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 163 Month 1 WEEK ONE
“Commit to the Lord whatever you do” Proverbs 16:3(NIV)
Do this and your plans will succeed. This may seem like an easy recipe for quick success, but take a closer look and it is squashed between ‘motives are weighed by the Lord’ and “The Lord works out everything for his own ends”.
If what we do is to be successful (lit. established) then the motives of our heart must be right and our plans must be in accordance with God’s will.
Bright ideas are not what the Lord is looking for in us, but a willingness to give our lives in service for Him. It’s not about us getting God to do what we want but us working with God to do what He wants.
As we lay out our lives today, let’s allow God’s will to be worked out in and through us. AP
“Do you want to get well?” John 5:6(NIV)
God’s greatest gifts are not given thoughtlessly and without purpose. If those in need do not see their plight or have no desire to be helped there is none of the healing found in Jesus.
When sick, consulting a doctor should be enough to convince us you think something is wrong. We must take this man’s wait at the Pool of Bethesda as evidence enough that he wanted to be healed. Jesus asked him the question because he may have lost any hope he had. He was brought there out of habit. He could tell you the reason why he had not been healed; he was too slow getting into the water.
In reality it was because he had never met Jesus. Much of our malady today can be attributed to the same reason.
“she keeps crying out after us” Matthew 15:23(NIV)
This woman was getting on the nerves of the disciples. She may not have had the sweetest voice and she may not have been the prettiest of women but she was persistent. Her request for healing on behalf of her daughter seemed to be ignored by Jesus.
It was getting too much for the disciples and they wanted her gone. But what was a nuisance for the disciples was an indication of faith for Jesus. She acknowledged her position as a Gentile and a woman, but she also acknowledged her reliance on the mercy of the Lord and received reward for her faith. Not only do we need the same humble and persistent attitude, but we need to learn to recognise it in others so we don’t turn them away from Jesus. AP
“Arise, shine, for your light has come!” Isaiah 60:1(RAV)
Jesus reminds us that He is the light of the world. And then tells us we are the lights of the world. Our lives must reflect His light. As lesser lights collecting beams from the greater light, we must shine in this world’s darkness.
That’s the very reason why some are in a very dark place – that they may shine there.
When Moses descended Mount Sinai after 40 days receiving the commandments his face shone and he did not know it.
When you walk with the Lord it is no difficult task to shine for Him. Arise, shine is the instruction to get up and go carrying the light of life with you.
The prophet Isaiah prophesied of the day when the period of darkness would be over. That light of the gospel shines now.
“they did all eat, and were filled” Mark 6:42
There is enough and to spare in the store house of Christ. Any who go hungry are not sitting at His table.
Good measure, pressed down and shaken together is the promise of God’s provision. He satisfies the longing soul and fills the hungry soul with goodness. And He does so today. Don’t just have a theory, let your faith be practical.
Trust in the Lord means eating at His table, receiving good things at His hand, obeying Jesus and making Him Lord. Then carrying the truth of fullness and satisfaction in salvation through Christ to the world around you.
Those who you are to meet are there that you might tell them about eating and being filled in Jesus
“What you are doing is not right.” Nehemiah 5:9(NIV)
There are times when we need to be told the facts as they really are. It appears that over time, amongst the Jews, the rich and influential had taken advantage of the poor and helpless and this had become the norm. But that didn’t make it right and it needed Nehemiah to give them a piece of God’s mind. It’s easy to fall into the same trap. Given time, what is acceptable in society can become acceptable within God’s people, so we must be on our guard and help one another. This is not to puff ourselves up or have a ‘holier than thou’ attitude, but simply to recognise that as members of God’s Kingdom, we live by His standards and not those of men. Following the rebuke, the people took action to put things right and it’s important for us to do the same. AP
“watch yourself” Galatians 6:1(NIV)
Some are so busy watching others that they have not time to watch themselves. They only wake up to reality when they have fallen into temptation and brought shame on the name of Christ. These feel the need to mind other’s business. They can put others right but don’t consider that their own conduct needs any attention.
Yet the more anyone mixes with those who have fallen the more liable they are to be tempted and fall themselves.
No-one won a race by looking at others. Our calling is to love and serve the Lord and the question “How am I doing?” is a question we do well to ask more often.
Watch out (for others) watch your step (the path you tread) and watch yourself for trouble within.
“whoever confesses and renounces them (his sins) finds mercy” Proverbs 28:13(NIV)
The first part of this proverb says that whoever conceals his sin will not prosper. So it might be worth looking at your life if you’re not getting on well and the thing to do is to confess and renounce what is sinful and then to find mercy.
Merely being sorry you have been found out means nothing at all. And confession with no intention of renouncing the evil you confess gets nowhere.
The greatest mercy that the human heart can crave is found at Calvary. And it is bestowed on all who recognise their true state before God and see the merit to be found in the One who died there.
Mercy there was great, grace is free and pardon multiplied to the penitent.
“you also should wash oneanother’s feet” John 13:14(NIV)
Washing feet was not pleasant. The feet would be hot and smelly, with dirt in between the toes and perhaps rough, cracked skin from stones and rubbing leather. It was for the slave to do. So Jesus does it as an example for us to follow. We may not do much literal washing of feet, but serving one another will mean accepting the dirt and grime of people’s situations and test our patience and gentleness. Nice looking people can have some real dirt in their lives that we need to wash with the love of Christ.
And one more thing: washed feet became dirty again once out on the road. So let’s not think that helping one another is a one-off event. We’ll be doing it again and again and again, just like our Lord and Teacher. AP
“She had suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors” Mark 5:26(NIV)
As in every generation we believe the doctors had done their best. They would say there was a limit on what they could do. This lady with a history of haemorrhage for twelve years came to Jesus who had no limitation. She was to give us an example of the power of Jesus to heal those who come in faith, believing. That faith was the gift of God placed in her heart by the Lord.
Her intention was to slip away unnoticed, but she had not taken into account what Jesus would do. He asked “Who touched me?” and when she came forward He spoke those wonderful words “Your faith has saved you.” Each one of us is called to exercise the faith God gives us in whatever faces us today.
“As soon as you began to pray, an answer was given” Daniel 9:23(NIV)
This is the assurance that the angel Gabriel gave to Daniel when he arrived with the answer to Daniel’s request for God to hear and forgive the sins of the people.
Such delay may well happen all the time but we do not know about it. Effectively it means that no Spirit-inspired prayer is ignored. God hears and answers all whocall to Him. Our problem is that the answer is not what we want or expected.
So pray in the Spirit, have faith in God, know that your prayer is an important part in a worldwide picture.
Because you see no sign of immediate movement it does not mean nothing is happening Your prayer is receiving attention of the best sort. God has the best in mind for His children.
“Lord, you know all things” John 21:17(NIV)
Jesus was putting His searchlight upon Peter and Peter was feeling the heat!
Peter realised that his words of assurance could mean very little when he had so grievously denied ever knowing Jesus in Pilate’s judgment hall. After hearing Jesus repeat His question three times, Peter realised he could not satisfy these with words so turned to what he knew to be truth -Jesus knew all that was in his heart and how he was now determined to never repeat his earlier denial.
His hope now rested on the fact that Jesus who knew what would happen had prayed for him and that was his ground for going forward in faith. So it is not so much what we say or promise to be but what we are that counts.
“Shammah took his stand in the middle of the field” II Samuel 23:12(NIV)
As one of David’s mighty men, Shammah is an example to us all. First he is named, clearly identified as one of David’s men. So for us, we must be identified with Christ, as his followers. Next, Shammah took his stand. He was ready and waiting – not running away like the others. In Ephesians we are given ‘spiritual’ armour to put on so that we can stand ready for the attack of the enemy. Sometimes we can see an attack coming, while at other times we’re caught by surprise. That’s why we must be properly dressed and ready to stand firm. Lastly, Shammah was in the middle of the field. This was a definite move. Not only could he be clearly seen, but also he could clearly see and so defeat the enemy. A definite stand for Christ will defeat Satan’s attack against us. AP
“keep your spiritual fervour, serving the Lord” Romans 12:11(NIV)
Paul is on a roll here. He has just encouraged the Church in Rome to offer themselves as ‘living sacrifices’ and to use their gifts for the good of the fellowship. Now he shares a few one-liners as the Spirit prompts him. Paul has dealt with some hefty theological issues and maybe anticipates the believers getting stuck in theological debate rather than living it out. So here’s the ‘live it out lads’ exhortation. The fervour (lit. burning) is linked with serving the Lord, so clearly speaking of action. It’s that passion we had for the Lord when we first believed. It’s that desire to be all out for Christ, whatever the cost. It’s that love for the lost that compels us to share the gospel. If it’s not there, let’s get it back by asking for a fresh experience of the Holy Spirit in our lives. AP
“he took the blind man by the hand” Mark 8.23
Jesus dealt with him in the way he would understand.
No waving of the arms, signalling or gesticulating: he was blind. Don’t give him directions: take hold of his hand and lead him.
The Lord will lead all of us in the way that suits us best if we let Him do so. He knows our peculiarities and more about us than we know ourselves. This blind man who was brought to Jesus for healing needed to get away from the crowd and out of the town. He did not need telling, but taking and Jesus did that.
Those must have been wonderful steps together as they walked hand in hand to the place of his complete healing. Our steps with Jesus should be the same, too.
“sheep having no shepherd” Matthew 9:36
Such was the description of the multitude that gathered to hear Jesus and it applies today.
We know that sheep need a shepherd yet few of us seem to realise that men and women need a shepherd for their souls.
When you don’t know what you want you can imagine all kinds of things that may do you good. Let us not try everything else first before we turn to the fountain and true source of counsel and help.
The Word of God, the ministry of the Holy Spirit and the testimony of those who love and know Jesus, tells us that Jesus is the Good Shepherd and to belong to His fold is our greatest need.
“Simon’s wife’s mother” Mark 1:30
She gets a mention in the Gospels because she was sick when Jesus came to the family home. The way the incident is recorded suggests that the plan may have been to leave her in another room, but someone told Jesus about her.
It is good to tell Jesus about everyone and everything in the home. Let there be no rooms where He is not admitted.
As it was, He came in, took her by the hand and lifted her up. The fever left her and she ministered to them.
Wherever sickness impedes our work for the Lord we reach out to Jesus, ask in faith and receive His healing touch.
There are times when sickness can play a part and like the Apostle Paul’s experience there are thorns in the flesh that never get removed.
“And I will spread my net upon him” Ezekiel 17:20
Throwing a net over anyone trying to escape usually stops them. No great wall or obstacle – just a net. Struggling only makes the tie up more complete. God has been throwing His net over those who rebel for as long as we know.
This verse relates to the King of Jerusalem who rebelled against Jehovah’s rule. The King of Babylon took him away but it was the hand of the Lord spreading His net upon him.
We need to learn from history and God’s dealings with others. Better not to rebel than to have God’s net thrown over you. You won‘t get out as fast as you fall into it.
Not out of fear, but because you know that God blesses and prospers those who do His will, be among those who love and serve Him.
“Do you want us to go and pull them up?” Matthew 13:28(NIV)
This is the question the servants asked in Jesus’ parable of the weeds and the tares. The answer is “No”; Don’t pull them up; let both grow together. The responsibility of the disciple is to sow seed, not pull it up. Pulling up or pulling out calls for judgment and that we are not called to give.
Know the gospel, receive the gospel and then preach the gospel. God gives the increase for the seed that is sown.
No labourer can see all that is going on. Who will dare to pass judgment in a situation that can change?
Seed lain dormant can suddenly germinate and grow. When that happens we thank God for the one who sowed it and that no one pulled it up when it could not be distinguished
“If the Lord does not help you, where can I get help for you?” II Kings 6:27(NIV)
The scene is the King of Israel speaking to a woman who had cried to him for help. In the extreme famine she and another woman experienced they began killing their children for meat. Unbelievable, but it still happens today in places.
The King said, in effect, that only God could help them.
Help them He did and within a matter of hours they were feasting on the banquet deserted by their fleeing enemies who had been besieging the city of Samaria.
Help from the Lord may seem an impossibility but when we cast ourselves on Him, when we recognize that only He can help us, we find help is near.
Let those who know they cannot do anything to help, call on the help that comes from the Lord
“Carry each other’s burdens” Galatians 6:2(NIV)
Quite a job when you have your own burdens to carry!
It is more than being sympathetic or even understanding. We used to say a ha’path of help is worth more than a cartload of pity! Better than standing watching someone struggling with heavy bags is to carry some of them.
We know that most burdens alluded to are much heavier than shopping bags. The face does not always betray the burdens the heart is carrying.
The world knows Christ is the great burden bearer and whoever sees Christ in you is likely to turn to you for a helping hand. Many times it is a listening ear, an understanding neighbor or a caring relation that can fill out the law of the love in Christ.
“They all ate and were satisfied” Matthew 15:37(NIV)
This is an important detail that Matthew adds to his description of the feeding of the 4000. When we eat at the world’s table we can be very dissatisfied. Indeed, if we listen to unbelievers and doubters we can become dissatisfied with what is our heavenly bread.
This happened with the Children of Israel in their desert wandering when they complained to Moses about the manna that God sent fresh from heaven every day.
We need to get a sanctified palate if we are to let the Lord feed us with these good things. The crowd had received three days teaching with Jesus and after that you would expect them ready for a meal.
Know spiritual discernment, feed on Him and be satisfied!
“At that time you will be given what to say” Matthew 10:19(NIV)
What a blessed promise this is! How easily we become tongue-tied or worse still, say the wrong thing.
If the promise Jesus gives is that our heavenly Father will give us what to say, our great need is to take His leading, follow His guidance and do our utmost to trust and rely on Him.
He will give you the words to say but you must be in a place to receive and ready to speak a word in His Name.
When you know the Lord you have a treasure and comfort found nowhere else and you are able to meet the need around you. But it is not just knowing what to say, but speaking out the Name of Jesus that is needed
“Esther besought him with tears to put away the mischief of Haman” Esther 8:3
The way that Queen Esther pleaded for her people, the Jews, imploring the king with her tears, to put away the evil devised by Haman, tells us how dedicated she was to the crusade that God had given her.
She knew that she had been called to the kingdom for such a time as this and she had concealed her identity that she might reach this position of influence with the king. But she did not leave pursuing her aim until the threatened slaughter was averted.
Everyone who aligns with Christ needs to crusade for the overthrow of evil in their surrounding area.
In this respect many more like Esther need to show they mean business!
“I will restore you to health and heal your wounds.” Jeremiah 30:17(NIV)
For a people in captivity, away from their homeland, these were sweet words indeed. As a people they had sinned and had suffered the consequences. They had been attacked, defeated and led into exile. The future seemed bleak. But God had not abandoned them and He promised restoration and healing. As Israel turned back to the Lord, so they found His unfailing love, mercy and grace.
It may be that we are in a similar place of desolation, or know someone else who is. Whatever the cause, whoever’s at fault, this promise still stands and there is restoration and healing with Jesus as we turn to Him for help. However damaged we are, Christ can restore. However deep the wounds, He can heal as we come to Him in faith. AP
“to the other side” Mark 8:13
There is another side to most things. If for any reason you can’t stay where you are the other side is waiting for you. That’s what Jesus did when folk on one side of the lake did not want His message – He left them and entering into the ship again, departed to the other side.
The other side is never quite the same but many have found it makes a refreshing change. And if some never go there they will not know the blessing you have on your side.
There also must be the realisation that your side does not have it all. The other side might be a little different but they are sure to have some things that are better.
And if they receive you readily and you find there is good success there, you’re glad you went over to the other side.
“he was not aware that his face was radiant” Exodus 34:29(NIV)
Moses had been in the presence of the Lord forty days so we are not surprised that he caught some of the radiance.
How was he to know that his face shone?
He did not want to draw attention to himself and when told that he displayed the heavenly radiance it took him by surprise.
Serve the Lord, draw near to Him and seek His face. You’ll be betraying something of this in your countenance.
The beauty of Jesus will be shared with others you meet when you’ve spent time in prayer and waiting on the Lord.
So get out and get among the needy ones and let them taste the fruits of heaven when you go into their midst and minister to physical and spiritual needs.
“whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God” I Corinthians 10:31(NIV)
It lets God into every corner of your life when you realise that by opening your heart to Him everything you do can be to His glory. This makes the mundane and monotonous things sacred. It brings home to us the need to do all things well knowing that of the Lord we shall receive a reward.
All things are ordered by the Lord and He has placed us where we are and with the ability we have. He understands and knows and feels and cares. No effort put into His service will be overlooked or not recognised for what it is worth.
So we have the responsibility to do all for the glory of God and doing this we shall find what an honour and responsibility we have.
“Make plans by seeking advice” Proverbs 20:18(NIV)
Our world and its society is very complicated and this proverb written thousands of years ago applies as ever it did.
We should let what we do be governed by what we know and this in turn comes from counsel and advice.
Taken together, people around us can together give us a picture we would get nowhere else. Sometimes warning us as well as giving sound advice and so on.
We all have to do some planning and we need to lay a firm foundation, decide on a good plan and get God’s grace to see it through.
You may feel you are thoroughly familiar with the matter in hand but take note of the shipwrecks in life because folk went off on their own and didn’t listen.
“it is what comes out of a man that makes him unclean” Mark 7:15(NIV)
Many are made to live and work under the most undesirable conditions and in an environment from which they cannot escape. But those who are pure within need not fear contamination.
Live godly and honestly and no matter how evil the world we live in, you can know the blessing of a pure heart cleansed by the blood of Jesus and kept clean and unspotted from that world. Our behaviour is what can defile and soil our testimony and it is how we live that we should jealously guard to be for God’s glory.
Be pure and display the purity of God’s love and grace to those with whom you rub shoulders day by day.