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Free Daily Bible notes by Rev Stephen Thompson


January 2016

Daily Bible thoughts 1066 Friday 29th January 2016,Luke 6:27-36 Called to a higher standard:

Luke 6:27-36 Called to a higher standard:

I have sometimes found when running that I do better going up a steep hill than running on the flat. I steel myself for it, gather up my energies and give it all I’ve got. So I was thinking that if you have a genuine enemy in your world you may find it easier to obey these words than you would with the ‘gentler gradients’ of the merely irritating, annoying and difficult people around you. They will surely have set up camp somewhere close to your house!

But start with these people, beginning today. Here’s your part and God will help you. (Step out of the boat and you will walk on water as you look to Jesus):

‘…Love…do good…bless…pray for…Give…lend…’

Such actions are within reach of every follower of Christ. The thing is to always seek to emulate God in His kindness and mercy (35b,36). How has God treated you? And did you deserve it? Exactly! Keep reflecting on that and let the understanding of God’s love towards you keep you moving in the right direction.

How wonderful the golden rule is (31). Make a commitment to live it today – and every day.

Prayer: Lord, I can’t pretend that it is easy to always be gracious, but I know I can be because you command it. And I know that whatever you order you also enable. So I’m available Lord – ready to bless everyone I come in contact with today. Flow through me, to your glory.

Daily Bible thoughts 1065 Thursday January 28th, Luke 6:20-26:Upside down Kingdom

Luke 6:20-26: Upside down Kingdom

If you are a person of means, don’t miss the challenge of these words; don’t try to evade them.

But don’t misread them either. Jesus is not saying that all the poor get into the Kingdom by default, and that all the wealthy don’t get so much as a sniff. Take the big picture that is the total Bible story. It is a basic principle of Biblical interpretation that you must compare Scripture with Scripture. Don’t take verses in isolation from other parts of the Word. We know from elsewhere in the Bible that there were godly people who were blessed with great wealth. It is also possible to be poor and live far from God. But Jesus was speaking here to His disciples who were poor (20). He was telling them that in the next life they would be more than compensated for their sufferings and privations now. But the rich people who don’t follow Jesus have got all their good things now. There is nothing to look forward to in the life to come. ( Remember the story of the rich man and Lazarus: Luke 16:19-31).

This passage shows how truly counter-cultural the Kingdom of God is. The culture says you can’t be happy in conditions such as those described in (20-23). But Jesus says His disciples truly are ‘Blessed’ (happy) whatever their outer realities.

I like the way this section opens with Jesus lifting up His eyes on his disciples. Of course eye contact is important for a preacher. But surely there is more than that here. Jesus really saw His congregation. He knew their circumstances, and He had compassion on them. He felt for them in their ‘present tense’, and rejoiced over what was coming their way in the future.

In recent readings we have seen something of the hostility faced by Christ (1-11). Following this Jesus we should not be surprised if we too are persecuted (22,23, 26).

Prayer: Lord, don’t let me be seduced by material things. Help me to look at everything in life through your eyes. Enable me to use my blessings at your direction and for your glory.

Daily Bible thoughts 1064 Wednesday 27th January 2016 :Matthew 7:24-27; Galatians 5:25 :Anchored to the Rock, moving with the tide.

Matthew 7:24-27; Galatians 5:25 :Anchored to the Rock, ,moving with the tide.

Just the other day Jilly (my wife) and I were looking at a beautiful yacht moored out in the bay. After a while I noticed it had changed position, and I made a comment about this. Jilly, who has had a lot of experience of sailing, explained to me that when a boat is anchored in a harbour, there has to be some flexibility in the rope for the vessel to be able to turn with the tide.

That got me thinking. As disciples of Jesus we are anchored to the Rock who is Jesus; anchored to God’s Word (Living and written). But whilst tethered to Him, we also have the freedom to move with the tide of the Spirit; to be turned by the currents of Holy Spirit life and power. We are both ‘evangelical’ and ‘charismatic’ and that is the ideal balance to strike.

Someone observed that if we just have the Word we will dry up, and if we just have the spirit we will blow up. But if we have the Word and the Spirit together we will grow up

Prayer: Lord God, keep me at all times anchored in you and moving in the Spirit.

Daily Bible thoughts 1063, Tuesday 26th January 2016: Luke 6:12-19:trysting place.

Luke 6:12-19: Trysting place.

These  were difficult days for Jesus. Look at verse 11. How did He respond? The twelfth verse tells us. How do we handle difficult days? We could say that Jesus prayed and obeyed.

