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)
“If any man will come after me, let him deny himself” Luke 9:23
Jesus did not make discipleship easy. Jesus must be made Lord of your life. It is recognising that all He has for us is for blessing and good. We only find that when we deny ourselves.
Fitting into the place God has for us means getting rid of other things that would hinder this. It is something we choose to do: denying self opens a new life of blessing and purpose.
Give yourself what you want and you will end your days with much that must be left behind.
Denying yourself will free you up to see the Lord. Denial does not mean doing nothing; it means taking up whatever cross life gives you and following Jesus.
“May the Lord give you discretion and understanding” I Chronicles 22:12(NIV)
This is part of David’s prayer for his son, Solomon. He is a blessed son who has a father who prays for him like this.
It is easier to pay attention to this world’s treasures than to unseen treasures of discretion and understanding.
These two qualities will stand the young person in good stead for the hard times and surprises that are sure to come upon him. They will be invaluable in avoiding unwise and ignorant decisions and actions.
David made known to Solomon his prayer for him. And like him we must make known the prayer we pray for our children. They must be left in no doubt about the responsibilities laid on all who take up their cross and follow Jesus.
“a young girl from Israel” II Kings 5:2(NIV)
We do not know her name, or her age, but what we do know is that she had the interests of others in her heart and this made her speak out. She was a captive and a servant. She had suffered at the hands of those she now served and could easily have kept quiet. But her heart was for the good of others, whoever they were. Irrespective of her position in Naaman’s household, she knew where help could be found and made it known.
So lives were changed and her part is recorded as an encouragement to us. If we know the One who can heal both body and heart, then we must make it known – even to those who might oppose us. Instead of making excuses, let’s follow her example and share good news.
“The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light” Isaiah 9:2
This prophecy in the Book of Isaiah relates to the Incarnation when a darkness of oppression covered the whole of Israel. We can only try to imagine the darkness of those days, but events like Herod slaying the innocents is one thing that should remind us.
There have been repeated periods of darkness over the years as, for example, in the Middle Ages and more recently that awful genocide in Rwanda.
The gospel light has shone through it all. It has never been completely extinguished. We thought it a dark day when all missionaries were expelled from China, but look at what we found when the door was opened again!
No darkness is too deep for God’s light to break through.
“when they heard that Jesus passed by, cried out” Matthew 20:30
These blind men decided that Jesus could open their blind eyes, something that no-one else could do.
The important thing is that they acted on their belief and when the opportunity arose they called out and did so in such a way that their cry reached Him It is really quite wonderful that our cry can reach Jesus today.
True, we need faith, but God who puts the desire in our heart can give us that. So today’s challenging question might be ‘what has hearing about Jesus made us do?’ Or is it merely news that has affected others.
Those two blind men changed from spectators who could see nothing to followers of Jesus, sighted and blessed with a mighty touch from the Lord.
“even the forgiveness of sins” Colossians 1:14
The redemption we have in Christ extends to the forgiveness of all past sins we have committed.
No condemnation, no fear, no wondering what will happen. Free from the angry arm of the law. Free to live for Christ, to give ourselves in His glad service.
Until Christ died for our sins, this was a stain we could not remove. Hope was that forgiveness would be brought through the coming Messiah. When we were without strength Christ died for us. Now all anxiety may be gone, we can trust and not be afraid.
Exercise the unseen yet very real work of faith as the gift God gives us. We need to put our trust in Christ to know the assurance of sin forgiven and peace with God.
“Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the Lord” Psalm 31:24(NIV)
You notice that this verse says “take heart”. This is something you can do and you must do. Encouragement is there for the taking. If you are down-hearted you have missed the meal of hope and promise the Lord has for you today.
When your hope is in the Lord you have a fixed anchor that shall not be removed. No need to try anything or anyone else. So develop that link you have with the Eternal God.
Increase in strength, grow in confidence knowing God is providing what you need today.
Dwell on Him and on His Word. The Lord will see you through. Don’t opt yourself out of the good things the Lord has for you. Drink deeply of the wells of salvation.
“all these things” Matthew 6:33
There are a lot of them! The list is too long to mention. They are things of everyday life that prevent us from engaging in the important things of God. God’s kingdom is of utmost importance. Don’t let lesser things push the things of God out of your life. We should give ourselves to the Lord. He gives greatest joy.
Worship and dedication to the Lord are most rewarding. Yet many other things demand our attention or attract our interest in the wrong direction. We find the day is spent and we have not added to the store laid up for us in heaven. Deeds of love and kindness, the exercise of care and support are not missed in heaven.
Seek the Lord and find all else fits into its proper place.
