A short verse and comment for each day of the month
Selected readings chosen from booklets 101 to 112
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)
“But who do you say that I am?” Luke 9:20 (RAV)
Jesus had asked the disciples who men said He was and no doubt He listened with interest to their answers. But it is who you say Christ is that makes all the difference.
This is a question that all who hear about Jesus have to answer. He crosses our path, not we His! This is what Pilate found in the course of his duty as Roman governor in Jerusalem. The question he asked illustrates the answer that must be given. He asked, “What shall I do with Jesus that is called Christ?” So what do you say about Jesus? Not just in your practised belief but in your words and actions. If He is the Christ the Anointed One your life will be seen to make Him Lord. His Name is on your lips, your deeds of kindness are done in His Name and your faith is known to all.
“I will take sickness away from the midst of you” Exodus 23:25(RAV)
God provided for the Children of Israel during their forty- year trek from Egypt to Canaan. The Lord has healed sickness in His People on many occasions since, but nothing to equal the wholesale removal of sickness from the entire nation as happened to Israel. They were away from the care and attention they might enjoy in the city and had no recourse to medicine. Their journey was directed by the Lord. Their life must be one of faith and though they failed dismally to trust God, He did not give them up.
Health care was God’s special concern for these people. His health care still extends to His children though sickness can play an important part in our spiritual education. He will take away all fear about life’s journey if we trust Him.
“Believe and you will be saved” Acts 16:31(RAV)
Salvation is by faith in the finished work of the Lord Jesus when He died, rose again and is now ascended into heaven until the time of His Second Advent. The way is open: the price of our redemption has been paid. All is now ready: the invitation has gone forth. Jesus stands to receive all who will come. He will forgive, cleanse and make anew. Our need is to come and that means believing. You would not jump into a boat you thought was sinking. Likewise your coming to Christ will be because you believe. It is not a case of giving it a try or putting it to the test. It is to believe and be saved. Not seeing if you can be saved, but being saved; casting your all upon Him.
“forgive your brother from your heart” Matthew 18:35(RSV)
Forgiveness runs deep. It is much more than simply saying things are all right; more than a smile and polite conversation with those who have offended us. Many people put on a show of having forgiven whilst still holding on to grudges or hurts deep within and out of the sight of others. This may convince others, but not the Lord. That way we will not know the peace that comes with real forgiveness. Jesus makes it clear that real forgiveness is from the heart that is not seen by others, but is seen by our heavenly Father. When we forgive from our hearts, we will be right with God. It destroys the root of any bitterness, irrespective of what the other person might do. Forgive from the heart today and discover the freedom and peace that Christ gives.
“Remember Jesus Christ” Timothy 2:8 (NIV)
With the pressure of everyday life, we can easily forget the Lord and give up. Paul wrote these words to Timothy as an encouragement to keep going. Timothy was finding out that to live as a servant of Christ was not always easy. So it can be for us and we need to remember Jesus because He is the reason to keep going. Remember what He has done for you. Remember His poverty you might be rich. Remember His death you might live. Remember His resurrection so that you too might be raised to new life.
Paul encourages Timothy to be strong and endure hardship, then states the reward for all who do this – if we endure, we will also reign with him. Jesus gave us a simple meal to help us remember Him. Recalling the past gives us reason to press on for the future – until He comes.
“he will never leave you nor forsake you” Deuteronomy 31:6(NIV)
This is what Moses believed and he passed it on to those who would remain after he was gone. It was a conviction born of experience: he had been grossly disobedient on several occasions, impetuous and short-tempered, even though he is described as the meekest man in the whole earth. He knew what it was for everyone to be in revolt against him, and of his own trusted sister Miriam and co-worker Aaron joining in that revolt.
Moses had often seemed to stand alone, yet He was never alone, for God was with him. The truth of his words needs to be deeply ingrained into the heart and mind of every follower of the Lord. It is not how things look or how you feel but that God will not fail or forsake you that counts.
“upholding all things by the word of his power” Hebrews 1:3
Those who do not know the Lord do not believe His word and cannot appreciate how mighty a word it is. He speaks and it is done, whether the creation of the universe or the stilling of a turbulent sea on which the disciples journeyed.
His all-powerful word extends to the smallest detail in your life and mine. His word dispels our fears; it keeps us in the place of perfect safety.
If everything is dependent upon Him for life and breath, can He possibly fail when it comes to His care for the least of His children!
It is as though after attending the matters of the universe He stoops to talk with and encourage you as you look apprehensively into the day that lies ahead.
BAM 168 MAY 2013 WEEK TWO
“The apostles said to the Lord, ‘Increase our faith!’” Luke 17:5(NIV)
We do not know what caused the apostles to say this to Jesus. We can understand that they felt their need for more faith, for so do we. But faith can arise in our heart without our recognising it. Jesus called the apostles and their obedience to that call was their first step of faith. Then as they followed the Lord and listened to His words; as they witnessed His ministry and examined their own hearts, this plea for an increase in faith was the outcome. It should be the request of all who seek to walk with the Lord. The reply Jesus gave is one that suits us all. Faith, like a grain of seed starts small and in the right conditions it grows. Have faith and then attend to the demands of that faith and you will see it grow.
“There is a man in your kingdom” Daniel 5:11(RAV)
Daniel was in retirement but God had not forgotten him and caused the queen mother to recall his name immediately she saw the writing on the wall that struck such fear into the heart of Belshazzar.
Belshazzar called on his astrologers, Chaldeans and soothsayers and any others he thought were wise and able to interpret the writing made by the finger of God upon the wall in his banqueting hall. Strange how men turn to all but the people who can really help!
Live a godly, god-fearing and upright life and the Lord will not forget you. When it seems you are pushed into a back-water, it will be to witness your faith to someone there. You are liable to be recalled at any time!
“God shall wipe away all tears” Revelation 21:4
If God wipes them away we can be sure they will not return again. Here we wipe away our tears for more to come later. This will not happen in heaven.
Once dried on that shore, the eyes shall never be wet with tears again. Nothing to cry for: no sorrow: no burdens: no cares: no worries. No rebellion or disobedience but light, life and love will be the order of the day.
Your pillow may be wet with tears just now but when God welcomes you into your heavenly home He will dry your eyes forever. In the heavenly land, laughter and rejoicing will pervade everything. We need to be sure we have repented of our sin and believed the gospel, now that we may enter into the joy of the Lord then.
“Strengthen, O God, what you have done for us” Psalm 68:28(RAV)
This should be the prayer of all who have known the touch of God in their life. The voice of the Lord speaking to us, the consciousness of His hand upon us, the power of the Holy Spirit ministering through us are just the beginning.
God supplies strength day by day – not a stock that will last us for the week! We need daily to draw upon Him.
He will continue to supply all we need until life’s journey is complete. He will never put us in a path and then leave us to go forward in our own strength. It is by calling upon Him that we put ourselves in a place where His strength can pour into our weakness. We see then how day by day He would perfect the work begun in each of His children. We call to Him to strengthen what He has begun in us.
“He determines the number of the stars” Psalm 147(NIV)
That is more than the astronomer can do: He gives them all a name, too! The heavens declare the glory and might and greatness of God. Look into the heavens on a clear night and realise just how earth bound you are!
Keep this God of creation in mind, and see in the previous verse God heals broken hearts and binds their wounds.
God who created and controls the stars in a universe greater than our minds can comprehend stoops to apply His healing balm to the broken in heart and put a heavenly plaster on the bleeding wound. God is not too great to come down beside you today. He who knows all the stars by name, knows you too. Not just your name but all about you and He knows just the attention you need.
“As I was with Moses, so I will be with you” Joshua 1:5(NIV)
In this verse God is saying He will continue in Joshua the work begun in Moses. It therefore has a special significance to every one of us, for we are following on from someone in some way or other.
God, who has placed us in life’s way, will provide all that is needed for us to continue His work in our generation. Your circle of activity may be small but if it is God’s work it is important. It is not whether we can live up to the standard set by others, but whether we will seek God’s face, hear and obey His voice and use what He gives us in guidance, counsel and equipment to do the job.
God knows all about what lies in the future and He will be with you to life’s conclusion.
“I will run after him and get something from him” II Kings 5:20(NIV)
Naaman was on his way home, cured of his leprosy and with memories of the prophet Elisha declining the gift he offered. Elisha’s servant, Gehazi, decided that declining a gift from a rich foreign nobleman was unsatisfactory and so ran after him to get the reward his master had refused.
People all around may be running after what is not theirs. Gehazi thought it was a smart thing he was doing whereas it resulted in him being struck with leprosy and numbered high on the list of fools in the Scriptures. If you run after somebody or something to obtain a cheap reward or advantage, stop and think carefully what you are doing.
What Gehazi ran after did him no good. We need to take care not to be similarly deceived.
BAM 168 MAY 2013 WEEK THREE
“the spirit of wisdom and revelation so that you may know him better” Ephesians 1:17(NIV)
This was Paul’s prayer for the believers chosen in Christ in the church in Ephesus. The Christian life is one of progression. Each day we need to know more of Jesus and to get a deeper understanding and realisation of what He is to us. These are spiritual qualities needing the ministry of the Holy Spirit to reveal them to us. We cannot comprehend the things of God with our carnal mind. Common sense and human logic are no use in this. All we learn of Jesus and all we experience of His love and grace in our hearts come as a result of the Spirit of wisdom and revelation. This gift of the Spirit enables us to live victorious and contented lives to God’s glory. We should pray for the spirit of wisdom and revelation in all we do.
“Surely the arm of the Lord is not too short to save” Isaiah 59:1(NIV)
You have not fallen too far nor wandered too wide for the arm of the Lord to reach you and save you. It is a mistake to decide that the predicament in which you find yourself is beyond rescue. The Lord is interested in your case and willing to attend to your needs. We often do not know is what God is doing and the manner in which He is doing it. If we could see the end product we would not get impatient or bewildered. As it is, we need to trust – not like a swimmer who refuses to go out of his or her depth, but cast ourselves wholly upon the Lord. He is able to save to the uttermost and that means every part of our being or personality. Trust in the knowledge that you are ever within reach of the Lord’s arm.
“My kingdom is not of this world” John 18:36
Throughout His earthly ministry Jesus spoke frequently about the Kingdom of heaven. One time those who believed in Him asked Him when He would establish His kingdom – many in Israel semed obsessed with this subject. Pilate asked Jesus if He were the King of the Jews. Jesus answered that His kingdom was not here but that He is a king and for the kingdom’s sake was born into the world. Jesus is King and extolled by His subjects the world over. No persecution or opposition can prevent worship ascending from the hearts of His followers.
In one place Jesus said that the kingdom of God is within you. Though hidden from the world now, a day is coming when King and subjects will be revealed – an eternal kingdom in which righteousness shall reign.
“She tied the scarlet cord in the window” Joshua 2:21(NIV)
It was a simple act of faith, yet it had eternal significance. It was no special cord, other than being scarlet, but it brought together various strands that remain to this day. Rahab had the faith to believe that this simple act would save her when everyone else perished. It was a public declaration of her trust in the living God. All could see the cord tied to her window. The salvation gained in a scarlet cord spoke of the salvation that was to come through the shed blood of Christ for all who will trust in Him. Rahab’s faith was such that it not only saved her and all with her, but God chose her to be an important link in His plan of salvation. God looks for obedience rather than position, faith rather than status.
“be of good cheer” John 16:33
“Take heart” is another translation. These are not idle words and neither is the depression into which the soul can descend imaginary either. When you look at the world around you or the pressures to which you are subjected become too great, you need relief and something to cheer you up. This world has many palliatives, but without Christ they give some relief but do not last. The condition returns.
When Jesus tells you to take heart, it is a true elation. In Christ there is cause for cheer. His presence and promise dispel the gloom. Things may be dark and the outlook bleak. Events may not happen as you would choose. Yet be of good cheer, Jesus assures us that He has overcome the world.
“we don’t know” John 9:21(NIV)
When asked to testify about their son who was born blind, his parents said they did not know. They had no testimony. What is your testimony? And do folk ask you? Is there anything about you that makes them ask?
This man was blind, but now he could see. About this there seemed little doubt: it was how it happened that was the question. If those of us who know God’s blessing on our lives would be more ready to tell others about Him, what an impact it would make!
Few read the Bible but they read you. In so many cases they see nothing worth noting or worse still what they see puts them off. We need to be ready to give an answer to those who ask us of the hope that is within us.
“Phoebe our sister who is a servant of the church” Romans 16:1 (RAV)
She was one of those who do whatever needed doing. That is what a servant needs to do. The church could ask Phoebe knowing she would do it. She probably had no official position. You don’t need a title or a college diploma to do the ordinary everyday things. And from the footnote at the end of Paul’s letter to the Romans she was the “post-girl” – she took the letter Paul had written to the believers in Rome. That Paul commended her might suggest that others did not recognise her value. Often we don’t appreciate those who work behind the scenes.
You may be a modern day Phoebe. Serve the church to the best of your ability and the One who rewards the cup of cold water given in His Name will not miss you.
BAM 168 MAY 2013 WEEK FOUR
“THE LORD IS THERE” Ezekiel 48:35(NIV)
Yahweh-Shammah (Hebrew) was not only the name given to the city of Jerusalem but also one of the names of God Himself. The name was given to the rebuilt city of Jerusalem after God’s judgment in destroying it. This was a promise of hope for God’s people as they faced exile.
So for today, as we face trials of different kinds, the Name of God assures us of His presence. In the valley of darkness, He is there. In the wanderings through the desert, He is there. When feeling alone and vulnerable, He is there. Call on Him today and know He is with you.
It is also a promise for the future. One day Jesus will return and when the judgment has passed and everything is made new, then God will dwell forever with His people.
“a person’s true life is not made up of the things he owns” Luke 12:15(GNB)
Jesus’ words follow His warning that we should watch out and guard against every kind of greed. Greed is like a virus that can infect any one of us in any part of the day. When we have something we like the natural tendency is to wish for more of it. Jesus’ words on this matter are important because we all tend to assess a person according to what they own. Deeds of kindness can be undertaken by those who own little: so can friendliness and counsel. Integrity is best found in those who have little to mismanage. There is no earthly record kept of treasure deposited in heaven and Christ is the pearl of greatest price.
“Sir, give me this water” John 4:15
After her initial surprise that a Jew would speak to a Samaritan, the woman who met Jesus at the well-side was soon asking Him for the water that He said He could give and that would satisfy her thirst. Jesus was yet to reveal who He was to her, but the impression was so great that ethnic barriers of custom and religion were all swept away.
This Samaritan woman met Jesus and wanted the water of life that He offered. It was the meeting with Jesus and listening to His words that made this happen. Arguing about religion and criticising one and another get nowhere. Personal contact with Jesus does it all.
Today He lives to save all who will call upon Him. It is meeting Him, not merely knowing this, that is important.
“and many knew him” Mark 6:33
They had met Jesus before, listened to His gracious words and teaching. Many would have witnessed His miracles and so when His boat drew into the shore they recognised Him and spread the word around.
Once you have met Jesus there is no problem recognising Him again. His presence and peace go with you and you see Him in situations where others who do not know Him seem to miss Him altogether.
