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Free Daily Bible notes by Rev Stephen Thompson


October 2016

Daily Bible thoughts 1261: Monday 31st October 2016: John 17: 6-19: The Lord’s Prayer.

 John 17: 6-19: The Lord’s Prayer.(please click for todays passage)

Again, we are reminded that the life of discipleship begins with the action of sovereign grace (6-8). God takes the initiative.

It could be said that this chapter also contains ‘the Lord’s prayer’. In today’s verses we overhear Jesus’ prayer for the 11 (as they now were: verse 12b). It provides an insight into his heart; we get to feel His pulse, and this can surely helps us to know how to pray for fellow-Christ followers.

He prayed for:


Protection by the Name of Jesus (11, 12). The Name stands for all that He really and truly is. It’s more than a label. The Name ‘Jesus’ means ‘Saviour’, ‘Deliverer’, ‘Rescuer’.

Jesus prayed for protection:

 because they were ”still in the world” (11), and the world is a dangerous place for disciples of Christ (14). We are ‘in’ it, but not ‘of’ it (16). It is the Word of God that makes the difference. Life lived according to Christ’s Word marks us out as different. We become travellers in an opposite direction. It puts us on a collision course with the  current, evil world system: ”I gave them your word; the godless world hated them because of it, Because they didn’t join the world’s ways, Just as I didn’t join the world’s ways…They are no more defined by the world Than I am defined by the world.” The Message. The world hates and persecutes such people;

from the devil (15). As in the other Lord’s Prayer, He prays for deliverance from the evil one. He does not ask for their removal from the world. They are sent on a mission into it, as He was (18). He just asks for their protection from Satan;

for unity (11b). How insightful was this prayer of our Lord. He knew that relationships among disciples would always be under threat from the evil one, and He prayed for protection in this area.

JOY (13)

It was obviously going to be a difficult life for Jesus’ disciples. He was only too aware of the fact. But He wanted them to experience the joy He Himself had in the face of the trials, the temptations, the onslaught of evil.


The Word of God may get us persecuted, as we have seen. But it also brings purity into our lives. It is God’s main way of shaping, forming His people into the image of Christ. So let’s give ourselves to reading, studying, knowing and living the Book of God.

”Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” (John 6:68).

Daily Bible thoughts 1260: Friday 28th October 2016: John 17:1-5: Lift up your heads.

John 17:1-5: Lift up your heads.(please click for today’s passage)

Jesus knew that it was time for Him to die; that it was time for the world to throw its worst His way. He also knew that His closest friends would forsake Him. But in that situation He looked up and prayed.

”Is any one of you in trouble? He should pray” (James 5:13a).

But do we do this? In circumstances where heads would naturally dip, Jesus shows how to lift them up. Although He knew He would be abandoned by men, He sought fellowship with the One who would never leave or forsake Him (Hebrews 13:5, 6).

In that same letter to the Hebrews you read: ”Therefore strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees! ”Make level paths for your feet,” so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed” (12;12, 13). These words are located in a passage where the message is: ”Let us fix our eyes on Jesus…’ (2) and ”Consider him…” (3).

”After Jesus said this, he looked towards heaven and prayed…” He’s our pattern.

FAVOUR (2,3):
God is sovereign in conversion. Whenever it happens it is a Divine miracle. It is a work of sheer grace.There is a certain unfathomable mystery about it, and it causes us to stand in awe before our great God. It is true that we do not choose Him, but He chooses us. He takes the initiative.

Like Jesus Himself, we can bring glory to God in this world by fully giving ourselves to whatever it may be that He gives us to do -missionary, pastor, mechanic, accountant, student, wife, mother, father, husband, teacher…whatever. There are so many possibilities. But whatever God gives you to do, do it with all your might. God will give you enough years to get His will done, but not sufficient time to allow for wastage. Do you remember Magnus Magnusson’s famous line on ‘Mastermind’? ”I’ve started so I’ll finish.” A college principal used to say to his students, ”It is always too soon to quit.”

”I glorified you on earth by completing down to the last detail what you assigned me to do.” The Message.

PRAYER: Lord, you know I sometimes feel discouraged, but please help me to never even consider throwing in the towel. You’ve given me a great work to do. Enable me by your grace to keep going, in good times and in bad.


Daily Bible thoughts 1259: Thursday 27th October 2016: John 16:25-33: On top of the world!

John 16:25-33: On top of the world! (please click for todays passage)

Here is a truth you will discover sooner or later if you haven’t already done so: people can be fickle. You will probably, in the course of your lifetime, be wounded, and feel let down by and disappointed in people who you thought were your friends. You loved them, and served them; you treated them kindly and courteously, and then one day you find yourself bleeding copiously from a ‘knife wound’ they inflicted on you. And it hurts so much. Sometimes the cut goes that deep you feel you will never recover. At least, you can’t imagine the scar fading.

