A short verse and comment for each day of the month
A BAM Publication
Scroll down and view four weekly pages
or print on A4 sheets
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)
“Who then can be saved?” Luke 18:26(NIV)
We need to be saved, something that not all by any means acknowledge. How can we get this assurance? We don’t want to begin a pilgrimage in life that will lead us nowhere.
Time and opportunity are not always repeated. We need to start pointing the right way and doing the right thing. Jesus said it was easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God. So with the wondering disciples we might ask who then can be saved? We might also respond to the truth that with God the impossibility of us ever doing so becomes a possibility.
Indeed, it is a real assurance when our faith is not in anything we have, but in Him.
“the hidden things of dishonesty” II Corinthians 4:2
Dishonesty likes to work under cover. It belongs to the group about whom Jesus said they do not come to the light lest their deeds be reproved.
It is best when we bring our lives into the light of God’s all-seeing eye, where things of dishonesty are brought to the light and dealt with.
Nothing is lost when we dispose of what is not doing us any good. The full life is best enjoyed when the old nature is dealt with and removed.
Jesus is the Light of the World. We must let Him shine in every part.
Let the life and light of the gospel permeate into every part. Where your light shines there is no room for dishonesty.
“Whoever tries to keep his life will lose it” Luke 17:33(NIV)
You were given life, given before you could ask for it, but all of us will have to let it go, one day.
Hang on to your life and you will lose it. Give to the Lord what you can of it and see the blessing He gives to all who give themselves to Him. He can bring purpose, delight and joy to all you do.
Sometimes it comes to us what little we can do, but we can give our lives to Him, and the more fully we do that the more we shall come to see what God can do.
Commit your path to the Lord, wait on Him and know your life is safe in His hand.
“Your truth reaches to the clouds” Psalm 108:4(RAV)
God’s truth invites absolute dependence. Truth is His nature and His very being. He is truth. In every expression of life, every new situation we meet in whatever area we need to call upon Him, God is truth. Here the Psalmist is telling us that we cannot leap over or move out of God’s truth. If God is with you, you will know truth. Jesus said that it is this that will set you free.
There is nothing greater that can be superimposed – God’s truth reaches to the clouds. The highest obstacle you are likely to meet. And in a world of mistaken identity, deceit and falsehood the gospel of God’s grace comes to us as the news in which we can trust. And God’s followers become like Him, too.
“they stood every man in his place” Judges 7:21
Can you see the scene? Gideon’s was a well disciplined army and what is described in one sentence probably took a long time to drill and perfect; Gideon’s three hundred men standing in their place, evenly spaced around the camp of the Midianites. And the important thing from our text today is “every man standing in his place”.
Everyone does have an allotted place. The Lord has not called us haphazardly or left us to find a gap we might fill. And the regular distance between each of the warriors contributed to the alarm that spread among the Midianites. And if you are not in your place who will come to fill it? And what will you do to contribute to the victory?
“the eyes of both of them were opened” Genesis 3:7(NIV)
We are affected by what we see, whether by natural sight or the eyes of the mind. Adam and Eve disobeyed God but it was only when the Lord opened their eyes to what they had done that the awfulness of their transgression hit them. They became sin carriers and God graciously provided them coverings of animal skins.
Eyes opened are a preliminary to any feeling of need to call on God. It is when you realise you are lost that you can request and receive the salvation through the blood of Jesus. Until God opens their eyes, most go through life ignorant of this great salvation.
We need our eyes opening both to our sinful state and also to the wonderful salvation in Jesus.
“Jonah rose up to flee from the presence of the Lord” Jonah 1:3
Fancy thinking he could run away from God!
God’s call to us is primarily to do His will and obey His bidding, being His voice to a godless world.
Did Jonah realise the futility of what he was doing?
Running away from God is only one of a number of things we do well to condemn and to point out is wrong.
Jonah’s attempted rebellion was short-lived. After only a day or two found himself imprisoned in the belly of a great fish.
He was a courageous man with a cowardly streak that caused him much trouble. His story and message are recorded for our learning.
“the people thought that the kingdom of God was going to appear at once” Luke 19:11(NIV)
This still happens today! The excitement of the Return of Christ often makes the believer expect it will take place anytime soon. Few, if any, in time gone by thought we would reach the 21st century.
The Kingdom of God will appear and the children of this Kingdom have wondered whether it will be in their life time. As a result all true followers of Jesus have lived in the expectancy of His early Return. This is a truth that has sharpened the awareness of those who know it. It brings the anticipation of seeing Him whom we love, whose grace and favour we have enjoyed every day.
