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Free Daily Bible notes by Rev Stephen Thompson


September 2016

Daily Bible thoughts 1240: Friday 30th September 2016: John 13:6-11: Dirty feet.

 John 13:6-11: Dirty feet.(please click for todays passage)

You have to smile at Peter, don’t you? I know that in smiling at him we are regularly smiling at ourselves, but I have to admit he makes me smile. You see the contours of a real, larger than life character appearing on the page. The Biblical portrait of Peter bursts out in vivid, flawed realism.

Initially, Peter was resistant to having his feet washed by Jesus (6, 8a). It didn’t seem fitting and proper to let the Master be the slave in these circumstances. He wasn’t having that.

Jesus’ words of reply (7) to Peter’s initial shocked question (6) apply to many circumstances in life. I remember someone sending a bereavement card to my family after my mum died in her early 50’s. It made reference to this verse. Life throws up many mysteries.

After Jesus had corrected Peter’s faulty thinking (8b), typically the disciple was enthusiastically ‘all or nothing ‘ in his response; wanting to do the right thing: ”Then…not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!” (9). But  in the East in those days, a person might bathe in the morning. When they arrived at a home where they were visiting they wouldn’t need a bath. It’s just that their feet would have got dusty and dirty on those hot, dry roads (10a). Jesus reminded Peter about this.

When someone becomes a Christian they ‘have a bath’, you might say. They are thoroughly washed and cleansed by Jesus. But on this Christian ‘walk’ our ‘feet’ get dirty. They need regular washing. We must learn to ‘keep short accounts’ with God (1 John 1;6-10). We are truly grateful for the once-for-all bath, but we will keep offering our ‘feet’ to Jesus for His cleansing work: ”…what we need day by day is the regular washing of those parts of ourselves, our personalities and bodies, which get dusty and dirty. When Peter objects to Jesus washing him, this reflects his objection (in Mark 8.32 and elsewhere) to Jesus going to the cross. Neither he nor the others have yet understood what it is that Jesus has to do, and why.” (Tom Wright: ‘John for everyone’,pp.45, 46.)

Daily Bible thoughts 1239: Thursday 29th September 2016: John 13:1-5; 12a: The drama of salvation.

 John 13:1-5; 12a: The drama of salvation.(please click for todays passage)

Many years ago, I read in a book by the leading evangelical Anglican rector, John Stott, that there is a strong parallel with Philippians 2:5-11 at this point in John 13. Jesus ”got up from the meal”, just as He got up from His heavenly throne. He ”took off his outer clothing”, just as He divested Himself of His heavenly glory. Then He ”wrapped a towel round his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped round him.” This reminds us how Jesus, the second Person of the Godhead, ”emptied himself”; He made himself of ”no reputation”. He took ”the very nature of a servant” and ”humbled himself and became obedient to death – even death on a cross!” He did all this to wash our souls, to cleanse us from sin. ”This is our God, the servant King.” This is what God is like, and ‘He calls us now to follow him; to bring our lives as a daily offering, of service to the                        servant King’ (12-17).

So the drama of salvation is beautifully painted in this breathtaking scene, including His exaltation to the highest place (12/ Philippians 2:9-11).

If we cannot marvel at these truths, I wonder if anything will ever cause us to wonder. But we must go beyond standing and staring at the glory. This has to make a difference in our daily lives and relationships (12-17). We are called by Jesus to emulate Jesus, and we need to believe that anything He asks of us He will also enable. Such a life may seem beyond you. In fact, if you feel that, you probably do have some understanding of what the Master is requiring. But you also need to be sure that He will equip you to follow in His steps.

Whatever the truth you are being shown, it is in the doing of it that you will find the blessing (17).

”So let us learn how to serve, and in our lives enthrone him; each other’s needs to prefer, for it is Christ we’re serving.’ Graham Kendrick.

Daily Bible thoughts 1238: Wednesday 28th September 2016: John 13:2, 10,11: One step ahead.

John 13:2, 10, 11: One step ahead.(please click here for todays passage)

It is impossible to make sense of the evil in the world without reference to that malevolent personality we call the devil. He is not merely an influence; a force for badness. He is a real, intelligent being who can ‘prompt’ people to do wrong (2). Even though he is unseen, his presence cannot be always hidden.

”The devil had already put the idea of betraying him into the heart of Judas…” (Tom Wright). 

Wright says Judas allowed ”the devil’s whispered suggestion to gain a foothold in his imagination…notice how evil creeps in between the cracks at the very moment when love is going to the limit.” ‘John for everyone’, p.45.

You may be aware of ‘ideas’ planted in your heart by the arch-imposter – things you are thinking and feeling that you know to be wrong. Don’t play with them. Don’t toy with them. Declare war on them in the Name of Jesus. Nail them to the cross. Do it to them before they do it to you! Don’t allow sinful thoughts to nest in your soul and hatch their poisonous eggs.

Take heart though. Whatever Satan plans to do, Jesus is one step ahead of him. He knows what is going to happen, and what He permits He uses for His glory.

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, help me when I see things inside me I should not tolerate. Enable me to be ruthless in identifying and rooting out those ‘seeds’ planted by the evil one.

Daily Bible thoughts 1237: Tuesday 27th September 2016: John 13:1: Endless love.

John 13:1: Endless love.(please click for todays passage)

”There is no creature, regardless of its apparent insignificance, that fails to show us something of God’s goodness.” Thomas a Kempis.

Nothing takes Jesus by surprise. It is significant when we read that ”It was just before the Passover Feast.” Jesus was about to die as the ultimate ”Passover lamb” (1 Corinthians 5:7). His death was no accident. As we have seen many times in this gospel, the Father was in control. All Jesus’ movements, in life and death, were according to a Divine timetable. His dying was a deliberate act of sacrifice. The climax of His ministry was not a simple, straightforward tragedy, however it appears on the surface. It was a leaving of ”this world” to ”go to the Father”. Death is like this for every believer. It’s the ultimate house move. It’s moving home.                                                                                                                       There are many things we can say about the cross. In addition to being able to assert that:

  • it is significant (full of Old Testament sacrificial resonance); and that
  • It is under God’s sovereign governance;

We can also say:

  • it shows God’s heart. A preacher said, ”We talk about wearing the heart on the sleeve; God wore His heart on a cross. Calvary displays ”the full extent” of Jesus’ love.

I like the translation that says: ”Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.” That challenges me like this: ‘Do I have a love that goes the distance with people?’ It’s easy to give up on difficult people and allow distance to grow between you. But this is not the way of Jesus.

”It must become a spiritual discipline to look for the good in people buried beneath the pettiness, resentments, and ambitions that irritate us about each other.” From ‘Subterranean’ by Dan White Jr.

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, please help me to love like you.

Daily Bible thoughts 1236: Monday 26th September 2016: John 12:37-50: Stubborn blindness.

John 12:37-50: Stubborn blindness.(please click for todays passage)

”Jesus is the window into God.” Michael Green.

John makes a remarkable statement about Isaiah (41), but it is even more a staggering assertion about Christ. It probably refers to the vision of God’s glory the prophet saw, recorded in chapter 6 of the book that bears his name. John says that in fact he ”saw Jesus’ glory and spoke about him.” To see Jesus, is to see the Father (44, 45; 14:9).

I find it helpful, in looking at verses 37-41, to see that it first says ”they…would not believe in him” (37) before it says ”they could not believe” (39). There are ‘none so blind as those who will not see.’ You can’t see if you won’t see, and in the previous section Jesus had warned about making the most of ”the light” while they still had it (35, 36). There can come a time when our hearts are so hardened that we cannot repent, and ultimately all must face judgment (48). 

Yet again though, Jesus was not met with wall to wall spiritual blindness (42). There were ”many even among the leaders” who believed. However, it was a response without backbone. Something was lacking. As Bishop J.C. Ryle said, a soldier is not ashamed of his uniform.

Daily Bible thoughts 1235: Friday 23rd September, 2016: John 12:31-36: The wondrous cross.

 John 12:31-36: The wondrous cross.(please click for todays passage)

Come with me, and let us ”survey” something of ”the wondrous cross”. See:

  1. The necessity of the cross: There is a ”must” about it (34b; see also 3:14,15). There can be no work of saving the human race apart from the cross.
  2. The glory of the cross: (32, 33, 34; see also verses 28-30). In John’s gospel, the cross is repeatedly spoken of in terms of lifting up. Of course, someone crucified was physically lifted up on a stake (33). But there is more to it than that. What,to men, was the ultimate in shame, Jesus saw as the utmost in glory. ”May I never boast (glory) except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ…” (Galatians 6:14).
  3. The achievement of the cross: What Jesus achieved on the cross may be expressed in a number of ways. Here are two of those results (31): a.) the judgment upon all the world’s sin – and Jesus drank the cup of God’s anger against sin to its dregs, being substituted for us; b.) victory over Satan. The devil may not yet be driven out of the world, but Jesus won the decisive battle against him at the cross. The day Jesus died was ‘D day’. The final triumph is not in doubt.
  4. The magnetism of the cross: ”And I, as I am lifted up from the earth, will attract everyone to me and gather them around me” (32). Jesus wasn’t saying that everyone will be converted. We have to compare Scripture with Scripture, and not interpret one part of the Bible to the hurt of other parts. God’s Word does not say that all will be saved,but we can expect many to be drawn to the crucified Lord.
  5. The opportunity presented by the cross: It’s an opportunity that will only exist for ”just a little while longer” (35). If you do not respond to ”the light” God shows you while you still have the chance, you may find that a day comes when you want to search for Jesus, but you are unable to find Him (36b).

 As I have written these notes my own heart has been ‘strangely warmed’.                                I pray it is so for you.

