A short verse and comment for each day of the month
Selected readings chosen from booklets 101 to 112
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)
“Seek the Lord and live” Amos 5:6 (NIV)
The people of Israel had gone in search of life. Once again they had turned to the gods of other nations and forsaken the Lord. They now faced God’s judgment. Yet in His great love for His people, the Lord calls to them again to repent and return. As the Israelites found out, life away from the Lord, whilst attractive, will only prove to be futile and empty in the end. The glamour of the world will promise much but as many have already discovered, the well soon runs dry.
We are encouraged to seek the Lord while He may be found. Why waste time going after that which will never satisfy? Christ is the bread of life; come to Him and you will be satisfied. He came to give us life in all its fullness. So seek the Lord today and discover a new meaning to life.
“Thy judgments are a great deep” Psalm 36:6
The Psalmist here is referring to all God’s ways and decisions as they affect us. Knowing that His judgments are the product of an all-loving heavenly Father who cares for His children does not remove the difficulty we have in understanding or interpreting them.
When we do not know why God is dealing with us as He is, if we know it is the Lord we must exercise that gift of faith He gives us and trust in Him. His judgments are too deep for human understanding, but the end of the matter will display a glory that we could never have imagined while climbing the path leading to that summit. No matter how deep, His love will keep us afloat: we shall not sink, but see in full the salvation that is now only partly visible.
“Take heart” Matthew 9:2(RSV)
Two words of comfort from the lips of Jesus to the paralytic and that can be the same to you today! No matter what your trouble is or how long you have grappled with the problem, if your faith can get you to Jesus, you will find Him always encouraging. He makes the faithless believe and gives hope in place of despair. This paralytic may have known what Jesus did for others – his friends certainly did or they would not have gone to the trouble to get him through the roof. Many bear testimony to God’s power and deliverance in their lives. Take heart, it may not be as you think or without difficulties and problems following, but God will provide for your deliverance and meet your every need.
“Consider carefully how you listen” Luke 8:18(NIV)
If you do not listen carefully you will not hear properly. Those who do not hear properly mistake what God is saying to them: this means they reach wrong conclusions, take wrong decisions and follow erroneous paths.
God’s ways are not our ways: the natural man cannot appreciate the things that are spiritually discerned. We need the Spirit of the Lord to explain the Word to us.
This needs our careful attention. It calls for times set apart to hear God speaking to us. It cannot be done with one eye on the television or newspaper, nor with an ear listening to gossip. It is worth asking “How am I going to listen to the Lord today?” His voice calms and uplifts our spirit, but it does need effort and attention to hear it.
“Be not afraid of their faces” Jeremiah 1:8
The Lord repeated these words to Jeremiah at the outset of his ministry and He would repeat them to every disciple who goes forward to serve the Lord. A look at the faces of his hearers can frighten the most eloquent preacher. The servants of the Lord must draw their inspiration to go forth from the Lord: they must look to His face.
Unbelief is written on the face of many – cold, unmoving unbelief. On others there is scorn and ridicule written on the face. Looking at them can make you afraid. Some set their face against the gospel – they are opposed to it and to all it proclaims.
Don’t be afraid of any of them: they threaten but cannot put a finger on any child of God with He allows them.
“a woman in the crowd called out” Luke 11:27(NIV)
This Teacher was so wonderful that this woman called out “Blessed is the mother who gave you birth and nursed you.” No doubt many could say “Amen” to that.
Everybody learned from this woman’s interjection. We are told very little about the years when Mary nursed and mothered Jesus, but realise she must have made many sacrifices as would any loving mother. Jesus took the opportunity to tell us of those who are more blessed – those who hear the Word of God and obey it.
What use Mary bringing up her son in His tender years, if no-one believes the message He preached?
See what a great job Mary the Mother of Jesus did, and many other servants of the Lord, but be sure to hear the voice of Jesus speaking to you and obey Him!
“those who hope in the Lord” Isaiah 40:31(NIV)
Hope enables us to face the future: it assures us that there can be a change for the better, that our prayer will be answered and all will be well at last. All hope in the Lord will never be confounded! Look at their blessings –
• their strength will be renewed
• they will run and not grow weary
• they will walk and not faint.
If it’s a renewal you need call upon the Lord. If it’s extra strength you need for the special effort that is demanded of us – it is from the Lord this will come. When your path demands a faithful plodding, the Lord will enable you to walk and to keep walking without fainting in the way. Be of those who hope, trust and rest in the Lord.
