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Free Daily Bible notes by Rev Stephen Thompson


October 2014

Daily Bible thoughts 738: Friday 31st October 2014:

 Isaiah 46:5-13

Here are some common themes from the later chapters of Isaiah. We are becoming familiar with them as they are hammered into our hearts by repetition:

  1. The folly of idolatry (5-7): If you are alive you can move; if you are living you can answer when someone talks to you; if you have the breath of life in you can help those who ask for it. The pagan gods could do none of these things. They were dependent on people to create them and (effectively) control them. How stupidly blind can you be to worship such a hand-crafted deity? The Message captures a sense of the absurdity of it all. It is just ludicrous to bow down to idols: ‘’People with a lot of money hire craftsmen to make them gods. The artisan delivers the god, and they kneel and worship it! They carry it around in holy parades, then take it home and put it on a shelf. And there it sits, day in and day out, a dependable god, always right where you put it. Say anything you want to it, it never talks back. Of course, it never does anything either!’’
  2. God’s knowledge of the future as a point of contrast with idolatry (8-10): An idol cannot speak about the future (or anything else!), but the Lord has an impeccable track record in terms of forecasting tomorrow: ‘’I am GOD, the only God you’ve had or ever will have –incomparable, irreplaceable – From the very beginning telling you what the ending will be, All along letting you in on what is going to happen, Assuring you, ‘I’m in this for the long haul, I’ll do exactly what I set out to do.’….’’ The Message.
  3. Cyrus as an example of God’s foreknowledge (11): ‘’…Calling that eagle, Cyrus, out of the east, from a far country the man I chose to help me. I’ve said it, and I’ll most certainly do it. I’ve planned it, so it’s as good as done.’’ The Message. ‘’The theme of prediction, a constant ingredient in these passages (cf.e.g. 41:23), receives its classic statement in v 10a; and the twin realities of the conqueror’s career-as both predatory and predestined-are set side by side in v 11a (cf.41:2, 25; 44:28; 45:1-7).’’ Derek Kidner: ‘New Bible Commentary’, p.660

The chapter concludes with a further appeal to turn to this unique, one and only God (12, 13; see 45:22ff) and take hold of a salvation ‘’near’’ at hand. But God is speaking through Isaiah to ‘’rebels’’ (8); addressing ‘’stubborn-hearted’’ people ‘’who are far from righteousness’’ (12). Will they respond? Even more pertinently, will we?

What idols do we cling to? If our trust is in anything other than the Lord God Himself, we cannot expect any help from that quarter (7b). We are looking for life among the dead.

‘’So to whom will you compare me, the Incomparable? Can you picture me without reducing me?’’ (5) The Message. This remains a challenge for us.

Prayer: How grateful I am Lord, that when I call you answer, so long as I do not cherish sin in my heart.

Daily Bible thoughts 737: Thursday 30th October 2014:

Isaiah 46: 1-4

As we saw yesterday, God said that one day every knee will ‘’bow’’ before Him (45:23). In the opening words of this chapter, Isaiah sees the two main gods of Babylon bowing before the God of Israel as they are being carried away on animals while Babylon falls. ‘’Bel’’ is an alternate name for ‘Marduk’, the chief god of the Babylonians; ‘’Nebo’’ was Marduk’s son. These gods could not save Babylon; they couldn’t even save themselves. They too ended up in captivity. They were incapable of bearing the burdens of those who worshipped them. Instead they would be a burden to the beasts carrying them! ‘’The no-god hunks of wood are loaded on mules And have to be hauled off, wearing out the poor mules – Dead weight, burdens who can’t bear burdens, hauled off to captivity.’’ The Message.

‘’Both gods were commonly transported in processions, but in this scene they are monstrous refugees, weighing down their struggling pack-animals. The contrast between these burdens, with their demands on money and muscles (6-7), and the lifelong burden-bearer, Yahweh (3-4), brings the series of attacks on idolatry in these chapters to a telling climax.’’ Derek Kidner: ‘New Bible Commentary’, p.660.

