty of circumstance. Circumstances, like prison walls, may confine us; but our Breaker is always preceding us, breaking down opposition and strong ramparts of apparently impassable difficulty…Keep close beside Him, as the armour-bearer behind Jonathon. Let there be no perceptible interspace. The iron gate of the city will open of its own accord, through which you shall pass into perfect liberty. F.B. Meyer: Great Verses through the Bible, p.351.

Prayer: Lord you know how badly I need a breakthrough. Help me to look to you with complete trust for what only you can bring about.

Daily Bible thoughts 579: Monday 24th March 2014:

Daily Bible thoughts 579: Monday 24th March 2014:.

Daily Bible thoughts 579: Monday 24th March 2014:

 Micah 2:6-11

Do you really want to hear God’s Word to you? Don’t be too quick to say, ‘Yes’. Of course, I hope your answer to the question is in the affirmative and that it rises from your heart. But are you sure you want to hear God speak to you if His Word contradicts your ways? Isn’t there something in your fallen nature that wants to contradict His Word in such circumstances? Well, not exactly contradict it, because that would never do. (Here we run into the deceitfulness of sin.) But you’d like to be able to say that it doesn’t really mean what it appears to assert. There must be some other and more appealing interpretation. Never forget that God’s Word does good to those who want to do God’s will and walk in His ways (7b). Such people need not fear it. So what is your heart attitude today?

Micah’s preaching was not popular because he went ‘straight down the line.’ There was no messing about with him. He shot from the hip; told it like it was. He saw that the people of Israel had a forthcoming appointment with the justice of God (6, 7), and that this would mean eviction from their land (10). Again, we encounter cause and effect, sowing and reaping: You rob unsuspecting people out for an evening stroll. You take the coats off their backs like soldiers who plunder the defenseless. You drive the women of my people out of their ample homes. You make victims of the children and leave them vulnerable to violence and vice. Get out of here, the lot of you. You can’t take it easy here! You’ve polluted this place, and now you’re polluted – ruined! The Message. They had unjustly put people out of their homes; the Lord would justly rip up their tenancy agreement. They had made the land ‘sick’ and there would be a purging (see Leviticus 18:24-28). (Note: it has been pointed out that God is not against those who become rich by hard work and honest means, nor does he take the side of people who are poor because of laziness or sin in other forms. But He is anti every form of oppression and injustice. He wants everyone to have fair and equal possibilities.)

We still have false prophets in the church today who do not preach the unpalatable parts of the Bible and do not want to hear them taught. They want to silence faithful Biblical preaching. I am appalled when I hear, from time to time, how far some clergy veer from the clear standards and precepts of the Bible. I am sure that many do it to justify their own infidelity. It is also likely to elevate your ratings in the popularity stakes (in some sectors) when you regularly dish up 5 minutes of what people want to hear. Don’t put anything in front of them that will disturb them. They might leave and then we’d lose their 50 pence from the collection plate. It all adds up you know!

Not talking about the anger and judgment of God against sin won’t make it go away. In fact, to continue wilfully in sin, and encourage others to do so, is to invite it to draw nearer. Here is a word to those who occupy a pulpit from time to time: It is a solemn responsibility to preach God’s Word. Never say anything other than what the Bible clearly says, even if you don’t like it; even if you think it will make your congregation squirm. Here, too, is a word to those in the pews: search the Scriptures yourselves to see if what you are hearing is true. Test all things. Just because he (or she) is wearing a back to front collar it doesn’t necessarily mean the preacher is telling the truth. It ought to, but that’s another matter! (See Jer.6:13, 14 for a similar situation to Micah’s)

There is a contemporary resonance to these words. They wanted ‘prosperity’ preaching:  If someone showed up with a good smile and glib tongue and told lies from morning to night – ‘I’ll preach sermons that will tell you how you can get anything you want from God: More money, the best wines…you name it’ – you’d hire him on the spot as your preacher! The Message.

If you stay on the highway of God’s truth you will remain safe; but if you veer from it you will end up plummeting to destruction. False prophets drive off the cliff, with a bus load of passengers. In destroying themselves they destroy many. These prophets are eagerly listened to; they talk about the Lord’s blessings but they say nothing about His demands. They prophesy what people want to hear, not what God wants to say. Thus they are ideal ”prophets” for those who love prosperity more than they love God. Tom Hale: The Applied Old Testament Commentary, p.1264.

Prayer: Lord, speak into my life all you want to say that is for my good and your glory. Help me listen.

