A short verse and comment for each day of the month
A BAM Publication
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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 167 MARCH 2013
“Praise the Lord, O my soul” Psalm 103:22(NIV)
This Psalm begins and ends with a call to praise. As it concludes it calls the angels to praise the Lord. In the Book of Revelation John describes thousands upon thousands of angels and ten times ten thousand. They all praise the Lord. Then he calls on the heavenly hosts, His servants who do His will. Are these the heavenly bodies whose praise is in a register greater than we can hear? In the Book of Job there is a description of a time when the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy. (Job 38:7)
One time, Jesus said that if people were stopped from praising Him, the very stones would cry out in praise.
Do we praise Him? Is there an ecstatic surge of praise that comes over our soul when we meditate on Jesus?
“watch yourself, or you also may be tempted” Galatians 6:1(NIV)
It seems that Paul is speaking of helping those who are believers but have slipped up and made a mistake. He encourages others to ‘restore that person gently’. We can be quick to criticise and come down hard, even gloat over the mistakes of others, feeling rather smug that we haven’t done the same. We offer help, with a touch of superiority.
‘Watch yourself.’ is the warning The danger is that in helping someone else, we drop our guard and fall into temptation. Paul says “If you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!”. Many of us have fallen into gossiping under the cover of ‘sharing for prayer’. Oversight and accountability are important for those who help as well as those who are helped. AP
“Send the man back that he may return to the place you assigned him” I Samuel 29:4(NIV)
This was hard medicine for David to take. He had gone with his men to Achish king of Gath and thrown himself into his service. But when the armies of the Philistines went out to fight they did not want David and his men with them and made him go back to the city they had provided for him.
David complained bitterly, but to no avail.
In the event, when they returned to Ziklag they found their wives taken hostage and the city racked by invaders.
It turned out a good thing that they were made to return. Quite often things that cause us dismay at the time turn out to be the hand of God guiding us in His way.
So don’t pre-judge things that may happen to you unexpectedly today!
“a sword will pierce through your own soul also” Luke 2:35(RAV)
Mary was highly favoured by God when, as a young lady, she was chosen to bear the Infant Jesus. Yet that high favour did not absolve her from deep sorrow.
She appears throughout the gospel narrative, obviously in attendance and what was done to her son reflected on to her. She is at Calvary where her son was sentenced to death and crucified and where she must have identified with the words spoken by Simeon years before about a sword piercing her. Jesus showed the concern He had for His mother as he hung on the cross.
The call of God does not in any of us come without suffering but it is only to see the exaltation and glorification of Jesus.
“I have called you friends” John 15:15(NIV)
Name-dropping is done to impress. An unknown person will mention friendship with a well known person in the hope that others will think better of them. It doesn’t usually happen the other way round. But here, the greater person, Jesus, is willing to speak of us, unworthy sinners, as His friends!
Amazing grace! And more is the fact that it is all because of what Jesus has done for us. But that’s not it. He then explains that as His friends we are in on all that the Father has made known to Him, even ‘the secret of the kingdom of God’. Our friendship is proved by our obedience to Him and our willingness to confess Christ as our Lord before men. If we do that, then we’ll get mention, by Jesus, before His Father in heaven. AP
“You adorn yourself in vain” Jeremiah 4:30(NIV)
In 2011 £48bn was spent on clothing by UK households and £15bn on beauty products, all to make ourselves look and feel good, as we grow older by the day. Not much has changed then since Jeremiah’s day. The Israelites were more concerned about their appearance and creature comforts than they were about their spiritual well-being. The prophet expresses the Lord’s amazement ‘What are you doing, O devastated one?’ If God’s people, back then, could be so distracted, they serve as a warning for us now to check our priorities. Let’s not deceive ourselves that we are either immune from such dangers or can justify excess. A beautiful heart matters more than a beautiful face and this is what the Lord notices. AP
“one thing I know” John 9:25
Not only this former blind man, but all who see Christ with the eye of faith and call upon Him to save them can have this convincing experience.
He could not answer the questions of the scribes and Pharisees. The miracle he experienced was causing a great commotion. He was bombarded with questions and for no fault of his, he was cast out of the synagogue. Even his parents tried to distance themselves from what had happened.
But the fact of once being blind and now able to see made the bed-rock of his new found faith. If anyone is in Christ he is a new creature and this must be the starting point. Be sure you have a “one thing I know” experience of salvation.
“Remember how short my time is” Psalm 89:47
If you can look back over many memories, or if the fact that your days are numbered has come home to you, it is likely you realise how short life is.
Things that need doing you ought to do now. Sometimes things long forgotten come to mind and we need to do something about it then. Some of us might ask for an extension but God gives us just enough time to do what He expects of us.
