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)
ÂÂ WEEK ONE
“Looking for that blessed hope” Titus 2:13
When He was going away Jesus told His disciples that He would come again. And all true followers have lived and moved and served the Lord in the assurance of this promise.
Here in the Book of Titus we find it described as a “blessed hope”. It is blessed in the very thought of it; that it was Jesus Himself who gave it and that the day for its fulfilment must be fast approaching.
This promise and its fulfilment can burn brightly on the darkest day. It is not something earthly but heaven born and heaven bound. Neither Satan nor his devils can change it. The evils of this world cannot extinguish it.
Jesus is coming again.
“because he trusts in you” Isaiah 26:3(NIV)
Trust in the Lord results in two things, stability and peace. The prophet speaks of the Lord as ‘the Rock eternal’ (v4) and as the One to ‘establish peace for us’ (v12). Having returned to the Lord their God, the people of Judah were once again secure, stable and at peace.
The Lord’s faithfulness remained, even when His people had been unfaithful. When they repented and turned back to trust in Him, He graciously restored stability and peace to their lives. In a world where there is so much unrest and instability, we can turn to the same Lord God and trust in Him. Having Christ as our firm foundation means we can face the inevitable storms of life knowing that same stability and peace. AP
“straightway” Mark 11:3
There would be no inquiry, no forms to fill in, no committee before which they had to appear. This unnamed disciple gave his donkey for Jesus’ use as soon as he was asked.
It is a quality that is often missing from dedication and discipleship. Let this word describe what you do when given the opportunity to help somebody or when you need to crush a new evil that has arisen around you.
Jesus said “all power is given unto me” and He needs those among His disciples who will use it.
This man only had a donkey, but he could be depended upon to release it. Let Jesus point out to you what of yours he could use and straightway give it Him.
“the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem” Luke 2:43(NIV)
Not unusual for a boy to forget to tell His parents. What does stand out is that Mary and Joseph did not appreciate who this was with them. The disciples were to take the rest of their lives to begin to understand who it was that had joined them.
Jesus came with a mission and desire to win the lost. He continues that to this very day. If you have lost Jesus, begin looking where He is meeting the need of others.
Jesus would have apologised for the upset He had caused but it did make all who were with Him aware of the part that God the Father was going to play.
Look at what happens through the eyes of Jesus and join Him in finding God’s plan for each day of your life.
“This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased” Matthew 3:17(NIV)
These are the words of the Father heard as a voice from heaven when Jesus was baptized. The Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world and Jesus fulfilled that mission and sent joy back to heaven.
Jesus left heaven heralded by a heavenly choir, but on His next return to heaven He will take with Him all who love Him.
The Holy Spirit has been attracting sinners to Jesus for more than 2000 years now. Poets have penned verse about it, musicians composed their songs, painters have depicted it, people from all walks of life have responded. While heaven must be a large place, Jesus in His parable describes His Father’s House as being full of all those blessed of His Father. Accept His invitation and be among them.
“lead me in a plain path, because of mine enemies” Psalm 27:11
Because there are always those who would lead them astray, the followers of Jesus must today be praying the same prayer that David used.
If left to his own judgment the disciple often cannot discern which is the right-way to take at a crossroads decision.
An old hymn says we need to be instructed “simply, as to a little child” and that is true today.
In the battle of life the victory is ours if we discern what the Lord is saying to us and keep close to Jesus.
It is not just our need to be led, but to be led in a plain path that is important.
David’s advice would be “beware of the enemy”.
“I will not offer sacrifices or burnt offerings to any god except the Lord” II Kings 5:17(GNB)
Naaman was honest in this respect. He intended to become a follower of the Lord and to stop engaging in other idol worship. Healed by God through a Hebrew prophet, he still had to go back home but he wanted the Lord to understand that he really did worship Jehovah.
He sets us an example in being unwilling to be hypocritical. So he took two mule loads of earth back to Syria and there made his altar.
It’s a far cry from our day, but Naaman shines across the years as a genuine convert who practised his new found faith in the Lord though living many miles away. He did not take his healing for granted.
ÂÂ WEEK TWO
“we are God’s children Romans 8:16(NIV)
Being part of God’s family brings with it blessings and responsibilities. In the next verse, Paul speaks of being ‘heirs with Christ’, sharing ‘in his sufferings’ as well as ‘in his glory’. As God’s children we are called to grow up, to become mature and take responsibility for playing our part in the Body of Christ. Childhood must come to an end, but the relationship between Father God and His children must deepen and grow. As Christians, childish behaviour must be controlled, but a childlike trust in Christ must remain. As heirs with Christ we must identify with Him by name and behaviour. Being a Christian is not about politics, race or religion, but about a living relationship that impacts the way we live each and every day. AP
“my sanity returned and I praised the Supreme God” Daniel 4:34(GNB)
Man is seen to have little control over his own mind and loss of his sanity is a frequent occurrence. This had happened to Nebuchadnezzar, that great potentate, when he looked at the great Babylon and the palace he had built and described them in his mind as his own glory.
