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Free Daily Bible notes by Rev Stephen Thompson

Month

March 2014

Daily Bible thoughts 576: Wednesday 19th March 2014:

 Micah 1:3-7

There are unmistakable messages here:

  • Sin leads to judgment (5): Sins have consequences. The punishment may be a long time coming (because God is patient and merciful), but it will arrive. There is cause and effect in this verse: …because of…because of… This coming national tragedy has a cause.
  • Cities and nations can be adversely affected by sin (6): Samaria and Jerusalem are mentioned, but it could be applicable to London, New York, Paris, and Rome etc. Jacob (Israel) and Judah are referred to, but these words could apply to the U.K., the U.S.A., France and Italy etc. Nowhere escapes God’s all-seeing vision and no-one is immune to His judgment. Cities in the Western world could become heaps of rubble (8) as well. We don’t want to see this happen. It’s a terrifying prospect. But if we persist in our wilful rebellion against God there will be a price to pay.
  • God’s judgment is a terrible and fearful thing (3, 4): This is a powerful picture of God coming with enormous power to deal with His errant people, and nothing and no-one can stop Him. Psalm 104: 32 describes God in these terms: …he who looks at the earth and it trembles, who touches the mountains, and they smoke.
  • Sexual sin will be punished (5, 7): Of course, there is much more to sin than sexual sin, and all sin is sin. But there was an abundance of sexual immorality/promiscuity in Israel and Judah in Micah’s day. You ask, ”So what is Jacob’s sin?” Just look at Samaria – isn’t it obvious? And all the sex-and-religion shrines in Judah – isn’t Jerusalem responsible? The Message. However, as you can see in that quote, the bad sexual stuff was linked to false religion, and that was the real problem. They were worshipping pagan gods who were okay with this kind of living. (You might say they lived that way themselves.) A religion will only ever be as good as its gods, and these gods were bad. The religion actually taught that it was fine to have sex outside of God’s boundaries. It was expected and permitted as part of the worship. So it was a very popular religion. (This reminds me of the second half of Romans 1, which says, in effect, that people don’t like the true God who has revealed Himself in nature, so they swap Him; they trade Him in for gods who will give them the thumbs up to do what they like. But Paul also emphasises that there is a major cost to doing this.) When you consider the tidal wave of immorality in our sex-sodden society, you have to say that it also is linked to idolatry. The media reflects the popular culture, and to some degree helps to shape it. It is full of illicit sex. When do you see a normal, faithful marriage between a man and a woman represented on a T.V. drama? Hardly ever! The sexual sin we see everywhere, on the television, at the movies, in the papers and magazines etc. is linked to the idolatry of self. People want to be their own gods, establish their own boundaries, and basically say what goes. They may call it freedom, but they will pay a terrible price both here and hereafter if they do not repent and trust in Christ. Sin brings us to our own because.

Prayer: Lord God, I acknowledge that your way is right and best. Help me to always remain true to this conviction, and banish the tempter by your grace.

Daily Bible thoughts 575: Tuesday 18th March 2014:

 Micah 1:1- 2

Micah was one of the members of a quartet of writing prophets who burst onto the world scene during the eighth century B.C. (The others were Isaiah, Hosea and Amos.) He prophesied concerning both Judah (the two tribes in the south, with their capital in Jerusalem), and Israel (the ten tribes in the north, having their capital at Samaria). At one point, the prophet Jeremiah’s life was saved by a quotation from Micah (Jer.26:18; Mic.3:12). Who can doubt that God’s Word is powerful? Here are certain other things we can say about The word of the LORD…

  • It comes ‘to’ (and through) real people (1a): It comes to real people with real names (such as Micah) who come from real places on the map; geographical sites (like Moresheth). E.M. Bounds commented that people are always looking for better machinery, but ‘God’s methods are men.’ Are you willing to be a ‘mouthpiece’ for God’s communication to people?
  • It comes to historical eras (1b): …during…reigns… God’s Word breaks into human history. It is unstoppable. The history of the Bible tells us that there are many kings/rulers who put the ear plugs in. They do not want to hear. But God’s Word comes whether it finds the welcome mat outside the palace gates or it doesn’t! The ultimate expression of God’s Word coming into history was when The Word became flesh and lived for a while among us. (John 1:14a).
  • It has ‘to do’ with life in the real world (1c): It had to do with what was going on in Samaria and Jerusalem. The Message. God’s Word has ‘to do’ with everyday life on the streets of this world, and, as we shall see, it often is at odds with it; at variance with what is ‘going on’. It confronts it. It comes with force and there is a clash. It raises up a clear standard and states that certain things are plain wrong. The Word of God comes to us where we are. It does not hold itself aloof from dirty, nitty-gritty life lived at street level. It has ‘to do’ with what is being done there. There is a version of the Bible that is called, ‘The Word on the street.’ How appropriate that is!
  • The Word of God will sometimes be ‘against’ (2): God wants to be ‘for’ people. That’s what the cross says. But before God can be ‘for’ any of us, we have to face up to what He is against. He is against all sin, and He calls us to repent of it and trust in Jesus that we may be saved. God will not spare us on this point, precisely because He wants the best for us. He wants us to realise how badly ‘out of plumb’ we are, and He calls us to be reconciled through the cross.

