Day 87

Ten Top Tips for God’s Messengers

Wisdom Psalm 37:32–40
New Testament Luke 6:37–7:10
Old Testament Numbers 22:21–23:26


Billy Graham died on 21 February 2018 at the age of ninety-nine. As a messenger of God, he had planned his own funeral very carefully to be a call for people to put their faith in Jesus.

He had said beforehand, ‘Someday you will read or hear that Billy Graham is dead. Don’t believe a word of it. I shall be more alive than I am now. I will just have changed my address. I will have gone into the presence of God.’

In 1934, at the age of sixteen, he’d heard God’s call and became a faithful messenger of the gospel. He spoke about Jesus to over 210 million people in person and to almost half the population of the world on TV or radio. He was determined to make the most of every opportunity, including his own funeral, to pass on God’s message to the world.

My messenger’ is the way John the Baptist is described by God (Luke 7:27). You too can be God’s messenger. Jesus speaks of ‘the message about the kingdom’ (Matthew 13:19). In the New Testament, ‘the message’ is a synonym for ‘the gospel’ (see Acts 2:41; 4:4; 10:44 and so on). Our task is both to hear this message and to declare it to others (1 John 1:5).


Psalm 37:32–40

32 The wicked lie in wait for the righteous,
   intent on putting them to death;
33 but the LORD will not leave them in the power of the wicked
   or let them be condemned when brought to trial.

34 Hope in the LORD
   and keep his way.
He will exalt you to inherit the land;
   when the wicked are destroyed, you will see it.

35 I have seen a wicked and ruthless man
   flourishing like a luxuriant native tree,
36 but he soon passed away and was no more;
   though I looked for him, he could not be found.

37 Consider the blameless, observe the upright;
   a future awaits those who seek peace.
38 But all sinners will be destroyed;
   there will be no future for the wicked.

39 The salvation of the righteous comes from the LORD;
   he is their stronghold in time of trouble.
40 The LORD helps them and delivers them;
   he delivers them from the wicked and saves them,
   because they take refuge in him.


1. Stay close to God

If you want to hear God’s message, you need to ‘wait passionately for God, don’t leave the path’ (v.34a, MSG). ‘The spacious, free life is from God, it’s also protected and safe. God-strengthened, we’re delivered from evil – when we run to him, he saves us’ (vv.39–40, MSG).

Lord, help me to stay close to you, staying on your path and hoping in you.

2. Seek Peace

God’s messengers must be messengers of peace; ‘For there is a happy end for the man of peace’ (v.37b, AMP). God’s messengers should not be stirrers or seek to bring unnecessary division. Rather, be a person of peace. Jesus said, ‘Blessed are the peacemakers’ (Matthew 5:9).


Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love.

New Testament

Luke 6:37–7:10

Judging Others

37 “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. 38 Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”

39 He also told them this parable: “Can the blind lead the blind? Will they not both fall into a pit? 40 The student is not above the teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like their teacher.

41 “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 42 How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when you yourself fail to see the plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

A Tree and Its Fruit

43 “No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. 44 Each tree is recognized by its own fruit. People do not pick figs from thornbushes, or grapes from briers. 45 A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.

The Wise and Foolish Builders

46 “Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say? 47 As for everyone who comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice, I will show you what they are like. 48 They are like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built. 49 But the one who hears my words and does not put them into practice is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. The moment the torrent struck that house, it collapsed and its destruction was complete.”

The Faith of the Centurion

7 When Jesus had finished saying all this to the people who were listening, he entered Capernaum. 2 There a centurion’s servant, whom his master valued highly, was sick and about to die. 3 The centurion heard of Jesus and sent some elders of the Jews to him, asking him to come and heal his servant. 4 When they came to Jesus, they pleaded earnestly with him, “This man deserves to have you do this, 5 because he loves our nation and has built our synagogue.” 6 So Jesus went with them.

He was not far from the house when the centurion sent friends to say to him: “Lord, don’t trouble yourself, for I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. 7 That is why I did not even consider myself worthy to come to you. But say the word, and my servant will be healed. 8 For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and that one, ‘Come,’ and he comes. I say to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.”