It is good that his sanity returned as quickly as it left him and after seven years living as a wild animal.
So we are encouraged to pray for all who turn away from God, sometimes after many years spent in faithful service. And to know that just as quickly as they fell, they may be restored and probably with a greater love and devotion than before, praise the One true God.
“Take heed to yourselves” Luke 17:3
Be watchful: take care of what is happening: keep your life in good trim.
Take heed where you put your feet, don’t let them take you in the way of the wicked. Keep spirit levels topped up. Try not to breakdown by the roadside.
Jesus particularly said these words in relation to offences against children. Parents and guardians have this responsibility and so do all of us toward helping to this end.
You easily forget the impression you make and the eyes that are upon you. See the opportunity that God gives you to order your day aright. Choose the opportunity to help the many who ask this of you.
Let your steps be ordered by the Lord and delight in His way.
“Joyful and glad in heart” I Kings 8:66(NIV)
This is more than a smile on the face or a carefree attitude. King Solomon had led the Israelites in a recommitment to follow the Lord and His ways and it was this that led them to being ‘joyful and glad in heart’. It comes with knowing forgiveness, freedom, wholeness, wellbeing – irrespective of how much or how little we have. It comes from being in right relationship with the God who made us and who calls us to live His way. It comes with the peace that Jesus promised in John 14 and is available to all who live in obedience to the Lord. It produces words of encouragement and enables acts of kindness. It lifts up, brings healing to broken hearts and allows us to become a blessing to all around us. A joyful and glad heart is a gift from the Lord and well worth having.
“when they were alone” Mark 4:34
We all find ourselves in this place sometimes – a lot happening and then suddenly alone. The disciples had that great spiritual excitement on the Mount of Transfiguration when Jesus radiated His glory and Moses and Elijah appeared. They had wanted to build three tabernacles and dwell there always. But in this case they were alone with Jesus after everybody had been milling around: the crowd so great that He had been teaching them from a boat.
We can find we have Jesus with us when left alone and everyone and everything else is away. It is at these times that He can speak to us and we can listen.
You can be so busy that you are never alone with Jesus and if so you are the poorer because of it.
“The Lord will give strength unto his people; the Lord will bless his people with peace” Psalm 29:11
We are reminded that peace needs to have strength in it. Keeping the peace is not a weakling’s job! Peace will soon be snatched from you if you do not grasp it tightly.
Once held firmly, you know it belongs to you and His peace conveys this great blessing to you.
This is the peace given by the Lord. Your worldly peace is very unstable. Peace sought outside the Lord does not last.
Peace with God is the most blessed peace and those who have it know that it will carry them into eternity.
The last trial will be when you are called to stand before God. Those who have met Him before and received His salvation have a peace that passes understanding and nothing to fear.
“His iron axe head fell into the water” II Kings 6:5(GNB)
This man became an example of what happens to so many of us! And the lost axe-head was on loan to him.
The lesson to learn immediately is that we do not continue as though all is well when our axe head has fallen off. Don’t go through the motions – trying to cut wood with the axe handle.
You are meant to do something with what you have, and if it is only an axe head you have, if you’ve lost your cutting edge, lost that vision you once had, or the power and trust that characterised your Christian experience, go back to where you lost it and put it right.
Get a restoration of your vision. It was when the workman went to the prophet for help that the matter was resolved.
“Let us not become weary in doing good” Ephesians 6:9(NIV)
Weariness or fatigue can occur for many reasons. Do something enough times and you can become weary of it, however enjoyable it might have been at the start. Meet continual problems and you become weary, worn out, ready to give up. Be worn down by demands, and weariness calls for a break. So how can we avoid becoming weary in doing good? Maybe the secret is source and focus. Earlier Paul has been speaking of the fruit of the Spirit – His goodness manifest in our lives. Acts 10:38 links Holy Spirit power with doing good – as seen in Christ. In Ephesians 6:7 doing good is part of ‘serving the Lord’ and will be rewarded. With Holy Spirit power and a heart for the Lord, His work and people, our zeal for doing good will be maintained. AP
“They all … praised gods made of gold, silver, bronze, iron, wood and stone” Daniel 5:4(GNB)
The heart of man needs to praise something or someone; the list is not limited to the idols he makes.
Whatever takes the central place in his heart and interest he exalts as God without acknowledging the fact.
