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)
BAM 167 FEBRUARY 2013
“When times are good, be happy; but when times are bad, consider” Ecclesiastes 7:14(NIV)
Sadness without purpose does nothing positive. Consider means stop and think. Prayer is the line of communication that the follower of Jesus has with the Master and when something has gone wrong, it needs that sort of attention.
Few will be like Job who, as an upright man, was made to suffer as a result of God’s contention with the accusing devil. Still, things happen to us that make our way rough at times, often something we have not noticed and certainly not anticipated.
On other occasions it is just the ups and downs of life that make you think they are bad. Whatever it is, go to the Divine minder and find if there is anything He is wanting you to do.
“Consider” and do so before the Lord.
“the things which are not seen are eternal” II Corinthians 4:18
What we can see will not last for ever. We need to know that there are things we cannot see that will last for ever. The Apostle Paul has been writing about light affliction working an exceeding weight of glory for us. And that though the outward man perish the inward man is renewed day by day.
These are the words of a man who recognizes there is more to life than what you can see.
It is these unseen things that we do well to concentrate upon. When what is seen now is done away we shall handle and know the eternal things. We hold these now by faith but when we see them faith will be turned to sight. And the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
“God will surely come to your aid” Genesis 50:25(NIV)
What a man Joseph was! He has just told his brothers he does not hold their sin against them for mistreating him. Now he looks ahead to the future and under the direction of the Holy Spirit assures them that God will come to their aid.
These words were to be a comfort to them because they were to have a rough and arduous passage in Egypt before God at last delivered them.
But deliver them He did. The promise to us is the clouds will lift and the sun break through. Weeping that endures for the night will give way to joy in the morning.
Certainly you will need help if you are to get what God has for you, but be in no doubt that He will come to your aid.
“when they looked, they saw that the stone was rolled away” Mark 16:4
When you are walking in the way God has for you, don’t fear what seem to be the insurmountable obstacles.
The women on the resurrection morn knew the stone rolled against the entrance to the tomb was going to be an obstacle ahead of them. They discussed among themselves who might remove it for them.
But the errand they were on was more important than the obstacle. And so when they looked the obstacle was rolled away.
Don’t dwell on the obstacles in the way hindering the work the Lord has for you. Don’t let fears and apprehensions deter you. Trust the Lord and get on as far as you can. Once in the way you’ll be surprised at what God will do.
“Satan comes and takes away the word” Mark 4:15(NIV)
The devil does this silently and largely unobserved. He is a force to be reckoned with and one who has a part in God’s plan for the present.
So receiving Christ, doing His will and living His Word calls for determination. Mix a little determination with your faith. Don’t be found to have a heart from which the devil comes and steals the seed sown. Set a watch! Call on aid from heaven at all times. Live in an attitude of resistance and prayer. The conflict will intensify but so will the grace and support. Heaven will be pleased and afford its protection. That old devil is a defeated foe. Don’t let him gain the upper hand in your life: not for a moment. Cultivate your heart to be as good ground where seed sown brings forth fruit.
“the opening of the prison to them that are bound” Isaiah 61:1
This is one of a number of glorious promises given to us in Jesus. He sets the prisoner free – all kinds of bondage in different prison environments.
Men become prisoner to their own evil desires and lusts. Fears and frustrations haunt them. When they see no way out and the intrigue and destruction that is around them they wonder who will release them. To whom may they appeal when there is no arbiter.
The bands tighten whenever there is an attempt to set oneself free.
Then the emancipating message of the gospel with its light life and love found in Christ is like the opening of iron gates that have shut them fast for too long.
“Save yourself” Mark 15:30(RAV)
This was the foolish retort and advice given by some who passed by as Jesus hung on the Cross. Others have foolishly repeated it since.
Save yourself and condemn us is what would have happened. But Jesus did not come down from the cross. He carried our sin in His body, His is an atoning death.
It was to die that Jesus left the glory of heaven and came to earth. Sin was dealt a death blow: forgiveness became a reality, heaven a future prospect when Jesus died for us.
He would no more save Himself than He would have turned back at the prospect of coming to earth.
So He endured the shame and scoffing and is now seated at the right hand of the Father in heaven.
