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)
“or they will be a snare among you” Exodus 34:12(NIV)
Despite God’s warnings, the Israelites made treaties with other nations and were ensnared time and again by worship of false gods and suffered the consequences. We may wonder why they did not listen to the Lord, but soon realise how we do just the same. Snares are disguised, appearing to be what they aren’t and waiting to be triggered by a wrong move. They snap shut or pull tight often causing injury or even worse. This is how it can be with sin when we do not heed the Lord’s warnings. He sees beyond the disguise and knows the harm that disobedience can bring, which is why this warning is just as much for us today. But thank the Lord that He is gracious. He can forgive and set us free from those things that ensnare us if we cry out to Him. AP
“that you should notice a dead dog like me” II Samuel 9:8(NIV)
Mephibosheth, son of Jonathan was a cripple.
Dropped by his nurse as a baby he was lame on both feet. Only because of his family would he be spared until David came along looking for any who he could help.
Mephibosheth recognised his “dead dog” status but appreciated the place found for him at King David’s table where his lame feet were hidden and he enjoyed the royal company he could now keep.
Don’t try to change the description of what is true, find the Saviour who will save our souls, forgive our sin, cover us with His grace and give us a place of honour to feast in His presence. That He should do this must never cease to amaze us and will make us eternally grateful.
“Genuine faith … which dwelt first in your grandmother” II Timothy 1:5(RAV)
Godly grandmothers are not to be cast off; they have a continuing ministry to children and grandchildren.
Children brought up on their knee have a priceless treasure when it is there they first heard the truths of the gospel.
The Apostle Paul recognised this. He looked beyond Timothy’s enthusiasm and devotion to his mother, Eunice and her mother Lois. There is no better way to keep faith in the family than in this way.
It began in tender years as it always does like this.
Timothy and Eunice had the love of the gospel story from their earliest years.
In our day there is much more that young minds can latch on to. Let mothers and grandmothers play their part!
May 4 “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth” Matthew 28:18
This is the triumphant call that Jesus made to His disciples who gathered around Him after He had risen. It heralded a new era their lives. He had lived and toiled among them for about three years proclaiming the gospel, battling against their adversary the devil. It was an uphill road but now it was finished, victory had been secured.
Jesus had endured the temptation of the devil and the opposition of ungodly men who set out to hinder Him.
Now we see Him receiving the resurrection blessing of His Heavenly Father. That included all spiritual power. He was to be victorious in every department: He was to triumph over all His enemies and impart all the power His followers would need. It is a proclamation that has never been withdrawn.
“Behold, God is my salvation” Isaiah 12:2
The Lord is the centre of all blessing in life. He gives a song that need never be silenced, a joy that shall never be taken from you and a hope that can never be extinguished.
There are times when oppression and persecution silence the public expressions of praise but the truth is there. Safely resting in the heart that is renewed, neither the storms of life nor the sorrows of disappointment can remove it.
Let Isaiah’s outburst be a blessing to you. God is there and no-one who committed their life to Him has been forgotten.
Our salvation rests on the finished work of the Cross. This truth has conveyed believers through life in the widest possible circumstances and that salvation holds and will not let you perish.
“I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go” Psalm 32:8(NIV)
You are not left to your own desires if you have received the Living Lord Jesus. The blessing of life in the Spirit is possession of His guidance, peace and praise all day long.
It’s not losing your problems but solving them or being victorious in your battle with them that the Lord gives. When your way is God’s way you can expect a safe arrival after a worthwhile journey.
God’s way is not our way, that is why the life lived without Him can be hazardous and ends in destruction.
Salvation by faith in the death of Jesus leads to a resurrection experience. Not a theory but a walk with Jesus, communion with Him and daily instruction and guidance. An experience we should use to the full!
“Take heed to yourself” I Timothy 4:16(RAV)
Don’t leave it to others to tell you. Trim your lamp and put it where it benefits others. Self examination is done without an appointment but it needs to be honest and thorough.
Attending to a speck in your brother’s eye when you have a beam in your eye does no good. Know what things should look like and make heaven’s standard yours.
There are pitfalls along the way. If you make Christ your Lord you are also likely to make enemies of evil workers.
Take steps to render the temptation powerless to harm you. Keep the armour of God always ready to hand.
Call on the reserves kept for you. Be familiar with the many aids there are to the Christian life.
Don’t neglect being on your guard. Take heed to yourself!
“an ambassador in chains” Ephesians 6:20(NIV)
Ambassadorial immunity was not something that Paul enjoyed – partly because the religious and political rulers of his day did not recognise the One he represented. But his chains did not stop him from doing his work.
He saw a God-given opportunity, even in the restrictions imposed upon him. We may not be in chains, but changes in legislation and social views are limiting Christians as to what we can or can’t say or do. So, like Paul, we need the Holy Spirit’s help to discover a way to declare the gospel without fear, in word and deed, even within imposed limits. As many around the world have proved already, somehow the Lord turns opposition into opportunity for the gospel to be declared and for people to come to Christ.
