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)
“We are the clay, you are the potter” Isaiah 64:8(NIV)
We reach our full potential when we recognise our true place. Many might feel they are like clay, but will not submit to the hand of the Potter. The desire to do things our way and without any assistance from the Lord seems a common fault.
In a world that displays the splendour and majesty of God, we want to keep hands on our own destiny as far as we can. So history has become a procession of shipwrecks. The hand of the Lord is gracious and loving while at the same time almighty and powerful. Casting myself upon Him is the best use of the gift of faith that is given me. Only when placed in His hand we can become a vessel unto honour in the House of the Lord.
“redemption through his blood” Ephesians 1:7
It is the blood of Jesus that is the price of our redemption from slavery of sin to the freedom of life in the Spirit.
Jesus did not die with nothing to give us. It was His precious blood that He presented to the Father to atone for sin in the hearts of all who would receive Him. Without Him and of themselves sinners could bring nothing.
What things we have collected become hindrances when preventing us from trusting the merit of His blood. Jesus was the perfect sacrifice; there is nothing that can be added to improve our salvation. The merit of all who populate heaven is that they are redeemed by the blood of Jesus.
“when Moses held up his hand … Israel prevailed and when he let down his hand, Amalek prevailed” Exodus 17:11
This was at the battle of Rephidim that the Children of Israel fought early on in their great exodus journey. Here they learned that it was a battle against forces of evil.Israel needed the help and blessing of God and Moses, God’s servant was given the key to success. His intercession was to be seen affecting the outcome. They were to learn that persevering prayer was necessary to change things. Moses’ hand held up in intercession was to be the sign and his assistants played a part in supporting him in this. When the exercise of prayer gets wearisome for us let others stand ready to support and sustain us.
“nothing on it except leaves” Matthew 21:19 (NIV)
Jesus went to the tree expecting to find fruit. Can we learn from this incident that Jesus expects more than leaves? He expects fruit. Otherwise why let us clutter the ground? We do not dwell on the shape or beauty of the leaves or describe the canopy the tree provided. The Christian gospel is the most beautiful and God glorifying of messages that could be heard or believed but those who hear are expected to receive it and with the days and hours they are given to bear fruit. They then become true disciples of Jesus. The need is to be and do something that will be life-giving to others, to feed hungry minds and clothe naked bodies. Jesus went expecting fruit. What does He find in us?
“If you knew the gift of God” John 4:10(NIV)
What began as amazement turned into faith in Jesus as the promised Messiah when Jesus spoke to this Samaritan woman at Sychar’s well. When Jesus said “if you knew” He was ready to talk and show her how she may drink the water of life.
The problem that many do not know persists today. It needs someone to tell them the truth of God’s love in Christ and how by faith they may be forgiven and saved by the blood of Jesus shed on the Cross of Calvary.
It is true that many do not want to know but when the message of the gospel is rejected, let the messengers be sure that they get up and take it to those who might believe and the water of life is taken by all who will drink.
“In the world you will have tribulation” John 16:33(RAV)
This is something we cannot expect to avoid. In reality the tribulation that the follower of Jesus is called upon to face may be as much if not more than that of the unbeliever.
Matters of faith and dedication can be a hostile environment to some in the world. The words of Jesus on this matter are of great blessing. He said “Be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” So instead of bemoaning the tribulation let us praise our Lord Jesus who has overcome the world. Jesus, God’s Son, our Saviour is highly exalted and would impart the heavenly joy to all who suffer in life’s way. Tribulation in the world should not deprive us from triumph in Christ as we tread the pilgrim way!
“Your comforts delight my soul” Psalm 94:19(RAV)
What a lovely turn of phrase this is! It is little comfort that make the most arduous and difficult of journeys pleasant. The delight is out of proportion to the size of some of the comforts and our delight is in the Lord who provides them.
Soothing words, uplifting meditations, precious promises, testimonies of help and endurance, all these can flow into the sanctified mind and lift the spirit into heavenly places. Noticing provisions and co-incidences that only the Lord could have put in our way, realising He has given us many good things can evoke praise that can itself make for the delight of the day. Happy the soul that relies on the Lord for all the little blessings left for us in the way we take.
“I am sought of them that asked not for me” Isaiah 65:1
Prophecy describes many turnarounds in the attitude of the nations in relation to God. Repentance and request for forgiveness make for an amazing transformation.
Wanting nothing to do with God becomes a desire for His fellowship and blessing. Those who did not seek Him now find He receives them as they turn from their evil ways. This is the description found in this chapter.
The joy of the penitent sinner turning to the Lord has no equal. God exercises no recrimination. Like the father of the prodigal in the Parable of Jesus, God calls all heaven to rejoice when the wanderer returns to the fold of His love and grace. Identify with the delight of the Father in the words of this verse.
“Render therefore to all their dues” Romans 13:7
Our world needs governing and individuals appointed to rule over us. They are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. In this chapter the Apostle Paul is arguing that Christians need to see that those in authority can be the minister of God to do good. So he says be subject to them and render tribute or tax where this is due. We often may not agree with what those in authority do, but need to recognise they may be ordained of God and allowed to be there by His will.
Let us seek God’s will in all we do and play a constructive part in the situation in which we find ourselves. Find God’s mind on the matter and render tribute to whom tribute is due.
“be sure your sin will find you out” Numbers 32:23
Moses viewed with some suspicion the request from the tribes of Gad and Reuben that they be allowed to settle in Gilead and not go over Jordan into the Promised Land. But they gave him their word that they would pass over Jordan with the other tribes armed and ready for battle, only leaving their wives and families until they returned. Their request was accepted but Moses warned them that if they did not go over Jordan to fight and liberate the land they would be sinning against the Lord and could be sure their sin would find them out. As so many found then and since have found, you cannot pursue sin and disobedience and not be found out by the all – knowing eye of God.
“The crowd … told them to be quiet” Matthew 20:31 (NIV)
These two blind men were asked to be quiet. If they had done this it is unlikely they would have come before Jesus and received the blessing of restored sight.
So we should not to be swayed by numbers but rather by what is right. The majority is not always right. A crowd is often self-seeking and vociferous. But if it’s the Lord you want you’re likely to have to ask, seek and knock.
These men were shouting. Many didn’t like this. Most church people don’t like it! They were addressing their cry to “the Son of David” which rather points to their knowing Jesus as the Messiah.
Want Jesus’ blessing so much that no crowd will keep you quiet!
“Go!” Judges 4:14(NIV)
Just one word, but it was the way it was said by Deborah to Barak that mattered, when she was convinced that the Lord was going out before them into battle.
When spoken with godly conviction this one word can be all that is needed. Another version reads “Up!” for the Lord had delivered Sisera, captain of Jabin’s army into his hand.
Barak was needed to conduct the deliverance that the Lord was about to give. And it is the Lord’s business that demands we get up and go. There is no glory for the inactive or any accolade for the faint hearted.
Barak was not to dwell on the logistics but to heed the word of Deborah and jump into action. Such response from godly men is needed today.
“Blessed are you when they shall revile and persecute you and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for my sake” Matthew 5:11(RAV)
Jesus knew that His followers would have persecution in this way and so told them of His Father’s blessing upon them when this happened.
Perhaps rather than complain about unfair treatment, they should collect their belongings and go on to the next opportunity to preach the gospel. God’s smile is better than government approval when the two clash. We must live at peace but our earnest endeavour will not avoid persecution arising. When it does let it be a signal for rejoicing that we are accounted worthy to suffer for His Name.
“wait, I say, on the Lord” Psalm 27:14
This is a repeated instruction. “Wait” is a word that needs repeating that it may be observed.
We would like to say that it is more difficult for the young, but sadly many mature pilgrims try to push ahead from time to time with sad consequences.
We don’t want to wait when we think the situation calls for action now. Depending on what we think is unreliable.
Not waiting when our patience wears thin can be folly or doing something when inactivity seems to be doing nothing for us.
The secret must be that we wait on the Lord believing that His timing is the best and that all that comes from Him is for our good.
“one … touched me and gave me strength” Daniel 10:18(NIV)
The prophet Daniel was chosen by God to receive far reaching prophecies about His people and all nations. These revelations left Daniel drained and it needed a touch from the heavenly messenger to restore him.
Spiritual weakness in any form needs a touch from the Lord. Daniel’s is not an isolated case. Life’s way and worries fed by our own not understanding of what is happening can leave us mentally exhausted. On such occasions the touch of the Lord is an unseen yet very real restorative and takes the soul from shifting sand to a firm foundation of trust and hope in Him. Look and feel for that touch on your spirit today.
“Priscilla and Aquila my helpers in Christ Jesus” Romans 16:3
“Helpers” but that word does not convey the value of the contribution this couple made to Paul and Apollos. They most likely did not want to be rewarded for what they did. Rather they were glad to help others to achieve.
Few, if any of us can manage properly without helpers. Life is made up that way, not least in the family of believers. Your contribution might be small but without the help you can give someone would never succeed.
“Helpers” get on with things behind the scenes often unnoticed. Their contribution can be of importance far greater than the size of what they do.
Helpers do need to be observant to see what they can do. Look today for the opportunity to help someone.
“What you are doing is not good”. Exodus 18:17(NIV)
Jethro told Moses that he would wear himself out. Sometimes advice given by those who come to visit us is worth heeding. Moses’ father-in-law, Jethro, saw him taking his seat as judge from morning till evening. Whenever the people had a dispute they brought it to Moses. The work was too heavy for him and it needed somebody bold enough to tell him. Moses heeded the advice given and appointed capable and God-fearing men as judges and both Moses and the people were satisfied. Some whose talent had not been used found their place.
Sometimes people who want to help you can identify the problem better than you. Pick out the good pieces of advice and thank those who give it.
“the Lord stood by him” Acts 23:11
That was all the Apostle Paul needed. When faced with fanaticism against the gospel and the intrigue of religious leaders and a crowd whipped into a frenzy against him, when snatched by the soldiers and in his second night in the castle keep, the Lord appeared to him in a vision and told him “Be of good cheer”.
This is what can happen in the darkest night when the Lord is with you. There may not often be an appearance but we can be certain that His Presence goes with us and gives us peace. Circumstances can be unpleasant and the prospect threatening but if we keep our eyes on the Lord and His promises, He will give us the assurance that He is with us.
“a woman having an alabaster box of very precious ointment” Matthew 26:7
In the context of the story, how this lady came by the ointment, or what else she had are not important. The thing is that it was precious and she poured it on the head of Jesus. So it does not matter what the sum total of your portfolio is, expressing your love to Jesus will be seen in one way or another.
The earthly ministry of Jesus has long since ended. But our opportunity to show our love and devotion is greater than ever. The need of the despised and down trodden increases. When you can give something precious and do so as an alms giving in the Name of Jesus, you follow the example this lady set. You don’t need to know all about a need to begin meeting it.
“open your eyes and look” John 4:35(NIV)
We sometimes are accused of looking with our eyes closed! In matters relating to the proclamation of the gospel we need a sensitive and quickened vision to see that the great harvest field comes right to our doorstep. What is taking place in lands across the sea we may find attractive, not least because we do not see it as our responsibility. But this world’s fields of need should affect the lives of all who would be followers of Jesus. It needs dedicated eyes to see these needs and then inspired revelation to show us that they are there for our attention.
The fields are ripe for harvest. Allow the Lord to show them to us that we may labour in them today.
“Sing unto the Lord a new song” Psalm 96:1
This old world needs a new song. Though the angelic choir sang an ecstatic refrain to the shepherds on the Judean hillside and ushered in the Son of God’s entrance, our world has only continued with much conflict and suffering.
The redeemed in the Book of the Revelation gives us an example to follow. “Unto Him who has loved us and washed us from sin in His own blood, be honour and glory for ever” they sing. That song will last for ever. It will never lose its blessing and excitement. Sung to the Lord its glory is eternal as is the Kingdom of light and love in which it is sung. Practise it now in a life of love and dedication to Jesus.
“I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten” Joel 2:25(RAV)
This chapter gives us a graphic picture of the Day of the Lord when he comes in judgment to settle the rebellion man has established in His world. The prophet says it is great and terrible and “Who can endure it?”
But the thunder of His message turns to hope and encouragement. Those who have cowered under the hand of the oppressor are told to be glad and rejoice. The Lord will give the former and the latter rain.
Then there is this glorious promise of restoration. Fear that all would be lost in the devastation of the swarming locust can be swept away. God will restore what seem to be wasted years and shall cause His people to eat in plenty. It’s a promise that stands today.
“if a man be overtaken in a fault” Galatians 6:1
Something that could happen to any of us. We are all travelling together in the rush of life and good vies with bad and bad with good.
Overtaken in a fault is not usually intended: our intention was to crush the temptation that was nagging us. Use of the word “overtaken” describes something that is moving faster than us. The question is what to do when this happens. The highway of life will always have those who slip and fall. The Apostle says, those who keep going have a responsibility to help those who have fallen: it is to restore the fallen in a spirit of meekness because their plight might easily have been ours.
“the Lord has abandoned us and put us into the hand of Midian” Judges 6:13(NIV)
The greatest of men can experience the deepest of depressions. This verse is spoken by one described by the angel as a mighty warrior “or man of valour”. Gideon sincerely thought that God had abandoned his people. This and belonging to the weakest clan and least in his family made him look to deliverance from someone greater. The Lord talked with him and convinced him of God’s intention and he changed from being a sceptic into a strong believer and contender for the Lord in a mighty deliverance.
