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Free Daily Bible notes by Rev Stephen Thompson

Month

October 2016

Daily Bible thoughts 1252: Tuesday 18th October 2016: John 15:18-25: On persecution.

John 15:18-25: On persecution.(please click here for todays passage)

If the last section in John was about love, this next one turns to the theme of hate – the hatred of the world (”the moral order apart from God” D. Guthrie) for Christ, for His Father, and for the church (18, 19, 23, 24). At one level it is an inexplicable hatred because it is ”without reason” (25; see Psalm 25:19; 69:4). Why would ”the world” hate the God who ”so” loves it (John 3:16). It doesn’t make any sense naturally speaking. But we are not ‘naturally speaking’. We live and serve in war time realities (Ephesians 6:10-20).

Here are four observations from the passage:

  1. The persecution of Christians is indissolubly linked to the persecution of Jesus (18, 20, 21). The Lord had previously enunciated the principle found in (20) back in (13:16): ”No servant is greater than his master.” There it related to the need for humility. Here it has to do with how the world will treat them. If Jesus was hated by the world they will be. But some did respond warmly and positively to the teaching of Jesus and we will find this too. The picture is not totally bleak.
  2. Christians are persecuted because they do not belong to the world (19). We belong to another country, a better land, a different commonwealth, a greater kingdom: ”But our citizenship is in heaven” (Philippians 3:20). We have been born from above. We don’t belong in this world. It’s been said that the principle here is that like attracts like but repels opposites. It’s like when birds turn on other birds of a different plumage and want to kill them.
  3. Persecution has its origin in ignorance of God (21). People who truly know God would not hound other lovers of God. They just wouldn’t.
  4. Persecution may be understandable, but it is nevertheless inexcusable (22,24). The preaching and miracles of Jesus left them without excuse. Brilliant light had shone in their darkness. They allowed their day of opportunity to pass them by.

I applaud every sincere attempt to befriend people who are not Christians. Jesus was the Friend of sinners, and I want to follow in His steps. But if we offer that friendship without compromise, we will find that there will be many who do not wish to return it. Don’t be surprised if you are often rejected, ostracised and even hated. Don’t let it be because you are offensive, or unwise in your behaviour. But you must be prepared for it. That’s how things are. That’s how Jesus said it would be.

I heard that a new Christian said to Charles Spurgeon: ”Mr. Spurgeon, now that I am a Christian, how much of the world must I give up?” Spurgeon replied, ”Young man, don’t worry. The world will give you up.”

PRAYER: ”Lord Jesus, in the face of hostility, help me to not be surprised, and fill me with courage to still stand by your Cross.

Daily Bible thoughts 1251: Monday 17th October 2016: John 15:15: Friendship with Jesus.

 John 15:15: Friendship with Jesus.(please click for todays passage)

Just a thought for the day:

”The LORD confides in those who fear him; he makes his covenant known to them” (Psalm 25:14).

”The LORD is a friend to those who fear him. He teaches them his covenant” (New Living Translation).

”God-friendship is for God-worshippers; They are the ones he confides in” (The Message).

This resonates with Jesus’ words in John 15. The Lord brings His disciples into a place of deep intimacy. What a privilege.

PRAYER: Lord, enable me to live so close to you that I can hear even your faintest whispers. Let me not miss anything you are saying to me.

Daily Bible thoughts 1250: Friday 14th October 2016: John 15: 9-17: Enjoying Jesus’ love.

John 15: 9-17: Enjoying Jesus’ love.(please click for todays passage)

At a superficial glance, it may appear that Jesus is saying that we can earn His love by being obedient to Him. However, the message in these verses is not about earning but enjoying. ‘The Message’ makes this clearer I think:

”Make yourselves at home in my love. If you keep my commands, you’ll remain intimately at home in my love.”

We cannot earn the love of Jesus by being obedient to His commands; but by such obedience we will enjoy the fullness of His love. Those who walk in disobedience to Him, who trample on their own consciences, will feel a distance in their relationship with Jesus. He still loves them, but they will fail to feel the warm sunshine of His love tanning their souls. We can’t live how we please and enjoy all that Jesus has for us.

A particular command is emphasised here:

”This is my command: Love one another the way I loved you. This is the very best way to love. Put your life on the line for your friends…

…remember the root command: Love one another.”

So many other commands of Jesus are contained in this one. When you boil it all down, the Christian life is about loving God and loving people.

Daily Bible thoughts 1249: Thursday 13th October 2016: John 15:1-8: The Source of fruitfulness.

