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Free Daily Bible notes by Rev Stephen Thompson

Month

May 2018

Daily Bible thoughts 1666: Monday 7th May 2018: Genesis 21:1-7: True to His Word.

Genesis 21:1-7: True to His Word.

“Now the Lord was gracious to Sarah as he had said, and the Lord did for Sarah what he had promised. Sarah became pregnant and bore a son to Abraham in his old age, at the very time God had promised him. Abraham gave the name Isaac  to the son Sarah bore him. When his son Isaac was eight days old, Abraham circumcised him, as God commanded him. Abraham was a hundred years old when his son Isaac was born to him. Sarah said, ‘God has brought me laughter, and everyone who hears about this will laugh with me.’ And she added, ‘Who would have said to Abraham that Sarah would nurse children? Yet I have borne him a son in his old age.’” NIV UK

God keeps His Word: Note the words ‘’As he had said…what he had promised…at the very time God had promised…’’ (1, 2). God is consistently as good as His Word. When He fulfils it, this is always a matter of grace (1). The favour of God is never deserved. But here is a good reason to take your Bible in hand and turn it into prayer. Know what God has promised, and take these unfailing ‘cheques’ to the Bank of heaven to cash them in. ‘’Not one of all the LORD’s good promises to Israel failed; everyone was fulfilled’’ (Joshua 21:45).

God is always on time: ‘’Sarah became pregnant and bore a son to Abraham in his old age, at the very time God had promised him’’ (2). We may not always understand God’s timing, but it’s always right; it’s always good. ‘’He has made everything beautiful in its time’’ (Ecclesiastes 3:11). Abraham and Sarah had quite a wait, but God knew what He was doing.

God does miracles: (see vv.5b/7): Who would have thought that a man of 100 years, and his wife at 90 would (could!) have a baby. Well, they couldn’t – biologically speaking. But God does surprising things.’’Is anything too hard for the LORD?’’ (18:14a).

God brings laughter: Isaac means ‘he laughs.’ God brings seasons of laughter into our lives; times of deep joy. It’s not all laughter of course. There are things we can only learn; only become, through a vale of tears. But lets acknowledge, and be thankful for, every ‘Isaac’ the Lord gives.

God’s grace requires obedience (1, 4): God’s Word to Abraham was not only one of promise, but also it entailed command. Abraham obeyed. The grace of God does not mean we are free to live however we want. Rather we are equipped to behave obediently to the One who saved us, and who blesses us beyond all measure.

Daily Bible thoughts 1665: Friday 4th May 2018: Genesis 20:14-18: ‘In all things…’

Genesis 20:14-18: ‘In all things…’

“14 Then Abimelek brought sheep and cattle and male and female slaves and gave them to Abraham, and he returned Sarah his wife to him. 15 And Abimelek said, ‘My land is before you; live wherever you like.’ 16 To Sarah he said, ‘I am giving your brother a thousand shekels of silver. This is to cover the offence against you before all who are with you; you are completely vindicated.’ 17 Then Abraham prayed to God, and God healed Abimelek, his wife and his female slaves so they could have children again, 18 for the Lord had kept all the women in Abimelek’s household from conceiving because of Abraham’s wife Sarah.” NIV UK

It’s necessary to read verse 3 in the light of verses 17, 18. The last two verses explain the third verse. It has been pointed out that Abimelech showed great integrity in dealing with Abraham. First of all, he rebuked him to his face. He didn’t go behind his back. But he didn’t make any excuses either, and he sought to put things right, to make restitution (14-16). So Abraham came out of this fiasco better off than before (in one sense). I am reminded of the great truth that ‘’we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose’’ (Romans 8:28). This includes their sins and failures. It doesn’t excuse or justify their misdemeanours, but it does embrace them. We see in the Bible how God even uses the bad things His people get into to further His purposes in them, and in the world at large. Nothing goes to waste. But that doesn’t mean we can ever be blasé about sins. While they can be forgiven, we are not necessarily shielded from their consequences. Always remember that God hates sin and is utterly hostile towards it.  Is there someone you need to get right with today? It may be that, as was the case with Abimelech, you feel you have been wronged by the other party. Don’t let that prevent you doing what you can to sort things out from your side.

PRAYER: Lord, please give me grace to do what I know to be right, even though it may entail self-humbling.

Daily Bible thoughts 1664: Thursday 3rd May 2018: Genesis 20: 8-13: Talking to yourself is no bad idea – but make sure you tell the truth!

Genesis 20: 8-13: Talking to yourself is no bad idea – but make sure you tell the truth!

