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)
“there is a great gulf fixed” Luke 16:26
These are the words that Jesus used to describe the situation of the beggar and the evil rich man in His Parable. This gulf was made by the two men in their life down here.
It will be no earthly court that decides upon each person’s fate at the great Day of Judgment. There will be only two classes – saved and lost. What we do know is that our life here will decide the life there and that decision will be fixed. There will be no exchange of places.
The judgment will rest on one thing “What did you do with Jesus?” The answer given is not always clear to us, but God knows. Since Jesus came from His Father in heaven, the need is to believe on Him and be saved. That great gulf means don’t believe and be lost.
“on the poplars we hung our harps” Psalm 137:2(NIV)
Poplars are not designed to be used as hooks for hanging harps and the Lord has given you something that is peculiarly yours and suited to you. Seek it out if you have not recognised yet what it is. Use it and play it.
The incident alluded to in this Psalm was when the Israelites lost their joy at the time they were captives in a foreign land. They let their circumstances knock them over and so hung up their harps and refused to sing.
Choice melodies sometimes have their origin in some dark experiences and tunes written in a minor refrain can have an unusual fragrance.
“Take the whole army with you” Joshua 8:1(NIV)
This was advice given to Joshua when his army had received a resounding defeat at Ai. He thought he should send just a few of his fighting men again to Ai to see if they had removed the sin that beset them. But, “No”, test it with the whole army.
They had put right and eradicated the sin that caused their failure and that was a complete cleansing.
No thinking what happened last time; they had learned not to do it again. The past had been removed from the present.
So it is with our standing in Christ. If we have prayed “God be merciful to me” we can know He will do so. The blood of Jesus cleanses from all sin – sins we know about and all that we did in ignorance.
Go into today’s battle fully committed to the Lord.
“zealous for God, but their zeal is not based on knowledge” Romans 10:2(NIV)
Paul is here saying that being religious is not enough. The world is full of religions as the heart of man looks for something that will satisfy its deepest longings. Sin is missing God’s mark and is something we all have done.
The Bible says that there is salvation in no one else but Jesus. Misguided zeal for the wrong thing can cause animosity and evil practice to increase. Paul’s desire for his countrymen at the beginning of this chapter is that they might be saved. But this will not happen until they recognise Jesus as the Saviour of all men who will believe.
Zeal alone is not enough; we must trust Christ for cleansing and renewing and make Him Lord and Saviour.
“the shadow of a great rock in a weary land” Isaiah 32:2
The prophet is here speaking of a king that shall reign in righteousness when a man finds shelter from the tempest.
Then he turns to a weary or desert land where for long distances there is no shelter from the blazing sun that beats down on the traveller.
This is so today: there is a weariness of monotony, of frustration, of thirst and of burning heat. Nothing uplifting about these! Yet there is a great rock upon which we can rest securely in the shifting sands of time that gives a great shadow from the glare of sun and all persecution. This rock is the accorded blessing of the Guide and Comforter of all who travel across the sands of time to that eternal bliss we know to be the gift of Jesus.
“These things I have spoken unto you, that in me you might have peace” John 16:33(RAV)
The disciples had just told Jesus that, after a lengthy explanation from Him, they now believed He came from God. Jesus said that He gave them this explanation that their hearts may be at peace.
It’s the same today; the more we learn of Jesus, the more our hearts may be at peace. The peace of God is beyond explanation. Peace is an experience not a theory.
The Bible says that the Christian’s peace passes all understanding. Further, those who have this peace are absolutely safe and at rest in the Saviour’s love.
Faith in Jesus brings peace now. Peace with God, saved by His grace and then peace day by day are ours as we trust and lean on Him.
“she straightened up and praised God” Luke12:13(NIV)
A touch from Jesus makes all the difference. Here was a lady who had been afflicted by a crippling spirit for eighteen years. We don’t know how it had happened, but it must have crippled her spirit as well as her body. For eighteen years she had been looking down. For eighteen years people had talked down to her. For eighteen years she had little to look forward to. But Jesus calls her to him and sets her free from her past. She can now look up. She can look people in the eye and her future now has hope. There are many things from our past that cripple us and prevent us from living in the freedom of Christ. Bad habits, personality traits, upsets, sadness and more. Whether it’s eight, eighteen or eighty years, Jesus calls us forward to receive healing.
“As they went, they were cleansed” Luke 17:14
All ten of the lepers standing in a line cried to Jesus to heal them. The fact that only one returned to give thanks did not affect the miracle. The Lord answered their request unconditionally. He did not say if you do this I will do that. God’s gifts fall on us all in varying ways and measure. Put your faith in Him: believe His word and know His blessing.
You be like the one who returned to give thanks. He brought joy to the Lord and his story brought the same to us.
