Home thoughts from

Free Daily Bible notes by Rev Stephen Thompson



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 898: Wednesday 10th June 2015: Psalm 118:1-16

 Psalm 118:1-16

If you believe it, say it!

There are certain things that we who believe should ‘’say’’ (2-4). If we are convinced about certain Biblical truths, there are times when we should declare them – to ourselves, to others and to the powers of darkness. It is good to ‘’say’’ what we believe about God, in prayer to God.

This Psalm was written by someone who had experienced God’s love in answered prayer. He had come near to defeat (13), but with God’s help he had been the winner against all odds. He had learned by experience that it is ‘’better’’ to trust God than any human being, however strong and capable they may seem (8, 9).This was his repeated theme:

‘’His love endures for ever.’’

Karl Barth, a great Swiss theologian who had a mighty intellect, was once asked, ‘What is the greatest truth you have ever learned. His simple reply was: ‘’Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so.’’

God’s love ‘’endures’’. It is not like human love. Our love can be akin to a bubble in a bath, beautiful but fragile. There one moment, but gone the next; pretty but fickle. God’s love, on the other hand, stays the course with people, whatever they are like. God loved me when I wasn’t a Christian; he loves me still when I don’t behave as a Christian should; I know He will always love me. His love ‘’endures’’. Because ‘’the LORD is with me’’ (6, 7), I know that His love is with me. ‘’God is love’’ (1 John 4:16).

God’s love ‘’endures’’ in all circumstances. The Jewish people sing Psalms 113 – 118 at Passover, so this must be one of the songs Jesus sang before He went to the garden of Gethsemane to pray (Matthew 26:30). In the face of great adversity, let us follow the example of Jesus in declaring God’s love.

God’s love ‘’endures for ever.’’ In fact, the essence of heaven will surely be the greatest possible realisation of the love of God. We will experience His love perfectly. We will be enveloped in an ocean of infinite love

God’s love is supremely seen in Jesus. ‘’There is no love like the love of Jesus.’’ says an old hymn. I once heard a preacher quote the saying about ‘’wearing your heart on your sleeve.’’ He said, ‘’God wore His heart on a cross.’’ In the desperate cry of the psalmist for Divine help, I catch an echo of where each of us has to get to. We need Jesus to save us from our greatest enemy, which is our sin. This He will do for us if we trust in Him alone (8, 9). He will ‘’become’’ our ‘’salvation’’ (14). Have you come to that point yet where you ask Jesus to rescue you? Has He become your salvation? It doesn’t just happen. You have to ask for His help. Then He will as surely come to rescue you as He did the psalmist in many days gone by. How up to date and relevant is the Bible!

Daily Bible thoughts 857: Thursday 16th April 2015: Psalm 116:1-11

 Psalm 116:1-11

‘’…faith working by prayer remains the greatest force available to God’s earthly people.’’ J.A.Motyer: ‘New Bible Commentary, p.563.

Just as with the exodus (Ex.2:23, 24) here was a great cry for help that initiated great saving acts of God

‘’…when I was in great need he saved me.’’ (6b);

‘’when I was at the end of my rope, he saved me.’’ The Message.

This is a psalm of testimony. It contains:

A definite commitment (1,2): ‘’I will call on him as long as I live.’’ This came from a man who had first-hand experience of the power of prayer. This made him determined to be even more of a pray-er. Rendered literally, the opening words are: ‘’I love him…’’ (1 John 4:19).In (2a) there is a beautiful picture of God listening: ‘’He listened so intently as I laid out my case before him.’’ The Message. He takes our prayers seriously. I want to learn from God in listening to others.

A dire need (3-6): ‘’Death stared me in the face, hell was hard on my heels. Up against it, I didn’t know which way to turn…’’ The Message. Death and the grave are represented as aggressors. He was in a bad way. ‘’Then…’’ It is so often the case that people pray (or pray especially fervently) at the ‘’Then’’ moment– when trouble strikes. In (5, 6a) there is an important statement about God’s nature/character. Knowing who God is; the kind of God we pray to, encourages our prayers.

