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)
“Behold, I stand at the door” Revelation 3:20
Those who never go to the door or listen for His knock may never see or be aware of the Saviour of the world seeking admittance into their heart and life. Some feel they need no outside help: they can manage their own life and affairs. These do not appreciate any purpose or aim in life apart from their own.
Some are aware of their need of help and cannot save themselves, yet they do not see Christ ready and waiting to enter their life.
We need to be concerned: there is no room for pride here, fear, timidity, self-consciousness must go. Christ is standing at the door of His church, of His people, of individual lives, of your life. Get to the door and bid Him enter – into every department of your life this day.
“make a joyful noise unto the God of Jacob” Psalm 81:1
The nature of the noise may vary according to the culture but it is the joyful element that counts. When you are overjoyed it is unnatural to keep quiet and difficult not to show it on your countenance.
That He is the God of Jacob should be cause for rejoicing in all our hearts. Jacob was the most wayward of the patriarchs. He was something of a twister and wriggled himself out of situations time and again. He clutched his twin brother’s heel at birth and did him out of his birthright for a bowl of soup when they came of age. He devised a scheme to cheat Laban for whom he worked and finally wrestled with an angel before God at last tamed him.
The God of Jacob is our Lord: let us praise Him.
“every one who asks receives” Matthew 7:8(RSV)
Some do not ask because they feel they can manage without help – their own strength is enough.
Many do not ask because they don’t believe either in God the Father or in the gifts He gives. For them, it is not God but their unbelief that is the problem.
A few don’t ask because they are too timid or fear their request might prove too much for them. They need to know that with the gift the Lord gives grace and strength.
Quite a number recite words of request yet never really desire from the heart: these are never surprised if they don’t receive because they never expected it.
Jesus said “Ask and it shall be given you” and armed with that promise you know that if you have faith to ask the Lord, He will never disappoint you.
“the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head” Matthew 8:20(RAV)
Jesus meant that He did not have a home of His own -like foxes having holes and birds nests. He obviously had very little, if anything, of this world’s possessions, yet He had everything. With nothing of this world you can be eternally rich. Care of this world’s goods can prevent you from enjoying the rich bounty of heaven.
Our hearts are touched when we see those who have lost all their possessions in war or disaster. Yet we do not recognise the many millions without Christ who, though sometimes possessing much, have nothing of real value.
Nowhere to lay His head in this world but possessing all the glory of heaven. It is not pillows and soft furnishings we need but to lay hold on eternal life.
“Go in through the narrow gate” Matthew 7:13(GNB)
The narrow gate admits one at a time – it is not possible to go with the crowd if you would enter the narrow gate.
More careful preparation is needed if you would enter the narrow gate – often much of the baggage you have collected must be discarded if you would enter.
At times the narrow gate needs searching out before you find it – consequently those who do not seek may miss it.
You are likely to be criticised if you choose the narrow way. Those on the broad way will ridicule you for being too narrow-minded in what you believe. Yet if you would be saved you must enter through the narrow gate of repentance and faith in Jesus as your Saviour. Jesus said that He is the only way to the Father. His was the narrow and uphill way of the Cross.
“lead us not into temptation” Matthew 6:13
Since the Garden of Eden, doing what is wrong has an attraction for us: a tendency to disobey is in our nature. The devil is the great tempter – this seems to be his prime occupation.
The world, the flesh and the devil are an unholy trinity bent on the ruination of those who would serve the Lord. This prayer is that we should not fall when tempted.
Preparation for a blessed day is found in praying these words that Jesus taught us. Clear the way, expose the hidden dangers and pitfalls in your path by praying the Lord’s help.
Don’t go your way – that may lead you nowhere. Go God’s way – let Him lead you: it will be to joy eternal and life for evermore.
“whoever wants to save his life will lose it” Matthew 16:25(NIV)
Life keeps ticking away: your time clock began at birth. Few, if any, can tell how much time they have left and those who have spent much on themselves can become increasingly concerned at the prospect of having to leave all they have collected when their life runs out.
Spend on others if you would know real gain. Sometimes it means spending on yourself to be better fitted to help others, but the idea of saving or conserving your life should not be your aim.
Time is passing: opportunities not taken today are gone for ever. There will be different opportunities tomorrow until time runs out on you. Don’t save your life, lose it in helping and serving others, end your days with a full quota.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart” Proverbs 3:5(NIV)
Not just when you come to the end of your own resources, or half-heartedly, but trust Him fully. Place all your confidence in Him.
When we turn to our own devices or try to change what God has planned, we hinder the full blessing of God in our lives.
Call upon the Lord and wait for His answer. Seek His face for the solution that eludes you. Pray and leave the matter with the Lord. Read His Word and be familiar with the demands He makes and the promises He gives.