There is no going back and doing it again. Like a short distance race, we see the finish from the start.
Sometimes when the truth of these words hits us God gives us extra time. If so, let us see to it that the result does justice to the time given us.
“the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby” I Peter 2:2(RAV)
Repenting from your sin and calling on Christ to save you is not the end of the matter but the birth or beginning.
And the milk of the Word when taken in sincerity, that is accepting it by the Holy Spirit, is the best. The Word of God is God’s provision for every believer in whatever circumstance they find themselves. It needs to be taken receptively and expecting it to meet the need for spiritual hunger within.
There are those who believe this about the Scriptures but do not desire it. They are not hungry just now so continue feeding on the husks that this world dishes up regularly.
It’s desiring the Lord and anxious to hear His voice that makes the Bible acceptable sustenance for the soul.
“Do not turn away after useless idols” I Samuel 12:21(NIV)
The Israelites had committed an evil in asking for a king and were now remorseful when Samuel drew their attention to this. They asked Samuel to pray for them. He told them that they should serve the Lord with all their heart and then added that they should not turn away to useless idols.
It is a common failing that while saying we trust the Lord, we lean on other things. These words of Samuel can be used to make us ask in who or what do we trust. Many idols and ideologies will claim to bring you peace and meet your need, even to be taken alongside your faith in the Lord. We need to pay attention to instruction in God’s Word.
We need the light of God’s Word to warn us and to turn away from the useless things of this world.
“She arrived and gave thanks to God” Luke 2:38(GNB)
Anna, the prophetess, never left the temple, and now aged 84 and worshipped the Lord by prayer and fasting continually. She was only married seven years but her widowhood had been used to draw her near to the Lord. She knew she was to see the child who should bring salvation to Israel and the first thing she did on coming in was to give thanks.
Thanks will ever be on the lips of those who walk with the Lord. His Presence conveys peace and joy in the most difficult circumstances and this ever gives rise to thanks.
God rewards His children with blessing and contentment as they do His will and thanks is their response as an expression of their praise.
“Dear woman, why do you involve me?” John 2:4(NIV)
The mother of Jesus reported to Him the fact that they had no wine at the wedding feast. We wonder what insight she had into the ministry her Son was about to begin. That she told Jesus of the need suggests that she expected Him to do something. That He told her His hour had not yet come referred to the hour when He would reveal who He was to the world.
What we do know now is the mighty power of Jesus in His first miracle in Cana of Galilee when He turned water into wine. We may now do more than just involve Him, we may know Him change our lives and purify us from all sin and failure through the mighty cleansing and healing power of the blood He shed on the cross.
“Don’t collect any more than you are required to” Luke 3:13(NIV)
John the Baptist was a forthright and popular preacher. There was an anointing in His ministry as being from the Lord. His words were so powerful that his hearers felt the need to do something and came to him asking what it was.
Those who heard and responded to John’s message felt the need to repent. They had things in their life that needed to be put right.
In today’s verse he is telling tax collectors not to collect more than they are required to do. The recurring evil in men’s lives is one of greed. Much which many have asks for more and so life is squeezed out of some at the expense of others. We need an awareness of heaven and the need to buy up treasure there.
“Priscilla and Aquila … invited him to their home and explained to him the way of God” Acts 18:26 (NIV)
Apollos was a competent speaker and Priscilla and Aquila opened their home to him and there explained the way of the Lord to him more perfectly.
There are still many inadequate Christians today – men and women who could become a radiant testimony if they had but a little sound instruction. And when your home is a haven of love and true Christian grace you should use it to help others who lack proper teaching.
So Apollos became a great help to the believers in Achaia.
From the home of Mary and Martha in Bethany to Mark’s mother in Jerusalem and many godly homes where the believers pray are always in demand.
“How can a young man cleanse his way?” Psalm 119:9(RAV)
This world is so filled with evil influences thrown at us by a godless media that a young person can become soiled at an early age. And a media that displays its wares everywhere is not so ready to give us the antidote to the trouble it causes. The Bible and the inspiration of the Holy Spirit on its message is the tried and tested guide to a clean, successful and satisfied life.
More than a mere reading of it, we need to accept its sound teaching and seek the Lord for guidance on its interpretation and application in the situation we find ourselves in.
This verse might also have said that where there is a stain of sin, apply the Divine stain remover.
Here is not an impossibility but a glorious reality.
“a thorn in the flesh” II Corinthians 12:7
You often can’t see it but feel it’s there! The Apostle Paul had one and it wouldn’t go away. He eventually found why this was and reference to it is made in Scripture so that we might understand better if we suffer in the same way.
We don’t actually know what his “thorn” was, although he describes it as a minister of Satan to buffet him. The reason he had it was to keep him humble. Having been used in the healing of many he couldn’t get rid of his own infirmity. It was something that beat him and made him feel weak. You might say it humbled him. It also made him glory in the Lord and in that way, though unpleasant, it was a good thing. Perhaps it’s good we are not told exactly what it was because it might be the same thing you have.
“you will be changed into a different person” I Samuel 10:6(NIV)
We read that “God changed his heart” that is gave him a new heart. Now we read, if any man be in Christ he is a new creature. This is more than the Lord giving you wisdom.
When your heart is changed you will change. This is the mark of a real encounter with Jesus – as real as faith will allow. And if without faith it is impossible to please God, so it is impossible to effect this change yourself.
This is more than re-educating or proving that what you’re hearing about Jesus is true.
To have a different or changed heart the old must be taken away and a God given and cleansed heart in its place. Jesus died – to forgive and make new by the atoning work of the blood He shed on the Cross.
“and is going ahead of you” Matthew 28:7(NIV)
It was always like that. When Jesus called His disciples to leave what they were doing and follow Him, He went ahead. That is what following is. There was nothing new about this message that the angel asked the women to convey to the disciples.
The important thing was that they should get up and go. You can have all kind of visions about what God can do for you, but you need to get up and go. And if your directions are like most that come from the Lord you need to do something at once. Get started, the way will look easier once you do that. Let your energy be directed into doing the work of the Lord. Only if you start out will you get there. And only if you go believing will you come seeing.
“That I may know him” Philippians 3:10
There was more to it than hearing His voice and obeying when on the Damascus Road: that was only the beginning.
Embarking upon hazardous missionary journeys and subjected to much opposition and physical suffering was not enough.
The further Paul went ahead in his faith, the more he realised he had more to know. He would never come to the end, but he describes his desire for knowledge in these ways – knowing the power of His resurrection: the fellowship of His suffering and identifying with Christ in His death. Paul hadn’t attained, neither has any reader of this page finished the search. We all need to be seeking to know the Lord, to win the lost and to glorify our Father in heaven.
“Bring forth therefore fruits worthy of repentance” Luke 3:8
Among those in what we think was a sincere awaking when John preached among the populace were those who just went the way everyone seemed to be going. They thought repentance was a good thing and needed to stem sin and corruption but did not accept that it affected them. John the Baptist recognised that there was an absence of true repentance among some who were asking to be baptised of him in Jordan. So he asked for fruit or evidence of their desire and change of heart. It was not baptism or the ordinance first and then beginning their new life, but baptism to confirm the inner conversion.
It’s the same today: what you say must agree with the life you lead.isHH
“he gave generously to those in need and prayed to God regularly” Acts 10:2(NIV)
Cornelius was a god-fearing Roman centurion. And his story is recorded primarily because his alms-giving and prayer were noted by God, though he was a Gentile.
Then secondly because God used his experience to show how God can reward those who worship ignorantly of Christ. His case points to the value of seeking the Lord and combining alms-giving with prayer.
There are those today who pray and give generously not having the truth of the gospel.
When those in spiritual darkness seek the Lord in sincerity we can expect God to lead them into the truth in Jesus. Cornelius led his whole household to find the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in their lives.
“Do not let your mouth lead you into sin” Ecclesiastes 5:6(NIV)
In the heat of the moment it is easy to say things that we regret later. James writes about the dangers of the unguarded tongue and the trouble that can be caused by uncontrolled words. Jesus said that what we say reflects what is in our heart and can make us unclean. The adage ‘think before you speak’ reflects this advice and we would do well to heed it. Our ‘mouth’ can be social media such as Twitter, Facebook or Text as well as our speech. As many have found to their cost, once something is said or published, it cannot be taken back. Many wise-cracks have later revealed the fool who made them. As followers of Christ, let’s look to speak words that build up and encourage even when there’s little to say. AP
“prove your own selves” II Corinthians 13:5
Others are likely to have made their own judgment about you but they don’t know everything, do they? Self-examination is better than judgment falling upon you.
We need to be diligent in the way we go about this. And if we are stuck in a paralysis of apathy we need to call on the Lord to release us and then be ready to do something when released. Prove your own selves does not mean deceive yourselves. It is not a false sense of security we want.
Read the Scriptures, be receptive to God’s voice in your inner person and be responsive to whatever correction or adjustment the Lord is calling on you to make.
There are a lot of spiritual as well as physical fatalities because we do not maintain our running gear.
“because of the good he had done” II Chronicles 24:16(NIV)
Doing good is important even when others are doing evil. Jehoiada was a priest serving at a time of great upheaval with different families wanting power and control over Judah. Yet he and his wife remained true to the Lord and helped restore the rightful king and bring the people back to worship the Lord. Jehoiada was one of those steady influences for good who didn’t lose his head and provided a godly guidance and restraint for the king and his people.
How we need the good influence of Christian men and women today! People, young and older, who will live by God’s Word and stand firm for what is right even in the face of social pressures. Jesus, who went around doing good and we must do the same, today. AP
“I have seen the Lord!” John 20:18(NIV)
Seeing an empty tomb is not the same as seeing a risen Saviour. Earlier Mary, along with other women, had run to tell the disciples that Christ’s body had gone. Then when Peter and John arrived, they noticed the grave clothes still wrapped and in place. But it was Mary who waited around and became the first to meet the risen Jesus. Her declar-ation came from personal experience.
Today there is a fascination with the supposed empty tomb and possible shroud of Jesus but empty tombs and clothes have no life to give. It’s an encounter with the risen Saviour that makes all the difference and like Mary, we need to declare it loud and clear. Let’s share our experience of the Lord today. AP
“So they gathered them and filled twelve baskets” John 6:13(NIV)
What was left over after the feeding of the 5000 was enough to fill many more mouths and we can be sure that the Master who insisted they do this, saw to it that those who did not attend the feast in person were fed.
The important thing to note is that if these extra mouths were to be fed there had to be a gathering. In times of plenty there tends to be wastage. And more than a warning not to be so wasteful next time, there order was to tidy up the crumbs left over.
Like the remark of the prodigal son in Jesus’ parable, my father has bread enough and to spare. If we think this is an age of spiritual famine, can we not find the baskets that were left over and distribute them!
“the contention was so sharp between them” Acts 15:39
Paul and Barnabas did not agree on whether to take Mark with them again, the young man who left them part way through their earlier missionary journey.
Barnabas was a loving brother whose first thought was the kindness he should show to Mark: Paul’s first thought was the work and Mark had shown he was not to be trusted.
It was two men dealing with a decision in different ways. They parted company and in hindsight we see that both were blessed in their separate ministries, Barnabas took Mark and Paul, Silas. The Bible record just leaves us to consider that word “contention”.
It would have been better if in our relationships one with the other we found a way round without “contention”.
“Yet there are some of you who do not believe” John 6:64(NIV)
We must not be surprised that not all who hear believe the message of the gospel.
The important thing is not to lose the truth that we need to believe if we are to be saved.
Those who did not believe may have thought the words of Jesus to be good, even commended Him to others and had adopted a way of life that looked as if they were disciples. But the essential thing was missing. They did not commit themselves to Jesus or believe. Faith is the gift of God whereby we reach out to the Lord and receive from Him. It opens the door to a completely new experience of trust and commitment that provides the assurance of salvation and readiness to make Jesus Lord.
“the Lord was my support” Psalm 18:18 (NIV)
David was being pursued by his enemies. His life was on the line and the threat of death was all around him. He was being chased from one hiding place to another, unsure who he could trust. But on reflection he declared this truth. ‘The Lord was my support’. Sometimes in the midst of the struggles, we don’t recognise the support that the Lord gives us. But He is there. Jehovah Shammah. His Name promises that whatever may be going on, whatever we may feel, however tough the going may be, the Lord is there. He lifts us up when we fall down. He keeps us going when we would otherwise give up. He gives us peace when trouble is all around. He carries us when our strength is gone. The Lord is our support because his Name has promised it. AP
“though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does” II Corinthians 10:3(NIV)
Modern technology means that we know how to wage war without one side making physical contact as, for example the use of drones, pilotless killer aircraft. But the Christian warfare does make contact albeit in a different media. This is a spiritual warfare. Those who engage in it can get to know how real it is.
Receiving Christ, calling on Him for a spiritual renewal opens one’s eyes to a dimension of the Spirit probably completely unknown before. Living in this world the soldiers of the Cross of Jesus, engage the evil spirits and influences of darkness.
Right will triumph over wrong: the victory is assured though just now it may be a bruising conflict.
“she served Naaman’s wife” II Kings 5:2(NIV)
This young girl had been captured and probably sold as a servant. But whilst she served her mistress she also remembered her loyalty to God. When opportunity came she spoke boldly of her faith in a God who heals. Being a servant in a foreign land didn’t stop this girl from doing good for others. Many of us have to work in places and amongst people we might not naturally choose. We may long to be elsewhere, doing something different but we feel trapped by our circumstances.
Like this girl, let us not miss opportunities that the Lord gives us to speak of Him. Because she spoke up, lives were changed and she gave us an example. Be surprised by what the Lord can do, even when you feel out of place. AP