So whether in the 1st or 21st century we all live or have lived in the expectancy of Christ’s Kingdom appearing.
“let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness” II Corinthians 7:1
Don’t wait for someone else to come along, keep yourself clean and journeying in the way of life. Hand washing is something we all need to do.
If the forgiveness of sin gives a cleanness, we need to keep clean. Let time slip by and you will become soiled again and your garments no longer white. Clean hands and a pure heart are needed by all who would ascend into the hill of the Lord.
A far greater contamination comes to the mind through eye and ear and it calls for a concerted effort – “let us cleanse”.
Make this and every day a cleansing day. “Keep Clean”.
We need to encourage the one the other in this activity.
“they hardly hear with their ears” Matthew 13:15(NIV)
Jesus said that this message of the gospel was to be preached in all the earth before the end comes.
Giving everyone the opportunity to hear and believe is the first step. Without it there is no second or third.
The offer is so good that you might say that it is only those who cannot or will not understand that will not receive it. Looking from the Old Testament prophecy when these words were first uttered, it was with amazement that the prophet described hearers as not responding.
We must scatter its message far and wide – from the one next to us to the farthermost soul on the planet.
It doesn’t matter who it is, when the message is heard and there is a positive response, they will be saved.
“Hope in God” Psalm 42:11(RAV)
The Psalmist had a rough ride. He had been brought to tears day and night. He could not understand why or what God was doing. His soul was cast down because of his circumstance. Questioning what was happening to him is repeated throughout the Psalm as he had to bear the reproaches of the enemy about him.
But now he shakes himself from all this questioning and negative thinking. He still has the promises and asks his soul what he is downcast about. He must let faith break into a flame of hope. Many may feel today as he did then. And hope is still there and God is the same. Reach out in hope and know that in a dark night experience turned to praise God is there.
“the cup was found in Benjamin’s sack” Genesis 44:12
I have pictured the sons of Jacob made to stop on the way home from Egypt and searched for the governor’s cup. Unknown to them it had been hidden in Benjamin’s sack; then there was this dismay that all of them had when it was discovered. It was a calamity they would have done anything to have avoided. They thought it marked the end.
Yet it was their brother who was the governor and God was working out His purpose in this awful discovery.
Now should it be you are facing an apparent disaster or similar unimaginable event today and you have committed your way to the Lord, just be patient, trust in the Lord in whose hand you have put your life and see what the end will be.
“and, behold, the babe wept” Exodus 2:6
That was a timely weeping! The baby Moses seems to have kept quiet until the ladies took the lid off his basket.
And as it was, the crying of a baby became the most telling request you could have hoped for. No words, just weeping, was the sound that moved the King’s daughter to take him in and unwittingly, to play her part in the greatest rescue mission in the Old Testament.
Babies still weep. In some cases they are left to die, or in the hope someone might find them and care for them.
If ever you stumble across such an emergency, play the part you see you’re called to do.
Meanwhile let us all pray earnestly for the thousands, perhaps millions, whose only hope is to weep.
“the people that do know their God shall be strong and do exploits” Daniel 11:32
These words are taken from a prophecy given to Daniel. It is a detailed prediction of the course of history. It is part of God’s message to warn the Jewish nation of what opposition was to come and to strengthen them against those who would lead them astray. And it is in the midst of a catalogue of disasters the promise is given that those whose trust is in God will be strong and do exploits. In the midst of lies and flattery, the true believers will move forward. They can be hidden away until the storms have passed.
It is a promise that holds for every generation and especially when the followers of God are threatened. Things will not permanently harm us as our trust is in God.
“they forced him to carry the cross” Mark 15:21(NIV)
Simon the Cyrenian would not know who he was doing this for. They compelled him to be the one who assisted Jesus as He made His way to Calvary. Did he later become a willing follower? We do not know.
Some things we are made to do in life, turn out to be a great blessing not valued at the time. When you know your life is in God’s hands, don’t be hasty to condemn everything that does not seem to be fair. Unwanted tasks can become the door to a new experience in the Lord. Besides being made to do this, those who put the cross on his back did Simon the greatest honour. Not quite the same, but nearly so, we are asked to take up our cross and follow Jesus.
“the coming of the Lord draweth nigh” James 5:8
Since it has been long coming many have thought it is not true: they have lost hope or looked for another meaning.
The length of this age has not been revealed to us and so everyone who loves the Lord may anticipate His Second Coming as though it might be now. None have lived who could afford to think it will not be just yet.
In fact, Jesus said that at a time you think not, the Lord will come and that folk will be going about their business oblivious of this fact and then suddenly it will take them by surprise.
