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)
“your presence will fill me with joy” Acts 2:28(GNB)
A promise from the Old Testament that took on fresh meaning after the resurrection. Peter took up David’s words on the Day of Pentecost in his first sermon in the Early Church, showing that God had prophesied that the Messiah would not be held in the grave.
More than that, the reappearance of Jesus after His death would fill His followers with joy, for He did not merely rise from the dead. He did so as the mighty conqueror over death. He rose as Saviour and Lord. He is able to save us because He has redeemed us by His blood – the greatest price providing the greatest gift. He is able to keep us for He ever lives to make intercession for us. The reality of His Presence is conveyed to us in fullness of joy.
“included in Christ” Ephesians 1:13(NIV)
Everyone who hears the word of truth and accepts what is heard may know they have a place in the body of Christ.
All for whom Christ died are precious in His sight. It is as though He is incomplete without them.
Redeemed to God is possible because Christ died for us.
Blessed with all spiritual blessings in Christ may be summed up in the words “included in Christ”.
Jesus promised that whoever enters in by the door, that is, His finished atoning sacrifice, shall be saved. It is not how you feel or how well you consider you have done that determines your inclusion. If you heard the word of the gospel of salvation through faith in Christ and believed, you are included.
His unmerited favour reaches undeserving sinners and those who receive Christ are saved.
“What shall I do, Lord?” Acts 22:10(RAV)
Followers of Jesus would do well to ask this question more often. Too much of our prayer life is spent asking the Lord to do things for us. It can become an “I belong to you, you must look after me, Lord” syndrome.
We may learn from the Psalmist in this respect for he told the Lord that he delighted to do His will.
Not only should this question be asked but we need to wait and listen to hear the answer. Usually our life’s work for the Lord demands time and devotion: He needs to prepare us for His work and then commission us into His service.
There is something for each one to do and doing God’s will is the greatest vocation. Ascertain what it is for you today.
“He who hears, let him hear” Ezekiel 3:27(RAV)
You may hear the words yet not receive the message. This is what the word of the Lord through the prophet Ezekiel sought to avoid.
This same injunction was repeated by Jesus in His earthly ministry many years later. In every generation God speaks. Some believe He does but have never heard Him. Others will say they have heard His voice but did not understand. To hear and understand is a great privilege – even the prophets spoke words the meaning of which they could not discern. But understanding will only be indicated by obedience. The Lord will speak and reveal both Himself and His will for your life. Listen carefully, humbly seek clarification if needed and then show that the message is received by carrying it out.
“what must I do to be saved?” Acts 16:30
There is still need to be saved and still need to ask and answer this question. Men need to be saved because by nature they are lost – away from God and unable in their own strength to find a way to return. They need to be saved because all have sinned and come short of God’s required standard: the future prospect is of judgment.
The gospel of Christ is good news because it proclaims the way of salvation. Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners. Though He had not sinned He took upon Himself our sin and died in our place. Christ died for us.
Whoever calls upon the name of the Lord and believes or puts their trust in Him, the Bible promises, shall be saved.
“So he did what the Lord had told him” I Kings 17:5(NIV)
So Elijah joined the many others, whether mentioned in Scripture or not, found in all generations who stepped forward in obedience when reason might have demanded second thoughts on the matter. It is quite usual for directions given by the Lord to call for faith on the part of the follower.
Regular food brought by ravens and a brook continuing to flow in a prolonged drought are not the normal provision. But for Elijah, and for all who would be like him, it is not how wise and sensible it seems but whether it is the Lord who is giving the instruction.
Elijah did what the Lord told him and enjoyed the blessing of refreshment provided by the hand of the Lord.
Obedience brings us similar blessing today.
“they sang praises with gladness” II Chronicles 29:30(NIV)
True praise is neither irksome nor arduous. We sometimes call praise what is nothing more than form and routine. You may make noise or act a part to order, but you cannot commission anyone to praise.
Praise is a spontaneous expression from the heart. Praise to the Lord is the noblest exercise in the highest place. It cannot be forced; it rises naturally.
There was no sorrow when Hezekiah instituted his temple reform. The sadness was that temple worship had fallen into decline but it was all joy when it sprang forth again.
This was what the people had been waiting for. Amid many questions which cannot be answered in this life one thing stands out
– the Lord has done great things for us and we sing His praise with joy and gladness.
