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Free Daily Bible notes by Rev Stephen Thompson


June 2014

Daily Bible thoughts 649: Monday 30th June 2014:

2 Corinthians 9:6-15.

”He gives you something you can then give away’’ (From verse 11 in The Message.) Giving is a vital part of Christian discipleship.

We are to give generously (6; see also 8-11). This doesn’t just apply to money. It is a general spiritual principle that works out in many ways. But it certainly does apply to money. Think about the realm of agriculture. If you only sow a small part of a field, you will have a relatively small harvest. If you sow a large area of land you can reap a big harvest. I was talking to a farmer and his wife last autumn, and they told me that from a small seed sown you get back something much bigger, more plentiful than you might expect. Proportionately, what you harvest looks far more impressive than what you sow. But, of course, you will get nowhere if you keep the seed in your hand.

We are to give cheerfully (7). One famous preacher paraphrased the last part of this verse as ”Hallelujah! Here comes the plate!!” I heard another leader say that each month, when he and his wife write their tithe cheque, they rejoice that they have once again been able to put to death that greedy, grasping spirit; that poverty mentality that says, ‘I am fearful of shortage.’ Cheerful, and willing giving is one way to overcome the world. (Note that Paul did not stipulate how much people must give; only that they should do so, and generously. He wanted to see ‘free-will offerings’.) ”God loves it when the giver delights in the giving.” The Message.

We are to give abundantly (8-11).

  • The abundance of the giver (8, 9): In verse 9 Paul quotes from Psalm 112:9: He throws caution to the winds, giving to the needy in reckless abandon. His right-living, right-giving ways never run out, never wear out.” The Message. This is part of the righteous life God calls His people to. It is a life of supplying the needs of others (12), serving (13) and sharing what we have (14). By the way, have you noticed how giving binds people more closely together? ”Meanwhile, moved by the extravagance of God in your lives, they’ll respond by praying for you in passionate intercession for whatever you need.” (14) The Message.


  • The abundance of the harvest (10, 11). We reap more than we sow. But this harvesting is not for the sake of scrooge-like hoarding. It is so that the virtuous cycle of giving can go on and on in ever-increasing circles. The more you give, the more you have to be able to give. What’s more, the glory goes to God (11b; see also 13). ”Carrying out this social relief work involves far more than helping meet the bare needs of poor Christians. It also produces abundant and bountiful thanksgivings to God.” (12) The Message. And, as someone observed, the moment we stop being generous is when God will stop making us rich!


We are to give obediently (13). Giving is a mark of Christian obedience, and one of the ways we live out the implications of the Lordship of Christ.

We are to give in recognition of the greatest gift (14). Someone spoke of ”the gift of Christ, so great as to be beyond description, the spring and pattern of our giving.” The thought of Jesus’ self-giving should continually challenge us.

”Let us always remember how great God’s power is (Ephesians 3:20-21). From a tiny seed, God can make a great tree. But we have to let go of that seed; we have to bury it in the ground. If we keep that seed in our pocket, no tree will come from it. In the same way, a small boy once gave away five loaves and two fish to Jesus, and Jesus turned them into a feast for five thousand men! (see Mark 6:35-44).” Tom Hale: The Applied New Testament Commentary, p.683

Prayer: Lord I ask you to direct my giving, that I may always please and glorify you by generosity.


Daily Bible thoughts 648: Friday 27th June 2014

Isaiah 15/16

These two chapters contain an oracle against Moab. Moab was a small country East of Israel. Its founding can be traced back to Abraham’s nephew Lot (Gen.19:36, 37). So the Moabites were ”cousins” of the Israelites. What is more, David’s great-grandmother was a Moabitess (Ruth 4:13-17). But in spite of the blood relationship between the Moabites and the Israelites they remained perpetual enemies. Here are some thoughts from these two chapters:

How quickly everything we prize and live for can be over (1): ”destroyed in a night!”. Pride goes before a fall, and this was the predominant sin of Moab (16:6; see Prov.6:16, 17): ”We’ve heard – everyone’s heard! – of Moab’s pride, world-famous for pride – Arrogant, self-important, insufferable, full of hot air.” The Message. (See 1 John 2:15-17). Part of (16:14) reads like this in The Message: ”…that splendid hot-air balloon will be punctured…”

The futility of paganism (16:12; see also 15:2): In spite of God’s judgment on the Moabites, they still sought their gods. It was all futile, as it always will be. God’s disciplining and chastising work doesn’t always lead to repentance. Sometimes people just dig themselves deeper into their sinful holes. They’re not for vacating them at any cost!

