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Free Daily Bible notes by Rev Stephen Thompson


January 2015

Daily Bible thoughts 785: Tuesday 6th January 2015: Proverbs 23:19-28

Here are three more sayings of the wise men, from that collection of 30 proverbs that begins at chapter 22:17.

The first is a warning against excessive living, particularly with regard to food and drink (19-21). There are practical reasons for self-restraint. If you go down the route of over-indulgence it will take your money and sap your strength and health. Again, we marvel at the down to earth wisdom of the Bible. If only the world heeded it! This could have saved a lot of people a lot of problems over the Christmas season. ‘’Don’t drink too much wine and get drunk; don’t eat too much food and get fat. Drunks and gluttons will end up on skid row, in a stupor and dressed in rags.’’ The Message. Live like that for too long and you may well end up featuring in a documentary about obesity or binge-drinking! Perhaps both!!

The second proverb concerns honouring father and mother throughout life, and bringing joy and delight to them (22-24). Live in a way that will make your parents proud, if at all possible. The writer envisages doing this by obeying the ‘’truth’’ (23) taught by parents. For him, this will mean the truth that is in God’s Word, or in agreement with it. This is an important word to us all. Whatever God our Father has shown us we should cling to tightly, and live it. ‘’Buy truth – don’t sell it for love or money.’’ The Message. ‘’Do not sell the truth at any price…It costs something to live by the truth, but it costs even more to abandon the truth.’’ Warren W. Wiersbe: ‘With the Word’, p.429. (See also Proverbs 4:7)

The third is about the danger of falling into sexual immorality and adultery, and the destructiveness of such behaviour (26-28). This is a repeated theme in ‘Proverbs’. The ‘fruit’ may look delicious on the tree, but once eaten it is found to be poisonous.

How many lives and marriages could be saved by this Bible passage alone!

Prayer: Lord, let your Word spread through all the earth, and cause men to hear and heed its wise truth. Thank you Lord that ‘a fence at the top of the cliff is better than ‘an ambulance at the bottom.’ Thank you for your ‘fences’ – lovingly put in place to protect us; not to ruin our fun!

Daily Bible thoughts 784: Monday 5th January 2015: Ephesians 4: 7-16

In his commentary on ‘Ephesians’, John Stott makes the point that not only is there ‘saving grace’, by which we come to faith in Christ; there is also such a thing as ‘serving grace’ by which we express our faith in Christ in particular ministries (7). I believe we could paraphrase this verse by saying, ‘But to each one of us gifts have been given…’ Each part of the body of Christ has a job to do (16). In an atmosphere of honest love, the church grows, and ‘’builds itself up’’ as each member is fully and appropriately employed (15, 16). But it all comes ‘’From him…’’ i.e. the Lord Jesus who is ‘’the Head’’ of the church (15). In the earlier part of the passage it is made clear that the victoriously ascended Lord Jesus gives these ‘grace gifts’ to the church. The Jesus who ‘’descended’’ in the incarnation has also ‘’ascended’’ and His presence fills ‘’the whole universe.’’ (9, 10). The quote in verse 8 is from Psalm 68:18. That psalm pictures God returning to the heavenly sanctuary following the overthrow of Israel’s enemies. Because He is the conqueror, He has a booty; a largesse to distribute. These words are applied by Paul to Christ. They clearly are significant in what they say about Paul’s view of the identity of Jesus. He is none other than God. He has come through death victorious, and the gifts He gives are the spoils of victory. (It’s interesting to note that when a Roman General returned from battle as a winner, he would have a triumphal procession through the streets of Rome. The streets would be thronged with cheering crowds. His defeated foes would walk, heads bowed in shame, behind the conquering army, and the General would throw out the booty, the spoils of battle to the people on both sides of the road. What a picture this is!)

In particular, Paul speaks about the ascended Lord Jesus giving the gift of leaders to His church (11). There are a variety of leadership gifts. These people all lead, but not necessarily in the same way. They don’t all do the same things. But here is the key point. Why have they been given to the church? The answer is in (12): ‘’to equip the saints for the work of the ministry’’ as one translation puts it. Stott says that leaders are not given to the church to monopolise the ministry but to multiply the ministries. Leaders are there to help God’s people detect, develop, discipline and deploy their gifts. As they use them the body of Christ, the church, will be ‘’built up’’ (12).

What will it look like for the church to be ‘built up’? It will mean two things in particular: unity and maturity. The unity is ‘’in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God…’’ As the spokes of a wheel get closer to the hub, the closer they get to each other. So it is with Jesus and the church. The maturity is about Christlikeness – the church becoming more and more like Jesus.

When David Watson was rector of ‘St. Michael Le-Belfrey in York, he was one of the most famous clergymen in the United Kingdom. But he told his congregation, ‘’When people come in here and ask who the minister is, say ‘We all are’.’’ Such a comment beats in time with the rhythm of this passage.

Jesus is Lord and He is building His church through the ‘spoils of war.’ Praise God for all His gracious gifts. We go from victory to victory as we use them in the power of the Spirit.

Prayer: Thank you Lord Jesus for giving my life such eternal significance.