“for you are a gracious and merciful God” Nehemiah 9:31(NIV)
It’s easy to take God’s grace and mercy for granted but, like Nehemiah, we need to regularly acknowledge His goodness towards us. This can be important when things are difficult or a struggle. Turning our attention to the grace and mercy of God helps us avoid self-pity. It stops us from becoming resentful or bitter about our circumstances and reminds us that the Lord remains constant and true.
Nehemiah recounts the way that the Lord had been good to the Israelites despite their waywardness and we too can be grateful that God does not treat us as our sin deserves. Maybe if we remember the Lord’s grace and mercy towards us more often, it will help us to pass that grace and mercy on to others. AP
“two very small copper coins, worth only a fraction of a penny” Mark 12:42(NIV)
Was it really worth it? Compared with what others were giving would her two coins make a difference? It would leave her penniless. And what would others think who were giving so much more? Maybe best to wait until she had a little more in hand. Is that how we feel sometimes? Yet it’s not about how other people see us but how Jesus sees us. He saw that the little was everything the widow had, so she was giving ‘more than all the others’.
The principles of God’s Kingdom are not the same as the principles of this world. As someone once said, it’s not about how much we give but how much we have left over. Since the Lord gave everything for us, we must be ready to give everything back to him.
“Repent therefore and be converted” Acts 3:19(RAV)
Repentance cannot be left to stand alone. It is the first responsive step after recognising and believing the truth of the gospel.
God commands all men everywhere to repent. This turns a person off the path that leads to destruction and it must be attended by a changed life – new loves, new desires, new hopes, new joys. Eyes that gazed on evil must now gaze by faith upon the one who died for them.
When it is God who effects the change, we see the difference. Others are blessed and God’s will is done in the lives of those who beforehand had no thought for Him.
Conversion is evidence that sin is forgiven and the life of God is known and enjoyed.
“And he (Herod) tried to see him” Luke 9:9(NIV)
We might guess that Herod wanted to see Jesus perform some miracles or engage in some philosophical discussion. However, by the time Herod did get to see Jesus, at his trial, there was no performance and no discussion. In the end Herod resorted to mockery to satisfy his desires. It can often be the same today. People want a performance or something spectacular and when this doesn’t happen they resort to making fun of Christ and his followers. We need to be alert to the dangers of this sort of person.
There are those who truly want to know Jesus as Saviour and Lord and it is these people that we need to identify and spend time with. Let’s ask the Holy Spirit to lead us to such people and be ready to give them our time. AP
“reserved in heaven for you” I Peter 1:4
Peter wrote his Letter to believers scattered throughout Asia and the known world. He reminded them that they were elect. God had chosen them and they had responded to His call. Now he tells them of an inheritance that is reserved for them.
And we know that this hope need never be removed. By the power of God believers will safely arrive at their heavenly home and take up the place reserved for them. Details of these reservations are known only to Him. Hidden among those that populate our earth they can rest at peace that God will complete what He has begun.
It is faith in the blood of Jesus that cleanses us and forgives us of the sin that shuts us out of heaven.
“Ears that hear and eyes that see” Proverbs 20:12(NIV)
Two of our five senses are highlighted here because of their impact for good or evil. A witness can affect the judgement by testifying to what they saw and heard. Gossip is heard before it is spread. The lust of the eyes can lead to immoral actions. It can be easy, even enjoyable, to listen to something which is not edifying. ‘Just looking’ can be used as an excuse to indulge our earthly desires.
A kind word can bring healing, and acts of kindness can be inspired by what we see. The attitude of our heart will be reflected in how we use these two senses and since the Lord has made them both, we have a responsibility to guard them from misuse and also to use them for the good of others. Listen and look with right intent today. AP
“a wise man built his house on the rock” Matthew 7:24
These words of Jesus have a message for us all. Each one of us is building something with his or her life. Day by day, hours and minutes are like bricks that God gives us in life along with breath to erect a building that shall for ever be identified with us. It is our life: What are we making of it?
The reality is that we can build on a wrong foundation and when the storm comes all will collapse. We need wisdom to find and build on the rock. We need a sure foundation in the uncertainty of our times in the 21st Century and the only foundation that gives this assurance is JESUS. No other foundation can be laid than is laid, namely Jesus Christ our Lord and Saviour. Examine what you are doing and build on the rock. Lean and trust wholly on Christ.
“They were counted faithful” Nehemiah 13:13
These four men were faithful in fulfilling their duty and could be trusted to distribute supplies fairly and faithfully to others. This is a characteristic that seems to be in short supply these days. Often when position, power and influence are given to people, their perspectives and actions become distorted – even within the church. It’s easy to favour some over others or let self-interest influence our behaviour. But we must guard against this in our lives.