“shall fly away” Job 20:8
This is one way to look at death – we are gone and can do no more. But the question in the human heart is “Where do we go?”
This is something that should concern us all. Jesus came that we might have life – abundant life as He said on one occasion. He brought a gift from God. That gift is eternal life. Reaching out to Him, calling on Him and receiving by faith brings the assurance that it is not just flying away but becomes absent from the body and at home with the Lord. Or asleep in Jesus as the Apostle describes the state of those who have gone before.
Waiting for the resurrection is another good description and if it is flying away, let it be flying into the arms of Jesus.
“faith comes by hearing” Romans 10:17(RAV)
So we see the importance of proclaiming or making known the gospel message. That is what the disciples were told to do – to go into all the world and preach the gospel. We need to tell them; how else will they believe and get saved?
The preparation and presentation of the message of the gospel is very important. And any thought that the Holy Spirit will make up for any lack on our part is mistaken. We must put in the effort and the Holy Spirit will bless that effort causing men and women to respond and trust Christ.
We are living in a day when intrusion of the media into our lives has reached a record level. Let us do what we can to proclaim the word by voice or printed page that faith may come into many darkened hearts.
“A matter must be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses” Deuteronomy 19:15(NIV)
Such was the sound advice given to Moses in the execution of his duties. Particularly if you live life at a high pitch, when you’re easily led astray and spend a lot of time undoing or retracing your steps, heed these words. Take good advice
and don’t use one word if you can use two. If you do decide to go ahead on the advice of one, tread very carefully. Remember that what you would like or what you think is good for you may not be God’s path of blessing that He has for you. Sometimes over confidence and an impulsive nature lead you into mistakes that could be avoided.
Regressing your steps, undoing what you have spent time doing is never pleasant and often it could have been avoided if you had stopped to think.
“In prison till the day of his death” Jeremiah 52:11
Zedekiah was an evil king. He rebelled against the king of Babylon and Nebuchadrezzar came against Jerusalem and besieged it. He and his sons were taken captive and the king of Babylon slew his sons and put out Zedekiah’s eyes. Chained and kept in Babylon till he died, this was a forbidding sentence and he was one of many who have been made to suffer thus. Others have been and are imprisoned in their spirit but through the power of the gospel a new life in Christ makes death become the gateway to life.
None can separate these from the love of God in Christ and they are free long before they die because Jesus is the resurrection and the life.
“but he could not be hidden” Mark 7:24(RAV)
Could the angelic choir have remained silent on the Judean hillside? God the Father could not withhold His pronouncement that He was well pleased when Jesus was baptized.
The salvation that Jesus has for the penitent soul is displayed repeatedly in the Bible.
The love of God in Christ is made known to the seeking soul however and whenever that soul turns to the Lord. Jesus He did not strive or cry as the prophet had foretold but His servants and followers have gone everywhere preaching and proclaiming the gospel of God’s grace. Neither demons nor men can hide the wonder of Jesus risen from the dead and alive.
“The Teacher is here … and is asking for you” John 11:28(NIV)
Don’t worry if you’re not the first in the queue. Don’t worry if you’re the quiet, stay-at-home sort, like Mary. Don’t worry that you’ll be forgotten. Not by Jesus. Here Martha comes back into the house to tell Mary privately that the Lord is asking for her by name as He does for you. How special we are to the Lord! Jesus had come to the family home with lots of people around and Mary could easily have been missed – but not missed by Jesus. He asked for her, individually and by name. He knows each one of His ‘sheep’.
He knows you by name and you must recognise that He is calling you.
Even in the busyness of a normal day, let us take time to meet with Him, one-to-one.
“Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much” Luke 16:10(NIV)
So don’t complain when you’re only given something small. Don’t be like those who do their little job in a poor way because they think they deserve more responsibility.
It’s not what you think you could do but what you have done and are doing now that is important. The same quality of trust is called for in caring for a little as for a lot. Trust is a vital commodity. The Lord could give you greater responsibility but perhaps is waiting to see how you manage a little.
Your desire for a better job may only be for praise and the applause of men. David the Psalmist spoke of being a door-keeper or doorman in the house of the Lord being far more desirable than those employed in the tents of wickedness.