9 When Jesus heard this, he was amazed at him, and turning to the crowd following him, he said, “I tell you, I have not found such great faith even in Israel.” 10 Then the men who had been sent returned to the house and found the servant well.


3. Do not judge

Jesus says, ‘Do not judge’ and ‘Do not condemn’ (6:37). ‘Don’t pick on people, jump on their failures, criticise their faults’ (v.37, MSG). Jesus’ famous story about trying to take a ‘speck of dust’ out of someone else’s eye when we have a ‘plank’ in our own eye is a challenging one (vv.41–42). It is far easier to see the faults in those around me than to see my own shortfalls and weaknesses. If we live this way, we will always be falling out with others.

I need to pay more attention to my own faults and the areas where I need to grow. Only then can I help reconcile others to God in their struggles. When you treat others with the same patience God shows you, you are much more likely to get on with everybody else and recognise the validity of other people’s ministries.

Lord, help me to remove the ‘planks’ from my life and to extend grace to those around me.

4. Forgive others

Jesus said, ‘Forgive, and you will be forgiven’ (v.37b). Forgive people even if they are not sorry. Forgiveness saves the expense of anger, the cost of hatred and the waste of energy. The forgiveness that God gives you should be a virtuous circle that overflows into your relationships with others.

Lord, thank you that you have forgiven me. Help me to forgive others, regardless of whether they are sorry or not.

5. Give away your life

As we saw yesterday, generosity is at the heart of Christianity. In this passage Jesus reiterates that message: ‘Give away your life; you’ll find life given back, but not merely given back – given back with bonus and blessing. Giving, not getting, is the way. Generosity begets generosity’ (v.38, MSG).

Lord, help me to reflect your generosity in my attitude to others. Help me to look for the good in others, to forgive, and to give.

6. Hitch your wagon to a star

‘Hitch your wagon to a star’ was the best piece of advice I was given when I was looking for a place to train as a pastor. Jesus says, ‘The student is not above the teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like their teacher’ (v.40). As I looked at Sandy Millar, I knew that he was the ‘star’ that I wanted to be like. Therefore, I wanted to train under him because even though I felt I would never equal the wisdom and gifting of my teacher, at least I knew what I was aiming for.

That is why I often read life stories of people like William Wilberforce, Corrie ten Boom, Martin Luther King Jr, Mother Teresa and Bryan Stevenson. Their examples enrich us and inspire us to aim higher. Of course, Jesus ultimately is the only star. Hitch your wagon to him.

Lord, thank you for the heroes of the faith who have gone before me, and for the leaders that you have put in my life. Help me to learn from them and to aim higher in my walk with you.

7. Guard your heart

Jesus says, ‘Good people bring good things out of the good stored up in their hearts, and an evil person brings evil things out of the evil stored up in their hearts. For out of the overflow of one’s heart the mouth speaks’ (v.45). If you want to be God’s messenger you have to fill your heart with his message, his presence and his love. Billy Graham always used to say he liked to speak ‘out of the overflow’.

Lord, help me to guard my heart and store up good within it. As David prayed, ‘create in me a pure heart, O God’ (Psalm 51:10).

8. Obey God’s Word

Superficially the two houses looked the same. But the one that collapsed had no foundation (Luke 6:49). Jesus said, ‘If you just use my words in Bible studies and don’t work them into your life, you are like a dumb carpenter who built a house but skipped the foundation’ (v.49, MSG).

The difference between the two is that the wise person hears the message and puts it into practice (v.47). It is not enough to study God’s message. Live it out. Knowing God’s Word and obeying it should be the foundation of your life.

Lord Jesus, help me to listen to your words and to put them into practice in my life.

9. Be under authority

All authority comes from being under authority. The centurion recognised that Jesus’ authority came from being under authority, just as his own authority as a centurion to give commands came from being ‘under authority’ (7:8).

Your message today will have authority if you are under God’s authority and are led by his Holy Spirit. This authority does not belong to you: you are authorised by God to be his messenger. The apostle Paul spoke of being an ‘ambassador’ of the gospel (2 Corinthians 5:20).


Lord Jesus, thank you that you have authorised me to be your messenger. Help me to be a faithful ambassador of the gospel to those around me.