In contrast to the gods of Babylon, the God of Israel does not have to be carried. Rather He carries His people (3, 4). Although many of us may hope to live a long time, the prospect of aging and what it may bring with it can be a fearful thing. It is encouraging to know that for as long as you live in this world God will carry you, and then you will see His face in eternity. As your days so will your strength be. Here and now, those ‘everlasting arms’ are invisible, but no less real and strong. He made you. He will carry you and sustain you. When required, He will rescue you. You are in the best Hands possible. Old age can be a lonely time, where people feel isolated, neglected, forgotten, invisible, and anonymous. We live in a culture in love with the young and beautiful. But even the beautiful young things will get old (God-willing), and a lot more quickly than they imagine. Then they will no longer be the centre of attention and obsession. It is good to know that the Lord is no less interested in us when we are old. He doesn’t forget or abandon us. He doesn’t merely visit, but He is always with us as our Wonderful, supernatural ‘Home Help’, and so much more!

Prayer: ‘O God, Thou hast made us, and not we ourselves; we are thy people and the sheep of thy pasture; still bear with our wanderings and sins, we entreat Thee, till thou hast made us what we would be, and made us meet for thy use.’’ F.B. Meyer: ‘Great verses through the Bible’, p.286.


Daily Bible thoughts 736: Wednesday 29th October 2014:

Isaiah 45:14-25

‘’Foreseeing the great influx of the Gentiles, these verses leap far beyond the liberation. Chs.60-62 will take up the theme more fully. Here it is expressed first in an address to Israel (14-19) and then in an appeal to mankind to acknowledge its Lord, as one day it must, and thereby find salvation in company with the nation it once despised (20-25).’’ Derek Kidner: The ‘New Bible Commentary’, p.659

The words in (14) are similar to Paul’s in 1 Corinthians 14:24, 25. In fact, Paul may have had Isaiah in mind when he wrote that letter. God was speaking through the prophet about a more distant day when Israel’s former enemies will be gathered into the Messianic kingdom (see Isaiah 14:2). These people will submit to the rule of Israel’s God. They will come ‘’in chains’’; but they will come willingly. Because they know that ‘’there is no other god.’’ We are seeing this worked out now in the global extension of the kingdom of God. When people come into Christian gatherings and they fall down in worship, and say, ‘’God is really among you!’’ this prophetic word is still coming to pass. (See also 20 and 23-25 for this global vision).

The opening of (15) reads like this in The Message: ‘’Clearly, you are a God who works behind the scenes…’’ Someone said that God moves behind the scenes and He moves all the scenes He is behind. Verses 15-17 contrast the destinies of those who make (and, by inference, trust) in idols, and those people of Israel who will trust in God.

There is a paradox in this chapter. In one sense, God ‘’hides’’ Himself. As we saw yesterday, His ways can be mysterious, and He doesn’t owe us any explanations. But He is also the God who reveals Himself (19). He shows us what He wants us to know. There are secret things that are only known to Him, but there are also many revealed truths that we can enter into by the Holy Spirit’s illumination. One of those is that God’s people will never seek Him in vain (19b). This truth has helped and sustained me through many years. I know there are mysteries to God’s ways; nevertheless I also know He answers prayer. He is ‘’the Lord’’ (18): the Creator of all things. We are not ‘’praying for help to a dead stick’’ The Message (20b).

In (20, 21) God tells the world’s unbelieving nations that because He has predicted future events accurately (such as the role played by Cyrus in freeing the Jews) He has established His claim to be the one and only God and Saviour (see Isaiah 43:8-13; 44:6-8). Because of who He is; His uniqueness, God issues this heartfelt appeal to all people everywhere, to ‘’turn’’ to Him ‘’and be saved’’ (22-25). The words in (23b) are picked up in the New Testament by the apostle Paul and applied to the Lord Jesus (Phil.2:10, 11; Romans 14:9, 11). Take time to reflect on this and allow its significance to sink in.

‘’The concluding verses are remarkable for their picture of world-wide and heart-felt conversions, and secondly for the bold use the NT was to make of vs 23-24, applying them directly to Christ in Phil.2:10-11 (and indirectly in Rom.14:9, 11).

Prayer: Lord Jesus you are truly wonderful – the only God and Saviour, and Lord of all. Help me to know you more, and love you more, and serve you more.

