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 1 WEEK ONE
“the course of this world” Ephesians 2:2
There are two pathways through life, the way of the world and the path of discipleship. Sometimes we think they are running parallel, but careful observance will expose this wrong conclusion.
The course of this world is the path followed by those who do not love God or seek to do His commandments. The Devil directs this as he plots to waylay all who seek God.
The heavenly way is narrow and rugged and full of dangers. Only the presence of the Good Shepherd ensures travellers on it do not come to grief.
Laughter in the pleasure houses of this world may be loud but it is hollow. The heavenly road reverberates with the praises of Jesus and Eternal Joy.
“a catch” Luke 5:4(NIV)
Peter was invited by Jesus to let down his net into a sea that he had fished all night and caught nothing.
Time can be likened to a great sea and opportunity a net in that sea to catch something. It does need faith and trust in what we are doing and the seeking of God’s guidance to be operating in the right place and right way.
God’s will is detailed and extends to every life committed to Him. There are a number of requirements to be filled like seeking the Lord, asking in prayer, knocking in determination.
But your little corner of sea is not devoid of fish when He tells us to cast the net. And what Peter thought was a futile exercise produced so much fish the net broke.
“to those who have no might he increases strength” Isaiah 40:29(RAV)
The struggles to be faced in this world often call for more power than we can muster. The best of us are dismayed at what life expects from us at times.
In all cases the Lord promises to supply strength as needed for those who wait on Him. It may not be given beforehand and the conflict may already have begun when the grace to help begins to be felt, but it will not fail.
This, and other blessings listed as power to the faint, is received by those who wait upon the Lord. It is more than a quick visit to a prayer closet to collect what you think you need. It may mean a long period of waiting before Him. If so, this is not idle time, but preparation to receive the increase God has for you.
“ I have commanded a widow” I Kings 17:9(NIV)
This is a beautiful insight into the ‘behind the scenes’ workings of the Lord. Elijah was on the run from King Ahab and needed some ‘contacts’ to help him survive. God’s agents to help were ravens and this widow. Her part was nothing glamorous; we don’t even know her name; but the Lord took her every-day situation and made it a key part of His operation.
God uses ordinary people, doing ordinary things to achieve the extraordinary. Mundane lives can take on a whole new perspective when we make ourselves available as Christ’s agents. ‘A small cake’, ‘a cup of water’, ‘a crimson cord’, ‘a jar of oil’ become agents for change when used for the Lord. Let’s not despise the mundane. AP
“the true light which gives light to everyman” John 1:9(RAV)
All humanity is in the dark until the Light of Life shines into the heart. And when we read in this first chapter of John’s Gospel that Christ who is the true light shines to every man we see the need for everyone to respond to what might only be a very brief flash or encounter.
When the light of truth and revelation shines we need to take note. Only a positive response will bring more light that can lead us to the light of an eternal day.
In another place Jesus said the night comes when no man can work. Much evil is in our world that would obscure or extinguish that light given to every man. To refuse the invitation of the gospel to come to Christ may result in no other opportunity given.
“God is departed from me” I Samuel 28:15
This is the confession Saul made when confronted by the form of Samuel that the witch of Endor brought for him.
Saul’s behaviour was that of a man trying to manage without any help or guidance from the Lord. He was distressed as the Philistines made war against him.
Saul had said anyone contacting a witch should be banned from the land. Now he did that very thing he had forbidden because God was silent.
When any man realises that God’s care has left him he rightly feels bereft. Prayer is not answered, favour is no longer received and the future is bleak.
Saul reminds us that when declension takes place we should listen to the Lord and obey Him.
“Blessed is the man who always fears the Lord.” Proverbs 28:14(NIV)
Your faith needs to be sincere and steady. None of us wants an intermittent faith or an in-and-out experience of the will of God. So we must develop a trust in the Lord that rides triumphant through the trials and testing of life.
Our fear of the Lord should emanate from a proper understanding of who He is, what He is ready to do for us and that He will never forsake us when the going gets tough. In fact when we deny Him, He abides faithful, that is His Name, He cannot deny Himself.
When anyone holds the Lord in His rightful place, respecting His great love and care for His children, that person can know that the line will not be broken and God’s blessing be daily upon him.
“the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me” Galatians 2:20
Jesus is the Son of God. He is more than a figure in history. He is a living Saviour and Divine Friend.
Our need is to realise that His death on the Cross is a personal sacrifice “for me”.
Salvation is a personal experience received from a personal Saviour. He knew all who would respond to that love. That knowledge included you as an individual, He knew you by name and in detail of your personality.
It was not salvation “en bloc” or to a collection of individuals. He knew who would respond to the gospel message, knew them through and through and His love reached out to them. Knowing this is a tremendous testimony.
“Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” I Timothy 1:15
Christ Jesus is the most wonderful Person with the most glorious purpose and the most amazing result.
He is the central figure in the Bible, declared to be the Son of God by His resurrection from the dead. He is now a Living Saviour and Lord for all who follow Him.
The miracle that He came is without equal, living among us and blessing many in need as He made His way to the Cross. There is salvation in no-one else. No other name, no other with the power of the atoning blood to set the captive free and give the gift of eternal life.
His is a purpose that was achieved and blessing that has been experienced down the years and is enjoyed by all who repent and believe the gospel.
“prove me in this says the Lord” MalachI 3:10(RAV)
These words relate to doing what God asks of us and experiencing His blessing in our lives.
A tithe, or tenth, is what God asked each of His children to bring as their offering to the Lord. This was not confined to money but to their oxen, sheep, lambs and all their livestock, in fact of all the Lord had given them.
The word tells us we will prove the faithfulness of our God in blessing us beyond anything we could imagine.
God will respond positively to any move we make towards Him. And He will do so now. It is not something future but begins now. The blessing of obeying His Word and doing His will in our lives today gives the assurance of great rewards.
“she went out to meet him but Mary stayed at home” John 11:20(NIV)
There’s an interesting contrast highlighted here between Martha and Mary. Their characters begin to come out. By going to meet Jesus, Martha seems to want to have some control over his visit. She comes across as organised and aware. It is she who goes and tells Mary that Jesus wants to see her.
On the other hand Mary seems more pensive, reserved and sensitive, staying at home until she is called.
Each of them behaved in an individual way. The same is true for us. Our characters are different; our ways of doing things are different; our responses are different. But Jesus welcomes each one of us into his family and we make our contribution to the family of God. AP
“he loved them unto the end” John 13:1
You might have thought Jesus would become disenchanted with His unbelieving, arguing and stumbling disciples. Three of the best could not watch with Him for one hour as He prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane. When events called for the greatest devotion the disciples had a heated argument about which of them should be the greatest in the Kingdom of heaven!
As Jesus approached the end of His life we might expect Him to be so preoccupied that the intensity of His love for His followers to have waned. Not so.
The love of Jesus was strong and true for all who followed Him then and it is the same to all who follow now. In fact His love will never end.
“And the Lord was with Jehoshaphat” II Chronicles 17:3
A welcome testimonial in the midst of so many Kings of Judah that departed from following the Lord. He made a move to follow the Lord and so immediately he and his nation benefited.
Because the Lord was with him meant there was blessing in every part of his kingdom. The Lord established the kingdom in his hand and his subjects brought presents to show their gratitude.
Love and dedication to the Lord never goes unrewarded. Jehoshaphat walked in the ways of his father David. We might benefit more if we looked back to the godly lives of those who have gone before us.
“but the Lord weighs the heart” Proverbs 21:2(NIV)
We can only go on what we see coming from the heart. The Spirit of the Lord discerns its thoughts and intentions.
We can be mistaken but the Lord is never like that. He knows the capacity and potential found in the heart. He can measure its sincerity and most of all the love and devotion that we can direct to Him from our heart.
God’s plan for you is a product of His care. Whenever He gives or calls He knows we can do what He is asking us.
If the Lord so knows us we are foolish to try and hide things from Him whether by avoidance or deceit.
All a man’s ways seem right to him, but it is what the Lord says that matters. In fact, our best is to give Him our heart and enjoy the blessing that only Jesus within can give.
“godliness with contentment is great gain” I Timothy 6:6
Godliness is the way of the genuine Christian life. Contentment is an experience of satisfaction with all that is around you. And if these two meet, Paul says. you have great gain.
Godliness needs to be developed and encouraged to grow. It is using the hours and minutes of this day to feed and promote all that is good and honourable.
Contentment must come from the Lord if it is to remain. When you are laying up treasure in heaven you will not be much disturbed by fluctuation in this world’s markets.
Start the way you want to go forward and once you are experiencing the “great gain” build on it.
“Take heed that the light which is in you is not darkness” Luke 11:35(RAV)
The only way you can be sure you are lighting the way for others is to let the light of Christ shine through you.
Trying to succeed without Christ may get you much experience in the world, but only Christ shining from within can show the way that leads to life.
The world by wisdom does not know God. Those who do not acknowledge and glorify God are not thankful for the mercies He showers on all and in rejecting God their foolish heart is darkened.
A fool does what is right in his own eyes and lays open his own folly and the fool walks in darkness.
Only when Christ brings the light of the gospel of salvation can we be equipped to lead the way for others.
“I have loved you with an everlasting love” Jeremiah 31:3(NIV)
This was the word of the Lord to Jeremiah concerning Israel. It was needed since the nation had become so wayward it was in urgent need of restoration. While our love and obedience fluctuate God’s love holds firm. It has withstood the strains of testing and apostasy since sin first entered in the Garden of Eden and God continued in His plan for our world.
Throughout the Old Testament and in every generation since, God’s love continues firm and true built upon the work of redemption on the Cross.
Time witnesses to the fact that God’s love is everlasting.
So when a person is made aware of it and responds to it they may have no fear that it will be gone tomorrow.
“the whole town was stirred because of them” Ruth 1:19(NIV)
The return of Naomi and Ruth was a spectacle that made an impression on the whole town.
Naomi who went out full, now returned empty, except that is, for her delightful and devoted daughter-in-law, Ruth.
Naomi’s family had tried to escape famine but found they had gone to a land of emptiness and where almost all was lost.
The stirring thing was the way that she returned and the state she was in when she did so. And then to read how the Lord met her need in every way and through the loved ones she had left. She said she had come back empty but the Lord quickly filled her vessel to overflowing. We can bring our emptiness to the Lord.
“We have seen strange things today” Luke 5:26
If that is all you can say you have missed the mark completely. A paralytic healed when brought to Jesus on a stretcher by his friends heard Jesus forgive him from the sin of his past that brought him into this condition!
Those who witnessed this should have said we have seen a miracle of healing and have rejoiced in the blessing Jesus gave him.
If the Gospels only contain strange things we need them to lead us into a vital living relationship with the Son of God. God gives us eyes that recognise and a heart that understands when He is in our midst.
Move forward in your experience of Jesus to an active faith and participation of salvation.
“Those … with us are more than those … with them.” II Kings 6:16(NIV)
Paul said that we do not fight against flesh and blood – yet so often we fight as if we do. Elisha’s servant had seen the size of the ‘flesh and blood’ army surrounding them and he all but lost heart – ‘what shall we do?’ The reality of what we can see often blinds us to the reality of what we can’t see. We may not get our own view of the angelic powers that are on our side, but we have this record as the next best thing.
The Christian does have a sixth sense – an awareness that when we trust Christ we are always in the majority. That doesn’t give us the right to ‘throw our weight around’ – because it’s not our weight – but it does give us the assurance that we are never on our own, whatever we face or whatever comes against us AP
“Our help is in the name of the Lord” Psalm 124:8(NIV)
This Psalm lists some of the great things that the Lord has done for His Children. Like everyone else the follower of Jesus needs help if he or she is to live a God-fearing and praising life in an evil world.
The cry for help is not a frantic or plaintive call but a cry of trust in the God who comes to the aid of His children. His path varies for each one of us and the way we take is ordered by Him. In all our coming and going we are given the mighty Name of Jesus.
This is the Name that charms our fears, that puts the enemies of the gospel to flight and that can call on an infinite store of love and grace to be found in heaven.
Let us call more often and know His help in every area of life.
And digging ditches because God told you to do so becomes a noble activity!
“it is certain we can carry nothing out” I Timothy 6:7
Yet we behave as though this truth does not apply to us. We store and insure and guard and go to war to hang on to what we stand to lose anyway.
The truth of this should encourage us to send on ahead what we can. Love, kindness, care and understanding are commodities that appear in no price catalogue and yet when practised can yield an eternal reward.
Patience, sympathy, help and support can be given and most appreciated and while they do not enhance our job description they will, like the cup of cold water given in the name of the Lord, be highly valued in the final balance. “Zealous` of good works” describes the person whose sights are on the day of heaven’s reckoning.
“Come to me … and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28(NIV)
Normally we have a lie down or sit with some soothing music or go for a walk. But Jesus invites the weary and burdened to come to Him to receive rest. A lie down or a walk may take us temporarily from the troubles, but won’t remove them from our lives.
What we need is to know that someone bigger than us, bigger than our struggles is there to help us cope and see us through. That Someone is Jesus and when we give Him our weariness and burdens, He gives us rest and peace deep within. Knowing someone else is in control, when we are floundering is truly restful. Help will be provided, a way ahead will be revealed and our strength will be renewed. Don’t wait, but come to Him today. AP
“I will joy in the God of my salvation” Habakkuk 3:18
The fig tree with no blossom, no fruit on the vines, the work of the olive trees failing, the fields yielding no harvest and no cattle alive in the stalls, yet still able to rejoice!
We might add whatever else we might imagine to befall us. Dwell on your salvation and let your heart be glad in the trust you can have and the security you can find in God’s Word.
Salvation in Christ is a joyful thing. When it is sin that steals joy, confess for forgiveness. The enticements of this world can draw you away, fix your eyes on Jesus. Dwelling on what is happening around you can be quite depressing, look up and cheer up. You have every reason to be so, and be joyful!
“Son, why, have you treated us like this?” Luke 2:48(NIV)
Mary the mother of Jesus was put out by the way Jesus had stayed behind when the others left the Temple feast.
In reality, if there was any fault it may well have been with herself for not checking He was with them when the return journey began.
And while this incident could never have been anticipated, the way life takes is never predictable, but we can say with certainty that God’s dealing with us is never thoughtless but only for our good.
We can see that every event that befalls us can be subject to the question why? We may find that it is our preparation that is at fault and causes us undue stress and worry.
Mary could have known that no harm could befall her son.
“others, testing him, sought a sign from heaven” Luke 11:16(RAV)
Not that a sign would convince them, only give them more to think about. Today’s verse relates to the incident when Jesus cast out the evil spirit that had rendered the sufferer dumb. His whole ministry was supported with miracles, especially of healing.
But then the whole Bible is filled with signs that point to its veracity and to the power of God. These are enough. Jesus once said that if a person came back from the dead and testified they would not believe.
When you have difficulty believing, call on God to settle your mind on the Scriptures. Read them and bathe that reading in expectant prayer.
You have all you need for faith grasping God’s promises.
“You are the man!” II Samuel 12:7 (NIV)
It’s never easy to confront our own sin, especially when our reputation is at stake. David was king, loved and adored by his people. He had been chosen by God and had defeated many of Israel’s enemies. Life was sweet and David was lulled into a false sense of security. His initial indiscretion led to attempts at a cover-up which, when they failed, led to a contract killing. But God doesn’t turn a blind eye. David’s sin was exposed and the consequences were severe.
We all do wrong both accidental or deliberate, so let’s be quick to own up, come to the Lord in repentance and get sorted rather than think we can get away with it and actually make things worse. AP
“Listen to my cry for help” Psalm 5:2(NIV)
As awareness of need that we cannot meet causes us to cry to God for help. We might say it is good we have times of distress and difficulty because these cause us to draw near to God in prayer.
Our problems and perplexities act like a cutting edge to the intensity of those prayers.
At times that urgency in prayer is so great that, like the Psalmist in this verse, we plead with God that He will attend to our need at once. We know there are conditions to be met that we often cannot satisfy.
Should we make demands on God, He does love to hear His children cry to Him and we are told to keep asking, seeking and knocking before His throne.
“the gospel…. it is the power of God” Romans 1:16
Look at the power of God in nature: the crashing thunder, the devastating earthquake and storms, floods and famines are powers that make us stand in awe. Then look at the power of God in the spirit.
The gospel of God’s grace in Christ is no less awe- inspiring. The unseen yet very real things of the spirit stop men in their tracks, wrest health and strength from them and, when related to new life found in Christ, give new life and change the old.
Salvation from the ravages of sin could never be achieved without this power of God. The blood of Jesus cleanses from all sin in every generation and its power is felt in the hearts and lives of all who repent and believe the gospel.
“your love and faith, your service and perseverance” Revelation 2:19(NIV)
This is the commendation from Jesus to the Church in Thyatira. And what a commendation! Love is agape – indicating action beyond feelings. Sacrificial kindness to those who don’t deserve it is what Christ commends. Then faith is where we step into another dimension where assurance and certainty are not based on temporal things but on the eternal Word and Promises of God. Service is what a servant does, not for themselves but for the benefit of others. And perseverance is keeping going with a smile on your face, not because of the difficulties, but because of the reward that awaits all who finish and don’t give up. Love, faith, service and perseverance – qualities of Christ that should be seen in all who follow Him. AP
“turn away from your sins and live” Ezekiel 18:32(GNB)
This is the answer to most of our maladies. Sin, or missing the mark, God’s mark, is the reason for failure, sickness, calamity and depression that befalls us.
To think we can do our own thing and ignore the claims of God on our lives is wrong thinking.
We all need to turn away from the way of sin and disobedience and look to Jesus. He is the living Saviour and Lord who waits for those who will turn and accept His grace.
When bound by sin, turning and looking may be all you can do. It is the look of faith that gives His strength, healing and forgiveness into your weary body.
No great exertion or achievement, just turn and look and live.