“8 Early the next morning Abimelek summoned all his officials, and when he told them all that had happened, they were very much afraid. Then Abimelek called Abraham in and said, ‘What have you done to us? How have I wronged you that you have brought such great guilt upon me and my kingdom? You have done things to me that should never be done.’ 10 And Abimelek asked Abraham, ‘What was your reason for doing this?’ 11 Abraham replied, ‘I said to myself, “There is surely no fear of God in this place, and they will kill me because of my wife.” 12 Besides, she really is my sister, the daughter of my father though not of my mother; and she became my wife. 13 And when God caused me to wander from my father’s household, I said to her, “This is how you can show your love to me: everywhere we go, say of me, ‘He is my brother.’”’ NIV UK

Abraham was wrong, wasn’t he? (11). Incorrect thinking precedes defective behaving, and we will get it wrong if we tell ourselves untruths. Actually, we are always talking to ourselves, and we often get it wrong. If there was ‘’no fear of God in this place’’ (11), there certainly was now (8)! It is a sad thing when unbelievers appear more righteous than believers; when a Christian needs to be legitimately rebuked by someone outside the faith. Abraham was called to be a blessing, but in this incident he had become more of a curse.

‘…God’s chosen people are not totally righteous…people outside God’s covenant are not totally evil. All people have the capacity to respond to God, and many of them do so to varying degrees.’ Tom Hale: ‘The Applied Old Testament Commentary’, p.161.

Here is a fascinating insight into how human-beings can stick with sinful patterns of behaviour, even when they have suffered previously because of them (11-13). It surely was obvious, after the Egyptian fiasco (12:10-20), that this was not the way for them to go in the future. But, it seems, Abraham’s original request to Sarah was not rescinded. Whenever we cease trusting and take up scheming, we will end up in trouble.

Patterns of sin can not only be deeply rooted; they can also reiterate down through generations (see chapter 26).

PRAYER: Lord, may I not bring your Name into dishonour among heathen people. Enable me, please, to live a godly life that honours you and blesses people.

Daily Bible thoughts 1663: Wednesday 2nd May 2018: Genesis 20:6-7: Kept from sin.

Genesis 20:6-7: Kept from sin.

“6 Then God said to him in the dream, ‘Yes, I know you did this with a clear conscience, and so I have kept you from sinning against me. That is why I did not let you touch her. Now return the man’s wife, for he is a prophet, and he will pray for you and you will live. But if you do not return her, you may be sure that you and all who belong to you will die.’” NIV UK

Who can say how many times God has graciously and mercifully kept us from crossing the boundary line into sin. We can only thank Him that He does.  Here are three quotes from a daily devotional I read recently:  ‘We ought to thank God daily for the sins we have not committed.’ F.W.Faber;  ‘We cannot even imagine all that God has suffered us not to do, not to be.’ F.R.Havergal;

‘You are surprised at your imperfections – why? I should infer from that, that your self-knowledge is small. Surely, you might rather be astonished that you do not fall into more frequent and more grievous faults, and thank God for His upholding grace.’ Jean Nicolas Grou.

PRAYER: Lord God, this morning I feel incredibly grateful for your keeping power. Help me, this very day, to grow more and more in holiness. Please restrain my feet from taking wrong roads. Lead me in right paths for your Name’s sake.

May 1st: Trickle-Down (please note this was actually yesterdays note…I put 1st May on twice!)

Daily Bible thoughts 1661: Monday 30th April, 2018: Genesis 19: 30-38: Trickle-down effect. Sorry everyone this is yesterdays note I somehow put on todays twice!

“30 Lot and his two daughters left Zoar and settled in the mountains, for he was afraid to stay in Zoar. He and his two daughters lived in a cave. 31 One day the elder daughter said to the younger, ‘Our father is old, and there is no man round here to give us children – as is the custom all over the earth. 32 Let’s get our father to drink wine and then sleep with him and preserve our family line through our father.’ 33 That night they got their father to drink wine, and the elder daughter went in and slept with him. He was not aware of it when she lay down or when she got up. 34 The next day the elder daughter said to the younger, ‘Last night I slept with my father. Let’s get him to drink wine again tonight, and you go in and sleep with him so we can preserve our family line through our father.’ 35 So they got their father to drink wine that night also, and the younger daughter went in and slept with him. Again he was not aware of it when she lay down or when she got up. 36 So both of Lot’s daughters became pregnant by their father. 37 The elder daughter had a son, and she named him Moab; he is the father of the Moabites of today. 38 The younger daughter also had a son, and she named him Ben-Ammi; he is the father of the Ammonites of today.”

This could be a lovely story of family harmony; of a lonely man being comforted in his later years by the pure, familial love of his daughters. But it’s not. It is rather a tale of woe; of shame and ignominy. Note the role played in it by too much ‘’wine.’’ Although you cannot make a case for teetotalism from the Bible (at least, I don’t believe you can), it is more than obvious that we need to be careful around it. Too much alcohol can lead to lowering of inhibitions, and even loss of control altogether. It can make sexual sin much more likely. (This story reminds me of an earlier one in Genesis, about Noah: 9:18ff). From this sordid episode, the Ammonites and Moabites entered the world, and they would be thorns in the side of God’s people. Our behaviour has consequences.

