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Free Daily Bible notes by Rev Stephen Thompson

Daily Bible thoughts 1690: Friday 8th June 2018: Genesis 25:19-21: Take it to the Lord in prayer.

Genesis 25:19-21: Take it to the Lord in prayer.

“19 This is the account of the family line of Abraham’s son Isaac. Abraham became the father of Isaac, 20 and Isaac was forty years old when he married Rebekah daughter of Bethuel the Aramean from Paddan Aram and sister of Laban the Aramean. 21 Isaac prayed to the Lord on behalf of his wife, because she was childless. The Lord answered his prayer, and his wife Rebekah became pregnant.” NIV UK

There are certain repeating patterns in Biblical history. One of these is the case of the barren wife who conceives in answer to prayer. This is also part of a repeating pattern in the Abraham and Sarah/Isaac and Rebekah stories. Sarah was barren, but miraculously bore Abraham a son. Here we read:  ‘’Isaac prayer hard to GOD for his wife because she was barren. GOD answered his prayer and Rebekah became pregnant.’’ The Message.

‘Once more we see God’s active intervention in ensuring that the covenant promises given to Abraham and Isaac would be fulfilled. God’s purposes cannot be fulfilled by human effort alone.’ Tom Hale: ‘Applied Old Testament Commentary’, p.168.

‘Isaac was forty years old when he married Rebekah. For twenty years, they waited for a family that did not come. God blessed Isaac in everything but the thing he wanted most. He and Rebekah knew that God had promised descendants (Gen.15:5), so Isaac laid hold of the promise and prayed. True prayer lays hold of God’s Word (John15:7) and seeks to accomplish God’s purposes.’ Warren W. Wiersbe: ‘With the Word’, p.33.

Wiersbe also says that the purpose of prayer is to get God’s will done on earth, not to have man’s will done in heaven. He emphasises that Isaac’s prayer was not selfish. He must have heard the covenant promises made to his father repeated in the home again and again. How could they be fulfilled if he and Rebekah remained childless. Furthermore, he makes the point that Genesis emphasises the sovereignty of God, and shows the wisdom of His ‘delays’. Abraham and Sarah had to wait 25 years for Isaac to appear; Jacob had to toil for fourteen years to obtain his two wives, and Joseph had to wait over twenty years to be reconciled to his brothers. ‘Our times are in His hands (Ps.31:15), and His timing is never wrong.’ ‘The Wiersbe Bible Commentary, OT’, p.96.

PRAYER: Lord please teach me how to marry your Word with my praying. I feel like I am just ‘in the infants’ in this school of prayer. Please be my teacher, and make me a powerful intercessor like Abraham was, and his son Isaac.

Daily Bible thoughts 1689: Thursday 7th June 2018: Genesis 25:12-18: Brotherly hostility!

Genesis 25:12-18: Brotherly hostility!

“12 This is the account of the family line of Abraham’s son Ishmael, whom Sarah’s slave, Hagar the Egyptian, bore to Abraham. 13 These are the names of the sons of Ishmael, listed in the order of their birth: Nebaioth the firstborn of Ishmael, Kedar, Adbeel, Mibsam, 14 Mishma, Dumah, Massa, 15 Hadad, Tema, Jetur, Naphish and Kedemah. 16 These were the sons of Ishmael, and these are the names of the twelve tribal rulers according to their settlements and camps. 17 Ishmael lived a hundred and thirty-seven years. He breathed his last and died, and he was gathered to his people. 18 His descendants settled in the area from Havilah to Shur, near the eastern border of Egypt, as you go towards Ashur. And they lived in hostility towards all the tribes related to them.” NIV UK

‘’And they lived in hostility towards all their brothers’’ (18b).

Conflict, division, hostility, murder are all consequences of the fall (see Genesis 4). They are the bad fruit of sin entering into the world. Christians should endeavour to ‘’seek peace and pursue it’’ (1 Peter 3:11), but we do so with realism, recognising the sinful forces constantly at play in the world, and in our own hearts, which would tear us apart if left unchecked.