Daily Bible thoughts 735: Tuesday 28th October 2014:

Isaiah 45:8-13

There is a picture of ‘showers’ of ‘’righteousness’’ falling down from the sky in (8). How we want such holy rain to fall on the nations of our world! This verse speaks of heaven affecting earth. God pours out something good that causes ‘’salvation’’ to ‘’spring up’’ and ‘’righteousness’’ grows with it; for God saves people to glorify Him by right living. That way this sin-cursed earth gets ‘flooded’ with righteousness. Salvation, of course, is God’s idea. It is His invention. It’s all of Him. People can’t be saved and live righteously without a sovereign work of God’s grace in their hearts. (By the way, salvation and righteousness are closely linked in Isaiah: 46:13, 51:5, 56:1; and, indeed, throughout the Bible.) ‘’Open up, heavens, and rain. Clouds, pour out buckets of my goodness! Loosen up, earth, and bloom salvation; sprout right living. I, GOD, generate all this.’’ The Message. I really would like it to rain heavily today if we can have this sort of cloudburst!

The salvation spoken of in Isaiah 45 mainly concerned the captives being saved from exile in Babylon. (But when we take the Bible’s big picture we know that there is a greater dimension to the doctrine of salvation, finally and fully revealed in Jesus.) Maybe it would seem strange to God’s people that He would use the fearful pagan emperor, Cyrus, to deliver them (9-13; see Isaiah 29:16 and Jeremiah 18:1-10). Perhaps they would want to question God on this matter. Maybe there would be a sense of God fumbling His work. So the exalted, sovereign Lord of history, the Creator of the universe, reminds them that He is God and they are not! He knows what He is doing, even when others may not understand. The object lesson from the starry universe has been similarly, if more gently, used in 40:26-31. ‘’Does clay talk back to the potter: ‘What are you doing? What clumsy fingers!’…Are you telling me what I can or cannot do? I made earth, and I created man and woman to live on it. I handcrafted the skies and direct all the constellations in their turnings. And now I’ve got Cyrus on the move. I’ve rolled out the red carpet before him. He will build my city. He will bring home my exiles. I didn’t hire him to do this. I told him. I, GOD-of-the-Angel-Armies.’’ The Message. God was going to raise up Cyrus in His ‘’righteousness’’ (13). It was not wrong for the Lord to use him; He would employ him to bring about right. All the time this powerful man would be under God’s control and not realise it!

There may come times for us when we do not understand what God is doing, and we are tempted to question Him. How appropriate, then, are these words for us: ‘’We must will and dare to believe that God is doing his very best for us, and doing it in the very best way.’’ F.B. Meyer: ‘Great verses through the Bible, p.286.

Prayer: Let your showers of righteousness pour down on this needy world today Sovereign Lord.

Daily Bible thoughts 734: Monday 27th October 2014:

Isaiah 45:1-7

It is remarkable that these words were spoken at least a century before their fulfilment. It is also jaw-dropping to think that they were addressed to a pagan ruler. This man’s great success was in fact the Lord’s success. We often think today of God opening doors of opportunity for service/witness to Christian people(Colossians 4:3; Revelation 3:7), but this thought was first used in relation to the job of a man who was an outsider to true faith (1b).God has the right to use people we would not choose. He does not need our permission to add people to His workforce we don’t approve. He doesn’t come to us for references. He will even employ unbelievers to get His work done (4, 5). But all that He did through Cyrus He did a.) for the sake of His people ‘’Israel’’ (4a), and b.) above all, for the glorifying of His own Name (3b, 5a, 6). This wasn’t fundamentally about Cyrus, but about the Lord Himself. Remember, it’s never about us; it’s always about God.

The reference to ‘’treasures of darkness’’ (3) is to those which were most carefully hidden, being the most precious. In conquering Croesus and Babylon Cyrus acquired inestimable wealth. As far as God was concerned, the high point of his career was the release of Israel (4, 13) but it is unlikely that he saw it like that (55:8). We find it hard to ‘get on the same page’ as God.