Salvation is by grace through faith. Come to Jesus and believe; look and live. But break away from the crowd. Return and give thanks to God today.
“Where can I flee from your presence?” Psalm 139:7(NIV)
God is everywhere: we cannot escape His watchful eye or His guiding hand. Once we have committed ourselves to the Lord His care for us extends to every moment of every day. That care is not dependent upon our devotion or faithfulness.
Jonah the prophet was a man who thought he could escape Jehovah when he received a command he did not like.
Knowing this can relieve us from much heart searching and distress when we do try, in our folly, to go away from the Lord.
God’s presence is not always felt in the same way. There are places of correction and punishment in which His wayward children may find themselves.
Better not be so foolish as to think you can escape from Him.
“So be very careful to love the Lord your God” Joshua 23:11(NIV)
Losing our love for the Lord is something we all need to beware happening. There are so many side shows and attractions that distract in the pilgrim way that our heart can easily be taken up with other things if we are not careful.
Joshua emphasized this to his people and we need to do the same to one another today.
Those who boast about the stand they take need to be very careful lest they fall and take others with them.
Your love for the Lord is one of the most blessed gifts you have. Many know nothing of this joy and just say they are seeking. Others have so resisted His love that they have become hard and callous about spiritual things.
Take great care of God’s great gift of love!
“forgetting” Philippians 3:13
There are some things in life that are best forgotten.
About some things we say we cannot forget and it is about these that this verse refers. The secret lies in the way we regard the future.
Things that happened in the past can affect our present and our future. It is events like these that must be forgotten. Through the atoning work of Jesus our past can be forgotten and the vacuum that they leave should be filled with our walk with Jesus now and in the future.
Dwelling on the past does not do anybody any good. Reach ahead in thought and preparation for what God has for you in the future.
“Your eyes will see the king in his beauty and view a land that stretches afar” Isaiah 33:17(NIV)
It is by a vision like this that the soul suddenly gets an infusion of love and power that sends it forward for the rest of their days.
We all need a vision if we are to gain this prize that is set before us. It is when we see Jesus in our eye of faith that we know He is alive and can trust Him in all that He gives us.
That path grows brighter and the vision stronger for those who strain their spiritual eyes watching for His appearing.
This is a living hope of a living Saviour. The world saw Him as One despised and rejected of men, but all who love Him look for a day when they know they will see Him in His resplendent glory and all heaven with Him.
“I will see you again” John 16:22
This is a promise from Jesus that every disciple can hang on to. To all who say He is not here now, they answer No! But He is coming again.
These are simple monosyllabic words that describe the blessedness of the Second Coming to the believer. The sound of them gladdens the heart, shortens the waiting time, imparts trust and perseverance to those who are finding the Way of the Cross hard.
When Jesus comes again He will make all things right. He will reward every man according to his works. None will dispute His absolute rule and authority.
We need to join those who in the end of the Book of Revelation say, “Even so come Lord Jesus”.
“trembling with fear, told him the whole truth” Mark 5:33(NIV)
The bleeding had stopped. Her shame had been lifted. She had come unnoticed and planned to slip quietly away. But Jesus wanted her to have more than physical healing and gave her the opportunity to confess her faith publicly. She “told him the whole truth”, but others heard as well and it was this that led to a deeper wholeness. Acknowledging Christ publicly is an important part of discipleship and brings its reward (Matthew 10:32). We may struggle to find the right words; our mouth may feel dry; but if Jesus is our Lord and Saviour, let’s not slip back into the crowd. Because she spoke up, this lady received Christ’s peace as well as healing. It is something that the world cannot give, nor can take it away. So, it’s well worth letting people know “the whole truth”.
“The disciples had forgotten to bring bread” Mark 8:14(NIV)
They were only human like we are!
What mountains of lost property will be accumulated in this day! If being Jesus’ disciples did not make them less forgetful we can better understand our own situation.
And Jesus turned their forgetfulness into an opportunity to teach them. He reminded them of far worse things than forgetting bread; it was the unwholesome bread of the scribes and Pharisees.
We need to be able to tell what is good bread or food for our souls just as we need to be working in good soil.
You’ll be forgetting something today, surely! But let it not be your walk and witness before the Lord. Show by the way you live what the spiritual food or meat you have is.
“when my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the rock that is higher than I” Psalm 61:2
This rock is Jesus, the chief cornerstone for the church and the foundation for all believers. To succeed in heaven’s eyes we need more than our own ability and ingenuity. Our feet must be firmly set upon a rock. Perhaps the Psalmist’s heart was overwhelmed because he had moved away from the rock, hence his cry to be led back to it.
The Rock of Ages is greater than the mightiest wave that could crash against it. But the best of us know we easily get out of our depth and that some waves in life knock us over no matter what we do.