“too weak to go with him” I Samuel 30:21(GNB)
They were the two hundred that King David left at Besor because they were too exhausted to go chasing after the Amalakites who had sacked his city of Ziklag and taken captives of the families.
Some are less strong and robust than others but the fact that these cannot keep up with the strongest does not expel them from the family. They stayed behind because they were too weak, not because they did not want to pursue and catch the bandits.
David greeted them warmly when he returned (something that not all his men did) as though to say “I know you would have come with us if you could”.
It is not merely how strong your muscles are but where your heart is that defines your allegiance to the Lord.
“be on your guard” II Peter 3:17(NIV)
Always be ready to resist evil and do good. Be specially on your guard when temptation or danger are around. Hide God’s word in your heart and then the sword of the Spirit is to hand whenever you need it. You can establish certain warning signals. The best alarms sound a warning when a break-in is attempted, not after it has taken place.
Peter is writing about being on your guard against those who would draw you away from the faith. The highway of life is littered with those who tell you they believed once yet are nowhere today. Their predicament does not undermine the truth of the testimony: it does emphasise the need to be on your guard.
Something, someone, a quirk of the mind can lead you astray, if you don’t spot it in time. Be on your guard.
“all who have longed for his appearing” II Timothy 4:8(NIV)
All who love the Lord Jesus should live looking for His return. He keeps His promise and He will come again.
For them this will be a glorious day. There will be no more heartaches and burdens to carry: no more problems to resolve or questions left unanswered. They will see the One they love and who first loved them and gave Himself for them.
All who are ushered into His presence on that occasion will have the same sentiment. Almost all will not have seen Him in their lifetime and will have fallen asleep in Jesus, as Paul describes death for the believer.
That day will be as a great award ceremony. The crown of righteousness will be given by the righteous Judge to all who love His appearing.
“Why do you spend money for that which is not bread?” Isaiah 55:2(RAV)
We all spend in one way or another. When all our money is spent, we continue to spend time and energy.
The prophet is asking why we spend on things that do not feed our souls. What we seek so often is pleasure and satisfaction that lasts little more than a moment.
Jesus is the Bread of God come down from heaven. The salvation He procured and the new life He offers all who will believe extend far beyond our lives on earth.
Christ satisfies that part of us we most need to nourish. Peace with God, joy in the Holy Spirit and the hope of heaven are only found at the foot of the cross.
Why spend on so much that is rubbish when the blessing of God is for all who will believe?
“no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand” John 10:29
These words and the verse that follows conclude remarks Jesus made in response to the Jews who came to Him as He walked in Solomon’s porch in Jerusalem asking Him to say plainly whether He was the Christ or not.
This revelation was something that only God could give. His questioners were not His sheep and knew not His voice as their shepherd. The sheep know the shepherd’s voice and follow Him. For them there is no question about whether or not He is the Christ.
The Good Shepherd gives eternal life to His sheep. This is something that the enemies of the truth cannot take from them. There is absolute safety to those who are in the Father’s hand. They have complete peace and rest.
“And the Spirit of the Lord came upon him” Judges 3:10
In the Old Testament the Spirit of the Lord came upon men that they might perform specific tasks, often enabling them to do superhuman exploits or to display inspired wisdom. So Othniel delivered Israel and he led them forty years.
At the Day of Pentecost the Holy Spirit came upon all the disciples. Jesus promised that only if He went away would the Holy Spirit come to take His place. No longer is the power and presence of God confined to one place or person. As Peter said, when referring to the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost, the promise is to you and your children and to them that are afar off – in fact, to those who would receive Him in every generation.
“Loose him, and let him go” John 11:44
Jesus involved others in the release of Lazarus. A similar instance is seen when Jesus raised the girl aged twelve and told them to give her something to eat.
The disciples of Christ are not to stand idly by. Before He fed the multitude they were told to make the crowd sit orderly in companies and then when all were filled they were sent to gather up the crumbs. They fetched the donkey which Jesus rode into Jerusalem and they made the final preparations for the Passover meal. At Lazarus’ raising from the dead we see the greatest miracle needing the smallest final touch. God is working, His followers are workers together with Him.
How distressing if they had shrunk from loosing Lazarus’ bandages, and how awful if you and I do not play that part to which the Lord has called us!