“I myself will see him” Job 19:27(NIV)
The Bible tells us about the One Job is referring to. Prayer and meditation show us much about Him. Seeking to follow Him and drawing near to Him give us a consciousness of His Presence, but it will only be when the cares of this life have been taken away and eternal day breaks that we will really see Jesus. And only this will satisfy the longing in the heart of those who love and serve Him.
Job had a longing to see the Lord. His desire was born out of trouble that he could not understand but had been made to bear.
Seeing Him will be a personal thing for Job and for all who love Him. Sometimes it seems a long wait but it will be worth it all when we see Jesus.
“without faith it is impossible to please him” Hebrews 11:6
Only when we believe can we really enjoy God’s good pleasure. Nothing we do can take the place of faith. Works without faith get us nowhere. It is worth emphasizing this truth because many who seek to please God are engaged in and trusting their good works to save them.
It is when faith is linked to our works – we do what we can to help others because we have faith in God and believe He will order and bless our lives.
The life bathed in faith attracts the pleasure of God. That pleasure is felt in our inner joy and peace and direction.
Seek the Lord and whenever you discover of God in your search, believe and receive its blessing. No faith, no blessing: no blessing no joy and that means no strength.
“He held fast to the LORD” II Kings 18:6(NIV)
Holding fast requires effort and determination. It is evident when the pressure is on, but it is only effective if that which is held on to, is itself firm and secure. If it moves, or breaks free, then you are in trouble. Our society is breaking up and becoming more unstable. Moral values have declined, truth is subjective and in some parts of the Church, social tolerance and acceptability hold sway over God’s Word. Uncertainty is all around. But God does not change. He is the same, yesterday, today and forever. All who remain true to Him will not be put to shame but will be saved. We need to be like Hezekiah, holding fast to the Lord so that we can help others who are floundering. It’ll get tough, but hold on, it will be worth it.
“agree with each other in the Lord” Philippians 4:2(NIV)
There had been some falling out between Euodia and Syntyche which Paul was concerned should be sorted out. Both women had worked hard (laboured/wrestled) alongside Paul in ministry and his concern is such that he asks others to ‘help these women.’ Obviously the danger was that their upset would affect others if it wasn’t put right. This is not about agreeing to disagree, but more about understanding one another and so to be reconciled.
Often upsets in the Church are caused through misunder-standings. Spending time together and getting to know one another helps, but busy lives don’t allow for this. We need to be people who will not take sides but will take time to bring about reconciliation.
“if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent” Luke 16:30(NIV)
How wrong can we get? We would think that if anyone could have a preview of judgment after death, it would make unbelievers repent. A minute in hell would be enough to change them but Jesus in His parable says that would not be so.
If men don’t believe the clear teaching of the Bible and the testimony of those who live for Christ, they will not believe though someone rose from the dead.
This picture is of living hearts turned to stone, as far as the things of God are concerned.
So thank God if the light has dawned in your spirit and be sure you’ve been to the cross in repentance and contrition and received the gift of eternal life found only in Christ.
“You were the model of perfection” Ezekiel 28:12(NIV)
These words from a prophecy against the King of Tyre have found this place in the Book of Ezekiel to reveal something of our arch enemy, the Devil.
The fact that he was the model of perfection serves to show us the fallibility of what may appear perfect to us. This prophecy describes him as full of wisdom and perfect in beauty. And it was from this high position that he fell.
The chink in his armour was pride and the desire for what was not his.
The victory of Jesus on the Cross destroyed the work of the Devil. Now, faith in Christ and devotion to Him as Saviour and Lord shields us from all that he tries to throw against us Devil.
“but some doubted” Matthew 28:17
We wonder why? And what was their doubt? It can’t have been that Jesus had risen because He’d given them ‘many convincing proofs that he was alive’ (Acts 1:3). The euphoria of resurrection was very real. But now it seems that some of the disciples wavered in their opinion of what would happen next. Jesus was about to depart, a commission had been given them, Holy Spirit power had been promised – but would it really happen? From the mountain top they were to wait in Jerusalem – on their own. Every-day life has a way of causing doubt, particularly if we expect the mountain-top experience to last. But Jesus made a difference to people’s every-day lives and by the Holy Spirit, He can do the same for us, and others. Isn’t that what proves it to be real?