The desired deliverance (7-11): As I read through the psalm I thought regarding (8, 9) that Christians have experienced this ‘salvation’ in a richer and fuller way. You can’t help but see the centrality of faith in the psalmist’s experience: ‘’Above all, however, the crisis was met by faith, the key to making all things new (8-11), the pivot of the whole psalm… The key words I believed (10), stand at the mid-point between new life enjoyed (8-9) and old life endured.’’ J.A.Motyer: ‘The New Bible Commentary’,p.565. Because the psalmist had faith he spoke out in accordance with his beliefs, even in the middle of his afflictions (2 Corinthians 4:13.) Against all human hope he held onto his faith and was delivered.

This is a lovely summary: ‘’The situation was one of deadly threat (3, 8, 15), brought about by human deceitfulness (11) and personal lack of discernment (6). But into this situation came prayer (1-4). The Lord listens (1-2), is gracious (bestows favour on the undeserving), righteous (never deviates in his commitment to his people and promises) compassionate (is emotionally moved by their plight) (5), and sensitive about the death of his beloved (15). So there came about salvation (4-6), deliverance from death (8) and bondage (16), and full provision…’ J.A.Motyer: ‘The New Bible Commentary’, p.563.

‘’I will call on him as long as I live.’’

Prayer: Lord, I make this my commitment too, by your grace. Please help me to fulfil it.


Daily Bible thoughts 835: Tuesday 17th March 2015: Psalm 115:1-11.

Psalm 115:1-11.

‘’He simply is, irrespective and independent of all other is’s. His life is beyond the ravages of death, decay or disintegration.’’ Sam Storms: ‘One thing’, p.60

May this sentiment in (1) always fill all of our hearts. No one knows for sure what the background to the psalm is. It may be that Israel’s army had just won a great victory over the enemy, and there was a danger that the king and his troops would be given the credit. Let’s be careful that we never trespass into the Lord’s spotlight. To God be all the glory.

The people of the nations could not see Israel’s God (2). They could see their own gods because they were statues: ‘’Their gods are metal and wood, handmade in a basement shop…’’ The Message (see 4-7).But we have a living God who sovereignly rules over all (3).

See the utter deadness of dead religion (4-8). This is one of several places in the Bible showing how utterly ludicrous idolatry is. It is not only bad and wrong; it is also stupid! Why would you think that a hand-crafted statue could help you in your time of need?!

Someone pointed out that a religion will only ever be as good as its gods (8). Notice here that although they are lifeless the idols do have the power to destroy those who worship them (Isaiah 44:6-20)

‘’Gentiles visiting Jerusalem would notice the absence of idols. Back home, they could point to their gods and introduce you to the craftsman who made them. Is your God in heaven, ruling over all? Are you trusting something less than God?’’ Warren W. Wiersbe: ‘With the Word’, p.383.

A dead idol cannot help anyone, but the living God can. Our God ‘’is’’ and our God ‘’does’’ (3). He is alive. The gods of the world are not (in the sense of being lifeless. They are human creations made of ‘’silver and gold’’) and they ‘’cannot’’ (a word that comes 6 times in 5-7). They cannot help and they cannot protect, but the true God can; hence the three-fold call to ‘’trust’’ in Him (9-11). This call goes out to Israel as a whole; to the priests (the ‘’house of Aaron’’), and to all who ‘’fear him’’. So this psalm speaks to us.

‘’The living God can see you, hear your prayers, walk with you and help you. He can speak to you from His Word.’’ Warren W. Wiersbe: ‘With the Word’, p.383.

Prayer: Thank you, living Lord, that you are trustworthy. Please help me to actively trust you at all times and have no other gods before you.

Daily Bible thoughts 809: Monday 9th February 2015: Psalm 114

Psalm 114 (click here to view todays passage)

‘’Judah became God’s sanctuary, Israel his dominion.’’ (2).

The Christian is ‘’God’s sanctuary’’. So is the local church (1 Corinthians 3:16, 17; 6:19, 20). God does not live in a building. He dwells in people.

But a believer is also God’s ‘’dominion’’. He not only lives in us, but He rules over us – if we allow Him to. In 1 Cor.6, where Paul writes about the Christian’s body being ‘’a temple of the Holy Spirit’’ , he also talks about the moral implications of our belonging to God. The Christian life is not just about Christ in you, but Christ over you.

Now if God lives in you and reigns over you, he will work miracles for you on this pilgrimage, as you travel to His appointed destination. In some ways, we can anticipate that the experience of Judah and Israel in the past will be ours today. We serve the same God who indwells us and is King over us. What caused the mighty miracles in nature as the Israelites journeyed from Egypt to Canaan? The answer is a ‘Who’ (7). It was the presence of the ruling and reigning God in His people that caused these wonders (see Exodus 14:21; Josh.3:15-17; Exodus 19:18; 17:16 and Numbers 20:11).

‘’Judah became…’’ Have you come to the point where you have asked God to fill you? Have you invited Jesus to establish His government over your life? Has He yet ‘become’ your Lord? Have you ‘become’ a Christian? It doesn’t happen by default because of where you were born, or the faith of your parents etc.

‘’God brings us out (v.1), takes us through (v.3), and leads us over (v.4). When you are following Him, no obstacle can keep you from the goal He has set for you, except your sin and unbelief. When you are in the will of God, all of creation works for you to accomplish God’s purposes. You are God’s sanctuary (1 Cor.6:19-20); let Him have dominion in your life (v.2).’’ Warren W. Wiersbe: ‘With the Word’, p.383.

As you go into the world today remember that God lives in you. Look to Him to reign over your every movement. You may be aware of ‘mountains’, ‘seas’ and ‘rivers’ blocking your path as you endeavour to move forward in His purposes. Remember that His presence can deal with every obstacle.

Prayer: Lord, grant that your presence in me will be obvious. Flow out through me into this dry, barren wilderness of a world.

Daily Bible thoughts 800: Tuesday 27th January 2015: Psalm 113

Psalm 113 (click for todays passage)

It is thought that Jesus and His disciples used psalms 113-118 at the last supper. This psalm of praise, which opens and closes with the words, ‘’Praise the LORD’’, says a number of important things about praise (1-3):

  • God is to be praised by His people;
  • Praise should be given in time and through eternity. Everlasting praise is due to God;
  • Praise is to be offered everywhere in the world.

‘’Start right now and keep on going! It is always time to praise the Lord. Make every breath a hymn of worship…If you have a problem praising the Lord from sunup to sundown, what will you do for all eternity?’’ Warren W. Wiersbe: ‘With the Word’, pp.382, 383.

Why does the Lord deserve such praise? Because of who He is (4-6), and because of what He does (7-9); because of His greatness and His closeness (His transcendence and immanence).

‘’The movement of thought is from the sovereignty which rules all, to the goodness which touches each.’’ J.A. Motyer: ‘New Bible Commentary’,p.562.

Who He is (4-6): He’s the King of the Universe. Although, as we will see, He is obviously present and active within it, He is so far above it. He’s in charge of all things and all peoples. There is no one like Him. ‘’God is higher than anything and anyone, outshining everything you can see in the skies. Who can compare with GOD, our God, so majestically enthroned, Surveying his magnificent heavens and earth?’’ The Message.

What He has done (7-9): He has shown His compassion and power.

  • Look at (7 and 8) and compare them with Ephesians 2:1-10.Do you see a parallel?
  • How often this story IS told in the Bible (9). Someone is biologically unable to have a child, and then God, the Creator, does a miracle. (Let’s not forget that the Son of God came into the world because of a miracle of conception. It wasn’t that Mary was ‘’barren’’ , but she was unable to have a baby in her circumstances. She was a single woman living a pure life. God did a miracle!) As we read these words let’s take heart that the Lord can overturn our spiritual ‘barrenness’ and give us ‘children’. How we long to see many miracles of new birth, and our mighty God can make this happen. ‘’He gives childless couples a family, gives them joy as the parents of children.’’ The Message. A line in a hymn comes to mind as I think about this: ‘’May barrenness rejoice to own your fertilizing power.’’ B. Meyer says that Hannah’s story (in 1 Samuel) ‘’…should be a great comfort to those who have never been used in soul-winning…God can make barren souls authors of life to thousands.’’ However, he adds: ‘’Souls are only born to those who cannot live without them.’’ Great verses through the Bible’ p.235.

‘’Mary’s joyful song of praise (Luke 1:46-55) echoes Psalm 113:7-9. God’s grace makes kings out of beggars and joyful mothers out of the barren. Praise the Lord!’’ Warren W. Wiersbe: ‘With the Word’, p.383.

Prayer: ‘’Fill thou my life, O Lord my God, in every part with praise.’’