“the man came to life and stood up on his feet” II Kings 13:21 (NIV)
An amazing incident that once read, you never forget. Just a verse earlier we read ‘Elisha died and was buried’, but it seems that his tomb was left open. Then another dead man was thrown into Elisha’s open tomb in haste, touched Elisha’s bones and ‘came to life and stood up’. Brilliant! Two similarities to note. First, Jesus died, was buried and rose again so that all who reach out and touch Him in faith can have new life and stand firm in Christ. Second, as disciples of Christ, we are called to die to self, be buried and rise again with Christ in baptism and let the Holy Spirit so fill us that as people come into contact with us in everyday situations, they too may discover that life with Christ makes all the difference to how we live now. AP
“Sarah will have a son” Genesis 18:14(NIV)
This is the second time that the Angel of the Lord makes this promise within a matter of minutes. An original promise had been given some years earlier, but nothing had happened and now, humanly speaking, it was not possible. Sarah was struggling to take it seriously and in fact had tried to find her own solution by using her maidservant – which had made things worse. How often we can do the same.
When we want to take control, things can often go from bad to worse. Learning to trust the Lord and let Him do things His way can be hard, especially if we feel forgotten or that time is running out. But God had not forgotten Sarah and He has not forgotten you. Let’s stay available and willing for the Lord to use in His way and time. AP
“but I am going there to wake him up” John 11:11(NIV)
The ‘waking’ of Lazarus was not just a shadow of things to come with the resurrection of Jesus, but of all who ‘fall asleep’ in Christ. For Lazarus it was a temporary coming back to life as he was to die again some years later.
For Jesus, He rose again, on to life, never to die again. As a result, the same will be true for all who are asleep in Christ when He comes again. The grief of Mary and Martha was turned to joy when Jesus came by and restored their brother to them. Even more joy will be ours when Jesus comes again, not just to restore us to one another, but especially to restore us to complete relationship with Himself and His Father. Like Mary, Martha and Lazarus, we may have to wait a short while, but it will be well worth it in the end. AP
“Woe to him who quarrels with his Maker” Isaiah 45:9(NIV)
Quarrelling with your Maker is the most one-sided contest you could imagine!
God has good things ready for those who will turn to Him. Numberless blessings are waiting for those who seek God’s face.
The Bible describes many woes for one thing and another and the judgment of God hangs over all who reject Christ and believe not. But judgment and woes are written for our warning and observing them works for our good.
Don’t injure yourself, listen to what your Maker would say to you. Live your life according to His instructions. Don’t quarrel with God, listen and hear what He is saying to you. Be at peace with God through Jesus Christ.
“Sing to the Lord, you saints of his; praise his holy name” Psalm 30:4(NIV)
The Lord puts songs in the hearts of His children; the sound may vary but it is always a song of praise, a song that bursts forth in the most unexpected of situations.
Give way to the godly desires He puts within. Sing when others are silent, when there seems nothing to sing about.
The song of praise starts with the first note, so strike that and you will be away. The Bible speaks about “melody in the heart” and that is a song none can take from you.
There’s a peal of praise ascending to heaven from the followers of Jesus all over the world. Let your praise be among them.
As a choir is made up of individual members: so is the praise of the Lord made by individuals. Your praise is important.
“we have one who speaks to the Father in our defence” I John 2:1(NIV)
Our sin, inbred and routinely committed, separates us from God. We need an intermediary and Jesus provides that for us. He came among us and by His life showed us that He is approachable. In fact it was the outcast and down-trodden who were the first to recognise this.
We do not need to brief Him as we would earthly council but we must make Him our Lord and Saviour. He speaks to the Father on our behalf; our need is to give ourselves to Him.
It is in all our ways that we need to acknowledge Him and to Him that our wills be surrendered.
We could find no better defence than Jesus.
We hide behind the finished work of Calvary where Jesus loved us and died for us.
“They took him along in the boat as he was” Mark 4:36(RAV)
Jesus was ready for any eventually – just as he was.
It’s the same today, no storm takes Him by surprise. In fact, He fell asleep in the storm.
We have put a lot of adornments on Jesus today. Look in any church and you’ll see that. The problem is that any adornment we add may obscure what we need. Their need wasn’t an umbrella, or overcoat to keep out the wind. All they needed was taking Jesus just as he was. Jesus just as He was met His disciples’ every need.
Lots of words have been written and songs composed. You may like the modern beat, but it is Jesus who can touch you and raise you up. He can guide and bless you. Cast aside some of the encumbrances and reach out to Him!
“It is not by strength that one prevails” I Samuel 2:9(NIV)
This is an encouraging statement in Hannah’s song of thanksgiving at the birth of her long awaited son.
If our success was related to strength of character most of us would drop out. In fact any sort of test might floor us!
There is no means test or intelligence test or ability test demanded of us. It is trust that gets us through the day.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and you’ll have no room for doubt or despondency. Trust shall be like a cord that cannot be broken that links our weakness to His strength.
If you’ve been feeling you have not the strength to meet the challenges of the day remember Hannah’s words. Don’t look at the store of strength you have but at God’s great supply. And when things get too tough, draw upon it.
“Then Abigail made haste” I Samuel 25:18
There are times in life when you need to get a move on! This was an opportunity that demanded hurry.
Abigail’s husband, Nabal, had offended the young men that David had sent to him and David mobilised several hundred men to go against him. And as David later told Abigail, if she had not intervened not one of Nabal’s men would be left alive. As it was, when Abigail heard what David was about to do, she realised she had to move quickly. She took loaves and wine and dressed lamb with three hundred cakes and hurried off to present this peace offering to David.
She didn’t stand wondering what she could do or spend a long time planning it. Do good and when you see the urgency, make haste!
“as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness” John 3:14
The picture is of Moses holding a brazen serpent on a pole and every Israelite who has been bitten by a serpent looking at it and being healed. The serpent on the pole was a copy of the snakes that were biting the people. It was a great object lesson in the wilderness of the Old Testament. Jesus on the Cross is One who was lifted up to heal sinners who would look in faith.
His crucifixion satisfied the demands of a Holy God. His hatred for sin was not compromised, it was not an agreement reached but God adopting the sin of mankind. Look away to Calvary by faith, believe what you see.
Call out to receive the blessing of the Cross.
“The Lord is righteous, yet I rebelled” Lamentations 1:18(NIV)
A Book of Lamentations for the city of Jerusalem soon turns into a lament for the grievous state of Jeremiah’s own heart causing him to weep. Jerusalem had become an unclean thing. The Lord is righteous, His integrity is beyond question and has not changed. The state of life now as then reflects rebellion against the will of God for his people.
Jeremiah complains there was no one to comfort him. He asks for all he is enduring to come before God. His was true repentance. Only the action of a forgiving Lord can save him. This continues almost without interruption until near the end of the book he cries “Remember O Lord what has happened to us”.
Today, it is only by God’s mercies we are not consumed.
“how good is a timely word” Proverbs 15:23(NIV)
Words we speak can be the greatest tool we use today. All of us use them. We need to take care not to despise this gift or use words unwisely and without thought. The desires of our heart are expressed through our words. It is by what we say that we are often judged.
In life we have opportunity to help others. Many times all we can do is to give a word of help or comfort. When words of correction are needed we should not fail to give them. Those in greatest need require words of comfort and support. Every one of us has opportunity to use our words to good effect today. Look for the opportunity, pray about it if you can, but speak as soon as you have an opening. Someone is going to thank you today.
“forgetting those things which are behind” Philippians 3:13
When the atoning blood has been applied by faith to all that has gone before, the Christian can do this. There are no past exchanges that will rise up and haunt him.
Clouds of doubt and unbelief can be blown away. The future in Christ is golden and glorious.
God’s love in time past encourages us to believe that He will see us safely through the remaining steps before us.
It is only when released from limiting memories of the past that we can run effectively and freely as we go into the future. The hindrance and sin of the past is diverted from us. Trust in the Lord press ahead in the strength He supplies to get you through this day.
“He rebuked their unbelief and hardness of heart” Mark 16:14(RAV)
We like to think that it was because they were not expecting it that the disciples were slow to believe the news of the resurrection. But they should have been expecting it and this was something for which Jesus rebuked them.
Jesus had told them more than once that after three days He would rise again. The religious leaders believed it, putting a guard at the tomb entrance, The disciples did not believe the women who had seen Him.
We need develop a soft and receptive heart for the moving of the Spirit and of God to speak to us.
Let the Holy Spirit soften your heart today. Let us live looking for the blessed appearance of the great God and our Saviour, Jesus.
“It is better to obey him than to sacrifice” I Samuel 15:22(GNB)
Saul thought that by offering a sacrifice he could be excused from the need to obey the Lord and end the life of King Agag whom he had conquered. This was just one indication of the way he had departed from serving the Lord.
Samuel’s words to him have become a reminder for every generation since.
We easily slide into performing acts of worship that hide the evil in our heart.
God’s Word to us always needs action that can be described as obedience. This is far more important than religious observance and ceremony.
Do we go through a ritual or has our heart been cleansed from self and do we obey the Lord in our life day by day?
“When it snows, she has no fear for her household” Proverbs 31:21(NIV)
The Bible describes the woman as the one who holds the home together. That is her vocation. There is a danger that she will neglect it if she goes off onto other things.
