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Free Daily Bible notes by Rev Stephen Thompson

Month

February 2020

John 14:15-24: Not abandoned.

John 14:15-24: Not abandoned.

“If you love me, keep my commands. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— 17 the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. 18 I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. 19 Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. 20 On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. 21 Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.”22 Then Judas (not Judas Iscariot) said, “But, Lord, why do you intend to show yourself to us and not to the world?”23 Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. 24 Anyone who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.” NIV

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.

John 14:15-24: ‘Love does’.

John 14:15-24: ‘Love does’.

 “If you love me, keep my commands. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— 17 the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be[c] in you. 18 I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. 19 Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. 20 On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. 21 Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.”22 Then Judas (not Judas Iscariot) said, “But, Lord, why do you intend to show yourself to us and not to the world?”23 Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. 24 Anyone who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.” NIV

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.

John 14:1-14: The window into God.

John 14:1-14: The window into God.

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.”Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?”Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really know me, you will know  my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.”Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.”Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?10 Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you I do not speak on my own authority. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work. 11 Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the works themselves. 12 Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. 13 And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.” NIV

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.

John 14:1-14: Troubled – yet trouble free!

John 14:1-14: Troubled – yet trouble free!

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God[a]; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.”Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?”Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.”Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.”Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?10 Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you I do not speak on my own authority. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work. 11 Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the works themselves. 12 Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. 13 And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.” NIV

This was a troubling time for the disciples. They had just been hit by a ‘double-whammy’! They had been told that one of their number would betray Jesus – and they had watched as Judas left them to carry out the dastardly deed. (Though whether they fully understood all that was going on seems dubious.) They had also been told by Jesus that He was going away. That conversation continues here. There’s still confusion in the air for His followers. As with ourselves, it could take time for the penny to drop!

So, troubling times indeed.

But Jesus tells his disciples not to ”let” their ”hearts be troubled”. It is obvious – at least this is how I read it – that Jesus wants His disciples to live trouble-free even when smack bang in the middle of trouble. Anxiety, worry etc are to be resisted as much as sin. In fact these things may often be sin, or manifestations of it. The way to resist this kind of ‘heart trouble’ is to trust In Jesus (1b). And don’t miss the staggering claim that trusting in Jesus and trusting in God are parallel. Essentially, to do the one is to do the other.

In the face of temptation to worry, to fret, to fear, here is a ‘pill’ you need to take. It is the faith pill.

The other remedy is in the prayer pill (13,14). To ask that we will have untroubled hearts, when Jesus has expressly said that He wants us to be free in this way, is surely a good thing to pray. When we ask for what we know the Lord wants, we are most certainly praying in His ‘name’ and for the Father’s ‘glory’. A well-known Christian writer has recently pointed out that the Holy Spirit can cause us to feel the emotions described in the Bible. The pertinent point to underscore here is that He can cause us to live in peace. He delivers what is in the ‘prescription’ right to your door.

”Fear knocked at the door; faith answered; and there was nobody there.

PRAYER: Lord please forgive me for all the times I have not lived in the power of this truth. I have let my heart be troubled so many times. Most of the time my worries were illusory anyway. But even on the worst of days you wanted me to have an inner serenity that comes from you. Have mercy on me Lord. Please forgive my weaknesses and sins. Help me to fully live in my God-given inheritance.

John 13:31-38: The power of love.

John 13:31-38: The power of love.

“31 When he was gone, Jesus said, “Now the Son of Man is glorified and God is glorified in him. 32 If God is glorified in him, God will glorify the Son in himself,and will glorify him at once.33 “My children, I will be with you only a little longer. You will look for me, and just as I told the Jews, so I tell you now: Where I am going, you cannot come.34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”36 Simon Peter asked him, “Lord, where are you going?”Jesus replied, “Where I am going, you cannot follow now, but you will follow later.”37 Peter asked, “Lord, why can’t I follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.”38 Then Jesus answered, “Will you really lay down your life for me? Very truly I tell you, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times!” NIV

When Judas ”went out” (30), Jesus knew it was time for Him to die (31, 32). He knew that this treacherous ‘follower’ would trigger the events leading to His arrest and sufferings.

When Judas ”went out…it was night” (30). But it was the time for Jesus to shine with supreme glory. This is what we see in the Cross – the glory of God.

In the light of His soon departure, Jesus spoke so tenderly, kindly and gently to His beloved disciples (33). ”My children…” Let’s be careful how we handle precious people. Who can say what pain lies behind each carefully constructed facade? Probably everyone carries some wounds. In fact, cross out the ‘probably’. Hurt and tears are universal realities. May God help us to be gentle.

How did Jesus want His disciples to conduct themselves after His leaving (34, 35)? He wanted them to be a loving community. Don’t miss the importance of these words.

See the evangelistic power of love. People are hungry for true love, and the more perfectly it is expressed (even in an imperfect world) the more people will be drawn to it. It is known that in the pagan world in which Christianity took root, there were those who were saying, ‘See how these Christians love one another.’ What a testimony.