Opportunity for repentance (16:14): Isaiah saw that this judgment would fall on Moab ”Within three years…” In the first place, the fulfilment of the prophecy would increase his credibility in the eyes of the people. But much more importantly, it would allow the Moabites time to repent and avoid the judgment (see 2 Peter 3:9).

The opportunity for refuge (16:1-4a): They should make peace with Judah (1, 2) and go to Jerusalem for assylum. God promised to protect Judah from the Assyrian army (10:24ff.) When God sends a word of judgment, He offers a way of escape, and gives time to do so.

The terror of judgment (15/16:7). We have an awful description of comprehensive grief. Look at the various references to weeping, wailing, lamenting, grieving, and crying out. So many Moabites would die that their blood would spill into the waters of the land (15:9). Isaiah could say that this time of trouble would eventually end (16:4b), but it would be desperate while it lasted. You will see how Isaiah’s heart broke for the grieving people of Moab (15:5; 16:5, 11). The Old Testament prophets took no pleasure in preaching God’s judgment. Isaiah’s heart cry surely reflects God’s own. He ”wants all men to be saved” (1 Tim.2:4). Think also about Matthew 23:37. We need to remember always that ”lost people matter to God.”  Someone said: ”You will never lock eyes with anyone who doesn’t matter to the Father.”  Isaiah is a challenge to us, raising the question: ‘How much do I care about people who don’t know Jesus?’ Their eternal destiny should be a matter of serious concern to everyone in the church. ”This is the only preaching which touches the heart of the unsaved. To announce their doom with metallic voice and unperturbed manner will only harden; but to speak with streaming eyes, and the eloquence of a broken heart, will touch the most callous. It is the broken heart that breaks hearts. Tears start tears.” F.B Meyer: Great verses through the Bible, p.275.

The coming of the Messiah (16:5): Isaiah looks way beyond the present trouble to a day when Christ will come and reign over both Judah and Moab, and ”justice” and ‘‘righteousness’’ will prevail. As ever in the prophetic writings, the light of hope shines brightly, even amidst the gloomiest gloom. We can thank God that it is so.

Prayer: Lord crucified give me a heart like yours.

Daily Bible thoughts 647: Thursday 26th June 2014:

 Isaiah 14:28-32

Trust in God, not man. Get your eyes on the Lord, and fix them on Him. He is all you need. He won’t fail you.

The Philistines were ancient enemies of the Israelites. They lived along the Mediterranean coast west of Israel, and regularly gave God’s people the ‘run around’ through the years. Isaiah prophesies that they will revolt against Assyria: the ‘‘rod that struck” them (29). However, he says that new Assyrian rulers will spring up who are worse than the former ones (29). So they should not ”rejoice” over short-lived victories. In fact, the Philistines are doomed. ”The LORD will be a shepherd to the poor of his people and will let them live in safety.” (30a Good News Bible.) But the Philistines will be destroyed by the Assyrians (30). The Assyrian army will appear as a ‘’cloud of smoke’’ coming ‘’from the north’’ (31). (Some scholars believe (29) refers to the king of Judah and not that of Assyria; either to Ahaz, who had just died, or Uzziah, his father. But the ”cloud of smoke” coming from the ”north” (31) indicates that it was the Assyrians who would finally destroy the Philistines . Whichever way you interpret it, the basic sense of the prophecy remains the same.)

Isaiah foresaw that the Philistines would send ”envoys” to Jerusalem, seeking to make an alliance with the Jews against a common enemy (32). But God’s people would stand firm with their trust in Him.