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, once more I find myself asking that you will keep me near your cross.

Daily Bible thoughts 1234: Thursday 22nd September 2016: John 12:27-30: Man of sorrows.

John 12:27-30: Man of sorrows.(please click for todays passage)

Isaiah saw Jesus as ”despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and familiar with suffering” (Isaiah 53:3).

Have you ever felt so troubled that you didn’t know quite what to say? Jesus can sympathise; indeed, empathise (27). ”Right now I am storm-tossed. And what am I going to say?” The Message. Perhaps your heart is weighed down as you read this? Well, Jesus knows, and He cares. He is not sitting up in heaven watching impassively as you are buffeted by winds and waves of trouble.

”For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathise with our weaknesses…” (Hebrews 4:15).

In trouble, you can follow His pattern, and just raise your eyes towards heaven and say, ”Father…” (27).

But in Jesus’ own case, He knew He would not ask to escape from the net (27b). The shadow of the cross falls over the whole passage from (20-36). Jesus was well aware of His destiny. He knew why He had come into the world. As He began to feel the darkness closing in more and more He would not request an exit strategy.

There is such help here.

You find yourself in trouble, and it may be that God does want to save you from it. He often does – but not always.

It may also be the case that He has a great destiny for you in your trial. Whether in or out of trouble ( and ”In this world you will have trouble…” 16:33) it is always right to pray that God will glorify His Name in your life. When Jesus prayed this prayer (28a), it was clear that the Father had answered it (29), and it is for our ”benefit” that He did.

Pray it again! It’s a prayer the Father always delights to answer.

”Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name…” (Matthew 5:9).

Daily Bible thoughts 1233: Wednesday 21st September 2016: John 12:20-26: Who do you want to be like?

John 12:20-26: Who do you want to be like?(click here for todays passage)

”Entrance to the kingdom of God is free, but the annual subscription is all you’ve got.”

I want to be like Andrew (22): I remember some words written by a commentator on John’s gospel. He said Andrew is mentioned only three times in this gospel, but on each occasion he is bringing someone to Jesus (see 1:40,41; 6:8,9 and here!) In that sense I would like to be like Andrew. My desire is to see many people come to know Jesus through my life and ministry

But most of all, I want to be like Jesus (23-26). Who would not desire the honour God the Father puts on those who truly serve Jesus the Son (26b)? To live under Heaven’s smile is a prospect to be coveted.However, here’s the challenge I face. Do I really want to be like Jesus in His death? The only way to have the effectiveness of Andrew; the only way to produce ”many seeds” (24b) is to fall into the ground and die. You have to die to the life you want and embrace the life Jesus calls you to. This cannot be done without pain. But it leads to a rich harvest.

”When Jesus bids a man come follow Him, He bids him come and die.” Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

So what will such dying mean for you today? I realise that the call to die must be answered every single day and many times a day. In which area(s) of your life do you need to feel the nails and thorns in order to live the resurrection life with Jesus? There are no doubt certain things you don’t want to do, but you know God wants you to do them. It won’t be easy, but the Holy Spirit will help you to go to the cross, just as He did with Jesus (Hebrews 9:14).Where your will crosses God’s will, there you experience a crucifixion – and the other side of it there will be a glorious resurrection.

It’s been said that Christianity does not mean pinning the cross, like a badge, to your old way of life; but nailing your old life to the cross daily.

PRAYER: Lord, help me to do the things I know I need to do today, even though they may be painful. Enable me, please, to do the right things, trusting in you.

Daily Bible thoughts 1232: Tuesday 20th September 2016: John 12:17-19: Word of mouth.

 John 12:17-19: Word of mouth.(please click here for todays passage)

A song says ”It’s only words…”

But words are important. They are powerful. The Bible has so much to say about words.

It says, for example, that ”The tongue has the power of life and death…” (Proverbs 18:21a).

It says, for example, that ”…men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken.” (Matthew 12:36).

It says for example that ”Not many…should presume to be teachers…” Because those who teach will be ”judged more strictly” (James 3:1).

It says so much about words.

And words are important in our testimony about Christ. There has to be a vital combination of both life and lip. So here are two thoughts from today’s reading:

  1. Persevere in witness to Jesus (17): ”continued” – there was consistency in their speaking. They did not give up, even though hostility buzzed around their heads like mosquitoes. There were people who were not happy about what they were doing (19), but they would not be silenced.
  1. Persevere in verbal witness to Jesus (17, 18): ”continued to spread the word”… Listen to the impact: ”because they had heard…went out to meet him.” (See also John 4:30/39-42).

You never know what impact you may have. The Pharisees may have been exaggerating in their frustrated exclamation (19), but see behind it the ”Many people” (18) who were being impacted. These outstanding results came from persevering verbal witness to Jesus. As our church’s youth pastor reminded me in a recent conversation, the seed is the Word. ”Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how.”  (Mark 4:27). There is life in the seed; there is power in the seed. So let’s keep sowing.

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