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Free Daily Bible notes by Rev Stephen Thompson



Daily Bible thoughts 1235: Friday 23rd September, 2016: John 12:31-36: The wondrous cross.

 John 12:31-36: The wondrous cross.(please click for todays passage)

Come with me, and let us ”survey” something of ”the wondrous cross”. See:

  1. The necessity of the cross: There is a ”must” about it (34b; see also 3:14,15). There can be no work of saving the human race apart from the cross.
  2. The glory of the cross: (32, 33, 34; see also verses 28-30). In John’s gospel, the cross is repeatedly spoken of in terms of lifting up. Of course, someone crucified was physically lifted up on a stake (33). But there is more to it than that. What,to men, was the ultimate in shame, Jesus saw as the utmost in glory. ”May I never boast (glory) except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ…” (Galatians 6:14).
  3. The achievement of the cross: What Jesus achieved on the cross may be expressed in a number of ways. Here are two of those results (31): a.) the judgment upon all the world’s sin – and Jesus drank the cup of God’s anger against sin to its dregs, being substituted for us; b.) victory over Satan. The devil may not yet be driven out of the world, but Jesus won the decisive battle against him at the cross. The day Jesus died was ‘D day’. The final triumph is not in doubt.
  4. The magnetism of the cross: ”And I, as I am lifted up from the earth, will attract everyone to me and gather them around me” (32). Jesus wasn’t saying that everyone will be converted. We have to compare Scripture with Scripture, and not interpret one part of the Bible to the hurt of other parts. God’s Word does not say that all will be saved,but we can expect many to be drawn to the crucified Lord.
  5. The opportunity presented by the cross: It’s an opportunity that will only exist for ”just a little while longer” (35). If you do not respond to ”the light” God shows you while you still have the chance, you may find that a day comes when you want to search for Jesus, but you are unable to find Him (36b).

 As I have written these notes my own heart has been ‘strangely warmed’.                                I pray it is so for you.

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, once more I find myself asking that you will keep me near your cross.

Daily Bible thoughts 821: Wednesday 25th February 2015: Zephaniah 3:18-20

 Zephaniah 3:18-20 (click here for passage)

‘’I will give them praise and honour in every land where they were put to shame.’’(19b).

These verses may have an immediate reference to the return from Babylon following punishment and exile, but they clearly look beyond it to a much greater ingathering of Jews from across the globe.

Verse 18 probably refers to the sorrow the godly captives felt when they could no longer attend the ‘’appointed feasts’’.

There have been repeated and terrible outbreaks of anti-Semitism in history, and we are seeing something of a resurgence now. It is heart-breaking to observe, and any of us who can say something and/or do something to stand with persecuted Jews should do so. Of course, this principle also extends to other oppressed peoples whose rights are trampled on. But it is important to remember that God has a special purpose for the Jews in the story of salvation. They were His chosen instrument to give us Jesus and the Bible. What happens to them is a key to the further fulfilment of prophecy in preparation for the return of Jesus.

We can take heart, then, from the vision in this reading: ‘’In the very countries where they were hated they will be venerated.’’ The Message. Consider too Paul’s teaching in Romans chapters 9-11. What Zephaniah and Paul were writing about may not be identical, but they give us something to joyfully anticipate, and faithfully believe for as we pray. God has a glorious future planned for the Jewish people, and it will mean blessing for the whole world. (See especially Romans 11:11-32).

In our own times we have seen many Jewish people returning to the land of Israel. In the years when this didn’t seem likely (for example, even back in the 19th century) there were Bible students writing books, saying that the Jews must return to the land God gave them in the first place. They said it had to happen because it was in God’s inspired and unbreakable Word. They were right.

All of this reminds us that history is moving towards a God-ordained climax when Jesus Christ will return to this world. Somebody pointed out that a huge proportion of the Bible is prophecy, and the majority of those prophecies have already come to pass – to the letter. The remainder have to do with the end of this world as we know it and the return of Jesus. They will be fulfilled.

Now, are you ready?

