A short verse and comment for each day of the month
A BAM Publication
Written by Maurice Paine and Andy Paine
and published as a booklet
THE BY ALL MEANS GOSPEL TRUST
P O Box 7778 Solihull B92 7AG (UK)
BAM 163 Month 2
“while it was still dark”John 20:1(NIV)
Whether this refers to the time Mary left home or when she arrived at the tomb doesn’t matter. The reality was that the darkness of the night couldn’t stop something stirring within that made her get up and go to the tomb on that first Resurrection Sunday. As a result, she was amongst the first Mary to encounter a risen Saviour.
There’s a lot of darkness around us today that can cause us to hole up and keep our heads down. But Christ is risen! The Light has overcome the darkness and we need to declare it. Let’s not wait for an easier time. Let’s not be intimidated by the darkness of sin. Let’s follow Mary’s example and respond to the stirring of the Holy Spirit within and get up and go out to a world that needs to know that Jesus is alive! AP
“But it displeased Jonah exceedingly” Jonah 4:1
There are other sides to Jonah’s story besides his conflict with the great fish, that are recorded for us to take note.
He rebelled against God’s call to send him to Nineveh, and when the Ninevites responded to his preaching and repented and were spared God’s judgment, he was displeased.
His complaint was that God had sent him all that way with a threatening message that the Lord never had any intention of fulfilling.
His attitude illustrates the way we easily become wrong in our thinking and how what should bring us pleasure becomes a misery.
He had more lessons to learn about life as does everyone who tries to live without love for people.
“And not many days after” Luke 15:13
When we get an idea into our head we usually want to get on with it no matter how wild it is. Like a horse with the bit between its teeth, there’s no stopping us. That is what happened to the prodigal son. Once his father had divided his legacy to him, he was up and gone. Not many days after suggests it was as short as it takes to gather things together. When we are like that it is a good job that God puts some blocks in our way.
Sometimes the rope we are given lets us spend all we have and hang ourselves in poverty and misery.
Not many days may be the time taken to leave but a much longer time slot to come to ourselves again. We praise Him He has His hand on our lives.
“he has filled him with the Spirit of God, with skill, ability and knowledge” Exodus 35:30(NIV)
You might have said that Bezalel was a clever and intelligent chap among the Israelite workers but this verse quickly reminds us that all his skill, ability and knowledge were given him by the Lord. The same can be said of all good gifts and they become so much more when we give their use back to the Lord in His service. What we do with the talent He gives is worship in itself.
Sometimes there is the need to pray that the Lord will show us what He would have us do. There is no tabernacle in the wilderness as Bezalel had, but there is something just as useful in God’s economy for each one of us.
You may feel you don’t have much but giving it to the Lord multiplies small things beyond what you could imagine.
“Thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ” II Corinthians 2:14(RAV)
God’s victories come to us through Christ. Any access to God we make can only be through Jesus and any victory we experience will be in the strength that Christ gives.
The triumphs of His grace are the grace of the Lord Jesus so abundantly showered upon us. We follow His example and know His merit. Without Christ we are a failure and will know defeat. Effort in our own strength will not get us far.
But when you know the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world, all you receive in Christ glorifies the Father. God is exalted in the work of His Son.
His atoning work on the Cross and His resurrection are our cause for thanks.
This is the greatest triumph: in Christ there is no defeat.
“There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God” Psalm 46:4(NIV)
In sharp contrast to the imagery of the opening verses the Psalmist speaks here of a river and its streams bringing blessing for God’s people. Whilst there may be a prophetic aspect to this psalm as it anticipates the New Jerusalem with its river of the water of life, it also reminds us of the ‘living water’, ‘spring of water’ that Jesus gives to all who come to him. This is the river that provides water to all who are thirsty, freely and abundantly. This is the river that burst upon the Church on the day of Pentecost and has been washing lives clean ever since. It is a river that will never run dry and provides safety and security for all who are baptised into Christ. The turmoil of the world around us need not disrupt the peace we can have as we bathe in this river. AP
“So do not be afraid of them” Matthew 10:26(NIV)
The ground on which we can dispel fear is found here in the words of Jesus.
The cause of right over wrong must prevail. The conflict between good and evil can last for many years. There will be many set-backs, but the final overthrow of the Evil One has been prophesied in the Scriptures. God knows all things in every detail. One day we shall know all that has happened and the reason behind it.
The follower of Jesus is encouraged to put his or her trust in the Lord. True faith reaches out to God in the dark.
Jesus concluded His words to His disciples by telling them they were precious in the sight of the Lord; God would take care of them, they were not to be afraid.
BAM 163 Month 2 WEEK TWO
“Esther had kept secret her family background” Esther 2:20(NIV)
There was nothing wrong about this; to have made it known would have disobeyed her uncle’s instruction and thwarted his plan for Esther to have a good influence in the palace.