Knowing Jesus can only come from a personal encounter. This is what makes it an unforgettable experience. He accepts us as we are, forgives our sin, gives His gift of eternal life and hope and joy. And just as He did to His disciples after the resurrection, so He appears to us in the most unexpected places and ways.
“all things must be fulfilled…concerning me” Luke 24:44
Numerous prophecies in the Old Testament scriptures spoke of His advent, His ministry, His atoning death. It must therefore have been so satisfying for Jesus to see how, one by one, the prophecies that went before Him had been fulfilled. Not all were fulfilled: some are still being completed now. Our world has continued these many years that God’s will may be done. God’s great plan is being wrought out: the gospel is preached, those who will believe and respond receive the assurance of sins forgiven and peace with God. All over the world this is happening. As it happens in your life and you grow in grace and in the knowledge of Jesus, His purpose is fulfilled in your life. His plan extends to the smallest detail of this day.
“Do not be amazed” John 5:28(NIV)
Did Jesus use this expression because incredulity might hinder faith? When the sayings and promises of Jesus do amaze us we need to move on to a place of trust and belief in them. The words of Jesus are full of surprises but He never promises what He cannot deliver or warn of something that will never happen. Think for a moment of the momentous words He spoke – of a day that is coming when all who are in the graves shall hear His voice.
So many refuse to listen when alive. His word coming to us in so many ways goes unheeded. A day is coming when this will no longer be possible. All in the grave will hear His voice. Hearing and heeding now makes the anticipation of that day all joy to the believers.
“you will be saved” Romans 10:9(NIV)
Saved from perishing. Knowing you are perishing is the conviction of the Holy Spirit and creates a desire to be saved. To you the gospel message is good news. Not only is the news good, but it is reliable for God has made the announcement and His word cannot fail for He is all truth.
The conditions for being saved are clearly defined in this verse – confession of your faith. Confessions may occur in different ways but all with the same content – trust has been placed in Jesus for salvation: a personal commitment. It is not hoping you will be saved or trusting you will be saved. Believe in your heart and bear testimony or evidence to that faith and you will have the assurance. God’s word says you are saved.
BAM 168 MAY 2013 Last Page
“What do you want me to do for you?” Luke 18:41(NIV)
This is one of the most beautiful questions Jesus ever asked. It seems completely unnecessary given the circumstances yet it produces one of the most heartfelt responses ever recorded. “Lord, I want to see.” More than financial security, food on the table, the warmth of a home – all of which would have done a beggar just nicely – Bartimaeus wanted to see. Just one thing, but it would be life-changing.
How people need the same touch of Jesus today. Spiritually blind they stumble through life not sure where they are going or what it is about. The world cannot give sight to the spiritually blind. Only Christ can and will to all who call out to Him today.
“she began to sob” Genesis 21:16(NIV)
Sobbing is a sign you feel you can take no more. Your heart cries out for help and tears flow. Hagar had suffered from complicated relationships; she was out of house and home. Now with nothing to drink and nowhere to go, her life had dried up and she began to sob. Sometimes the Lord allows us to descend to a place in life where we can fall no further in order that He might lift us up as we pour out our hearts before him. Too often, even when we are up against it, our dignity and pride stop us from sobbing before the Lord. Yet heart-felt tears can release hurts from the past and bring us to a place of restoration before God. If you can take no more, then call out to Jesus, let Him cleanse and forgive you, then live in the freedom He gives.
“Those who fear him lack nothing” Psalm 34:9(NIV)
This is not the fear or dread that we experience when calamity is about to fall on us. It is a holding in esteem and an acknowledging who He is, that the Psalmist is referring to. When a person does not know what it is that he really wants, he is ever likely to feel he lacks something. When the chief aim is one’s own selfish ideal and a craving that ever asks for more, desire is ever unfulfilled.
Fall in love with the Lord, give thanks to Him for the life you have now and that He promises and the Psalmist’s will be your testimony – “What more do I want?”
Not merely lacking nothing, but enjoying to the full all God’s benefits is the full complement of the followers of Jesus.