Prayer: Thank you for your Word, Lord. It focuses on Jesus. Our hearts burn when we think about Him, and we long for His return to the earth. We pray for the peace of Jerusalem. We pray for your blessing and protection on all persecuted minorities

Daily Bible thoughts 820: Tuesday 24th February 2015: Zephaniah 3:14-17

Zephaniah 3:14-17 click here for passage)

Zephaniah concludes on a high note of hope.

‘’Raise the rafters, Israel!’’ The Message.

God’s people should be ‘the happiest people on earth’ (14) – a people of unfettered praise; an exuberantly joyful community, praising God from the heart. A friend of mine was going through a tough time. He told me that he wrote to a well-known pastor in America, who, he knew, had been through a similar set of circumstances. This renowned man of God replied, encouraging him to discover the awesome power of spiritual song. My friend not only read the ‘prescription’; he also took the ‘medicine’. He found it had a delightful taste! When I was staying with him, I would hear him get up in the early morning, go downstairs, and pick up his guitar and sing to the Lord.

Consider some reasons why we can have unbounded joy:

  • The Cross of Jesus and all it means (15a): Here are two aspects of its significance – forgiveness of sins and the conquest of all spiritual foes. (The Lord has ‘’taken away’’ our ‘’punishment’’ because He took our punishment on Calvary.) May we never lose the wonder of the Cross;
  • God’s reign over you, and His presence with you and in you (15b, 17a). ‘’From now on, GOD is Israel’s king, in charge at the centre…Your GOD is present among you, a strong Warrior there to save you.’’ The Message.
  • There is nothing to fear (15b, 16). When you allow the revelation of who God is and who you are in Him to overwhelm your thinking, you realise that there is nothing to fear and no reason to be discouraged. (You don’t have to ‘’let your hands hang limp’’ 16b). Nothing can happen to you that will ‘’harm’’ There may well be many things that will ‘hurt’ you, but nothing can ‘harm’ you in any ultimate sense. Your God is ‘’mighty to save’’ and you are safe. (Reflect, for example, on Revelation 20:4. Is it not true to say that these faithful ones were hurt but not really harmed? They are eternally safe with God. Revelation gives us the bigger picture.)
  • God the Father’s ‘maternal’ characteristics (17b). He loves you so much. He is like a mother doting on her young child. It is a truly beautiful picture.

Today, you have every reason to sing and not be silent, if you are a believer in Jesus. Learn how to be happy (and stay happy) in God! Your circumstances may not tend towards happiness, but you can learn to make yourself (or allow yourself to be) truly happy. The truth will set you free – if you let it!

And don’t forget the awesome power of spiritual song.

Prayer: Lord, you have put a new song in my heart. Don’t let the devil steal it from me. I choose to sing and not be silent, for you are faithful and you are good.


Daily Bible thoughts 817: Thursday 19th February 2015: Zephaniah 3:1-5

Zephaniah 3:1-5

The people of Jerusalem should have set an example to their near neighbour nations (2:4-15), but they had been just as bad as them. Straight away (3:1) you see, by contrast, some qualities of godly people. They include:

  • Prayerfulness (see the promise in James 4:8);
  • Trust in God
  • Humility – expressed in submission and teachability;
  • Kindness and fairness in the treatment of others. (See also verse 3. God does not appreciate leadership that ravages people. There is such a thing in the church as ‘spiritual abuse.’ It happens when shepherds turn themselves into dictators, and try to dominate and control people. They become ‘’oppressors’’, whether or not they realise or intend it. ‘’Her very own leaders are rapacious lions, Her judges are rapacious timber wolves out every morning prowling for a fresh kill.’’ The Message. )

In (1) God was speaking about ‘’the city’’ of Jerusalem, but he clearly wasn’t referring to the stones and buildings that made up the place. This was what the general populace were like. ‘’Sewer City!’’ The Message.

