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)
“Forgetting what is behind and straining towards what is ahead” Philippians 3:13(NIV)
Many around the world will have made ‘New Year resolutions’. For some it will be just part of the festive fun. For others it will be a serious attempt to change. The resolve of all who follow Christ should be to keep going. Last year has had its successes or failures, its good times or struggles, but a New Year should remind us to keep moving forward in Christ. Keeping our eyes on Jesus, we will keep our eyes off the things that can so easily distract or frighten us. Whether the Lord gives us another year or not, let’s learn from the past, leave it behind and press on to be more like Christ each day. Our goal is the new heaven and earth and the promise is that those who endure to the end will be saved. AP
“his faith did not weaken” Romans 4:19 (GNB)
You’ll never know this until your faith is tested. These words remind us of the need to take care of our faith. The description of Abraham’s faith reminds us that faith can leave us just when we need it if we do not nurture it.
Just as we care for the seedling and tender plant, so we need to feed our faith. Faith exercised in everyday events will be easier to apply in greater measure for life’s trials.
Faith is as necessary for the mature as for the new Christian. It is needed for application to all kinds of situations we may meet. Faith must be in the Lord. Then when a frightening event overtakes us we can look to the Lord for He is not affected by calamities that so easily shake us.
“some were persuaded … and some disbelieved” Acts 28:24 (RAV)
Not everyone will believe your message. Our persuasion and proclamation can be improved but only the Lord can save. He enables the sinner to see the folly of his way and repent. He gives the gift of faith whereby the penitent reaches out and receives.
Among hearers there will be those who believe and others who reject. You may be disappointed but don’t be dismayed when some reject or even object to your witness today. This verse describes a scene at the end of the account of the Acts of the Apostles.
A beacon of evangelism was lit that has spread throughout the world over two millennia. We rejoice with all who believe while praying for those who yet need to repent.
“Praise the Lord” Psalms 146 to 150 Verse 1 (NIV)
More than just an exclamation! More than an exclamation found in a Psalm or song of praise; more than something you say, it is something to do and it is repeated because we need to be encouraged to do it.
The crowd that welcomed Jesus as He rode triumphant into Jerusalem praised Him. Praise is an expression of the state of the heart.
Jesus said that if those who came out to see Him did not praise Him, the very stones would cry out. You can’t really praise if there is sin in your heart or if you harbour a grudge against another person. The clouds of doubt and oppression break when you begin to praise the Lord.
All are blessed and many join in when you praise the Lord!
“love one another, as I have loved you” John 15:12
Where can we find greater love than God the Father had in sending Jesus and in Jesus coming to give His life for us? This is the standard by which He asks us to measure our love one for the other. It is the absence of love in our relationships that causes war, fighting and suffering found everywhere. Love will succeed but often there is conflict and struggle if we are to get there.
The Devil tries to break the love that exists between members of God’s family. And so they fall out and fight over issues that really are quite secondary.
Loving one another calls for walking together and sharing the problems and difficulties as well as the successes.
Jesus’ words to us should help us in this.
“Charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting” Proverbs 31:30 (NIV)
Charm is the quality of pleasing, fascinating or attracting people. It may brighten what is dull but nothing durable can be built upon it. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and while it can bring pleasure it will not last. We need to look further for a sure foundation on which to build.
The second part of this verse gives us an answer – “a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised”. Her charm attracts us to the Lord whom she honours.
The frame cannot be held together by a coat of paint. A drawing can only convey an idea. Let us use whatever God has given us to experience the blessing there is in trusting in the Lord. Let us have a solid foundation, not just an attractive veneer that others see.
“placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn” Luke 2:7(NIV)
That the Infant Christ was placed in a manger did not mean the Son of God was out of the care of His Heavenly Father. And no suffering or deprivation you may be called on to experience removes you from God’s care either.
The babe in the manger was the visible sign that Jesus stooped right down to the lowest place in His birth. He stooped so low that there was no–one beneath the arms of His grace if only they would trust Him.
The ordinary labouring folk who gathered around Him worshipped Him with empty hands and pure heart. We see the full picture from the cradle to the cross. The Holy Spirit has given us all the information we need to do the same. We worship Him!