Many years ago, as a rather naive eighteen year old, I asked a Ugandan student in Bible College how he found people in the UK. His deadpan response was, ”People are people brother.” As someone said, ”The best of men are men at best.” We are all fallen, flawed and frail and capable of damaging as well as being damaged. ”People are people”.

In this world Jesus had trouble – terrible trouble. He soaked up the hatred and violence of His enemies. But He was also badly let down, when ‘push came to shove’, by his closest friends. He had spent around three years with these men, and poured His life and love into them. He had given Himself unstintingly to them. Even as they were telling Him that they were beginning to ‘get it’; that they were starting to understand His specialness, His uniqueness, He knew that they were about to let Him down big time.

”Do you finally believe? In fact, you’re about to make a run for it – saving your own skins and abandoning me.” The Message.

Like Jesus we will have trouble in this world. It will come predominantly from an antagonistic culture. But probably too much will come our way from fellow disciples who ought to know better. (Yet, knowing the worst about ourselves, we are not surprised, even if we are saddened.) How do you deal with this? Jesus points the way by example and word:

  1. Remember you are never alone. The Father will not abandon His beloved child.
  2. Recognise that in Jesus, the ‘Prince of Peace’ there is peace. ‘He is our peace’. In this world we will have trouble. But there’s a deeper reality: first and foremost we are in Jesus
  3. Realise that Christ is the Victor and we share in His victory. I believe that in one version Jesus, having spelled out that in the world His disciples will have trouble, goes on to say, ”But cheer up. I’m on top of it.” That’s important to remember. In fact, never let it out of your sight.

Daily Bible thoughts 1258: Wednesday 26th October 2016: John 16:23-24: Standing on the promises.

John 16:23-24: Standing on the promises.(please click for todays passage)

This is a short passage, but one rich in promise. As you meditate on it you will surely become convinced of a number of things:

  1. Convinced that Jesus wants you to pray: ”This is what I want you to do: Ask the Father…” The Message. In this post-resurrection era, Jesus wants His followers to know that they can ask. Indeed, He positively encourages such asking. Here is a way to please Jesus – pray!
  2. Convinced that Jesus wants you to pray in His will: ”Ask the Father for whatever is in keeping with the things I’ve revealed to you. Ask in my name, according to my will…” The Message.
  3. Convinced that the Father is generous: ”…and he’ll most certainly give it to you.” The Message. Jesus taught us to pray, saying, ”Our Father…” We human fathers, even though we are flawed; seriously affected by the sin virus, nevertheless we love to give good gifts to our children. We will give them everything we can so long as we are convinced that it is for their good, and that we can afford it. Just think of the heart of the perfect Heavenly Father towards His own; He who is rich without limitation.
  4. Convinced that a life of answered prayer is one of overflowing joy: ”Your joy will be a river overflowing its banks.” The Message. Who would not want such flooding, internal joy that bursts out to saturate the external world with all its need? A joyful life is not possible if you are a stranger to prayer. I am persuaded that a faithful, believing, praying life is one of excitement and adventure. Turn your Bible into prayer; let Scripture be the rails upon which the ‘train’ of your prayer life travels, and watch where it leads. But I know the devil will try to tell you that it will be boring. Bishop Ryle, in his book ‘Holiness’, celebrates the proliferation of many large Christian meetings and missions across the country in his day.(He was writing in the late 1800’s). But he gives this warning, that public religion must be accompanied by private religion. There can be a lot of ‘froth and bubble’; much sensationalism and emotionalism surrounding large Christian gatherings. So he writes about the need for Christians to have deep roots in a personal walk with God. Over a hundred years later his clarion call remains relevant: ”The root of a plant or a tree makes no show above ground. If you dig down to it and examine it, it is a poor, dirty, coarse-looking thing, and not nearly so beautiful to the eye as the fruit, or leaf, or flower. But that despised root, nevertheless, is the true source of all the life, health, vigour and fertility which your eyes see, and without it the plant or tree would soon die.” Bishop J.C. Ryle, ‘Holiness’, p.305.

PRAYER: Lord please enable me to live a life deeply rooted in you.

Daily Bible thoughts 1257: Tuesday 25th October 2016: John 16: 17-22: Any Answers?

John 16: 17-22: Any Answers? (please click for todays passage)

”Are you trying to figure out among yourselves what I meant when I said…?” (19) The Message.

Questions, questions, questions! It is not wrong to ask questions. Rather it is natural and normal to have them. Life throws up scores of questions.

It’s not wrong either to talk with fellow disciples about our questions. The essence of fellowship is ‘sharing’, and we can and should open up our hearts, our thoughts to one another. We really can help each other.