Seeing Jesus is a living hope. It is not like a dying ember. It is a promise that glows more brightly than ever it did. What a joy that will be! Let us live in the hope of it.
“receive the Kingdom of God as a little child” Luke 18:17
Jesus took the opportunity to say this when the disciples turned away mothers who brought their infants to Jesus that He might bless them. There is a need for every generation and perhaps this one in particular to be reminded of our responsibility in bringing up and caring for children. Jesus added this by pointing out that it is only by receiving the message of the gospel as a little child that any could hope to enter therein. There must be child-like trust that is not hindered by mistrust, advanced knowledge or self belief and self assertion.
Jesus on this occasion told his disciples that these children could receive the Kingdom of God whereas those who had faith mixed with doubt could not do so.
“Then they cried out to the LORD in their trouble” Psalm 107:6 (NIV)
This Psalm tells of the consequences that God’s people experienced when they turned away from following the Lord. They became lost, hungry and thirsty. They were taken into captivity and suffered afflictions. Even those who ‘prospered’ found their businesses floundering. But all these troubles caused them to cry out to the Lord – ‘and he delivered them from their distress.’ This sequence is mentioned four times and reminds us that the Lord can use difficult times to bring us back into a deeper relationship with Himself. We like things to go well, but easy times can lead to complacency, particularly in regard to our walk with the Lord. Maybe the hard times we go through are allowed so as to make us cry out to the Lord and discover His peace in place of distress. AP
“good for food and …pleasant to the eyes” Genesis 3:6
Such was a description of the food. We must have food and we welcome what looks pleasant because the eyes are given us to discern what is good.
What the first woman did not consider was the restriction that had been put on her. She should not have eaten but have regarded the consequences of disobedience.
God has left us His Word, our conscience and the testimony of others and we are foolish to disregard them.
We see that God does everything for our good and that though unseen He has His hand on our lives.
Let us cry out for grace and help to reach the glory that awaits without fear of temptation and the poisoned chalice.
“Let her alone” John 12:7
This was Jesus’ rebuke to the disciples when Mary took a pound of costly ointment and anointed the feet of Jesus wiping them with her long hair.
They said that it was a waste of ointment and thereby showed that they failed to understand what she had done and who He was. Their minds were filled with the value of the ointment and devoid of the worth of Jesus. It was an obvious action of love for Jesus and they with their perceiving minds missed it.
You can’t lay down lines on which love will travel. Meet Him and tell Him that you love Him. That is worth more than all else. Thank God that Jesus told them to “leave alone” the woman who loved Him.
“make known among the nations what he has done” Isaiah 12:4(NIV)
We need to remember that the spread of the gospel has been entrusted to the disciples of Jesus. “Make known” is the urgent message for all the followers of Jesus who are wondering what they should do.
For those disciples who ask why they are where they are this is probably the answer, to make known the greatness of God’s salvation that is proclaimed to all now. If you’re asking why you have not this or that talent, it is likely to be because you can more clearly tell out the message of salvation to those around you with what you have.
The prime purpose of the Christian message is to make known what God has done. How will they hear if His servants do not do this? The Christian must not be silent.
“should we expect someone else?” Luke 7:19(NIV)
This is the question that John Baptist sent to Jesus with his disciples. What he saw and heard was marvellous. Diseases and sickness cured, the deaf hearing and dead raised. The only further confirmation was to ask the question to Jesus personally.
Someone is coming. Follow John’s example and ask the Lord any outstanding question. Don’t leave any stone unturned in your quest to find the truth.
You will never hear all the answers but you must find enough to be able to leave all and follow Him.
Jesus is altogether perfect and complete, the Divine Son of God and the Saviour of all who call upon Him. Don’t stop half way – go on to receive Him.
“The hidden man of the heart” I Peter 3:4
We need to remember that what we see of each other is not the real person. It is only an expression given through the body given to us. You can change the appearance and make it different from yesterday but the changes that are lasting and for good are made in the hidden man of the heart.
Out of the heart flow the issues of life. It is in the heart that memories of victories can be stored, blessing experienced.
We cannot see what is going on there; only assume what we can from action observed.
We need to use the best materials and wisely use them: then we nurture a meek and quiet spirit before the Lord which in the sight of God is of great value.
“stand up and lift up your heads” Luke 21:28(NIV)
In this chapter in Luke’s Gospel we are given some of the signs we are to look for that point to the Coming Again of Jesus. When we recognise them we are to stand up and lift up our heads.
In this description given us by Jesus we will have become tired of standing and have sat down, at the same time our head will have drooped.