Develop the new loves and desires that accompany dedication to the Lord and His service. Lean, rest, depend upon Him; none who trusts in Him will ever be confounded.
“her whole livelihood” Mark 12:44(RAV)
This was Jesus’ assessment of the coins the poor widow threw into the treasury. Her two mites would be lost in the treasurer’s total, but they did not slip Jesus’ notice as He stood beside the treasury that day.
He measured what she gave by what she had left and that changed the whole picture.
You may well realise that your contribution taken alongside what is needed or what others give is very small. But remember, the Lord does not view it that way.
The Lord who used a few loaves and fishes to feed 5000 can do wonders with the smallest contribution. What the Lord noted was that she gave all she had. This is something all of us can do, whatever our status and financial standing.
“they brought young children to him, that he should touch them” Mark 10:13
These mothers were more spiritually discerning than the disciples. The disciples thought it more important for Jesus to rest; the mothers that their children should be blessed.
Today few parents see virtue in bringing up children in the way of the Lord and of seeking God’s blessing upon them. This results from there being no desire for God in their own lives.
But the Lord’s touch has not lost its power. The lives that seek the Lord find true satisfaction, fulfilment and happiness. Jesus still passes through: we need to recognise the occasion and grasp the opportunity. Like these mothers of Salem we need to bring ourselves and our children to Jesus for His blessing upon our lives.
“Jesus Christ is Lord” Philippians 2:11
He is Lord of all creation – by Him all things were made. He is Lord of heaven – God the Father has exalted Him to the highest place. We know that a day is coming when every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.
All who are born of the Spirit have made Jesus Lord. A personal acceptance and commitment has made all the difference. Read that Christ is Lord and accept the truth of the statement, but only when you confess your sin and turn to Him for salvation can you say “My Lord”.
That Jesus Christ is Lord is the glorious truth of the gospel. Jesus Christ is my Lord is the relationship that exists when you make Him Lord and Master.
“he saw Simon and Andrew his brother casting a net into the sea” Mark 1:16
We don’t know whether Jesus walked by the sea with the intention of finding disciples; we do know that He still walks into those places where men and women are at work.
We do not know if there was something unusual about the way that Peter and Andrew cast their net into the sea. They could have been the only ones doing so just then and for that reason were outstanding. We know that the Lord takes notice of the way we perform our daily tasks.
Advancement in the Christian pathway comes to those who do today’s work well. In many cases the servants of the Lord are more effective in their place of work than if they were in some place of special leadership elsewhere. People are needed to be seen casting nets into the sea!
“used their own resources to help Jesus and his disciples” Luke 8:3(GNB)
Women have a part to play in Christ’s kingdom. It has varied from generation to generation but is always there. Women were the support team for Christ and His disciples.
We note that they used their own resources. Not only were they volunteers but they gave of their substance. What time and resources they had were the Lord’s.
It brought them pleasure and was a real help to Jesus. Many covet those positions that attract the praise and applause of men – even in Christian circles. These ladies have but one mention, but it is enough to make us realise their value. And when all the disciples fled the ladies support team was still there – standing beholding at the cross. Let us emulate their devotion.
“my peace I give unto you” John 14:27
As Jesus was about to leave His disciples He left them His peace. They had witnessed the peace in Jesus throughout the years of discipleship. His peace stemmed from knowing that all was well, that the Father was in control, that God’s plan and purpose could not fail.
You may remember the occasion when the disciples were in the midst of a storm on the lake: those fishermen were petrified and woke Jesus – they thought He did not care. He just stood up and rebuked the wind with that heavenly word, “peace”.
When you have the peace that Jesus gives it is like heaven in your soul. His peace is not produced by or dependent upon external things. Peace with God is the gift of God. No matter how stormy your day or your situation, claim God’s gift of peace through Jesus.
“And the child grew” Luke 2:40
Growing up is something Jesus knows about and like us He must have childhood memories.
We are given three factors in His development.
1. He became strong in spirit: there was nothing weak or hesitant about His developing character.
2. He was filled with wisdom. This complemented His strength of spirit. He exhibited wisdom beyond His years.
3. The grace of God was upon Him: it was evident to any who would discern that God’s hand was upon Him.
What we see here as the perfect tripartite influence upon our Saviour’s childhood we can desire for our children. They need to stand firm for the right, be blessed with wisdom and above all, receive God’s grace.
“leave them for poor people and foreigners” Leviticus 23:22(GNB)
Amidst a long list of instructions covering every aspect of life is this one concerning the leaving of something for those who have nothing when harvest comes round.
The Israelite was told not to cut the corn at the edge of the field at harvest time. Harvesters were not to go back and gather the last stalk of crop. Neglecting this injunction over many years has resulted in the poverty gap so evident in some parts of our world today.
