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Free Daily Bible notes by Rev Stephen Thompson

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December 2016

Daily Bible thoughts1297: Tuesday 6th December 2016: John 20:14-18: Don’t lose these keys!

John 20:14-18: Don’t lose these keys!(please click for passage)

How can you be a joyful disciple in all circumstances? How can you avoid unnecessary tears? Here’s a bunch of keys:

Key one: Recognise the presence of Jesus in negative circumstances (14, 15). Learn to see Him there with you. Admittedly, this may take time, and will not be possible without the Lord’s own gracious revelation. Nevertheless, for our part, we can believe that there are no wasted situations, and discipline ourselves to look for Jesus at work when He most seems absent. Pray that you will see ‘’Jesus standing there’’ in the midst of your pain, and recognise Him.

Key two: Question yourself (15a). In other words, counsel yourself. Ask, ‘’Why?’’ ‘’Why are you feeling (thinking, acting) like this? If this other reality is true; if Jesus is alive; then ‘Why?’ Why the downcast eyes and the down turned mouth? Why?” There is a precedent for this taking yourself in hand approach in the psalms. For example: ‘’Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Saviour and my God.’’ (Psalm 42:5, 11; Psalm 43:5). Many years ago, a preacher friend painted a verbal picture, and it has remained on the canvas of my heart,unfaded, ever since. He said, ‘It’s like the psalmist takes his soul out of his body and gives it a good talking to.’ Learn to preach to a congregation of one – YOU!                               On occasions, we may need other people to ask these questions of us. Sometimes we will need the courage to ask such questions of others. I’m still working on this in the belief that good questions can be more helpful than good answers. A well fashioned, well-timed question can leave you seeing the irrationality of your feelings, the implausibility of your thoughts, and the unbelief in your behaviour.

Key three: To have real joy and peace you must see who Jesus is. You cannot live the Christian life to the fullest while you remain mistaken about His identity (15). If you think Jesus is someone other than who He actually is, you will have problems. Bad theology leads to bad living. (However, consider this: ‘’Mary’s intuitive guess, that he must be the gardener, was wrong at one level and right, deeply right, at another. This is the new creation. Jesus is the beginning of it. Remember Pilate: ‘Here’s the man!’ Here he is: the new Adam, the gardener, charged with bringing the chaos of God’s creation into new order, into flower, into fruitfulness. He has come to uproot the thorns and thistles and replace them with blossoms and harvests.’’ Tom Wright: ‘John for everyone, part two,’p.146.)

Key four: Listen out for the Word of Christ. Live your life daily close to the sound of His voice. One word from the Lord can be life-changing. Eugene Peterson makes the point that prayer is always an answering word – the Word of God comes first. In the last twenty four hours I have been discovering afresh how powerful it is to take the Bible and turn it into prayer. Much of what I’m writing today has come from what I’ve seen in praying the Scriptures.

Key five: Submit to Christ as Lord (17, 18). ‘’Do whatever he tells you’’ (John 2:5). Mary’s ‘agenda’ was not a bad one. It was born of love and adoration for Jesus. She wanted to cling to Him. But Jesus’ agenda for her was different. This was now a new day. Their relationship would be on a different footing. She would need to relate to Him ‘’after the flesh’’ no longer. He wanted her to ‘’Go…and tell…’’ Tom Wright, thinking about the prejudice against women in that day, makes the observation that anyone wanting to invent this story would not make a woman the ‘star’ of the show, and especially not a woman like Mary Magdalene.

It’s been said that, ‘’God loves you, and people have a wonderful plan for your life.’’ Sometimes we too have to resist other people’s well meaning plans for us. Jesus Christ is Lord, and His is the only agenda which counts. ‘’Do whatever he tells you.’’

DAILY BIBLE THOUGHTS 1296: MONDAY 5TH DECEMBER, 2016: JOHN 20:10-18: WHAT’S IN A NAME?

JOHN 20:10-18:WHAT’S IN A NAME?

Doctor R.W.Dale was a British Congregational pastor and theologian. One day he was preparing an Easter sermon when the truth that Christ truly is alive hit him forcibly. He had known the doctrine Iin his mind for years, but that day it overwhelmed his heart. From then on ‘’the living Christ’’ became the theme of his preaching, and he got his congregation to sing a Easter hymn every Sunday morning: ‘’…Sunday,you know, is the day on which Christ left the dead.’’

It’s been pointed out that it appears we have a kind of ‘lying in state’ in (12) – but with the body missing. (It’s interesting that a little while earlier, Peter and John had apparently not seen these angels. Here is another example of that ‘ring of truth’ so evident in the gospels. Someone wanting to manufacture a story would probably want to erase such an inconvenient detail).                                                                                                                                There was no body in the tomb because Jesus stood outside it. He’s alive. There was something different about Jesus in His resurrection appearances. People often didn’t recognise Him immediately. That was the case with Mary, and we can’t help but smile wryly at her words spoken to the Lord (15b).                                                                                   Jesus had said earlier, in His famous ‘’good shepherd’’ discourse: ‘’…his sheep follow him because they know his voice…they do not recognise a stranger’s voice’’ (10:4,5). Again He said: ‘’My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me’’ (10:27).           Hearing Jesus speak your name makes all the difference. It did for Mary; it did also for Saul of Tarsus when he was ‘’still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples’’ (Acts 9:1). He was on his way to Damascus, armed with arrest warrants to put Christians behind bars. But while on his journey he ‘’felt the Hand of the Heavenly Policeman’ on his shoulder. He was apprehended by Jesus and taken into custody. The Lord spoke to him by name (Acts 9:4), and everything turned around from that point.

When you hear Jesus speak, you know who He is (16), and you discover what He wants you to do (17). Both Mary and Saul heard His voice and received a commission (Acts 9:15, 16). There can be a tendency for believers to ‘’hold on’’ to Jesus, but our job is to ‘’tell’’. Mary did not waste any more time standing around weeping. She was swift to pass on the good news (18), becoming an ‘apostle’ to the apostles. ‘’Mary not only shared the fact of His resurrection and that she had seen Him personally, but she also reported the words that He had spoken to her. Again, we see the importance of the Word of God. Mary could not transfer her experience over to them, but she could share the Word, and it is the Word that generates faith (Rom.10:17). The living Christ shared His living Word (1 Peter1:23-25).’’ Warren W. Wiersbe: ‘The Wiersbe Bible Commentary (NT)’, P.312.

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, please fill my heart with so much love for you, and so much joy because of you, that my heart empties out in words about you. It thrills me to know that you know me by name. Thank you.

Daily Bible thoughts 1295: Friday 2nd December 2016: John 20:10-15: ”The Lord is close to the broken-hearted.”

John 20:10-15: ”The Lord is close to the broken-hearted.”(please click for passage)

Love lingers. Mary, it seems, could not bear to leave the site where Jesus had been laid in death. Love’s reward is to meet with Jesus, and that was Mary’s experience on this momentous day.

If you have tears in your eyes or in your heart, you are in my prayers today. Sometimes we weep outwardly, and other times inwardly. Some ‘tears’ are not watery; they are more like ‘tears’ at the fabric of your heart. Either way, it remains the case that ”The LORD is close to the broken-hearted” (Psalm 34:18). He keeps all our tears in His ”bottle.” He sees our crying and He cares.

Often we need to weep, and it’s a healing/cleansing thing. Negative stuff can leave our bodies transported down the canal of tears. A cargo of debris gently floats away on the tide. When people dam their tears; when they stifle them with firm resolve, they regularly pay a price, one way or another. It’s not good to ‘bottle it up’. Perhaps,today, you need to ”let it go” – whatever ”it” is.

But on other occasions our tears have to be challenged: ”Woman, why are you crying?” (13, 15). Some of our tears may be wasted on illusions. Our thinking is all wrong and we just need a fresh perspective. We stand in need of revelation.Jesus was not dead, as Mary thought. His body had not been stolen. He was right there, behind her. She just needed the eyes to see. They would then become sparkly eyes.

Perhaps in the church we need a clearer vision than ever that Jesus is alive. It would alter a lot of things if that belief could travel the short (yet terribly long distance) from head to heart.

Selwyn Hughes once said, with regard to negative thoughts, ”Catch them. Challenge them. Change them.” That remains wise and helpful counsel. Not everything we think is true just because we happen to think it. 

The word ‘fear’ has been represented as an acrostic:

False

Expectations

Appearing

Real.

Does the above ring any bells?

”I sought the LORD, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears” (Psalm 34:4).

PRAYER: Lord God, you know where my mind needs changing and re-moulding. You see how susceptible I can be to lies. But sometimes my greatest difficulties are not with outright error, but with negative thinking; imagining ‘ghosts’ in the shadows that do not exist. Please challenge every tear and depressed feeling flowing from a lack of godly thinking. May my mind be renewed continually, for Jesus’ sake.

Daily Bible thoughts 1294: Thursday 1st December 2016: John 20:1-10:Hot pursuit.

John 20:1-10:Hot pursuit.(please click for todays passage)

This picture of John (we believe) and Peter, is full of realism. It’s true to what we know of the pair. The younger man eventually outran the older, but how typical of Peter to dive right into the tomb without hesitation. As someone said, there was no ”Shall-we-shan’t we?” No hesitation or deviation. Don’t you just love impulsive Peter?

I was thinking, when you get a sniff of a Biblical truth; a truth about Jesus that you maybe haven’t seen before (or not seen with clarity), you should go after it with all your might. Pursue it. Chase it down. Examine the evidence. Once you are fully convinced in your own mind, let it change your life, and share it with the world. Run after it; and then when you’ve caught it (or more to the point, it has captured you), run with it.

I have just finished reading ‘Wingspread’ – A.W. Tozer’s beautifully written biography of A.B. Simpson, the charismatic founder of the ‘Christian and Missionary Alliance’. While he was still a relatively young man Albert Simpson became very ill, and the medical prognosis was that he wouldn’t live very long. Then he came into contact with teaching about ‘divine healing’. Once he became sure of this for himself, not only did he experience a remarkable healing. From that point onwards it became a significant emphasis in his ministry and that of the movement he initiated.

When John looked into the grave he saw an orderly scene. If grave robbers had called, they would have ripped off the bandages and left them strewn about the place, or they would have taken body, grave clothes and all. But what John saw suggested the body of Jesus had just passed through the clothes (and,presumably, out through the walls). It’s been said that they looked something like a collapsed balloon when all the air has gone out

It was still dusky (1) maybe, but daylight was beginning to dawn for Jesus’ disciples. For John it was a ”bit like falling in love; a bit like sunrise; a bit like the sound of rain at the end of a long drought…the world had turned a corner,out of its long winter and into spring at last.” Tom Wright: ‘John for everyone, part 2’, p.142.

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