  Prayer: Let your Word be wrapped in my flesh today, and enable me to take it to the streets.

Daily Bible thoughts 574: Monday 17th March 2014

Psalm 104:19-30

Last evening, as the sun was going down, I looked up and saw a silvery half-moon set against a deep blue sky. Its beauty took my breath away. I was filled again with a sense of awe and wonder. Early this morning I went out for a run. There was a chill in the air, and cars and gardens and roofs and dustbins were iced with frost. The sky was painted in pastel colours. The birds were exercising their vocal chords I passed one or two fellow-joggers, and walkers (and dog-walkers!!) But mostly the route was deserted. There was a peace, a calm and very little traffic noise. It felt good to be alive, and I celebrated afresh the thought that ‘this is my Father’s world.’ Although it is a fallen world, tainted with sin, every part of it seems to proclaim Him. The further away you get from man-made things, the more you can see God in nature.

We are continuing to look at this wonderful Psalm which speaks eloquently of the creator God. See:

  • The orderliness of the world (19-23): There is evidence of design in nature. It has been said that if the earth were a fraction nearer the sun we’d fry; if it were just a little further away we’d freeze. …alternating night and day enables the life of beasts and mankind to co-exist…Creation is a subtly adapted system for the maintenance and enjoyment of life – and this by the direct action of the Creator… J.A. Motyer: New Bible Commentary, p.554.
  • The abundance of God’s ‘creations’ within creation (24 – 26): My wife, Jill, and I watched a stunning nature programme on TV the other night, about Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, and the life forms that live in and around and on it. We saw creatures we didn’t even know existed! We had never seen or heard of them before. What a head-spinning number of creatures God has made. Even if you don’t believe in Him, you surely have to admit that there is a mind-boggling diversity and variety in the natural world. If you believe it all came from nothing, I admire your faith!
  • God’s generous provision for all life on earth (27-30): He is not only creator but also sustainer of all He has made. The creation veritably seethes with activity from the smallest marine entity to the unspeakably terrifying sea-monster, Leviathan itself (Jb.41:1ff.)and the constant bustling of mankind. But (whether they know it or not) all depend on the Creator to provide, exist only by what he gives, are subject to  his sovereign determination of the hour of their death, and life on earth only continues because he wills to renew it. J.A. Motyer: New Bible Commentary,p.554

What a wildly wonderful world, GOD! You made it all, with Wisdom at your side, you made earth overflow with your wonderful creations. Oh, look – the deep, wide sea, brimming with fish past counting, sardines and sharks and salmon. Ships plow those waters, and Leviathan, your pet dragon, romps in them. All the creatures look expectantly to you to give them their meals on time. You come, and they gather around; you open your hand and they eat from it. If you turned your back, they’d die in a minute – Take back your Spirit and they die, revert to original mud; Send out your Spirit and they spring to life – the whole countryside in bloom and blossom. The Message.

Prayer: O Lord my God, when I in awesome wonder, consider all the works thy Hand has made; I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder, your power throughout the universe displayed. Then sings my soul, my Saviour God to thee, How great thou art…

Daily Bible thoughts 573: Friday 14th March 2014:

 2 Corinthians 3:12 – 18

Christianity is not an ‘undercover’ operation (12, 13). We are not in hiding; we don’t wear a disguise. We don’t slink around at the edges of society trying to avoid detection. Unlike Moses, we have nothing to hide. Everything is out in the open with us. The Message. I like the comment made by John White that Christian witness is about honesty, plain and simple. We are who we are: followers of Christ, and we are not trying to pretend otherwise. We want the glory of the gospel to be reflected in our lives, and we know that this is an ever-increasing glory (18) and not one that is fading away (13). We are going to let our light shine before men and not hide it under a bucket.