Daily Bible thoughts 793: Friday 16th January 2015: Psalm 112

Stuart Briscoe, in his autobiography, ‘Flowing Streams’, recalls a mission at Manchester University, in which, during a ‘Question Time’, John Stott was aggressively asked, ‘’How can there be a God when there is so much evil in the world?’’ Briscoe says that as well as he can remember, Stott replied, ‘’My dear young friend, I have asked myself that question a thousand times but always coupled with another question of equal importance, namely, ‘How can there not be a God when there is so much good in the world?’ We cannot ask the one without the other, can we?’’ (pp.47, 48)

The truth is that in this fallen world, scarred by suffering and pain, bad things happen, even to good people. This beautiful psalm speaks of a man who fears God and is committed to His ways. It does not say that he will receive no ‘’bad news’’ (think about what happened to that ‘’gracious and compassionate and righteous man’’ Job), but only that he will not ‘’fear’’ it (7). He has a ‘’secure’’ (8) and ‘’steadfast’’ (7) heart that comes from ‘’trusting in the LORD.’’ (7). There is an absence of ‘’fear’’ (8; Luke 1:74, 75). ‘’Even in darkness’’ he has ‘’light’’ (4), and he takes the long view (8b). Whatever ‘’bad news’’ may pay him a visit in the short term, he knows that ‘’in the end’’ it is all good news. ‘’Sunrise breaks through the darkness for good people – God’s grace and mercy and justice!’’ The Message.

Godly people are not necessarily prosperous, but they may be (3). There are many, many godly poor in the world, but there are also the godly wealthy. Of course, at different stages in their lives, believers may experience both poverty and plenty (Phil.4:11-13). But one thing that marks people who ‘fear the Lord’ and have a lot of money is this: the ‘’Wealth and riches’’ that are in their houses (3a) are not hoarded there. They are generously shared (5) and given away (9; see 1 Timothy 6:17-19). ‘’Their houses brim with wealth And a generosity that never runs dry…The good person is generous and lends lavishly…They lavish gifts on the poor – A generosity that goes on, and on, and on. An honoured life! A beautiful life! The Message. Ungodly people who just want to have lots of lovely lolly for themselves, look with envy (10) when they see the blessing of God on those who fear Him and honour Him with their lives (including their goods). They can’t work it out. They just don’t get it. So they become angry, seeing something of what they want, but it eludes them.

Just as it is important to point out that godly people are not all, and always, wealthy, so it needs to be said that they don’t all have trouble-free times with their children. This psalm should not be taken as a cast iron guarantee that the children raised in believing homes will always turn out well. Nevertheless, it must be said that those children who do grow up in Christian homes are in a place of privilege and blessing (2). They are exposed to the example of their parents day after day, and they are the recipients of so much teaching and prayer. It is not surprising that many do turn out to be ‘’mighty in the land’’ (2). This is a great prayer to pray for your children, wherever they are today.

Prayer: Help me Lord to be fearless and generous as I seek to love you, worship you and honour you in every detail of my life. Thank you for your truly undeserved blessings.

Daily Bible thoughts 770: Tuesday 16th December 2014:

 Psalm 110

This is a Messianic psalm. David wrote it to celebrate the enthronement of a King who was yet to come. Though he did not know who this King was, he saw Him as superior to himself and called Him ‘’Lord’’ (1). Jesus and the New Testament writers understood that he was referring to the Christ, the anointed One, the Messiah (Mark 12:35-37; Acts 2:34-35; Hebrews 1:13). This King will also be ‘’a priest’’ (4). Melchizedek was both priest and king, and so he was a ‘type’, foreshadowing Christ (Genesis 14:18; Hebrews 7). This psalm speaks of:

The Messiah’s triumphant rule:

  • Extending out from ‘’Zion’’ (i.e. Jerusalem) to affect the ‘’whole earth’’ (2a, 6). This surely is the story of the spread of Christ’s Kingdom since the day of Pentecost?
  • Not defeated by enemies, even though enemies there will be (2b). In truth, it often looks like the enemies have the upper hand, but they do not. However the ‘game’ looks now, we know the ‘final score’. Jesus now ‘rules’ ‘’in the midst’’ of them.
  • Ultimately overcoming all evil (5, 6). Also note the ‘’until’’ in (1). The ‘’footstool’’ is a metaphor for dominion over one’s enemies (1 Corinthians 15:25; Ephesians 1:22). The Ascended Lord Jesus is going to see every last enemy put down (1 Corinthians 15:25-28). Verses 5-7 have images reminiscent of John’s vision of the final battle in which the Lord Jesus will overcome all the ungodly forces united against Him (Revelation 19:11-21).