‘’Over and over in these remaining chapters of the book of Isaiah, God teaches us about Himself, about His greatness, His uniqueness, His sovereignty over all the earth. We need to let these chapters enlarge our vision of God and increase our love and reverence for Him. Isaiah isn’t simply piling up poetic phrases here; he is teaching us about the most important subject in the universe and in our lives: the subject of God.’’ Tom Hale: The Applied Old Testament Commentary, pp.1044. 1045. (By the way, the intriguing comment in verse 7 is a Hebrew way of saying that The Lord is Sovereign over all that is. He is in absolute control.)

God had two purposes in using Cyrus. The first had to do with the near future (1-4). It concerned the restoration of Israel, as we have seen. His second, and more long-term plan had to do with making Himself known. In the first place this revelation would be to Cyrus (3), and then to the whole earth (6). This second purpose is still being worked out today through the church.

It’s been observed that if God would do all this for unbelieving Cyrus, how much more He will do it for Christ, His true Anointed One, and for His followers. As we go out on Jesus’s mission, the Lord Himself goes before us and removes obstacles from our path. Look at church history. Consider what God did for a handful of despised and persecuted Christ-followers in the years following Jesus’ death! In country after country God has been opening doors for the gospel, and He will continue to do so until Jesus returns. The calling is ours, but any success is always His!

Prayer: Enlarge my heart’s vision of you Lord; clear the mist from the windscreen of my soul, that I may see you more clearly.


Daily Bible thoughts 733: Friday 24th October 2014:

 Isaiah 44:24-28

These words provide an introduction to the next chapter.

The Bible teaches that there is one creator God and He ‘’alone’’ (24) made the Universe. He didn’t sub-contract it out. He didn’t require any help. Although there is no specific mention of Genesis in this passage, we know from the first book in the Bible that God spoke and things came to be. It is interesting that we see that same pattern in the final verses of Isaiah 44. God’s Word is a creative Word.

  • He gives His Words to His ‘’servants’’/ ‘’messengers’’ and then ‘’fulfils’’ them (26a). It’s not that they can say any old thing that comes into their heads and God will do it for them. True prophets (as opposed to false ones: verse 25) hear from God, and He then does what He has said through their mouths. At the same time, He will thwart the work of those who are false. When God says that He ‘’overthrows the learning of the wise’’ (25) He is referring to worldly wisdom (see 1 Corinthians 1:19-21 and 3:18-20). He will expose it for the empty thing it is.
  • God promised again and again to restore and repopulate Jerusalem (26b). That is what He said would happen, and it did. May God speak a word of ‘population explosion’ over His church this day! If He speaks it happens. Surveying the church landscape in the western world, we know that there are churches that need inhabiting; there are new churches to be ‘’built’’; there are ‘’ruins’’ to be ‘restored’. God only has to command it and it will be!
  • What God had done before by His Word He would do again (27). At the Exodus He had commanded the Red Sea to part, and it happened. There was going to be a new ‘exodus’ in which He would bring His people home to Judah and Jerusalem. Every barrier and obstacle in the way was going to be overcome. He would ‘’dry up’’ any figurative waters in the way of His people.
  • All of this would happen: the captives would return across the desert to their homeland; and that home would be restored, rebuilt and re-populated, because God was going to raise up a Persian Emperor named Cyrus to get the job facilitated (28). The Lord was going to employ him for His own purposes. (See 45:4 and 41:25). God foretold this , and, of course, it happened!

One final thought: verse 28 pictures Cyrus saying essentially what God says in (26b; see Ezra 1:1-4), and what God wants happens. What God decreed, Cyrus did. When God’s Word incubates in our hearts, and faith grows; when we declare it, lining up our words with God’s Word, then powerful and creative things take place. I’m not suggesting that we can speak anything we like into existence. But when our words line up with God’s Word mighty things happen. Who of us has truly begun to understand the power in our Bibles?!! May that power be unleashed through lives and lips that are in line with Scripture.

Prayer: Help me Lord to be so immersed in your Word that I live and speak in agreement with its truth

Daily Bible thoughts 732: Thursday 23rd October 2014:

 Psalm 108:1-5

This psalm is made up of parts of two other psalms. Verses 1-5 correspond to Psalm 57:7-11; for verses 6-13 see Psalm 60:5-12. Someone pointed out that the Edomite crisis reflected in Psalm 60 was probably not the last David heard from that quarter. In some later critical moment David drew on his earlier psalmody and moulded and shaped it anew for fresh needs.

The worldwide vision in the Old Testament is one of its notable features (3, 5b). This outlook doesn’t belong only to the New Testament era. I am reading a book at the moment called, ‘The mission of God’s people’ by Christopher Wright. It is about the Biblical doctrine of mission, and much of its teaching is drawn from the Old Testament. David’s desire and intention was to glorify God ‘’among the nations’’ and ‘’among the peoples’’. His prayer was that God’s glory would be ‘’over all the earth’’. Indeed, his vision was not only as wide as the world, but as high as ‘’the heavens’’ (5a). Back in Genesis 12, Abraham was called to be a blessing to the nations (Genesis 12:3) and that missionary pulse can be felt throughout the Old Testament. There is a missionary/evangelistic aspect to our praise/worship. Preaching the gospel itself is a form of praising the Lord. ‘’I’m thanking you, GOD, out in the streets, singing your praises in town and country.’’ The Message. David Watson, writing about the day of Pentecost, said, ‘’A praising church preaches to answer questions raised by its praise.’’

God’s ‘’great’’ love and expansive faithfulness (4) will give anyone cause for song. The first stanza (1-5) of this three stanza psalm hinges on the reality of God’s unchanging love. But we do not always feel like singing. Reminding yourself of great doctrinal truth, such as that expressed in (4) can stir you to sing again. It can stoke the fires. But most of all, you need a ‘’steadfast’’ heart (1) to continue being a music maker to God through all the days of your life. Such a heart causes you to say with determination: ‘’I will…I will…I will…I will…’’ You make a commitment to sing the Lord’s song in a strange land. ‘’I’m ready, God, so ready, ready from head to toe. Ready to sing, ready to raise a God-song: ‘’Wake, soul! Wake, lute! Wake up, you sleepyhead sun!’’ The Message. It seems like David is up and about even before the sunrise, keen to get on with worshipping God. You certainly need a ‘’steadfast’’ heart to get you out of bed that early in the morning. David’s ‘quiet time’ wasn’t all that quiet it appears. But it was ‘quite a time’! He made so much noise he woke up the dawn!! There is no rule in the Bible about having to get up early for personal devotions. Not everyone is a ‘morning person’. That said, there is something special about the early morning, and many of the great Christian leaders through the centuries have kept David’s company in the early hours.

Prayer: Lord, I want to sing to you and of you always, not necessarily because I will always feel like it, but because you are worthy.

Daily Bible thoughts 731: Wednesday 22nd October 2014:

 Galatians 4:8-20

‘’In the egg, when first laid, there is a tiny point of life amid the thick, viscous fluid; but this gradually increases, while the other diminishes, and at last there is hardly a trace of this left, and the chick is formed, the egg-shell is broken, and the tiny feathered thing steps forth. The chick is formed in the shell.’’ F.B. Meyer: ‘Great verses through the Bible’, p.432

It is sad when you see people make good progress in the Christian life, and then start to regress (11). This is so painful for a genuine Christian leader. ‘’I am afraid that all my hard work among you has gone up in a puff of smoke.’’ The Message. That feeling is hard to take. Authentic ministry can be like childbirth (19). You ‘labour’ to see people become increasingly Christ-like, but this work can be excruciating. It’s never more heart-breaking than when you see people go back to their old ways. Do you know how I feel right now, and will feel until Christ’s life becomes visible in your lives? Like a mother in the pain of childbirth. The Message. Pray for Christian leaders. They carry burdens (and wounds) that don’t always show on the surface. They must persevere through great disappointments. Remember this and determine that you will keep them in your prayers, and not insensitively and unnecessarily add to their ‘load’.

There was a time when the Galatian believers were unbelievers (8). This is true of us all. We can look back to when we ‘’did not know God’’. When Paul says, ‘’But now that you know God – or rather are known by God…’’ (9), he is underlining God’s initiative in salvation; His sovereign choice of them. This always precedes our decision to move towards Him. In their pre-Christian days the Galatians were in slavery to idols. In going back to the law, Paul saw them as returning to a form of slavery (9, 10; see also 3). This wasn’t a palatable thing to say. It wasn’t a ‘sermon’ the Galatians wanted to hear. It wasn’t likely to get him an invitation to come back to their church!But Paul would not pull any punches with the gospel itself at stake. The false teachers, who had seen good success with the Galatians, flattered them for their own purposes (17). No-one could ever properly accuse Paul of such an approach. ‘’And now have I suddenly become your enemy simply by telling you the truth? I can’t believe it. Those heretical teachers go to great lengths to flatter you, but their motives are rotten.’’ The Message.