Daily Bible thoughts 783: Friday 2nd January 2015: Ephesians 4: 1- 6

Paul, as we have previously seen, regarded all of his life as being under the sovereign control of Christ, so he could recognise that there was a purpose even in his imprisonment (see 3:1). He was a prisoner ‘’of Christ Jesus’’ (3:1), and ‘’for the Lord’’ (4:1). His entire life, whether in good experiences or bad, was about Jesus.
There is urgency about living godly lives in this world: ‘’I urge you…’’ (1). At this point we move into the practical section of the letter where Paul is encouraging the Christians to apply all of this great doctrine in everyday life. Truth is to be lived-out. Sermons are to walk out of church in many pairs of shoes. Belief has got to get into your feet. The Authorised Version of the Bible talks about walking worthily of our calling. As someone pointed out, there is nothing spectacular about walking. It’s just putting one foot in front of the other and moving in the right direction.
We tend to read these New Testament letters personally, and it is right to consider how we, as individual Christians, can live lives that please and glorify God. As we go through the practical section, we will come across things that we must apply to our personal (and even private) lives. But never forget that the letters were written to groups of Christians. In looking at this section you have to bear in mind all that has gone before in ‘Ephesians.’ Jews and Gentiles have been brought into a new,united community in Christ. The old hostility and divisions have been removed. So in these verses Paul exhorts the church to be the church. The church is ‘’one body’’ (4). There is a ‘’unity’’ (3) in the church that is already given by ‘’the Spirit’’. But we Christians have an urgent responsibility to ‘’Make every effort…’’ to maintain this unity. Like in a marriage, where two become one, everyday there has to be work to express that oneness. Total humility, gentleness, patience, forbearance, love – these qualities oil the wheels of a marriage. They also enable Christian brothers and sisters to live out their God-given unity, even though as people they may be so different. One of the main reasons why the Christian community doesn’t always look like the united ‘body’ God has made it to be is down to the level of our ‘effort.’ We have to continually work at being the church God is calling us to be. When we live together humbly, gently, patiently, with forbearance and love, we live lives worthy of our calling.
In verses 4 to 6, Paul makes reference to the triune God: ‘’…one Spirit…one Lord…one God and Father…’’ The unity the church is called to is like the unity in the Trinity. It is a unity in diversity. Yet it is a unity of complete harmony. As we will see in the next study, we are all so different, and that’s a good thing. But although we may bring a variety of gifts to the table, we are one people in Christ. God wants that to be obvious to the world, and it will be an utterly compelling reality (John 17:20-23). A united church is a powerful evangelistic argument in itself.
Prayer: Loving Lord Jesus, I can see that the unity of your church means so much to you. You bled and died for it. May that unity never be damaged or broken at my hands. As far as it lies within me to do so, I want to live at peace with every other person in your church. This is my desire. Please give me your grace to be a unifying member of the body of Christ.

Daily Bible thoughts 782: Thursday 1st January 2015: Isaiah 62

’God’s promises should become our prayers.’’ Warren W. Wiersbe: ‘With the Word’, p.490.
Isaiah had seen a glorious vision of the restored city of Jerusalem (Chapter 60). As we have seen, this was a multi-layered vision. It had to do with the literal restoration of the city and its re-population after exile and captivity. But Isaiah was also seeing the Messianic age: the coming of Jesus and the growth and witness of His church. In addition, he was catching a glimpse of the ultimate ‘golden era’ when Jesus comes to the earth a second time, and His Kingdom is established in all its fullness.(For example, verses 8 and 9 clearly await a still future fulfilment.)
The question is, ‘What will fill the gap between the vision and the reality?’ ‘What will bring this great picture of the future to pass?’ The answer is: ‘Prayer will; persistent, persevering prayer is what is required.’ (See Luke 18:1-8). Isaiah himself was committed to being a praying man who would put his own shoulder to the wheel of intercession to help to bring this about (1). (Note that preachers must also be people of prayer if their messages are to be effective.) But the prophet could see that God was calling others to join with him in ceaseless, fervent, untiring intercession (6, 7). F.B. Meyer sees in these verses an echo of Christ’s unceasing intercession for us: ‘’…He ever lives to intercede for us, praying when we are silent, watching when we sleep…His prayer rises for his people night and day. Perhaps they would not pray for themselves, if his intercessions did not incite. Certainly his sifted Simons would drift beyond hope, if He did not pray for them…The prayers of Jesus hover over the world like the dove over the weltering chaos of creation.’’
What will cause the church to arise and shine brilliantly as she is intended to? (1). What will bring many people to this light? (2). What will bring about church growth on a large scale? (4, 12). What will cause God’s people to be known in this world as the bride of Christ; forgiven and reconciled to Him? (4, 5). What will ‘’Remove the stones’’ or ‘’Clear the debris’’ as The Message puts it? (10). What will clear the way for progress? Prayer is the answer to all these questions. There is a need for committed and continual prayer. On New Year’s Day 2015 the challenge is, ‘Will you enlist in this army of untiring pray-ers to see the church become all the Lord wants her to be? Will you take your stand where God ‘posts’ you on the ‘’walls’’ (6) ‘’till’ He makes His church everything He wants her to be? The church cannot stand in this world if its members are not kneeling. We cannot shine in public unless we are seeking in private. When will the head knowledge of this truth start to affect our lives? In what year will it begin to fill our prayer meetings and affect our personal lives? How about this new one?!!
‘’I’ve posted watchmen on your walls, Jerusalem. Day and night they keep at it, praying, calling out, reminding GOD to remember. They are to give him no peace until he does what he said…’’ The Message.
Prayer: I am turning up for duty dear Lord. I want to enlist. Please enrol me in your prayer army.

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