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Free Daily Bible notes by Rev Stephen Thompson


May 2016

Daily Bible thoughts 1152: Tuesday 31st May 2016: Luke 22:14-23: Remember.

Luke 22:14-23: Remember.(please click for todays passage)

The gospels are not strict biographies as such. In them you find such a concentration on the events surrounding the death of Jesus. It’s estimated that between a quarter and a third of the contents deal with the last week of His life. Someone said that the gospels set off like express trains, but then the brakes are applied, until we gradually come to a halt at the foot of the cross. In a normal biography there is much more of a focus on the whole life, and not just the end of it.

When we want to remember someone we love, we usually keep a photo of them in a prominent place, showing how they appeared when they were alive and well. But Jesus wanted to be remembered in His death. He lived like His death was the most important part of His life.

His death was no accident: ‘The Son of Man will go as it has been decreed’ (22a).

It involved real suffering (15b).

It is ‘for you’ (19, 20)

It is instructive that even in the face of His impending death Jesus gave thanks (19). He blessed the Lord at all times, and His praise was always on our Lord’s lips.

Please note that the reality of Satan and his work in the world, in human beings, does not remove personal responsibility (22b).

One final thought: there is a place for self-examination to see if there is anything of the betrayer in me (23).

Daily Bible thoughts 1151: Monday 30th May 2016: Luke 22:7-13: Jesus never fails.

Luke 22:7-13: Jesus never fails.(please click for todays passage)

We see in this short passage something about the utter reliability of Jesus and the total dependability of His Word. We will always find things to be ‘just as’ He tells us (13). Life does line up with His infallible Word. But even if, sometimes, in the short term, this doesn’t appear to be the case, ultimately we will find that the Lord has every detail organised, and everything has been (and is) ‘just as’ He said. We do go through days when we find it hard to locate our experiences within the big Bible picture, but we will finally see that ‘all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well.’

After all, at the heart of our faith there lies the cruel and savage death of a totally innocent young Man. That is hard to understand; difficult to come to terms with. But the more we understand, the more clearly we see that ‘the Passover lamb had to be sacrificed’ (7). There surely is a deeper meaning behind Luke’s statement than what lies on the surface? (1 Corinthians 5:7). What looks like a tragedy is central to God’s plan. In the offering of Jesus on the cross we are finding things ‘just as’ God said they would be.

Here is one further thought: Jesus has made preparations for what He wants US to enjoy: a feast, a banquet, you might say, in fellowship with Him. But we too have to make our own preparations if we are to fully enter into all that He has for us. Reading between the lines, Jesus had already made some arrangements before sending the disciples to do their bit. But that didn’t absolve them of the responsibilities that they were given to carry.

Prayer: Thank you Lord that you have given to me everything I need for life and godliness. I want to make every effort to progress in this life of discipleship.

Daily Bible thoughts 1150: Friday 27th May 2016: Luke 22:1-6:God-haters and men – pleases.

 Luke 22:1-6:God-haters and men – pleases.(please click here for todays passage)

These religious leaders hated God and feared men (2). They didn’t realise they were haters of God. But they were. This was revealed in their attitude to God’s Son. (What a person feels about Jesus shows what they feel about God.) The flip side to being a man-pleaser is to be a man-fearer. You fear their frowns, their disapproval, their dislike, their adverse reactions. This is a terrible way to live – hating God and pleasing/fearing people. To be a man-pleaser is a form of slavery. You need emancipation. It is never okay to be inconsiderate, insensitive and rude. It is important to take the thoughts and feelings of others into account. But you must be ‘your own person’ before God. Your backbone is not formed from jelly.

The world system is always looking ‘to get rid of Jesus’. It does not want this Man to reign over us. I note that they were not afraid to do wrong; they were just scared of being found out (and yes, of public opinion.) Judas helped them get what they wanted. ‘They were delighted and agreed to give him the money.’ This says to me that  you always pay a terrible price for the removal of Jesus from your life. It costs and no-one can afford it.

The mention of ‘Passover’ (1) underlines the truth that there was a higher power operating and God was in charge, not men. Even more to the point, ‘Satan’ (3) was not running the show. The Lord would work out His great purpose to deliver the world from sin in and through the death of Jesus. It was no accidental tragedy, in spite of outward appearances.

Prayer: Lord set me free from the tyranny of men-pleasing.

Daily Bible thoughts 1149: Thursday 26th May 2016: Luke 21: 29-38: Living with the end in view.

Luke 21: 29-38: Living with the end in view.(please click for passage)

What should you do with Jesus’ teaching about the wrapping up of history? How can you live in the light of His return? Here are some pointers:

Keep your eyes open (29-31). It’s been said that a prophet is someone with a Bible in one hand and a newspaper in the other. Stay in touch with the times. As much as you can, know what is going on. Look for the signs of Jesus’ return. ‘In a limited significance, our Lord’s words were fulfilled within forty years of their utterance; but we are still to see how much more is contained in them than has yet been realised.’ F.B. Meyer: ‘Devotional Commentary’, p.450.