”It was as sharp a test of obedience for Hezekiah as was that of ch.7 for Ahaz; and the Philistines were formidable people to offend (cf. 2 Ch.28: 18 – 19) at this time. God’s reply is threefold. First, there is worse yet to come from Assyria (29); secondly, Philistia is a doomed people (30b – 31); thirdly, true welfare is only in the Lord (30a, 32). It is the constant message of Isaiah: trust, not intrigue.” Derek Kidner: The New Bible Commentary, p.643.

”What does one say to outsiders who ask questions? Tell them, ”GOD has established Zion. Those in need and trouble find refuge in her.” ” The Message. What a portrait of what the church is meant to be in this world. Established by God she is a place of refuge for people in need. Those who heed the church’s message and put their trust in God find that He will never let them down.

Surrounded by danger, enemies and seemingly insurmountable problems, choose to trust in the Lord. He is fully worthy of your confidence.

Prayer: Lord God, you know what is on my mind today. You know how it weighs upon me. I place it into your Hands. I acknowledge it was in your Hands already, but I need to consciously release it to you. It is too big for me to handle. Thank you for daily carrying my burdens. You are good all the time.


Daily Bible thoughts 646: Wednesday 25th June 2014:

 Isaiah 14: 24-27

Look to God for victory! He still crushes ”the Assyrian” in His ”land”.

This short oracle is directed against the nation of Assyria. (See 10:5-34). They were the world superpower before the Babylonians replaced them: the nation that took the Israelites captive. See three great truths about God:
He is sovereign (24, 26, and 27): He is ”The LORD Almighty…” (24a).Whatever He plans and purposes will come to pass. Not even the mightiest king can stand against Him and ”thwart” His agenda. You might as well stand in the middle of a heaving motorway with your hand raised, as try to stand against the rolling purposes of God. ”Exactly as I planned, it will happen. Following my blueprints, it will take shape.” The Message. It’s not just about what He has said, but what He has ”sworn” (24a; see Hebs.13:ff.). There is a ”Surely” (24b) about what God decrees. We know that His Word is true, and we can rely on it. What it foretells will happen. ”God is not a man, that he should lie, nor a son of man, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill? Numbers 23:19.

He is Judge (25-27): He will deal with sin and sinners; He will deal with all sin and all sinners (26). There will be no exceptions. ”This is my plan for the world, and my arm is stretched out to punish the nations.” (26: Good News Bible). What God did to mighty Assyria should serve as a warning to all nations. The only shelter from the judgment of God is found in Christ, and people from all countries can take refuge in Him. But if they will not, a real and fearful judgment awaits them.

He is the Victor/Deliverer (25): What God says He will do, He literally did. You can read the story later on in chapters 36 and 37. It’s quite remarkable. But although this happened historically, I believe there is a spiritual principle I can apply to my life. I am God’s ”land”. (See ”my” three times in verse 25) I belong to God. My life, in all its regions, is His territory. But ”the Assyrian” is within the borders of His land. I have within me a sinful nature that has an appetite for sin. It likes to sin; it wants to sin; it will be with me until I die. It is the devil’s ‘Trojan Horse’ or ‘fifth column’. Sin is an ‘inside job’, you might say. But God can ”crush” this enemy within. Indeed, He already has, at the cross, and I can experience victory because of Him. I can know freedom from slavery to sin. According to Paul, in Romans 6, I already do. But I have to work out the implications in my everyday life. I must fully play my part, and co-operate with the Holy Spirit all along the way. I must do all I need to do to fight and resist indwelling sin. But I need to be clear that the victory is the Lord’s (Rom.7:24, 25; 2 Cor.2:14), and He will give me all I need for holiness as I seek to act in His power, and follow Him in His triumphant procession. The mightiest enemies of all have been slain at Calvary, and I can experience the fruits of that in my life. This thought encourages me today, that there is victory for me in Jesus. There is victory for you too! (There is the picture of something heavy being lifted in 25b. Maybe that is exactly what you need.)

One final thought: It is characteristic of God’s strategy, someone said, that the enemy should be broken in God’s land, in his moment of apparent victory. (Read Acts 4:27, 28 and pause to reflect and rejoice over the greatest triumph.)