“broken cisterns that cannot hold water” Jeremiah 2:13(NIV)
Earlier in the verse, God has declared himself to be the ‘spring of living water’ which is in sharp contrast to the ‘broken cisterns that cannot hold water’. Jesus used the same expression of himself in his conversation with the woman of Samaria. The ‘cisterns’ of this world (riches, pleasure, possessions, success, etc) promise much but time after time are shown to be broken and unable to satisfy the deep longings of the heart. The glitz and the glamour of the world are attractive to the eye and sensual to the touch but are only skin deep and do not last. If you are thirsty for true life, then, with the woman at the well, you can pray ‘Jesus, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty’. Then your spiritual thirst will be quenched. AP
“I have complete confidence in the gospel” Romans 1:16 (GNB)
Another version says “I am not ashamed of the gospel”. The confidence those who believe have increases as they put what they believe into how they live. There is no part of the Christian gospel that cannot be trusted. What is questionable sometimes is the way we interpret it.
God’s word to men is complete as is the provision made available in Christ. Wholly trusting finds Christ wholly true. The power of God in salvation makes a finished product that needs no embellishment by man.
Receive the gospel in its entirety and be completely satisfied.
Complete confidence enabled the Apostle Paul to go forward and we need the same confidence, too.
“always doing good and helping the poor” Acts 9:36(NIV)
Dorcas was a lady who made a difference whilst setting an example. Her ‘always doing good’ (lit. ‘full of good works’) and ‘helping’ was rooted in a servant heart. She thought more of others than she did of herself. Effort was involved in both these actions and it was sacrificial. She was wanting the best for others, even at a cost to herself. Perhaps her sickness was due in part to her hard work. She helped those who could not repay her – the poor. Her witness for Christ and impact on the local community was so effective that she was brought back to life to continue her work. As long as we have life, let’s follow her example and be full of good works and help the poor. AP
“I will go before you” Mark 14:28
The trauma and bewilderment the disciples had those few hours before the arrest of Jesus were very intense. They had heard their Master tell of all being offended and of them being scattered and they had struggled to put these pieces of information together.
Perhaps most bewildering to them was the statement that at the end of it all Jesus was to rise from the dead.
And it was after this happened that Jesus said He would be going before them. It was a prophecy that holds for those who decide to follow Jesus. All who watch and wait in faith should know this. Jesus is going before them.
This truth enables every disciple to move forward in confidence and faith looking for the path that He is leading.
“But take heart! I have overcome the world” John 16:33(NIV)
Sometimes, perhaps inadvertently, we present a gospel of ease and comfort. The reality is that Jesus says ‘In this world you will have trouble’. The Bible has much to say about trials and tribulations for followers of Christ and how they develop our character, even if they are painful at the time. A rebellious world will not welcome followers of Christ and we see changes in our society today that will discriminate against Christians more and more. The pressure to conform to the ways of this world will be very real and at times we may feel that there is no alternative but to give in. Well, for those times, carry these words with you. ‘Take heart! I have overcome the world’. Christ’s resurrection proves it. AP
“the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night” I Thessalonians 5:2(NIV)
The Day of His Return and Second Coming is kept a secret even from the closest disciples.
For centuries now His followers have been saying they thought His Coming was very near. But no-one has become tired of waiting because all know that His Coming is as certain as tomorrow’s dawn.
The thief comes by surprise – will Christ’s coming surprise even His own followers who look for Him?
The thief comes silently and without disturbing those sleeping – there will be no time to collect or straighten up anything when He comes. The thief knows what he is coming for – Jesus knows those that are His and His angels will see to it that no-one is overlooked.
“he does not treat us as our sins deserve” Psalm 103:10 (NIV)
It is only when we consider that Jesus left heaven, came to earth among us and died to redeem us from sin that something of the awfulness of sin comes home to us.
He took our sin and paid the penalty. We deserve to die. It was His loving-kindness that made Jesus go to Calvary. It was a great sacrifice and of such tremendous value and price that His death atones for the repentant sinner.
And we know it will continue this way until the last sinner to do so has repented and is admitted to the kingdom. Our disobedience and mistrust in God deserves His judgment. Realise this and then you may bask in the sunshine of His love to you. His is an individual and everlasting love.
“Jonah prayed to the Lord his God out of the fish’s belly” Jonah 2:1
Where you are when you pray matters little compared with the content of your prayer. A storm and an angry sea gave Jonah an impetus and sincerity in prayer. The treatment that he received when he tried to run away from God was unpleasant in the extreme but it showed him the need to scramble back and to pray even though from the stomach of a great fish.
Seek the Lord whatever your environment.
This incident serves to remind us that God hears us from whatever peril we call. The softening of Jonah’s heart was incomplete. Resolve that you will learn from and properly apply whatever traumatic experience you have in life.
“Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good?” I Peter 3:13(NIV)
We know that what appears to be harmful or unfair, even bad things that befall us, God can turn for our good. A man may meet an ignominious death after a good life. But that good life is recorded by the Judge of All.
Life only seems to be built on sorrow and suffering because we do not see the latter end. Be eager to do good. Enlist the help of God in this and refuse to be distracted from the noble desires God puts in you.
