A short verse and comment for each day of the month
A BAM Publication
Scroll down and view four weekly pages
or print on A4 sheets
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 172 DECEMBER 2013
“because it had no root, it withered away” Mark 4:6
One day the plant looked healthy and well, the next it had withered and was gone. We have seen this happen to plants in our garden and when we pulled them out of the ground we found that either they had no root or a diseased root. The life of the plant comes from its root. The same for Christian life. If there is no root it will not survive.
The Bible, the Written Word of God, and the inspiration and revelation of the Holy Spirit provide the good soil that we need to grow into healthy and mature Christians.
Be acquainted with it, meditate upon it. You will be like a tree planted by the rivers of water as the Psalmist says, bringing forth fruit in its season.
Then expect what you do to prosper.
“Somebody touched me” Luke 8:46 (RAV)
This lady had great faith as she crept through the crowd and touched the hem of Jesus’ garment. She thought that her healing would not be so noticed by Him. Jesus does have many millions of followers today demanding His attention, but the wonderful thing is that He is mindful of every one. God in Christ reaches down and is alongside you. This was a special experience in a time of need in this lady’s life. The greater your need the more important it is that you reach out and touch Jesus. The Bible promises He will meet you and it is the testimony of so many in all walks of life today who have met the Lord.
Sometimes the crowd around Him seems to be so thick you’ll not get to Him. Seek and persevere and you will find.
“He put his hands on his eyes again” Mark 8:25 (RAV)
Many of us need those hands put on us again. Yours is a poor experience if it can only boast one meeting that happened a long time ago. The Lord fills us and refills us and we should recognise our need for that refilling.
Was it a good thing that Jesus asked the man whom He had prayed for if he was healed? And what a good thing the man was honest and did not say “Yes” because it was just a little better. Seeing men like trees walking was an incomplete healing. This was an unusual incident and no doubt is included in the Gospels to encourage all who need another touch from the Lord. There is a daily filling and a new anointing and a renewing of the Spirit waiting for us if we will let Him put His hands on us again.
“Then shall they know that I am the Lord their God” Ezekiel 39:28
There is a day coming when God will explain everything to us. We shall see that it is the hand of God that has been upon every step of our lives.
God will explain why He led His people into captivity, why at times it has seemed He hid His face from you.
You may be wondering just what it is that God is doing, why good things you ask for are not given you, why restrictions are not lifted and puzzles remain unanswered.
In that final day you will know He is the Lord and that He has been silently planning for you and even now He will give you grace to trust Him. He is caring for you and your faith will be an encouragement to others as you boldly proclaim that He is the Lord.
“led of the Spirit” Galatians 5:18
Go into each day led by the Holy Spirit. Go forward praising, knowing He can manage you and your day. Cultivate the habit all through the day, of joyfully depending upon and obeying Him, expecting Him to guide, to enlighten, to reprove, to teach, to use and to do in and with you what He wills.
Know He is working, altogether and apart from feelings.
Let us believe in and obey the Holy Spirit as the Ruler of our lives once we have confessed our sin and are seeking God’s will. Cease from the burden of trying to manage yourself and then let the fruit of the Spirit appear in you to the glory of God.
(Writer unknown. These words were found on a typed sheet in the late Barbara Paine’s Bible under the heading “Walking in the Spirit”)
“They preached the good news in that city” Acts 14:21 (NIV)
The message of the gospel is good news and accepting it makes for happiness. Dwelling on what is around you will not always bring happiness, but seeking the things of the Lord will.
There was much idolatry in this city and the enemies of the gospel gave the Apostles a rough time. But all who stopped to listen heard good news; when accepted it set free captives and those enslaved by sinful habits.
In spite of the opposition a large number became disciples.
It has always been the same. Those long bound by sin need this good news. Those who are aware of their need, accept it gladly.
“hold fast to the Lord your God” Joshua 23:8 (RAV)
These words of blessing to the Children of Israel were spoken by Joshua when the time had come for him to die. Now they had to do something – to “hold on” or “hold fast”.
God would lead, guide and protect them; they were to know the blessing of His Presence among them. But they needed to hold on, Joshua may have done everything for them but now he was to leave them.
They had the memory of God’s provision and blessing getting them into the promised land. Added to a book full of promises about what God would do, they needed to “hold fast”. It has been the same ever since. There are many handles on the gospel truck for travellers to hang on to. Hold fast to the Lord.
“whoever does the will of God” Mark 3:35 (RAV)
They told Jesus that His mother and brothers were outside looking for Him. Jesus used this to describe His family as all who did the will of God. This goes for every generation since, who have sought to do God’s will in their lives.
We need to know that God has a detailed plan for each of us today. And it is our job to find what this is. Then doing it makes us part of a worldwide family of true disciples. Disciples of Jesus are neither man-made nor appointed by a human agency. They can be known by their relationship to Jesus and the way they live doing God’s will.
Affiliation to an organisation or attendance to a church or fellowship or publicising they belong in Christ are not enough. It is seeking, finding and doing God’s will today.
“Whom would the king delight to honour more than me?” Esther 6:6 (RAV)
You have to go a long way to find a man so selfish and self-opinionated as Haman. Especially so since he directed his venom towards Mordecai the despised Jew.
How his bloated ego was deflated when the reward he suggested for the man of the king’s choosing was given to Mordecai!
Haman was humbled by having to be the one who led Mordecai in a lap of honour.
If you’re thinking a lot of yourself, think about reducing that opinion so you do not have the same happen to you. Being humble and showing love to others gives a rewarding outcome and seeing others advanced can lift your own spirit.
Remember, Haman erected the gallows on which he hung.
“who did sin, this man, or his parents?” John 9:2
The disciples asked why this man was born blind. But born blind made sure that He met Jesus!
We must not make the disciples’ mistake asking why a certain thing has happened when in fact God will use that circumstance to His glory. What seemed the tragedy of a man born blind was to become something for God’s glory when Jesus healed him.
What is there in our life or experience that could be turned to God’s glory if we looked to the Lord and let Him work? Sin certainly causes devastation whenever it is found but never a situation that the love of God cannot reach and restore. Don’t be too concerned about the reason why when you can find the purpose God can put to changing it.
“Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things” Jeremiah 33:3 (NIV)
It is God’s “call to see” that most of us need to put into practice in everyday living. That calling upon God needs to be done in faith, looking to Him and believing He will supply. Faith cannot operate in an environment of sin and disobedience. There may be more preparation than we think is needed before and when we call. Unforgiven sin, because unconfessed, can block this promise. We mistakenly think that prayer does not operate when God does not give us the things we ask. But looking back we can see that it was in our interest that he did not give us what might have harmed us.
He gives us the ability to trust Him and to live for Him in the most unlikely circumstances.
“you yourselves are God’s temple” I Corinthians 3:16 (NIV)
When we accept the Lord and having repented of our sins and committed our lives to Him we should be careful what we do with and in our body.
Being a Christian is a way of life but more than that. The Bible promises “Christ in you, the hope of Glory” and when we make Jesus Lord, He comes and dwells within by His Spirit. As God’s temple, what we do in and with our body becomes a living testimony of praise to the Lord. We do not subscribe to someone else but we live to please Christ within. As God’s temple we conduct worship and praise daily. We do need to take care that we do not grieve the Holy Spirit but rather draw deeply of the blessing of peace and joy in walking with Jesus.
“Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” Acts 16:30
Had Paul and Silas already spoken to the jailor about his need to be saved? Certainly this jailor recognised they had what he needed. Their life as they sat praying and singing in the stocks conveyed the message to him. We need lives that make those who see us ask questions.
Having made such a witness, the apostles now needed to answer the questions generated. Do folk ask these questions of us? And if so are we ready with the answer?
Tackle the greatest need and use the Scriptures to provide an answer. Saved is an old-fashioned word to describe a pressing need. It is when a man asks what he should do to be saved that the answer “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved” can be given.
“Allow me one more test with the fleece” Judges 6:39(NIV)
What Gideon did should be an encouragement to us all – he asked for a second sign. It came as a great surprise to him when the angel of the Lord visited him in the winepress and told him he was to deliver Israel. God gave him a sign – a wool fleece on the ground wet when the ground all around was dry. He still found it difficult to believe so asked God for the same sign in reverse – the fleece dry and the ground wet and this is what happened.
Some may have judged Gideon as unbelieving when he was not satisfied with the first sign. But God knows our hearts and He will help and lead us into a place of absolute trust. He did not hide his feelings from God and we need to follow his example.
“But who do you say that I (Jesus) am?” Luke 9:20 (RAV)
Look at the “but” and the “I” in this. The “but” focuses our mind and draws us away from the many philosophies and ideas that we could explore about the Christian religion and the Christian’s responsibility. Don’t be drawn away by things you cannot reason or understand. Attend to the most important question, “What are you doing with Jesus?”
Then there is “I”. What am I doing with Him? You could spend a lifetime studying the history and schisms of the church and the pieces into which it has fragmented. But it is your decision about Jesus that counts. Do you recognise Him and trust Him as Saviour? Let others fill their day with discussion and human reasoning. Jesus is Lord and He needs to be in the highest place in your life.
“she can laugh at the days to come” Proverbs 31:25 (NIV)
Such is the quality used to describe a wise woman. It can apply to all whose trust is in the Lord. The days may be dark and the outlook bleak but the assurance of the soul whose trust is in Jesus is that all will be well. We recognise it is according to the plan and provision of a loving Heavenly Father.
The laugh referred to in this verse is not the empty sound of one disregarding one’s senses. In the unpredictability of highs and lows, depressions and surprises, the soul can look ahead knowing the peace of the Lord will transcend all that is thrown against us.
Nothing that the Evil One can plot against us will succeed in destroying those whose faith is in Jesus.
“Jesus grew in wisdom and stature” Luke 2:52 (NIV)
The Christmas story is known and loved by Christians everywhere. But as anyone with a young child knows, those days pass too quickly to dwell on them. Once here Jesus began to grow; we must not stay in the manger.
Look ahead, see His sacrifice and love as Jesus laid aside His glory. Heaven must have seemed empty as the Lord of Glory became the babe in Bethlehem.
Did not the heavenly host watch with wonder and interest as the human life He adopted grew in wisdom and stature?
His mother and step-father must have gazed in wonder too, as day by day they saw their son growing!
We look with thanks to God and worship One who has now returned to His rightful place in heaven.
“the God who holds in his hand your life and all your ways” Daniel 5:23 (NIV)
Belshazzar was arrested by the sight of part of a hand writing on the plaster of the wall in the banqueting hall. Then as he stood trembling and under conviction he heard Daniel utter these words to him.
The words carry a warning for all who choose to ignore the truth of them. Yet for all of us eternity is only a heartbeat away. Whatever our achievements we are all meant to respond when the call of God comes.
Our impious feast becomes a very poor affair when we go in the face of God. Belshazzar’s life caught up with him and he and his empire fell in one night.
Those who place their life in God’s hand know a peace and assurance found nowhere else.
“He was absolutely sure” Romans 4:21 (GNB)
There was no room or reason for doubt in Abraham’s mind. Absolutely sure gave no reason for unbelief to enter in. He believed and hoped when there was no reason for hoping. God had made a promise and that was enough for him. There is no reason why we should be anything other than absolutely sure of what God promises, but in the Garden of Eden man questioned what God said and we succumbed to unbelief. It is as though our attempt at believing easily became adulterated. We hesitate to accept God outright. Though God promises, we ask for confirmation.
Let us brush away our doubting and wondering. Take a leaf from Abraham’s book and be “absolutely sure” in what God says.
“Repent therefore and be converted” Acts 3:19 (RAV)
Repentance must go before conversion. By nature we are all going the wrong way. The sin of unbelief first seen in Adam has been transferred to us all. We all need to change direction. This need is conveyed to us by the Spirit of God in what we call conviction. Repent and call on the Lord to change or convert us. This is made possible because Christ died for all.
There is power in the atoning blood of Jesus to cleanse from all sin. God has completed His part; ours is to repent and believe the gospel. The Apostle Paul displays this at the beginning of his great letter to the Romans. We can proceed no further in our quest for God until we see the truth of it and respond.
“The Lord answered, ‘I will be with you’ ” Judges 6:16 (NIV)
If you can believe this is God’s word to you, there will be no fear about the path He is asking you to take.
The fact that Gideon felt quite unsuited for the task to which God was calling him, ceased to matter when he knew God would be with him. He realised that God would care for him, protect him and guide him.
God’s promise to Gideon and to us is more than sending us out and off to manage as best we can. He sends us and says He will be there too.
The disciple’s pathway is one of faith. Gideon could not see God – neither can we. We need to believe He is with us and engage in active communion with Him throughout the day.
“If you can believe” Mark 9:23 (RAV)
This incident shows the co-operation needed sometimes before God can work. The man with a possessed boy thought it was up to Jesus who had healed so many to have compassion and do the same for his boy. Jesus showed him that his faith played an important part; he was not just to stand as an observer whilst it happened.
No two miracles of Jesus were the same, but faith is what is needed. Not always seen, but it must be there.
The man was honest about his unbelief hindering this and so asked Jesus to help him. Often our faith needs a boost when we realise the answer to prayer depends on it. But Jesus had this man’s interest at heart and has ours too. And “if you can believe” becomes “Yes! I will.”
“Tell me, what do you have in the house?” II Kings 4:2 (RAV)
The question that Elisha asked this woman who came to him for help can be asked of many today. It is not what you wish you had, but what is there in your house, or heart. Many give little to the Lord because they have never taken stock and then asked the Lord about it.
A few seem to know what everything is and how to be used but most of us have to do some searching for an answer. This woman had empty vessels, the last things she may have thought the prophet would use. What can we give to the Lord? If we do not know what it is, we need to make our request to the Lord!
If we know what we ought to give, let us ask for the flame of love and devotion to be kindled in our heart to give it.
“Today … a Saviour has been born to you” Luke 2:11 (NIV)
You have not begun to understand the Christmas message unless you realise it was a Saviour that was born. This was no less than God in the flesh. Anything less than God and we would wonder if this would save all who believed.
Understand the need that we have, the incidents of war and strife that were to take place; look at sin and suffering that were to be seen. Collect the tangled mass of multiplied sin in the human heart and know that the Infant born was God incarnate and was to grow in wisdom and stature and be put to death by those He had come to save.
But see as the centuries have rolled by in increasing numbers those who have called on Him in faith and know this was indeed the Saviour born to us.
“unto us a child is born” Isaiah 9:6
There’s no limit to what we can hope for a new-born baby. The world holds any number of opportunities for it.
This baby was special – the Infant Jesus. He was loaded with prophecies that awaited fulfilment. Every part of creation was to benefit from His birth. It changed both the course and nature of life and expectation. Millions have been wonderfully blessed.
He has brought peace, hope and joy where before there was none.
It was in every way a gift. When watching angels went away, Mary and Joseph were left caring for heaven’s richest gem. We wonder how empty heaven was without Him but the years since have witnessed an ever-increasing company of the redeemed
who worship and adore Him.
“No one who believes in him will be put to shame” Romans 10:11 (RSV)
This is a wonderful promise! No-one who has put their trust in Jesus to cleanse them from sin and received the gift of eternal life will ever be ashamed of what they have done. When the end of the race is reached and the blessed consummation of God’s promises conveyed to us through Christ, no-one will say they regretted taking that step.
Those who reject God’s repeated call through the ministry of the Spirit in their life will certainly be ashamed. They did not take the life-line that was thrown to them. All who called on the Name of the Lord to save them, all who believed God’s promise as revealed in the Word of God will rejoice evermore. Sacrifice and persecution will seem as nothing and it will be worth it all, when we see Jesus.
“you are heirs of the prophets” Acts 3:25 (NIV)
These words are taken from Peter’s sermon to the crowd that gathered around after the cripple had been healed.
It was a call to waken them out of their lethargy. They had a great tradition to follow.
The prophets of yesteryear have given us the sons of the prophets now. God was working in their midst and they needed to rise to the occasion. God can repeat the blessings of the past and make them greater blessings. He keeps abreast of the changing scenes and times in which we live. We need to recognise our inheritance in Christ. Something that God has been working out in the lives of believers fired by the Holy Spirit.
“I have rolled away the reproach of Egypt from you” Joshua 5:9(NIV)
The previous generation had been captives in Egypt. They had struggled to shake off their old life. Even after the Lord had set them free, the mark and memory of slavery was still upon them and they carried it into the desert. Now as this new generation are sanctified to the Lord their connection with the past is finally broken.
They are ready to enter Canaan. Some of us may still be living with the mark and memories of our old sinful life, struggling to live in the freedom of Christ. Well, through His death and resurrection and by the power of the Holy Spirit, God has rolled away the reproach of our old life. So let us claim this promise and begin to live free from guilt and condemnation. AP
“Until now you have asked nothing in my name” John 16:24 (RAV)
Jesus was talking to His disciples about spiritual qualities that they could not hope to gain for themselves. They had been in everyday conversation as men living and working together and asking questions about the world around them. And Jesus had been teaching and explaining to them. Yet questions about the receiving and exercising of spiritual gifts had been missing. They were like children in the faith.
Such is the case with many of us. The offer of Jesus is to ask whatever we will in His Name and He will give it to us.
There is a path to tread and a preparation for that path that the Lord would show us. And this offer is made to those who are earnest about becoming mature in their faith.
“Esther also was taken to the king’s palace and entrusted to Hegai” Esther 2:8 (NIV)
The Book of Esther reminds us of how the will of God is being worked out when we least imagine this happening. Here beautiful girls were taken from their home to join the harem of King Xerxes who had banished his first wife.
Her uncle brought her up as his daughter and we are left to wonder what fear entered her mind as she was put in the care of Hegai.
Although chosen for her beauty she fell victim to Haman’s hatred of the Jews.
Her troubles began when she entered the palace. But God was with her and she saw that for such a time as this she was to be in a position to plead for her people before the king. As ever God was working His purposes out.
“speak the word” Matthew 8:8
This centurion who came to Jesus recognised His mighty power. He also knew that nothing would happen if Jesus did not authorise it with His Word.
It’s the same today. Our prayers and intercessions need the Lord to sanction and grant them.
This man had an idea how the Lord would heal his servant. His faith in the word of Jesus made it unnecessary for Jesus to attend personally and this is what he told the Lord.
This centurion gives us an example of faith that we find in the most unlikely places: in this case it was in a non-Israelite.
This man acted on His word and went home believing.