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Free Daily Bible notes by Rev Stephen Thompson


July 2014

Daily Bible thoughts 664: Monday 21st July 2014:

2 Corinthians 11:7-15

We saw recently that the church faces the perennial danger of deception (3, 4), therefore we need to walk around with our spiritual ‘antennae’ activated, so as to be able to detect it. (At the same time, it is also good to be alert to the possibility of becoming obsessed with error, and of seeing heresy everywhere because you are always looking for it! There is an appropriate balance to maintain.) The church at Corinth was being influenced by some men Paul referred to as ”super-apostles” (maybe that is what they called themselves. It is how they saw themselves.) Paul has no hesitation in calling them out. He says that they are false leaders(13) preaching a false gospel (4) and he knew it came from a false place.

There is a personal devil and he is a master of disguise and deception (14, 15). If the devil can transform himself into ”an angel of light’’ just think what he can do with the people whose strings he manipulates. There are modern day preachers whose message is a Jesus of their own imagining and whose gospel is one of their own invention. But ultimately all the bad stuff they are rabbiting comes from Hell (even though they probably don’t realise it.) As someone said, it is possible to be sincere, yet sincerely wrong. Paul gives a dire warning about the ”end” of such ministers (15b). We should not be surprised (although we will always be saddened) by clergy who do not preach ”the truth of Christ” (10). Let the Bible always be the plumb-line by which we test everything. If their messages do not line up with Scripture then we must smell the danger and avoid it.

One mark of a false teacher is that he (or she) fleeces the flock. They are in it to make as much money for themselves as possible, and they do it off the backs of their ‘fan base’ that idolise them, flocking to their meetings and conferences, and buying their books and C.D.’s etc. Paul believed in the right of the minister of the gospel to live off the gospel. However it was a right he regularly did not insist on if he thought it might become a hindrance to his ministry. In Corinth, other churches supported him so that he could freely serve the Corinthians. However, some of them were being won over by the false teachers whose ministry was costing them ‘an arm and a leg.’ ”And I’m not changing my position on this. I’d die before taking your money. I’m giving nobody grounds for lumping me in with those money-grubbing ”preachers,” vaunting themselves as something special.” (12) The Message.

They should have been able to tell the difference between the true and the false, but they couldn’t. So let us take warning from this and stay on guard.

Prayer: Lord God, I want to know your Word so well that I can detect when something is false and avoid it.


Daily Bible thoughts 663: Friday 18th July 2014:

2 Corinthians 11:1- 6

”…this is the passion of God burning inside me!” (2) The Message.

Christian leaders should have a burning passion:

  • For the church’s faithful devotion to Christ (2): It should matter to us greatly that people we shepherd might love Jesus with ”sincere and pure devotion” (3b). We don’t want to see the church distracted by other ‘lovers’, or going off ‘arm in arm’ with other gods. We want to watch, in the church, a growing love for the Lord; a blossoming, fruitful and happy marriage. Paul always had a sense of the last day, and his accountability to God for the church/ministry entrusted to him. Something of that is seen here, I think. A proper understanding of our responsibility will give us this kind of intensity: ”I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy.” (2a).
  •  For the church’s doctrinal purity (3, 4; see also Gal.1:6-9): See, in verse 3, the close connection between mind and heart. You might think Paul would express concern for their hearts being led astray. But no, it is their ‘‘minds’’ he focuses on. There is such a big emphasis in the writings of Paul on the place of the Christian mind. Churches must be well taught because there are still people who preach another Jesus and another gospel, and it comes from another spirit than the Holy Spirit. (Here is one reason why we need the discerning of spirits). There are purportedly Christian people who are preaching stuff that is all out of plumb with the Word of God. Leaders have got to care deeply about this reality, and do what they can to protect the church from deception. The possibility of being ”deceived by the serpent’s cunning” has hung in the air since the Garden of Eden. The devil sells his lies very persuasively (”exactly as the Snake seduced Eve with his smooth patter…” The Message.) The problem in Corinth was that they were being influenced by the ”super-apostles” who set themselves up as superior to Paul (5, 6). Paul recognised that he didn’t have ”that smooth eloquence that impresses you so much” (6). There is the perennial problem in the church of good people being won over by style and not checking out the substance. If the packaging is exciting, some believers won’t worry too much about the content of the parcel. It may turn out to be the old serpent from the Garden inside that oh so pretty box!