A wise woman at home makes allowance for when snow disrupts everyday life. She has a store of provisions and food. This is not always possible and God knows what she would do if she could.
Her influence and godly example cannot be cut off by shortages. She looks and plans ahead when other members of the family are pre-occupied with other things and probably have given no thought about snow coming.
Her absence of fear is passed on to others. What fear she has is respect to the Lord who gives her this responsibility.
“mint, dill and cummin … justice, mercy and faithfulness” Matthew 23:23(NIV)
Jesus has just called the religious leaders of his day hypocrites, blind guides and blind fools. He will go on to liken them to whitewashed tombs, snakes and vipers – so He has their attention! In the midst of this Jesus highlights their concern with the relatively trivial, giving a tenth of their spices, whilst neglecting the more important acts of justice, mercy and faithfulness. So how do we match up?
We can easily get bothered and hot under the collar about the small trivial matters of life, both in church and outside, yet give little attention to practising or supporting justice, mercy and faithfulness. Perhaps we have more in common with the Pharisees than we’d like to admit. Time to let the Holy Spirit deal with us and sort our priorities out. AP
“So Jehoiachin put aside his prison clothes” Jeremiah 52:33(NIV)
The king of Babylon showed kindness to Jehoiachin king of Judah whom he had put in prison and let him put aside his prison clothes. He looked like a king again! If the Lord has set you free, live like a king. Let your appearance make a good impression. If Jehoiachin wanted to court sympathy he needed to keep his prison clothes, but he was a king! And those whom the Son sets free can put aside garments of earlier imprisonment.
Saints of the Most High walk in the light, wear a set of resurrection garments and their habits and demeanour must now reflect their position in Christ.
When saved by grace we need to walk in that mode too, and throw away clothes that speak of an earlier life.
“The heart of the discerning acquires knowledge” Proverbs 18:15(NIV)
The heart is the driving force behind what we desire to do. Not merely driving but discerning what it should do is a responsibility of the heart.
There is more than enough knowledge in the world to fill every life. Knowledge is never exhausted. It is there to be taken by those who realise its value.
It is what you acquire as you travel through life that decides your worth, to yourself to your fellowman and to God.
As a seed needs to be planted, so knowledge must be acquired, experienced and retained.
God asks for our heart. When the heart is given to Him the life can blossom into that fullness He has planned for it.
Pray that the Lord may give you a discerning heart.
“ But God chose” I Corinthians 1:27(NIV)
How precious is this! Paul lists who God has chosen. ‘The foolish, the weak, the lowly, the despised …’ Not a list to go up on the university honours board, but a list of those that the Lord Jesus can use for His glory. This is not to decry education or expertise, both of which have value, especially when used for the benefit of others.
Paul notes that some, but not many, in the Corinthian church were influential and well educated. Those the world rejects as unimportant, unimpressive or ungainly, the Lord chooses, welcomes and blesses. Self-achievement and self-adulation can be a big hindrance in being a servant of the Lord and others. It’s not what you are in the world’s eyes that matters, but what you are in the sight of the Lord. AP
“helping to support them” Luke 8:3(NIV)
The temple tax may have been provided miraculously in the mouth of a fish, but Christ accepted the help of others, including these women, to meet His day to day needs.
This shows both the importance of women and their involvement in front-line ministry. The Greek word used for ‘support’ is the word for ‘deacon’ and suggests more than just cooking and washing. It seems that some of the women travelled around with Jesus and His disciples fulfilling their roles in the team. Jesus still needs the help and support of ordinary people today. Whether it is financial or practical help, spiritual or moral support, Jesus needs people who are willing to serve Him through giving what they can to help others in the work. AP
“When we come into the land, bind this line of scarlet cord” Joshua 2:18(RAV)
Rahab’s life was spared as was that of her family when the walls of Jericho fell. This depended upon her remembering what the spies whom she sheltered told her. She needed to hang the scarlet cord in the window. And it was the angel of destruction that took notice of it.
You can’t trust Christ in secret and expect His protection. When you call on God to save you through the death of Christ, it will not be in secret all the time. Angels and the redeemed need to know. We should note that your behaviour has changed. In Christ you are a new creation.
Don’t lose your testimony by hiding it away under many other goings-on! Let your faith be evident to any who look for it.
“Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre” Matthew 28:1
These were two of many women who were standing watching from far off. These two Marys lingered at the tomb after Joseph had received and buried the body of Jesus. It is as though they stayed after all the others had gone home.
They were first up and out when it was still dark on the resurrection morning. They arrived at the tomb early to see the sepulchre. Their devotion was rewarded as they were the first to see and speak to the Resurrected Jesus; they were visited by angels and continued a caring ministry to the disciples and the Early Church. This importance has continued right to the present day.
They had spiritual insight that needed to be listened to. Many disciples did not believe them to their shame.