“For I know that my Redeemer lives” Job 19:25(RAV)
Job did not lose this truth, though he lost family, possessions and friends and suffered interminably in his body with a skin condition.
He could not equate what he received with the life he had lived. He was upright and seemed to be punished. We know the conference that had gone on between the Lord and the angelic leaders including Satan but Job was ignorant of this.
Yet knowing that someone or something greater than he was needed to rescue his condition he said “I know that my Redeemer lives”. The way may be longer than I think, but an end to all my suffering is coming.
Job looked to God out of the darkest, longest and deepest valley: all whose trust is in Christ can do the same.
“brought life and immortality to light through the gospel” II Timothy 1:10
The message of the gospel removes the covers that lay over details of immortality throughout the years of the Old Testament. It is not just a good report, it is the means by which God displays His love and grace to overthrow the bondage of sin. It shines the light of God’s truth as the tugging of eternal life that can be points in the human heart.
The drudgery and monetary and failure of life on earth for so many, need not continue without hope. The light of the gospel is the light of life. The light that emanates from the throne of God shines upon the cross and the empty tomb and the testimony of God’s messengers as they have carried the message to the derelict quarter.
Yes there is eternal life and light in Jesus.
“The Lord had determined to frustrate the good advice of Ahithophel” II Samuel 17:14(NIV)
The words are taken from a very interesting dual between King David and his son Absalom who had usurped his throne. Ahithophel was a good and wise councillor of David who had gone to the other side and now advised Absalom. But Absalom was fighting the Lord as well as David and so we read here that the Lord had frustrated the good advice Ahithophel.
A reading of this incident and indeed the whole of the saga of Israel in the Old Testament shows that whom God supports will triumph at last, even over the results of evil misgivings in their life.
In any feud, it is best to find the side the Lord is on and join it.
“Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit” Luke 1:41(GNB)
She was carrying the one whom Jesus was later to describe as the greatest of men, but added that the least was greater than he!
Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit because her duties at that time needed it.
She was among a long line of individuals upon whom the Holy Spirit rested. Next only to Mary the mother of Jesus she was to have great sorrow at the treatment her son would have.
After the resurrection and when Jesus ascended back to heaven the Holy Spirit was to be outpoured on the waiting disciples. Elizabeth’s experience was no longer to be unique. All may be filled with the Holy Spirit.
“rejected by this generation” Luke 17:25(NIV)
When the Son of God came to earth to save us he was rejected. And knowing this He still came! No wonder we read that “God loved the world so much”.
The prophet had said years before that He would be “despised and rejected of men”. If you love the Lord the actions of those who reject Him are painful.
This rejection by some is to be expected but know that those chosen to be in His Kingdom will receive and accept all the gospel brings to them.
The words in Scripture were spoken to what Jesus called an evil generation. That description has not changed but neither has the joy of knowing that those who receive Him are promised to become Sons of God.
“for I know whom I have believed” II Timothy 1:12
Paul’s trust in Christ gave him a personal experience of knowing Christ. True faith receives an assurance like that of Paul. Reach out in faith and receive.
He put his trust in Jesus and a relationship of trust began and expanded. The battle of life did not deprive him of this increasing knowledge. The more he walked with Jesus, the more he trusted Him in every sort of event and condition. He built up a conviction that would not be altered.
This knowledge of Jesus through faith was like an anchor that tied him to Jesus.
If you have believed you will know. True faith in the Son of God will not leave you empty. It will fill you with love, joy and peace in the Holy Spirit.
“The man with two tunics should share with him who has none” Luke 3:11(NIV)
This was John the Baptist’s teaching when the crowd who wanted to respond asked what they should do.
Refusal to share what one has is the cause of much poverty, disease and hardship in parts of our world.
John addressed his words to members of the crowd for an individual response. And John’s success must in part have been down to the example he set. The evidence of our faith in the way we conduct ourselves is a mighty example for good.
Then we need to display the mutual joy experienced by helper and helped. Doing good is the most rewarding exercise.