So besides a rock that is higher, we need the Lord to be on hand all the time.
“Elijah walked a whole day into the wilderness” I Kings 19:4(GNB)
Walking a whole day into the wilderness is something we can all do at times. Walking away from it all; wanting only the solitariness of our own company: trying to sort out what has happened, what we are doing and where we are going.
Elijah was running away from Jezebel the wicked queen’s threats, away from his circumstances and responsibility and from himself and the failure he had become. Going into the desert seemed the best choice because it led him nowhere
Yet it was in the desert that God met him, asked him what he was doing, gave him a new revelation and sent him back recharged and ready for use.
It is God you need at a time like this. Go a day’s walk into the desert and know you’re likely to meet God there.
“Understanding what the will of the Lord is” Ephesians 5:17
One decision we should make is to decide what the will of the Lord is and to be found doing it.
Life will keep going on but it will be those who seek the Lord who find Him. By prayer and waiting on the Lord as well as consciously trying to understand the will He has for us, we shall live lives to the full and be of utmost blessing to all with whom we rub shoulders.
The will of the Lord should affect every one of His followers and will extend to the smallest detail.
Let learning lead you to doing God’s will. Be assured of your own salvation and let your life be lived pointing others to Jesus. He invites that all should be saved and come to repentance.
“go wherever else you please” Jeremiah 40:5(NIV)
This was an option that Nebuzaradan gave to Jeremiah when he had freed him from chains on his wrists because he recognised that the fall of Jerusalem was only a fulfilment of Jeremiah’s words. Jeremiah chose to go back to Gedaliah governor of Judah. His story makes interesting reading in the 40th chapter of Jeremiah. Gedaliah was a good man who was assassinated.
We see that Jeremiah’s steps were ordered by the Lord as were His words to the people. We cannot see the future any more than Jeremiah could when he left prison and went to stay with Gedaliah. For the followers of Jesus, “wherever” can only mean where the Lord leads us by direct instruction. Wherever He leads will be to blessing at last.
“servant of all” Mark 10:44
This is the title Jesus gave to the one who aspired to be the chief of all among them.
It has been said that the way up is down! If we exalt ourselves we shall be brought down, but humble ourselves and we shall be exalted.
Those who serve the Lord become a blessing to others. This is not compromising on the truth, but using it to lift up others.
Jesus’ ministry on earth was filled with service to others and that in spite of insult and opposition. Though the Lord of All, He was able to stoop and lift us up.
It is the servant of all who will be appointed to the highest place at the Lord’s table.
“and told them to give her something to eat” Mark 5:43(NIV)
It had been a long day and a lot had happened. Yet the small matter of giving this girl some food mattered to Jesus. It shows the importance of providing for both the spiritual and physical needs. On two other occasions, after Jesus’ teaching, the disciples wanted to dismiss the crowds so that people could buy themselves some food. They discovered that they had a responsibility to look after both body and soul. Declaration and demonstration must go hand in hand. Church ministry must not neglect the one in favour of the other. Just as Christ ministered to the whole person, so he asks us to follow his pattern. Whether it’s providing a drink or some food, a listening ear or a helping hand, let’s attend to people’s physical and spiritual needs.
“Why bother the teacher any more?” Mark 5:35(NIV)
Human logic and reasoning can squash faith. Jairus’s daughter was now dead, so why bother Jesus any more? Any hope of healing had now died. So near and yet so far. If only… Why bother? Here was a pivotal moment for Jairus – and his daughter. Does he listen to man’s logic and reasoning or does he listen to Jesus? ‘Don’t be afraid; just believe.’ Sometimes the simple can be so hard. Why bother? Because the ‘teacher’ is Jesus! He is the creator of all things. In Him is life; in Him is resurrection; in Him is hope, even in the face of death. Jairus chose to listen to Jesus and life returned to his daughter. We must learn to listen to the Holy Spirit so that we can be ‘sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see’ (Hebrews 11). AP
“a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed” Luke 2:1
Those in authority pushed people around in those days like they do today. Sometimes we think our life is lived for us and we wonder why we cannot be left alone. But “all the world” as they are here called, did not realise what a part this decree from the Emperor was to play on the world stage.
God has everything in hand. He calls us to work with Him and to work and pray for the accomplishment of His will.
We cannot see the big picture; He knows and it is our responsibility just to believe and obey. As “all the world” upped and went back to their place of birth, most likely complaining at the inconvenience the Emperor had caused, they were preparing the world stage for the greatest event the world was ever to see.
“Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished!” Luke 1:45(NIV)
Elizabeth wife of Zechariah teaches us the blessing there is in just believing. It was going to be great when both she and Mary had their promised babies, but it was a blessing now, just to have the promise. God gives us promises of great things as we trust Christ. Believe what God shows He has for you and know the blessing now.