“the life of the flesh is in the blood” Leviticus 17:11
And it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul. The importance of this teaching in the Law of Moses and the importance of the blood cannot be overstated. The same importance is found in the New Testament where we find that the picture we see is not merely of Christ dying but that of His blood atoning for our sin. The fountain that was opened for sin and uncleanness at Calvary has never been cut off. Jesus lives to intercede for the repentant sinner and He does so by presenting the merit of His own blood. It cost no less than the precious blood of Jesus to atone for our sin. The life is in the blood and He gave His life for us. The power in the blood cleanses the stain of sin and redeems the soul from destruction.
“Moreover I will establish his kingdom for ever” I Chronicles 28:7
This was God’s promise to David in relation to the accession of his son, Solomon, to the throne. It was, however, a promise with conditions attached that Solomon could not or would not keep. He needed to be constant in keeping God’s commandments. The law of the Lord conveyed in the Old Testament was an excellent foundation but proved an impossible hurdle. It is to Jesus we must look for the establishment of a kingdom that will never end. Following His successful mission to earth culminating in His atoning death and glorious resurrection, God the Father has exalted Him to the highest place and given Him all power and authority. His is the kingdom that will know no end and eternally blessed are all.
“The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified” John 12:23(NIV)
This was the reply that Jesus gave when Greeks came to Philip at the Feast in Jerusalem and said they wanted to see Jesus. Up to that time, Jesus had been saying that His hour had not yet come. Now it was about to begin. Not only were Greeks to see him, but the whole of Jerusalem and then all the world was to see Him die upon the cross – that was the hour of His glory. Because He died we may have eternal life. At His death upon the cross the great plan of salvation was effected. God’s glory rested upon our Saviour as He went to Golgotha and now He is forever glorified as seated on the right hand of the Father. He is our Risen, Exalted Lord. We need to glorify and honour His Mighty Name.
“How the mighty have fallen in the midst of the battle!” II Samuel 1:25(RAV)
The mighty think they cannot be toppled, but the higher they climb the further they fall! Their boasting is great but their armour is paper thin when it is with the Lord that they contend. When the battle heats up they cool down: all talk and no integrity, the enemies of the Lord fall in the midst of battle. And for the last great enemy of death they have no answer. For the most part, the mighty of this world are not great in God’s eyes. Only a few from this world’s nobility manage to stoop and receive Jesus of Nazareth. It is the rank and file, the ordinary people and those the world counts for nothing whom the Lord defends. Those who take to themselves the armour that God supplies stand in the day of battle.
“yes, I will help you” Isaiah 41:10(RAV)
This was the assurance the Israelite looked for from Jehovah and it is the assurance that God gives to everyone who puts his or her trust in Him today. Asking for help is the first step in learning and it is the essential part of succeeding in the path of faith. No disciple of Jesus can manage the course set for them without divine aid. The man of the world thinks he can manage on his own; the follower of Jesus knows he cannot. The narrow way that leads to life is an upward path: taking one’s cross daily and following Jesus is no job for the faint-hearted. Make your stand as a Christian and you will have problems and meet opposition. The big question has been answered. In all you do for Him the Lord will help you and you will know His reward.
“What thing is this?” Mark 1:27
When Jesus stood to speak in the synagogue in Capernaum and rebuked the evil spirit in a man and healed him, the people wondered what had hit them!
They asked what new doctrine He preached, for the authority with which He spoke and acted was unprecedented. This was no mere prophet. Soon Jesus’ authority was to be ratified by His passion and death and the new life in Christ be proclaimed far and wide.
Men today are still asking “What thing is this?” when the message reaches them for the first time. It is the newest thing you will ever know; will never be out-dated or replaced and as His Second Advent draws near and new testimonies reach our ears, it is better than ever.
“a poor widow came” Mark 12:42(NIV)
Jesus saw many rich people throw large amounts into the temple treasury but it was the poor widow who attracted His attention. Giving what she had was her delight and her duty and the Lord has a place for those like her whom the world overlooks. Her appearance may have been that of a poor widow but her actions were those of a devoted follower. She may have felt a hindrance as she shuffled along in the treasury queue. Jesus draws our attention to her as the most important.
Don’t compare yourself with others: you know what you have and that is what the Lord is looking for. Don’t make the mistake of calling your little nothing: the Lord can place it where it will make a valuable contribution.
“If anyone wants to boast” Jeremiah 9:24(GNB)
We generally discourage boasting but here the Lord says that anyone wanting to boast should boast that he knows and understands Me.
Wise men boast of their wisdom, strong men of their strength and rich men of their wealth. Knowing the Lord means a recognition of His great love and mercy; understanding that He does what is just and right. He died for our sins: He provides our salvation. The Apostle Paul said that he would glory in the cross. We can and must boast in what God can do.