The Lord our God gives us richly for all to enjoy. Give something away and you will be blessed in the very giving as well as those who receive. Poor and strangers will always be among us: leave something for them and encourage them to go out and collect it.
“Show respect for old people and honour them” Leviticus 19:32(GNB)
One of many instructions given the Children of Israel if they were to truly be God’s People. Dip into some of the others listed here if you would see God’s law regarding personal behaviour and relationships.
Things change quickly from one generation to the next, none more so than in our world today. Old people may not grasp computer technology and their difficulty in coping with change may exasperate the younger, but there is more to life than science and skateboards.
Look at the problems that face us today and recognise that folk further down life’s road can teach us a thing or two we need to revise, if we will slow down and listen to them. Do them honour and others might honour you one day!
“though he were dead, yet shall he live” John 11:25
How spiritually dead we are until we come to Christ!. Alive in the ways of this world, yet dead in trespasses and sins.
Dead to the wooing of God’s love, unaware of eternal life and ignorant of the robe of righteousness that God has prepared for all who love Him.
But God in His great mercy and as the expression of His great love came to the dead and made them alive in Christ. His resurrection became their experience and in a way they never knew before those who have repented of their sin and received Christ will tell you they are alive.
If this experience is unknown to you, seek the Lord for that new life in Christ. The promise is that those who seek Him may enjoy the blessing of eternal life.
“The churning inside me” Job 30:27(NIV)
We all know what this is: we may not show it, but it affects our behaviour and it spoils our day. Job, in the midst of his troubles, said his churning never stopped.
Things outside our control can affect us greatly. We seek to sort out the mess we are in or try to assure ourselves that it will be alright, yet to no avail.
We are all churned up inside with a mixture of frustration and anger. Sometimes, of course, it is a nervous reaction to what we see looming ahead of us. We all know the experience, but what can we do about it?
Jesus promises that in Him we may have peace. Our response must be to trust. Trust in the Lord at all times. Let the peace of God rule your heart and mind. When Jesus reigns the churning inside stops immediately.
“Return…and I will heal your backslidings” Jeremiah 3:22(RAV)
When we have slipped once there is always the fear we may do so again. Like a disease, we fear it may return.
God’s promise through the prophet Jeremiah is that the Lord will heal those who are prone to wander if they will only return to Him.
The Lord will pour His strength into our weakness. What we felt was our weak point can be the place in our lives where God displays His mighty power. It does mean placing ourselves in His hand. It is more than a returning to Him because we are wounded. If that is our reason, we will be off again as soon as we feel better. Return to Him and the Lord will miraculously heal and restore you and make you a living testimony to His keeping power.
“He brought me forth also into a large place” II Samuel 22:20
We know what it is to be restricted: so much we would like to do yet never seem able.
The good news is that the Lord delights to bring His children into a large place of blessing. This usually happens only when they have been in the deep waters of trial and in a battle of life that seemed all but lost because everyone and everything was against them.
Note David’s testimony that it was the Lord who delivered him. Life has hills too steep to climb and undergrowth too thick to penetrate in our own strength. But if it is the Lord in whom you trust and to Him you look for deliverance, that large place of blessing will be just what you need – well worth all the struggle and difficulty in the way to get there.
“rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion” II Corinthians 9:11(NIV)
Here the Apostle Paul is encouraging the believers in Corinth to send relief to the poor at Jerusalem. The Lord loves to give and His children should be the same. God blesses them so they might be a blessing to others.
It is gratifying to realise that the gift of God’s love reaches others through you; that you have not received bountifully at His hand to retain but to pass on to others in as great if not greater need. As one wrote – “Have you had a kindness shown? pass it on. ‘Twas not given to you alone, pass it on. It may travel down the years Bringing joy to other’s tears Till in heaven the deed appears – Pass it on.” As Paul says “Be generous on every occasion”.
“May the Lord…pardon everyone who sets his heart on seeking God” II Chronicles 30:18,19(NIV)
Restoration under Hezekiah the king was so successful that the crowd that gathered to celebrate the feast of Unleavened Bread was so great that it was impossible for everyone to make proper preparation. So Hezekiah, in his prayer, requested a special dispensation.
Even if not clean according to the rules of the sanctuary, Hezekiah prayed that souls seeking the Lord should be pardoned. The Lord heard Hezekiah’s prayer and healed the people. The desire of the heart is more important than outward form and ceremony. All too often when the ceremony is most splendid the heart is furthest from repentance. The seeking soul may find the Lord in spite of some shortcomings in some areas.
“Peter therefore was kept in prison” Acts 12:5
Herod intended to execute Peter after Easter just as he had done to James. The Lord intended to deliver Peter and therefore he was kept in prison until that appointed time when the delivering angel would visit him.