Faithfulness is one of the elements of the fruit of the Holy Spirit that will be evident in our lives as we let Him rule. And faithfulness will be rewarded. Whatever our position or role now, faithful actions will be rewarded in the Eternal Kingdom of God. AP
“The child is not dead but asleep” Mark 5:39\(NIV)
Jesus brings another perspective on situations. The disciples saw five loaves and two fish and asked, ‘What are they among so many?’ Jesus saw things differently and got the people to sit down ready to eat. Martha anticipated the stench of death as Lazarus’ tomb was opened, but Jesus saw an opportunity to demonstrate His power over sin and death. The same is true here with Jairus’ daughter and on many other occasions. When things look bleak from a human perspective, Jesus brings hope and opportunity. The same is true for us today. With faith in Christ our perspective can change, so that we see opportunities for His transforming power to make a difference – for us as well as for others. AP
“they gave to anyone as he had need” Acts 2:45(NIV)
Their need decided what help was to be given: it was not their position or what they were doing. When the disciples in the Early Church in Jerusalem found anyone needed help they gave it. They had everything in common and sold their possessions and goods to meet this general fund.
This was characteristic of the church in its infancy and it has on occasions been repeated when great persecution or distress has fallen on the believers.
It should not depend on any other factor. If someone is in need and the believer can meet it they should do so.
They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts. When many are alone today, we might do well to learn from this situation in the Early Church.
“with Jesus leading the way” Mark 10:32(NIV)
Jesus knew what lay ahead of him in Jerusalem, yet he stepped out to lead the way up to the city. Whilst the disciples did not fully realise what was about to happen, they knew enough to be surprised by Christ’s willingness to lead the way. But where Christ leads, He calls all His disciples to follow. The road to suffering and death had to be taken before the road of resurrection and life could be realised. All who would follow Jesus must deny themselves and take up their cross so as to be ready to follow.
The dying to self can be a struggle, but let us not shrink back from the challenge. Be ready to make sacrifices in this world and to enjoy the fulness of life in Jesus. Jesus said ‘Take heart! I have overcome the world.’
“redeemed” I Peter 1:18
What a lovely word! What blessing it has brought to us!
Many sacrifices and offerings in the Old Testament could never cleanse the heart from sin. Born in sin and enslaved by it, we knew no remedy. Trusting in our own effort could never be enough.
Satan considered he had the whole world trapped in the claws of sin. There was no prospect until Jesus came.
Atonement could only be effected through the blood of Jesus. That blood shed upon Calvary’s cross was the price demanded and it paid in full the price of our redemption.
Peter wrote, “Redeemed not with corruptible things but with the precious blood of Jesus”. Now all who call upon Him may be saved! You may know you are redeemed.
“He brought me out into a spacious place” Psalm 18:19(NIV)
There are times when we feel trapped. It may be things happening at work or in the home or a change in our circumstances such as unemployment or illness. Times when it seems there is no end in sight or any relief. Well this is how the Psalmist felt. ‘In my distress I called to the Lord, I cried to my God for help’.
The result was deliverance into a ‘spacious place’. This place speaks of liberty and freedom. This may be literal for some, but for many of us it’s about rising above the circumstances, a freeing from the burden. The problems and challenges may not go away, but the Lord lifts us up so that we can overcome. A spacious place is about living with the peace and assurance Christ gives.
“God, having raised up his Son Jesus, sent him to bless you” Acts 3:26
Peter’s message to the crowd that gathered to see the miracle of a lame man miraculously healed was that this was more than a spectacle for wonder. It shows that the events at Calvary affect you. When God raised Jesus from the dead He brought untold blessing to all who turn to Him.
The Resurrection was not just an academic thing, an event that completed the plan of salvation. It was the mighty action of God the Father.
We think it amazing that God in Christ should die for us ; how much more glorious The Resurrection. As Peter said, it was not possible that He should be holden of death. This resurrection life in Christ had permeated the life and testimony of all true believers.
“whoever stays behind with the supplies gets the same as the one who goes into battle” I Samuel 30:24 (GNB)
This was David’s answer to those who did not want to share the spoils wrested from the fleeing Amalekites. They were described as mean and worthless men who had gone to be with David.
Two-hundred of David’s men had been left behind to guard their possessions while 400 went off to capture the raiders and the loot they had taken. All were rescued.
It laid down a principle to be followed ever since. We do not all have the same energy and we cannot all chase after thieves and robbers. David recognized this and when he returned greeted warmly those they had left.
If you must miss the excitement of the front line be diligent in looking after what is entrusted to you at home.
“Mary has chosen what is better” Luke 10:42(NIV)
Become aware of what is a good thing you could be doing in every circumstance. This was a domestic matter that some would say was of no real consequence and would soon blow over.