God has a plan for every life devoted to Him. In that respect Esther was not unique. Once known, God’s purpose should become of prime importance in one’s life. Serving the Lord and dedicating oneself to Him is no part-time or occasional occupation.
The Lord would come into every detail and aspect of His servant’s life and Mordecai and Esther knew they should be ready for whatever God directed.
Some things are best closely guarded or, as Jesus said, in the wrong hands they become pearls before swine.
“God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid” saiah 12:2
When you know He is your salvation you can trust Him.
When you trust in the Lord you put your confidence in the safest place. Then the measure of your peace is directly related to your trust.
When uncertain of the ground you just trust and hope. When it is the promise of the Lord on which you stand you can trust and not be afraid, you will be confounded.
The prophet had an experience of God’s salvation and so could display his complete trust and peace.
The life that is hidden with Christ in God is safe and needs to be left there. Why be continually wondering and worrying about it, when care of it is in the hands of the Almighty?
“what the rising from the dead should mean” Mark 9:10
His disciples never really understood what Jesus was talking about when He told them He was to rise from the dead. Yet how many really understand its import today?
It is more than one more detail for the believer to take in. It is vital to the Christian experience. That Jesus rose from the dead and is alive makes everything else come alive. The big question must be whether we have met Him.
Jesus tells us He is coming again in what we call His Second Advent but we must not wait until that day.
The ministry and conviction of the Holy Spirit in the heart of those who seek the Lord gives an assurance of His Presence and peace when we call upon Him for salvation. This is something for today.
“Jehoash did that which was right in the eyes of the Lord” I Kings 12:2
There would undoubtedly be those who did not agree with him because he did not please them. But King Jehoash’ aim was to please the Lord. For this he needed to be educated in and to accept the way of the Lord as declared in His Word.
He was seven years old when he became king and he would owe his zeal for the things of God to someone who taught him in those early days.
He reigned for forty years and God gave him the determination to pursue a cleansing of religion though he was not supported by all his priests and officials in this crusade.
God shows what is right to those who seek Him and gives grace to all who determine to continue.
“Giving no offence in any thing” II Corinthians 6:3
This is a difficult one! You would think that whatever you do, someone is sure to take offence. But this injunction is about giving offence. It relates to not saying or behaving or suggesting anything that can be misconstrued as counter-productive to the love and purity of the gospel.
Some are always watching and ready to pounce on any who behave unwisely, and there are times when what we do unintentionally trips up others. So giving no offence must demand that we walk circum-spectly to those who are without and that we are holy and godly within. Keep close to Jesus and mortify the works of the flesh.
“his ears are open unto their cry” Psalm 34:15
This promise can be of greatest comfort to those who feel their voice and prayer are weak. You do not have to attract God’s attention, or to call Him away from what He is doing. His ears are ever open, there are no hours of business.
The supplicant does not need to understand all that is happening either, the request needs to be made as one feels the need. The promise is that the Holy Spirit presents the requests in such a way that will be pleasing to the Lord.
Faith must dismiss any idea that the cry is disregarded. Look around and see the record of God meeting the needs of His children and realise you He will not let you down.
It is the nature of your cry that indicates the spiritual life that is within you.
“do not worry beforehand about what to say” Mark 13:11(NIV)
Worry is like a cold arm reaching from tomorrow and disturbing our peace today. It is often unfounded and in many cases what we fear never takes place.
Jesus’ words refer to the anxious thought that His followers can have about what they should say when called to testfiy.
This worry can even extend to concern about saying the right things when called to explain one’s faith. There is fear that the right thing may not be said.
However, it is the Lord who saves, and the Spirit of the Lord who convicts. The heart that responds must do so by conviction not power of persuasion.
God’s promise is that the Holy Spirit will give you what to say when the time comes if your walk and talk are in Him.
BAM 163 Month 2 WEEK THREE
“These women were helping to support them out of their own means” Luke 8:3(NIV)
These women may have been the first, but there have always been those who give themselves in a supportive albeit hidden role. Their reward must be the same as those out in the front.
So it was that this band of ladies went wherever Jesus and His disciples went on their itinerary. And the miracles performed and ministry enjoyed was only possible because these ladies worked long hours behind the scenes.
Jesus recognised this and so told us that the cup of cold water given in His Name would not go without its reward.
It is not how much or how spectacular your engagement is but that you are in the Lord’s service that counts. Dedicated to Him, your job becomes sacred and is essential.
“I will put hooks in your jaws” Ezekiel 29:4(NIV)
An unusual description of God working in lives recorded for us in the Old Testament. These words refer to Pharaoh King of Egypt but they are equally true of all who rebel against His authority. Men think they are the masters of their own fate until an incident happens outside their control. Not all are aware of the hook God uses but all can know that the Lord reigns, not with edict and earth’s authority but with that unseen hand that direct our affairs.
