Duddingston Kirk, Edinburgh
Services: Sundays 10.30 am, Wednesdays 10 am
Numbers are limited – advance booking essential
Bible Reading Notes
These notes were compiled by the Reverend Dr James A P Jack. You will find reading the Bible rewarding and encouraging, but reading the Bible is not always easy!
These guidelines may help you.
July 25th Romans 11:33-12:3
It is possible to know about the love of God and the desirability of living a Christ-like life. But God does not just want us to know about this, God wants us to live it as well. It is therefore necessary for us to make a decision, as Paul, to “try to be like Christ”.
July 26th Philippians 4:1-9
Paul is encouraging the Church to be living examples of the faith. Note he is not saying, “try to fill your minds” but he states “Fill you minds”. These virtues are not optional extras, they are the ingredients of the life of faith.
July 27th Galatians 6:1-6
Helping to carry one another’s burdens is surely one obvious mark of the Christian fellowship. TO THINK ABOUT- Why should I bother carrying other folks burdens when I have enough of my own?
July 28th Galatians 6:7-10
We reap what we sow. Our fellowship is what we make of it. If our love is cold and un-welcoming then it is up to us to get God back into our heart. We can do that by bringing that which we ourselves have been given to offer it to others also.
July 29th John 15:1-4
Any gardener will need to prune the dead branches in order that new life may come. We are encouraged to remain in the vine that is Jesus that we may bear fruit as part of God’s vine and that we should be prepared for pruning as well. It is good to ask what parts of my life need pruning in order that my spiritual life may go on to produce even more fruit?
July 30th John 15:5-10
“For you can do nothing without me”, says Jesus. Everything we do in our spiritual lives must be in Christ. For we can do nothing that is of God without Jesus. “If I have no love”, says Paul, “then I am nothing”.
July 31st John 15:11-17
We are encouraged to enrich life through love. This is not a human love but a love inspired by God and seen in Christ. That is a sacrificial love that is prepared to die for the love of another. It is this deep and rich love that enables our lives to be fulfilled and complete.
August 1st Acts 13.36-43
When the apostles spread out from Jerusalem with the Gospel of Christ their central theme was of the resurrection of Christ. But they did more than relate the fact of that resurrection. They also told of what it meant to be sinful men and women. On the cross the debt had been paid and sinners were forgiven – “It is through Jesus that the message about the forgiveness of sins is preached to you, and everyone who believes in him is set free from all the sins from which the law of Moses could not free you.”
August 2nd 1John 1.1-10
See v.9 – “If we confess our sins to God, he will keep his promise and do what is right.” God’s offer of forgiveness is based on a promise and we benefit from that promise by confessing our sins. It is not enough to acknowledge that one is a sinner. There must be a real and genuine desire to be forgiven.
“FORGIVE THOSE WHO SIN AGAINST US”
August 3rd Colossians 3.12-17
As we meet with others in the context of home, work and social activities it is inevitable that there will be misunderstandings, disagreements, and even more serious rifts between individuals. From such small beginnings hatred, and even violence, may develop. It is therefore necessary that such misunderstandings be cleared up, and the earlier the better. A willingness to forgive others is essential. What Christ taught his followers on this was no more than plain common sense.
August 4th Genesis 45.1-15
Here is a great example of human forgiveness. As a child his brothers rejected Joseph. After being sold into slavery he had endured all kinds of hurt and misunderstanding. If any man had cause to seek vengeance on his brothers then that man was Joseph. What an opportunity it was for him when they came pleading for food. Yet he embraced them, wept for joy at being reconciled, and made arrangements for them to begin a new life in Egypt. One who can forgive brothers like this can have no qualms about the Heavenly Father’s forgiveness.
August 5th Acts 7.54-60
Yesterday we thought of human forgiveness after a lifetime of suffering and rejection. Stephen’s experience was different. It was much shorter, but it was violent in the extreme – leading even to death, yet in the moment of death he freely forgave those men of violence. In his dying words there is echoed our Lord’s forgiveness of those who crucified him.