Prayer: Thank you Lord that when man (and Satan) were doing their worst, you were doing your very best. You took Goliath’s sword and used it to chop off his head. Hallelujah!


Daily Bible thoughts 645: Tuesday 24th June 2014:

Isaiah 14:12-23

Choose to walk the path of humility; It beats being humbled! God’s law of gravity says that ‘what goes down must come up!’

We are traversing what has been called the ”jungle of prophecy’’ (Chapters 13-25). These are oracles against foreign nations. Today’s verses for reflection form the last part of the oracle against Babylon. (If you are able, it would be good to read Gen.11:1-9 and Rev.18:2, 3 in conjunction with Isaiah 13:1-14:23).

Like the king of Babylon (12-14) Lucifer (Satan) exalted himself and was humbled, but Jesus, God’s Son, humbled Himself and was exalted (Phil.2:5-11). In so doing He has left us a pattern. This template is counter-intuitive; it moves against the world (we might say ‘Babylonian’) system, but herein lies real life (Jas. 4:10; 1 Peter 5:6). ”If the Lord’s going to raise you up, let him raise you up; but whatever you do don’t try to raise yourself up!”

You will see the repetition of the words ”I will” in (13, 14; see James 4:13-17). How different was the plan, the aim, the stated ambition, to the actual outcome (15-23). See what was intended, and compare it with what happened. Then learn! ”Stop! Look! Listen!” Ancient kings often fancied themselves as gods, but the more they lifted themselves up, the less like God they became. When the true God appeared on earth, it was in the form of a humble servant. When human rulers exalt themselves they follow the devil’s example and are energised by him (13; compare with Gen.11:4. The name ”Babel” is the Hebrew word for Babylon. From Babel to Babylon human nature hadn’t changed.)

Satan said ”I will” but Jesus said, ”Thy will”. The essence of sin is self-love; it is the enthronement of self, and effectively the replacement of God with me. ”I did it my way”. But there can only be one Lord in a human life (Mt.6:24). Who’s it going to be? ”If self is on the throne, Christ is on the cross; but if Christ is on the throne, self is on the cross.” Don’t you think today’s passage says that it’s not good to get your own way. I don’t want God to allow me to have my own way (however much I want it, if you see what I mean!) It’s an exceedingly risky enterprise when you seek to get your will done in heaven.

Powerful people in this world, those who oppose God and His people, will get their come-uppance in God’s good time (and that goes for the one who empowers them: Phil. 2: 10, 11; see also 2 Thess.2:4. When the antichrist comes:”the man of lawlessness”, he will be the embodiment, the incarnation of Satan himself. But he will be no match for the Lord Jesus Christ: 2 Thess.2:8). You can see in Isaiah 14: 12 -23 how the king of Babylon is going to be utterly humiliated. His ruin will be total. He will have no ”tomb” (19), no ”burial” (20). He will be ”Like a corpse trampled underfoot’’ (19). A man’s memorials include his grave stone and children, but the king of Babylon will have neither.

So, humble yourself under God. If Jesus is your Lord you will follow Him in taking up the basin and towel. (See John 13, and especially verses 12-17. It really is important to read these words.)

Prayer: Lord Jesus, suffering servant, help me to reject the way of self-importance, and take every opportunity to humbly serve.

Daily Bible thoughts 644: Monday 23rd June 2014:

Isaiah 14:1-11

Here are two complementary truths about life: a.) suffering is only for a time; b.) success is only for a time. So if you are currently navigating choppy waters, remember that this storm has come to pass. And if your graphs are all ‘up and to the right’, keep it in perspective. The prophecy against Babylon that we began to look at in 13:1 continues down to 14:23. See in today’s reading that:

  1. Suffering will end (1-4a): God gives ”relief from suffering and turmoil and cruel bondage.” (3) The people of God would be taken as captives to Babylon, but years before this happened, Isaiah saw that those exiles would return (10:20, 21). There is a part of Isaiah’s prophecy that is yet to happen (2). One day God will fulfil His ultimate purpose for Israel, to be a blessing to all the peoples on earth. The return of the remnant was an important marker on the road to the ultimate establishment of the Messianic Kingdom. When we go through our days of ‘Babylonian captivity’, as we do in this world, we can be sure that God will bring the pain and heartache to an end in His good time.
  1. Success will end (4b – 11). Three sharp pointed thoughts cut into me as I read these words:
  • Success is only for a time: The Babylonians were at the ‘top of the tree’ politically. They had barnstorming success, rampaging across the world of their day. But it was only for a limited period.
  •   Leadership is only for a time: In (9) you read about ”all those who were leaders in the world…all those who were kings over the nations.” (Underlining mine). Their leadership and authority is in the past tense. (It is good for those who lead in church life to recognise this truth also. We only have a short time to make a difference. Our status should not come from our leadership position but our relationship with God as His children. Too many leaders get defined by their role, and apart from it they don’t really know who they are.)
  • Greatness (in human terms) is only for a time. For a few short years people will clamour for your autograph, then life will go on without you, just as it has done in the case of every other rich and famous personality. Time may briefly doff its cap to you, but then it marches on, taking out more victims left, right and centre. So, success, leadership and greatness all come to an end. THEN WHAT?

Verses 9 – 11 read like this in The Message: ”And the underworld dead are all excited, preparing to welcome you when you come. Getting ready to greet you are the ghostly dead, all the famous names of the earth. All the buried kings of the nations will stand up on their thrones With well-prepared speeches, royal invitations to death: ”Now you are as nothing as we are! Make yourselves at home with us dead folks!” This is where your pomp and fine music led you, Babylon, to your underworld private chambers, a king-size mattress of maggots for repose and a quilt of crawling worms for warmth.”

”Now you are as nothing as we are!” It makes you think!! As someone said to me recently, ‘You’re dead a long time.’ That is certainly true. But Biblically speaking, death is not the cessation of existence. So you need to be clear about where your eternal home will be. That will be determined by your response to Jesus.

Prayer: ‘’Teach me to live that I may dread the grave, as little as my bed.’’ (Bishop Thomas Ken).



Daily Bible thoughts 643: Friday 20th June 2014:

Psalm 105:37-45

As we conclude our look at this psalm, the overwhelming thought we are left with concerns God’s lavish provision for His covenant people. It will encourage us today to think that this God is our God.                                               See:

  • His material provision (37a; see Ex.12:35, 36). It wasn’t just the gift of wealth, but an abundance of it: ”laden”, and that means a lot!! This material enlargement also included territorial conquest (44). The land of Canaan was inhabited by many godless peoples (Gn.15:19-21) ”He made them a gift of the country they entered, helped them seize the wealth of the nations.” The Message.
  • His provision of strength for the journey: ”…and from among their tribes no-one faltered.” (37b).
  • His provision of protection (38): He caused the mighty Egyptians to fear them and want them to leave their country. This was the Lord’s doing and it remains ‘marvellous’ in our eyes. ”Egypt was glad to have them go-they were scared to death of them.” The Message. Their leaving meant an end to the devastating plagues (38).
  • His provision of guidance (along with protection). This is covered in (39).
  • His provision of life’s necessities (40, 41). He gave them each day their daily bread, and water. They looked to Him in prayer, and He did not fail them.
  • His provision of great joy (43). ”He led his people out singing for joy; his chosen people marched, singing their hearts out!” The Message.

In all that the Lord did for them He was ‘remembering’ His promise to Abraham made centuries earlier (42).

It was also to the end that they might live as God’s Holy people (45): He did all this ”So they could do everything he told them – could follow his instructions to the letter.” The Message. The Lord did not give them all this blessing so they could live any old way they chose. They were expected to live to the praise of God’s glory, so that through them God’s light would shine on all nations to their blessing. They were not blessed to hoard the blessing, but to share it. The Psalm begins with the people looking to the Lord in trust (4), and concludes with them obeying. ‘Trust and obey’ is the essence of our walk with God too. Without the obedience, praise is just religious noise (Amos 5:23, 24).

Prayer: Lord, you have loaded us with blessings. Help us to not abuse them but use them for your glory.