But we are far from perfect. Jesus knows us better than we know ourselves (36-38). We mean well, but we often find that our fine-sounding words and good intentions go up in flames when we’re in the furnace. The Lord is never taken by surprise. He knows what is in us; what we are really made of. We are not yet ‘finished articles’, so humility is called for.

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, I ask that our church community will be a powerful and vivid advert for life in the Kingdom of God.

John 13:18-30 Ask Jesus

John 13:18-30 Ask Jesus

“I am not referring to all of you; I know those I have chosen. But this is to fulfill this passage of Scripture:‘He who shared my bread has turned against me.’19 “I am telling you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe that I am who I am. 20 Very truly I tell you, whoever accepts anyone I send accepts me; and whoever accepts me accepts the one who sent me.”21 After he had said this, Jesus was troubled in spiritand testified, “Very truly I tell you, one of you is going to betray me.”22 His disciples stared at one another, at a loss to know which of them he meant. 23 One of them, the disciple whom Jesus loved, was reclining next to him. 24 Simon Peter motioned to this disciple and said, “Ask him which one he means.”25 Leaning back against Jesus, he asked him, “Lord, who is it?”26 Jesus answered, “It is the one to whom I will give this piece of bread when I have dipped it in the dish.”Then, dipping the piece of bread, he gave it to Judas,the son of Simon Iscariot. 27 As soon as Judas took the bread, Satan entered into him.So Jesus told him, “What you are about to do, do quickly.” 28 But no one at the meal understood why Jesus said this to him. 29 Since Judas had charge of the money, some thought Jesus was telling him to buy what was needed for the festival, or to give something to the poor. 30 As soon as Judas had taken the bread, he went out. And it was night.” NIV

This passage ends in a dramatic fashion with the short sentence: ”And it was night” (30). It was night in more ways than one. It was a time of deep darkness as  the diabolically inspired Judas (27a) went out to do his worst. But Jesus is in total control. That is the feel; the tone of this section. Judas may go out to betray Jesus, but he goes out at the Lord’s command (27b).

So today’s reading affirms that ‘Jesus Christ is Lord.’

It also encourages us to:

Ask Jesus (22-26): become someone who enquires of the Lord, as David did in his best moments. Pursue this relationship with a real, living Lord Jesus who speaks. Where you do not know; where there are mysteries, you can ask Him. He’s not obliged to give you an answer, but He may well choose to do so. Even here, where He answered Peter, it seems the disciples still didn’t fully understand. But that, I feel, is a reflection on their dullness yet again. We see a Jesus who responds with words to our words. ”You do not have, because you do not ask God” (James 4:2b). Ask Jesus.

Here is something else for us to grasp:

Jesus knows (18, 19). He knows the Scriptures better than we do (18) and can give sparkling insight into them. He knows the future much better than we do (19, 21, 26, 27b). Someone said we should be very interested in the future because we will spend the rest of our lives there! Well, some people try to peer into the future in dark, unbiblical ways that are outlawed in Scripture. We should stay well away from that kind of thing. But in the Bible the Lord has revealed what He wants us to know about the future. There are prophecies yet to be fulfilled. And if Jesus wants to prepare you for anything in your personal future, He has ways to do that.

PRAYER: Yet again Lord Jesus I must confess to you my slowness to pray and to ask for all that I can have from you. Lord please fight against all the enemy’s stratagems to keep me off my knees, and help me to do all I can to resist him.

John 13:6-11: Dirty feet.

John 13:6-11: Dirty feet.

“6 He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?”Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.”“No,” said Peter, “you shall never wash my feet.”Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.”“Then, Lord,” Simon Peter replied, “not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!”10 Jesus answered, “Those who have had a bath need only to wash their feet; their whole body is clean. And you are clean, though not every one of you.” 11 For he knew who was going to betray him, and that was why he said not every one was clean.” NIV

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.)

John 13:1-5; 12a: The drama of salvation.

John 13:1-5; 12a: The drama of salvation.

“It was just before the Passover Festival. Jesus knew that the hour had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.The evening meal was in progress, and the devil had already prompted Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus. Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around 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 around him.He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?”Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.”“No,” said Peter, “you shall never wash my feet.”Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.”“Then, Lord,” Simon Peter replied, “not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!”10 Jesus answered, “Those who have had a bath need only to wash their feet; their whole body is clean. And you are clean, though not every one of you.” 11 For he knew who was going to betray him, and that was why he said not every one was clean.12 When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them.” NIV

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.

John 13:2, 10,11: One step ahead.

John 13:2, 10,11: One step ahead.

 “It was just before the Passover Festival. Jesus knew that the hour had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.The evening meal was in progress, and the devil had already prompted Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus. Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around 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 around him.He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?”Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.”“No,” said Peter, “you shall never wash my feet.”Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.”“Then, Lord,” Simon Peter replied, “not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!”10 Jesus answered, “Those who have had a bath need only to wash their feet; their whole body is clean. And you are clean, though not every one of you.” 11 For he knew who was going to betray him, and that was why he said not every one was clean.” NIV

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.

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