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Free Daily Bible notes by Rev Stephen Thompson


February 2023

Psalm 119:137-144: God’s wonderful Word

You are righteous, Lord,
    and your laws are right.
138 The statutes you have laid down are righteous;
    they are fully trustworthy.
139 My zeal wears me out,
    for my enemies ignore your words.
140 Your promises have been thoroughly tested,
    and your servant loves them.
141 Though I am lowly and despised,
    I do not forget your precepts.
142 Your righteousness is everlasting
    and your law is true.
143 Trouble and distress have come upon me,
    but your commands give me delight.
144 Your statutes are always righteous;
    give me understanding that I may live.

‘The peculiar worth of the word as stated in this section is that it mirrors God (137a,144a).’ New Bible Commentary.’

It is:

  • A righteous Word (137,138a, 144a): revealing the character of the God who is always righteous; teaching us to do the right in a world full of wrong;
  • A fully reliable Word (138b): Rock beneath our feet;
  • An ignored Word (139): by and large (and even among professing believers oftentimes);
  • A beloved Word (140,143): full of proven promises, and especially precious in times of trial;
  • A remembered Word (141b): here is someone holding on to the truth he knows and loves through wind and rain;
  • A prayed over Word (144b): This day, may He open our eyes that we may see, wonderful things from out of His law (119:18).

Hebrews 3:15-19: Don’t miss out

 Remember what it says:

“Today when you hear his voice,
    don’t harden your hearts
    as Israel did when they rebelled.”

16 And who was it who rebelled against God, even though they heard his voice? Wasn’t it the people Moses led out of Egypt? 17 And who made God angry for forty years? Wasn’t it the people who sinned, whose corpses lay in the wilderness? 18 And to whom was God speaking when he took an oath that they would never enter his rest? Wasn’t it the people who disobeyed him? 19 So we see that because of their unbelief they were not able to enter his rest.

When the Bible repeats something we need to give it extra close attention. Again we hear the call for soft, responsive hearts towards God and His Word. If we ask who these people were who missed out on God’s best, the answer comes, ‘They were His saved and rescued people; those delivered from bondage in Egypt: the Old Testament ‘church’ in other words.

The warning is stark and real and worthy of our full attention. Let’s not miss out.

‘With a series of compelling questions, the implications of Ps.95:7-11 are further drawn out. Those who heard and rebelled were the ones who experienced firsthand the goodness of God in bringing them out of Egypt. They had every every encouragement to persevere in faith during their journey to the promised land. But they disqualified themselves from entering his rest because they persistently disobeyed him. That disobedience was because of their unbelief.‘ David Peterson: New Bible Commentary, p.1330.

Warren Wiersbe, helpfully, I believe, makes the comment that the warning is not about potentially losing one’s salvation, but failing to enter fully into our inheritance in Christ.

There’s such a lot at stake!

Hebrews 3: 7-14: ”Today”

So, as the Holy Spirit says:

“Today, if you hear his voice,
    do not harden your hearts
as you did in the rebellion,
    during the time of testing in the wilderness,
where your ancestors tested and tried me,
    though for forty years they saw what I did.
10 That is why I was angry with that generation;
    I said, ‘Their hearts are always going astray,
    and they have not known my ways.’
11 So I declared on oath in my anger,
    ‘They shall never enter my rest.’ ”

12 See to it, brothers and sisters, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. 13 But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. 14 We have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original conviction firmly to the very end. 

If we are going to keep going into God’s tomorrow, ”Today” matters. Each day matters. What we do ”daily” matters.

It is clear from this passage, which draws from Israel’s negative example in the wilderness, that we must persevere to the end if we are to be saved. This perseverance is the fruit of salvation: it is how it manifests, not how we earn it.

Note some vital keys to help us keep going:

  • Obey what God says to you ”Today”. Cultivate a soft, sensitive disposition to God and His Word. Be quick to respond (7,8). ‘An evil heart of unbelief (v.12) will rob you of what God has planned for you in your Christian life, so pay attention to God’s Word.’ Warren W. Wiersbe.
  • Guard your heart (10,12). The heart of the human problem is the problem of the human heart. ‘People with hard hearts know the truth but resist it and refuse to obey it…They think they can sin and get away with it. The first step toward a hard heart is neglect of the Word of God (Heb.2:4), not taking it seriously.’ Warren W. Wiersbe.
  • Daily encouragement (15). Who might you encourage this day? Who needs your encouragement to keep going? The ministry of encouragement is one open to us all.

Hebrews 3:7,8: A free pass

So, as the Holy Spirit says:

“Today, if you hear his voice,
    do not harden your hearts
as you did in the rebellion,
    during the time of testing in the wilderness,

If, as we saw yesterday, we are to keep going in the Christian race, and not drop out (vv.6,14), we must remain open to all God is saying to us. Give God’s Word a free pass to enter every zone of your life; the keys to every room. Allow it (Him) access to all areas.

If God speaks to you ‘Today’ what will you do with His Word?

‘People with hard hearts know the truth but resist it and refuse to obey it…The first step toward a hard heart is neglect of the Word of God (Heb.2:1-4), not taking it seriously. It is either ”hearing” or ”hardening”. Take your choice.’ Warren W. Wiersbe.

PRAYER: Lord, please help me today to hear what you are saying to me, believe it, and bring my life into line with it – in every detail.

Hebrews 3:6b: Keep going

And we are his house, if indeed we hold firmly to our confidence and the hope in which we glory.

As you read these words remember the context. These Hebrew Christians were in danger of going back to Judaism. They were being persecuted; they were under pressure for their faith. It probably felt like the safer option to return to the synagogue.

Whenever we read such words in the Bible (and we do find similar exhortations in other places), it is easy to get into a theologically academic debate as to whether it is possible to be saved and lost. But in the first place, I believe we should simply allow them to act as:

  1. a spur to keep going;
  2. a warning that things can and do come along to discourage us and make us want to give up. This is a reality of the spiritual battle.

Sadly, we probably all know people who ran well for a time, but we wonder, ‘Where are they now?’

Prayer: Lord, this is not an easy way, and you never said it would be. I know I am totally dependent upon your grace. Help me to keep going, without stopping, until I cross the finishing line.

Hebrews 3:1-6:’In’ and ‘over’

 Therefore, holy brothers and sisters, who share in the heavenly calling, fix your thoughts on Jesus, whom we acknowledge as our apostle and high priest. He was faithful to the one who appointed him, just as Moses was faithful in all God’s house. Jesus has been found worthy of greater honor than Moses, just as the builder of a house has greater honor than the house itself. For every house is built by someone, but God is the builder of everything. “Moses was faithful as a servant in all God’s house,” bearing witness to what would be spoken by God in the future. But Christ is faithful as the Son over God’s house. And we are his house, if indeed we hold firmly to our confidence and the hope in which we glory.

‘Why does the writer compare Jesus with Moses? The reason is that these Hebrews to whom he was writing were about to turn away from Christ. Because they had originally been Jews, they were now about to turn back to their old Jewish religion. Therefore, the writer reminds them that Jesus is far greater than their old leader Moses. The writer is, in effect, asking these Hebrews: What advantage is there in turning from what is greater to what is lesser?’ Tom Hale: ‘The Applied New Testament Commentary,’ p.852.

Jesus is greater than Moses.

Here is one of the reasons why we can say this: Moses’ place was ‘in‘ God’s house; Jesus is ‘over’ the house. Moses was a ‘servant’; Jesus is God’s ‘Son.’ Moses was a part of the house (as are all true believers), but God is the great house-builder. (Note that the repeated reference to the ‘house’ here is about the people of God and not a physical structure).

There is a clear inference of the divinity of Jesus in verses 3,4. If God is the builder of all things, and Jesus builds God’s house, then surely He must be God.

Hebrews 3:1:Jesus is greater

Therefore, holy brothers and sisters, who share in the heavenly calling, fix your thoughts on Jesus, whom we acknowledge as our apostle and high priest. 

In this first verse we see:

  • Heavenly calling: We have heard and answered the call from heaven, and we are called to heaven;
  • Heavenly cogitation: We are to ”fix” our ”thoughts on Jesus” (see also. e.g. Hebrews 2:9;12:1,2; Col.3:1-3; Phil.4:8)
  • Heavenly confession: An older edition of the NIV describes Jesus as ”the apostle and high priest whom we confess.”

The big emphasis we are going to see in this next section of the book is that Jesus is greater than Moses. (We have already been told that He is greater than the prophets and greater than the angels.) So a picture is building, showing Jesus to be greater than all those the Jews regarded as ‘greats’!

‘Whenever you are tempted to look at your circumstances or at yourself, look to Jesus by faith and rejoice in His faithfulness.’ Warren W. Wiersbe:’With the Word’, p.814.

PRAYER: As I walk through this year, dear Lord, make yourself known to me more and more, and draw me closer to you. I love you Lord, and I want to know and love you more. Help me to place my heart and mind where they truly need to be. Enable me to give my attention to heavenly realities.

Joel 2:12-17: All age repentance

 “Even now,” declares the Lord,
    “return to me with all your heart,
    with fasting and weeping and mourning.”

13 Rend your heart
    and not your garments.
Return to the Lord your God,
    for he is gracious and compassionate,
slow to anger and abounding in love,
    and he relents from sending calamity.
14 Who knows? He may turn and relent
    and leave behind a blessing—
grain offerings and drink offerings
    for the Lord your God.

15 Blow the trumpet in Zion,
    declare a holy fast,
    call a sacred assembly.
16 Gather the people,
    consecrate the assembly;

bring together the elders,
    gather the children,
    those nursing at the breast.
Let the bridegroom leave his room
    and the bride her chamber.
17 Let the priests, who minister before the Lord,
    weep between the portico and the altar.

Let them say, “Spare your people, Lord.
    Do not make your inheritance an object of scorn,
    a byword among the nations.
Why should they say among the peoples,
    ‘Where is their God?’”

What to do in the face of the impending calamity – this threatened invasion of a great army (1-11)? In today’s passage God speaks directly through His prophet, and calls for a national prayer meeting in which all ages are to come together before Him in genuine repentance (12-16). He is looking for the reality of repentance, and not just an outward, symbolic, ritualistic expression.

The appeal to God is on the basis of the Lord’s character (13b,14). It is also for the sake of the Lord’s Name (17).

I was thinking, ‘When did we last have a national call to prayer in the UK?’ Also reflecting, with sadness, that it is hard to imagine there being such a thing any time soon; when I found an article which begins like this:

”Four days after he became prime minister in May 1940, Winston Churchill approved a national day of prayer. Roused by news of the German onslaught against the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) in Belgium and France, people throughout Britain flocked to their local churches and chapels. Five days later, news reached the country of the successful evacuation of the British army from Dunkirk. Many laymen, as well as clergy, quickly attributed this as a ‘deliverance’ or ‘miracle’ to divine providence and to the day of prayer. Churchill himself became an enthusiast, approving two national days of prayer in each of the next three years. Then, in 1943 and 1944, he agreed to brief halts in war production so that factory and office workers could join in the BBC’s broadcast services.

This event is now probably the best known example of a custom that, in the British Isles, goes back to the tenth century when King Aethelred ordered prayers for God’s help to withstand a Danish invasion. Growing in number during the wars of Edward I, Edward II and Edward III, special acts of worship continued after the Reformation and were soon to become a settled tradition of public fasts and days of humiliation or thanksgiving.

Between 1535 and the last national day of prayer in 1947, there were 544 English and Welsh or British occasions, as well as 170 separately ordered Scottish and 84 Irish occasions. These extraordinary moments of special national worship are a register of great moments of crisis, anxiety and celebration in Britain’s past.” (

Joel 2: 1-11: The Head of the army

Blow the trumpet in Zion;
    sound the alarm on my holy hill.

Let all who live in the land tremble,
    for the day of the Lord is coming.
It is close at hand—
    a day of darkness and gloom,
    a day of clouds and blackness.
Like dawn spreading across the mountains
    a large and mighty army comes,
such as never was in ancient times
    nor ever will be in ages to come.

Before them fire devours,
    behind them a flame blazes.
Before them the land is like the garden of Eden,
    behind them, a desert waste—
    nothing escapes them.
They have the appearance of horses;
    they gallop along like cavalry.
With a noise like that of chariots
    they leap over the mountaintops,
like a crackling fire consuming stubble,
    like a mighty army drawn up for battle.

At the sight of them, nations are in anguish;
    every face turns pale.
They charge like warriors;
    they scale walls like soldiers.
They all march in line,
    not swerving from their course.
They do not jostle each other;
    each marches straight ahead.
They plunge through defenses
    without breaking ranks.
They rush upon the city;
    they run along the wall.
They climb into the houses;
    like thieves they enter through the windows.

10 Before them the earth shakes,
    the heavens tremble,
the sun and moon are darkened,
    and the stars no longer shine.
11 The Lord thunders
    at the head of his army;
his forces are beyond number,
    and mighty is the army that obeys his command.

The day of the Lord is great;
    it is dreadful.
    Who can endure it?

In an introduction to Joel in ‘With the Word’ Warren Wiersbe writes:

‘God’s ”army” of locusts (2:11, 20, 25) was but a picture of a future army that would invade the land in the last days. Joel called the nation to repent (2:12-17) and promised that the Lord would forgive and bless them (2:18-27). He also promised blessings in the last days when Israel’s tribulation would be ended (2:28-32; 3:18-21). God’s message of judgment is not without a promise of hope’ (p.578).

G. Campbell Morgan wrote: ‘It is always the day of the Lord.’ Whatever calamities may befall people and nations, God is ultimately in control, and these things remind us of the greater judgment (the Day of the Lord ) yet to come.

Some people also see, in verses 2-11 in particular, an ideal picture of a united and victorious church, irresistible in strength, under the Headship of God. Perhaps the key thought for us here is that ‘He is Lord.’

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