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 164 Month 2 WEEK ONE
“she kept on praying to the Lord” I Samuel 1:12(NIV)
Perseverance is a characteristic of true prayer. It is asking expecting to receive and continuing to ask until an answer is given.
Unless you have asked repeatedly you may never appreciate how Hannah could remain long in an attitude of prayer and in such a manner that the aged priest thought she was intoxicated.
We ask because we believe God gives and seek knowing He is to be found and knock expecting closed doors to open.
That Hannah was misunderstood did not diminish the intensity of her prayer. Neither was she deterred because of the seeming impossibility of her request. Her attitude is one to be emulated – she kept on praying to the Lord.
“The large crowd listened to him with delight” Mark 12:37(NIV)
They had never heard anyone quite like Jesus. Not only did he tell a good story but He revealed the hypocrisy of the religious leaders and pulled the rug of pomposity from under their feet. His teaching had authority and He had time for the ordinary and marginalised. And how we’d have loved to be there! Yet we can still share that delight, and even more.
The Psalmist said ‘I delight in your decrees…your commands…in your law.’ As Jesus pointed out, there is a difference between simply hearing what is said and actually putting it into practice. And that is what brings the delight; God’s Word comes alive, it rebukes, it exhorts, it reveals, it feeds our very being. But we have to read it and do so with the help of the Spirit. AP
“well versed in the Law of Moses” Ezra 7:6(NIV)
This doesn’t simply mean that Ezra could recite the law of Moses – though he probably could. It indicates a clear understanding of the words and their meaning and an ability to share it with others. The word translated ‘versed’ conveys a readiness to share what he knew. He didn’t just want to be full of knowledge but wanted it to make a difference to people’s lives.
This is something we need today. Ordinary people who soak in God’s Word and are ready and willing to share it with others. As important as reading is the listening to what the Spirit teaches us through His Word and this can be inscribed on our hearts. Let’s read, understand and then be ready to share with others, one-to- one. AP
“Boast not thyself of tomorrow” Proverbs 27:1
There’s a firmer hand than yours controlling everything. It is true that day succeeds day in a regular way and predictions made are usually kept but all you do is “by the grace of God.” Boasting is an inflated description of what you have no real control over. It is engaged in by those who want to tell us what they wish were true.
Engage with the day, meet its demands, dispense its help and assistance. Do something with it that will please God and benefit your fellow man and you’ll have no time or desire to boast.
What strength and care you can muster is nothing to boast about. Give glory and honour to the One who gives you these day by day.
“the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah” I Peter 3:20
It took Noah 120 years to build his boat during which time he is described as a preacher of righteousness. His preaching must have warned the people of their sinful lives and of the judgment to come.
Then only eight souls, all Noah’s family were saved. God must have known this but the fact that He persisted in that long period of waiting graphically illustrates God’s long suffering. Those who do not or will not heed God’s warning interpret His long suffering as disinterest and not carrying out His word. How mistaken they are!
But those who repent, sometimes even after many years, are eternally grateful that the longsuffering and goodness of God waited for thern and led them to repentance.
“Love you enemies” Matthew 5:44
This teaching of Jesus is quite contrary to popular thought. He Himself contrasts it to the saying “Love your neighbour and hate your enemies”, something we would accept as the way forward.
Jesus has a greater purpose for us. It is to be like our heavenly Father who sends sunshine and rain on the evil and the just. He means His followers to be above the level of retribution, giving them what they give you or making your way by stepping over others.
It is likely you will have enemies and perhaps for no reason. The only way to respond as Jesus wants, is to be like Him. Letting this mind of Christ be in you can only happen when Jesus is in you.
“and they shall know that I am the Lord” Ezekiel 25:17
Even the most casual reading of the Book of Ezekiel will show us that God’s punishments are designed to show the nations that have departed from the way, that He is the Lord.
This must be an important observation in a Book that is one of the least read or understood prophecies in the Bible. It means that though we cannot understand what God is doing in the affairs of men we know why He is doing it.
And if it is to show us in this life that He is the Lord, how much more in the life to come when all shall bow the knee and confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.
Better than being made to realise it through punishment that is meted out to us, is to know the Lord Jesus as Saviour and Lord now: to be under God’s gracious love and care..
“My lord, let the blame be on me alone” I Samuel 25:24(NIV)
What a delightful lady Abigail was! And made all the more attraction by her churlish husband. He didn’t deserve anyone to speak for him and his foolish behaviour. We see Abigail’s beauty and humility as she bowed before David and accepted all the blame. She saved a threatened slaughter of all her family and loss of their estate.
There’s value for accepting the blame, even for what you have not done, when it deflects punishment from those who do not deserve it.
The charm offensive of this one lady was used in the providence of God to introduce her to the royal line. She takes the credit for averting disaster. Her churlish husband dropped dead and she was taken by David in marriage.
“continued to spread the word” John 12:17(NIV)
The raising of Lazarus was a one-off event, but these people kept talking about it. As a result even more people wanted to meet Jesus. In fact the Pharisees felt that ‘the whole world has gone after him!’ In a society that is more and more ignorant of Christ Jesus, there is just as much need, if not more, for those of us who have new life in Christ and have witnessed His transforming power, to spread the word. With increasing opposition and restrictions on Christian witness, we need to talk about what Jesus is doing in people’s lives whilst we still can.
If God is graciously at work in our lives, then we must generously tell others so that they can also experience new life in Him. Spread the word – today. AP
“Elisha put his hands on the king’s hands”II Kings 13:16(NIV)
For the king this was like an anointing. The king held the bow but the aged prophet on his deathbed fired the shot.
The analogy breaks down concerning any anointing or empowering or experience because the Lord who places His hand on our trembling hand is mighty and all-powerful.
We fear we shall miss our life’s target if the Lord will not empower us. King Jehoash was told to shoot his arrows into the ground but he only shot an arrow three times and then stopped with the task half done. Elisha was angry with him.
And God intends us to keep going until our arrows are all used. Let the power of the Lord anoint your hands, not for onespecial occasion but all the time and reaching out to the place He has put you.
“banish anxiety from your heart”Ecclesiastes 11:10(NIV)
This is part of the exhortation to remember our creator in the days of our youth. Youth is an exciting time but we can miss the most important thing, that it is building a life. The foundation needs to be Jesus.
Knowing Him as a Living Lord and Saviour, it is with the peace of Jesus within that anxiety can be banished from the heart. When care is cast upon Him the heart can rejoice without fear or hindrance.
So then remove anxiety about things that might happen and that cast their long shadow on this day. How to have peace in a hostile environment? The answer to this is to pray the Prince of Peace to cleanse every stain and make His dwelling within.
“the members should have the same care one for another” I Corinthians 12:25
There is no variation in the quality of care the Lord offers His children. It is always heaven’s best. No good thing will He withhold from those that walk uprightly. And now, the same care should be extended by us to one another. Do for the least what you would do for the greatest. Think what you would do for a close friend and be ready to repeat it for someone who might be thought to be the least among you and who is in need of care. Christ’s care for the brethren is the standard.
Our care for one another should be patterned on Christ’s love displayed in the believer. It is there in full measure to be poured out as needed.
“your heavenly Father knows that you have need of all these things”Matthew 6:32(RAV)
The list of things we think we need can be made to look very long. Many of the items are what we fear we might need.
God knows our needs, present and future. More important, those seeking to get His gifts should know the Giver.
A life placed in the hand of the Lord draws strength from Him. He gives great grace to all who look to Him in faith. Be aware of your need but don’t dwell on it. Rather look to Him to meet it.
Know the Lord leading you in paths that you might never have known outside His love and care.
Dear to His heart are the lives of all His children.
Because our heavenly Father knows let us drink deeply of the well of salvation.
“In the day of the Lord’s anger no-one escaped or survived” Lamentations 2:22(NIV)
Jeremiah laments the fall of Jerusalem and the Babylonian captivity. And it is an indication of the sinful state of man that massacres continue to the present day.
The dreadful thing both then and now is that many innocent are caught when there is wholesale slaughter. The Old Testament history would teach us lessons to be learned from God’s judgments against the perpetrators of evil and their children. Consideration of these prophecies should make us flee to God for refuge and salvation that is offered through the merit of the atoning blood of Christ.
We also take comfort from the truth that judgment to come after death will right the wrongs that have been left unsettled in this life.
“Queen Vashti refused to come” Esther 1:12 (NIV)
We rather lose sight of Queen Vashti who was replaced by the rising star of Esther because of her refusal to attend king Xerxes’ summons to attend his banquet for all his nobles and officials. The king was intoxicated from six days drinking and wanted Vashti to wear her royal crown and display her beauty before the drunken assembly. She refused to come and her decision stands out as exemplary for all who would live godly in our hedonistic society.
Vashti paid a price for her refusal but she kept her purity and integrity intact which was of greater value.
There is moral strength in a refusal made in the face of the enticement and temptation of this world’s pleasures today.
“on the way they were made clean” Luke 18:14(GNB)
These words graphically describe these ten men acting together and acting in obedience. We marvel at the ten miracles in one, and rightly so, but the way the lepers’ faith took hold of the words of Jesus was itself miraculous.
For ten men to act in consort is something worth stopping to marvel at! They had the word of the Lord in person, we have His word in the Scriptures.
It needs appreciation that if it is the voice of the Lord we hear. Only then, when we’ve identified the Son of God, can we reach out in faith and believing obey what He tells us.
And as they did this they were cleansed. Just standing discussing the marvels of what they had heard would have got them nowhere!
“you did well to have this in your heart” II Chronicles 6:8(NIV)
We can take great comfort from the way God commended David for his desire to build a temple for the Lord. Many are the good intentions that have got no farther than desires in the heart and that we have long forgotten. But God is not unmindful.
We must seek to do good and pursue it realising that much that is planned will not get off the drawing board.
What we begin is often continued by those who come after us and David had the great joy of seeing Solomon both build and dedicate the temple.
Though David was not taken on as builder, he put time and energy into collecting building material. In that he behaved in an exemplary manner that we should note.
“You who fear the Lord, praise Him! Psalm 22:23(NIV)
Their fear is not one of dread but of respect and honour. It is a right appreciation of the glory and majesty of the Great God who became our Saviour!
We can be sure that praise from these hearts is sincere. It comes from those who are devoted to Him. And this verse reminds us it is our responsibility to praise Him. Remember how Jesus said that stones would cry out if His People did not praise Him.
We must not get too engrossed in the business of the day or the fascination of what we have taken upon ourselves to do.
And on those dull days when even the birds do not sing, let the praise of his people break the silence and dispel the gloom.
“many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep” I Corinthians 11:30
This was the Apostle Paul’s description of those in the church in Corinth. Could it be the same for many of us today?
The reason Paul gives is disrespect for the Communion Service or Lord’s Table. They ate and drank the bread and cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner. “Not discerning the Lord’s body” as he said.
This was a travesty of Calvary. The suffering and death of Christ is to be at the very centre of our worship and points to a meaningful experience. Disregard was causing spiritual weakness and Christian faith to be at a low ebb.
The believers were observing a ritual when their need was to commemorate a spiritual life.
“lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven” Matthew 6:20
A lot of energy is expended trying to get more in this life only to lose it all sooner or later
The message needs to get around that there is a better way. The point of concern is the place of need. When there is a need, there is usually an opportunity to open an account in the bank of heaven.
Jesus went about doing good and it is a characteristic of His followers that they do the same.
When you can help someone who cannot help themselves or if you can arrest a deteriorating condition, treasure is waiting to be credited to your account.
Best of all, be ready to take instruction from the Lord about the work He has for you.
“He still prays three times a day” Daniel 6:13(NIV)
It is not praying three times a day that marks out Daniel but that he did not alter the habit of his worship and prayer to the Lord when threatened by the king. Drawing near to God habitually as he did meant that he was receiving counsel and encouragement from the Lord all along.
Those who meet the Lord in prayer only occasionally cannot expect to be in tune with heaven’s activities as the regular worshippers.
The enemies of Daniel thought they had trapped him and even the king was distressed. They did not envisage that the God of Daniel was the God of the lions and that no venture planned against the children of God was to prosper in the end.
“the child, laid … in her lap” Ruth 4:16 (NIV)
We leave Naomi in this scene, a grandmother nursing the young child on her lap and caring for him, something she did not think she would ever have the joy of doing.
The lap of a loving mother or grandmother is probably the place of greatest love and instruction a young child could know.
When old enough to sit on a lap but as yet uninitiated in the things of the world, it fell to mother or grandmother to lay a foundation in the young child’s mind to be built upon.
No better place for the young child to be and judgment be upon those who do not provide it.
For the sanity and security of a future generation, God protect the laps of our nursing mothers!
“Felix came with his wife Drusilla” Acts 24:24
We are left to wonder what help Drusilla gave to her husband on this occasion when he was asked to judge in the case against Paul.
A wife has opportunity to influence her husband for good and to steer him away from a hasty or erroneous judgment. Another husband and wife partnership in this Book of Acts is Ananias and Sapphira where we find there was collusion between them and a conspiracy to do evil.
Then there was Aquila and Priscilla who helped Paul both in finding him work and in wise counsel and fellowship. No wife need feel she is of no consequence and a godly wife can be of greatest support to her husband
“may your eyes be open and your ears attentive” II Chronicles 6:40(NIV)
Solomon wanted to be sure that God would be aware and involved in all he was doing
He was also aware that there would be man-made obstacles at times that can get in the way and it was these he was asking should not obstruct.
Furthermore, Solomon wanted it to be known that it was a prayer-answering God who attended to suppliants in this temple.
Lastly his request in this manner recognised that neither he nor any others whose prayers might ascend were deserving of whatever mercy and grace God would bestow on them.
It is this coming in this way and in such sincerity that makes the arm of God move in support of His children.
“Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord” Psalm 33:12 (RAV)
Righteousness exalts a nation but sin is a reproach to any people. And in a day when declension is widespread, let us remember that a nation is made up of individuals. We don’t go along with the nation, we are everyone of us a part of an earthly nation, into whatsoever group it is we identify.
So if our nation will not make God their Lord, let us be sure that our part, small though that contribution may be, exalts and uplifts Jesus our Saviour and Lord. Let us be directed and guided by Him. Let our conduct glorify His Name.
In a day when wars rage and natural calamities seem to fall ever increasingly upon unsuspecting inhabitants, we need the blessing of God that makes rich and adds no sorrow to our experience and testimony.
“none of them received what had been promised” Hebrews 11:39(NIV)
Just one sentence to describe those whose prayers did not seem to be answered and whose suffering was not eased.
It calls for trust in the Lord when we see prayers not answered. Either we did not understand the promise, or fulfil the conditions: on no account was it that God failed: He cannot fail.
We draw the line when death overtakes us but God does not do so. He continues working. Many seeds fall into the ground that will only show fruit in the life to come.
There are enough instances of God answering prayer, delivering His children and miraculously providing to show us that He is able to do all things. These who did not receive what was promised gained a better resurrection.
“only believe”Mark 5:36
The ruler of the synagogue who came to Jesus for his daughter’s healing and while making the journey home heard that she had died had little else he could do.
Further medical aid would seem to be of no avail now. He could not turn back the clock to the morning hour when he left her still alive. It looked like one of those situations where what he had done made things worse instead of better.
From this point on Jesus led the way: Jairus followed Him back home, into the house, to the girl’s beside but he followed believing. His faith kept everything together.
It was a signal miracle Jesus performed: and showed him his need for faith – and our need in every situation, too.
“Correct me, Lord, but only with justice” Jeremiah 10:24(NIV)
Jeremiah recognised the value of submitting to the correction of God rather than provoking His anger. Correction is never easy to take but it is helped if we submit rather than being forced. Willingness to be corrected shows humility and a teachable spirit. Jeremiah’s justice will not leave us broken, but restored; not useless but ready for service. It speaks of a confidence that the Lord will do what is right and best, however painful that might be. Our pride may be hurt, our reputation may be tarnished but it’s better to be right than wrong before the Lord. Jeremiah took note and acted on God’s message of impending anger upon the sin of His people. We will do well to take correction from God. AP
“behold the place where they laid him” Mark 16:6
The angels wanted the women who came with their spices to see the place and be satisfied He had risen.
The empty tomb can inspire us today; to see the evidence of the greatest victory the world has ever seen, where Satan’s evil designs were brought to nothing and to inspire us to know that the Lord is a God of miracles who works on behalf of His followers. That empty tomb halted their plans for His embalmed body and completely changed whatever plans they were making for the future.
The empty tomb shows us what happens to the devil’s schemes against the followers of Jesus.
The place where Jesus lay points us to the exalted place He now occupies on the right hand of the Father.
“He told his disciples that a small boat should be kept ready for him!” Mark 3:9(RAV)
Jesus had tried to withdraw with His disciples to the sea but a great company followed Him from Jerusalem, Judea and beyond Jordan when they heard of His miracles. So Jesus took the precaution of having a small boat on hand should He need to teach those on the shore from it.
We don’t know who supplied the room hired for the Last Supper or how Jesus arranged with the owner of a donkey for His journey into Jerusalem but on this occasion it was the disciples who were to find the boat.
Owning a small boat was of little consequence until Jesus asked for it to be ready for use. So put the little you have at Christ’s disposal and be ready to serve Him with it.