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Free Daily Bible notes by Rev Stephen Thompson

Month

June 2016

Daily Bible thoughts 1165: Friday 17th June 2016: Luke 23:44-49: ‘…the sun stopped shining.’

 Luke 23:44-49: ‘…the sun stopped shining.'(please click for todays passage)

‘The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not overcome it.’ (John 1:5).

What was occurring in nature, to some degree reflected what was happening with Jesus, ‘the light of the world.’ When He died, for a brief time, you might say that His light ceased to shine in this world. He had said previously:

‘While I am in the world, I am the light of the world’ (John 9:5). 

For a very short time He would be put out of the world, before shining again in all His brilliant, dazzling glory. Like with a self re-igniting candle, the light was only temporarily blown out, but the divinity of Jesus still burned, ready to explode back into life and light on the third day.

‘We need to be energetically at work for the One who sent me here, while the sun shines. When night falls, the workday is over. For as long as I am in the world, there is plenty of light. I am the world’s light.’ (John 9:4,5: The Message).

But through what looked like tragedy – the extinguishing of the light – the way was opened up to God. Different kinds of people were powerfully impacted. The impact lives on today…and will, for all eternity.

Daily Bible thoughts 1164: Thursday 16th June 2016: Luke 23:32-43: Right or left?

 Luke 23:32-43: Right or left?(please click for todays passage)

Jesus was ‘numbered with the transgressors’ (Isaiah 53:12). This was particularly evident at His baptism, and when He died on the cross. He was so identified with sinners that, to the outward eye, it looked like He was one, even though He wasn’t.

This is a potent picture. The entire human race is one side or other of the cross of Jesus. Where are you positioned: on the accepting or the rejecting side? We saw in yesterday’s piece that it is a serious matter to turn Jesus away. There is no good Biblical basis to believe that Hell is only temporary, and that those who go there will eventually get a visa to migrate to heaven; that they will be able to move out. Suffused with sentimentality we might like to think that is the case, but it is not what the Bible teaches, as far as I can see.

You might have lived a terrible life. Or, you may have been a decent person. But  whether a criminal or law-abiding, you are a transgressor of God’s moral code. But it only takes a sincere moment before Him to alter your eternal destiny. It doesn’t need to be a long prayer. You don’t have to use technical, theological jargon. You just have to be real. Before death, is the time to make peace with heaven. The Bible does not indicate the possibility of doing so later. One of the criminals in this story did just that.

By the way, do you see the irony of telling Jesus to save Himself? If He had done so, He could not have saved others. It was by dying in our place that He bore our punishment for sin, and so we can go free.

I know which side of the cross I want to be.

Daily Bible thoughts 1163: Wednesday 15th June 2016: Luke 23:26-31: Cry for yourselves.

Luke 23:26-31: Cry for yourselves.(please click here for todays passage)

The life and death of Jesus were to be dramatised on ITV with Robert Powell in the lead role. It was a heavy duty, big budget production and a large swathe of the population were going to be viewing. ”I’m sure I’ll cry when He dies”, I heard someone say. But unless you are prepared to become a disciple and carry the cross, you should weep for yourself. The reality of judgment should reduce us all to tears. Those who reject Him must recognise the seriousness of their action. It is not enough to simply be moved by the story of His death.

In the story of Simon of Cyrene we have a picture of conversion. Life is going on as normal. It’s another ordinary day. Then suddenly you find yourself carrying the cross. Everything changes. You did not expect to find yourself doing this, but now it is the dominating reality in your life.

Daily Bible thoughts 1162: Tuesday 14th June 2016: Luke 23:13-25: ‘…their shouts prevailed.’

 Luke 23:13-25: ‘…their shouts prevailed.'(please click here for todays passage)

Pilate heard the voice of conscience and the voice of reason. These voices told him that Jesus was an innocent Man. He did not deserve death. (Pilate’s repeated declarations of Jesus’ innocence should not be missed. Our Lord did not deserve to die.)