He comes to our aid when we are unable to save ourselves: He keeps us in life’s treacherous paths: He cleanses and sanctifies us and presents us before His Father and gives the gift of eternal life. We boast in Him.
“you who once were far off have been made near by the blood of Christ” Ephesians 2:13(RAV)
It is only when the love of God melts your cold heart that you realise something of the distance you were away from the Lord who came to seek and to save. “Alienated” and “enemies by wicked works” is how the Bible describes the unrepentant sinner.
Receive the means of grace and then recognise redemption ground when you stand upon it. No money or merit of ours brought us back to God. It was the washing by faith in the blood of Jesus shed to atone for sinners. It is a complete and utter cleansing when the sinner cries for mercy and looks to Christ to save them.
Cleansing by faith in the blood of Jesus immediately gives authority for one who believes to be called a child of God.
“There will always be poor people in the land” Deuteronomy 15:11(NIV)
How true these words from the early days of Israel have been! Yet we do well to note the instructions that went with this forecast. The Israelites were to be open-handed towards the poor and needy in the land. When men gave generously and without grudging to those in need God promised to bless their work and all in their hand.
This promise has never been withdrawn. Just as we live in a world where there is much poverty, so those who name the name of Christ and are blessed with this world’s goods have an obligation to help the poor.
Help them in their present need and help them climb out of what has been called the poverty trap that they then may in turn help others.
“worship the Father in spirit and truth” John 4:24(NIV)
The Samaritan woman wanted to discuss the place where God should be worshipped. Jesus showed her the importance of the way we worship. We consecrate a building and call it a place of worship and those who go into it are called worshippers. Yet it is not where we are but how we are that determines true worship.
The sinner (and all have sinned) who finds the Saviour worships the One who has saved him.
The hearts that experience sin forgiven and peace with God worships the Lord who redeemed and forgave them.
The ones who emerge from a period of great trial and difficulty worship the One who delivered them from all their foes. And those who know they were lost but Jesus found them worship the Good Shepherd.
“I will run after him and get something from him” II Kings 5:20(NIV)
Naaman was on his way home, cured of his leprosy and with memories of the prophet Elisha declining the gift he offered. Elisha’s servant, Gehazi, decided that declining a gift from a rich foreign nobleman was unsatisfactory and so ran after him to get the reward his master had refused.
People all around may be running after what is not theirs. Gehazi thought it was a smart thing he was doing whereas it resulted in him being struck with leprosy and numbered high on the list of fools in the Scriptures.
If you run after somebody or something to obtain a cheap reward or advantage, stop and think carefully what you are doing. What Gehazi ran after did him no good. We need care not to be similarly deceived.
“who comforts us in all our tribulation” II Corinthians 1:4(RAV)
There is no trouble that will befall you but God is ready to comfort you and get you through it. No burden need crush you, no sorrow paralyse you and no persecution make you give up if it is the God of all comfort who is with you. Jesus promised to be with His disciples to the end of the age: this is through the ministration of the Holy Spirit whom Jesus described as “The Comforter”. He lifts you when you’re down: He encourages you when disheartened and leads you to safety when in danger. It is not a case of whether God can help you but whether you will put yourself in His hands. This is what trust is. It is faith in God and it brings comfort to the troubled soul.
“encourage one another daily” Hebrews 3:13(NIV)
More than mere pleasantries or saying what people want to hear. More than a pat on the back. This is to urge someone on, to get alongside telling them not to give up.
The encouragement is to keep us from being deceived and to keep us holding firmly to the end. The appeal of worldly gods is just as real for us today as it was for the Israelites. Easy to think that we can give our hearts to other things whilst still following Jesus. The truth is we cannot and we will forfeit our share in Christ’s kingdom if we do. A daily challenge needs daily encouragement to “stand firm to the end” so as to be saved. The Book of Hebrews tells us to encourage one another daily. So find someone you can encourage in their walk with Jesus today.
“his going forth is sure as the dawn” Hosea 6:3(RSV)
The Lord knows just what the day holds for you before dawn breaks or ever you are roused from your night’s rest. He ensures that the sun that floods the other side of the earth will soon give its light to you. You decide what you do with the day.
The prophet’s plea to Israel was that they should return to the Lord saying, “If He has torn, He will heal.”
Use the day to move forward in life. Let one day older mean one day nearer Him. The prophet’s promise to Israel is certainly God’s promise to us. He will come to us as the showers, as the spring rains that water the earth.