By far the best thing to do is to make Jesus your Lord and Master in everything. It is the true follower of Jesus who knows the way to take. By His Spirit, the Lord gives guidance and comfort as well as ease and achievement.
Nothing shall separate us from God’s love in Christ.
“Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.” Colossians 4:2 (NIV)
We enter into a vital relationship with God by prayer. Believing prayer is what God loves to hear.
We must take care that nothing comes in to hinder that pure air in which true prayer operates. Watch and avoid any who would rob you of the blessing of communion with God that you know is a prayer experience.
Be thoughtful. Let this be an essential part. Believing, faithful and thoughtful are three giant steps to bringing the Lord into every detail of your life.
You have control of much of your time and activity. You are the one to exercise the gift God has given you.
Paul wrote these words when in prison yet he was gloriously free and engaging in the work of the Lord.
“Repent and live!” Ezekiel 18:32(NIV)
Despite God’s patience and kindness towards them, the Israelites continued to rebel, choosing to live their own way and seeking selfish pleasures. Their sin deserved judgment and death, but the Lord’s mercy is greater. He graciously reasons with the Israelites and calls them to choose life rather than death. Even though the wrong is all on their side and even though they blame God for being unfair, the Lord appeals for them to turn from their sin and be forgiven and restored. For any who would dare to accuse a loving God of not caring that people go to a lost eternity, then they should read this passage. ‘I have no pleasure in the death of one who dies’. If this is the heart of God, then let it be our heart too as we witness for Him. AP
“this is eternal life; that they may know you” John 17:3 (NIV)
In the gift of life that God has given all men is a consuming desire to keep it. Our quest for eternal life can only be met in the knowledge of God the Father. It is only when we acquaint with Him that we can be at peace.
It is a peace that is beyond our understanding, yet is a deep and lasting peace of the soul that has found its rest in the haven of trust in God found through Jesus.
Eternal life must be everlasting joy and happiness: it is bliss for ever experienced by those whose sin has been forgiven by the cleansing and healing fountain of the atoning blood of Jesus.
Because it is God’s gift it is eternal and is bliss that will last for ever.
“they were glad and promised to give him money” Mark 14:11
The prospect of receiving a monetary bribe sealed the resolve of Judas Iscariot to betray Jesus. Mark’s Gospel tells us this just after Jesus had rejected the suggestion that the box of spikenard ointment that had been poured on His head was money wasted.
We see the large part that greed and lust for money played even in the events of Calvary. It is an all-consuming desire that makes one blind to reason.
Can we believe that the desire to grasp thirty pieces of silver should override the love and compassion that Judas had witnessed over three years of ministry?
So it is not just whether we are glad but that our love for Jesus transcends all else.
“What should we do?” Luke 3:10(NIV)
It is a characteristic of the soul who hears God speaking to them that they ask this question.
God, the Bible, guilt and the voice of conscience are important things. They all have a spiritual dimension. We try to disregard them but conviction can be so strong that we must do something.
John the Baptist was a Spirit-filled preacher who conveyed the voice of God to his hearers and every group that heard felt they had to respond. No-one who refuses to heed God’s voice can be blameless.
Thank God for people from all sections of the community who respond. They have done more than think about it. Let us be sure we are like them.
“then the Lord will take me up” Psalm 27:10
It is always sad to lose one’s family, whether by design or accident. Death is doing it all the time but so is the evil heart in a man. When this happened the Psalmist had found the Lord draw especially near to him.
Don’t despair when you have the Lord you can call upon. When King David thought his family and belongings were gone when an invading enemy sacked his city of Ziklag, he encouraged himself in the Lord. He turned to God in his hour of deepest need and was not disappointed. There are some relationships we should cherish and never seek to break, others just fall apart for no reason. There is no need for dismay – Let problems cast us upon the Lord; we’ll find His protecting arms beneath us.
“women of the past who put their hope in God” I Peter 3:5(NIV)
Hoping that God would do something has lost its importance today. There are so many agencies and offers of help that promise to promote beauty! Health care has never been so advertised and advances of science and medicine have given us what our forbears never knew. Travel has never been so widespread and safe or education available to so many.
Yet hope in God is as important as ever. Counsels and helps in the media can hinder godliness. And godliness is a beauty that outlasts all other treatments and adornments.
Holy women of the past put their hope in God to make themselves beautiful and this is something within the reach of all who would seek the best today.
“faith comes by hearing” Romans 10:17 (RAV)
That is why those who believe the gospel should be telling it to others. Around the earth, wherever the human voice can be heard, the gospel message must be proclaimed. For no reason must it be silenced.