But there were louder voices demanding the attention of his ears. These were raging, ravenous, wolverine voices, clamouring for blood. They insisted that Jesus should die. These ‘shouts prevailed’ (23).

Day by day, we too hear the voice of reason and the voice of conscience. We hear the ‘still small voice’ and know what we should too. But there are louder voices. They demand a hearing. They are pushy and determined to have their way. Sadly, we do all too often choose Barabbas over Jesus. We don’t want His reign. At least, we don’t in certain tempting moments. We cast our vote with the inner crowd of passionate voices. We go with them.

But we do know which way we should go.

I can be as bad as Pilate. That is a shocking admission to have to make.

There is irony in the last statement: he ‘surrendered Jesus to their will’ (25).

But the truth is human will did not prevail.

‘Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise him…’ Isaiah 53:10.

Prayer: Thank you so much Heavenly Father for sending your pure, innocent Son to die in my place, for my crimes against you. It takes my breath away to think that it ‘pleased’ you to ‘crush him’ for my sake. I praise you.

Daily Bible thoughts 1161: Monday 13th June 2016: Luke 23:6-16.

 Luke 23:6-16.(please click here for todays passage)

There are weak leaders, like Pilate. He knew that Jesus was innocent (14, 15 cf.4). He should have released Him. It was his intention to do so. But in order to appease the people he was prepared to punish Jesus first. That in itself was a miscarriage of justice. But before he got to that point, Pilate leapt at an opportunity to pass the buck (6,7). He was a weak leader who was unprepared to grasp the nettle and make the difficult decision. Leadership demands courage. Pilate demonstrated a singular lack of it. When it came down to it, he showed that he cared more about his position and his skin than he did about people.

There are superficial people who want Jesus for the wrong reasons (8). They are attracted to Him and dazzled by Him, but have no intention of following Him. They are interested in Him, but not in discipleship.Why should the Lord reveal Himself to those who are not serious about seeking Him? (9). Jesus did not cast HIS pearls before swine.

There is a glorious reconciliation achieved by Jesus at Calvary (12). Under the shadow of the cross, the great reconciling work was prefigured in this story. Enemies became friends. Through the cross, people at enmity with God are brought back into fellowship with Him. But also, their hands are joined in a community of reconciliation at the foot of the cross (Ephesians 2:16;2 Corinthians 5:18-21; Colossians 1:20-23). Even Pilate and Herod connected because of Jesus.

Daily Bible thoughts 1160: Friday 10th June 2016: Luke 23:1-5: Innocent.

 Luke 23:1-5: Innocent.

Jesus was crucified on trumped up charges. In terms of human justice it was a travesty. Legally it was a stitch up. Pilate knew it, and it is important to take note of his repeated assertions of Christ’s innocence: ‘I find no basis for a charge against this man’ (4). He never shifted from that viewpoint. But morally he was too weak to carry through what he knew to be right. He caved in under pressure. The Roman Procurator was a ‘reed’ swayed by the wind.

So Jesus died:

  • Because of false charges;
  • Because of a feeble, fickle ruler who had jelly where his backbone should have been;

But here is the real reason:

‘For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God…’ 1 Peter 3:18.

Prayer: Thank you dear Lord Jesus, for your innocent suffering on my behalf, so that I can have a clean slate and an open relationship with Father God. Thank you for being my substitute in death and judgment. I am in awe, and deeply grateful.

Daily Bible thoughts 1159: Thursday 9th June 2016: Luke 22:63-71: None so blind…

Luke 22:63-71: None so blind…(please click for todays passage)

As I read these verses I asked myself, ‘Who really was blindfolded here?’ (64; cf.67,68). The opponents of Jesus were wilfully blind. They had set themselves against the truth (70,71). There was (there is!) solid evidence that Jesus is who He claimed to be – the Son of God. But they were not interested.