Jesus was set on a lonely path,filled with angry opposition towards Him. Already the shadow of the cross was falling on His path (11). It wasn’t nice things they had in mind to do with Jesus. But the Father showed Him to build a team and who to pick. It seems to me that in the night He got light. The ‘day came’ in more ways than one (13). But even within the answer to prayer there were seeds of further difficulty (16). Yet in the purposes of God, Judas, more than any other disciple, was to help Jesus fulfill His destiny. Learn to thank God for ( as well as pray for) the difficult people in your world. They are not there by accident.

William Duma was an African evangelist, significantly used by God to bring many people to Jesus, and also he had a strong healing gift. The thing that most impressed me about his biography when I read it many years ago,lay in the fact that he had what he called his ‘trysting place’ – a lovers retreat. It was a lonely spot  high up in the mountains where he would go away to pray for days at a time. In fact, there came a season when the power began to wane in his ministry , and he was able to join the dots. He could see how he had become over busy and had been negligent of prayer.

I believe we see in Jesus that He received revelation/instructions in prayer (13-15), and power for ministry (19; see also 5:17).We neglect prayer to the detriment of our lives and the lives of many others. As ever, Jesus points the way. Let’s follow His example.

Prayer: Lord God, I want to walk in the closest possible fellowship with you. I know how weak I am. I can have good intentions, but I regularly fail to fulfill them. Please help me to be like Jesus and pray through.

Daily Bible thoughts 1062 Monday 25th January 2016;Luke 6:1-11:people matter.

Luke 6:1-11, people matter.

I am aware of a book having the wonderful title ‘How to be a Christian without being religious.’ From virtually the outset of His ministry, Jesus found Himself on a collision course with established religion. In the end, from one angle, we can say that it was religion that crucified Jesus. In today’s passage we already hear the rumblings of a distant thunder (11). It sounds and feels ominous.

One of the problems with religion is that it can give you a hard heart. It can make you unfeeling; uncaring. All that matters is keeping the rules; and you ( the religious person) get to define the rules, and say which ones matter. They are far more important than people.

Jesus taught, both verbally and by example, that people matter more than religious rules. Yes, God’s Word must prevail in all of our lives. But so often our religious rules are adding in some way to Scripture. We invent our own versions of ‘true’ religion, and the needs of people can become subservient to our systems.

Religous rules are most dangerous when they seem to run close to what the Bible  teaches. We need wisdom to discern what is Biblical and what isn’t. Anyone genuinely following Christ and wanting to be faithfully obedient to God’s Word will care about people and their needs. Jesus modelled this, and others, following in His wake, taught it (e.g. James 1:27).

Prayer: Lord God give me a heart like yours. Help me to love people much more than ideas and rules.

Daily Bible thoughts 1061 Friday January 22nd: Luke 5:33-39: when you fast.

Luke 5:33-39, when you fast.

We are in the period about which Jesus spoke in (35). This is the time when ‘the bridegroom’ has been taken away. We live between the times – between the first and second comings of Jesus – and this most certainly is a season for fasting. In the sermon on the mount The Lord said to His disciples, ‘And when you fast… ( Matthew 6:16). Not ‘if’ but ‘when’. It is a discipline expected of Christ followers.

Ever since my youth group in Wigan called for a fast, when I was around 17 years of age, I have recognised the importance of fasting and consistently proved its power in the life of Christian discipleship. I am thankful that when I went to Bible college in 1978, my already forming convictions about fasting were reinforced by two older friends, Derek and Anthony. They taught me the same truth but in different ways. Namely, ‘If you want a powerful ministry you will have to learn to pray and fast. There are no shortcuts to it.’ During our first year, Anthony and I regularly skipped lunch and went down to the ‘ark’ (the prayer space in the college cellar) where we would pray for power in ministry. I thank God for these two men who taught me so much by word and example. Anthony often said to me, ‘In days to come you will feel the impact of this.’ He was not wrong. I am also deeply grateful to Arthur Wallis, Derek Prince and John Piper who have shown me so much about the Bible’s teaching on fasting through their writings or preaching.

This is the era for fasting. Do you see this? Let me encourage you, if you haven’t already done so, to make a start, and see what God does through prayer and fasting!

Daily Bible thoughts 1060 Thursday January 21st 2016; Luke 5:27-32:A Gospel party

Luke 5:27-32: A Gospel party

This short passage contains what  must be one of the most ironic statements in the New Testament (31,32). The Pharisees and Scribes were sick – dangerously so – but just didn’t recognise it. How blinded to reality we can be (6:39). They were in reach of a cure for their terminal condition but just didn’t realise it.