The gospel message is so life-changing that those who embrace it cannot be kept quiet. They must pray about it, that their witness may be clear and unhindered.
Its proclamation must be a pure sound. Nothing about the true gospel message is questionable.
It encourages the hearer to believe. It is not academic. The attraction in it must stimulate faith.
Christ died for our sins. Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved!
“Help us, O LORD our God, for we rely on you” II Chronicles 14:11(NIV)
King Asa did not know the outcome of the conflict that faced him at this point of prayer. Humanly speaking he was heavily outnumbered by the Cushites and stood no chance. But instead of looking for support from other armies, Asa simply threw himself on the Lord and rested (relied fully) on Him. ‘It is nothing for you to help (Lord), whether with many or with those who have no power’. We may face situations where we are heavily outnumbered, especially when we live in obedience to the Lord and not men. But however weak we may appear to others, our strength is in the Lord and we can fully rely on Him. His deliverance may not be as we might like or expect – but it will come, just like it did for King Asa. AP
“guilt in regard to sin” John 16:8 (NIV)
The Holy Spirit makes us aware that we are guilty before God. Guilt is the feeling when we accept there are consequences. This is more than an awareness of sin. Sin is missing the mark. The sorrow and distress of knowing we have offended God is revealed to us by the Holy Spirit. Every heart is sinful and Jesus is the Saviour of sinners. Something can really be done about war and strife, jealousy and hatred in the individual heart.
The Spirit of God convicts and makes us do something about it. We need not suffer in silence. Forgiveness is the great gift offered freely to all who will repent. All may reach out in faith for the salvation in Christ and know the peace and joy of forgiveness of sin.
“the Lord will bless his people with peace” Psalm 29:11
Often we look for peace and find none. In the New Testament we are told to fight the good fight of faith.
All the conflicts of the true Christian are a struggle towards the reward of peace – peace with God and peace as a blessing from God. When we declare that He shall give us the victory it is the victory of peace. To all who are burdened and look to the Lord there is the prospect of eternal ease. A rest is waiting for those who engage in the work of the Lord.
At times our passage in life is long and dark, but the followers of Jesus must trust His word – that He will be with them, will not leave them and this hope is bright and certain.
“Rabbi, I want to see” Mark 10:51(NIV)
Simple, but life-changing. There were other things that the blind man needed which he could have asked Jesus for, just like he asked everyone else. Money, clothes, food, shelter, a helping hand, all these lasted for a short time and then he had to ask again. But with Jesus he recognised a life-changing opportunity and grasped it with both hands. ‘I want to see’. His faith was rewarded, his eyes were opened, he saw Jesus, followed him and never looked back. The Light of the World can still meet our physical needs but also show us the way to forgiveness for sin, freedom from guilt and new life in Him. Let the Holy Spirit open your eyes and see your way as a follower of Jesus today. AP
“Give unto the Lord” Psalm 29:1
Our prayers of intercession ask for all kinds of assistance from the Lord to be given us. Many of us only know prayer as asking for something.
In this Psalm the writer is asking us to give to the Lord. And whenever we come before Him we should give to Him. Give Him the praise and worship of our hearts. Indeed, if we ask in faith we give Him thanks; we come before Him with thanksgiving believing that no good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly.
Then we should continue giving when we leave the prayer room and go out into the hustle and bustle of life. Those lives that are His should be living testimonies radiating to all around the goodness and faithfulness of our God.
“God exalted him to the highest place” Philippians 2:9 (NIV)
Today the followers of Jesus worship their exalted Lord and Master. This is the exaltation, from a suffering Saviour on the Cross to heaven’s glory where He is crowned King of Kings and Lord of Lords. There could be no higher place.
Jesus stooped so low that the humblest man or woman could partake of His salvation. He was despised and rejected. There was no suffering like His suffering as He carried the sin of the world and He died upon the Cross. Certainly a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. When praying in the Garden of Gethsemane He had asked if this cup of suffering could pass from Him.
But, “No”! If He was to be a Saviour He must die for us. We adore Him.
“great is the mystery of godliness” I Timothy 3:16
We should never let mystery blind our eyes to the majesty of faith in Christ. God’s love gave us Jesus and in the life of the Christian there will always be things we enjoy but cannot explain. We can be mysteriously blessed.
Our mystery must not deprive us of the blessing.
The ministry of the Holy Spirit is a reality to those who by faith are alive in the Spirit. The mystery of what has happened must not detract from the new life.
Are we to realise that the appearance of the babe at Bethlehem was a first sight for angels? That this image was preached to the Gentiles after centuries kept for the Jews and then received by those who believed throughout the world is a mystery.