From the days of King Belshazzar right to the present time, men take any opportunity to turn from the One True God to these they call “gods”, things that can do absolutely nothing for them.
So God’s message to us is as it was to Belshazzar, “found wanting”. You would think that in what we like to regard as an educated generation men would love the Lord with all their heart. Let us see it does not happen to us.
“Go into all the world” Mark 16:15
The gospel is good news: it gives hope to the despairing, comfort to the troubled and joy to the heaviest heart.
It gives the bad news first – “all have sinned” something we must surely have realised. Then it presents its offer of salvation in Christ. He was named Jesus because He would save His people from their sins.
Though He was rich, yet He became poor; desperately poor from birth in a stable to death on a cross of shame – that we might be made rich.
And what riches these are in Christ. Freely given to whoever would make Him Lord and Master.
This is eternal joy and peace: all sorrow and sadness done away in the heaven He is preparing for those who love Him.
“Give us a king to lead us” I Samuel 8:6(NIV)
God had called His people to be His Kingdom here on earth but now they took the opportunity of Samuel’s old age to become like the kingdoms of the world. It all seemed reasonable given the circumstances, but betrayed a heart for the ways of the world rather than for the ways of God. The same dangers face the Church today as the influences of society put pressure on us to conform to their standards. It can all seem reasonable, especially if it helps us appeal to outsiders.
We can find ways to justify change and even convince ourselves that it is the right thing to do, just like the Israelites. But distorting truth to lead us astray is a trick of Satan and we must be on our guard so as not to be taken in.
“But if you can do anything” Mark 9:22(RAV)
This father who brought his epileptic boy to Jesus knew very little about Him or he would not have framed his question like this. Do anything? Did he not know about Jesus healing the deaf mute, the woman with a haemorrhage and so on? If not it is good that he came searching.
If more of us came searching, more would find. What this man needed was faith. You may not know or be sure but you must come in faith. God can meet your need, those who have known Him meet their need will tell you. But you must believe. If your faith feels fettered pray for the Lord’s help.
God in Christ can do anything. He can do everything you need. It might feel like a jump in the dark, but reach out in faith, call upon Him, believe and see.
“Marvellous are your works” Psalm 139:14(RAV)
What our God has made, not least in our own body, is just wonderful. Discoveries have come so fast that we take for granted what should be reasons for praise and adoration.
We go out into this day with a thousand and one aids that the Lord has put there for us. We should draw nearer to God in finding out all we can about Him. Instead we use them and do not appreciate them.
To recognise how fearfully and wonderfully we are made will be a reason for praise and the desire to use all we have to enrich our lives and make them living testimonies to the Lord. We are known and read of all men. Let them see a tribute of praise in all we say and do.
“he was wearing sackcloth under his clothes” II Kings 6:30(GNB)
We wonder why the king wore sackcloth under his clothes except that he wanted to feel miserable but let no-one see what he was doing.
Times were terrible, the famine was sore indeed and cannibalism was taking place.
Only contact with the prophet Elisha was going to solve things. It needed a God-given miracle and that is just what God gave them.
He made the besieging army hear the sound of an invading host coming to the aid of the city so that they fled leaving all their provisions.
When it is a miracle we need, it is to God we should turn.
ÂÂ WEEK FOUR
“Behold, what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us” I John 3:1(RAV)
Just think what God has done for us. The salvation He has provided in Christ. His love shown in making it known to us.
A construction that spans the width of the Bible from before Eden to the New Jerusalem.
Then think it is all of grace. It is designed so that we receive its full benefits without money and without price.
And everyone I know would say it was thrust upon them. By nature the children of wrath, without God and without love in the world, but brought near by the blood of Jesus – the great gift of His love, cleansed by His blood, preserved and kept. We are able to draw near in full assurance of faith. Called and made the Sons of the Living God. This deserves standing to admire and adore the Father’s love.
“Be strong, fear not: behold your God will come with vengeance” Isaiah 35:4
I once saw a fox chase a squirrel round the base of a tree. Round and round they went, faster and faster. The squirrel could easily have run up the tree trunk to safety, but I think it was petrified with fear and could not think.
No followers of Jesus should be afraid. Indeed it is fear that will grip the disciple like an unseen arm and paralyse his witness. See all that God has and has promised to do for you.
Fear may stop your life and witness but if your faith is in Christ it is a state of your mind.
Fear not – these two words should be enough. Hide in Him, trust in Him. Fill your mind with the things of the Lord. Just stand and He will come to your aid, whatever you need.
“You give them something to eat” Matthew 14:16(NIV)
The disciples were taken aback. They hadn’t expected this. Had they heard correctly? Yes. Did Jesus really understand the situation? Yes. Was he just teasing? No. There are times when Jesus wants to stretch our faith. Times when he invites us to step out of the boat and walk on the water. To focus on Him rather than on the circumstances. Five loaves and two fish – ‘but how far will they go among so many?’
In John’s account we read that Jesus ‘already had in mind what he was going to do’. The disciples needed to make available what they had and be available for Christ to use. The same is true for us. Offer what we have and be ready to serve. Leave Christ to sort out the numbers. AP
“Make a fiery serpent, and set it upon a pole” Numbers 21:8(RAV)
The story of the serpent of brass erected on a pole and healing all who looked to it, rests on the people doing what God told them by the instruction given to His servant Moses.
The miraculous healing of those bitten by the snakes was latent power there for God to release, but it never would have done so without their co-operation. It demanded more than a stretch of the imagination. It called for faith. Acknowledging that they were bitten and were dying needed no faith. Crying to God did.
It acknowledged their own weakness. Let recognizing your weakness stir your faith in God who invites us to come to Him.
“they saw no man anymore save Jesus only” Mark 9:8
The disciples of Jesus did have many and varied experiences. Not least must be the Transfiguration when Jesus was transfigured before them and in a radiance not seen before. Then there was the appearance of Moses and Elijah talking with Him.
Such scenes did not last and it is what you see when the vision fades that matters. We must seek to be sure that when the glamour, noise and excitement is gone we are left with Jesus.
Let Him occupy the throne and centre of your heart so that when all else goes, you have Jesus. He is all you want, all you need. His love can fill the aching heart. He satisfies the longing soul and fills the hungry soul with goodness.
“Make your face shine upon your servant” Psalm 31:16(RAV)
The Psalmist wanted the spotlight of God’s protection and love to follow him like a spotlight follows the performer on the stage.
He looked to God to save him for His mercies sake and not to let him ever be ashamed. He could be likened in this to any follower of the Lord Jesus today. Take the name of Christ and everyone who knows about it will watch you.
All will not suddenly become easy and you may make some mistakes of which you will be ashamed but you’ll live beneath the spotlight of God on the world’s stage.
There can be no slipping away into the shadows where you can easily hide. What the world wants to know about Jesus is seen in the light of God’s face upon you.
“Go and wash in Jordan seven times” II Kings 5:10
Naaman wanted to find his healing at the hand of the prophet Elisha, but not to be asked to go dip in Jordan to get it.
Too many of us do what we want to do, hoping it will satisfy the demands of God.
But if our trust is in Him so will be our obedience. Our need is to ask what God is asking us to do today.
Naaman had his healing and his testimony because he obeyed and did what to him was demeaning.
Surrender to Christ may mean some unpleasant jobs that we would rather not do. We can thank God for those close to Naaman who tactfully, yet quite firmly, told him he must swallow his pride and dip seven times in Jordan.
It is not the means used but our obedience that counts.
ÂÂ Last Page
“Recompense to no man evil for evil” Romans 12:17
We all need to heed this. Giving as good as you get will not do. An eye for an eye went out when the gospel of God’s grace came in.
Evil for evil will make a man evil and a misery to live with all his days. Giving to those who cannot return your gift and pouring oil on troubled waters will be appreciated. Loving the unlovable, bearing one another’s burden, walking the extra mile; these are the things that are of great value in life.
Blessing someone who curses you, exchanging hatred for love and helping any who have just smitten you will take you a long way in heaven’s eyes.
And this is what really matters. Not what you have received but what you have given in return!
“They have no regard for the deeds of the Lord” Isaiah 4:12(NIV)
This description can be applied to a large number of people. While the earth is full of instances of God’s goodness in supplying the needs of men, they have no regard for Him. For them the things of the Lord are an imagination. The cry of conscience, the way they say that the things of the spirit do not exist is quite uncanny and point to spiritual ignorance or wilful unbelief. The pages of history point to the way Israel, when the people or nation forgot God, are punished.
Often in personal and physical suffering, that silent hand of God on a man’s life, men are brought to their senses.
We should look to the end when the hand of God will be revealed and Jesus is seen to be the Saviour and Lord.
“He was in the stern asleep” Mark 4:38(RAV)
If we are to be in a storm it is great to know we have Jesus with us. But on this occasion He was not steering the boat, not helping to bale out flood water. We sometimes have storms when we are not aware of the Lord with us.
What a picture of perfect peace Jesus must have looked! His was true peace. We might say He had put the boat into automatic pilot. His heavenly Father had taken over. Whatever the disciples tried to do seemed no use. It was difficult to expect the disciples to get to sleep, but they could have done.
Sometimes in the storms of life, particularly when we have felt that Jesus was asleep to our perils, we ought to remember this incident and trust and not be afraid.
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