Old Testament

Numbers 22:21–23:26

Balaam’s Donkey

21 Balaam got up in the morning, saddled his donkey and went with the Moabite officials. 22 But God was very angry when he went, and the angel of the LORD stood in the road to oppose him. Balaam was riding on his donkey, and his two servants were with him. 23 When the donkey saw the angel of the LORD standing in the road with a drawn sword in his hand, it turned off the road into a field. Balaam beat it to get it back on the road.

24 Then the angel of the LORD stood in a narrow path through the vineyards, with walls on both sides. 25 When the donkey saw the angel of the LORD, it pressed close to the wall, crushing Balaam’s foot against it. So he beat the donkey again.

26 Then the angel of the LORD moved on ahead and stood in a narrow place where there was no room to turn, either to the right or to the left. 27 When the donkey saw the angel of the LORD, it lay down under Balaam, and he was angry and beat it with his staff. 28 Then the LORD opened the donkey’s mouth, and it said to Balaam, “What have I done to you to make you beat me these three times? ”

29 Balaam answered the donkey, “You have made a fool of me! If only I had a sword in my hand, I would kill you right now. ”

30 The donkey said to Balaam, “Am I not your own donkey, which you have always ridden, to this day? Have I been in the habit of doing this to you?”

“No,” he said.

31 Then the LORD opened Balaam’s eyes, and he saw the angel of the LORD standing in the road with his sword drawn. So he bowed low and fell facedown.

32 The angel of the LORD asked him, “Why have you beaten your donkey these three times? I have come here to oppose you because your path is a reckless one before me. 33 The donkey saw me and turned away from me these three times. If it had not turned away, I would certainly have killed you by now, but I would have spared it.”

34 Balaam said to the angel of the LORD, “I have sinned. I did not realize you were standing in the road to oppose me. Now if you are displeased, I will go back.”

35 The angel of the LORD said to Balaam, “Go with the men, but speak only what I tell you.” So Balaam went with Balak’s officials.

36 When Balak heard that Balaam was coming, he went out to meet him at the Moabite town on the Arnon border, at the edge of his territory. 37 Balak said to Balaam, “Did I not send you an urgent summons? Why didn’t you come to me? Am I really not able to reward you?”

38 “Well, I have come to you now,” Balaam replied. “But I can’t say whatever I please. I must speak only what God puts in my mouth.”

39 Then Balaam went with Balak to Kiriath Huzoth. 40 Balak sacrificed cattle and sheep, and gave some to Balaam and the officials who were with him. 41 The next morning Balak took Balaam up to Bamoth Baal, and from there he could see the outskirts of the Israelite camp.

Balaam’s First Message

23 Balaam said, “Build me seven altars here, and prepare seven bulls and seven rams for me.” 2 Balak did as Balaam said, and the two of them offered a bull and a ram on each altar.

3 Then Balaam said to Balak, “Stay here beside your offering while I go aside. Perhaps the LORD will come to meet with me. Whatever he reveals to me I will tell you.” Then he went off to a barren height.

4 God met with him, and Balaam said, “I have prepared seven altars, and on each altar I have offered a bull and a ram.”

5 The LORD put a word in Balaam’s mouth and said, “Go back to Balak and give him this word.”

6 So he went back to him and found him standing beside his offering, with all the Moabite officials. 7 Then Balaam spoke his message:

   “Balak brought me from Aram,
     the king of Moab from the eastern mountains.
   ‘Come,’ he said, ‘curse Jacob for me;
     come, denounce Israel.’
   8 How can I curse
     those whom God has not cursed?
   How can I denounce
     those whom the Lord has not denounced?
   9 From the rocky peaks I see them,
     from the heights I view them.
   I see a people who live apart
     and do not consider themselves one of the nations.
   10 Who can count the dust of Jacob
     or number even a fourth of Israel?
   Let me die the death of the righteous,
     and may my final end be like theirs! ”

11 Balak said to Balaam, “What have you done to me? I brought you to curse my enemies, but you have done nothing but bless them!”

12 He answered, “Must I not speak what the LORD puts in my mouth?”

Balaam’s Second Message

13 Then Balak said to him, “Come with me to another place where you can see them; you will not see them all but only the outskirts of their camp. And from there, curse them for me. ” 14 So he took him to the field of Zophim on the top of Pisgah, and there he built seven altars and offered a bull and a ram on each altar.

15 Balaam said to Balak, “Stay here beside your offering while I meet with him over there.”

16 The LORD met with Balaam and put a word in his mouth and said, “Go back to Balak and give him this word.”

17 So he went to him and found him standing beside his offering, with the Moabite officials. Balak asked him, “What did the LORD say?”

18 Then he spoke his message:

   “Arise, Balak, and listen;
     hear me, son of Zippor.
   19 God is not human, that he should lie,
     not a human being, that he should change his mind.
   Does he speak and then not act?
     Does he promise and not fulfill?
   20 I have received a command to bless;
     he has blessed, and I cannot change it.

   21 “No misfortune is seen in Jacob,
     no misery observed in Israel.
   The LORD their God is with them;
     the shout of the King is among them.
   22 God brought them out of Egypt;
     they have the strength of a wild ox.
   23 There is no divination against Jacob,
     no evil omens against Israel.
   It will now be said of Jacob
     and of Israel, ‘See what God has done!’
   24 The people rise like a lioness;
     they rouse themselves like a lion
   that does not rest till it devours its prey
     and drinks the blood of its victims.”

25 Then Balak said to Balaam, “Neither curse them at all nor bless them at all!”

26 Balaam answered, “Did I not tell you I must do whatever the LORD says?”


10. Finish well

According to the New Testament, Balaam’s life is a counterexample. He is cited as an example of a false prophet: ‘They have left the straight way and wandered off to follow the way of Balaam son of Bezer, who loved the wages of wickedness. ‘But he was rebuked for his wrongdoing by a donkey – an animal without speech – who spoke with a human voice and restrained the prophet’s madness’ (2 Peter 2:15–16).

It is a warning against ignoring the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Three times the angel of the Lord tried to stop Balaam going with Balak. But Balaam was determined to go in spite of the fact that the angel of the Lord was trying to stand in his way and said to him, ‘I have come here to oppose you because your path is a reckless one before me’ (Numbers 22:32).

Balaam had set out to accept a fee for giving Balak the oracle he wanted to hear. Yet, we see in the passage for today that at one stage in Balaam’s life he had tried to do the right thing. He said, ‘I must speak only what God puts in my mouth’ (22:38; see also 23:8,12,26).

Balaam’s life is a warning that even those who are used by God can get themselves into a mess. It is an encouragement to keep on doing what Balaam, at one point, set out to do – to hear God’s message and pass it on to others. Be faithful and finish well.


Lord, help me to be your faithful messenger. I want to be sensitive to the guidance of your Holy Spirit, to follow where you are leading and to stay faithful to the end.

Pippa adds

Numbers 22:21–28

I don’t like people being cruel to animals. Sometimes animals are more sensible than humans, as in the case of Balaam’s donkey; God used an animal to speak to Balaam as we see in Numbers 22.

Balaam was determined to go on despite the obstacles. The difficulty we face in life is to work out what God’s plan is. It is sometimes hard to work out whether God is stopping us from going down a disastrous route, or whether there is opposition that we need to pray through to overcome. Either way prayer is the key.



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The Bible with Nicky and Pippa Gumbel (commentary formerly known as Bible in One Year) ©Alpha International 2009. All Rights Reserved.

Compilation of daily Bible readings © Hodder & Stoughton Limited 1988. Published by Hodder & Stoughton Limited as the Bible in One Year.

Unless otherwise stated, Scripture quotations taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version Anglicised, Copyright © 1979, 1984, 2011 Biblica, formerly International Bible Society. Used by permission of Hodder & Stoughton Publishers, an Hachette UK company. All rights reserved. ‘NIV’ is a registered trademark of Biblica. UK trademark number 1448790.

Scripture quotations marked (AMP) taken from the Amplified® Bible, Copyright © 1954, 1958, 1962, 1964, 1965, 1987 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. (

Scripture quotations marked MSG are taken from The Message, copyright © 1993, 2002, 2018 by Eugene H. Peterson. Used by permission of NavPress. All rights reserved. Represented by Tyndale House Publishers.

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