The church held an all-night prayer meeting as their united voices continued in prayer.
Whenever the servants of the Lord are kept in prison there is a reason. We do not normally know the reason but need to trust the Lord and know all is in His hand. It need not be a prison building made with bricks and with bars: it may be anything that seems to limit our freedom or prevent us from doing what we want. Herod thought he was keeping Peter in prison but actually it was the Lord’s doing. And just as the Lord delivered Peter, at the right time He will deliver you.
“pouring out my troubles to the Lord” I Samuel 1:15(GNB)
We all have troubles but few of us pour them out before the Lord. We read that Hannah prayed for a long time – it was not just a set piece and then all over. When trouble intensifies, our prayer life takes on a new earnestness. Hannah kept before the Lord in prayer until she got her answer.
Pouring out or explaining in detail, does give you opportunity to see what it is you are asking the Lord to do. It brings Him into every aspect of the matter and looks to Him to attend to every detail.
The comforting thing to remember in all this is that bringing Him your troubles is no trouble to the Lord! He loves to hear the voice of His children and it is just a pity it needs trouble to make us cry to Him.
“Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit” Ephesians 4:3
Where the Holy Spirit is there is a unity and blessedness found nowhere else. The unity of the Spirit is something we need to endeavour to keep.
The Holy Spirit moves as He will. We make a mistake when we try to divide or partition His work.
There are differences of style and make up and temperament in the members of the body, just as there are different talents in any well-balanced team.
The Holy Spirit unites all the members of the Body. When one member tries to make all like him or her we lose the unity of the Spirit. Similarly when one member criticises another for not conforming to his position we lose the unity. It calls for better endeavour on the part of us all.
“doing something useful with his own hands” Ephesians 4:28(NIV)
This should be the aim of all who give their lives to the Lord. Some things that men do are of no use to anybody and some are definitely harmful. Useful must mean in relation to others. The body of Christ functions as a unit. We are workers together with Christ, not competitors. Useful with the hands must extend to our everyday occupation. If your job is not much use you need to seek the Lord for guidance and redirection.
Those we call unemployed can do something useful. Folk all around us need help. And when the Christian is useful it has a twofold benefit. It is a help here and now and it is ever pointing to the help that comes from the Lord. “What am I doing?” is a question we all do well to ask from time to time.
“a watchman” Ezekiel 3:17
Early on in his prophecy God told Ezekiel he was to be a watchman. It is a position occupied by any who have responsibility for discerning the word of the Lord.
It is dangerous to disregard God’s word and commands – like continuing to play on the line when a train is approaching. It needs the watchman to sound the warning siren.
God will keep His promises – the watchman must remind men of this and point out those that have been fulfilled and others that seem about to be so.
Trends and tendencies in every generation are to stray from the way of the Lord. Life grows wild when worship is neglected. The watchman watches and warns of this.
A watchman is needed in your family, your workplace, your community. Be ready to accept God’s appointment.
“truth with his neighbour” Ephesians 4:25
Our neighbour is the one who is next to us, wherever we are: most of all it is the person in need, as Jesus taught us in the parable of the Good Samaritan.
Relationship with our neighbour should be characterised by truthfulness. When a person can believe you, he or she can trust you. Untruthfulness and petty lying and deceit so characterise this world’s relationships that the true Christian should stand out.
Your neighbour can be the most difficult person with whom to establish true friendship – it may be easier to trust someone whom you do not see every day. Most important, your brothers and sisters in Christ are your neighbours in the Body of Christ and truthfulness is paramount here.
“a full reward” Ruth 2:12
This is what Boaz desired for Ruth. A full reward can only be given when all the facts are known. It must not be judged merely on attainment but include effort and dedication. Boaz had heard all the details of Ruth’s care and he expressed this desire that the Lord would give her a full reward. The Lord promises to reward everyone according to their work. He knows all the details: nothing can be hidden from Him. The pretences we make and the excuses we put forward will all be done away in the day of judgment.
Many things are hidden from our eyes but God knows the thoughts and intents of the heart and the sacrifice and effort that are expended. The Lord knows those who love Him: He will recompense with a full reward.
“how the Lord had brought him out of the prison” Acts 12:17
Peter needed to testify to the disciples what had happened. The church had been praying fervently for him as he seemed about to be killed by the sword as James had been earlier. They prayed that God would deliver Peter, but did not know how this would happen. You don’t have to tell God how to answer your prayer, you just need to pray fervently.
No doubt all in the prayer meeting had their own idea of the way their prayer might be answered. As it was, the answer seems to have taken them all by surprise and we see Rhoda, the servant trying to convince them that Peter was knocking at the door. The Lord delivers prisoners still – we need to tell others how He delivered us.
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