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)
“he who loves him is careful to discipline him” Proverbs 13:24(NIV)
Discipline is not something for a few of us, for a select company who are ready to accept it. The garden that is neglected will grow wild and the life not kept in control will go to pieces.
We find ourselves in a situation when task masters are over us. And those of us who feel free to do as we wish must realise that only with much effort can we reach the Kingdom of heaven. Hindrances to faith, the temptation of the evil world around us and apathy that in some way or other affects us all act as hindrances.
When we can put our pain and suffering of any kind down to the hand of the Lord upon us it is always meted out to us in love and for our benefit.
“The Lord looked with favour on Abel and his offering” Genesis 4:4(NIV)
Right from the very beginning, men knew that they needed to bring an offering if they would come before God. We don’t know how they received this message but all through the Old Testament, individuals who came before God brought an offering, not only the Jewish faith but all other religions that sprang up.
We are left to ask “What will be acceptable to God?”
Here, right at the beginning the answer comes that it must be an animal offering. So Abel’s offering was accepted and Cain’s rejected.
Today there is our acceptable offering. It is something any can offer by faith – it is the blood of Jesus. This, and only this, gives us access to the favour of God.
“The woman … came and fell down before him, and told him all the truth” Mark 5:33
She knew the truth was that something had happened within her and so she told Jesus. Confession is really telling Jesus what He already knows and what you feel.
The biggest step in confession is public acknowledgment.
The lady, healed when she touched the hem of Jesus’ robe, was afraid she had stolen this healing. She need not have been afraid, rather she was to become an example to others who, in need, come to Jesus and ask in faith. We note that she told Him all the truth. He knew anyway, but her confession prepared her to repeat again and again what had happened.
Witnessing for Christ begins with your personal meeting with Jesus.
“Your own conduct and actions have brought this upon you” Jeremiah 4:18(NIV)
The message of God to the people through the prophets is two-fold. To show God’s judgment and His redemption from their iniquities. It is the same today and men look for a reason why things befall them, but do not consider the way they have discarded God and His worship.
Jeremiah is overwhelmed with anguish at the way they have degenerated. “Disaster follows disaster” he says and “the whole land lies in ruins”. God pronounces His people as “Senseless children that have no understanding”.As the message of John Baptist conveyed God’s word, so today the first word from God is to “Repent”. When that is ourresponse in sincerity, we are shown the truth of God’s salvation freely offered to all who will believe.
“there were many coming and going” Mark 6:31
Their coming and going was not really getting them anywhere! Jesus suggested to His disciples that they stepped out of the daily round of duties and for a day or two, took stock, stopped to think, recharged their spirits and whatever else was needed. The thing worthy of note is that He told them to do this and was with them in it. We need Jesus in our leisure as well as our working hours! He knows just how we feel. The disciples at this time were buoyed with success. It’s the same when events have depressed us.
So let the world continue its coming and going. You take time to sit at Jesus’ feet.
“suffering wrongfully” I Peter 2:19
We call it the problem of suffering. The problem gets bigger when we find there is suffering without reason, a sort of punishment meted to those who have done nothing to deserve it. We cannot hope to understand why any of this should happen but we can trust in God through such an experience.
We need to know that God oversees all that is taking place and that we will not understand why our prayer is not answered. It is in such a context that the Apostle Peter writes about enduring grief.
Enduring is sometimes the only thing we can do. Steadfast holding firm in faith is something acceptable with God and Jesus who suffered at the hand of His persecutors.
“Stay here and keep watch” Mark 14:34(NIV)
They were not told to do anything that called for great skill or intelligence: just to be supportive witnesses with their Master as He wrestled in prayer with His Father. Nothing very demanding, but they failed, miserably and repeatedly. Subsequently being told to sleep and rest suggests that these disciples were physically as well as mentally exhausted. They were not the last ones to be found sleeping on their watch, though this was probably the most important watch ever to be mounted. Jesus valued the support of His chosen disciples and He gracefully accepted their failing Him and showed them love and forgiveness afterwards.
“we may sing for joy and be glad all our days” Psalm 90:14(NIV)
Moses, who may have written this Psalm, has described how quickly our days pass and that we only pass this way once so there will never be a day just like today!
Now he calls on God to satisfy him with His unfailing love. If we are to sing for joy and be glad all our days we need to come to the Lord early. Give your whole life to the Lord and no matter how short or long it may be you will never have cause to regret. Jesus gives a song for every occasion and a joy in the heart that comes from Him. Those who seek Him will find Him and He satisfies the longing soul, whatever part of life’s journey we are in.