Stay rooted in Jesus’ Word (32,33). ‘Sky and Earth will wear out; my words won’t wear out.’ The Message. Times change; Truth does not. Stay ‘anchored to the Rock’ whilst being ‘geared to the times’.

Live carefully/walk prayerfully (34-36). The two things go together. You really have no choice but to live in the world, but it is rotten (to the core) and rotting. If you don’t at the same time keep close company with God, too much of this world system may rub off on you and rot your soul. Corruption spreads easily and quickly. ‘But be on your guard. Don’t let the sharp edge of your expectation get dulled by parties and drinking and shopping. Otherwise, that Day is going to take you by complete surprise, spring on you suddenly like a trap…So, whatever you do, don’t go to sleep at the switch. Pray constantly that you will have the strength and wits to make it through everything that’s coming and end up on your feet before the Son of Man.’ The Message. ‘It is impossible to live as we should apart from constant watching and prayer. The snare is so deftly laid that we may be entangled in it before we are fully aware.’ F.B. Meyer.

Keep your ears open (37, 38). Here is the ideal balance: Keep your eyes open to what is going on around you (29-31), and keep your ears open to the sound from up above you (37,38). ‘All the people were up at the crack of dawn to come to the Temple and listen to him.’ The Message.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, help me to stay wide awake!

Daily Bible thoughts 1148: Wednesday 25th May 2016: Luke 21:5-28: Transience.

Luke 21:5-28: Transience.(please click for passage)

I remember watching the television news coverage of the tsunami that devastated parts of Japan just five years ago. We watched in horror as we saw cars driving along, and we knew that the occupants were probably oblivious as a great killer wave was about to hit them and sweep them away. We wanted to shout at the screen in warning, for all the good that would have done. In the wake of that appalling tragedy verse 26 came to mind. I’m not saying that what happened in Japan was an exact fulfilment of Jesus’ words here, but I’m sure you can see why I thought about them. That news footage provided an image of what the world is like. People are getting on with their business, with little or no thought given to the fact that the end of all things is on its way. Jesus will wind up history as we know it.Then what?

Life is fragile and transient. All the things we think most solid are only temporary (5,6). One day the universe itself will be rolled can up (2 Peter 3:10-13) and there will be new heavens and a new earth. There’s a new world coming. Are you ready to play your full part in it? Are you rightly related to God through Jesus? Or are you just trying to hold onto all the things that must crumble?

‘He is no fool who gives up that which he can never keep, in order to gain that which he can never lose.’ Jim Elliot

Daily Bible thoughts 1147: Tuesday 24th May 2016: Luke 21:1-4: Giving that costs.

Luke 21:1-4: Giving that costs.(please click for passage)

‘We note the difference between the false teachers, who devoured widows’ houses, and the true Leader and Teacher, who set so high a value on a widow’s gift. Our gifts to God should cost us something, else they are not reckoned in the accounts of eternity. The real value of a gift is to be estimated by what is left behind. Remember that the fragrance and beauty of this act have lasted, while the stones of the Temple have crumbled to dust. Holy deeds are imperishable! Jesus is still sitting by the treasury, watching and estimating our gifts.’ F.B. Meyer: ‘Devotional Commentary’, p.449.

Does this story raise the possibility that in devouring widow’s houses, the clerics of the day were crushing those likely to be among the best givers to the temple?

Giving that costs nothing is missing a heart. Jesus sees the gift, the giver, AND the inside of the one giving. Someone said that when God measures our service He doesn’t just ‘count’, He ‘weighs’.  It’s been said that it is enough that Jesus sees what we give in secret and He will reward openly.

The two coins the woman contributed were the smallest possible – worth about five minutes labour at minimum wage. At least on the surface it was a minimal gift.

What love this dear lady showed; and what faith. Her trust must have been in God to take care of her needs. It was a notable act of sacrifice:

‘The plain truth is that this widow has given by far the largest offering today. All these others made offerings that they’ll never miss; she gave extravagantly what she couldn’t afford – she gave her all!’ The Message.

‘Jesus’ point is not so much to rebuke others’ contributions as to exalt a contribution that otherwise would have been under appreciated. Sometimes little gifts cost a great deal more than big gifts do, and their merit is in the sacrifice they represent. In fact, real giving happens when one gives sacrificially. Interestingly, research has shown that when people’s income increases their proportion of charitable contributions tends to drop. We tend to give less the more we are blessed. How would Jesus assess this trend?’ The IVP New Testament Commentary.

Prayer: Enlarge my heart Lord so that I live generously.

Daily Bible thoughts 1146: Monday 23rd May 2016: Luke 20:41-47: Just for show.