As previously noted, Abraham and Sarah chose their own path when Abraham slept with Hagar. Although they could be forgiven, and Ishmael could be blessed, the consequences of sin could not be undone. The world continues to suffer from them today.

Daily Bible thoughts 1688: Wednesday 6th June 2018: Genesis 25:1-11: Gathered to his people.

Genesis 25:1-11: Gathered to his people.

“Abraham had taken another wife, whose name was Keturah. She bore him Zimran, Jokshan, Medan, Midian, Ishbak and Shuah. Jokshan was the father of Sheba and Dedan; the descendants of Dedan were the Ashurites, the Letushites and the Leummites. The sons of Midian were Ephah, Epher, Hanok, Abida and Eldaah. All these were descendants of Keturah. Abraham left everything he owned to Isaac. But while he was still living, he gave gifts to the sons of his concubines and sent them away from his son Isaac to the land of the east. Abraham lived a hundred and seventy-five years. Then Abraham breathed his last and died at a good old age, an old man and full of years; and he was gathered to his people. His sons Isaac and Ishmael buried him in the cave of Machpelah near Mamre, in the field of Ephron son of Zohar the Hittite, 10 the field Abraham had bought from the Hittites.[a] There Abraham was buried with his wife Sarah. 11 After Abraham’s death, God blessed his son Isaac, who then lived near Beer Lahai Roi.” NIV UK

After a great loss, although the pain is keenly felt, life does not have to come to an end. We have already seen how, following the death of Sarah, there was a new chapter in Abraham’s story, and we can see something more of that in today’s passage. There is also the further comment that: ‘’After Abraham’s death, God blessed his son Isaac…’’ (11). A bereavement – especially of a close family member – is likely to leave a deep imprint on you. But it doesn’t have to be the end of your life. It certainly doesn’t dry up the flow of God’s blessing.

But in life, we, being mortal, not only love and lose; we ourselves have to die. Although Abraham lived a long, long time, death eventually came knocking on his door. I love the line which says ‘’and he was gathered to his people’’ (8b). That phrase may mean nothing more than that he was laid with other dead relatives in the same cemetery. But I instinctively feel it means more. As believers, we have the confidence that we will see God after we have died. That is the greatest blessing to anticipate. However, we also carry in our hearts, the joyful prospect of meeting fellow-believers again, and enjoying their company – just as the disciples came to recognise Jesus and shared fellowship with Him again after His resurrection. As the hymn-writer rightly expressed: ‘What a gathering!’

PRAYER: Thank you so much Lord Jesus, you who are the Resurrection and the life, for the wonderful hope we have in you.

Daily Bible thoughts 1687: Tuesday 5th June 2018: Genesis 24: 62-67: The beauty of marriage.

Genesis 24: 62-67: The beauty of marriage.

“62 Now Isaac had come from Beer Lahai Roi, for he was living in the Negev. 63 He went out to the field one evening to meditate,[a] and as he looked up, he saw camels approaching. 64 Rebekah also looked up and saw Isaac. She got down from her camel 65 and asked the servant, ‘Who is that man in the field coming to meet us?’ ‘He is my master,’ the servant answered. So she took her veil and covered herself. 66 Then the servant told Isaac all he had done. 67 Isaac brought her into the tent of his mother Sarah, and he married Rebekah. So she became his wife, and he loved her; and Isaac was comforted after his mother’s death.” NIV UK

There is something beautiful about the closing section of this story. We see Isaac the meditative man (63). This short sentence seems to provide such insight into the kind of person Isaac was. We are also caused to consider afresh God’s detailed care in the statement that ‘’…Isaac was comforted after his mother’s death’’ (67). When marriage functions as God intended, there is mutual comfort for wife and husband.

Tom Hale writes: ‘We are left in wonder at God’s provision not only for Isaac but also for Rebekah. One moment she was an unknown village girl. Then she offered some water to a stranger (Mark 9:41). The next moment she was betrothed to Isaac, heir to wealth, heir to the promises of God. Before long she would become the mother of a nation, Israel, out of which would issue the Messiah, God’s Son. Truly her faith was rewarded more abundantly than she could ever have imagined.’ ‘Applied Old Testament Commentary’, pp.167, 168.

Writers have often commented on the servant in this story as a type of the Holy Spirit, who is self-effacing, and brings the ‘bride’ (the church) to Jesus.

‘This is an illustration of personal salvation. The Spirit speaks to us about Christ and shows us His treasures, and we trust Christ even though we have never seen Him (1 Peter 1:8).’ Warren W. Wiersbe: ‘With the Word’,pp.32, 33.

Daily Bible thoughts 1686: Monday 4th June 2018: Genesis 24: 59-61: Parting blessing

Genesis 24: 59-61: Parting blessing

“59 So they sent their sister Rebekah on her way, along with her nurse and Abraham’s servant and his men. 60 And they blessed Rebekah and said to her,                                         ‘Our sister, may you increase to thousands upon thousands; may your offspring possess the cities of their enemies.’ 61 Then Rebekah and her attendants got ready and mounted the camels and went back with the man. So the servant took Rebekah and left.” NIV UK

As Rebekah left, her family bestowed their blessing. It was particularly that she might have ‘’thousands upon thousands’’ of descendants, and that they would ‘’possess the gates of their enemies’’ (60). In other words, take possession of enemy strongholds (see 22:17). Tom Hale makes the excellent point that: ‘Since Rebekah’s spiritual descendants today constitute the church of Christ, one is reminded of Jesus’ statement that the gates of Hades will not be able to overcome His church (Matthew 16:18).’ Tom Hale: ‘Applied Old Testament Commentary’,p.167.

The song, ‘To dream the impossible dream’, has in it a line which speaks about marching into Hell ‘for a heavenly cause.’ It has long seemed to me that this is the role of the church. We are on the offensive in Jesus’ Name, taking ground from the enemy, who will be unable to prevail. Our enemy is real and we must not underestimate him. But let us always believe that in Jesus we are ‘on the victory side.’ As someone said, ‘We are not fighting for victory, we are fighting from victory.’

Daily Bible thoughts 1685: Friday 1st June 2018: Genesis 24: 50-58: What’s your response?

Genesis 24: 50-58: What’s your response?

“50 Laban and Bethuel answered, ‘This is from the Lord; we can say nothing to you one way or the other. 51 Here is Rebekah; take her and go, and let her become the wife of your master’s son, as the Lord has directed.’ 52 When Abraham’s servant heard what they said, he bowed down to the ground before the Lord. 53 Then the servant brought out gold and silver jewellery and articles of clothing and gave them to Rebekah; he also gave costly gifts to her brother and to her mother. 54 Then he and the men who were with him ate and drank and spent the night there. When they got up the next morning, he said, ‘Send me on my way to my master.’ 55 But her brother and her mother replied, ‘Let the young woman remain with us ten days or so; then you may go.’ 56 But he said to them, ‘Do not detain me, now that the Lord has granted success to my journey. Send me on my way so I may go to my master.’57 Then they said, ‘Let’s call the young woman and ask her about it.’ 58 So they called Rebekah and asked her, ‘Will you go with this man?’ ‘I will go,’ she said.” NIV UK

Have you heard God’s call to go somewhere else and serve Him there? Has a ‘door’ clearly opened up in front of you? Has God’s will become patently obvious? Then what’s keeping you? Why are you still here? Doesn’t this call for decisive action? What’s your response to be?

‘Rebekah thus proved herself to be a woman of faith, ready to leave her home and family, and journey to an unknown land – just as Abraham had done before her.’ Tom Hale: ‘Applied Old Testament Commentary’, p. 167

Daily Bible thoughts 1684: Thursday 31st May 2018: Genesis 24:50,51: Get on with it.

Genesis 24:50-51: Get on with it.

“50 Laban and Bethuel answered, ‘This is from the Lord; we can say nothing to you one way or the other. 51 Here is Rebekah; take her and go, and let her become the wife of your master’s son, as the Lord has directed.’ ” NIV UK

As I opened my Bible this morning, my eye fell on a quote from George Mueller. I had written it inside the front cover many years ago:

‘I have joyfully dedicated my whole life to the object of exemplifying how much may be accomplished by prayer and faith.’

To my mind, George Mueller’s life story is a form of apologetics. How can we explain what happened, consistently, to him – the many remarkable answers to prayer he received – if God is not real? He took God seriously, and God took him seriously, and, it seems to me that this still happens to people today. (I appreciate someone reading this may need to go and bone up on George Mueller. Apologies, but in this short thought I don’t have time or space to provide the details).

Abraham’s servant showed a similar confidence in God. The Lord did not let him down.

I know we are fallible. We sometimes get things wrong. We are not always clear about guidance. But there are those times when it appears God has so remarkably guided; a ‘door’ has so obviously opened, that we just need to get on with it and go through it.

Daily Bible thoughts 1683: Wednesday 30th May 2018: Genesis 24:22-50: The Master’s business.

Genesis 24:22-50: The Master’s business.

“22 When the camels had finished drinking, the man took out a gold nose ring weighing a beka  and two gold bracelets weighing ten shekels.23 Then he asked, ‘Whose daughter are you? Please tell me, is there room in your father’s house for us to spend the night?’ 24 She answered him, ‘I am the daughter of Bethuel, the son that Milkah bore to Nahor.’ 25 And she added, ‘We have plenty of straw and fodder, as well as room for you to spend the night.’  Then the man bowed down and worshipped the Lord, 27 saying, ‘Praise be to the Lord, the God of my master Abraham, who has not abandoned his kindness and faithfulness to my master. As for me, the Lord has led me on the journey to the house of my master’s relatives.’ 28 The young woman ran and told her mother’s household about these things. 29 Now Rebekah had a brother named Laban, and he hurried out to the man at the spring. 30 As soon as he had seen the nose ring, and the bracelets on his sister’s arms, and had heard Rebekah tell what the man said to her, he went out to the man and found him standing by the camels near the spring. 31 ‘Come, you who are blessed by the Lord,’ he said. ‘Why are you standing out here? I have prepared the house and a place for the camels.’ 32 So the man went to the house, and the camels were unloaded. Straw and fodder were brought for the camels, and water for him and his men to wash their feet. 33 Then food was set before him, but he said, ‘I will not eat until I have told you what I have to say.’ ‘Then tell us,’ Laban said. 34 So he said, ‘I am Abraham’s servant. 35 The Lord has blessed my master abundantly, and he has become wealthy. He has given him sheep and cattle, silver and gold, male and female servants, and camels and donkeys. 36 My master’s wife Sarah has borne him a son in her old age, and he has given him everything he owns. 37 And my master made me swear an oath, and said, “You must not get a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites, in whose land I live, 38 but go to my father’s family and to my own clan, and get a wife for my son.” 39 ‘Then I asked my master, “What if the woman will not come back with me?” 40 ‘He replied, “The Lord, before whom I have walked faithfully, will send his angel with you and make your journey a success, so that you can get a wife for my son from my own clan and from my father’s family. 41 You will be released from my oath if, when you go to my clan, they refuse to give her to you – then you will be released from my oath.’ 42 ‘When I came to the spring today, I said, “Lord, God of my master Abraham, if you will, please grant success to the journey on which I have come. 43 See, I am standing beside this spring. If a young woman comes out to draw water and I say to her, ‘Please let me drink a little water from your jar,’ 44 and if she says to me, ‘Drink, and I’ll draw water for your camels too,’ let her be the one the Lord has chosen for my master’s son.” 45 ‘Before I finished praying in my heart, Rebekah came out, with her jar on her shoulder. She went down to the spring and drew water, and I said to her, “Please give me a drink.” 46 ‘She quickly lowered her jar from her shoulder and said, “Drink, and I’ll water your camels too.” So I drank, and she watered the camels also. 47 ‘I asked her, “Whose daughter are you?” ‘She said, “The daughter of Bethuel son of Nahor, whom Milkah bore to him.” ‘Then I put the ring in her nose and the bracelets on her arms, 48 and I bowed down and worshipped the Lord. I praised the Lord, the God of my master Abraham, who had led me on the right road to get the granddaughter of my master’s brother for his son. 49 Now if you will show kindness and faithfulness to my master, tell me; and if not, tell me, so I may know which way to turn.’ 50 Laban and Bethuel answered, ‘This is from the Lord; we can say nothing to you one way or the other.” NIV UK

‘Count the number of times in which he contrives to introduce the two words, ‘’my Master’’…This identification of his thought and speech with his master’s interests is full of teaching for us all. He could talk of nothing else, was only anxious not to fail for Abraham’s sake, and took the favourable reply as kindness shown to him whom he represented.’ F.B. Meyer: ‘Devotional Commentary’, p.23.

The re-telling of the story does not detract from it in any way. Rather, it reinforces its lessons. It impresses upon us the wonder and reality of God’s guidance. The servant repeatedly pointed to God’s activity in leading him to Rebekah (26, 40, 42-45, 48. It brought Laban and Bethuel to the point where they had to confess:

‘’This is from the LORD; we can say nothing to you one way or the other’’ (50).

In the light of the above, they were willing to act accordingly (51).

As we read this beautiful story, may it lead us to a renewed commitment to be praying people:

‘…it is good dealing with those who by prayer take God along with them in their dealings.’ Matthew Henry.

PRAYER: I pray that prayer will be woven into every moment and every part of the fabric of my life.

Daily Bible thoughts 1682: Tuesday 29th May 2018: Genesis 24:15-21: Watch and pray

Genesis 24:15-21: Watch and pray

“15 Before he had finished praying, Rebekah came out with her jar on her shoulder. She was the daughter of Bethuel son of Milkah, who was the wife of Abraham’s brother Nahor. 16 The woman was very beautiful, a virgin; no man had ever slept with her. She went down to the spring, filled her jar and came up again. 17 The servant hurried to meet her and said, ‘Please give me a little water from your jar.’ 18 ‘Drink, my lord,’ she said, and quickly lowered the jar to her hands and gave him a drink. 19 After she had given him a drink, she said, ‘I’ll draw water for your camels too, until they have had enough to drink.’ 20 So she quickly emptied her jar into the trough, ran back to the well to draw more water, and drew enough for all his camels. 21 Without saying a word, the man watched her closely to learn whether or not the Lord had made his journey successful.” NIV UK

‘’Without saying a word, the man watched her closely to learn whether or not the LORD had made his journey successful’’ (21).

This is an example of someone ‘watching and praying’. If we are praying in faith to a God we believe to be real, we will want to look of for signs of His answers. We may not always see them. God is not obliged to work in visible ways. But the eye of faith will often discern the cloud the size of a man’s hand. This man had every reason to believe that God would guide him (7), and he was expectant. The answers to prayer may not always come in the form we expect, but let us always be full of expectation.

‘What a concentration of heaven -contrived circumstances gathered around this event! Abraham planning, the servant praying and waiting expectantly, the Angel of God leading, the very camels kneeling patiently beside the well as though they counted on the troughs being filled, the damsel coming at the precise hour! It is thus that all our daily life might be aglow with the presence and help of God. Such things take place, but, alas, our eyes are Holden!’ F.B.Meyer, ‘Devotional Commentary’, p.23.

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