When you know that God will keep His promise to you, the blessing of the promise is yours.
It only needs for God to say and it is as good as done. And Elizabeth saw that Mary the Mother of Jesus was contentedly waiting for the fulfilment of the promise. No room for doubt, only blessing in believing.
“Let’s go to Bethlehem and see” Luke 2:16(NIV)
You won’t know unless you go and see. Leaving it at hearing and seeing, the angelic choir would have just turned into a dream. They had to do something. In any one of a number of ways God can show us what He has for us.
God wants you to see, to see Him at work in your life and that of your friends and particularly those before whom you are called to make a good confession.
These shepherds recognised that they must go. They were the ones chosen to hear heaven’s choir. God had something more to show them.
We should never leave off travelling the road of growing in grace, going to see what God has for us next.
“they spread the word concerning what had been told them” Luke 2:15(NIV)
Anyone who has seen or witnessed Jesus immediately became an evangelist in the circle in which they moved. Even the slightest encounter can become a life changing experience. The handful of shepherds on the Judean hillside became the most active evangelists of their day because they had seen the infant Christ and attended at the event.
When you really see Jesus you spread His Word. Seeing Jesus is the greatest training; then going out into the world can be the greatest incentive to service.
If you wanted to know what had happened that night you would need to find these shepherds and hear from them. They are typical of a great number down the years who tell others about Jesus.
“The angels were gone away from them into heaven” Luke 2.15
Sometimes it happens like that! We have our highs and then everything goes back to normal. The shepherds heard the angelic choir. And then when it was over they said “Let us go and see”. They acted on what they had heard: they wanted to learn more. All our life should be moving forward into new experiences and growing in grace.
There is likely to be a lot of “going away” in the days that lie ahead, but let there be a coming closer to Jesus, trusting Him more wholly, letting His way and His will be done in our everyday life.
There may be days when the angels seem to have gone away, but never a day when we lose the Lord!
“she waited on Naaman’s wife” II Kings 5:2
Her lowly job did not prevent her from testifying to the faith she had seen in action.
This is the story of the servant girl whose influence reached further than her kitchen. She had a living faith from her upbringing in Israel and did not forget this now she was working in Syria.
Are you moving along with a cold and lifeless faith? Was this girl one who shone in everything she did and so people took note of what she said? Let your faith come to life.
Her witness was going to get out wherever she was put.
Have the same experience wherever they put you, live and speak about the Lord and face the consequence in the faith that the servant girl showed.
“Throwing his cloak aside” Mark 10:50(NIV)
Sometimes, even for a beggar, possessions can be an encumbrance. Bartimaeus did not want to miss this opportunity for the sake of holding on to his cloak. His cry for mercy had been heard and Jesus had called him. His cloak had been his protection and comfort. It was a cushion, a bed, a coat, a mat to collect money. But in his rush to get to Jesus it could trip him up or get caught under someone’s foot. In view of meeting Jesus, what he’d held on to in the past, he now threw aside. In sharp contrast is the ruler in Luke 18. He could not let go of all that he had to follow Jesus. Of the two, Bartimaeus clearly ends up the happier and better off. Whether it is ‘essentials’ or ‘excess’, a deliberate and regular spring clean is good for our discipleship.
“the Lord’s unfailing love surrounds the man who trusts in him” Psalm 32:10(NIV)
This is a graphic picture of the man whose trust is in the Lord; He does not reach his hand out to the Lord, but enjoys the knowledge that the Lord is all around him.
Sometimes the conflicts of life make it impossible to seek out and find a new experience of God. All our time and energy seem to be taken up keeping our head above water. Then not only does God’s love toward us never fail, it completely surrounds us.
Keep in that safe position of trust: don’t move from it. Don’t listen to the many voices that tell you to do this or that.
Trust is something fixed. It is clamped on, the heart is fixed trusting in the Lord. With the Lord, and you are in an eternal state of trust.
“When the prophet Elisha heard what had happened” II Kings 5:8(GNB)
The problem arose because they did not consult the prophet Elisha. It is still a problem today – we turn to God for advice and guidance only when we don’t seem to be getting anywhere without Him.
The matter was resolved because the prophet took over. He said what must have appeared an unacceptable direction – to go and wash in Jordan seven times.
When he heard about the problem, Elisha gave him difficult instruction. The question was not could he alter the details but could they believe.
This is what God still says to us. He tells us what to do – usually difficult and unexpected – and then asks if we can believe.
Quotations used in this document are from
the Authorised Version of the Bible unless
indicated by one of the following:
RAV – Revised Authorised Version
(Samuel Bagster 1982 Edition)
NIV – New International Version
(1984 edition NY Bible Society)
GNB – Good News Bible
RSV – Revised Standard Version