However bright the light of Christ may shine out of a Christian life, it will not be seen (not truly seen) or understood by people who are not Christians, until their eyes are supernaturally opened to it (14 – 16). Paul here continues with the veil theme, and he says regarding his fellow Jews that they are unable to see the truth when the Old Testament is read. They are spiritually blind. But whenever a person turns to the Lord, they have an eye-opening experience (16). They can say that once they were blind, but now they can see. (Look how this theme runs on into 4:1-6). We can take heart that someone who we know and love, and who is unable to see the truth about Jesus today (perhaps a friend or neighbour or colleague or relative) may ‘see the light’ tomorrow. Whenever anyone does it is a miracle. Christian conversion is about turning people from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God.

Once we get to know the Lord Jesus, and we’re in a ‘face to face’ relationship with Him (reflect can be translated behold), we are changed increasingly to be like Him (17, 18). The Holy Spirit’s work in sanctification causes each Christian to shine ever more brightly with the glory of Christ. The literal idea in (18) is that we are ‘transfigured’. The Greek word employed by Paul is one from which we derive our word ‘metamorphosis.’ This big, complicated sounding word describes the amazing process by which a caterpillar is changed into a butterfly. When someone becomes a Christian they commence a similar process. And so we are transfigured much like the Messiah, our lives gradually becoming brighter and more beautiful as God enters our lives and we become like him. The Message.

Each day, you can have your own personal transfiguration as you worship the Lord and yield to the Spirit. Warren W. Wiersbe: With the Word, p.758.

There is a paradox seen in (17, 18). It speaks of the ‘Lordship of the Spirit’, you might say. But where the Holy Spirit is in control of a life there is freedom (or liberty ). There was a lot of talk about ‘liberty’ in the Pentecostal church circles I moved in when I was a teenager. Often, what these dear people seemed to be referring to was a certain liveliness in the preacher (that might make him particularly fluent, and loud!!) or in the congregation (with similar results!). Some years later I discovered that the freedom of the Spirit, according to the New Testament, is a  freedom to become more like Jesus. This will happen when we are under the rule of the Holy Spirit. So when we are most led by Him we will be most truly free.

Prayer: Lord make my life a mirror to reflect your rays into this dark world.

Daily Bible thoughts 572: Thursday 13th March 2014:

2 Corinthians 3:7-11

There are three phrases in this passage that, I believe, supply the key to understanding it: …will not the ministry of the Spirit be even more glorious?…how much more glorious is the ministry that brings righteousness…how much greater is the glory of that which lasts! (8, 9b, 11). The New Covenant is much more glorious than the Old one. In fact it shines with surpassing glory (10b).

Paul here contrasts the two covenants:

  • The Old Covenant brought death (7) in that people broke that which was engraved in letters on stone. To sin is to die. To be sinful is to be in a state of death.
  • The Old Covenant condemns men (9). People who break God’s law are condemned by their actions. In fact they do not so much break it as they are broken by it.
  • The Old Covenant was glorious (9, 10, and see 7), but it was a fading glory (11): a point brought home by looking at the fading glory on Moses’ face (7b).

So what we have under the new covenant is better (as the writer of Hebrews keeps emphasising.)

  • The New Covenant is the ministry of the Spirit (8). As someone said, He, the third Person of the Trinity, is the executor of the God head. So we can say that whatever the Father has planned, and the Son made possible by His death on the cross, the Spirit makes real in our lives. An executor ensures you get what is yours.
  • The New Covenant brings righteousness (9). As the Spirit applies the God-ordained work of Calvary to our lives, we become right with  God (positionally) and we are enabled to live right before men (practically) by the Spirit’s power. Through His sanctifying work we become more and more righteous in life.
  • The New Covenant is one of surpassing glory (10)
  • The New Covenant lasts (11b). Its blessings are eternal.

Let’s realise, today, the enormous benefits of living in these New Covenant days. If you have put your trust in Christ to save you, and if God’s Spirit, thereby, has come to live in you, you have entered an era, a realm of indescribable glory. You have been brought out of darkness and into God’s marvellous light  (1 Peter 2:9; see also Prov.4:18). Take time today to adore the loving God who has so blessed you.

Prayer: Lord, I cannot fully grasp that I am able to see the light while so many grope around in the darkness, but I know that it is due to your sovereign grace.