What you do for the Lord in the day will not be in vain. The dawn that is sure holds a blessing that is special – prepared for you today by the Lord.
“Jesus Christ who is the faithful witness” Revelation 1:5
He came to bear witness to the truth. This was the reason He was born. He came because we needed saving.
He lived and moved among us and stayed until His mission was complete. Redemption was written in His own blood. He rose again acclaiming life for evermore.
Jesus Christ is the same today, able to save all who come to Him, to keep all who trust in Him, to lead them into paths everlasting and establish them in His eternal kingdom. He is faithful and we need to be so, too.
He is a witness who speaks on our behalf – interceding for us before the Father in heaven. He bears witness to the atonement by the print of the nails and spear wound He bears.
“I will also acknowledge him” Matthew 10:32 (NIV)
No mere nod of the head but a specific mention by name, deliberate and personal. Just as we speak of Jesus as our Saviour and Lord to those around us, so Jesus will openly declare us to be His children to His Father in heaven. What a precious promise this is and one not to be missed!
To be mentioned by name is special. To be named by Jesus is salvation. The Shepherd knows his sheep and calls them by name. We’re not simply one of a flock, we’re individuals and Jesus speaks of us to His Father one by one, by name. If your name is to be spoken by Jesus in heaven, then speak to others of Jesus being your Saviour. The caution follows that if we disown Christ He will disown us. To follow Christ is not passive but active. So be active in speaking of Christ today.
“The eternal God is thy refuge” Deuteronomy 33:27
An age old promise with a present day application! Storms of life still rage: failures abound and disappointments are as numerous as ever. Sorrow is on every hand and many seem to have more than their share. This world affords little shelter when hurricanes of life take us by surprise. Apart from the eternal God there is no eternal refuge.
Pause to consider the fabric of this refuge or hiding place. It is so firm it cannot be shaken; so sure that it can be trusted. It will not wear out, or be overthrown or disappear in time. Turn to the Word of God: trust in the Saviour who died to save you and lives to protect and lead you.
Realise what so many seem to miss altogether. Nothing less than the eternal God can provide the refuge you need.
“The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet” Romans16:20(NIV)
This was Paul’s word of encouragement to the believers in Rome. For them the oppression of Satan must have seemed never ending. When all is turmoil around us we need to remember that ours is the God of peace and His warfare will end in eternal peace. Paul’s assurance was that the resistance from the saints in Rome would overcome the attacks of Satan. He would be crushed under their feet. We need to tread down the works of the Devil in the name of the Lord. We march forward and tread down strongholds since the victory was won when Jesus rose again from the dead. Live in the atmosphere of the Resurrection today and be assured that the peace of the Lord will prevail.
“You alone are God” Psalm 86:10(RAV)
The Psalmist had removed all other images from the throne of his heart. We need to remove all else and give the Lord Jehovah unchallenged worship. Acknowledging God is not enough: we need to remove the clutter that detracts our attention from Him. The modern day ‘gods’ of sport, pleasure, business, leisure can take that important place that the Lord should occupy.
If He is God alone in reality in our heart He will fill our thoughts, aims and aspirations. It is to Him we shall turn, and it is His Name we shall worship. Jesus must be Lord of all if He is to be Lord at all. The God shaped vacuum can only be properly filled by the One who says He is the Way, the Truth and the Life.
“busy with his own house” Haggai 1:9(NIV)
Despite being busy, the Israelites found that all their hard work was proving futile. The more they did, the less they achieved. Whilst rebuilding the temple, the people had become distracted with building homes for themselves and their priorities had changed. The house of the Lord could wait. Concern for self had replaced attention to God and as a result life was empty. Our busy lives can distract us from attention to the Lord. We can be so focussed on getting our lives in order that we leave the Lord waiting. We fit the Lord into the time available rather than being available with time for the Lord.
The excuse offered by the Israelites was that it was not yet time. Strange how we find time for other things! Put the Lord first and He will help sort out the business of life.
“You have too many men” Judges 7:2(NIV)
So God said to Gideon and these words should make us re-assess the manpower situations, for we often feel there are not enough men in our churches and fellowships and to do God’s work at large. We evaluate the force needed in human terms – “manpower” or, in the case of an engine, “horse-power”. But God’s power can do with one man more than all our “manpower” can do for God.
Gideon measured his need in manpower and was afraid that his 32,000 were not enough to defeat the Midianites. He was made to consider “God-power” and to see that 300 was adequate. This day may hold some big problems for us but compare them with what God can do and realise your trust must be in the Lord.
“ ‘Even now,’ declares the Lord” Joel 2:12(NIV)