As a leader, you may not be funny; you may not be able to reel off a string of engaging anecdotes; you may not have the most winsome communication skills. None of this really matters too much. But what is of great and eternal importance is that you should stick like superglue to ”the truth of Christ” (10).

Prayer: Help me Lord to love your church and do all I can to protect ‘her’ from error and infidelity.


Daily Bible thoughts 662: Thursday 17th July 2014:

 Isaiah 23

Tyre and Sidon were Phoenician (i.e. modern day Lebanon) cities that brought great wealth to the nation by shipping and trading. Tyre was a port city built partly on an island just off the Mediterranean coast, and Sidon was a second port city forty kilometres north of Tyre. How incredible that such a successful economy (8) could collapse. But it did, and the world should take note and consider. In (16, 17) Isaiah compares Tyre to a prostitute offering herself to the highest bidder. The chief goals of the people of Tyre were to gratify themselves and accrue wealth by any means possible. Does that in any way resonate with anything we know today? The passage movingly expresses the grief of the people at their losses (1, 6, and 14: ”Wail”). The city was evacuated of joy (7). It’s been said that people who cry over very little else in life will weep over the loss of money. (The Message talks about ”buckets of tears”.)

It is important to see that Tyre and Sidon were brought down because of their pride. That’s the big lesson for us to grab hold of. The central section brings us to the kernel of the problem: ”Is this the city you remember as energetic and alive, bustling with activity, this historic old city, Expanding throughout the globe, buying and selling all over the world? And who is behind the collapse of Tyre, the Tyre that controlled the world markets? Tyre’s merchants were the business tycoons. Tyre’s traders called all the shots. GOD-of-the-Angel-Armies ordered the crash to show the sordid backside of pride and puncture the inflated reputations…nothing left here to be proud of, bankrupt and bereft Sidon.” The Message. As someone said, people may think that they control the economy and what they do with their profits, but God is in charge and has the final say.

Isaiah could foresee a day when Tyre’s riches would no longer be hoarded for her selfish enjoyment, but would be lavished on God and His people (18). Wealth in itself is not evil, but what Isaiah condemns is:

  • The proud disregard for others that hoards wealth;
  • The pride that regularly comes with having wealth;
  • The pride in the commercial/business ability to make money;
  • The pride of success that gives no glory to God

God hates pride however it manifests itself.

To understand what should be the Christian attitude towards wealth and material prosperity, look for example at 1 Tim.6:6-10, 17-19. We should not make it our ambition to be rich, but if God blesses us with much, generosity is not an option.

Prayer: I ask that pride will have no place home in me. My desire is to sweep it out of the ‘house’. Help me Lord, for I can never do this alone.






Daily Bible thoughts 661: Wednesday 16th July 2014:

 Isaiah 22:15-25

Remember Haman, and be careful not to live for your own honour. No position is permanent. Death will remove some from what they are currently doing. Retirement will come for many. But also there will be those who find themselves forcibly removed from the roles they love and benefit from, by the Hand of Almighty God. At this point in chapter 22 Isaiah’s vision changes abruptly. It narrows down to focus on one man, ”Shebna”, who was an official of King Hezekiah (15-19). In his pride, he prepared a tomb for himself fit for a king. But instead of having a royal burial in Jerusalem, Isaiah saw that he would be sent away to die in a foreign land (17-19). He would become an exile. ”Man proposes, but God disposes.” ”You’re an outsider here and yet you act like you own the place, make a big, fancy tomb for yourself where everyone can see it, making sure everyone will think you’re important. GOD is about to sack you, to throw you to the dogs. He’ll grab you by the hair, swing you round and round dizzyingly, and then let you go, sailing through the air like a ball, until you’re out of sight. Where you’ll land, nobody knows. And there you’ll die, and all the stuff you’ve collected heaped on your grave. You’ve disgraced your master’s house! You’re fired – and good riddance!” The Message.