But we cannot expect a people to be living right when the ministry they sit under is all wrong (4). The spiritual leaders in Zephaniah’s day had strayed from God’s truth in proclamation, and from God’s character in their conduct. A preaching ministry that dilutes or twists the Bible; or leaves important (and unpalatable) bits out, may make you popular (with some), but it will not make the people pure. It is an awesome responsibility to speak from a church pulpit. Here were spiritual leaders who dishonoured God’s Word and were marked by sinful characteristics. It is a serious crime in the eyes of heaven to ‘’do violence’’ to the Bible. It is still being done today – with the same catastrophic results (2 Peter 3:16). As a general principle, I believe it is true to say that a quality ministry will produce a quality people. We need leaders in the church who have integrity written through their core, like the words ‘Blackpool’ or ‘Scarborough’ in a stick of rock. The city of Jerusalem was as it was in those times because the leaders were as they were; and especially because the spiritual leaders were what they were: wide of the mark. They were (blind) guides carrying wilfully damaged road maps. As church leaders, our authority lies in God’s Word. If we move away from this we’re in serious trouble, and we endanger everyone under our care and influence.

What a contrast with ‘’The LORD within her…’’ (5).

‘’Yet GOD remains righteous in her midst, untouched by the evil. He stays at it, day after day, meting out justice. At evening he’s still at it, strong as ever. But evil men and women, without conscience and without shame, persist in evil.’’ The Message.

God remains unchanged by all this evil around Him, even though He is close to it. That is the challenge for disciples of Christ, called to be ‘’the salt of the earth’’ and ‘’the light of the world’’ (Matthew 5: 13, 14) We have to live in the polluted city and influence it for good, whilst remaining clean. God Himself will teach us and help us do this.

Prayer: I pray today for all who preach your Word, that they will speak your Word, and not their own.

Daily Bible thoughts 816: Wednesday 18th February 2015: Zephaniah 2: 12-15

Zephaniah 2: 12-15

‘’God’s judgment begins in the house of the Lord (1 Peter 4:17), which explains why Zephaniah started with the people of Judah; but now he explains how the day of the Lord will affect the Gentile nations surrounding Judah. Though they were never given God’s law as were the Jews (Ps.147:19-20), the Gentiles are still responsible before God; for God has revealed Himself to them in creation and conscience (Rom.1:18ff.). Furthermore, these nations had not always treated the Jews kindly and now the time had arrived for God to judge them. The nations named may represent all the Gentiles, since these nations correspond to the four points of the compass: Assyria (north), Cush (south), Moab and Ammon (east), and Philistia (west). During the great day of the Lord, all the nations of the earth will taste the judgment of God.’’ Warren W. Wiersbe: The Wiersbe Bible Commentary (Old Testament), p.1484.

Wiersbe also says: ‘’…God’s promise to Abraham still stands: Those who bless Israel, God will bless; those who curse Israel, God will curse (Gen.12:1-3). The nations that have sinned against God by mistreating the Jews can expect Him to judge them.’’

Assyria comes last in the list in chapter 2. (Before the Assyrians, mention is made of the ‘’Cushites’’ in verse 12. They lived in the southern part of Egypt and Sudan. They ruled Egypt for many years, so it’s likely that the Egyptians were included in this judgment.)

The Assyrians are a prime example of pride going before a fall. If people set themselves up as if they were God (or gods) they will be brought down (15). Those who follow Jesus will want to copy His humble example. If you lift yourself up (as the Assyrians did) God will pull you down. But if you humble yourself, as Jesus did, God will lift you up. There is also a dangerous complacency that goes hand in hand with pride. The people of Nineveh thought their city was impregnable: ‘’This is the carefree city that lived in safety.’’

Until the rise of Babylon, the Assyrians were the superpower in the world. They were a ruthless people, infamous for their pride and terrible cruelty to enemies. You may recall that there was a remarkable ‘revival’ in Nineveh, following the preaching of Jonah. But then successive generations fell back into their old ways, and Nineveh was destroyed in 612 B.C. Within a few years the once mighty Assyrian empire disappeared from the face of the earth, and Zephaniah saw it coming.