By signs and messages God led Gideon from abject despair to exemplary trust and He promises to do so for the most timid and fearful of us today.
“the Most High does not live in houses made by men” Acts 7:48(NIV)
We erect our ornate buildings, dedicate them and call them sacred and they certainly provide a place conducive for our worship. But calling them the House of the Lord does not mean that God dwells there.
He dwells in the heart and the important thing is the state of the heart of those who seek to worship. Thank God that the heart of those who are redeemed, cleansed from sin by faith in Christ, are true places where God dwells.
Christ may dwell in our heart through faith and as we are rooted and grounded in love we may have power with all the saints to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ. This is a house of God not made with hands.
“How can you ask me for a drink?” John 4:9(NIV)
Jesus stepped over an ethnic barrier when He asked the Samaritan lady for a drink. Jesus overcame this by opening the conversation. (His disciples had gone into the village to buy food) Jesus could and can do this.
His words to this lady introduced her to living water. How can this message reach out today? By prayer and genuine care and concern must be the answer.
By arranging special circumstances, by providing special help and care, by showing the sincere love you have in Jesus what begins as a simple request (in this case for water) can become the stranger reaching out in faith to Jesus. Not to my church or denomination, but to Jesus, for whoever recognises Him can ask for living water.
“The Lord has need of it” Mark 11:3(RAV)
We are left to imagine how this man agreed to make his donkey available to Jesus. Was it something that happened in a dream that made him know the request would come some day? It was owning and offering his donkey that gave this unnamed disciple an important place in the life of Jesus and the Gospel narrative. Not what you have that counts but that you offer it to the Lord. Without a donkey, or anything else you could identify, give your life to the Lord.
Can it not be said that the Lord needs you? Is that not why He called and contacted you, saved you, set your feet on a rock and established your goings. Be ready for the call as this unnamed man was to release his donkey.
“I am about to fall and am in constant pain”. Psalm 38:17(GNB)
I have often said that Psalm country covers every aspect of life and this verse bears this out.
The Psalmist should not be about to fall neither should he be in constant pain. We fall so short of what we should be that it is a blessing to find help provided for those who do not appear all-conquering in their faith.
If you lose your balance and are likely to fall or when in constant pain we encourage you to go to a doctor, so why not the same for our walk in the Spirit? The Psalmist did not pretend all was well: life was too cruel for him to do that.
He makes heavy weather of himself and his condition but does conclude with recourse to his Lord and Saviour and the Psalms soon lead him into the sunshine again.
“perfect in your ways … till iniquity was found in you” Ezekiel 28:15(RAV)
The chapter begins as a lamentation for the prince of Tyre but it is soon obvious it has moved to describing Satan. When asked “Did God create the devil?” we begin by answering that the devil was created a perfect being, higher than all the other heavenly creatures, but created with the ability to rebel and his fall was great. “How are you fallen O Lucifer Son of the Morning” Isaiah says.
Now the Devil leads protracted opposition to God having been expelled from heaven. He is able to visit and report to God as we read in the Book of Job. But he can only afflict with special permission from God as we see in the case of Job. We rejoice that God is Sovereign. Since Christ died he is a defeated foe, operating within boundaries set by God.
“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts” Colossians 3:15(NIV)
The word ‘rule’ speaks of considered decision, not imposition. It’s like an umpire who makes a decision based on the facts rather than feelings or emotions. It is not about being passive and letting circumstances dictate, but an active choice that we make. That’s why we let Christ’s peace rule – we have a choice.
Everyday life has its pressures of one sort or another which stir our emotions and leave us feeling stressed. We become vulnerable to panic and confusion. So that’s when we need to let Christ’s peace rule. Breathe it in, ask for Christ’s help with decisions or getting things done, trust Him to guide. And be calm, knowing that He will see you safely through whatever comes your way. AP
“The secret things belong to the Lord our God” Deuteronomy 29:29(RAV)
Some things we shall never know. Scripture does say that in heaven we shall know as we are known. It should not be a surprise to hear that there are things hidden to our finite mind. The Creator of all things could not explain or describe many things to us. Yet none of these secrets prevent the seeking soul from finding God. He has spoken to us through His Son, Jesus. With the written Word preserved for us in the Scriptures, through a ministry of the Holy Spirit, through conscience and by divine revelation as we seek the deep things of God we can find what our soul needs. We can find the water of life, the bread of life, the way to life and the truth about life and finding Jesus we can have eternal life.