There is nothing surer than that one day you will be replaced (20 -25). This is true of good and faithful leaders as well as the Shebna’s of this world, who strut in the glare of the spotlight. But Shebna was to have his place filled by a man called ”Eliakim”. The latter would be held in high honour, and all his family would benefit as well (2 Kings 18:18), but eventually his honour would be taken from him (25). All worldly honour is temporary and will blow away like smoke on the breeze. Even the most famous are really only ‘famous for five minutes’. But the honour that comes from God is permanent. ”He’ll have the run of the place – open any door and keep it open, lock any door and keep it locked. I’ll pound him like a nail into a solid wall. He’ll secure the Davidic tradition. Everything will hang on him – not only the fate of Davidic descendants but also the detailed daily operations of the house, including cups and cutlery. ”And then the Day will come…when that nail will come loose and fall out, break loose from that solid wall – and everything hanging on it will go with it.” ” The Message.

The ”key to the house of David” can be understood both literally and symbolically. The steward of a king had the power to ‘open and close’ doors – to make decisions on behalf of the king. The key, therefore, symbolised the authority of the steward. Both Shebna and Eliakim, it appears, misused their authority, and it was taken from them. Jesus, the true and final heir to David’s throne, is the rightful possessor of the ”key of David” (Rev.3:7). He has given that ‘key’ (authority) to His church (Mt.16:19; 18:18). We must not use it to advance our own glory, but the glory of the true owner of the key, the Lord Jesus Christ. If we misuse our authority, we can’t expect to get away with it. All stewards will be held accountable (Mt.24:45-51).

Prayer: Thank you Lord for the role you have given me by which to serve you. Help me to live for your glory, and not cling to a sense of power and status for any egotistical reasons. Help me to always remember that the highest position on offer in the Kingdom of God is the lowest: that of a servant



Daily Bible thoughts 660: Tuesday 15th July 2014:

Isaiah 22:1-14

In verses 1 to 14 Isaiah sees a vision of Jerusalem as it is being besieged by the Babylonian army; a siege that took place more than a century after Isaiah wrote these words. Jerusalem is called the ”Valley of Vision’’ (1). This may have been a valley near Jerusalem, or a name for Jerusalem itself. Although the city was located on a hill, it was surrounded by higher hills. Isaiah foresees a city about to be destroyed but the people are feasting and grabbing their last moments of pleasure (2; also 13, 14). At the same time, the people have been dying of famine and pestilence, and not the sword (2). The leaders have run away and have been captured (3). Isaiah’s godly response to this devastating scene is recorded in (4). Perhaps it is true to say that our all too dry eyes are a rebuke to us. My attention was caught by the title of an article in a Christian magazine: ‘Make a mournful noise: How my church’s violent neighbourhood led us to discover the power of lament.’ One day recently I heard a terrible item on the morning news about the death and mayhem in Iraq. This was followed by an upbeat piece on the World Cup. It seemed so incongruous, and the world of football felt inconsequential in the face of such awful suffering. Concern for the lost should fill our eyes with tears and our prayer meetings with people, knowing that there is a worse (and eternal) destruction for those who reject God – worse than anything Isaiah could write about here. ”In the midst of the shouting, I said, ”Let me alone. Let me grieve by myself. Don’t tell me it’s going to be all right. These people are doomed. It’s not all right.” ” The Message.

Sometimes, it seems, we will do anything other than pray (5-11). Isaiah saw that the populace of Jerusalem would prepare for a long siege. I don’t think the problem was that they made extensive security preparations, but just that they did not trust in the Lord (11b) ”Those who trust in weapons and walls but not in God are doomed to be destroyed in the end.” Tom Hale: The Applied Old Testament Commentary, p.1020. ”You looked and looked and looked, but you never looked to him who gave you this city, never once consulted the One who has long had plans for this city.” The Message.

There was also the issue that the people did not turn to God in prayerful repentance (12, 13; see also Ezra 9:3; Jas.4:8-10; 1 Cor.15:32). There comes a point of no return (14; Is.6:9-13) where hearts are so hardened they cannot turn. Clearly, it was the time for prayer and not for a party! It is still the case in the church at large, sadly, that a party is preferable to a prayer meeting. This may not be true of your church, but it is the case in too many. We would rather party than pray. Yet we are surrounded by such desperate and dire need that should drive us to our knees. ”The church that is not praying is playing.” Leonard Ravenhill.