Daily Bible thoughts 571: Wednesday 12th March 2014:

 2 Chronicles 36: 22, 23

Our long journey through Chronicles concludes with these two verses. As we take the final steps towards the finish line I want to make these points:

  • God is the Lord of history. ‘History is His story.’ Someone said that He stands behind all the scenes, and He moves all the scenes He is behind. ‘He’s got the whole world in His hands’ and He can give it, or a part of it, to any ‘Cyrus’ He chooses. As the hymn says, This earth belongs to God, the world, its wealth and all its peoples.
  • God is in charge of political changes. He raises up kings and queens etc and he removes them from office. On the chess board of life, the kings and queens are moved by a grand master to wherever He wants them to be. He is able to ‘checkmate every alien purpose that seeks to thwart His plans. The king’s heart is in the hand of the LORD; he directs it like a watercourse wherever he pleases. Prov.21:1
  • God’s Word will come to pass (Jer.29:10). It stands sure. We may have to hold on to it and stand on it through long years of pain, hardship and disappointment; times when it looks like the promises of God have failed. But let us be patient and persevering, saying to ourselves, ‘Let God be true and every demon a liar!’ A time will come when what our Jeremiah’s have sown in tears will spectacularly come to fruition. Just you wait and see. ‘God says it; I believe it; that settles it!!’
  • God, in His mysteriously wonderful sovereignty, is free to use anyone He chooses to bring about His purposes. He may even use people I don’t like or personally approve of! That’s His right and He doesn’t need my permission!
  • Whatever God gives you, recognise that it is God’s gift, and seek to use it accordingly, as a good steward of the divine generosity. It’s a sacred trust and you will be held accountable for doing whatever God appointed you to do.

While we wait for God’s Word to be fulfilled it is easy for us to get stuck in a rut (and the only difference between a groove and a grave is one of depth). We can settle down into a comfort zone. This is what it was like for many of the exiles in Babylon when the urgent summons came to leave and return home. They had settled down in a new land and built flourishing and prosperous lives there. The call to go back home was challenging and costly. What might God be asking you to do this day that is really threatening your alliance with ease?

All who belong to GOD’s people are urged to return – and may your GOD be with you! Move forward! The Message.

 Prayer: I recognise, Lord God that it is a priority to hear what you are saying and obediently move forward at your Word. Don’t let me cling on to any comfort zone, however cosy it feels.

 

Daily Bible thoughts 570: Tuesday 11th March 2014:

2 Chronicles 36: 15 – 21

People may not want to hear a message about the judgment of God, but if you discard this truth you disembowel the Bible. God is a God of love, but He is also a God of justice. So note in today’s reading:

  • Judgment can be delayed (15). It regularly is because God is so gracious and merciful to sinful people. Peter tells us that The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. (2 Peter 3:9). The again and again in 2 Chron. 36:15 emphasises God’s relentless love for His people and His determination to pursue them and give them every opportunity to repent. In His love and mercy God gives people time (2 Peter 3:15). GOD, the God of their ancestors, repeatedly sent warning messages to them. Out of compassion for both his people and his Temple he wanted to give them every chance possible. The Message.
  • Judgment will eventually fall (16). Even though it may be a long time coming, it will arrive, if there is no repentance.  But they wouldn’t listen; they poked fun at God’s messengers, despised the message itself, and in general treated the prophets like idiots. GOD became more and more angry until there was no turning back… The Message. The door of the ‘ark’ may remain open for a long, long time; but eventually the Lord will close it and it will be too late to change minds and mend ways.
  • Judgment is terrible (17-20). Its reality is almost too awful to consider, but face it we must. The judgment Jesus died to save us from is far worse than that depicted here. This is just a pale foreshadowing of the ultimate judgment, in Hell, when people find themselves eternally separated from God. …GOD called in Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, who came and killed indiscriminately – and right in the Temple itself; it was a ruthless massacre: young men and virgins, the elderly and weak – they were all the same to him. The Message.

Remember that God’s Word always comes true. Jeremiah was probably the most prominent of those rejected prophets (16). Despised as he was, his inspired words came to pass (21). This is exactly the message of GOD that Jeremiah had preached: the desolate land put to an extended sabbath rest, a seventy-year Sabbath rest making up for all the unkept Sabbaths. The Message.

Prayer: Dear God, keep us from diluting your Word to suit our own tastes.