“very much land yet to be possessed” Joshua 13:1(RAV)
When God created man He did not say how long the venture would last, instead He placed in his heart the promise of heaven and a warning of mistakes and their consequences. We easily jump to the conclusion that what we thought to be a job for generations turns out to be over in a day.
Furthermore the labourers in the field of life find themselves working alongside and in contention with many others they know nothing about. So we fill our days and then, as it were, pass the unfinished garment for someone else to wear.And our faith tells us God is overseeing all and will one day reveal it to us.
“Go now and leave your life of sin.” John 8:11(NIV)
An alternative lifestyle was now possible because Jesus had set her free. Until now this lady, like us, had been a slave to sin and stood condemned. Those who brought her to Jesus used the Mosaic law to condemn her to death but ended up under the same condemnation. God’s law had been given to provide guidelines for holy living but ended up pointing out where people were going wrong and so condemned them before God. But now Jesus does what the law had been unable to do. ‘God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world but to save the world through him’. This salvation not only forgives but also removes the condemnation and sets us free to live an alternative way. In Christ this can be a reality. AP
“As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you” Isaiah 66:13(NIV)
A child knows no greater comfort than that from its mother, so God extends His offer of comfort to you. The words God would say to you are just what you need to hear. His arms are tender and secure when spread around you.
He can deal with the situation that develops and He is Master to still the storms in life’s sea.
That cry for mother that comes spontaneously from a child who has fallen or is lost, should be heard on the lips of the repentant sinner who comes before God. Everyone is trying a multitude of remedies, few turn to the water of life.
God’s care and comfort are too wonderful for words. So God speaks through His prophets in His Word.
“what must I do to inherit eternal life?” Luke 18:18(NIV)
We must assume that this man who questioned Jesus in this way was willing to pay the price for admission to heaven if within his reach. He was a man of great wealth and was willing to use it to gain eternal life. He respected the word of Jesus, and called Him “Good Master”.
The price Jesus asked was too much. Selling everything he had and giving to the poor was what was needed. While eternal life is the gift of God it does need heart preparation both to believe and receive. And saving faith needed to be witnessed by giving all to the poor – still a small price compared with the blessing it brings. But this man would not pay that price asked and went away sorrowful.
“For Adam was formed first, then Eve.” I Timothy 2:13(NIV)
This is a statement of fact. There is pattern and order to God’s creation. However long it took, creation was not cosmic chaos but divinely planned and ordered. ‘First’ is not about superiority / inferiority but about recognising God’s way of doing things and accepting our responsibilities to live His way. If we kick against it or even re-order it, then we will be the losers. Adam and Eve rebelled against God’s pattern for living and lost out. That rebellious nature was passed on to each succeeding generation and today we see a society that is becoming more chaotic the more we ignore God’s pattern for life. Swimming against the tide will not be easy but will be essential for all who choose to live God’s way. AP
“Where is my guest room, where I may eat the Passover?” Mark 14:14(NIV)
There is no indication that Jesus had reserved this room through one of His disciples. We are left to imagine how the request was made. It was a firm agreement that Jesus felt able to take up.
This unnamed hotelier played an important role as Jesus neared His crucifixion. He is one of many more then and since whom Jesus has called upon to play a part.
Little or no publicity had been given to him but he fulfilled the desire of Jesus for eating the Passover. He is an example to us of God’s call in our lives, always as individuals and in a personal walk with the Lord.
We need to be ready to play our part when called upon.
“Praise the Lord, O my soul” Psalm 104:1 (NIV)
The soul can easily become lazy in the things of God. So we get the repeated injunction to wake up and praise the Lord. Elsewhere the Psalmist says “I will bless the Lord at all times, His praise shall continually be in my mouth.” Gratitude, worship and thanks to God should permeate our life at all times of the day. Use an invitation to praise the Lord as a stimulant to the soul. Once awakened it should latch on to any one of daily blessings. From the smallest detail to life-changing events, the Lord’s Name is to be praised.
This godly exercise of the soul cannot be overdone. We are His people and the sheep of His pasture as we seek to walk closely to Him, we praise Him.
“Jacob called the name of the place where God spake with him, Bethel” Genesis 35:15
You are blessed indeed if you can look to a place where God spoke to you.
A name is used to identify the place. The direction your life has taken, the assurance of peace in your heart, your experience of faith can all be traced to the place where God first spoke to you.
Places link us to people and there can be no greater place than God’s House for you to meet God there.
It’s all too sad when the place of life becomes a memory or a monument, just identifying something that took place long ago. Jacob met with God and continued with Him.
God spoke and Jacob listened and responded.
“These women were helping to support them” Luke 8:3(NIV)
In a society where women were seen as less than equal to men, Jesus chose them to be part of His ministry team. Indeed it seems that they were a crucial part of His work and He willingly accepted their practical help and support. By doing this, Jesus was not only encouraging women to play their part in His work, He was also challenging the men in his team, and the wider society, to recognise their worth. Three of the women are mentioned by name, whilst ‘many others’ are not, but the fact is that they were all women and all an important part of Christ’s work. Maybe it’s a timely reminder for us today. Whether we are men or women, mentioned by name or not, we all matter to the Lord and have our part to play. AP
“Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard its spots?” Jeremiah 13:23(NIV)
And without miraculous intervention will any change to good who are accustomed to doing evil?
The leopard has to live with his spots but we need not lie down under the chain of sin. There is a fountain opened for sin and uncleanness. Why spend time trying to erase the stain of sin when the blood of Jesus shed on the Cross for all who would cry out to Him for forgiveness is so readily available?
The Devil would try to persuade us there is no remedy. But it needs but the exercise of faith, itself a gift from God, to release the streams of healing and new life found in Jesus.
Many have made this commitment of faith and found salvation and cleansing in Jesus.
“He wanted to see who Jesus was” Luke 19:3(NIV)
As important as wanting to see Jesus is what we do when we see Him. Wanting to see by itself achieves nothing. Reaching out in faith is what is needed. Finding the way is not to be confused with getting on it.
Finding about Jesus will show us the holy majestic Son of God who came into the world to save sinners. The many who have come to trust Him and receive His salvation would all bear testimony to the grace and favour He bestows on all who come to Him.
Zacchaeus soon recognised this and displayed the conduct that points to a true conversion when he said he would give half his goods to the poor and restore all the wrong he had done.
“to the church that meets in your home” Philemon 2(NIV)
This is a timely reminder that church is not about buildings and programmes but about people. In the Bible the word for church is ekklesia and always refers to people and never to a building. Philemon had a group of Christians who met in his home and so they were the local church. The picture here is of a relatively small group of people meeting together regularly to share fellowship with the Lord and with one another. There’s the personal touch – ‘your home’ – and one can imagine Philemon greeting each person as they arrive. Perhaps today’s home groups / cell groups are the equivalent. Building the Church of Jesus is about reaching out to people and not just maintaining our buildings and programmes. AP
“According to your faith will it be done to you” Matthew 9:29(NIV)
The two blind men who heard Jesus utter these words pooled their faith and were healed.
Jesus could heal them and they needed Him to do this. The catalyst was to be their faith. Jesus often incited faith in the heart of those He met. We might say that it needs great resistance not to believe.
Bring your need to the Lord in prayer – a definite action. Receive from Him whatever gracious words He will say to you in your need. Then as much as you are able, believe. It is your faith that secures the blessing you ask. Because it is according to your faith, if you find you do not have faith, all the shouting will not gain it. Find that the Lord has something better for you is the answer.
“Because the Lord had put them into a deep sleep” I Samuel 26:12(NIV)
David was on the run from King Saul. His ‘army’ was heavily outnumbered and outclassed and Saul and his men were closing in. Humanly speaking, David did not have much, if any, chance of escape, let alone victory. But that didn’t include the Lord.
The deep sleep that came over Saul and his men allowed David not just to escape, but to show mercy and kindness towards Saul and spare his very life. We may face situations where the odds are stacked against us and there appears no way of escape or deliverance, but the ways of the Lord are not limited by human resources. We can trust in Him to bring us through and even to give us opportunity to show kindness in return for antagonism. AP
“the men did the work faithfully” II Chronicles 34:12
These words suggest to us that others were unfaithful.
These were the men given the responsibility to repair and restore the house of the Lord. They could be trusted to do the job well. The excellency of the finished product depended on them. There was no need to be watching over them all the time.
The overseers did not have to worry: spot inspections, they always told the same “they did the work faithfully”.These were faithful workers and they stand out for this.
As the believers in Jesus work with Him to build the Kingdom, faithfulness must be a priority. No wonder the rejoicing; they finished in time and with good team spirit, they worked faithfully.