”But what do you do? You throw a party! Eating and drinking and dancing in the streets! You barbecue bulls and sheep, and throw a huge feast – slabs of meat, kegs of beer. Seize the day! Eat and drink! Tomorrow we die!” The Message.

Prayer: ”Lord crucified, give me a heart like thine. Teach me to love the dying souls of men…Give me love, pure Calvary love…”


Daily Bible thoughts 659: Monday 14th July 2014:

Isaiah 21: 11-17

Here are two short prophecies. The first is against Edom (11, 12) and the second against Arabia (13 – 17). Both are devastating, if brief, in their content.

Against Edom (11, 12): The opening words are full of significance: ”An oracle concerning Dumah”. ”Dumah” means ‘silence’, but it sounds like ‘Edom’ in Hebrew. After God’s judgment Edom will indeed be silent. It is good to remember that a day is coming when all the blasphemous, antagonistic, ridiculing ‘noise’ this world creates against God and His Christ (and His people also) will be silenced, and every tongue will have to say that ‘Jesus Christ is Lord.’ Even now, God is able to silence those who hate and oppose Him. Never doubt it!

Edom, also called ”Seir” (11), was located south of Israel. It was the home of the descendants of Esau, Jacob’s brother (Gen. 32:3;36:9). The people of Edom were bitterly hostile to the Jews (Ps.137:7) In his vision, Isaiah is the ”watchman” announcing God’s judgment on Seir. It has been ”night” for this place. They have experienced a ‘night’ of oppression from Assyria. But although ”Morning is coming” there will be further ”night” to follow – the ‘night’ of trouble from Babylon. Edom would experience a ‘double whammy’!

In our day, we Christians are like watchmen proclaiming that the ‘morning is coming’. We already see the first rosy tints of dawn in the Eastern sky. Jesus is coming again. We know it. God’s Word shows us. Prophecy’s many fulfilments endorse the Scriptures. But we also know that although it will be ‘morning’ for believers, it will be the darkest night for those who reject Christ, who is the ”light of the world” (John 8:12). We have to be true to both sides of the message.

Some see in the second half of verse 12 God’s invitation to seek Him. But the Edomites did not take Him up on the invitation. They were conquered by the Babylonians, and then by the Persians (who changed their name to ‘Idumea’), and finally by the Romans. The battle between Esau and Jacob was carried on by the Herods, who were Idumeans. After the fall of Jerusalem in A.D.70, Edom vanished from the scene.

Against Arabia (13-17): Even Arabia, far to the south, would not be free from Assyrian and Babylonian oppression. Within a year, the pomp and glory of the Arabian tribes would be over. Isaiah mentions several groups of Arabians who would suffer attacks from their enemies to the north. Some people today may think that they live ‘far to the south’; that they are safe, invulnerable, and impregnable, out of reach of God’s judgment. They may believe they have good reason for their sense of security, but they are holding on to an illusion. Their beautiful brightly coloured bubble will burst. No-one who rejects Christ is beyond the reach of God’s eternal rejection of them. They are foolish to think otherwise. God knows where they live in the ‘deep south’. His eye sees them there, and they are by no means beyond His infinite reach.

Prayer: Help us Lord to be faithful watchmen who are prepared to speak about both the light and dark sides of the message. Enable us to communicate the balance of the gospel.


Daily Bible thoughts 658: Friday 11th July 2014:

 Isaiah 21:1-10

Today’s reading again shows something of the cost of Isaiah’s ministry (3,4). John Henry Jowett said: ”Preaching that costs nothing accomplishes nothing.”

