Home thoughts from

Free Daily Bible notes by Rev Stephen Thompson


August 2015

Daily Bible thoughts 957: Monday 31st August 2015: Jeremiah 14:13-22: Only the truth sets free.

 Jeremiah 14:13-22: Only the truth sets free.(please click here for todays passage)

‘’…only the real word of God will stand the test of time and experience.’’ A.E. Cundall.

False preaching (13-16): Jeremiah protested to God that the people had been misled by false prophets. The Lord agreed with him that they had been, and he assured him that these counterfeit preachers would be punished by experiencing the very judgments they said would not happen. Those who say there is no Hell will end up there themselves if they do not repent of their sins and trust in Christ. Tragically, the people in the pulpit who preach error take many of the people in the pews down with them. (For bodies to be left unburied in the streets would be considered a terrible disgrace by Jewish people: verse 16). The people in the pews, by the way, should have known better, because they had been given clear tests to apply to know whether a prophet was true or false. ‘’The sermons they’ve been handing out are sheer illusion, tissues of lies, whistlings in the dark.’’ The Message. No genuine prophet would encourage people into idolatry. The people could check the preaching with the Word of God (Isaiah 8:19, 20).

Genuine feelings (17, 18): ‘’None should preach destruction who cannot weep for those under its threat.’’ In these verses God’s heart is expressed through the mouth of Jeremiah. He doesn’t have physical ‘’eyes’’ that ‘’overflow with tears’’, but throughout the Bible His feelings and actions are described in human terms, because these are the only ones we understand. The Lord wept for Judah as a father might weep for his ‘’virgin daughter’’ who had been violated, beaten and left to die. There is deep heartbreak here. God was not indifferent to their suffering, even though He was the One who had to inflict it.

True praying (19-22): Here are some timeless elements of authentic prayer:

  • It is honest (19): It faces up to disappointments and difficult and unanswered questions (19);
  • It confesses sin (20). Jeremiah stood in a grand Biblical tradition of spiritual leaders who showed solidarity with their own people, confessing their sins as if they were their own;
  • It seeks the honour of God’s Name (21a);
  • It appeals to God’s Word (21b; see Leviticus 26:44, 45);
  • It recognises that God is our only hope (22).

Prayer: We pray for all who preach that they may first hear from you Lord, and bring your messages. Protect us from all error. Help us to be discerning.

Daily Bible thoughts 956: Friday 28th August 2015: Jeremiah 14:1-12: When fasting will not do.

 Jeremiah 14:1-12: When fasting will not do.(please click here for todays notes)

Chapters fourteen and fifteen consist of a kind of conversation between Jeremiah and God. Prayer is not a monologue but a dialogue; there are two ends to the telephone line. Are you listening as well as talking?

Jeremiah was driven to prayer by a time of drought (1-6). These verses paint a desperate picture and must be linked to the nation’s breaking of the covenant (Deuteronomy 28:12, 14; Leviticus 26:19, 20). It wasn’t just a natural disaster. In the rainy seasons that normally occurred, the ‘’cisterns’’ (3) would fill up with water as a result of flash flooding. But at this terrible time there was no water. (I couldn’t help but think that some people experience the spiritual equivalent of verse 3 when they attend certain churches!) The ‘’doe’’ is a creature renowned for her care for her young (5) and the ‘’wild donkeys’’ were among the hardiest of animals (6). These, then, were desperate times indeed.

In (7-9) Jeremiah presents the pleas of the people before God:

-Their confession of sin and backsliding (7);

– Their desire for God to do something for the sake of His Name (7; see also 21);

– Their sense that although God was with them, His presence was not being manifested; they were aware of His presence among them, but also conscious of His inactivity. He felt like a ‘’stranger’’ to them; like a ‘’traveller’’ who had moved on (8); like someone who should have been able to help, but couldn’t (9). ‘’Why are you acting like a tourist, taking in the sights, here today and gone tomorrow? Why do you just stand there and stare, like someone who doesn’t know what to do in a crisis? But GOD, you are, in fact, here, here with us! You know who we are – you named us! Don’t leave us in the lurch.’’ The Message. ( ‘’…a large number of inconsistencies and insincerities may make God powerless to help you, or to work mightily through you to the salvation of others…The Lord Jesus could do infinitely more in us, and through us, if we did not hinder. Be sure that the Kingdom of God is within, but you must let it possess you.’’ F.B. Meyer. )

– Their request that God should not forsake them.