Martha thought Mary had neglected the dishes to sit at the feet of Jesus. She would not be able to do this for long and Mary saw her need to grasp the opportunity.
Hurt was felt by Martha who thought her sister was neglecting her responsibility to share with her in providing for their visitor.
So we see the way that it was possible for one to miss the blessing of Jesus being in the home. And it was Martha, not Mary, who needed to change.
“Blessed is he who waits” Daniel 12:12(RAV)
This is the counsel given to Daniel at the end of his prophecy. The prophet speaks the word given him: like us, he may often ask, “What does all this mean?” This is so about the prophecies of Daniel. We recognise many of them in the pages of history but much more is yet to be revealed. We say that history repeats itself, better to say God fulfils His promises.
Old Testament prophecies were not just written for a day that is past. The Bible that contains them is a book written for all generations. We must let God peel open the pages of history today.
Still we need to be among those whose trust is in the Lord, who look, long for and await His appearing.
“they left their nets and followed him” Mark 1:18(NIV)
Two actions are mentioned here – leaving and following. Both were deliberate and definite. The one had to happen before the other and the second replaced the first. This was not an outing for a day or a week. The nets were not left, ready to go back to. Not just a change of job, this was a change of life. The call of Jesus was stronger than family or business ties. Something radical happened. ‘We have left everything to follow you!’ they said. For many of us, our discipleship of Christ doesn’t demand such a radical change.
Maybe as a result we struggle to be as dedicated to Christ as we should be. Let us ask the Holy Spirit to show us those ‘nets’ in our lives that we must leave in order to follow Christ as wholeheartedly as these disciples did. AP
“a great multitude in heaven shouting; Hallelujah!” Rev. 19:1
Hallelujah is the one word that expresses and describes the highest point of praise to which the heart of man can ascend. When used in connection with anyone other than God it is out of place. Only when the heart is full of praise, wonder, gratitude and adoration can it truly cry “Hallelujah”. Heaven is full of Hallelujahs. It is all praise, honour and glory there. There God has arranged and orchestrated all that the redeemed will enjoy in the eternal Kingdom prepared for those that love Him.
Our God has triumphed over all evil that was raised against Him. Those who thought to obstruct the work of God’s love, mercy and grace will be demoted and dispelled for ever. Hallelujah!
“When you make a vow to God, do not delay in fulfilling it” Ecclesiastes 5:4(NIV)
Good ideas are worth putting into action; if you do not they become idle dreams! Any vow made to God should be noble and true. Use the hours and minutes of this day to clear away any delays causing problems in your life.
What we ought to do means nothing until we do it. Putting off doing what is right is wasting God’s good gift of time and availability.
The disciple of Jesus is called to be a worker together with Christ.
This is more than being an ardent admirer, one who says much and does little.
Good seeds in your mind need to be planted in good ground. Get germination and growth under way today!
“But many who heard the message believed” Acts 4:4(NIV)
The priests and captain of the temple guard were disturbed because the Apostles preached Jesus and the resurrection.
The thing that was important was that folk heard the message of the gospel. It is a message that meets man in his need wherever he may be and however he feels. Its acceptance was an unseen transaction in the heart, opposition from the priests could not touch it.
Jesus had promised that the Holy Spirit would empower the disciples and this was proving stronger than opposition from the highest authority. Putting the Apostles overnight in prison seemed to contribute to their number growing to about five thousand.
It is the power and sincerity of the message that counts.
“they tempted and provoked the most high God” Psalm 78:56
They did not appreciate what God was doing for them or the privileged people they were. But as we look at them we see a reflection of our own fickle and feeble following. God has given us law and instruction for our good yet we so often squander His goodness on other things.
The Psalms repeatedly complain at the way God’s children for whom His special care is directed turn away from Him.
Today, we cannot with impunity turn away from God.
We begin to drift and are carried by the tide. There is a price to pay for forgetting God, His law and His love for us. That payment is not usually made at once, the pay point is further down the road. God is not mocked and repentance is the only remedy for disobedience.
“he … took the girl by the hand and she got up” Matthew 9:25(NIV)
Jesus gives us a picture of His power to raise us in new life. When anyone trusts Christ they have the promise of new life in Christ. Can we imagine the little girl awakening from the sleep of death but not getting up!
So if we are saved we are to get up in that new experience and live and work and shine in the new life of the Christian.
The point perhaps is to say that we don’t try to be like others, but to be like Jesus.
The little girl opened her eyes to see Jesus. When we meet Jesus and hear His voice and obey His call, there must be a change.
Like this little girl we can never be the same again. Jesus does for us what no-one else could do.