So the order to the weary disciple is to stand up and look up. When you are weary in the way and discouraged, your encouragement will come from the Lord. It is to the Lord you should look and sometimes you need to stand up to see Him passing by. Look to the Lord and live in victory, your redemption is near.
“Even a live dog is better off than a dead lion!” Ecclesiastes 9:4 (NIV)
Two contrasts combine here to make a point. First we have ‘live’ contrasted with ‘dead’ and then ‘dog’ contrasted with ‘lion’. In both pairs, the first contrast makes all the difference to the second. For both a dog (which was despised) and a lion (which was esteemed), it’s better to be alive than dead. Whilst this verse is about physical life and death, is there not a deeper truth? The Apostle Paul explains in Corinthians that God has chosen the ‘dogs’ (foolish, weak, despised) of this world to shame the ‘lions’ (wise, strong, esteemed) through the power of the cross of Christ. Being a Christian may not give us much standing in the eyes of the world but, as Paul says, we are alive in Christ rather than dead in our sins. It’s clear which is better. AP
“Pharaoh said to Jacob “How old are you?” Genesis 47:9(RAV)
Pharaoh was no doubt impressed with the performance of Joseph, his premier, and was now glad to be meeting his father. As he tried to imagine the path this old man had followed he sought to get help by asking how old he was.
We are asked this question more often today as though our age decides something about us.
Our age should be an indication of our walk with God. As our days so should our strength be – that must be spiritual strength by way of experience.
The best is to be able to point to following the Lord all of your days. When “how old are you?” relates to days filled with the blessing of God you are satisfied, whatever the answer.
“he sought his God and worked wholeheartedly” II Chronicles 31:21(NIV)
Hezekiah sets us a good example. He took instruction from the Lord and gave himself wholeheartedly to doing it. In the preceding verse we read that Hezekiah did what was ‘good and right and faithful before the Lord’. There is no better way to live. Seeking God to know his way forward takes time and needs to be learned but is well worth doing. He has given us both His written Word and His Holy Spirit to guide and direct us. We must not let human reasoning and persuasive arguments blur the truth of the Lord’s way for living. To work wholeheartedly involves effort: no holding back, no compromise, no hesitation. Hezekiah went for it and achieved great things for the Lord. So can we if we follow these two principles. AP
“Do I lack the strength to rescue you?” Isaiah 50:2(NIV)
By our hesitation to commit our lives into the Lord’s hand we often make out that we think God is not concerned.
This verse in Isaiah reminds us that God has the strength to meet all our failures and weaknesses. We must endeavour not to make this question “do I lack?” necessary.
God, who puts us on life’s pathway to heaven is well able to keep us even in the light of mistakes and misdemeanours in our past.
So our response must be “No, Lord, I know you are well able and that you will meet me, whatever my need.”
Let others have their excuses strategy. Our life is in the hand of the Lord. He cannot fail.
“he was a man of great wealth” Luke 18:23(NIV)
Coupled with this great wealth was the truth that he was very sorrowful. He wanted the assurance of eternal life yet his great wealth was depriving him of this. This has been the hindrance many times since. Jesus did not give him assurance. In fact it sent him away very sorrowful.
He had opportunity to give to the poor but he loved his wealth too much to let it go. In this he did not recognise what his wealth was worth.
He did not know how valuable eternal life was. We wonder if he heard Jesus say “What shall it profit a man if he should gain the whole world and lose his own soul?”
This should make us examine what assurance of eternal life we have and how love of wealth can keep us from it.
“he went and preached unto the spirits in prison” I Peter 3:19
This verse seems to point to Christ made alive by the Spirit going into Hades, a place of imprisoned spirits from the Old Testament. There is some uncertainty about where this was but our comment should be that there are many, many imprisoned spirits alive in our world just now and it is the glorious calling of those who recognise their responsibility to preach the gospel to go and preach to them.
No-one so bound that the gospel cannot set them free. Evil habits are easily forged and the fetters of bondage known by some seem never to be broken. The gospel provides examples of faith in Jesus setting the prisoner free. This we expect to happen when the gospel is preached.
“whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant” Matthew 20:26 (NIV)
True greatness is experienced by those who know what it is to start at the bottom.
There is no shortcut to the top for the disciple. True humility does not laud it over others – rather it does a bit of feet washing. And it’s so wonderful that Jesus knows all about us because He has been in our place and knows how we feel. He applies those years of toil He had into practical help for us. He knows what we need; let promotion come from His hand.
So it is apprentice disciples He is looking for. He admires your desire to be at the top and so starts you at the bottom. But what joy it is to serve Him in whatever capacity!