God’s answer in (10-12) shows that the people’s confession was but words. Although it sounded sincere enough, God saw right through it. There was no genuine repentance in evidence (10; see 3:10; 15:6, 7; Isaiah 59:1,2). They mourned for their land but not for their sins; they were sorry for their plight but not for their evil. So God told Jeremiah not to pray for them anymore (7:16; 11:14). They had past the point of no return. Not even fasting could help now: ‘’When they skip their meals in order to pray, I won’t listen to a thing they say.’’ The Message. True confession involves forsaking sin (Proverbs 28:13). It is more than just repetitively saying ‘Sorry’ to God. Note the ‘’this people’’ in (10, 11) and compare with the covenantal ‘’my people’’ (9:7).

(The trio of disasters mentioned in verse 12b is intended to cover the full range of human misery. The curses for breaking the covenant, found in Deuteronomy 28:15-68, are basically variations on these themes.)

Prayer: Lord God, may nothing in me prevent the outflowing of your power.

Daily Bible thoughts 955: Thursday 27th August 2015: Psalm 119: 17-24: Eyes to see.

Psalm 119: 17-24: Eyes to see.(please click here for todays passage)

A stranger needs a map in order to find his or her way around. Earlier this year, my wife and I took a long walk high above the beautiful, serene green waters of Lake Brienz in Switzerland. Although we were following marked footpaths, there came a point, after several hours on our feet in the extremely warm temperatures, when we weren’t exactly sure where we were. It was at that point that we bumped into a friendly fellow-traveller. He was sitting on a bench, with a commanding view of the pure waters and towering peaks beneath and above him. Although he knew only a little English, and we spoke no German, he did have a map which he readily shared with us. Looking at it gave us some sense of where we were and how far we still had to go.

This section in Psalm 19 could prompt at least three prayers; three prayers that spring from a deep longing for God’s Word (20):

  1. Ask God for help to obey (17; see James 1:21-25): ‘’Do good to your servant’’ can read ‘’make full provision for’’. There is an important Biblical principle that God initiates and we respond. If we are going to obey Him we will need God’s prior work in our lives. He fully provides for our all need.
  2. Ask God for eyes to see (18, 19; see 1 Corinthians 2:12-14): In the ‘’full provision’’ sought, one thing is specified. It is the ability to understand God’s Word. As stated earlier, a stranger, or foreigner, needs a map to find their way around (Hebrews 11:9, 13; 1 Peter 2:11). We need to be given eyes to understand the ‘Map’ of Scripture. ‘Map-reading’ doesn’t come naturally. ‘’I’m a stranger in these parts; give me clear directions. My soul is starved and hungry, ravenous! –insatiable for your nourishing commands.’’ The Message. When I was first starting to read the Bible my mum gave me some notes from ‘Scripture Union’ to help explain what I was reading. It was then that I was introduced to the ‘Scripture Union Prayer’, which is Psalm 119: 18. Still today I usually use this prayer before I read the Bible. Someone said that ‘’…without divine aid there is no comprehension (18), without obedience no blessing (21, 22).’’
  3. Ask God for wisdom to understand (23, 24; see James 1:5-8): In the face of hostility in this ‘strange land’ (23) where we live as aliens, our strength is in the Word of God. Our wisdom is located there too. I thank God for the ministry of counselling, but I sometimes wonder if there would be such a need for it in the church as there appears to be if people really knew their Bibles and were able to apply God’s Word to their lives. All the counsel we need is rooted in a Biblical perspective. Anything out of line with Scripture is not going to help us ultimately (24). Alec Motyer writes: ‘’Our passions do not make the life of holiness easy (9); neither…do our circumstances. The earth is an alien place (19); society contains those who desert the word (21), personal – even official – opposition is encountered.’’ He goes on to say that the ‘’…longing for divine provision (17-20)’’ is ‘’matched by avoidance of divine displeasure through committed obedience…at whatever cost (even the disapproval of influential people), the Lord’s word dominates mind, emotion and the practical advice that directs life.’’ ‘New Bible Commentary’, p.567.