Daily Bible thoughts 642: Thursday 19th June 2014:

 2 Corinthians 9:1-5

God wants His people to have generous attitudes. He doesn’t want them to be ”pressed men’ in the realm of giving. He ”loves a cheerful giver” (7). He desires that our giving should be the overflow of something good happening in our hearts (see 8:16).

”For the Macedonian Christians, giving was not a chore but a challenge, not a burden but a blessing. Giving was not something to be avoided but a privilege to be desired.” George Sweeting.

Paul’s handling of the Corinthians on this subject of the offering is a fine example of pastoral tact and sensitivity:

  • He reminds them of what they had promised. Paul knew they’d said it, and they knew they’d said it. Paul didn’t threaten, but he knew how to apply the right amount of pressure by letting them know he hadn’t forgotten their words, and that he had every confidence in them as people of their word!
  • He tells them he has told others about their commitment to give (and paints well a picture of what it will feel like if they don’t do so. They must have felt their cheeks beginning to redden even as they heard Paul’s apostolic words. They could indeed imagine how embarrassing it would be, especially if their failure to deliver came out in front of the Macedonians, who were famous for their giving: 8:1-5)
  • His words and actions demonstrated an expectation that they would make good on their promise, and not grudgingly so. They would know that they had effectively tied themselves by their earlier promise, and they would not be allowed to undo this particular ‘knot’.
  • He was sending the ‘finance team’ to them to help them prepare their contributions, so that when he arrived everything would be in order.
  • But he was coming to them! They would have to face him.

It is not unreasonable for church leaders to have high expectations of those they lead, and to make those expectations clear.

Prayer: May my own heart increasingly reflect the generous heart of God, as you change me by your Spirit.


Daily Bible thoughts 641: Wednesday 18th June 2014:

 2 Corinthians 8:16-24

In church administration generally, but particularly in matters of finance, we not only need to be above board, but seen to be above board. Here is a vital example to follow: ”We want to avoid any criticism of the way we handle this liberal gift. For we are taking pains to do what is right, not only in the eyes of the Lord but also in the eyes of men.” (20, 21). ”We don’t want anyone suspecting us of taking one penny of this money for ourselves. We’re being as careful in our reputation with the public as in our reputation with God.” The Message. ”Naturally we want to avoid the slightest breath of criticism in the distribution of their gifts, and to be absolutely aboveboard not only in the sight of God but in the eyes of men.” J.B. Phillips . If you remember, this collection was taken to help the poor Christians in Jerusalem. When people give to a cause, they want to know that their money is going to that cause, and not being diverted somewhere else.

In particular, Paul took pains to show that the men carrying the money were trustworthy, and not like Judas, dipping into the funds for their own gain. Essentially he gives them ‘character references’ in this passage.

  • He mentions Titus and his qualities (16, 23; see also 6). But Paul wisely did not leave this in the hands of one man, however great his reputation was. He didn’t want to leave him exposed to possible criticism (or even temptation?).
  • He also says: ”We’re sending a companion along with him, someone very popular in the churches for his preaching of the Message. But there’s far more to him than popularity. He’s rock-solid trustworthy. The churches handpicked him to go with us as we travel about doing the work of sharing God’s gifts to honor God as well as we can, taking every precaution against scandal.” The Message. (See Prov.22:1) He is described, in the ‘New International Version’ as ”…the brother who is praised by all the churches for his service to the gospel.” (18)
  • Then Paul mentions ‘‘another trusted friend” The Message (22) as part of the ‘finance team’. ”He’s proved his dependability many times over and carries on as energetically as the day he started.” The Message.

Paul could say about the two men accompanying Titus, ”they are representatives of the churches and an honour to Christ.” (23). ”The brothers who travel with him are delegates from the churches, a real credit to Christ.” The Message.

So it is our responsibility to ensure that all who handle church money are of unblemished character without a sniff of suspicion surrounding them. We owe it to the world; we owe it to the church. Above all, we owe it to the Lord Himself.

Prayer: Thank you Lord that you have blessed us so that we can be generous. It is a privilege to give.


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