“LEAD US NOT INTO TEMPTATION”
August 6th 2Corinthians 11.1-4
This phrase in the Lord’s Prayer is hard to understand since it seems to suggest that it is God who leads us into temptation, and we are asking him not to do it!! Such interpretation is clearly wrong. Paul helps us to a better understanding when he writes “I am afraid that your minds will be corrupted and that you will abandon your full and pure devotion to Christ.”
“DELIVER US FROM EVIL”
August 7th Ephesians 6.10-20
There is in the world an Evil Power whose great ambition is to gain power over all mankind. That may sound like some old fashioned theology, but it is true. There is no other answer to the many evils to which mankind is so vulnerable. The great tragedy is that we cannot combat such evil in our own strength. Good intentions and high motives are not enough. Only when we are ‘armoured’ with the power of God can we have any confidence in this great spiritual battle in which we are placed.
“PREACHING THE WORD”
August 8th 1Thessalonians 2.1-16
Acts 16.9-17.9 gives us the background to this passage. In both Philippi and Thessalonica Paul had found opposition to his preaching of the Word. There were Jews who could not accept that Jesus was the Messiah, the Son of God. Nor could they accept that God would care for non-Jews like the Thessalonians. Wherever the Gospel is truly proclaimed it is opposed by those whose minds are hardened against it.
August 9th 2Thessalonians 2.13-3.5
Through the Good News preached by Paul the Thessalonians were “saved by the Spirit’s power”. Where the Gospel is truly preached there is not only opposition but also those who respond in faith and so enter into the new covenant relationship with God through his Son, Jesus Christ.
August 10th Acts 6:1-7 II Timothy 2.14-26
How easily those who are called to do God’s work can be converted from their main task to activities which have little or no value. When this happens “God’s Word lies forgotten.” The temptation to become involved in all of these is with us all the time. Notice particularly v.2.
September 11th Psalm 23
Today we remember the cost of freedom and the spiritual opposition that exists in the world today.
August 12th 2Corinthians 5.11-21
There are two great verses in this passage. v.2 says that where God’s Word is truly proclaimed “it is as though God himself were making his appeal through us”. And the theme of that appeal is found in v.19 – “Our message is that God was making all mankind His friends through Christ”. This is what preaching is all about – all people being reconciled to God. Please pray that more and more preachers will see the urgency of their work, and that more will join them in that work.
August 13th Thessalonians 1.2-10
V.5 reminds us that where God’s Word is truly proclaimed, then it is no mere fine speech or helpful essay – it is proclaimed “with power and the Holy Spirit and with complete conviction of its truth”. Having been convinced of the truth of the Gospel, themselves they became an example to others. The “hearer” of the Gospel must themselves become a “speaker” of the Gospel.
“FELLOWSHIP IN THE CHURCH”
August 14th Hebrews 13.1-9
Only on a desert island can a Christian be alone. Otherwise we must, by our faith, be in fellowship with fellow believers, be kindly disposed to strangers, be in an even closer bond with your marriage partner, be ever grateful to those who guided you into the Christian faith.
August 15th James 5.7-12
The great saints of God are “examples of patient endurance under suffering”. To maintain a holy fellowship is far more important than “getting your own back”, or ensuring that you “get your rights”.
August 16th 1Timothy 2.1-15
One essential element in such Christian fellowship is sharing in public worship. Going to Church is not an option that the Christian may or may not exercise.
It is a duty we must honour always, except when prevented by genuine illness. Worship is a time when “petitions, prayers, requests and thanksgivings be offered to God for all people”. It is also a time for teaching and learning.
August 17th 1Timothy 3.1-13
What an awesome responsibility is laid upon all of us who are members of the Church – Members, Minister, Elders, Sunday Club teachers, leaders of praise, office bearers in all the organizations, helpers of every kind – those who “are able to speak boldly about their faith in Christ Jesus”. There are no “sleeping partners” in the Christian fellowship.
August 18th Titus 1.5-16
Our homes are out-stations of the Christian Church and there is a real sense in which they are out-posts in enemy country. Titus was called by God to work amongst people who were notorious for their lying, their laziness and their wickedness. It was in this kind of situation that Christian homes were being established. The Christian looks to heaven as their home, but in this life we are still on the field where the battle of life is being fought.
August 19th Titus 2.1-8
The Christian can only be defended in life’s battle by the truth. False beliefs, vain reliance on tradition – these are defenses which are easily broken by the enemy.
August 20th 1Peter 5.1-11
The unknown author of Hebrews, James, Paul and now Peter – all are saying the same thing. All are saying that individual Christians are bound together in a fellowship that is the Church. In v.8 Peter likens the Evil One to an enemy who “roams around like a roaring lion”. This is the experience of men and women of faith down through the centuries.
“RELATIONSHIPS WITH OTHERS”
August 21st Ephesians 5.21 – 6.4
Our relationships with others begin with the family. But relationships are two-way affairs. Christian wives gladly submit to husbands who love and protect as husbands should. It is not submission alone, but submission to love and protection. Is it true that respectful obedience within a family leads to stability and prosperity within the nation?
August 22nd 1Peter 2.11-16
Wives and husbands, children and parents, servants and masters – now subjects and emperors. Sometimes the Church has been the civil authority; sometimes the Church has refused to recognize the civil authority, but the teaching of the New Testament is that the Church “respect the Emperor” – and this is in spite of the fact that the early Church had already suffered greatly at the hands of the civil authorities.
August 23rd 1Corinthians 6.12-20
Some relationships are beautiful and bring glory to God. Other relationships are distinctly harmful. Illicit sexual behaviour is forbidden to the Christian, not simply because such behaviour is wrong, but because the Christian places such a high value on his whole being – “Don’t you know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit?” How jealously we guard our precious possessions. Is anything more precious than that which God has created?
August 24th 1Corinthians 7.1-16
Some verses seem to indicate that Paul is against marriage – but that is only because Paul would be free of all other relationships in order to concentrate on his one relationship with Almighty God. Nevertheless, he acknowledges and respects the relationship of marriage. vv.3-5 all point to the unique relationship between husband and wife. But it is vv.12-16 where the sheer wonder of God’s love is almost too much for us to grasp. God is prepared to accept an unbelieving husband or wife who is married to a believing partner. Moreover, their children are acceptable to God also. Truly, there is no love like the love of Jesus.
August 25th 2Thessalonians 3.6-15
A different kind of relationship – relationship within the community. A community, like a marriage, can only survive if everyone is pulling his or her weight. Christians should see their responsibility to work for the community as clearly as their responsibility to worship and obey God.
August 26th Romans 13.1-7
Responsibility within the community leads to responsibility within the nation. Many who engage in anarchy simply do not realize what they are doing. To destroy the state is to return to the jungle. Christians look to their final home in Heaven, but in this life they are dedicated to making life full.
August 27th 1Corinthians 13.1-13
This passage speaks for itself. v.4-7 is as accurate a definition of love as it is possible to find anywhere. Notice v.12. Even the clearest vision of God we have in this life is but a dull image compared with what we will one day see when we see God face to face.
August 28th Mark 12.28-34
Last week we were thinking of relationships. There are two here – our relationship with God, and with our neighbour, and both are founded on love. But notice the quality of that love. It involves our total emotion, our total intellectual understanding, our total physical strength. When we love God and our neighbour as a Christian should, there is nothing left in reserve. At that point we are not far from the Kingdom of God.
August 29th John 13.30-35
Here again is a reference to the followers of Jesus loving one another. But notice the new dimension – their love for one another is no more than a response to the love that Christ their Master has for them. What a fantastic thought – that Christ, the Son of God, should love me with all His heart, with all His mind and with all His strength.
August 30th John 2. 7-17
Love is not an abstract thing – it must always be directed at something. I cannot just love – I must love someone or something. Now there are many things in the world which excite our love. A person may have a great love for material things – but, if they have, they cannot offer to God the love that God requires. All else in this world will pass away. It is only when we are in tune with the Almighty through love that we touch that which is eternal and unchanging.
August 31st John 15:8-12
All of the Old Testament commandments could be rendered obsolete if we were to truly take Jesus commandment to love one another seriously. The love that Jesus offers us is not easy, it is sacrificial, which means he was prepared to die for us that his love may dwell within us. This is true love.