Great nations (and empires) will topple (9; see also chapters 13, 14): However powerful and dominant a country or empire may be, it is only for a time. Ultimately, all people will come before God’s bar of judgment and will be seen in true perspective. They will look small then. Isaiah, in this prophecy, ‘sees’ an ”invader” sweeping down on Babylon like ”whirlwinds” from a ”land of terror” (1). This probably refers to the Persian invader , because the Persian army contained troops from ”Elam” and ”Media” (2). Furthermore, it was the Persians who finally brought to an end all the ”groaning” that Babylon had caused – especially the ”groaning” of the Jewish exiles, who were held in captivity in Babylon for seventy years. At the ”sight” of the invasion of Babylon, Isaiah is overwhelmed (3-5). It is what he has longed for, but it is still frightful to behold. He calls to the Babylonian military to stop feasting and prepare for battle (5). It’s like they don’t know what is about to hit them. In Isaiah’s vision, the Lord tells him to ”post a lookout” (6-10), probably on the walls of Jerusalem, to watch for anyone coming with news from Babylon. Finally, the lookout sees the approach of a ”man in a chariot” whodelivers the news that ”Babylon has fallen”.  Great cities will fall (9): The fall of Babylon is picked up again as a theme in Revelation 18, where Babylon symbolises the entire world system. I have to say that on ‘9/11’ words came into my mind from Rev.18:10: ” ‘ Woe! Woe, O great city, O Babylon, city of power! In one hour your doom has come!’ ” It’s not that I thought that those Biblical words were fulfilled on that day; it was more a recognition that all that this world prizes and values and admires can fall to the ground so quickly and easily, because we build on sand and not rock.

False religion will be shown to be false (9): The Babylonians thought that they were successful because of their gods. Their religion fired and fuelled them. They strode across the world believing that they and their deities were unstoppable. Eventually God pricked their religious balloon, and they had nothing but empty air. Ultimately God will show to everyone the illusory nature of the things they trust in.

God’s suffering people will be delivered (10): The ”threshing” speaks of judgment. Here, inspired by the Holy Spirit, Isaiah looks ahead to the Jewish exile in Babylon, which took place more than a century after Isaiah saw this vision. That exile would indeed be God’s judgment on His own disobedient people. But although they would be ”threshed” they would not be utterly destroyed. Not so with Babylon, however, who would fall never to rise again. These words must surely have comforted the exiles in Babylon many years later.

”Because of this news I’m doubled up in pain, writhing in pain like a woman having a baby…’ The Message. It is true that ministry without a price tag is ineffective. One of the costs of authentic ministry is that of standing on the ”watchtower” and looking to and for the Lord (6, 7 and 11, 12). It is an enormous privilege to do so, but also a huge responsibility. The church needs leaders who will ‘pray the price!’

Prayer: Thank you Lord Jesus that you have moved me out of a house built on sand and placed my feet firmly on the rock.


Daily Bible thoughts 657: Thursday 10th July 2014:

Isaiah 20

After the prophecies given against first Cush, and then Egypt, there comes a further combined one against them both. There is a repeated call in the Scriptures to trust only in the Lord, and not in man. We hear that call again in this short chapter. In 722 B.C. the Assyrians conquered the northern kingdom of Israel. Judah, under King Hezekiah, understandably felt twitchy. Hezekiah was under great pressure to form an alliance with Egypt and Cush against the Assyrians. In 711 B.C. the Philistine city of Ashdod revolted against the Assyrians. They believed that Egypt, Cush, and possibly their old enemy Judah would join them in their rebellion. Through Isaiah God warned Judah not to rely on Egypt and Cush. They would soon be humiliated by the Assyrians.

Before the Lord could speak ”through” Isaiah, He had to first speak ”to” him (2). Do you live in such a way that you give yourself maximum opportunity to hear God’s voice; even to be able to detect His faintest whisper? Do you quite deliberately put yourself in a place day by day where you can listen to Him?

For ”three years’’ (3, 4), Isaiah’s life was a visual aid. His life spoke a clear message. God still speaks to His people today, and wants to speak through them. He will do this through their lips, but also through their lives. Let me so live with the ‘volume turned up’ that no one can miss the God-given message of my life! But to live out God’s calling will not necessarily be easy or convenient or comfortable. How would you like a ministry like Isaiah’s? The issue is not success but faithfulness. I don’t think Isaiah would have been asked at any successful leadership type conference. But centuries after his death, his words and his life are still speaking to us. Live in such a way that your influence may outlast you. Isaiah asks a question of us: are we prepared to sacrifice our pride in order to serve God. Someone said: ”I’m a fool for Christ”. Then he added, ”Whose fool are you?” Isaiah had to act out the part of a humiliated Cushite or Egyptian warrior. For at least three years he looked foolish indeed in the eyes of the people who saw him. Fruitful ministry does not come without cost.

The message we carry to the world is that our trust should only be in God’s Son Jesus, and His work on the cross (5, 6). To look anywhere else, and to anyone else for salvation, other than to the Lord is futile. To become a Christian you have to transfer your trust to Jesus. ”How then can we escape?” if we look elsewhere for deliverance? (Hebs. 2:1-4.)

Prayer: Thank you Lord that you still look for attentive people who will listen to you; willing people who will do what you ask. May there be nothing to block my ears to your voice, and no pride that keeps me from obeying you.


Daily Bible thoughts 656: Wednesday 9th July 2014:

Psalm 106:16-31

This is a psalm of confession. Confession is an important part of both personal and corporate worship. We need to be able to regularly admit that we’ve done wrong and receive forgiveness from God, and find renewal of peace. It’s hard to live with a guilty conscience. Here, in this long psalm, we have the confession of seven instances of Israel’s sin from the time of the exodus to the entrance into Canaan.

It is possible for people to become jealous of leaders for all kinds of subtle reasons, as well as the more obvious ones (16-18). We may not always fully understand ourselves and what is really going on in our hearts. Leaders can become ”envious” of other leaders. People in the congregation can feel similarly about those in authority. Perhaps some look at them and covet their roles. But we should learn from this incident (Nu.16:1-35) that it is a dangerous move to set yourselves against God’s appointed and anointed leadership. Here is one of God’s ‘Danger’ signs in the road telling us to beware. If you act in a way you shouldn’t towards a leader you may well find the ground give way beneath you. There is more than one way for this to happen!

On our pilgrimage we too can lose the vision of God. We can become forgetful of the wonderful things He has done for us. We can also all too easily turn to substitutes and look to them for deep satisfaction (19-23; see Ex.32:1-30/Ro.1:22, 23)). ”They traded the Glory for a cheap piece of sculpture – a grass-chewing bull! They forgot God, their very own Savior, who turned things around in Egypt, Who created a world of wonders in the land of Ham, who gave that stunning performance at the Red Sea.” The Message. You don’t have to literally erect a golden calf to become an idolater. Maybe you have become disappointed with God and your lot on the Christian journey, and in your heart you have drifted off to find fulfilment elsewhere. You now look for life in your hobby, which has assumed far too great an importance in your heart. Or perhaps your pursuit of happiness is in something (or someone else),but God has been dethroned in your life, even though you may still attend church. Your body is in a pew, but the best part of you is somewhere else. Verse 23 shows the power of intercessory prayer. Although these people had strayed so far from God, Moses’ prayers brought about a great deliverance (Ex.32:9-14, 31-35). Who do you need to ‘stand in the gap’ for today? (Moses here, is a foreshadowing of Jesus, who ultimately ”stood in the breach before him” at the cross, in order to rescue us from God’s wrath.) Note that in (28-31; see Nu.25:1-9) there is another similar instance of a spiritual leader having a massive impact for good on a sinning people. Church leaders have a huge task on their hands. They are engaged in a spiritual battle, as we saw yesterday. It is a battle for hearts and minds, to see every single thought taken a prisoner for Jesus. No human is sufficient for these things, so leaders have a great work to do in prayer. Let us ensure that we also pray for them in the burdens they carry. The prayers of leaders can rescue those who are turning away to ‘idols’. Your prayers can achieve the same results too!

It is dangerously possible for us to ‘despise’ what God has given to us, and even in the middle of our blessings to grumble and complain instead of praising God. We need to learn from these things. They were written for our help and instruction and warning. ”They went on to reject the Blessed Land, didn’t believe a word of what God promised. They found fault with the life they had and turned a deaf ear to GOD’s voice.” The Message. Determine to make it a habit to ”count your blessings.” Cultivate an ”attitude of gratitude”. We too may seriously lose out if we do these four things: a.) Despise our blessings; b.) become ‘unbelieving believers’; c.) grumble in our ‘tents’; and d.) fail to obey God (24-27; see also Nu.14:1-35; Hebs.3:12, 17-19, 4:1). If, as many think, the psalmist was himself an exile, he knew that his own generation had experienced the punishment written about in (27; see Lev.26:33). God’s Word is to be taken seriously. He never forgets what He has written. ”This is the privilege of possessing the word of God and the reason why it is our cardinal sin to ignore it: the word of God is the living voice of God.” J.A.Motyer: The New Bible Commentary,p.556.                

Prayer: Lord God, you have blessed me so abundantly and I thank you.



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