“even the dogs … eat the children’s crumbs” Mark 7:28(NIV)
Here is a lady who will not be put off. Jesus has both tested and encouraged her faith as well as addressed social and religious prejudices. She is a Gentile woman coming to a Jewish Rabbi, a social and religious taboo. She recognises him as Messiah – ‘Lord, Son of David’ (Matt 15). And even though Jesus affirms his primary mission to the Jews (‘children’), he uses the occasion to teach that the gospel is open to Gentiles as well – even women. Whilst Jews may have seen Gentiles as no better than ‘dogs’, this woman’s persistence enables Jesus to show that even ‘dogs’ can become ‘children of God’. It’s as true today as it was then so let us make sure it is heard loud and clear. AP
“THE LORD IS THERE”. Ezekiel 48:35(NIV)
From the first vision given to Ezekiel to this final declaration, the presence and sovereignty of the Lord is evident. He is there in the warnings of judgement on his people and the surrounding nations. He is there offering hope for the remnant, the ‘dry bones’, who remain faithful to Him. He is there when the restoration of the temple and right worship is promised. And what we read here reflects what the Lord is doing with the whole of creation. Whilst people still rebel against God’s ways, the Lord has not forsaken His creation and will sort things out. He is there, in control and one day, when the new heaven and earth is brought into being and a New Jerusalem is in place, the Lord will be there, at the centre. AP
“waiting for the kingdom of God” Mark 15:43/44 (NIV)
Joseph was one of many who were ‘waiting for the kingdom of God’. They had been waiting for four hundred years. They knew
the prophetic scriptures and were waiting, watching, listening for any sign of their fulfilment. Simeon and Anna, who greeted
Jesus at his presentation in the temple, were also part of this group. With Christ’s first coming, the waiting, in part, was over.
Now His Church waits for the fulfilment of God’s kingdom. ‘Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven’ is
not vain repetition but given by Jesus to help keep us ‘on our toes’ waiting with anticipation. His second coming will bring
King Jesus back to reign on this earth with His saints before a new heaven and earth become the eternal fulfilment. Let’s not grow weary in our waiting. AP
“We are bringing you good news” Acts 14:15(NIV)
We are only human but the preacher of the gospel brings heavenly news just as the Apostles did when they visited Derbe and Lystra. They told the inhabitants that God who gives rain, and provides us with food, filling our hearts with joy is the One whom
they should worship.
Worship soon turned to persecution and Paul and Barnabas were stoned and dragged out as dead. But the good news had taken
hold in some hearts and they turned from worthless things of the world to serve the risen God.
These many years later the news is still good. The number of souls saved has increased beyond their wildest dreams.
And much persecution and opposition had only strengthened their love for the Lord.
“No man could learn that song but the 144,000 which were redeemed from the earth” Revelation 14:3
This 144,000 had their Father’s name endorsed on their foreheads. They were accompanied by many harpists and their song was unique. No one could learn it. It was the property of the 144,000 redeemed from the earth. The number may be symbolic but their experience genuine.
The song the angelic choir sang at Christ’s birth must have been wonderful, but nothing like this. Everyone singing this song had an experience – they were redeemed by the blood of the Lamb. Only if this was so could you learn the song. The voice of the Lord from heaven is described as the voice of many waters and of a great thunder. We need to be careful to accept the gift of salvation now that we may be among the redeemed there.
“I have had enough Lord” I Kings 19:4 (NIV)
Here is the cry of a desperate man. He’d gone from the heights of Mt Carmel (in more ways than one) to the very depths of despair under a broom tree in the desert. Today Elijah would be diagnosed as bipolar, and it’s hard to believe that it is the same person. Yet many of us will know of people, and may even be one of them, who, through circumstances beyond their control, find themselves in a similar state of mind as Elijah. Well read on. The Lord is gentle but firm. He strengthens Elijah physically and spiritually, lifts his eyes beyond his own situation and shows him that the work he has done will not be in vain but is part of God’s eternal plan. However deep our despair might be, the Lord will go deeper still to lift us up. AP
“Take me away, I am badly wounded” II Chronicles 35:23 (NIV)
This was Josiah’s plea to his officers after he had been mortally wounded in a battle he should never have entered. So they took him out of his own chariot and brought him to Jerusalem where he died. It seems that after a God-fearing life in which he had restored much of the temple worship, he either did not recognise God through Neco or he went against God’s instruction. Neco had told him not
to engage in battle.
This incident illustrates the need we have to heed God’s Word to us right to the end. A life of obedience in the past does not
excuse us from diligence in seeking God’s will today. Once committed to this course of rebellion there was no way out for Josiah.
It just remained for all Judah and Jerusalem to mourn for him.