Prayer: ‘’Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things from out of your law.’’

Daily Bible thoughts 954: Wednesday 26th August 2015: 1 Thessalonians 4: 13-18: When ignorance is not bliss.

 1 Thessalonians 4: 13-18: When ignorance is not bliss.(please click here for todays passage)

In ancient times, when a dignitary went to visit a city, it was a common custom for the populace to go out to meet him on route, and escort him on the rest of his way. This would seem to be the picture Paul draws on in today’s reading. The visit was known as a ‘’Parousia’’ and this is a word Paul frequently uses for the second coming of Christ.

In what ways do these verses ‘’comfort’’ or ‘’encourage’’ (18)?

  • They bring knowledge (13). What we know can significantly affect our emotions. This passage is about certainty: ‘’According to the Lord’s own word…’’ (15). We are building on Rock when we construct our lives on Christ’s Word (Matthew 7:24-27). If we know the truth it will set us free.
  • They remind us that Jesus both died and rose again, and that our future hope is based on this concrete fact (14; 1 Corinthians 15:20, 23; Colossians 1:18). We can expect to rise again if we are ‘’in’’ This truth is our anchor.
  • There is the inference (14b) that believers who have died are with Jesus, even though their bodies are yet to rise from the grave (Philippians 1:21, 23).
  • They assure us that there will be a physical resurrection for fellow-believers who have died (16).
  • They tell us that both they, and Christians still alive at the time of Christ’s coming, will share the same destiny, which is to ‘’be with the Lord forever.’’ (17b).
  • They speak of a reunion. Although for a time we will be parted by death, one day we will be ‘’together’’ (17) again. The word translated ‘’caught up’’ is a particularly strong one meaning ‘to seize hastily’, ‘to rob with violence’, to draw to oneself by swift, sudden movement (see Acts 23:10 where the same Greek word is used.) A magnet will attract something if it is the right material. There can be no doubting the sheer magnetism of Jesus, and His power to draw to Himself, at His coming, all those who are His.

Reading between the lines, some of the Christians in Thessalonica had already died since Paul and his colleagues left town. The church had somehow got a message to Paul (perhaps they had written to him?) and they wanted to know if those believers who had passed away would suffer any disadvantage over others still alive at the time of the second coming. As someone said, Paul’s reply was, ‘Not at all. Jesus will come down from heaven. There’ll be enough noise to wake the dead!! They will get the front seats, and the rest of us will fill up the rows behind.’ All of these truths taken together mean that we don’t have to ‘’grieve like the rest of men who have no hope’’ (13b). Yes there will be tears and the pain of parting, but we have a bright light shining in our ‘valley of the shadow’ (Isaiah 9:2).

Although we do not have the answer to every question, we do know that one day Jesus will return to planet earth, and it will be the destiny of all true believers to be with Him (and each other) for always. Can you look forward to this? Is your trust in Jesus?

Prayer: Thank you Lord for unveiling enough of the glorious future you are preparing to whet our appetites.

Daily Bible thoughts 953: Tuesday 25th August 2015: 1 Thessalonians 3: 1-11: Tell me why.

1 Thessalonians 4: 1-11: Tell me why.(please cliché here for todays passage)

The Bible doesn’t just tell us what to do, but it also supplies reasons for doing it. Yesterday we saw how, in this section, Paul wrote to the Thessalonians about holiness, or sanctification: living to please God. If you read carefully through the passage you will see that he supplies a number of motives for his exhortations to good and godly behaviour. He not only tells us what; he also explains why. Here are reasons for his teaching on holiness:

  • God has called us to such a life (7); it is His will for us (3). He is our Lord and He is to be obeyed (8). We don’t get to write our own scripts; we follow the Lord’s. We are a people under authority; under orders;
  • Reinforcement of previous teaching given by the authority of Jesus (1,2. 9);
  • We are no longer what we were (5). We’ve been called out of the world of paganism and heathenism. Each believer is a ‘’new creation’’ in Christ: ‘’the old has gone; the new has come’’ (2 Corinthians 5:17);
  • We do know God and His ways (5). We are not like others. We have enormous privileges, and a huge responsibility to go with them. There are no excuses for living like unconverted people;
  • God will punish sin (6);
  • Have regard for the family of God (6a). Sin is primarily vertical in direction in that it is an offence against God. But it has horizontal Sin hurts God, but it also has negative effects on people. This is particularly seen in the teaching about marital fidelity. If you have an affair with a fellow Christian you are damaging her husband; you are doing wrong against your brother, and that should not be;
  • To win the respect of outsiders (12);
  • For financial independence.

The last two points above particularly relate to a Christian’s every day work life. A disciple, who is a representative of Christ in the world, should not be a layabout or a sponger, but an excellent worker, quietly influencing the world day by day. If we earn our keep, not only can we look after ourselves, but we will also be in a position to share with others who are in real need (Ephesians 4:28). For Paul, those who would not work did not fall into the category of the truly needy. They were not to be assisted.

Be encouraged that God never calls without also equipping. So everything Paul wrote to the Thessalonians was possible for them (and is possible for us) because of the presence of the Holy Spirit within (8b; see also Ephesians 1:13; Romans 8:9b; Galatians 5:16).

Furthermore, Paul had already prayed about these matters (3:12, 13) and, reading between the lines, was a fervent pray-er for this church.

Let’s encourage one another in a life of growing Christ-likeness, and pray for God’s help. We have every reason to live differently, and we are not alone.

Daily Bible thoughts 952: Monday 24th August 2015: 1 Thessalonians 4:1-12: The world’s largest room.

 1 Thessalonians 4:1-12: The world’s largest room.(please click here for todays passage)

In this passage Paul outlines certain aims and aspects of Christian living. In today’s thought we will consider what these are. Tomorrow we will look at why we should live in such a way.

In essence, Paul’s call is that believers should live in a way that pleases God (1) and make progress in such a life. There is no time to stand still. There is a repeated emphasis in these verses not only on upright behaviour, but also on advance and progress in the things of God (1b, 10). Where the Thessalonians were doing well, the apostle asked for ‘’more and more’’ of the same. Someone said, ‘’I’m in the biggest room in the world – the room for improvement.’’

So Paul is writing to the Thessalonians about the life of sanctification; of holiness (3a, 7). This is the kind of living that pleases God. It is instructive to note that there was nothing new about this teaching (1, 2). They were, in fact, being reminded of what they already knew. One important facet of the church’s teaching ministry is to repeatedly go over material that people know, but may not be fully living. It’s in their heads, but not yet in their feet! The expression in (4) ‘’that each of you should learn’’ shows, for example, that growth in purity is not automatic; it takes time. (The new Christians in Thessalonica had come from a ‘’heathen’’ background, and it would probably be a lengthy process for many of them to divest themselves of attitudes and practices that were natural to them in heathenism.)

Paul, in this section, writes about three particular areas for growth in sanctification. There is nothing exhaustive about his treatment of the subject, but probably these three things were particularly relevant to the Thessalonians. They remain of great importance to today’s church:

  • Sexual purity/self-control (3, 4);
  • Love (9, 10);
  • Daily work (see also 2 Thessalonians 3:10-12; Ephesians 4:28). It would appear that some of the Thessalonian Christians had, deliberately or otherwise, mistaken Paul’s teaching about the second coming of Jesus. They were sitting twiddling their thumbs in the departure lounge at the airport, cases packed, waiting for their flight to be called! What’s the point of working if Jesus is coming back soon? Paul gives good reasons, as we will see tomorrow.

If you content yourself with standing still in the Christian life, you won’t tread water for long. You will soon start to go backwards. Warren Wiersbe says that ‘’more and more’’ should be the desire of the dedicated Christian.