The Messiah’s willing troops: The battle is the Lord’s. It is ‘’your day of battle’’ (3a). As someone said, ‘We are fighting from victory and not for victory. The decisive battle has already been fought and won at the cross. Nevertheless, the struggle is real and fierce and calls for a willing army. There is still blood being spilled on the battlefield; there are still casualties. So how willing are we? The soldiers of the King above all kings must be:

  • Willing to serve: prepared to give their lives away to God and to others;
  • Willing to sacrifice: Soldiers in this war must give up the desire for comfort, ease and a quiet life. There is no place in the army for ‘chocolate soldiers’ who melt in the heat of battle;
  • Willing to suffer: life in the trenches cannot be expected to be easy;
  • Willing to die: Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote: ‘’When Jesus bids a man come and follow Him, He bids him come and die.’’ There’s more than one way to die. You can’t march out with God without first dying to self. But this war, even though it is already won, may require the ultimate sacrifice. Every Christ follower needs to face and accept the truth that it is a dangerous thing to be a Christian in this hostile world.

The original Hebrew text of (3) is difficult to translate. It is not clear who is ‘’Arrayed in holy majesty’’. If it’s the King, then His youth will be renewed, even as the dawn gives rise to ‘’dew’’ each morning. But if it refers to the soldiers, then they are the ones whose youth will be renewed and who are as abundant as the dew. They will be resourced to serve their King.

Reading this psalm we can be filled with hope. It says to us that in the midst of thick, oppressive darkness and terrible opposition we are right to eagerly anticipate the triumph of Christ’s Kingdom. Prayer: I am grateful to know the final score before the final whistle. It is clear from your Word that Jesus wins in the end, and we win with Him.

Daily Bible thoughts 762: Thursday 4th December 2014:

 Psalm 109:21-31

The psalms show that we can be ‘honest to God’.

This is a vulnerable prayer (22): There are times when we need to admit that we’ve been cut and we are bleeding. If you attempt to suppress the hurt it will come out in some other way. The best thing we can do with our wounds is to bring them into the presence of God for His healing. ‘’Do thy friends, despise, forsake thee? Take it to the Lord in prayer? In His arms He’ll take and shield thee. Thou wilt find a solace there.’’ I wonder if the writer of that much-loved hymn had this psalm in mind when he wrote those beautiful words. As we saw when we looked at the first part of the psalm, there were people who were being bad to David, when he had only ever done good to them. No wonder he was in pain. This was a gross injustice.

This is an intense prayer (24): I read about the ‘Full gospel church’ in Seoul , Korea. At the time it was internationally known as the largest church in the world. They had a place called ‘Prayer Mountain’ – a prayer centre up in the hills behind the city. I remember reading that when the Christians in that church had a problem, many of them would go to ‘prayer mountain’ for a few days. They would book themselves into a rather spartan room, with not much in the way of furniture (or heating!). And they would pray and fast, and come away with answers. Some Christians today look askance when you mention fasting, but Jesus did say ‘’When you fast…’’ (Matthew 6:16), and it remains a legitimate and important form of prayer. Somebody once said to me, ‘It’s your body praying.’ There come times when you may need to set yourself to ‘pray through to breakthrough’ and fasting may be part of that.

This is a prayer for God’s glory (27): David desired a work of God that would be for the glory of God. He wanted the Lord to intervene and for everyone to see that He had done this. ‘’Then they’ll know that your hand is in this, that you, GOD, have been at work.’’ The Message. ‘’His desire is not simply for a solution but for such a solution as is unmistakably an act of God and a public vindication of spiritual reality (31).’’ J.A. Motyer: ‘New Bible Commentary, p.560

This is a confident prayer (28-31): David had full expectation that God would do what he was asking of Him.

‘’For the believer, in every situation, another set of factors operates. However numerous and vicious foes may be, however trying and disastrous our circumstances, there is always But you, O Sovereign Lord…’’ J.A. Motyer: ‘New Bible Commentary, p.560.

Prayer: Thank you Lord that when the outlook is gloomy the ‘up look’ is always bright.


Blog at

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: