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Free Daily Bible notes by Rev Stephen Thompson

1 Peter 1:3-5: Double-keeping.

“3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.” NIV

Somebody once asked, ‘If there is a hole in human history the size and shape of the resurrection of Christ, with what does the secular historian propose to fill it?’

Christianity is about life. Jesus Christ rose from the dead, and all those who are linked to Him by faith share His resurrection life now (partially), and one day will share it (fully). We have ‘’a living hope’’ as we trust in the living Lord Jesus. Peter says that ‘’salvation’’ is ‘’ready to be revealed in the last time’’ (5b). The ‘salvation project’ (God’s rescue operation for the human race), is now in process, and will one day be completed. We have a great ‘’inheritance’’ ahead of us, on top of all we are enjoying this day. If you come to Jesus now, He will give you resurrection life now. But one day, He will give you a resurrection body. There is so much more about God’s saving work in Jesus ‘’to be revealed’’. C.S.Lewis wrote wonderfully about this reality, saying:

‘’…remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you can talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship…’ (From ‘The Weight of glory’).

The Christian has such an inheritance to look forward to. If someone left you money in a will, you might want to invest it in a bank, or on the stock-market, or in a pension or property etc. But we are seeing clearly today what we’ve always known, but didn’t really want to face: that such entities and institutions are fundamentally unstable, and subject to being battered by winds of change. Share prices can fall as well as rise. You can’t trust in wealth. It does ‘’perish, spoil’’ and ‘’fade’’ (4).

But if you put your confidence in Jesus, He will keep your inheritance safe in heaven, and He will also keep you safe for that inheritance (4,5). There’s a double-keeping going on.

PRAYER: In uncertain times, I want to thank you Lord for the security you give. Thank you that build my life on you is to build on Rock, and not on a foundation of sand.

 

 

 

1 Peter 1:2: ‘The Christian’s bar of soap.’

“Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ,To God’s elect, exiles, scattered throughout the provinces of Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia, who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to be obedient to Jesus Christ and sprinkled with his blood:Grace and peace be yours in abundance.” NIV

Reading 1 Peter previously, I have often been struck by the order:

‘’…chosen…to be obedient to Jesus Christ and sprinkled with his blood…’’

 I say this because, in our experience the order is reversed: we come to Jesus for cleansing first. We confess and repent of our sins and ask God’s forgiveness, trusting in what Jesus did for us when He died on the cross and shed His ‘’precious’’ blood (see verses 18-19 “18 For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.” NIV ). This is the doorway into a life of obedience – of pursuing holiness and godliness as a life-long goal. We must not read this verse as saying that if we obey Jesus we will get ‘’sprinkled with his blood’’ as a reward; as some kind of prize. No, we come to Jesus to be washed clean, and then we endeavour to live a life of obedience to Him, in His strength.

That said, although this may be a person’s new aim from the beginning of their Christian life, he/she will regularly fall short of it. So throughout the time of following Christ in this world, we will consistently need a ‘’sprinkling’’ (I’m sure you will appreciate that this is Bible language pointing to the sacrifice of Jesus, and receiving the benefits of it).

1 John 1:7 says:

‘‘ But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, His Son, purifies us from all sin.’’

 John goes on to say:

‘’If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.’’ (9). This verse has been called ‘the Christian’s bar of soap.’ You can probably see why.

Someone put it like this. They said, when you become a Christian you have a bath. That does not need to be repeated. But as you walk through this dirty, dusty world your feet get soiled. You pick up filth and it can cling. So you need to regularly have your feet washed. The good news is that you can.

THOUGHT: A time like this in which normal life is restricted to some extent, and we may spend more hours alone than we care to, can also be one in which we turn to God more in prayer. As we do so, it may well be that we see ourselves – our sins, our idols – all the more clearly. God does not want us to be bent under an excessive weight of guilt. We need to know that full and free cleansing is available. We can have our feet washed

 

1 Peter 1:2: He is Lord

“Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ,To God’s elect, exiles, scattered throughout the provinces of Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia, who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to be obedient to Jesus Christ and sprinkled with his blood:Grace and peace be yours in abundance.” NIV

As I said yesterday, there may be much about ‘election’ – God’s choosing people – that no human can explain. But although we may not be able to give lots of details about how it happens, the Bible is clear in talking about the why. There are God-given purposes for His people to live out in the world; there are destinies to be fulfilled.

Peter says Christians ‘’…have been chosen…for obedience to Jesus Christ…’’

Today we may be facing different circumstances within the overall call to isolate and live responsibly. Some are working from home; some are home-schooling children; some are having to juggle both. There are so many variables. Some people are facing economic challenges; others are battling with health issues unrelated to Covid-19. Then there are those who have to go out to work. They are front-line workers, and we are all so dependent on their service, and grateful for their dedication.

But wherever you are today, and whatever you are doing, may I encourage you to try to think through what ‘’obedience to Jesus Christ’’ looks like in your setting?

PRAYER: Lord, in your grace you have called me to yourself, AND you have called me to a great purpose. Teach me what it means to obey you today, right where you have planted me. Help me to do your will. As your disciple, it is what I want most of all in this life.

1 Peter 1:1-2: Wanted children!

“Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ,To God’s elect, exiles, scattered throughout the provinces of Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia, who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to be obedient to Jesus Christ and sprinkled with his blood: Grace and peace be yours in abundance.” NIV

There are mysteries to face in Christianity. In fact, there are many of them. Although our minds may find it hard to grasp all that is entailed in being ‘’…God’s elect…chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father…’’ our hearts can surely rest in the confidence it brings, and the sense of security it engenders. God has no unwanted children. There are no un-planned ‘births’ into the Kingdom. If someone is born again it is by Divine design.

Similarly, who can ever fully comprehend the doctrine of they Trinity? This is the truth that there is one God who exists eternally in three distinct Persons – the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Today, I don’t ask you to understand or explain it (if you could explain God would He be God?); I just encourage you to enjoy it. Delight in the fact that you have been brought into a relationship with each member of the Godhead. Revel in the knowledge. If you do, it will surely bring ‘abundant’ ‘’Grace and peace…’’ into your life.

‘Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy Him forever.’ (Westminster Shorter Catechism).

PRAYER: Almighty God, at a time when there is understandable fear in the air, I pray for myself, and for all my brothers and sisters in Christ, that our lives may be full of your grace and peace – that peace which is beyond explaining or understanding. I thank you that you have chosen to bring me into a friendship with the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. It is a privilege beyond any words.

 

1 Peter 1:1b: ‘Strangers’.

“Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ,To God’s elect, exiles, scattered throughout the provinces of Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia,” NIV

The other night I had a dream. I was in a city. I don’t know which one. Perhaps it was a composite of several. But I had this thought, ‘I really like it here!’ There was, perhaps, a sense of being reluctant to leave the familiar behind. However, in the next moment I found myself thinking something like this: ‘If I were in heaven I would realise that it is far better than anything I’ve known on earth.’

Peter says God’s people are ‘’strangers in the world.’’ Paul writes that ‘’our citizenship is in heaven’’ (Philippians 3:20). We have been born from above. As I often say, ‘We don’t belong here, and we won’t be long here. Not really. Life is fleeting. It is, as the Bible tells us, just a breath; it quickly disappears like the morning mist.

C.S. Lewis writes in ‘Mere Christianity’: ‘If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world. If none of my earthly pleasures satisfy it, that does not prove that the universe is a fraud. Probably earthly pleasures were never meant to satisfy it, but only to arouse it, to suggest the real thing. If that is so, I must take care, on the one hand, never to despise, or be unthankful for, these earthly blessings, and on the other, never to mistake them for something else of which they are only a kind of copy, or echo, or mirage. I must keep alive in myself the desire for my true country, which I shall not find till after death; I must never let it get snowed under or turned aside; I must make it the main object of life to press on to that other country and to help others do the same.’

PRAYER: ‘O Lord, you alone know what lies before me today; grant that in every hour I may stay close to you. Let me be in the world, but not of it. Let me use this world without abusing it…Do not let me embark on anything today that is not in line with your will for my life, nor shrink from any sacrifice that your will demands. Suggest, direct, and guide every movement of my mind; for my Lord Jesus Christ’s sake. Amen.’ (From ‘A diary of private prayer’ by John Baillie).

 

John 19:7: The satisfaction of the law.

John 19:7: The satisfaction of the law.

“7 The Jewish leaders insisted, ‘We have a law, and according to that law he must die, because he claimed to be the Son of God.’ NIV

”We have a law, and according to that law he must die, because he claimed to be the Son of God.”

There is no doubt that Jesus died because He claimed to be God. Whatever other reasons His enemies may have given; whatever other charges they brought, this was why they wanted Him dead. He claimed divinity, and that was just beyond the pale. He was a blasphemer and too bad for this world. That was their viewpoint. (Don’t forget that in the resurrection and ascension a ‘higher court’ was overturning the human verdict.)

It is ironic that Jesus died ”because he claimed to be the Son of God.” The truth is, only the Son of God could die for our sins. The hymn writer got to the heart of the matter:

”There was no other good enough to pay the price of sin. He only could unlock the gate of heaven and let us in.”

It was not their law! We have a way of calling ours what really belongs to God. For example we speak of ‘my’ church, or ‘our’ church, and we often behave like it is. But it’s not ours. And it was not their law. It was (and is) God’s law. According to this law we must die. We have broken it. We are ‘criminals’ before the law of God. But Jesus became the willing substitute to die in our place, taking for us the punishment our ‘crimes’ deserve.

God has a law and according to that law we must die. But now we can live because of the sacrifice of Jesus.

This is amazing grace.

PRAYER: ”Thank you Jesus for your love for me; thank you Jesus for your grace so free.”

1 Peter 1:1a: Do you know who you are?

Hello everyone and welcome. The book of 1 Peter begins with these words:

‘’Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ..’’

So here’s the first thought to came into my mind when I began to look at the opening part of this letter: PETER KNEW WHO HE WAS!

So did my friend Aziz (that’s what I’ll call him here). He was a member of another faith, but he became a Christian in a time of trouble. He was going through a personal crisis, and during it he asked Jesus to come into his life. He had been influenced by the words and example – and no doubt the prayers – of Christians he had rubbed shoulders with while studying at an English language school. Students were able to work to off-set their fees, and I remember seeing him pushing a wheelbarrow around the college grounds, smiling, and singing a well-known Christian song of the time: ‘I’m the son of a King, I am, I’m the son of a King…’ I don’t think his troubles had disappeared. But he was different.

If you’re a believer, one thing that can help you get through this time is knowing who are.

Who are you when your life is restricted and more hidden? When you can’t perform as you did before? When you can’t so obviously produce as you once did? Our culture seems to place so much value on what we produce and what we accumulate. The Coronavirus pulls the rug out from under much of that. What’s more, it was never a true measure of worth. Knowing who you are and what God has called you to do is so liberating.

If you are trusting in Jesus, you are a child of God. That is your true identity. Don’t lose sight of it.

PRAYER: Thank you Lord that the Bible clearly says that the people who receive Jesus become the children of God. Whatever may happen in the coming days, may I not lose sight of the fact that I am your child, and that my value in your sight is not based on anything I can do or earn. You are not impressed by status symbols. You just love your children and your Fatherly care extends to every detail of life. Thank you Heavenly Father.

 

John 19:8-10: Silence is golden.

John 19:8-10: Silence is golden.

“8 When Pilate heard this, he was even more afraid, and he went back inside the palace. ‘Where do you come from?’ he asked Jesus, but Jesus gave him no answer. 10 ‘Do you refuse to speak to me?’ Pilate said. ‘Don’t you realise I have power either to free you or to crucify you?’ NIV

”…but Jesus gave him no answer” (9b)

Here’s a saying I heard a few years back: ”No answer was the stern reply.” There is a place for such silence in human interactions.

There is no doubt about who is in control here and it is not Pilate. Silence can be intimidating. Pilate was no doubt used to people flattering him or fearing him, and perhaps a mixture of both. But Jesus was not scared of him, and that was possibly unnerving for Pilate. He wasn’t used to this. He seems out of his depth; way out of his comfort zone; thrown to some extent by the unique and mysterious figure stood before him – a man who ”claimed to be the Son of God” (7). I think Pilate sensed something very different in Jesus.

There is ”…a time to keep silence, and a time to speak…” (Ecclesiastes 3:7). It takes wisdom to know the difference.

We are not obligated to reply to every question.

We certainly don’t have to answer immediately.

On the other side of this, when asking questions of other people we can be too quick to fill in the silences. Perhaps It makes us feel awkward or embarrassed. But learn to let the question hang in the air sometimes.

Silence can be powerful.

”Know this, my beloved brothers, let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger…” (James 1:19; see Ecclesiastes 5:2)

John 19:7-16: ”Finally…”

John 19:7-16: ”Finally…”

“7 The Jewish leaders insisted, ‘We have a law, and according to that law he must die, because he claimed to be the Son of God.’When Pilate heard this, he was even more afraid, and he went back inside the palace. ‘Where do you come from?’ he asked Jesus, but Jesus gave him no answer. 10 ‘Do you refuse to speak to me?’ Pilate said. ‘Don’t you realise I have power either to free you or to crucify you?’11 Jesus answered, ‘You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above. Therefore the one who handed me over to you is guilty of a greater sin.’12 From then on, Pilate tried to set Jesus free, but the Jewish leaders kept shouting, ‘If you let this man go, you are no friend of Caesar. Anyone who claims to be a king opposes Caesar.’13 When Pilate heard this, he brought Jesus out and sat down on the judge’s seat at a place known as the Stone Pavement (which in Aramaic is Gabbatha). 14 It was the day of Preparation of the Passover; it was about noon.‘Here is your king,’ Pilate said to the Jews.15 But they shouted, ‘Take him away! Take him away! Crucify him!’‘Shall I crucify your king?’ Pilate asked.‘We have no king but Caesar,’ the chief priests answered.16 Finally Pilate handed him over to them to be crucified.” NIV

”The Jews insisted…the Jews kept shouting…But they shouted…” (7, 12 & 15).

You feel the insistence of the Jewish people as you read through this passage. Pilate doesn’t want them to win, but they just won’t back down. As we have seen, he first compromises, but then he capitulates. He has resisted to some extent; he has held out for a while. But there comes the dreadful, fateful ”Finally” (16)

”Pilate caved in to their demand” (The Message).

This is is how it is with us, is it not?

The voice of the WORLD is so insistent, telling us how we should look and what we ought to desire; where we should go and what we must do; attempting to squeeze us into its mould.

The voice of the FLESH is so insistent, craving within us, often with a red hot destructive desire, for things God forbids and knows will do us harm. We know we shouldn’t. It didn’t satisfy before, and really we know it will prove futile and shameful again. But still we head to the banks of the polluted stream, and stoop to drink the muddy waters. That voice cajoling us; seducing us into believing it’s a fresh, sparkling stream, is so insistent.

The voice of TEMPTATION is so insistent. The old serpent slithers once more into your garden, casts doubt on God’s Word, and proffers forbidden fruit. And we know the story well. We know it doesn’t have a good ending. But still we sink our teeth into the juicy looking specimen held out for the titillation of our taste buds…and again we are poisoned.

Like Pilate, if we first start to compromise with the insistent voices, we will end up capitulating, caving in. We will arrive at our ”Finally” moment.

But isn’t this inevitable? Frail, fallen, fragile creatures that we are, can anything better be expected of us?

Well I suppose the reality is that as broken people living in a broken world, we will often eat the food of failure. But that said, I have to believe that the victory of Christ on the cross means something for my daily life and my on-going struggle with temptation and sin. It is possible to refuse, to resist, to not give in to these raised, clamouring voices of the world, the flesh and the devil. We are seated with Christ in the heavenly realms (Ephesians 2:1-11). If the devil and the powers are under Jesus’ feet, and we are ”in” Him, they are under our feet also. Therefore a different ”Finally” is possible (Ephesians 6:10ff). Don’t settle for a defeatist attitude. Jesus’ death deserves a different response.

PRAYER: Thank you Lord that my fight is not for victory but FROM victory. Teach me please to stand in your triumph.

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