Neither is it wrong to try to ”figure” out what Jesus means. God has given you a wonderful brain. It is a remarkable gift. We are told that we don’t come anywhere close to fully utilising its capacity. So, by all means, please use the grey stuff between your ears. Be a thinking Christian…

…but do this PRAYERFULLY.

It is a big mistake to ask questions that pertain to Jesus, His Word and His work, and not ask Him WHEN HE IS WITH US. It is sad when we run the church by committee meetings and brainstorming sessions and good ideas, but do not pray – or, at least, pray only perfunctorily:

”If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him” (James 1:5).

Sometimes we just don’t do the obvious:

”Jesus knew they were dying to ask him what he meant…” (19) The Message.

So why don’t we?  Is it that we think the Lord might ‘find fault’ with us; might scold us for our stupidity or ignorance? Might be somewhat annoyed or irritated? 

Jesus is willing to explain to us as much as He wants us to know. He doesn’t unveil every mystery of course, but He is alive, and He speaks to His followers. I thought about entitling this piece ‘Any questions?’, but in the end I went for ‘Any answers?’ His answers are far more important than our questions. We will not always find what He says to us easy to bear, but we can trust Him to be truthful. Whatever pain may lie in the short term, over the long haul the outlook is glorious. The Christian story is a ”happy ever after” story.

And a day is coming when we will have all the answers we need.

But for today, what pressing, burning questions do you need to lay at Jesus’ feet? Come – He bids you, and at His door you will see the ‘welcome’ mat.

PRAYER: Thank you Lord Jesus that you speak to your disciples still today, and that you are willing to help. Please forgive me for the many times I try to work through stuff on my own. I ask today for your wisdom with regard to…(fill in the blanks yourself), and I trust that I will be given help and understanding. Thank you Lord.

Daily Bible thoughts 1256: Monday 24th October 2016: John 16:12-16: The promised Holy Spirit.

John 16:12-16: The promised Holy Spirit.(please click here for todays passage)

There are many true things we can say about the Holy Spirit.Here are three further points:

  1. The Holy Spirit reveals truth (13, 15). We would not have a Bible without the Holy Spirit, and we cannot understand it without the Spirit. In Ephesians Paul prays that the ”eyes” of the hearts of the believers will be opened. Such revelation is made possible only by the Holy Spirit. He gives us ‘eyes to see’. In a sense every Christian testimony says, ”Once I was blind, but now I see.” We are brought out of darkness into marvellous light. We need this passage to understand the doctrine of inspiration; to grasp how the apostles were able to accurately remember the words and works of Jesus, write up the story, and interpret it’s meaning.
  2. The Holy Spirit glorifies Jesus (14). Jim Packer writes in his book, ‘Keep in step with the Spirit’ about ”the floodlight ministry” of the Spirit of God. He says that when floodlights are working properly you are not aware of them, only of the building being illuminated. So it is with God’s Spirit. He does not glorify Himself. He puts the spotlight on Jesus. 
  3. The Holy Spirit enables us to ”see” Jesus (16). Although the Lord has physically gone from the earth, and is now at the right Hand of the Father, all who have the Spirit are able to ”see” Him. He is vividly real to us.

PRAYER: Holy Spirit, please help me to see Jesus more clearly, to understand God’s Word and to glorify the Lord by life and lip.

Daily Bible thoughts 1255: Friday 21st October 2016: John 16:5-11: The Supreme Counsel for the prosecution.

John 16:5-11: The Supreme Counsel for the prosecution.(please click for todays passage)

I believe I once read somewhere that the great and effective Victorian preacher, Charles Haddon Spurgeon, used to say to himself,every time he was entering the pulpit, ”I believe in the Holy Ghost.” He knew where his strength lay.

Today’s passage says at least three things to us:

  1. Have confidence in the Holy Spirit. He has a job to do, and He will do it. You can be sure of that: ”When he comes, he’ll expose the error of the godless world’s view of sin, righteousness, and judgment: He’ll show them that their refusal to believe in me is their basic sin; that righteousness comes from above, where I am with the Father, out of their sight and control; that judgment takes place as the ruler of this godless world is brought to trial and convicted.” (The Message) He causes people to see fundamental spiritual realities. Believe in His presence and activity in the world, even though you do not see Him. He is at work. You may or may not be a preacher, but every Christian should share Spurgeon’s confidence in the Holy Spirit.
  2. Don’t confuse your role with that of the Holy Spirit. It is not your work to change people. Some  folks seem to see it as their life’s assignment to put everybody else right. If that’s you, you are wrong! Christian wife, you are not asked to do the Holy Spirit’s work with reference to your unconverted husband. And to any Christian husbands with unregenerate spouses, it’s exactly the same message to you. Christian parents, much as you love your children and want to see them in God’s Kingdom, you can’t push them in by force. You can’t badger and bully them into submission. This is not the God appointed way. Please get this: it is not your job to bring another human being under conviction of sin. This task is definitely the domain of the third Person of the Trinity. It’s not the case that we have nothing to do. We have already seen the ‘double testimony’ in (15:26, 27). Jesus said about the Spirit, ”he will testify about me”. But He went on to say, ”you also must testify…” We do have to co-operate with the Holy Spirit in pointing to Jesus, but He is supremely ‘the Counsel for the prosecution.’ Spirit-filled witness is your job; conviction of sin is His unique work.
  3. Look for what the Holy Spirit is doing in every situation you find yourself in. He is working in people and situations where it may appear to the outward eye that nothing promising is happening. Only this morning, I heard a testimony given by a highly influential pastor. He told a story of how as a youth he was totally reprobate. He said he loved his sin. But then his life began to cave in. A friend invited him to a Christian meeting. After attending for a while he bought himself a Bible (‘The Authorised Version’, because that was the one in use in that particular church!) and it began to come alive to him. He was soundly converted. Again, as you read the Book of ‘Acts’, you get the impression time after time that the church is playing ‘catch up’ with the Holy Spirit. They are discovering what He is doing, and joining Him in it. That makes for effective mission. As someone said, the Holy Spirit is ”President” and not just ”resident”.

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, as I understand you here, I believe you are saying that I; that we who make up your church today, are in a more advantaged position than were the disciples who lived with you during your earthly life. This is a remarkable, mysterious truth, but we have your Holy Spirit within us. How wonderful. Thank you Lord for your abundant provision.

Daily Bible thoughts 1254: Thursday 20th October 2016: John 16:1-4: Loving honesty.

John 16:1-4: Loving honesty.(please click for todays passage)

In order to help people, you can’t always tell them what they want to hear. There are times when the only way to protect is by proffering loving honesty. Jesus knows what His disciples need to hear and WHEN they need to hear it (4). You can feel Jesus’ love for His disciples in the content and timing of these words.God has a way of preparing our hearts for times of trouble ahead. I’ve heard people say that they can cope with bad news better when they know precisely what the diagnosis and prognosis are; when they can look what they are facing squarely in the eye. When there’s a vague sense of threat hanging in the air it’s much harder to deal with.

When ”the time comes” they will remember that Jesus knew all about it and prepared them in advance (4). This will strengthen their confidence in Him. It points to the Lordship of Jesus. He (and they) may be under threat, but He is definitely in control.

What had Jesus already told His disciples to keep them ‘on the straight and narrow’?    Here are a few things:

  1. They will be hated (15:18). They are to expect animosity, violence and even death itself. Look how that theme continues here (2);
  2. They will be hated because of their relationship to Jesus (15:18, 20, 21). But the hatred of Jesus, and His church, is irrational (15:25). It is also inexcusable (15:22);
  3. This hatred springs from spiritual ignorance (15:21; 16:3);
  4. In the face of hatred and danger, they ”must” testify to Jesus (15:27). But they are not alone (15:26). The Holy Spirit will do the work. So there is a balanced picture of warning and encouragement. Some people did wholeheartedly obey Jesus’ teaching (20b) so they could anticipate some degree of success.

Let’s be careful to spell out the cost of discipleship to potential (and actual) followers and ask them to count it. And don’t be surprised if you find the Christian life hard; if you find yourself and your message opposed; if you should be socially ostracised. Expect it. If it’s not your experience now, it no doubt will be at some point. Keep going, trusting in the reality of the Holy Spirit. Remember, Jesus knows, and He is in charge of all things.

Daily Bible thoughts 1253: Wednesday 19th October 2016: John 15:26, 27: The evangelistic imperative.

 John 15:26, 27:The evangelistic imperative.(please click for todays passage)

”And you also must testify…”

It is an imperative for a disciple of Christ to ”testify” to Him. We who have been called into relationship with Jesus; who know Him; who spend time with Him – we are to testify to Him.

But the testimony spoken of here is a double testimony. It is the witness of the Holy Spirit and that of the disciple. In fact, the Holy Spirit is the primary witness. His testimony is mentioned first.

In the first place He testifies about Jesus to us, so that we may know Him more and more.

But, secondly, He testifies about Jesus through us. He is the great evangelist in our world; the foremost missionary and witness to Christ. Without Him all our efforts to spread the gospel will fail.

I like to think, as an illustration, of a gloved hand. To the outward eye it looks like the glove is moving, touching, picking things up.But in reality it is the hand in the glove doing the work. The hand and glove have become as one.

PRAYER: Heavenly Father, I pray that the Holy Spirit will so fill my life that I become a powerful witness to Jesus. I ask in Christ’s own Name.

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