Prayer: Lord, I am aware of the temptation to stay close to the shore; to just paddle in the shallows. But deep within me I long to go deeper into your unfathomable depths. Please hear the cry of my heart for growth, progress and development. I don’t want to stay as I am.

Daily Bible thoughts 951: Friday 21st August 2015: Jeremiah 13:23: New colours

Jeremiah 13:23: New colours (please click here for todays passage)

‘’Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard its spots?’’

For a number of years our church held a house party at Bawtry Hall near Doncaster. The speaker at the first one had a repeated theme, and I think it got into everyone’s psyche: ‘’Things can change’’. We took that home with us, and he helped us to really believe it. He kept hitting this nail of truth with his preacher’s hammer until it sunk in!

It is also true to say that people can change. In the Hands of God people can be different. He can make them what they are not. We have a part to play in co-operating with the Lord in our metamorphosis, but we can’t boast of self-improvement. God is in the people-transformation business, and to Him be all the glory!

Tom Hale makes this comment on verse 23:

‘’Here Jeremiah cites a proverb to indicate that Jerusalem’s people were no longer able to change their evil ways. They had become hardened in their sins; they had become slaves of sin (John 8:34). When people persist in sin beyond a certain point – a point known only to God – they cut themselves off from God’s grace; they can no longer turn back; they can no longer ‘’change their spots.’’ This is all true – from God’s perspective. But from man’s perspective, there is always hope; it is never too late to repent…Up until the day he dies, even the hardened sinner can repent; and if he does, God will ‘’change his spots’’ (see Luke 23:32, 39-43).’’ ‘The Applied Old Testament Commentary’, p.1096.

What is the answer of the New Testament to the question posed in verse 23? It surely is that what ‘’the Ethiopian’’ or ‘’the leopard’’ cannot do, Christ can (Romans 5:6; 1 Corinthians 5:17). By His death on the cross Jesus makes it possible for people to be made right with God; through His presence within them by the Holy Spirit He can enable them to live right, more and more, day after day, until they are finally perfected in His likeness. Change is possible.

I understand that a man who had been a drunkard said: ‘’I have no problem believing that Jesus turned water into wine, for he turned beer into furniture in my house!’’ This man got a different skin; changed spots; new colours. In Christ He was a new creation. What He could not do for himself, Jesus did for him.

Prayer: Knowing your power I should never despair of anyone Lord. You change people. And I am aware that as long as I live I will need to pray, ‘Lord change me!’

Daily Bible thoughts 950: Thursday 20th August 2015: Jeremiah 13: 12-17

Jeremiah 13: 12-17(please click here for todays passage)

Warren Wiersbe, in his commentary on this chapter, places these two quotes at the beginning:

‘’Whoso would be a man must be a non-conformist.’’ Ralph Waldo Emerson;

‘’We need the faith to go a path untrod, The power to be alone and vote with God.’’ Edwin Markham.

Jeremiah, as God’s spokesman in dismal times, trod a lonely path. People, in the main, do not like to hear a call to repentance, or be warned of the judgment that will fall if they do not turn to God. They don’t like ‘Hell fire preaching.’ But although people may live as if sin has no consequences, those consequences will drop by one day, whether they like it or not. Yesterday we saw how this section of the book is full of images of the coming judgment; the devastation Jeremiah saw approaching on the horizon. He heard the galloping hooves of doom in the near distance. Wednesday’s notes looked at three of these pictures. Here are a further three:

  • Banished (19): ‘’And Judah dragged off to exile, the whole country dragged to oblivion.’’ The Message. As the Jerusalem temple was the place where God manifested His presence; the site where the people went to meet with Him, this exile is often seen as being thrust from God’s presence. That is the essence of Hell. If we refuse God’s company and friendship in this life we will not have it in the next. It’s that simple. Someone pointed out that Adam and Eve first chose to hide from God before He removed them from the Garden of Eden. Ultimately, what God will do in judgment is to rubber stamp the choices we have already made. We make our decisions then they turn around and make us, as someone said.
  • Blown (24; see Psalm 1:4): ‘’I’ll blow these people away – like wind-blown leaves.’’ The Message. Here is a warning: we will become like the objects of our worship. If what we worship is ‘’chaff’’ (and every idol falls into the category) then we too will become ‘’like chaff’’ – insubstantial people living for insubstantial things, leading empty lives When the wind of judgment blows through the land we’ll be carried away on the breeze. In ourselves we will always be people of worth as those made in God’s image; but we will live rubbish lives if we reject God for other gods, and our end will be the rubbish pile, whither we are wafted. (Chaff is the useless by-product of the harvesting process. The workers throw the grain into the air, and the chaff is blown away on the desert wind.)
  • Blushing (22, 25-27; see Micah 3:7): ‘’…you forgot me and embraced the Big Lie, that so-called god Baal. I’m the one who will rip off your clothes, expose and shame you before the watching world. Your obsessions with gods, gods, and more gods, your goddess affairs, your god-adulteries. Gods on the hills, gods in the fields – every time I look you’re off with another god.’’ The Message. According to the law of Moses, prostitution was not permitted in the land (Lev.19:29; 21:7, 14), and public exposure sometimes disgraced prostitutes. The picture here is drawn from that. A day is coming when all our hidden sin will be exposed and we will be ashamed. But for those who trust in Jesus and His finished work on the cross, there is a totally different prospect. Why would anyone reject Christ?

Prayer: Although people may like the ‘medicine’ in the message, may I never fail to pour it onto the gospel ‘spoon’ and offer it to all who will drink.

Daily Bible thoughts 949: Wednesday 19th August 2015: Jeremiah 13:12-27

 Jeremiah 13:12-27(please click here for todays passage)

In this chapter there are a number of images employed to depict the coming judgment:

Drunkenness (12-14; Psalm 60:3; Isaiah 51:17): We know that there was a widespread problem with drunken behaviour in Jeremiah’s day. Many of the leaders (including the spiritual leaders) had drink issues. Here God says that they will stagger into each other like bewildered, panicking, drunken people and thereby bring on their own defeat at the hands of their enemies. People may enjoy the company of ungodly friends, and feel secure in the rosy glow of collective inebriation. But it’s a false security. They will effectively help to bring each other down. It’s like feeling safe in a group as the wine flows and the talk and laughter grow louder, but no-one realises that the whole house is about to collapse in an earthquake. Feeling secure is not the same as being secure. For that you need Christ alone (Matthew 7: 24-27).

Ever-increasing darkness (15-17; see also Isaiah 8:22; Micah 3:6,7; John 12:35; 2 Thessalonians 2:10b-12): If we reject the light we have, we are opting for the darkness. This is what we are ‘ordering’ and we will have it. It will be served up to us. If you turn your back on the light, you turn your face towards the darkness. ‘’He compared them to a traveller on an unfamiliar and dangerous mountain trail, without a map and without light, hoping for the dawn. Instead of the light dawning, however, the darkness only deepens…He wanted to lead them through the words of His prophet, but the people wouldn’t follow. If we reject God’s light, nothing remains but darkness.’’ Warren W. Wiersbe: ‘The Wiersbe Bible Commentary (OT)’, P.1223. Verse 13 takes us back to what we read yesterday in verses 1 to 11. Jeremiah’s contemporaries, in the main, would not humble themselves and listen to God. They rejected the light and headed into ever-intensifying darkness (see Romans 1: 18-32.) They removed themselves from closeness to God who is ‘’light’’ (1 John 1:5). ‘’Let your lives glow bright before GOD before he turns out the lights, Before you trip and fall on the dark mountain paths. The light you always took for granted will go out and the world will turn black.’’ The Message. If you keep heading on into the darkness there will come a point where you can’t find your way back.

Labour pains (21): Doroth L. Sayers, the famous author, said that the essence of Hell is ‘’the truth discovered too late.’’ This verse describes the terrible pain they will feel when they realise that the nation they cultivated as their ally has become their overlord. If only they had trusted in God, He would have been their dependable Ally; but the nation they leaned on turned out to be their enemy. There may be much we can’t say about Hell. There is some degree of mystery about all it will entail, but it will surely involve the burning pain of bitter regret, as the truth is discovered too late!

Blog at

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: