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Free Daily Bible notes by Rev Stephen Thompson


2 Corinthians Bible thoughts

Daily Bible thoughts 610: Tuesday 6th May 2014:

 2 Corinthians 5: 3-12

”We try to live in such a way that no one will be hindered from finding the Lord by the way we act, and so no one can find fault with our ministry. In everything we do we try to show that we are true ministers of God.” (3, 4a). Here you have a fine personal mission statement for every church leader to adopt. Paul recognised that it’s not just about speaking, but ‘living’, ‘acting’ and ‘showing’. If what people see in your conduct contradicts what you say in your sermons you are going to have a big credibility problem. Here, then, are some hallmarks to be found in a ministry of integrity:

  • Patience in troubles (4b, 5): Hardships will be faced by every faithful leader. It ‘goes with the territory’ as they say. Very few of us in the West know anything of the intensity of the difficulties faced by Paul and certain of his colleagues. But whatever comes our way will still be painful to us. Even if you are only run over by a single-decker bus (whereas Paul got hit by a double-decker), it’s still a bus and it will injure you. But patience in trying circumstances shows a vital connection with the Holy Spirit, as He grows His fruit in you.
  • Commitment to holiness (6): These character traits all speak of the presence and power of the Holy Spirit within you and show you to be the genuine article. It is possible to translate part of this verse as: ”We have proved ourselves by…the holiness of spirit.” It’s good to remember that no-one drifts into holiness. (Note in verse 7 how ”righteousness’ ‘ is both an offensive and defensive weapon. See Eph. 6:13)
  • Faithfully preaching God’s Word (7): There could be a temptation to go quiet and seek out a hiding place when you suffer so much for what you say.
  • God’s power at work in you (7b):
  • Serving as a good soldier of Jesus Christ (7c): You are willing to engage in the spiritual battle. You are not a ‘chocolate soldier’ who melts in the heat of the fight.
  • Serving whatever comes your way (8-10): Even though a gale is blowing against you, you keep on going into the teeth of the biting wind. Nothing can stop you because God has called you.

We can’t reproduce for ourselves the context in which Paul lived and served, nor would we want to. But where we are, where God has called us to be, let us determine, as leaders to be faithful in the way Paul was, so that the way we live is never a stumbling block to anyone.

Prayer: May my life never become a blockage, getting in the way of others who are seeking you Lord. I pray rather that I may be a clean channel through whom you can flow.


Daily Bible thoughts 604: Monday 28th April 2014:

 2 Corinthians 5:11- 6:2

At the heart of the Easter faith there is this stupendous truth, expressed in (21), which has been called ‘the great exchange.’ All our sin was laid on Jesus, and we are given His righteousness when we respond positively to the gospel call to”Be reconciled to God.” (20). Someone said that at the cross it was as if Jesus became the world’s greatest sinner. When a person chooses to be reconciled to God, He sees them as being as sinless as Jesus from that moment on. Their sins are no longer counted against them (19).It’s a totally unfair exchange, but it is one Christ is totally willing to make out of His compelling love for us (14). ”God put the wrong on him who never did anything wrong, so we could be put right with God.” The Message.

Once you become a Christian you realise that your life is no longer your own. You’ve been bought with a price (15). You don’t just get a new start in life, but a new life to start with (17). Conversion is not about turning over a new leaf but receiving a new life.So as a brand new person you are equipped to live in a radically different way to the glory of God.

Part of this living for Jesus is a recognition that you are His ‘ambassador’ (20), through whom God will speak to the world about the ”reconciliation” He has already brought about in Christ (18, 19). What has been achieved must now be announced. God has given to the church ”the ministry of reconcilation” (18) and ‘‘has committed to us the message of reconciliation” (19). An ambassador is the highest representative of one country in the heart of another. We are citizens of heaven (Phil.3: 20) but we represent our ‘Government’ and King here on earth. We are authorised to be here and speak for Him, although our ambassadorial message will not always be well received (Eph.6: 20).

So, as ambassadors we will speak. That is a non-negotiable part of our role. We will speak with a conviction that Christ died for all (14). We will recognise that the church therefore has a responsibility to go to all with this message. ”God has given us the task of telling everyone what he is doing.” The Message.

But our lives will also speak (11, 12). There will be no credibility gap between our talk and our walk. We will seek to live in a way that embodies our verbal message. As ambassadors we will experience criticism (13). There will be those who dismiss us as ‘fruit cakes’ and say all manner of bad things about us in order to discredit the message they obviously fear. We are to expect such treatment. If it doesn’t come our way, or not much of it, we must realise that this is an abnormal situation. We can also add that love (indeed Christ’s own love: 14) will be our ‘motive power’. This is what will cause us to get ‘steam up’ and move steadily forward.

Prayer: Thank you Lord Jesus for the fire of your love burning in my ‘boiler’. Cause that fire to blaze ever more furiously.


Daily Bible thoughts 597: Thursday 17th April 2014:

 2 Corinthians 5: 5 – 10

Eternal life begins the moment a person believes in Jesus. This is one of the key messages in John’s gospel. You don’t have to wait until you die to receive it. But it will only be fully entered into at death. So there will always be something of an aching and longing in our hearts while we reside on earth, because God has made us for a purpose that cannot be fully realised in this world of time and sense. We have been made for resurrection life; an eternity in God’s presence (5). In our DNA we know we have a higher purpose. He is the first instalment, the down payment of heaven. Someone said: ‘How do you know you’re going to heaven?’ The answer is: ‘You’ve got a little bit of heaven inside you right now!’ You have ‘heaven on the way to heaven’. A deposit is a part of the full amount and also a commitment that you will receive the remainder. It is a promise. Furthermore, the Holy Spirit is the ”deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.(On this subject see also 2 Cor.1:21, 22 and Eph.1:14). ”We’ve been given a glimpse of the real thing, our true home, our resurrection bodies! The Spirit of God whets our appetite by giving us a taste of what’s ahead. He puts a little of heaven in our hearts so that we’ll never settle for less. The Message.

Believing in this resurrection future and seeing it just over the horizon, makes the heart skip a beat. The conviction provides a confidence (6, 8) for while we are still living in this world. We have a sense, while we still live in the body that a day is coming when we will actually be in the glorious eternal presence of Jesus. (It is not surprising, then, to find Paul writing as he did in Phil. 1:21, 23, especially when you go on to read verse 8 in this chapter.)

”That’s why we live with such good cheer. You won’t see us drooping our heads or dragging our feet! Cramped conditions here don’t get us down. They only remind us of the spacious living conditions ahead.” The Message.

None of this can be proved in a scientific sense of course: ”We live by faith, not by sight. ” The world says, ”Seeing is believing” but the Christian says ”Believing is seeing.” Jesus can so prove Himself to you that ‘you know that you know that you know’ and can say, ”Therefore we are always confident…”

Whether we are in this world or the next, the whole purpose of life is to please Jesus, and we are going to be assessed and held accountable for how we have lived and served (9, 10). So not only does the thought of seeing Jesus provide an encouragement to cheerfully press on through everything we face on earth, it also acts as a moral spur to live straight and clean. This great hope we have is both exciting and sobering.

‘’When the time comes, we’ll be plenty ready to exchange exile for homecoming…Cheerfully pleasing God is the main thing, and that’s what we aim to do, regardless of our conditions.’’ The Message.

Prayer: Thank you risen Lord Jesus for this Easter hope. May it live in my heart every day of the year.


Daily Bible thoughts 596: Wednesday 16th April 2014:

 2 Corinthians 5: 1 – 4 (see also Ro.8:18-27)

Life on earth is temporary (1; see also 2 Peter 1:13). For almost a decade, I worked on a youth camp in the Lake District for ten days each summer. I loved camp. But it was not home. Camp was temporary. As much as I enjoyed it, I was always delighted to drive off the camp site for another year and head in the direction of a hot bath and proper bed! I had a temporary tent on a camp ground in Pardshaw, Cumbria, but I also had a proper house in Lower Wortley, Leeds, and I knew what I preferred. For a short time I just about lived in my ‘wellies’! That had to change; it was intolerable to think that such a state of affairs might persist!!

…we know that when these bodies of ours are taken down like tents and folded away, they will be replaced by resurrection bodies in heaven…and we’ll never have to relocate our ”tents” again.” The Message. As Christians, we have a conviction about resurrection life in a resurrected body. We can say ”…we know…” and that knowing has made every Christian funeral I have conducted or attended different to other kinds. We know that life on earth is temporary. ”This world is not my home; I’m just a passin’ through…” as country singer ‘gentleman’ Jim Reeves put it. We also know we have something far better and more solid to come. We are going to exchange the flimsy (”tent”) for the substantial (”building”); we are going to leave behind the ‘‘earthly’’ for the ”eternal”; we will swap the ”mortal” for ”life” (4).

One morning, on our camp site, a herd of cows came through the field. I dread to think what would have happened if they had trodden on the tents (and the children and young people occupying them). As I recall the event this morning, I can only thank God for His miraculous protection at the time. Tents are easily ”destroyed”. It would be a different matter for a cow to walk into a brick-built house.

So, life in this world is temporary, and while we are down here, as much as we may enjoy all the delightful things God so richly provides for us, nothing ever fully satisfies. There is in our hearts an aching; a craving for what is to come. We know deep inside that as good as it gets in this world (and it can be wonderful), there is something more and better. ”Sometimes we can hardly wait to move – and so we cry out in frustration. Compared to what’s coming, living conditions around here seem like a stopover in an unfurnished shack, and we’re tired of it. We’ve been given a glimpse of the real thing, our true home, our resurrection bodies!” The Message.

Prayer: Thank you Lord for the Easter message and the glorious light it shines on our way.


Daily Bible thoughts 586: Wednesday 2nd April 2014:

 2 Corinthians 4:13 – 18

Four things stand out here to my mind:

  • Spoken message (13): Speaking should be a consequence of believing. Look at the repeated therefore in this verse.It indicates cause and effect: if there is belief in the heart, there will also be confession with the lips (Romans 10:9, 10). If we believe it we will live it. Our beliefs will be reflected in our behaviour. (So, for example, if I believe it is going to rain today I will probably carry an umbrella or waterproof coat.) But they will also be expressed in speech. Out of the overflow of our hearts our mouths will speak. We’re not keeping this quiet, not on your life. Just like the psalmist who wrote, ”I believed it, so I said it,” we say what we believe. The Message.
  •  Future hope/glory (14, 17 and 18): We have this great belief, and why would we keep quiet about it? Our doctrinal understanding is that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you in his presence. Wouldn’t you want to shout that from the rooftops? One day we are going to be with Christ, which is better by far (Phil.1:23). We are going to see Jesus face to face and be with Him forever. We will also be with all our brothers and sisters in God’s family. We’ll be united and re-united in that wonderful heavenly home. Such a conviction will not only be spoken out loud; it will also carry you through the toughest of times. It will give you a perspective, so that can see experiences such as those described in 4:8-12 as light and momentary troubles (17). You will recognise that there will be a reward coming that far outweighs all this trouble. These hard times are small potatoes compared to the coming good times, the lavish celebration prepared for us. The Message. You are enabled to understand that today is temporary, but we are moving towards an eternal tomorrow.
  • Present worship (15): Paul could not only see that these sufferings would ‘achieve’ something in terms of eternal reward (17). He could also assert that they are productive now. Through the pain-filled ministries of Paul and the other apostles, more and more people were coming to experience God’s grace. As the gospel advanced triumphantly, all-be-it amid suffering, and the church grew, there was overflowing thankfulness given to God.
  • Inner renewal (16): This is the second time in this chapter that we hear Paul saying: Therefore we do not lose heart (see 1). As we have already seen, Paul wasn’t thinking primarily about the outward wasting away that comes from age taking its toll. Admittedly that does happen. But Paul had in mind the constant battering from opponents of the gospel. How he suffered at the hands of antagonistic people (both Jews and Gentiles.) But whilst the wrecking ball was bashing him on the outside, an inner renovation was taking place every day. Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without his unfolding grace. The Message. The reality of this truth can encourage us all, so that we too, in our struggles, do not lose heart.

Prayer: Thank you Lord Jesus that what we have in you is not something to keep quiet about. We do not have ‘the right to remain silent’, but a responsibility to tell. Help us to do this.


Daily Bible thoughts 585: Tuesday 1st April 2014:

 2 Corinthians 4:7-12

We Christians look fragile; we are fragile (7). We no doubt feel our fragility more and more keenly as the years go by and the aging process takes its toll. (Although for Paul and his colleagues, it wasn’t getting old that caused them to feel fragile, but the persecutions they suffered.) So when all-surpassing power is seen to be at work in and through us, it is obvious that this is God’s and not inherently our own. It is clear that we are unimpressive, basic earthenware pots. We are so easily cracked, but when that happens what is inside us spills out. Paul says that we carry about treasure that is far more splendid than the outer casing. That ‘treasure’ is the gospel of the glory of Christ (4). We carry an infinitely precious jewel within a most ordinary jewellery box. If you only look at us, you might well miss the brightness. We carry this precious Message around in the unadorned clay pots of our ordinary lives. That is to prevent anyone from confusing God’s incomparable power with us. The Message. The whole point is that God should receive all the glory from our frail lives. (See also Is.64:8 and 2 Cor.12:9).


There is an interesting repetition of the words but not in (8, 9). The mighty power of God within us does not allow these negative things to do to us what otherwise might be expected. The pot may be cracked (many times over), but it won’t be smashed, and the life and power will seep out through the cracks. We’ve been surrounded and battered by troubles, but we’re not demoralized; we’re not sure what to do, but we know that God knows what to do; we’ve been spiritually terrorized, but God hasn’t left our side; we’ve been thrown down, but we haven’t broken. The Message. No doubt you too can say but not. You have come through trials. There have been great losses; you have experienced sadness and difficulty; your heart has been torn with much pain. But none of this has deflected you from loving God and following Jesus. It has just created more cracks for the glory to shine through.


There is this paradox lying at the heart of the Christian faith, of life through death (10, 11). In fact it is a double paradox because it is life…revealed in a mortal body. If you want people to be able to see the life of Jesus now in this body of yours; a body that will one day die; then you’re going to have to be prepared to go to the cross one way or another. R.T.Kendall has said that the key to anointing is suffering. I believe that is Biblically true. Resurrection life bursts out of those who experience the sharpness of the nails and thorns and the roughness of the cross. My problem is that I would like to know the power without the pain (especially that of persecution.)


Any dying we do in the course of our lives and ministries is for the sake of others (12). Someone described Jesus as ‘the Man for others.’ To truly follow Him in this world will mean being a man (or woman) for others. While we’re going through the worst, you’re getting in on the best. The Message.


There was a man who filled up a vessel with water every day, and carried it from the well. But his pot had a crack in it. After a while he noticed that all along the path he walked from the well to the house, flowers were springing up where he was inadvertently watering them. They were benefitting from the cracked pot! I don’t particularly like these cracks, or the things that cause them. But may God use them to bless others and glorify His Name.


Prayer: Help us, Lord Jesus, to understand that we cannot know an outflow of your resurrection life and power without a willingness to share your cross. Strengthen us to be willing to die so that the stone may once more roll away.


Daily Bible thoughts 584: Monday 31st March 2014:

 2 Corinthians 4:1-6
Here are some marks of an authentic ministry. There are things you do not do:

  • You do not lose heart (1): You recognise that you’re in this ministry because of God’s calling. It’s a privilege you do not deserve. He got you into this and He will help you in it and through it. He will enable you to finish strong if you keep looking to Him. Since God has so generously let us in on what he is doing, we’re not about to throw up our hands and walk off the job just because we run into occasional hard times. The Message. You might have a lot of rubbish tipped over you, like Paul did, but you focus on God and don’t give up. After all, He’s the One who gives genuine success and changes lives (6). Paul recognised that he was a Christian because of a sovereign work of God. What the Lord had done for him He could also do for others.
  • You do not go down the way of trickery, dishonesty and manipulation (2a): like Nathanael, you will be without guile (John 1:47).You are straightforward and easy to deal with, not slippery as an eel (or serpent?!) You refuse to get sucked into politics and power struggles. Such things should not have any place in genuine Christian lives and churches. You will not try to twist arms and resort to under hand tactics. You will pray and trust God to work things out. You’re not in it for yourself or to climb any perceived career ladder. You know that the highest position in the kingdom of God is that of a ‘servant’ (5). We refuse to wear masks and play games, We don’t maneuver and manipulate behind the scenes. The Message.
  • You do not tinker under the bonnet of truth in order to change things, however subtly (2b). You know it is not your job to dilute the Scriptures to taste or change them in any way. What they say may prove unpopular, but you will stick to the script handed to you like superglue. And we don’t twist God’s Word to suit ourselves. The Message.
  • You do not use the pulpit to glorify yourself (5). This is not about you. It never has been; never will be.

There are some things you do do:

  • You clearly and plainly state the truth (2c): In your ministry you aim for utter clarity. You are not a philosopher using words that obscure, like opaque glass. Your words are like freshly cleaned windows. The light shines through them.
  • You preach Jesus Christ as Lord (5): At every opportunity you lift up His Name, and not your own. Remember, our Message is not about ourselves, we’re proclaiming Jesus Christ, the Master. All we are is messengers, errand runners from Jesus for you. The Message.
  • You live as a servant (5b), and not as some petty autocratic tyrant, lording it over others in what is, after all, Christ’s church.
  • You minister always in the sight of God (2c). You know that you are completely under scrutiny and you will, ultimately, be held accountable.
  • You live with a sense of reality (3, 4). It’s tough out there on the ‘mission field’. You acknowledge the fact. This is a fallen world, and the devil has successfully blindfolded people so that they cannot see the wonder and beauty of Jesus; they are unable to see who He is or why He came into the world. They’re stone-blind to the dayspring brightness of the Message that shines with Christ, who gives us the best picture of God we’ll ever get. The Message. So you know you will meet resistance to your preaching. There will be both antagonism and apathy. There will be disappointment and discouraging times. But, in it all…
  • You serve with the understanding that God is real, and He can turn the light on in any heart (6; see also Genesis 1:1-3 and 2 Cor.5:17). He can and He does. We see it happening everywhere: sheer miracles of grace; people saying, ‘I can’t explain it, but whereas once I was blind, now I see.’ If someone like Saul of Tarsus could be enlightened, it could happen to anyone.

Prayer: Thank you Lord that all opportunities for ministry come from you; let all the glory go to you.


Daily Bible thoughts 573: Friday 14th March 2014:

 2 Corinthians 3:12 – 18

Christianity is not an ‘undercover’ operation (12, 13). We are not in hiding; we don’t wear a disguise. We don’t slink around at the edges of society trying to avoid detection. Unlike Moses, we have nothing to hide. Everything is out in the open with us. The Message. I like the comment made by John White that Christian witness is about honesty, plain and simple. We are who we are: followers of Christ, and we are not trying to pretend otherwise. We want the glory of the gospel to be reflected in our lives, and we know that this is an ever-increasing glory (18) and not one that is fading away (13). We are going to let our light shine before men and not hide it under a bucket.

However bright the light of Christ may shine out of a Christian life, it will not be seen (not truly seen) or understood by people who are not Christians, until their eyes are supernaturally opened to it (14 – 16). Paul here continues with the veil theme, and he says regarding his fellow Jews that they are unable to see the truth when the Old Testament is read. They are spiritually blind. But whenever a person turns to the Lord, they have an eye-opening experience (16). They can say that once they were blind, but now they can see. (Look how this theme runs on into 4:1-6). We can take heart that someone who we know and love, and who is unable to see the truth about Jesus today (perhaps a friend or neighbour or colleague or relative) may ‘see the light’ tomorrow. Whenever anyone does it is a miracle. Christian conversion is about turning people from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God.

Once we get to know the Lord Jesus, and we’re in a ‘face to face’ relationship with Him (reflect can be translated behold), we are changed increasingly to be like Him (17, 18). The Holy Spirit’s work in sanctification causes each Christian to shine ever more brightly with the glory of Christ. The literal idea in (18) is that we are ‘transfigured’. The Greek word employed by Paul is one from which we derive our word ‘metamorphosis.’ This big, complicated sounding word describes the amazing process by which a caterpillar is changed into a butterfly. When someone becomes a Christian they commence a similar process. And so we are transfigured much like the Messiah, our lives gradually becoming brighter and more beautiful as God enters our lives and we become like him. The Message.

Each day, you can have your own personal transfiguration as you worship the Lord and yield to the Spirit. Warren W. Wiersbe: With the Word, p.758.

There is a paradox seen in (17, 18). It speaks of the ‘Lordship of the Spirit’, you might say. But where the Holy Spirit is in control of a life there is freedom (or liberty ). There was a lot of talk about ‘liberty’ in the Pentecostal church circles I moved in when I was a teenager. Often, what these dear people seemed to be referring to was a certain liveliness in the preacher (that might make him particularly fluent, and loud!!) or in the congregation (with similar results!). Some years later I discovered that the freedom of the Spirit, according to the New Testament, is a  freedom to become more like Jesus. This will happen when we are under the rule of the Holy Spirit. So when we are most led by Him we will be most truly free.

Prayer: Lord make my life a mirror to reflect your rays into this dark world.

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