‘There are none so blind as those who will not see.’

In our witness today we face the same reality. Satan has put a supernatural blindfold around the world: ‘…the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God (2 Corinthians 4:4). Thankfully, as Paul goes on to say, this darkness can be overcome as the gospel is preached (6). The God who, at the beginning said, ‘Let there be light’, can shine in hearts to ‘give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.’ It’s a miracle every time it happens. A new creation takes place.

And let it be said that the opposition of spiritually obtuse people does not alter the reality that Jesus Christ is Lord ( Luke 22:69). He reigns over all.

What humility, though, to allow Himself to be so ill-treated and insulted for our sakes. He could have blasted them all away with just one word.

Prayer: ‘Oh make me understand it, help me to take it in, what it meant to thee, the Holy One, to bear away my sin.

Daily Bible thoughts 1158: Wednesday 8th June 2016: Luke 22:54-62: A prayer.

Luke 22:54-62: A prayer.(please click for todays passage)

Oh Lord, I read these words today and my heart cries out to you that you will save me from the mediocrity that follows you ‘at a distance’. Please forgive me for those times when MY courage has failed, and I haven’t taken the opportunity to identify myself with you. My cowardice has got the better of me and I have gone into hiding. Other people have taken the initiative. They have asked the questions. What opportunities I have had, but I have fluffed my lines. I now see clearly that the ‘fear of man is a snare’.

I also confess, with sadness, that too many times I warm myself at the world’s fire. I find myself in places I should not really be, both in my mind and my body. That is a false fire, I have come to realise, and no matter how many times I go there, I come away still feeling cold inside.

Lord, on all occasions – and especially when I head for where I should not be, and do what I ought not to do – help me to remember your Word, even if it reduces me to bitter tears. I would rather be brought to repentance, by your grace and in your mercy, than live at a distance from you.

Lord Jesus, I do not criticise my brother Peter. He was a much better man than I am. But I do see so much of myself in him, and it gives me hope. You knew Peter better than he knew himself – and it’s just the same with me. You hear all my promises, and my fine sounding God talk. But you see through it. You know that I am weak and when and where I will fall. But this was not the end for Peter. Around another charcoal fire you erased his sins and commissioned him to a great task. This gives me hope that you, dear, kind Jesus, can lift me up, your faltering failing servant, and cause me to be of great use to your church. Fill me with your Spirit and boldness, and may I yet bring many people to you. This is my heart’s desire.

Daily Bible thoughts 1157: Tuesday 7th June 2016: Luke 22:47-53: Credibility gap?

 Luke 22:47-53: Credibility gap?(please click here for todays passage)

It is sadly possible for there to be a ‘credibility gap’ between our talk and walk. In a Christian, lips and life should be moving in the same direction. Judas invariably challenges me with this thought: is there a chance that I may be ‘kissing’ Jesus with my lips, ‘in church’, in my praises; yet at the same time am I betraying Him with my life?

It is also possible to be fighting the Lord’s battles with the wrong weapons (see 2 Corinthians 10:3-6). The knee-jerk reaction is not necessarily the right or best response. What does the Lord Himself have to say about this? That’s the question. The disciples did right to ask Jesus His view on what they planned to do (49). But Peter was wrong not to await a reply (50). Jesus had a clear statement to make on the matter and it was to be heeded (51).In this spiritual battle we’re in, let’s not make a grab for the sword (or its equivalent), but use ‘the weapons of our warfare’ that are ‘not carnal’, such as prayer, fasting, praise and worship.

It is a sobering thought to realise how much power Satan has in this world. He exercises it by Divine permission of course. He is on a ‘chain’; but it is a long chain. The evil day (53b), when all hell breaks loose, can come for the church (Eph.6:10-12). Supremely it came at the Cross. But never lose sight of the clear inference that Jesus is in complete control.

Prayer: In all my trials and struggles let me never forget that you are Lord.

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