“Then arose Peter and ran unto the sepulchre” Luke 24:12
The convincing way that the two Marys and Joanna told their story made Peter get up and run to the tomb.
There are times when a burst of speed is needed, and something to get us up out of our easy chair! A life of ease in some idyllic backwater is not to be compared with those who get up and go.
Peter could have sat back and waited to see how it would all work out: but we would never have had the preacher on the day of Pentecost or the miraculous signs and ministry that followed.
“Make haste” is a Biblical injunction and “hurry up” is something many of us need to do. If the saints appear to be taking their time, the sinner will think he can do the same. So much is to be done. Run to do it.
“I will see you again” John 16:22
To know you will see someone again is so different from knowing it is the last time you will see them. So this was a reassuring promise Jesus made His disciples.
Faith in that promise was tested when Jesus was arrested, tried and then crucified. Then when they saw Him alive again they may have considered the promise fulfilled. Yet it must have a wider fulfilment to all the followers of Jesus in every generation.
There is a day coming when every eye shall see Him. The work of Jesus is not merely establishing the Christian faith. All who love Him should live looking for His appearing. The Second Coming of the Lord Jesus will begin a reunion that will never be broken. That coming may be very soon now.
“a woman…came behind him” Luke 8:43,44
As a woman she did not enjoy the privileges of others. With a constant haemorrhage she was considered ceremonially unclean. As a sufferer for many years and a patient under numerous physicians she felt her case beyond repair by human agency. She was modest and naturally self-retiring: she did not like a fuss and because of her condition shunned the limelight.
Her need for Jesus was great and when He came her way she knew she must do something. She had the answer when she decided to come behind Him: just a touch of His garment would make her whole. It worked well but for the fact that when Jesus turned round she was in front of Him.
Come behind Him if you will, but soon everyone will know when you get the blessing of the Lord.
“At once, the Spirit sent him out into the desert” Mark 1:12(NIV)
Note the first step in the mission of Jesus after His baptism. We expect the Holy Spirit to drive us into green pastures and pleasant places and blessing to be showered upon us and a “cup overflowing” experience. Yet we see the Spirit driving Jesus into the wilderness to be subject to the Devil’s evil temptations.
We can be certain that the ministry of the Holy Spirit in the lives of those who are born of the Spirit is ever for their good, just as the forty days fasting and temptation prepared Jesus for the years that followed.
One thing is certain – when the Spirit sends you into the desert, He will support and strengthen you in the experience and you will come out better prepared for what lies ahead.
“Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did” I John 2:6(NIV)
It’s not the badge you wear but the life you lead that conveys most about you. Not what you are in church but what you do outside that matters most.
Jesus’ life is recorded in the Four Gospels – where He went, what He said to people and what He did for them. Only occasionally is what happened in the synagogue mentioned. If twenty eight chapters needed to be written about your life, how would it read? Is yours a very insular life moving within the circle of your friends?
Jesus went about doing good, healing the sick and those who were oppressed of the devil. He did not wait for those in need to come to Him: He went to them. If you walk as Jesus did there is plenty you can do.
“the word of God came unto John the son of Zacharias in the wilderness” Luke 3:2
The word of the Lord by-passed the great and noble to reach John in the wilderness. Tiberias Caesar, Pontius Pilate, Herod, Philip and Lysanias – the heavenly messenger passed them all: their elevated state in this world’s social ladder meant nothing – perhaps making them less likely to be used of God.
Don’t be too concerned about the wilderness if it is God’s voice you want to hear: or the absence of earthly status if it is God’s will in your life you seek.
Once John Baptist had received his commission from God in the wilderness he came back into the more populous areas with a message that shook the nation.
The wilderness was quiet enough for God’s voice to be heard – we need places like that in today’s noisy world.
“Examine yourselves” II Corinthians 13:5
Self-examination can only be successful if you know what you are looking for and how to look for it.
You need to be conversant with God’s Word and receptive to the Holy Spirit in your life, or self-examination will mean very little to you.
Yet self-examination is essential if you would keep in trim spiritually. We need to be on our guard against lethargy on the one hand and straying from the narrow way on the other. Pursue the following checks: Is your heart right before God? Is your love for the Lord as strong as ever? Are you bearing a good testimony? Do you know the Lord’s guidance day by day?
Make these your self-assessment questions today.
“What counts is a new creation” Galatians 6:15(NIV)
Don’t try to patch up the old! The entry of sin in the Garden of Eden devastated any hope of repair. Man may try to reform but it ends in failure.
The old creation is doomed and needs a Saviour. When Christ came and died for us, He promised new (eternal) life to all who would receive Him.
The Creator gives a new heart. Born again is a new person in a new life. A new creation is the starting point. Salvation is not of works. If any could merit a place in heaven there would be no need for a Saviour – those with merit might have reached it.
All our righteousness is as filthy rags – utterly useless as far as being saved is concerned. When you’ve passed from death to life it’s a new creation.
“he that had received the five talents went and traded” Matthew 25:16
Talents are given according to our ability: no use having five if it takes you all your time to manage two!
The important thing is that we recognise what it is that we can do and get on and do it. Trading is not discussing or researching, but using and utilising. There is an element of risk and certainly dedication to the job needed if you are to succeed. In Jesus’ parable it looks as though those receiving five and two talents went off straight away: there was no time to lose.
All of us can do something: God has given us life and we must trade responsibly with it. Was the man with one talent lazy or did he not know how to trade? Let us not be slack but diligent in the use of what God has given us.
“Praise the Lord, O my soul” Psalm 146:1
The Psalmist was stirring up his own soul, encouraging it to get praising the Lord. This is treatment that we do well to apply today for we fall silent all too quickly when it comes to praising the Lord. We become distracted with other things or allow the lethargy of the world to come into our heart.
We need a refresher course in awareness: we need to look again at the goodness of the Lord, to take stock of His keeping power and of all the way He has led us to the present day. Think of the times we thought we would fail and fall and He lifted us up, how He whispered peace into our troubled soul and gave joy when we were overwhelmed with sorrow.
If the Lord has done this, bless the Lord, O my soul!
“So I was left alone and saw this great vision” Daniel 10:8(RSV)
Some have no vision because they have never sought to be alone with God to receive it. The noise and speed of modern life can obscure the voice of the Lord.
Less chance that God will reveal Himself to you when watching television than when reading God’s word!
Daniel fasted and prayed and his heart was ready to receive this great vision of the last days. Few have had so great a revelation as Daniel, but all can find the vision God has for their lives.
Don’t be downcast when left alone because you cannot follow the counsel of the ungodly. Use the time God gives you alone to seek His face. You will see wonders of the Lord hitherto hidden from you.
“his ears are attentive to their cry” Psalm 34:15(NIV)
This is a precious promise for all who love the Lord and who may wonder whether He is hearing their cry at times.
Silence on the part of the Lord in no way indicates disinterest. Often it would not be good for us to know what the Lord is doing and if the future were known to us we may be overawed at the prospect.
No cry from the lips of the least of God’s children goes unnoticed or is left unattended.
This promise suggests that not only does the Lord hear us when we cry to Him, but He is ever listening for our cry – ready even before we call to Him.
His attention is the best: the Good Shepherd knows what needs to be done and His deliverance is not far away.
“Don’t go back to your mother-in-law empty-handed” Ruth 3:17(NIV)
Ruth was a loving daughter-in-law and she had a loving mother-in-law. Boaz is here telling her that she should have something to show for a day’s work. Not only that, she should have something to give too.
One of the blessings of a family is giving and receiving. Naomi took a keen interest in and wanted to know how Ruth had fared. Ruth was told to take something home with her.
Could it be that your home loses out because you don’t take anything into it – not just money but love, care, appreciation? Could it be your home is not what it ought to be because you are not keenly interested in what every member is doing and making it obvious by the welcome extended when they all return?
“The Lord always keeps his promises” Ruth 2:20(GNB)
Naomi had known deep sorrow as a widow and as a refugee: she had returned to her homeland with nothing of this world’s goods. Her faith in the Lord needed to be real faith to endure months of patient waiting.
Naomi had come to realise that God’s timing was perfect, all the past led her to the blessing of the present.
Our need is to familiarise ourselves with God’s word and thereby to know and recognise God’s promises. Faith in the Word of God is the surest place to put our trust. Knowledge of the promises keeps our spirit buoyant when events would drive us to despair. Faith in God is like a strong tower into which the righteous may retire and be safe. You will yet praise Him, even though today the solution seems far away: the Lord always keeps His promises!
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