‘’The ghost town of a city, the haunt of wild animals, Nineveh will become home to raccoons and coyotes – they’ll bed down in its ruins. Owls will hoot in the windows, ravens will croak in the doorways – all that fancy woodwork now a perch for birds. Can this be the famous Fun City that had it made, That boasted, ‘’I’m the Number-One City! I’m King of the Mountain!’’ So why is the place deserted, a lair for wild animals? Passersby hardly give it a look; they dismiss it with a gesture.’’ The Message.

There is no city in the world today that should not look and learn. Pride, arrogance, complacency, and persistence in sin still bring human greatness down to the ground.

Prayer: Lord God, I tremble at your Word and honour your Name. May all the peoples of the world turn to you while there is still time.

Daily Bible thoughts 815: Tuesday 17th February 2015: Zephaniah 2:9-11

Zephaniah 2:9-11 (click here for todays passage)

God is in control. Nothing happens behind His back.

God sees the plight of His persecuted people. He hears the ‘’…insults…taunts…threats…’’ (8). Even if your experience of persecution has not got physical; even if it is no more than verbal, He knows and understands. He is aware that words can hurt. Jesus knows it full well (Matthew 27:27-31; 1 Peter 2:23). Ultimately God is going to deal with all persecution and persecutors (10, 11). The opposition is truly against Him, even though His people get in the way of it. But finally, every knee will bow to Him (11b; Philippians 2:5-11). God is going to show that He is God to all who mock Him and poke fun at His family. Take the long view. The book of ‘Revelation’ helps us do this, and says that in the end, Jesus wins. In fact, He’s already won, and one great day the world will be forced to see the score line.

Persecution will have unwanted and unintended consequences for the persecutors (9). It may not happen quickly, but it will happen. There will be a reversal of fortunes and God’s people will gain the upper hand. The ‘team’ that seems to be taking a beating at the moment will lift the ‘trophy’ in the end.

Persecution is born of pride (10); a sense of superiority to God and the church. There is a belief that ‘our gods are better’ and ‘we are greater with our gods. What we’ve got is above what they’ve got, and our gods will protect us.’ Of course, in some cases, those ‘gods’ are no more than political philosophies and raw power. But the opponents are ‘believers’ in their religion. Yet we can say that in the final analysis God will expose the folly, the vanity, the emptiness of all false beliefs, and He will glorify His own Name (11). ‘’GOD will be seen as truly terrible – a Holy Terror’’ (The Message) to all who terrorize His church. ‘’All earth-made gods will shrivel up and blow away.’’ When God shows people the nothingness of their idols, He is preparing them to ‘’worship him’’ (11). By the way, you will always get what you don’t want ‘’in return for’’ pride (James 4:6; 1 Peter 5:5).

Today you may be afraid to show your true colours, as a Christian, because of concerns about mockery. It’s never going to be easy to endure, but this oracle should help us see that it’s not something to fear. God is with and for His people. He is the living God and ‘’Almighty’’ (9a). These enemies of Israel were placing their trust in lifeless deities.

Persecution never hurts more than when you experience it in your own family. That is likely to happen (Matthew 10:21, 34-39). The Moabites and Ammonites were related to the Israelites (Genesis 19:36-38), but they acted as enemies throughout most of Israel’s history (Numbers 22; Judges 3 and 10; 1 Samuel 11:1-5; 2 Samuel 12: 26ff). ‘’Notice once again that the Lord’s judgment on the nations is influenced by their treatment of His chosen people Israel (verse 10).’’ Tom Hale: ‘The Applied Old Testament Commentary’, p.1284. (See also Amos 1:13-2:3 and Ezekiel 25:1-11.)

Prayer: Lord God, I look forward to the day when everyone will acknowledge that you are Lord.