 

Like it or not, the father sets the spiritual tone and atmosphere for the family. God has made him a leader, and who he is will affect the quality of life in the home. There will be a trickle-down effect, from his example, to his children. Lot’s family life was dysfunctional. I believe this stems from his being a worldly, compromised believer. Someone observed that although Lot had been saved from Sodom, he had not been saved from himself. It was easier to get Lot out of Sodom than to get Sodom out of Lot. In a previous chapter, Lot wanted to give his daughters to a rabid rabble at his door who were clamouring for sex with men. We can only begin to imagine the effect of that on these girls. Also, you wonder what else went on under that roof to damage them. This is not to excuse the daughters for their blatant sin. I believe it’s true to say that every culture in the world condemns incest (A little bit like Abraham with Hagar, they were scheming rather than trusting). But the parents have a major influence on their children, for good or for ill. Lot had sown a lot of bad seeds in his own back garden. We should not be surprised to see the moral weeds which sprang up in due course.

 

There are some bad dads in the world, sad to say. Bad men, who you feel should never have children. There are also many great dads. Somewhere in the middle, most of us carry on with good intentions, knowing we don’t always get it right. We are conscious we are flawed. There are occasions when we sense we’re getting it wrong, but we’re not quite sure how. But it’s tough being a parent. Most of us grow up reacting against certain things our parents did, and our children will undoubtedly repeat that pattern- given the chance. Even with the best of intentions, none of us gets it right all the time. We regularly experience the pain of seeing our sinful selves in the mirror of our kids’ behaviour, and a rebuking voice says, ‘Thou art the man.’

 

I read this sad, sad, story today, profoundly humbled by my own imperfections, but also grateful for the grace and mercy of God. Can any earthly dad fail to feel this? As Jesus put it, we are ‘’evil.’’ We have sinful natures, even though we love our children and want to give ‘’good gifts’’ to them. There is only one perfect Father, and He is ‘’in heaven.’’ Today we can count on His love, and cast ourselves upon His mercy, asking Him to ‘’forgive us our trespasses.’’ The fact that we’ve missed the mark often, as dads (and mums), does not disqualify us from His loving embrace, as we find our refuge in Christ.

Daily Bible thoughts 1662: Tuesday 1st May 2018: Genesis 20:1-7: Marriage matters.

Genesis 20:1-7: Marriage matters.

“Now Abraham moved on from there into the region of the Negev and lived between Kadesh and Shur. For a while he stayed in Gerar, and there Abraham said of his wife Sarah, ‘She is my sister.’ Then Abimelek king of Gerar sent for Sarah and took her. But God came to Abimelek in a dream one night and said to him, ‘You are as good as dead because of the woman you have taken; she is a married woman.’ Now Abimelek had not gone near her, so he said, ‘Lord, will you destroy an innocent nation? Did he not say to me, “She is my sister,” and didn’t she also say, “He is my brother”? I have done this with a clear conscience and clean hands.’ Then God said to him in the dream, ‘Yes, I know you did this with a clear conscience, and so I have kept you from sinning against me. That is why I did not let you touch her. Now return the man’s wife, for he is a prophet, and he will pray for you and you will live. But if you do not return her, you may be sure that you and all who belong to you will die.’” NIV UK

The great heroes of the Bible, as we have noted before, were flawed. They had feet of clay. Here we see Abraham repeating an earlier sin (Genesis 12). He had fallen off his horse at this fence before. Here he was again, chewing turf! He had displayed such godly, prayerful behaviour in recent times. Why should he once again resort to deceit, to scheming? Like all of us, Abraham was a ‘mixed bag.’ Of late, I’ve been re-visiting the history of early Pentecostalism. I have seen clearly that some of the great men who were used to bring many people to Christ; who performed notable miracles, were flawed and failing. They could say things which were not nice. They could quarrel and compete. They were not totally free of personal ambition. Yet God did use them. You see, a gift is a gift. It’s not a reward. It’s not necessarily a sign that someone is particularly godly, or that all their theology is correct. In spite of his sin, it is still the case that Abraham was a ‘’prophet’’ (7), and he was powerful in prayer. ‘The best of men are men at best.’

I also take heart from this story that God can reach anyone He chooses (3).He can call them up at any time. He has their private number. Both in Bible days and now, God speaks to people in dreams-especially in areas where people don’t have easy access to the Bible. When you try to talk to a person about Christ, you may find their line ‘engaged.’ But the Lord can get through. Don’t doubt it. To you they may be ‘ex-directory; but not to Him!

Once again, this story brings us face to face with the sanctity of marriage. It is a serious thing to violate it. Marriage matters. It is much more than a physical, biological coming together of two people: a man and a woman. It is a covenant. God is involved. To attack marriage is to declare war on God. He conducts the wedding, effectively, and He is deeply invested in these two people staying together through life. If you read what ‘Proverbs’ has to say about fidelity and infidelity in marriage, you are bound to see that adultery is a self-destruct mechanism. If you hide the book of ‘Proverbs’, alone, in your heart, you will not venture into that territory. It sets up a clear, strong fence at the top of the cliff. As someone said, a fence at the top is better than an ambulance at the bottom.

PRAYER: Thank you Lord for your good gift of marriage. Graciously help us to guard our marriages, and walk in faithfulness before you and with each other.

 

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