No use Pharaoh objecting to God’s hooks.
Blessed are those who come willingly, who repent and turn to the Lord. They do not need the hooks. They know the leading of the Spirit and they tread paths of righteousness that ever lead them in the way of the Lord.
“As they sailed, he fell asleep” Luke 8:23(NIV)
The disciples would be glad to see Jesus so relaxed in their boat that He fell asleep. But they made the mistake of thinking they were responsible for Him and when the storm came they did not realise that with the master of the storm within their boat no harm could come to them.
We can make the mistake of thinking Jesus is asleep, sometimes. When He does not answer our prayer, when the storms of life buffet us more severely than others: when no matter how hard we work we seem to get nowhere.
But “NO” a thousand times “NO” When Jesus is in your life (the boat) you are safe in the severest storm. We are left to wonder if the disciples had cause to regret that they awoke Him. Perhaps not, for they saw Him calm the angry waves.
“but you must not go very far” Exodus 8:28(NIV)
This is what Pharaoh said to Moses when he was trying to be rid of the plague of flies. He wanted Moses to think he was co-operating whereas in fact he was only offering a sop and he immediately asked Moses “Now pray for me”.
There must be those in every generation who have been willing to go a little way along the way God is asking of them.
The only ones they really desire are themselves. They might have a “feel-good” experience but it is going all the way that is needed. It may be very far but the Lord will be with you.
Start and continue should be the order of the day. It is full surrender of your will that brings safety and success in the journey. The Israelites needed to go all the way the Lord would lead them.
“only together with us would they be made perfect” Hebrews 11:40(NIV)
One thing about all disciples of Jesus being workers together with Christ is that each one needs the other to complete the mission Christ has left us.
All too frequently you would think we are competitors rather than co-workers.
In today’s verse the writer is comparing us with those who have gone before. Their work, like everyone’s work in this life, needed someone else to come along and continue or even finish it.
The Body of Christ is only perfect by that which every joint supplies. If you miss the mark, the perfection will be restored only when the grace and love of God is renewed through the atoning blood of Jesus and forgiveness.
“let us kneel before the Lord our maker” Psalm 95:6
We sometimes lay great importance on adopting the right bodily posture in worship. Kneeling can mean nothing or it can mean everything. It is a good measure for body language.
In the days of the Gospels those in need came and knelt before Jesus. In all our approaches to God it is a natural attitude to adopt. When we do so willingly it can demonstrate the love and devotion of our heart. How different from a day we know is coming when every knee shall be made to bow before the Lord our Maker.
He is our Maker and when we combine this with a recognition of Jesus as our Saviour we are blessed when able to bow before Him.
“tell them what great things the Lord has done for you” Mark 5:19(RAV)
This man was to be Christ’s representative in the town of Gadara. The inhabitants had asked Jesus to leave, they didn’t want any more pigs drowning in the sea. But they did know about this demon-possessed man and would all want to know what had happened to him.
His testimony was to condemn them for their unbelief because they did not turn to the Lord having witnessed such a miracle.
His testimony would be what the Lord had done. All other events were of little importance by comparison. Likewise the witness of every Christian needs to be what Jesus has done. And when our testimony centres around other things, the watered down witness becomes of little lasting effect.
BAM 163 Month 2 WEEK FOUR
“I have commanded a widow there to provide for you.” I Kings 17:9 (RAV)
We give much consideration to Elijah but very little to this widow. Yet her obedience to God’s command that she should care for the prophet was vital to the whole story.
It’s the same at whatever incident you look. The lesser players are essential to the whole performance. So those who occupy the lowly and despised station in life are to be most admired. Your remit might be limited to gathering fuel for the fire and baking cakes for someone in the public eye, but if you see your calling in it, it is essential.
God’s command to this widow was important and as real as the call of the prophet was in his national mission.
So be glad for whatever the Lord has given you today. It is a God-given calling.
“Turn away from your sins and live” Ezekiel 18:32(GNB)
This is the answer to most of our maladies. Sin, or missing God’s mark, is the reason for failure, sickness, calamity and depression that befall us. To think we can do our own thing and ignore the claim of God on our lives is to be sadly mistaken. The first step in the right direction is to repent, that is, turn around or turn away.
Left to our own devices and pursuing a course with no thought for God we are going headlong for destruction.
Sin and disobedience merit death and separation from God. Turning away and turning to Him, we find forgiveness, recommissioning and a sending forth in His strength.
The life that Jesus offers us brings the promise of eternity into our heart. This is true life.
“a man named Aeneas” .Acts 9:33(NIV)
Aeneas was a paralytic who had been bed-ridden for eight years, and who Jesus healed through the ministry of Peter. It was what Jesus did for Him that made him known to us.
It is a blessed thing when it is what Jesus has done for you since you felt His call and put your trust in Him that has made your testimony.
We might think that Aeneas was untidy either by nature or because of his disability for Peter said to him “Jesus Christ heals you. Get up and tidy up your mat” Aeneas obeyed and got up and tidied his mat and probably his life, too.
Whoever you are, when you meet the Living Lord Jesus it is a life changing encounter. All those living in Lydda and Saron saw him and turned to the Lord.
“Where have you been?” II Kings 5:25 (NIV)
This is the question that Elisha asked his servant Gehazi who had run after Naaman to get some silver and garments he thought his master should have taken as payment for healing Naaman of his leprosy.
God is entitled to ask us where we have been and what have we done with the life He has given us. Gehazi said he didn’t go anywhere not realizing that Elisha had been shown what had happened.
So God asks each one of us where we have been when we absent ourselves from Him.
He knows the answer, of course, but the question is asked in order to convict us of any evil and that we might repent from our sinful ways, receive His forgiveness and reinstatement.
“if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain” I Corinthians 15:17
The entire Christian experience hinges on the resurrection of Jesus. Without the resurrection our faith becomes an academic and theoretic attempt to follow the teaching and example of someone who lived two thousand years ago.
Jesus is alive. This truth injects life into every disciple and makes the Christian faith different from any other. Faith for the Christian is like an arm stretching out to a Living Person.
The Christian life is the life of Christ coursing through veins of faith and trust in every believer.
Promises are made and kept; hope burns brightly in the breast; a vision fills the horizon; the God of all comfort gives a peace that is felt and all because Jesus is Alive!
“Those who sow in tears” Psalm 126:5(NIV)
We can let our tears be a part of life that is likened to sowing. Tears can flow when distressed either about themselves or loved ones or the hardness of the soil in the area they have been put to work.
A time comes to most of us when what we try to attain is unrewarding we begin to sow in tears. They are tears of frustration: we do not know what to do.
All like this should claim this promise. The Lord who promises to be mindful of our tears also gives the promise that tearful sowing will in harvest be turned to joyful reaping.
Let your tears draw you nearer to the Lord. Let them make you tender-hearted and conscious of the need of others in like situation as you are.
“Bring forth the best robe” Luke 15:22
The prodigal son must have been dressed in rags. It is likely that clothes and body were unwashed and dirty, hands and his body caked in grime from the pigs and his hair matted with grease.
Yet there is no record of his father demanding he be washed and dressed first, though this may have taken place. The object and aim was the best robe. The father asked for this and the feast from the fatted calf was of first importance.
Such is God’s desire for every repentant sinner. All the dishonour and shame of the past does not alter God’s desire for you. If you repent you turn round and if you come to God He will abundantly pardon and clothe you in the new robe of His righteousness.
“they came to Him from every quarter” Mark 1:45
The universal appeal of the gospel of Jesus is a great encouragement to all who carry its message to others. You do not have to decide who among those you will meet today are likely to receive the message of Jesus.
The invitation is to all and all will come to Him from every quarter. This is what happened when the leper was healed by Jesus as recorded in the first chapter of Mark’s gospel. The leper who had been told to be quiet about it was so full of what Jesus had done for him that he went out and told everybody.
When all kinds of people do not respond, is it because we do not have a convincing and attractive testimony?
“I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked” Ezekiel 33:11(NIV)
This may come as a surprise, especially when we consider some of the evil that has been done by one against another. The Israelites felt that they had gone too far with their wickedness and rebellion against God. ‘How then can we live?’ It was as if they felt that God would be pleased to be rid of them. This can be how some feel today.
The cry of God is ‘Turn! Turn from your evil ways!’ However far we have fallen, whatever wrong we have done, whilst there is breath in our bodies, then we can turn in repentance away from our evil and to a God who can forgive, heal and restore. Unlike us, who can find it hard to forgive, “the LORD is slow to anger, abounding in love and forgiving sin and rebellion.” AP
“with his own disciples, he explained everything” Mark 4:34(NIV)
What a school of instruction and ministry the disciples had! Much of what Jesus taught was not really understood – only later did the meaning come to them How blessed the followers of Jesus can be today!
Jesus could explain everything. He was here at the beginning of creation, before Abraham and Adam, too. No problem baffled Him. He knew and understood and His miracles confirmed that He was the Son of God with power.
That He was among them and one of them made the disciples amazed. He continues to do so today.
Though not with Him in bodily person we have the avenues of prayer, praise and intercession. It is in worship and waiting before Him that we can expect hidden truths revealed to us.