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Free Daily Bible notes by Rev Stephen Thompson


November 2022

Psalm 119:113-120: God’s sustaining Word

I hate double-minded people,
    but I love your law.
114 You are my refuge and my shield;
    I have put my hope in your word.
115 Away from me, you evildoers,
    that I may keep the commands of my God!
116 Sustain me, my God, according to your promise, and I will live;
    do not let my hopes be dashed.

117 Uphold me, and I will be delivered;
    I will always have regard for your decrees.
118 You reject all who stray from your decrees,
    for their delusions come to nothing.
119 All the wicked of the earth you discard like dross;
    therefore I love your statutes.
120 My flesh trembles in fear of you;
    I stand in awe of your laws

Someone observed regarding Ps.119:118 that it is ‘a recognition that God cannot bless where His word is deserted.’

It may have been the same person who noted: ‘Nothing opens a window into the Old Testament view of the law of God more than the word ‘love’ (113; cf.v.97)…This love was all -absorbing, utterly excluding the double-mind…’

Twice, in this section, the psalmist writes about his ”love” for God’s Word (113 & 119). I firmly believe God wants us to be in the place where we ”live” on every word that proceeds from God’s mouth. We love the Bible for many reasons, including this one that it ‘sustains’ us

Hudson Taylor wanted missionaries for China who would totally trust God’s promises and look to Him alone for the supply of all their needs. He wrote:

‘Our Father is a very experienced One. He knows very well that His children wake up with a good appetite every morning, and He always provides breakfast for them, and does not send them supperless to bed at night. ‘Thy bread shall be given thee, and thy water shall be sure.’ He sustained three million Israelites in the wilderness for forty years. We do not expect He will send three million missionaries to China; but if He did, He would have ample means to sustain them all. Let us see that we keep God before our eyes; that we walk in His ways and seek to please and glorify Him in everything, great and small. Depend upon it, GOD’s work done in GOD’s way will never lack GOD’s supplies.’ (‘The growth of a work of God’, p.42).

PRAYER: Lord please give to me a simple, practical trust in your Word.

Titus 2: Enabling grace

 You, however, must teach what is appropriate to sound doctrine. Teach the older men to be temperate, worthy of respect, self-controlled, and sound in faith, in love and in endurance.

Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.

Similarly, encourage the young men to be self-controlled. In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned, so that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about us.

Teach slaves to be subject to their masters in everything, to try to please them, not to talk back to them, 10 and not to steal from them, but to show that they can be fully trusted, so that in every way they will make the teaching about God our Savior attractive.

11 For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. 12 It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, 13 while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.

15 These, then, are the things you should teach. Encourage and rebuke with all authority. Do not let anyone despise you.

This down-to-earth teaching about life in the home, and the workplace, has both negative and positive implications. Negatively, practical, godly living will mean that the Word of God is not ‘maligned’ (5); positively, such a holy lifestyle will make the teaching about God ”attractive” (10). There’s a lot at stake here.

But holiness is only possible because of the enabling grace of God in Jesus (11-14). There is a power at work in the life of every Christian, enabling us to refuse to yield to the siren calls of temptation and sin, and equipping us for godly living. The very reason Jesus died was in order to create such a holy people.

Nicky Gumbel tells a story about a Christian man, ”Gibbo”, who worked at ‘Selfridges’, and who knew Gordon Selfridge himself. One day the phone rang in the store, Gibbo answered it, and the person at the other end of the line asked for Mr. Selfridge. Gordon, standing nearby, said, ‘Tell them I’m not here.’ Gibbo handed Gordon the receiver and mouthed, ‘You tell him!’ When he’d finished the call, Gordon Selfridge was livid with Gibbo. But Gibbo explained, ‘If I can lie for you, I can also lie to you.’ That day he won the respect and admiration of his boss. This is the power of practical, everyday holiness, and Jesus makes it possible for every believer, by the power of the Holy Spirit.

This is amazing grace.

PRAYER: Lord God, teach me to say ‘Yes’ to all you ask of me, and ‘No’ to all that sin requires of me.

Lamentations 2:15-22: Deeply Moved


15 All who pass your way
    clap their hands at you;
they scoff and shake their heads
    at Daughter Jerusalem:
“Is this the city that was called
    the perfection of beauty,
    the joy of the whole earth?”

16 All your enemies open their mouths
    wide against you;
they scoff and gnash their teeth
    and say, “We have swallowed her up.
This is the day we have waited for;
    we have lived to see it.”

17 The Lord has done what he planned;
    he has fulfilled his word,
    which he decreed long ago.
He has overthrown you without pity,
    he has let the enemy gloat over you,
    he has exalted the horn of your foes.

18 The hearts of the people
    cry out to the Lord.
You walls of Daughter Zion,
    let your tears flow like a river
    day and night;
give yourself no relief,
    your eyes no rest.

19 Arise, cry out in the night,
    as the watches of the night begin;
pour out your heart like water
    in the presence of the Lord.
Lift up your hands to him
    for the lives of your children,
who faint from hunger
    at every street corner.

20 “Look, Lord, and consider:
    Whom have you ever treated like this?
Should women eat their offspring,
    the children they have cared for?
Should priest and prophet be killed
    in the sanctuary of the Lord?

21 “Young and old lie together
    in the dust of the streets;
my young men and young women
    have fallen by the sword.
You have slain them in the day of your anger;
    you have slaughtered them without pity.

22 “As you summon to a feast day,
    so you summoned against me terrors on every side.
In the day of the Lord’s anger
    no one escaped or survived;
those I cared for and reared
    my enemy has destroyed.”

Streams of tears flow from my eyes,
    for your law is not obeyed.
Psalm 119:136 (see also Lam.2:11).

This passage challenges me with a number of pressing questions:

  • What do I really care about?
  • What moves me?
  • What moves me to tears?
  • What might keep me up at night (or get me up) in order to pray about it?

Jeremiah found himself in the midst of terrible suffering. It was needless. If only the people had turned back to God, it would not have happened. But it had, and the prophet could not be passive. But even in that situation he believed prayer could make a difference.

Warren Wiersbe says, ‘Sin is costly, God must punish sin, but God’s mercy never fails: these are the key lessons of Lamentations…”

He writes about Jeremiah, ‘His heart was broken, and his grief reveals the broken heart of God. God had to chasten His people, and it grieved Him to do it.’

PRAYER: Soften my heart, Lord, soften my heart. From all indifference set me apart.

Lamentations 2:1-14: Stay true to truth

How the Lord has covered Daughter Zion
    with the cloud of his anger!
He has hurled down the splendor of Israel
    from heaven to earth;
he has not remembered his footstool
    in the day of his anger.

Without pity the Lord has swallowed up
    all the dwellings of Jacob;
in his wrath he has torn down
    the strongholds of Daughter Judah.
He has brought her kingdom and its princes
    down to the ground in dishonor.

In fierce anger he has cut off
    every horn of Israel.
He has withdrawn his right hand
    at the approach of the enemy.
He has burned in Jacob like a flaming fire
    that consumes everything around it.

Like an enemy he has strung his bow;
    his right hand is ready.
Like a foe he has slain
    all who were pleasing to the eye;
he has poured out his wrath like fire
    on the tent of Daughter Zion.

The Lord is like an enemy;
    he has swallowed up Israel.
He has swallowed up all her palaces
    and destroyed her strongholds.
He has multiplied mourning and lamentation
    for Daughter Judah.

He has laid waste his dwelling like a garden;
    he has destroyed his place of meeting.
The Lord has made Zion forget
    her appointed festivals and her Sabbaths;
in his fierce anger he has spurned
    both king and priest.

The Lord has rejected his altar
    and abandoned his sanctuary.
He has given the walls of her palaces
    into the hands of the enemy;
they have raised a shout in the house of the Lord
    as on the day of an appointed festival.

The Lord determined to tear down
    the wall around Daughter Zion.
He stretched out a measuring line
    and did not withhold his hand from destroying.
He made ramparts and walls lament;
    together they wasted away.

Her gates have sunk into the ground;
    their bars he has broken and destroyed.
Her king and her princes are exiled among the nations,
    the law is no more,
and her prophets no longer find
    visions from the Lord.

10 The elders of Daughter Zion
    sit on the ground in silence;
they have sprinkled dust on their heads
    and put on sackcloth.
The young women of Jerusalem
    have bowed their heads to the ground.

11 My eyes fail from weeping,
    I am in torment within;
my heart is poured out on the ground
    because my people are destroyed,
because children and infants faint
    in the streets of the city.

12 They say to their mothers,
    “Where is bread and wine?”
as they faint like the wounded
    in the streets of the city,
as their lives ebb away
    in their mothers’ arms.

13 What can I say for you?
    With what can I compare you,
    Daughter Jerusalem?
To what can I liken you,
    that I may comfort you,
    Virgin Daughter Zion?
Your wound is as deep as the sea.
    Who can heal you?

14 The visions of your prophets
    were false and worthless;
they did not expose your sin
    to ward off your captivity.
The prophecies they gave you
    were false and misleading

These ‘Lamentations’ are the lamentations of the prophet Jeremiah. For many years Jeremiah had prophesied to the kingdom of Judah. He had warned of the disaster to come if they refused to turn to God, and away from their sin and idolatry. Now the worst had befallen them, and Jeremiah laments over the tragic (and unnecessary) consequences. At the end of this graphic detailing of Judah’s suffering we find the words of verse 14. If I may put it like this, the preachers had failed in their solemn duty to proclaim God’s Word. They could have prevented all of this pain and misery if they had been true to their calling.

Every clergyman/woman in the UK (for starters!) should read this verse and take a long hard look at themselves in the mirror. When we speak out of our own imaginations, saying what we would prefer to say, and what we think people will most want to hear, it is a dereliction of duty. We are heading for disaster personally, and we are responsible for leading many others over the precipice with us. This is no trivial matter. What authority do we have to say anything which does not agree with the revealed Word of God?

PRAYER: Lord, we pray for all leaders in all churches that, despite the pressures to conform, they will stay true to your truth,

Lamentations 1:1: Postscript

How deserted lies the city,
    once so full of people!
How like a widow is she,
    who once was great among the nations!
She who was queen among the provinces
    has now become a slave.

Further to yesterday’s post about ‘faded glory’, I happened to read these words today in Wayne Jacobsen’s excellent book ‘In Season’ (p.167).

‘Grapes are not a one season crop. They produce crop after crop, year after year. The cycle of growth continues in our hearts as well, and as with all living things we are either growing or withering. Many a believer has made the mistake of assuming that just because God is doing things in their life, that alone will be sufficient to sustain their relationship with him. How many of us have seen men and women move in some incredible gifts, only to watch them suddenly take a great fall. The vineyard teaches us that such falls are not sudden at all. They result from days of not remaining in the vine and drawing on its life.

When our own relationship with the vine gets compromised, no matter how great the harvest we’re in the midst of, we have begun to wither…

At all costs, cling to your friendship with Jesus as more valuable than anything in this life.’ (Emphasis mine).

Lamentations 1: Faded glory

Oh, oh, oh . . . 
How empty the city, once teeming with people.
    A widow, this city, once in the front rank of nations,
    once queen of the ball, she’s now a drudge in the kitchen

…Jerusalem, who outsinned the whole world, is an outcast.
    All who admired her despise her now that they see beneath the surface.
    Miserable, she groans and turns away in shame.

She played fast and loose with life, she never considered tomorrow,,, (8,9a),

I have quoted just a fraction of Lamentations 1. Please do read the whole chapter. But you should be able to see from the above verses that it paints a sad picture of former glory,

Tragically, it happens, and we have to say of someone: he/she are not what they once were.

It can happen to anyone of us, so let’s take guard. The grey almost imperceptibly begins to grow and gather ground on the once dark crown. The muscles start to atrophy. The joints stiffen and movement becomes progressively more difficult. In most cases it doesn’t happen overnight, but there is a slow decline through the years. The tide gradually recedes.

In Judah’s case, in today’s passage, the fading of outer glory was the manifestation of an inner spiritual rot. When things go wrong on the inside it will eventually show on the outside.

Recently, I heard an esteemed older colleague speak in public, and he said it was the first time he had done so in a number of years. My thoughts were, ‘He has lost nothing.’ The old clarity and power were there – and the impact. For those who genuinely seek to walk with God, it doesn’t have to be a case of faded glory.

The righteous will flourish like a palm tree,
    they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon;
13 planted in the house of the Lord,
    they will flourish in the courts of our God.
14 They will still bear fruit in old age,
    they will stay fresh and green,
15 proclaiming, ‘The Lord is upright;
    he is my Rock, and there is no wickedness in him.’
(Psalm 92:12-15).

Proverbs 26:3-12: The definintion of madness

A whip for the horse, a bridle for the donkey,
    and a rod for the backs of fools!
Do not answer a fool according to his folly,
    or you yourself will be just like him.
Answer a fool according to his folly,
    or he will be wise in his own eyes.
Sending a message by the hands of a fool
    is like cutting off one’s feet or drinking poison.
Like the useless legs of one who is lame
    is a proverb in the mouth of a fool.
Like tying a stone in a sling
    is the giving of honor to a fool.
Like a thornbush in a drunkard’s hand
    is a proverb in the mouth of a fool.
10 Like an archer who wounds at random
    is one who hires a fool or any passer-by.
11 As a dog returns to its vomit,
    so fools repeat their folly.

12 Do you see a person wise in their own eyes?
    There is more hope for a fool than for them

As a dog eats its own vomit,
    so fools recycle silliness.
‘The Message.

You may have heard it said that the definition of madness is to keep doing the same thing but expect a different outcome.

In the summer of 2012, Jilly and I spent a long weekend in the Spanish city of Barcelona. We decided to leave our hotel very early on Sunday morning and walk to the beach while it was still cooler. Day was just dawning, and as we walked towards the front, hundreds of mainly young people were streaming our way, as the night clubs closed, and people started to head home. Many looked rough, and some were clearly unwell, and needed assistance from friends. We commented to each other about the anomaly, that most of them would probably be back the next weekend, to repeat the formula, knowing that it would not satisfy them at all.

Madness! A recycling of ”silliness.”

There is something about the fallen human psyche that is drawn to its ‘drugs’, whether literal or metaphorical. We have to keep ‘popping’ those pleasure pills, even though they put us at risk, endanger our lives, and leave us hungrily wanting more of that which will never fill us.

David H. Wheaton writes about 2 Peter 2:13 in one edition of the ‘New Bible Commentary’;

‘Sin attracts with its offer of pleasure, but in the end he who indulges finds that he has no pleasure at all.’ (It is noteworthy that towards the end of 2 Peter 2, the Apostle quotes Proverbs 26:11).

Psalm 119:105-112: Take the next step

Your word is a lamp for my feet,
    a light on my path.
106 I have taken an oath and confirmed it,
    that I will follow your righteous laws.
107 I have suffered much;
    preserve my life, Lord, according to your word.
108 Accept, Lord, the willing praise of my mouth,
    and teach me your laws.
109 Though I constantly take my life in my hands,
    I will not forget your law.
110 The wicked have set a snare for me,
    but I have not strayed from your precepts.
111 Your statutes are my heritage forever;
    they are the joy of my heart.
112 My heart is set on keeping your decrees

If it seems a bit random to drop into Psalm 119 at this point, I need to explain that, basically, since beginning to look at Habakkuk, I have been following the pattern in my ‘Bible in a Year.’ So, going forward there will be a mixture of Old Testament and New Testament readings (including Psalms and Proverbs from time to time).

In Psalm 119 the psalmist has made a commitment to obey God’s Word (see especially verses 106 and 112). It is clear that he is in danger, but the ”set” of his life is in the direction of faithfulness to God and His Word. The world around us is all pervasive in its influence. It is so easy to get ‘squeezed’ into its mould. There must be a determination on our part that, with God’s help, we will go His way. The Bible shines a clear light on our path amid the encircling darkness

Verse 105 is one of the most famous verses in the Bible. David Pawson said it refers the the shepherd’s lantern in Israel which gave just enough light for the next step. Then when you took it you would have light for the next, and so on.

It reads like this in ‘The Message’:

By your words I can see where I’m going;
    they throw a beam of light on my dark path.

Warren Wiersbe comments: ‘God gives you the light you need a step at a time. If you want more light, you must obey what He says; then more light will come (John 7:17).’

Elizabeth Elliot asks:

”Does it make sense to pray for guidance about the future if we are not obeying in the thing that lies before us today? How many momentous events in Scripture depended on one person’s seemingly small act of obedience! Rest assured: Do what God tells you to do now, and, depend upon it, you will be shown what to do next.”

Titus 1:10-16: Living Evidence

 For there are many rebellious people, full of meaningless talk and deception, especially those of the circumcision group. 11 They must be silenced, because they are disrupting whole households by teaching things they ought not to teach—and that for the sake of dishonest gain. 12 One of Crete’s own prophets has said it: “Cretans are always liars, evil brutes, lazy gluttons.”]13 This saying is true. Therefore rebuke them sharply, so that they will be sound in the faith 14 and will pay no attention to Jewish myths or to the merely human commands of those who reject the truth. 15 To the pure, all things are pure, but to those who are corrupted and do not believe, nothing is pure. In fact, both their minds and consciences are corrupted. 16 They claim to know God, but by their actions they deny him. They are detestable, disobedient and unfit for doing anything good.

They say they know God, but their actions speak louder than their words. (The Message)

There is a repeated emphasis on good works in this short letter. It’s not that we are saved by works, but we are saved for them. The new birth creates a new person with a new heart and character (3:3-8). Good deeds are the outward expression of the Spirit’s inner work.

At the beginning of the chapter we saw that knowledge of the truth leads to godliness. At its conclusion we find that it is possible to claim to know God but fail to back it up in the way you live. It is by our fruit that we are known.

These words remind me of a story I heard about the famous author Edgar Wallace. Wallace lived in the same street as a sincere elderly Christian man. (In fact, I think he may have been a clergyman). Apparently, the writer said, ‘As long as I live in the same street as that old man I cannot doubt that there is a God.’

PRAYER: Lord I ask that my life may be living evidence for your reality

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