Daily Bible thoughts 569: Monday 10th March 2014:

 2 Chronicles 36:11-14

So we come to the last in the line of the kings of Judah. The ‘puppet’, Zedekiah, does not offer us any cheer. The sad refrain continues: He did evil in the eyes of the LORD… (12; see also 5 and 9). This short passage tells us four things about his wickedness:

  • He was not humble (12): He was given the chance to repent, but he did not bow to God and to the Word of the Lord that came through His mouthpiece Jeremiah: There wasn’t a trace of contrition in him when the prophet Jeremiah preached GOD’s word to him. The Message.
  • He lifted up his hand against Nebuchadnezzar (13a): In fact, it was more a fist he raised, endangering both himself and his people. Then he compounded his troubles by rebelling against King Nebuchadnezzar, who earlier had made him swear in God’s name that he would be loyal. The Message.
  • He hardened his heart (13b) – and stiffened his neck! Notice that he would not turn to the LORD, the God of Israel. It doesn’t say that he ‘could not’, but that he would not. I am convinced that this is the main reason why people are not Christians. They may say they cannot believe, for a whole variety of reasons, but the truth is they will not believe. They don’t want to turn with all that it will mean for their lifestyles, and make the God of Israel, the God of the Bible, the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, their God. They just won’t have Him to reign over them. They want to remain captains of their own ships and masters of their own fates. (Please turn to John 12 and read verses 37 – 41. Consider the fact that behind the could not believe (39) there lies the would not believe (37). ) So Zedekiah hardened himself both inwardly and outwardly against God and His Word, and there were tragic consequences for him and for many others. He became set in his stubborn ways – he never gave GOD a thought; repentance never entered his mind. The Message.
  • He ‘helped’ many other people to go the same way he had gone (14): He was wicked, and led the people deeper into wickedness. He ascended ‘the hill’ of kingship, but he ‘fell down and broke his crown’ and many more ‘came tumbling after. ‘ The evil mindset spread to the leaders and priests and filtered down to the people – it kicked off an epidemic of evil, repeating the abominations of the pagans and polluting the Temple of GOD so recently consecrated in Jerusalem. The Message. If you’re called to leadership, you have to realise that your influence is ‘catching’. Determine to use it to lift people up morally, and not drag them down to the gutter. Sadly, Zedekiah ended up there, and he was not short of company.

While Nebuchadnezzar was taking Jerusalem to Babylon, the Jewish leaders were bringing Babylon to Jerusalem! Warren W. Wiersbe: With the Word, pp. 252, 253

 

Prayer: Lord, whenever I hear your Word, may you find my heart soft and responsive. Make me sensitive to even your faintest whisper. Let me not miss anything you are saying to me.

Daily Bible thoughts 568: Friday 7th March 2014:

 2 Chronicles 36:9-10

  • There isn’t a lot to say about this man Jehoiachin except, ‘Don’t be like him!’ Aim to walk in a totally different direction by God’s power. He clearly did not have God’s approval. That is reflected, in part, by the statement that: he reigned in Jerusalem for three months and ten days (9b). I suppose, with a reign so short that every day counts! Don’t be like him in sin: He did evil in the eyes of the LORD (9b). It was a case of ‘like father, like son’ (see 5). Instead, endeavour to be like the apostle Paul who wrote: So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it (2 Corinthians 5:9). If you read on into the next verse, you will see that Paul was motivated by thought of the judgment day when he would be held accountable for the life he lived on earth. Jehoiachin again says to us that we can’t sin with a high hand and get away with it. Maybe Jehoiachin didn’t reckon with a day of reckoning, but it always comes. Thou God seest me.
  •  Don’t be like him in captivity (10a). Jehoiachin was at the beck and call of another king who had the final say in his life. For ourselves, we who are ‘kings’ in Christ, we need to ensure that we are not being ruled by the one called in the Bible the god of this world and the prince of the power of the air. When he beckons you to ‘Babylon’ don’t follow. Don’t listen; don’t take any notice. You don’t have to. He has no authority over you. As Peter urges, Resist him, standing firm in the faith… (1 Peter 5:9; see also verse 8 and James 5:7). Dig your heels in and refuse to go with him.
  • Don’t be like him in letting go of your valuables (10b). Don’t surrender the precious things of the life of faith into the hands of Your enemy the devil (1 Peter 5:8), who is always on the prowl. He is the thief who comes only to steal and kill and destroy… (John 10:10). So put a good security system in place. Stay alert and on guard, and don’t allow yourself to be mugged. Hold on to your valuables.

So remember:

  • The devil promises you ‘the good life’ but he leads you into the bad life;
  • He gives you the illusion of freedom whilst making you his slave;
  • He pretends that he will give to you, but he is on the take.

We have been warned. Let’s keep watch ceaselessly. The price of freedom is eternal vigilance.

 Prayer: Although the temptations of sin may be powerfully persuasive and momentarily appealing, let me always remember Lord that they will lead me somewhere I don’t want to be.

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