 Luke 20:41-47: Just for show.(please click for todays passage)

It was now Jesus’ turn to ask a question (41-44). Humanly speaking, Jesus was from the line of David (Romans 1:3). In this sense He was David’s ‘Son’. But because He is God, He was also David’s ‘Lord’. Long before the second Person of the Godhead came to earth in the incarnation, and even though he didn’t have a full revelation of Jesus, David was nevertheless worshipping Him. He saw that the Messiah would be both human and divine. What a powerful (and dangerous) claim for Christ to make! ‘The central issue of life is what we believe about Jesus. Other spiritual questions are irrelevant unless we first decide to believe that Jesus is who he said he is.’ ‘The Life Application Bible’, p.1841.

It’s a sad thing when people have to be wary of church leaders. 

‘Though it sealed his doom, our Lord tore the veil from before these hypocrites, that his followers might be warned against these sunken rocks, Jude 12.’ F.B. Meyer: ‘Devotional Commentary’, p.449.

Bible teachers should have strong prayer lives, but not for show. Let us be serious in prayer, but not showy at prayer. If you sense, as a leader, that you are being drawn towards pride of position and prestige; to love of deference and prominence, take your self-life to the cross without delay and hammer home the nails into your deadly flesh. All of that junk needs crucifying before it kills you. Kill you it will (in one form or another) if you let such things have free rein.

Prayer: Help me to avoid play acting and showmanship. Lord you look on the heart. I pray that you will find purity of motive in me.

Daily Bible thoughts 1145: Friday 20th May 2016: Luke 20: 27-39: A ‘live’ issue.

 Luke 20: 27-39: A ‘live’ issue.(please click here for todays passage)

‘Truth is incontrovertible. Panic may resent it; ignorance may deride it; malice may distort it; but there it is.’ Sir Winston Churchill.

David Pawson says that this is how he remembers the difference between the Pharisees and Sadducees: the Pharisees did believe in a future resurrection from the dead. You might say they had far sightedness. They could see a life beyond the grave, so, Far-I-see’. But the Sadducees did not believe in such a life after death, and that’s why they were ‘Sad, you see’! (27).

Well, in their fanciful story, the Sadducees were poking fun at Jesus, and the whole notion of resurrection life (27-32).

In reply Jesus emphasised two points:

a.) In the age to come there will be a brand new order of existence (34-36). We will be ‘like the angels’ (36). Those who are happily married may find it hard to understand how marriage could possibly be bettered. But imagine you are in a room lit by candlelight.  It’s cosy. You love the atmosphere. You watch with delight as flickering fingers of shadow play on the wall. But the day dawns and fills the room with sunshine, and the greater light simply overwhelms the lesser light of the candle. Perhaps this provides something of an illustration.

b.) God’s Word teaches the doctrine of resurrection (37, 38). The Sadducees believed mainly in the first five books of the Old Testament, which were written by Moses. In Exodus 3:6, Moses quotes God as saying, ‘I am…the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob.’ Now these three men had all died when Moses wrote this, yet God says He is still their God – ”I am” their God. The logical conclusion therefore is that they were all still alive,for God is the God of the living and not the God of the dead. No wonder they chose to cut their losses at this point (39,40). Jesus made a watertight argument from that bit of the Bible they did accept.He said to them, ‘Are you not in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God?’ (Mark 12:24). They didn’t really know their Bibles or believe in God’s power to do the extraordinary.

‘In asking Jesus trick questions, they hoped He would say something they could accuse; but His answers only exposed their folly and increased their guilt. They were fighting a losing battle and would not surrender.’ Warren W. Wires be: ‘With the Word’, p.684.

Prayer: Lord increase my knowledge of your Word and my confidence in your power. Please free me from ignorance and unbelief.

Daily Bible thoughts 1144: Thursday 19th May 2016: Luke 20:20-26: Get out of that one.

Luke 20:20-26: Get out of that one.(please click here for todays passage)

It has been said that trying to oppose God is like playing chess against a grand master. Even your finest moves against Him He will use to defeat you. Here is a shining example of that point, The religious leaders thought they had an absolute gem of a question. They did not believe Jesus would have any good answer to what they threw at Him. They considered they had put Him in ‘check’, only to find themselves ‘check-mated’. They intended to paint Jesus into a corner He would not be able to get out of, only to find themselves there. ‘For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength.’ (1 Corinthians 1:25).

Take the warning: don’t pretend ‘to be’ anything you are not (20). Jesus always sees through ‘duplicity’ (23).

The Bible leaves us with no excuse for bad citizenship. We should never worship the ’emperor’ (whoever he or she may be) or obey that dignitary over God. But there is an appropriate honour to be given to the government of our nation, and we should ensure we are not lacking in doing our duty.

Prayer: Lord, may my nation and community be the better because I live in it as a servant of God.

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