What a lovely thing Levi (Matthew) did, getting his buddies over for a meal to meet with Jesus who had radically changed his life. One church encouraged their people to throw ‘Matthew parties’ where believers and unbelievers get to rub shoulders. You never know what the Lord will do with such a gathering. But religious people don’t like the idea. They will find reasons to take aim and fire. But if Jesus loves to hang out with non- disciples why should His followers be reticent? Admittedly, it stretches you. These occasions are not always easy. But it is great to take some risks for the gospel.

Daily Bible thoughts 20th January 2016:Luke 5:12-26, some thoughts on prayer.

Luke 5:12-26: Some thoughts on prayer.

I am a pupil in Christ’s school of prayer. I feel that I know so little and I continue to be a learner, but Here are some things I have picked up through the years. They are important principles and they are all found in today’s two stories which, it could be argued, teach about prayer. Let me mention some of the lessons and see if you can locate them in the passage:

Prayer must be fervent. It should not lack intensity ( see James 5:17);

Prayer has to be humble – it is not a conversation between equals;

Prayer should be submissive. It says, ‘Your will be done’;

Let prayer be collaborative. It is a beautiful thing when brothers dwell together in unity, and agree in prayer. Sometimes you may have to put yourself out in prayer in order to team up with others to pray for someone in need. It is a practical way we can show sacrificial love. Attending a regular prayer gathering is a way to love others and serve them. We carry our sick and needy together to the Lord Jesus, who alone can speak the gracious word of forgiveness and healing.

Prayer has got to be full of faith;

Prayer will need to be determined. There will often be obstacles to overcome and our requests will regularly have to be muscular. There will be a requirement for staying power. Yes, we bow to God’s will in any and every matter, but unless we know that He has said ‘No’, let’s endure in prayer, persevere in asking. Be determined to find a way through. Pray through to breakthrough!

But perhaps the most important observation to make from today’s reading is that Jesus Himself prayed. He felt the need to pray. This comes out especially in the early chapters of Luke. Dallas Willard, in his book ‘The spirit of the disciplines’ makes the point that it is not enough to tell people to walk in Christ’s steps. he argues that we can’t conduct ourselves as Jesus did unless we first and foremost seek to live the life before God that Jesus lived, experiencing the same pattern of withdrawl for prayer/fasting/solitude etc. That is a most perceptive and important point.

Prayer: Lord, teach us to pray.

Daily Bible thoughts 1058 Tuesday 19th January 2016:Luke 5 1-12:Step by step

Luke 5 1-11: Step by step

Jesus claims ownership of our ‘stuff’, and He issues commands; He doesn’t make suggestions. He is LORD.

‘But at your word I will let down the Nets'(5).

Put out a little (3), then put out further (4). The reasons for the two different commands to ‘put out’ lay in Jesus’ purpose on each occasion. The first time He wanted to use Peter’s  boat as a pulpit;  the second time around He wanted to use it to enable  these men to bring in an abundant catch of fish ( and teach them a lesson about evangelism into the bargain, v.10.) The important thing is always to listen to the Lord Jesus and do whatever He says. He knows what He is doing. He is the Master when it comes to ‘catching men’ and we are not even novices. So always obey Jesus, even when it doesn’t seem to make sense to do so, or doesn’t feel logical. This is the key to great fruitfulness (6,7), and Jesus still does astonishing things (9). Prepare to be amazed.

For Peter, surrendering his boat to Jesus (3) was probably a small step when compared with what came  next (4). This involved the surrender of his expertise; his pride,his knowledge and skill to One who was not, as far as he knew, a fisherman. So does Jesus regularly school us in the life of obedience, leading us on from smaller to bigger steps. If it was a big step to obey Jesus in (5), it was in the end to lead to the biggest step of all (11). Jesus will stretch your obedience.

The implication in the opening words of the book of ‘Acts’ is that we are into the story of what Jesus  continued ‘to do and teach’ (Acts 1:1). This is what Jesus did after His ascension, through the apostles, by the power of the Holy Spirit. He was still working with His followers to bring in a huge haul of people. This they succeeded in doing as they followed His instructions.

One other thought, when Peter gave up His boat to Jesus, what he got back was abundantly more than what he gave. Don’t you find that is the way with Jesus?

Prayer: Lord I am listening for your Word.

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