 John 15:1-8: The Source of fruitfulness.(please click for todays passage)

”Do not confound work and fruit. There is much work for Christ that is not the fruit of the heavenly Vine.” Andrew Murray.

The ”fruit” we bear as disciples of Christ is to the ”Father’s glory” and by it our identity is revealed (8). It is God’s ambition for us that we should ”bear much fruit” (5, 8); and let us not forget the vital, yet painful, contribution of the pruning knife in the production of a greater crop (2b). We may not like this truth, but if honest, surely we will say that it feels like we grew the most when times were hardest.

The key to fruit-bearing is to ”remain” in Jesus (4, 5, 6, 7), and for Him to ”remain” in you. Notice the repetition of this word. It is the continuous, living connection with Jesus ”the true vine” (1) that is indispensable.

The ”fruit” produced on the Vine is linked to the nature of the tree. A vine produces grapes – not apples, oranges or pears. And the fruit of a life in Christ will be a Christ-like life.

”…apart from me you can do nothing.” (5b). The deep, inward apprehension of this truth will transform your prayer life. It will fill prayer meetings. Prayerless people and prayerless churches probably just don’t get this. It certainly looks and feels that way. Recognition of our utter helplessness apart from Christ will bring us to our knees and keep us on our knees. There are many things we can do without prayer, and many of them may appear spectacular and impressive. (I guess the Tower of Babel did!) But we cannot glorify God in the production of much and lasting ”fruit”.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, please keep my heart in closest contact with you.

Daily Bible thoughts 1248: Wednesday 12th October 2016: John 15:1-8: The cleansing Word.

 John 15:1-8: The cleansing Word.(please click for todays passage)

”You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you” (3).

”Cleansing her by the washing with water through the word…” (Ephesians 5:26).

I had a very dear friend; a Scotsman called John, who came back to solid faith in Jesus during the time I was living in Morecambe, and helping to plant a church in Lancaster.John had spent years in ‘the wilderness.’ So he was now playing catch up. He became a keen Christian and avidly read the Bible. It was exciting to spend time with John and converse with him. We spent hours together talking about the things of God. He lived in the Scriptures, and was profoundly drawn to Paul’s letter to the ‘Romans’. But by now his memory was not what it had been, although he was still  physically strong and active. He bemoaned the fact that he wasn’t retaining much of what he read. ”But, I suppose,” he said to me, ”it’s like water going through a sieve. It cleanses as it goes.”

Jesus’ Word is a cleansing Word.

It is also a clarifying Word (7). 

How do you know what to pray? How can you know that your prayers will be answered? The Bible itself will clarify things for you. In Timothy Keller’s excellent book on prayer, he emphasises the great tradition going back to the reformers, that encourages prayer to arise from meditation on Scripture. Pray the Bible. Take what you are reading and reflecting upon, and turn it into prayer.

The ‘rails’ for prayer are laid down in God’s Word. It is up to us to travel on them.

PRAYER: Lord, I don’t want to get ‘derailed’!

Daily Bible thoughts 1247: Tuesday 11th October 2016: John 14:25-30: Inheritance.

John 14:25-30: Inheritance.(please click for todays passage)

Someone observed that during His life and ministry Jesus experienced numerous and severe traumas, yet inwardly He was a ”sea of glass.”

It is interesting that Jesus leaves with His disciples His own peace (27). The peace He promises is the peace He Himself possessed (and possesses.)

Do you think you come anywhere close to experiencing Christ’s peace on the often turbulent high seas of your life? Probably at times you do. But maybe not all the time?

Imagine being left a fortune in a will, and yet continuing to live in poverty. Many Christians seem to do this. Jesus has left us a rich legacy. It includes His peace among other numerous blessings. He has died willingly so that we may become His beneficiaries. But we seem content to live well below the level of our privileges.

Are you living in the fullness of all that is yours? Know for sure that you can. Whatever the Father has planned for you to have, and the Son has made possible by His death on the cross, the Holy Spirit will make real in your daily experience. But you and I have to co-operate with Him in this. For the second time in a few verses, Jesus says, ” Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” (27b). The disciples were facing circumstances where their natural instinct would be to fear, but Jesus called them to resist anxiety. We are to co-operate with God in the working out of His purposes in our lives. Don’t permit the thundering hooves of fear to leave their footprints on your heart.

”Too many resemble the stone-breaker who came into a vast estate, but was content to live in the lodge. When an old friend came to congratulate him, and see over the property, he said: ”There! It is all in those parchments; but I have never been to see for myself what there is.” ” F.B. Meyer.

PRAYER: Lord, forgive me for where and when I play at Christianity. Help me to be resolute in seeking you, and to go after everything I can have because of Jesus.

Daily Bible thoughts 1246: Monday 10th October 2016: John 14:15-24: Not abandoned.

 John 14:15-24: Not abandoned.(please click for todays passage)

The Holy Spirit has been described as ”the uncomfortable comforter”. In the Bayeux Tapestry, there is a caption which reads ”Bishop Odin comforteth his troops.” What the Bishop is actually doing is prodding his soldiers with his sword, and urging them back into the fight. Someone pointed out that at the heart of our word ”comforter” there is the word ”fort”. He said, ”The Holy Spirit comes to turn you into a fortress for the day of battle. The comfort is much more than, ”There, there now.”

Jesus was about to leave His disciples. He had only recently informed them about His imminent departure. He was everything to them, and if they felt like they were about to be orphaned, you could understand it (18). So Jesus assured them that whilst going away, He would nevertheless ”come” (18) to them in the Person of the Holy Spirit. This section points to a new relationship with the Spirit for the disciples (17b).

The Holy Spirit is spoken of by Jesus (in the Greek language) as ”allos parakletos” (”another advocate” or ”another comforter”). I understand that in Greek there are two words for ”another”. One means ”another who is different”, but ”allos” means ”another who is similar”. Everything Jesus had been to His disciples, that the Holy Spirit would be to them. They would not feel orphaned at all.

In the Holy Spirit; through His ministry, we ”see” Jesus (19) and know the reality of His presence within us, and in the midst of the church community. Someone pointed out that if Jesus were still on earth bodily, you might be able to book Him to speak at your church once in your lifetime. And that is ‘might’. But because He is now here in the Holy Spirit, you can have Him with you at every single meeting. What a privilege.

Daily Bible thoughts 1245: Friday 7th October 2016: John 14:15-24: ‘Love does’.

John 14:15-24: ‘Love does’.(please click for todays passage)

Bob Goff wrote a book entitled ‘Love does’. 

Jesus clearly stated that love for Him will show itself in action – in obedience to His teaching (15, 23, 24). In addition, He made a wonderful promise of fellowship with the Father and Himself for those who walk in loving obedience.

In Bishop J.C. Ryle’s book ‘Holiness’, he has a chapter headed ”Lovest thou me?”. It is based on Jesus’ challenging question to Peter (John 21:16). Here is an extract from this wonderful and practical chapter: 

”If we love a person, we like to please him. We are glad to consult his tastes and opinions, to act upon his advice, and do the things which he approves. We even deny ourselves to meet his wishes, abstain from things which we know he dislikes, and learn things to do which we are not naturally inclined, because we think it will give him pleasure. Well, it is just so between the Christian and Christ! The true Christian studies to please Him, by being holy both in body and spirit. Show him anything in his daily practice that Christ hates, and he will give it up. Show him anything that Christ delights in, and he will follow after it. He does not murmur at Christ’s requirements as being too strict and severe, as the children of the world do. To him Christ’s commandments are not grievous and Christ’s burden is light. And why is all this? Simply because he loves Him.”

Prayer: Help me Holy Spirit to love Jesus more and more.

Daily Bible thoughts 1244: Thursday 6th October 2016: John 14:1-14: The window into God.

John 14:1-14: The window into God.(please click for todays passage)

Here are two complementary truths about Jesus: He brings God to people, and He brings people to God.

He brings God to people. He reveals ”the Father.” In the incarnation, He shows us what God is like, in terms we can understand. He is translating into our language; we can comprehend flesh and blood. What is God like? That’s a good question. The answer: He is just like Jesus.

He brings people to God. Somebody said that Christianity is both exclusive and inclusive. If Jesus is the only way to the only God there is, then all people must hear about Him, regardless of colour, creed or culture. But the same speaker also said, at a meeting in Leeds, held probably around thirty years ago, that he felt that in the church there is a ”loss of nerve” over this point. That may be even more the case now. The secular world does not like exclusive truth claims. But this is still the gospel message. Jesus is the only One who can bring people to God. He is the only ‘Bridge’ over the great gulf.

Apparently, if you were to get lost in Jerusalem in Jesus’ day, and you stopped someone and asked for directions, they wouldn’t say, ”Well take a right, then next left, then…etc etc.” They would be likely to reply, ”I am the way”, meaning ”Follow me. I’ll take you there.”

The Lord Jesus is still saying this to the world.

Let’s be brave enough to pass on His message.

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