Daily Bible thoughts 578: Friday 21st March 2014:

 Micah 2:1-5

There always have been, and there always will be (at least until the end of time) evil people who plot and plan dastardly things, without even a flicker of an impact on their consciences (1). Doom to those who plot evil, who go to bed dreaming up crimes! As soon as it’s morning, they’re off, full of energy, doing what they’ve planned. The Message. They do wrong because they can. They are powerful and able and they don’t believe anyone can stop them. They are also convinced that they will get away with it. This section says otherwise. As a man sows so shall he reap. God has His own plans for those who do evil against the poor and needy (3), and who …see people only for what they can get out of them. GOD has had enough. He says, ”I have some plans of my own:’ The Message. The mighty in the land had not respected proper boundaries. God says through Micah that when the invader comes in nobody’s boundary lines will be respected.

GOD HATES INJUSTICE. This is the particular form of iniquity/evil in mind in (2). It’s the rich and powerful trampling on the poor and exploiting them. As part of our discipleship, we do need to ensure that we are siding with the God of justice, and not inadvertently supporting things that grind the poor into the dust. The prophetic books will show to us again and again a God who cares deeply about social justice. As Christians we should do all we can to stand with the poor (all-be-it, according to Jesus, poverty will never be eradicated this side of the second coming.)

God judges sin (3-5). I know this is highly repetitive, and there will be no evading this point as we study the prophetic books. Perhaps God wants us to understand how serious a matter this is and that He really does mean what He says. (This is one of the key doctrines the devil has persuaded many theologians and preachers to ditch. Or at very least, he’s got people to soften the message and dilute the truth.) But here are some of God’s Words to an unrepentant people: Mocking ballads will be sung of you, and you yourselves will sing the blues: ‘Our lives are ruined, our homes and lands auctioned off. They take everything, leave us nothing! All is sold to the highest bidder.”’ And there’ll be no one to stand up for you, no one to speak for you before GOD and his jury. The Message.

The gospel message is enshrined in (3a). A disaster is coming against ever sinner. It is the ‘disaster’ of God’s wrath and judgment. The gospel is bad news before it is good news. We have to understand how bad the bad news is before we will be ready to receive the good news. The good news is that we can be saved. We cannot save ourselves, and this point must be fully understood. But God sent His Son Jesus into the world to be our Saviour, and the Saviour of all mankind. He saves from the wrath of God, all who turn away from a me-centred life and put their trust in Him. That is the best news in the world!

Prayer: Thank God for Jesus!

Daily Bible thoughts 577: Thursday 20th March 2014:

Micah 1:8-16

  • Sin saddens (9): An old song goes like this: ‘Lord crucified give me a heart like thine, teach me to love the dying souls of men…’ When we watch the news and see just something of what sin does (and let’s face it we only see a fraction of the damage and suffering) how can we remain unmoved and dry-eyed. Micah wept like a man at a funeral. He could see that the Assyrians would invade Judah too (which they did in 701 BC, and they destroyed nearly 50 villages.) Does the certainty of coming judgment cause us to feel deep concern for lost people and seek to win them to Christ?
  • Sin spreads (9): Samaria, the capital city of the northern tribes, had a wound that was incurable. The wrongdoing up north had passed the point of no return. Punishment was inevitable. But now Micah pronounced that the evil he saw there, with its attendant consequences, had travelled as far as the gate of Jerusalem itself. The influence of badness will spread like …yeast…through the whole batch of dough (1 Cor.5:6).
  • Sin starts (13): You were the beginning of sin to the Daughter of Zion… For each one of us there is a beginning of sin and that is the point at which we must nip it in the bud. At the faintest hint of temptation show it your heels; be Joseph like and flee as fast as you can, even if you have to leave behind your cloak. You can’t even begin to consider the possibility of yielding. That is to surrender too much territory to the devil. It is to expose your ‘goal mouth’ to trouble. You’ll be down one – nil before you know it. I heard a well-known Christian leader speaking, and I was impressed by his honesty. He said, ‘One day I was walking in a wood, and just ahead of me I saw a pile of pornography laying on the ground. Someone had just dumped it. You know what I did? he asked. I went as fast as I could in the opposite direction, because I know I can’t handle material like that!! ‘That’s honest. It’s also radical. He wasn’t going to let that ‘litter’ be the beginning of sin to him. It is illustrative of the kind of evasive action you may have to take when feeling under moral pressure. I think it is one example of the kind of approach Jesus was advocating when He said If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away…And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away… (Matthew 5:29,30)

All you who live in Chariotville, get in your chariots for flight. You led the daughter of Zion into trusting  Not God but chariots. Similar sins in Israel also got their start in you. The Message. Sin ‘starts’ somewhere. We must try to head it off at the pass; cut it off at its source.

(By the way, in these verses there are a lot of word plays in the names of towns listed. You may see this reflected in the footnotes in some Bibles. But it also comes across brilliantly in the text of the ‘the Message.’.

Prayer: Lord God help me to go into this day wearing the breastplate of righteousness. Enable me to take my stand against everything you hate.

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