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Free Daily Bible notes by Rev Stephen Thompson


Psalm 104 notes

John 11:38-44: ”Take away…Take off…”

John 11:38-44: ”Take away…Take

38-39 Then Jesus, the anger again welling up within him, arrived at the tomb. It was a simple cave in the hillside with a slab of stone laid against it. Jesus said, “Remove the stone.”The sister of the dead man, Martha, said, “Master, by this time there’s a stench. He’s been dead four days!”40 Jesus looked her in the eye. “Didn’t I tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?”41-42 Then, to the others, “Go ahead, take away the stone.”They removed the stone. Jesus raised his eyes to heaven and prayed, “Father, I’m grateful that you have listened to me. I know you always do listen, but on account of this crowd standing here I’ve spoken so that they might believe that you sent me.”43-44 Then he shouted, “Lazarus, come out!” And he came out, a cadaver, wrapped from head to toe, and with a kerchief over his face. Jesus told them, “Unwrap him and let him loose.”NIV

Someone observed that it’s a good job Jesus put a limit on His command: ”Lazarus, come out!” (43). If He’d just said, ”Come out!” He would have emptied the cemetery!! I see that point, and it makes me smile.

This story got me thinking again about how we are often invited to partner with Jesus in performing miracles. There is no doubt that Lazarus’ emergence from the tomb – alive – was a God-given miracle (40-44a). Jesus did it in answer to the prayer of faith (41, 42). 

But people got to play a part in the miracle. This is reflected in the two commands: 

”Take away the stone” and ”Take off the grave clothes…” (39a, 44b).

”Take away the stone…So they took away the stone” (39, 41). When they were obedient, all heaven broke loose, you might say (or it was revealed that heaven had already broken loose inside that cave.)

The ”stone” speaks of an obstacle in the way of the full manifestation of the miraculous.

It is a big thing; a heavy thing; a daunting thing. It’s a something which will require concerted effort – possibly with others: ”…they” took away the stone (41).

It may be easier to raise unbelieving objections than to get on with the work being asked of you (39b). You can also imagine objections being raised to taking the grave clothes off a corpse having just come to life (44b). ”And the dead man comes out – a heart-stopping moment of shuddering horror and overwhelming joy, mixed together like dark mud and liquid gold…If we don’t feel it’s power, and feel ourselves driven to awe and thanks and hope, then either we haven’t learned to read or we have hearts of stone.” Tom Wright: ‘John for everyone’, part 2, pp.13, 14.

But when we play our part, Jesus does His. We are ”workers together” with God.

How does this speak to you today?

Is there some resurrection life miracle awaiting your involvement? What will you do in response to this challenge?

What is the stone and where is that stone you need to ”take away”? Are you willing to do it, or making an excuse?

Prayer: Lord Jesus, please forgive me for expecting you to do what you ask me to do. Help me now to rise up and take action.

Daily Bible thoughts 587: Thursday 3rd April 2014:

Psalm 104:31-35

This is the culmination of a wonderful psalm about the great God who is creator and sustainer of the universe.

The glory of GOD – let it last forever! Let GOD enjoy his creation. The Message. The reference to the glory of the LORD in (31) is to the Creator’s glory exhibited in His created universe. Verse 32 brings before us an awesome (and even frightening?) vision of God (see also Micah 1:3-5). He takes one look at earth and triggers an earthquake, points a finger at the mountains, and volcanoes erupt. The Message. Solid as the universe may appear it is of the utmost fragility in relation even to his eyes and fingers. J.A. Motyer: New Bible Commentary, p.554. (By the way, verse 35 seems to link to verse 32.)

In the light of the above, you might not expect a reference to song to appear next. But that is exactly what you do find (33). This is a great resolution on the part of the psalmist. It’s a good and right decision to make; not just to sing about God, but to sing to Him (recognising the personal relationship you have with Him: my God.)A friend of mine was facing a difficult time. He knew of a well-known pastor in the U.S.A. who had faced a similar situation. So my friend wrote to him to seek counsel. This busy pastor of a mega-church took the time to write back and advocated that he discover the awesome power of spiritual song. My fellow pastor put this advice into practice and it brought about a revolution in his heart. When I was staying at his house, I heard him go downstairs in the early morning, pick up a guitar and sing to God. I remember Bill Hybels saying in a talk to leaders that at times, out on his yacht, he sings his heart out to God with song after song. Not that you need a boat to do that!! But you do require a heart to do it.

So, can I ask what place song has in your personal devotions? (At times I have used a hymnbook as a prayer book. I have used the words of hymns and songs to pray to God.) In (34) the psalmist is continuing to refer to his song to the Lord in the words my meditation. Someone said that if you can worry you can meditate! Worry is just turning something over and over in your mind. Singing can help you meditate on God. It is by no means the only way to do so, but it is one way. However, we need to ensure that our songs are doctrinally sound. They are not all of equal quality. If we spent more time singing in private, it would undoubtedly impact our public worship in a positive fashion. (There is a very helpful book by Jack Hayford entitled ‘Worship His Majesty.’ It has some remarkable insights into the whole area of praise and worship.)

So the psalm ends where it began (35b; see 1). Say what you need to in order to bring your soul into line with God’s revealed truth. Don’t let the deceiver have his way with your mind and heart. Learn to preach sermons to yourself. I have told my soul today, ‘You need to sing more often to God, and not just speak your prayers.’ It’s an area where I need to learn and grow, and this has been the significant take away point from my ‘quiet time’ today. I am also thinking about Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 14:15:…I will sing with my spirit, but I will also sing with my mind. I can sing to God out of a hymn book, but I can also sing brand new songs, composed by the Holy Spirit within my spirit. Those songs can be in tongues or in my native language, or, perhaps, a mixture of both. So many possibilities are open. I just need to ensure that I do it.

Prayer: Praise to the Lord, the Almighty, the King of Creation. O my soul praise Him for He is thy health and salvation…


Daily Bible thoughts 574: Monday 17th March 2014

Psalm 104:19-30

Last evening, as the sun was going down, I looked up and saw a silvery half-moon set against a deep blue sky. Its beauty took my breath away. I was filled again with a sense of awe and wonder. Early this morning I went out for a run. There was a chill in the air, and cars and gardens and roofs and dustbins were iced with frost. The sky was painted in pastel colours. The birds were exercising their vocal chords I passed one or two fellow-joggers, and walkers (and dog-walkers!!) But mostly the route was deserted. There was a peace, a calm and very little traffic noise. It felt good to be alive, and I celebrated afresh the thought that ‘this is my Father’s world.’ Although it is a fallen world, tainted with sin, every part of it seems to proclaim Him. The further away you get from man-made things, the more you can see God in nature.

We are continuing to look at this wonderful Psalm which speaks eloquently of the creator God. See:

  • The orderliness of the world (19-23): There is evidence of design in nature. It has been said that if the earth were a fraction nearer the sun we’d fry; if it were just a little further away we’d freeze. …alternating night and day enables the life of beasts and mankind to co-exist…Creation is a subtly adapted system for the maintenance and enjoyment of life – and this by the direct action of the Creator… J.A. Motyer: New Bible Commentary, p.554.
  • The abundance of God’s ‘creations’ within creation (24 – 26): My wife, Jill, and I watched a stunning nature programme on TV the other night, about Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, and the life forms that live in and around and on it. We saw creatures we didn’t even know existed! We had never seen or heard of them before. What a head-spinning number of creatures God has made. Even if you don’t believe in Him, you surely have to admit that there is a mind-boggling diversity and variety in the natural world. If you believe it all came from nothing, I admire your faith!
  • God’s generous provision for all life on earth (27-30): He is not only creator but also sustainer of all He has made. The creation veritably seethes with activity from the smallest marine entity to the unspeakably terrifying sea-monster, Leviathan itself (Jb.41:1ff.)and the constant bustling of mankind. But (whether they know it or not) all depend on the Creator to provide, exist only by what he gives, are subject to  his sovereign determination of the hour of their death, and life on earth only continues because he wills to renew it. J.A. Motyer: New Bible Commentary,p.554

What a wildly wonderful world, GOD! You made it all, with Wisdom at your side, you made earth overflow with your wonderful creations. Oh, look – the deep, wide sea, brimming with fish past counting, sardines and sharks and salmon. Ships plow those waters, and Leviathan, your pet dragon, romps in them. All the creatures look expectantly to you to give them their meals on time. You come, and they gather around; you open your hand and they eat from it. If you turned your back, they’d die in a minute – Take back your Spirit and they die, revert to original mud; Send out your Spirit and they spring to life – the whole countryside in bloom and blossom. The Message.

Prayer: O Lord my God, when I in awesome wonder, consider all the works thy Hand has made; I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder, your power throughout the universe displayed. Then sings my soul, my Saviour God to thee, How great thou art…

Daily Bible thoughts 564: Monday 3rd March 2014:

 Psalm 104:10-18

 God is good!

This psalm has much to say about the doctrines of creation and providence. There is no ‘deism’ in the Bible: the belief that God wound up the universe like a clock and then left it to run by itself. He is no ‘absentee Landlord’. The God who made the universe, fills it with His presence, and upholds it by His power. This next section of the psalm deals with God’s providential ordering of His world. See:

  • The abundance of God’s provision for the planet He made, perhaps best summed up in the words of (13b): the earth is satisfied by the fruit of his work. Consider this too: Oh yes, God brings grain from the land, wine to make people happy, Their faces glowing with health, a people well-fed and hearty. The Message. Throughout these verses you have a sense of God’s generous giving, and the deep satisfaction of every living thing as we benefit from His kindness. Everything in creation is God’s gift to us to enjoy (1 Tim.6:17)
  •  God’s love for all His creatures (11, 12, 17, 18). You will note the detailing of specific birds and animals in these verses.
  •  Man’s partnership with God in the production of food and drink (14, 15). The principle that we are God’s co-workers applies both to creation and the new creation. Man was given dominion over the earth, not to rape its resources, but to reap them for the common good. God’s provision does not facilitate man’s laziness. If we want to have a harvest we must play our part and work hard.

 Christians should love nature, seeing God everywhere in it. We can only benefit by studying it, for in it we will see the works of the Lord. This is our Father’s world. Let’s not vandalise His property; the home He has graciously provided for us and furnished with such good things.

 O Nature, how can we do other than love thee, since the Being of our God is so closely mingled with thy hues and forms! F.B.Meyer: Great verses through the Bible, p.232.

 Prayer: Thank you Lord that you daily load us with your benefits.

Daily Bible thoughts 563: Friday 28th February 2014:

Psalm 104:1- 9

Let’s begin today with the recognition that we regularly need to exhort our souls to respond to the truth about who God is with heartfelt praise (1a). Preach yourself a sermon today. Take the Word of God into yourself like prescribed medicine.  Tell yourself some truth you know you need to hear. Read this passage through. Indeed, traverse further into the psalm, and you will surely remind yourself in doing so that this great God – your God – is worthy of endless worship. Don’t rob Him of His due.

One thing that is manifestly true about God is this: He is not only great but very great (1b).

He is also beautiful. We have a remarkable poetic picture painted in these first four verses: …beautifully, gloriously robed, Dressed up in sunshine, and all heaven stretched out for your tent. The Message. It’s been said that if splendour and majesty (1c) are to be distinguished, the former relates to God’s intrinsic importance, and the latter to His observable majesty. The opening verses of this glorious psalm reveal God to be both transcendent and immanent. He is far above all that He has made (transcendence), yet He is intimately and personally involved with it (immanence).

F.B. Meyer makes the point that God often comes to us on a cloud (3b), something that may look dark and foreboding. Then he quotes this verse from a familiar hymn; Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take; The clouds ye so much dread Are big with mercy, and shall break In blessings on your head.

Alec Motyer entitles this psalm: ‘Creation rhapsody.’ God has created this incredible world which we enjoy (and often sin against, sad to say!). The psalmist compared creation to the building of a house: laying the foundations, putting up the beams, hanging the curtains, and taking care of the water system. Warren W.Wiersbe: With the Word, p.377.

The stateliness of ‘Praise to the Lord, the Almighty, the King of creation, compared with the exuberance of ‘All creatures of our God and King’, catches pretty well the relationship of Genesis 1 to Psalm 104. This psalm turns creation truth into song, environmental theory into wonder and praise. The sequence of the psalm accords with Genesis 1 and we can imagine a poet meditating on that great statement of the Creator and his work and giving free play to his imagination. There is a broad structural parallel between the two passages. J.A. Motyer: New Bible Commentary (4th edition),p.553.

It seems appropriate to quote some words from a well-known hymn:

This is my Father’s world,

Oh, let me ne’er forget

That though the wrong seems oft so strong,

God is the ruler yet.

This is my Father’s world;

Why should my heart be sad?

The Lord is king; let the heavens ring.

God reigns; let the earth be glad. Maltbie D. Babcock.

Prayer: Thank you Father God for this breathtakingly beautiful world you have given us to live in. Truly, ‘something lives in every hue, Christ less eyes have never seen.’ Help me to fully play my part in being a good ‘caretaker’ of your ‘property’.

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