Daily Bible thoughts 814: Monday 16th February 2015: Zephaniah 2:4-7

Zephaniah 2:4-7

‘’The LORD their God will care for them; he will restore their fortunes.’’ (7b)

  • Even in tough times, remember that God loves you. He is your ever-caring Shepherd (Psalm 23). He will be with His ‘flock’, even though they ‘’walk through the darkest valley’’ (Ps.23:4amarginal reference.) It is true that this verse in Zephaniah refers to Judah’s future after the exile. Nevertheless, because of God’s unchanging Shepherding nature, He was caring for them even in the distressing days of captivity. If you belong to the Lord, know that He cares for you this He will be with you in the rain and in the sun.
  • God can turn around the worst situations. He can cause unlikely things to happen. When Zephaniah spoke these words, it was probably hard for Jewish people to envisage things being turned on their head in such a dramatic fashion. But the Lord God Almighty is able to do the unthinkable and unimaginable. He is able to restore ‘’fortunes’’, and He does! The Jewish ‘fortunes’ were restored following the Babylonian captivity. But the full restoration awaits the time of Jesus’ second coming.
  • Don’t be overly impressed by people and places that seem impregnable. Don’t trust in them for security. They will fail you. Think about Jesus’ words about the magnificent temple buildings being brought down (Matthew 24: 1, 2). Remember the vision of the destruction of mighty Babylon (Revelation 18). Think about the scene in today’s verses; the picture of Philistia overthrown. There are powerful and impressive people and places in the world that can be (and will be) decimated by God’s judgment. We may imagine them to be perpetual monuments, but nothing will be able to withstand the blast of the firestorm of Divine wrath. In the remainder of chapter 2, God announces His judgment on the nations around Judah. Philistia is the first to be mentioned, and it is represented by four of its leading cities (4). The ‘’Philistines’’ (or ‘’Kerethites’’ ) were ancient and strong enemies of Israel who lived in the western part of Canaan, along the Mediterranean coast (verses 5-6). God says that the faithful ‘’remnant’’ of Judah (those we read about in verse 3) will eventually occupy Philistia. This happened when the Jews returned from Babylonian exile. Let’s not miss the point that God can give His people all He wants them to have, and He can deal thoroughly and decisively with all the enemies of His church. This passage reminds us again of who is in charge. We may go through days when it appears that people are running the show. But this is never the case.

‘’According to Amos 1:6-8, they took Jewish people captive from cities in southern Judah and sold them to other nations as slaves. But the time would come when their populous cities would be empty and their land left desolate, a place for shepherds to feed their flocks. Their coastal cities, made wealthy by vast shipping enterprises, would be destroyed by the enemy and left in ruins. Nebuchadnezzar invaded Philistia and conquered it, and the only remnant of that great nation left today is the name ‘’Palestine,’’ which comes from ‘’Philistine’’ (see Ezek.25:15-28:26).’’ Warren W. Wiersbe: ‘The Wiersbe Bible Commentary’, p.1484. Sin has consequences!

Prayer: Thank you Lord that my life is in your Hands and you are in control, even on days when everything seems wildly out of kilter.

Daily Bible thoughts 813: Friday 13th February 2015: Zephaniah 2:1-3

Zephaniah 2:1-3 (click here for passage)

‘’Seek the LORD, you humble of the land, you who do what he commands. Seek righteousness, seek humility.’’ (3a)

Humility is a prized quality in the Bible. You could say that it is the ‘soil’ in which the other Christian graces flower

You cannot have too much humility. In the above text the ‘’humble’’ are exhorted to ‘’seek humility.’’

Humility is the key to true greatness: ‘’Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.’’ (James 4:10; see 1 Peter 5:6 and Philippians 2:1-11)).

Here are three thoughts suggested by today’s short reading:

  • Humility shows itself in prayerfulness. Humility and seeking the Lord go together. Humility involves recognition of your smallness, and His bigness. This awareness will drive you into God’s arms. In humility you see your helplessness and God’s power; your need and His ability. Proud people rush on to get things done in their own strength.They are supremely confident of their abilities. Humble people lean on God to get the job done. They do not renege on their responsibilities, but they know they will never do God’s work in their own unaided strength. Day after day will find them on their knees, metaphorically if not literally. They are not too proud to ask for help.
  • Humility shows itself in holiness. There can be no genuine holiness without it. Prayer and obedience go together. If we hold on to favourite sins they will clog up the channel of prayer. Seeking the Lord cannot be divorced from taking active steps to conform your life to God’s Word. In humility you admit that God’s ways are right and best and you endeavour to align yourself with them. It takes humility to admit that you are wrong. Progress in holiness will necessitate the repeated use of this admission.
  • Humility shows itself in repentance. In the Bible we see over and over that sin leads to judgment. But God wants to save people from His judgment. Therefore He is patient, and gives many warnings and calls to change (2 Peter 3:9). In the first three verses of this second chapter, God is calling His people to seek Him ‘’before’’ His judgment sweeps through the land. (Note how the word is used three times in verse 2) ‘’Do it before you’re blown away like leaves in a windstorm.’’ The Message. But it takes humility to repent. It takes humility to say, ‘I/we have done wrong.’ It takes humility to confess your sins. It takes humility to ask for forgiveness. It takes humility to change your mind about the way you have been living, and fully embrace God’s road map for your life.

Such humility is possible. It grows in the lives of those who ‘’seek’’ it; it is cultivated in the people who ‘’Seek the LORD…’’

Prayer: I ask that the mind of Jesus, who humbled Himself, will be in me.

Daily Bible thoughts 812: Thursday 12th February 2015: Zephaniah 1:14-18

Zephaniah 1:14-18 (click here for todays passage)

‘’…for he will make a sudden end of all who live in the earth.’’ (18b).

It’s interesting that it’s not only ‘religious’ people who believe that life on earth cannot continue forever. A recent piece in ‘Time’ magazine, headed: ‘COUNTDOWN TO APOCALYPSE’ said this: ‘’The minute hand of the Doomsday Clock was moved forward two minutes to 11:57 on Jan.22, the first adjustment in three years. The time on the clock, which was created in 1945, is set by a board of scientists and nuclear experts and symbolizes the world’s proximity to global catastrophe.’’

The Bible’s teaching about ‘’The great day of the LORD…’’ should not be taken lightly. It is a major theme in Scripture, and is not there for merely decorative purposes. As we have seen, Zephaniah in speaking about this ‘day’ saw the invasion of the Babylonians in the foreground (15, 16). But he also saw the last judgment in the distance (18b, 1:2, 3). If that is going to come ‘suddenly’ we had better prepare for it now. In view of the end of all things, the big question becomes, ‘In what (or in whom) do you trust?’ It seems that many people in Zephaniah’s day relied on their affluence (10 -13, 18a). The temptation to trust in material possessions remains, but wealth is an unreliable idol. It is a poor substitute for the living God! ‘’Don’t plan on buying your way out. Your money is worthless for this.’’ The Message.

‘’Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.’’ (1 Timothy 6:17 – underling mine).

‘’Let others boast of heaps of gold, Christ for me; His riches never can be told, Christ for me. Your gold will rust and wear away; your honours perish in a day. But while I’ve breath I mean to say, Christ for me.’’

The hymn writer was on to something! The only way to be ready for the ‘flood’ of judgment that will one day engulf the earth, is to trust in the ‘Ark’ of safety that is Jesus. He bore your judgment in His death on the cross. If you step into Him by faith you will be safe.

‘’This is the Day of GOD’s Judgment –my wrath! I care about sin with fiery passion – A fire to burn up the corrupted world, a wildfire finish to the corrupting people.’’ The Message.

‘’Sin attracts with its offer of pleasure, but in the end he who indulges finds that he has no pleasure at all.’ David H.Wheaton (writing about 2 Peter 2:13). Reading verse 17 reminded me of that quote. Sin has a great marketing strategy. It makes itself look good. But when you ‘buy’ you find yourself worse off. In some ways we sin because we are blind. But it is also true to say that more and more sin leads to a deeper, darker blindness. Sin leads nowhere good. It results in damage and destruction. Ultimately it leads to judgment. When the end comes, as come it will, where will your confidence be?

Prayer: We live in a scary world Lord, but thank you that there is nothing to fear for all who trust in you.

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