At the core of this passage we see the apostle himself as a living illustration of Romans 8:28. Can good come out of ‘’an illness’’? (14). It did in Paul’s case. It made it possible for him to preach the gospel to the Galatians. (It is thought Paul may have had an eye condition: 4:15; see also 6:11). God was working for Paul’s good. The Galatians treated him with such love and care. He was also working for the Galatians’ good. They heard the gospel through Paul’s physical problem. It can be argued that God was working, too, for the greater God of the many who would later read and benefit from Paul’s letter to the Galatian churches – ourselves included! An illness can have a ‘’because’’ attached to it. In itself it is not a good thing, but God can use it for good and great purposes. ‘’You were well aware that the reason I ended up preaching to you was that I was physically broken, and so, prevented from continuing my journey, I was forced to stop with you. That is how I came to preach to you.’’ The Message. But oh the pain the great apostle must have gone through, to be so loved, and then later on so rejected. Let’s determine that, as far as it lies with us, we will not cause such grief to the leaders Christ, the ascended Lord, has gifted to His church (Ephesians 4).

Prayer: Thank you Sovereign Lord that, although you may allow bad things to happen, you can be trusted to bring good things out of them.

Daily Bible thoughts 730: Tuesday 21st October 2014:

 Galatians 3: 26-4:7

Christian people are no longer slaves to the law but are sons of God. That is the big idea in this section. At just the right time, Jesus, the Son of God, came into the world to make it possible for us to become sons of God (4:4, 5). Be sure that God will never be premature or tardy. He will always be on time.

  • You become a son of God ‘’through faith in Christ Jesus’’ (3:26), and you signify this in water baptism (3:27). Baptism alone doesn’t make anyone a child of God, apart from genuine trust in Christ. Someone said that baptism, as a mere rite, is as valueless as a currency note without gold to back it up. The true children of Abraham are those people who believe God’s ‘’promise’’ and are counted as righteous as a result (3:29).
  • The ‘’sons of God’’ become part of a big family in which all the old distinctions no longer apply (3:28). You will notice that the term ‘’sons of God’’ applies to both male and female. In this new society you don’t cease to be a man or a woman, a Jew or Gentile etc, but those old differences no longer have the power to keep people apart. They no longer form barriers between men and women. In Christ we transcend them. There is a story told about a private soldier and an officer ,sitting in the same pew at a church service. When It came time to receive communion, the soldier stepped out into the aisle and stood back to allow his officer to go first. But the officer said to him, ‘’Not in here!’’ There is unity and equality in Christ. We are on level ground before the cross.
  • As a son of God it is your privilege to have the Spirit of God in your heart (4:6). He enables you to enjoy a relationship of intimate communion with your Heavenly Father. Because of the Spirit’s presence you can call God ‘’Abba’’. This is an Aramaic term meaning ‘dearest Father’. Its nearest English equivalent would be ‘daddy’. This is the same word Jesus used in prayer (Mark 14:36). As adopted children of God, we share with Jesus all rights to God’s resources.
  • Through Christ you become a son of God with the full rights of an heir (3:7). Under Roman law, an adopted child was guaranteed all legal rights to his father’s property, even if he was formerly slave. He would not become a second class son. Rather he would be equal to all the other sons, whether biological or adopted, in the father’s family.

‘’Are you a child of God through faith in Jesus Christ? Then you are also an heir and all of Christ’s riches are yours (Eph.1:3)! A child must wait until maturity to inherit the family wealth, but God’s children can have His wealth now (Phil.4:19).’’ Warren W. Wiersbe: ‘With the Word’, p.768.

Prayer: Lord God, help me to always remember who I am in Christ Jesus, and live no longer as a slave to the law, but as a son of God.


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