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December 2014
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February 2015

Life Matter: Humility

"Though the Lord is exalted, he looks kindly on the lowly;
    though lofty, he sees them from afar" - Psalm 138:6.

Another word for lowly is humble and the opposite of humble is pride. It seems that both those traits attract God's immediate attention, for He helps the humble and opposes the proud. Jesus' mother Mary understood this truth when she said: "He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble. He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty" (Luke 1:52-53). The implications for you are clear: humble yourself and be God's friend, or be proud and risk having God humble or even humiliate you. The choice is yours and it is obvious which option you should choose.

Today's reading - Psalm 136-140

Life Matter: Reconciliation

"How good and pleasant it is
   when God’s people live together in unity!" - Psalm 133:1.

There is power in reconciliation and harmony, which is why our great enemy the devil stirs up so much animosity, hatred and misunderstanding. Your job is to make sure that none of those emotions creep into any of your relationships. Where those already exist, you must work to repent and remove them wherever and whenever you can, as Jesus directed you to do: "Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift" (Matthew 5:23-24). Is there anything you can do today to be reconciled with anyone from whom you are estranged?

Today's reading - Psalms 131-135

Life Matter: Mourning Joy

"Those who sow with tears will reap with songs of joy.
Those who go out weeping, carrying seed to sow,
will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with them" - Psalm 126:5-6.

It is interesting that your tears can lead to a harvest of joy. What on earth is the Lord trying to tell you here? It makes me think of Matthew 5:4 "Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted." For what should you mourn? You can start with your own sinfulness. Then move on to the injustice in the world, the persecuted church, the opportunities that are lost due to greed, disunity in the church, and the lost who don't know Christ. Yet God does not want you to stay in a state of mourning, for your tears lead you to recognize your need for God. Then when you partner with Him, you will sing songs of joy and bear much fruit as you find and fulfill your God-given purpose that will address those things over which you have wept.

Today's reading - Psalms 126-130

Life Matter: In Him You Live

"The Lord will keep you from all harm—he will watch over your life;
the Lord will watch over your coming and going
both now and forevermore" - Psalm 121:7-8.

You probably have a story or two that speaks to the truth in today's verses. You may have had a close call or two that caused you to realize God was and is watching over you. Yet even if you know that's true, you may still be afraid to fly, of heights, to go on a foreign missions trip, to take a cruise, or to ride a roller coaster. You get the idea. Even though you know God is in control and over your life, fear can still stymie what you want or need to do. Paul preached to the Athenians, saying, "For in him we live and move and have our being" (Acts 17:28a) which makes your life like an aquarium; you are the fish and the water is the presence of God. Are you swimming freely or huddled in the corner of your tank, afraid to move out?

Today's reading - Psalms 121-125

Life Matter: Expectations

"It is better to take refuge in the Lord
    than to trust in humans" - Psalm 118:8.

It is inevitable that you will disappoint those closest to you and those closest to you will disappoint you. This can happen through an insignificant daily event or a major life matter in which you were counting on that person for support and help and they were unable to deliver according to your expectations. The closer the person is to you, the more painful the disappointment can be. The Apostle Paul knew this kind of pain for he wrote: "You know that everyone in the province of Asia has deserted me, including Phygelus and Hermogenes" (2 Timothy 1:15). Therefore you are best served if you put high expectations on the Lord who will never desert or betray you and lower expectations in others, realizing that you have probably done the same to others close to you.

Today's reading - Psalms 116-120

Life Matter: The Fear of the Lord

"The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all who follow
his precepts have good understanding.
To him belongs eternal praise" - Psalm 111:10.

It is interesting that in the midst of psalms declaring God's praise there is a verse that sounds like it came from Proverbs: "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction" (Proverbs 1:7). That's because praise and worship are based on the fear of the Lord. When you worship, you sing, clap, dance, shout, and lift your hands not because you feel like it or because it fits your theology. You do those things because they please God and He commands them to be done. When you worship, do you follow your own preferences or God's?

Today's reading - Psalms 111-115

What A Dance

I depart for Kenya on February 26 with 13 others. We will make our usual rounds to visit our partners, the orphans and widows to whom we minister. Of course, this requires money to do, but each person has raised the $4,300 needed to go - including me. In addition, we bestow a gift of at least $1,000 to every group with whom we work and God always provides. I am thanking Him in advance for all we need for this coming trip and counting on you doing whatever He lays on your heart to do.

I received the following update from Pastor Francis, along with some pictures of our little Mary who we are sponsoring to go to school. Here is what Francis wrote:

Halo Dr. J,

Mary & FrancisI trust you are well. We are doing great and God has been gracious to us and all the children are fine. Am still praying and I believe God will provide for an income generating project to cover the remaining feeding cost and the children as we have discussed for many years. Mary is doing well and is at school. When i see her, I see God's love through your project. May God increase and sustain you so that many other children like Mary can sing His praises.

Blessings, Blessings, Blessings,
Pastor Francis

Pastor Francis has desired a brick-making company that would produce and sell bricks for profit and we would like to make that possible for him. Won't you please help? If you want to help then please act now by contributing to our visit or this economic development project by sending a check to PurposQuest, PO Box 8882, Pittsburgh, PA 15221-0882 or by giving online using PayPal. Below is a report called "What a Dance" that Pastor Francis included in his email with pictures and some captians that explain the impact our trips and ministry have had on him and the children. Thank you and God bless you.

Download What a dance

Life Matter: Hope for the Future by Remembering the Past

"But they soon forgot what he had done
    and did not wait for his plan to unfold" - Psalm 106:13-14.

It is difficult to wait, especially when you don't know what is ahead or how long you have to go on waiting. You can help yourself in the process by rehearsing God's faithfulness from the past, remembering how mightily He moved on your behalf. If God has never failed you, then chances are He is not about to start now! Therefore you can wait for Him to paint the big picture that reveals where you fit in and what you are to do. Remember what Isaiah wrote: "But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint" (Isaiah 40:31). Hope in the Lord and trust that He cares for you!

Today's reading - Psalm 106-110

Life Matter: Your Self Talk

"Praise the Lord, my soul,
    and forget not all his benefits" - Psalm 103:2.

David had a talk with his soul, directing it to praise and remember. Have you noticed that you are in a constant dialog with yourself? This is called self talk. It is important that when you do something less than perfect, you don't say to yourself, "Boy, are you dumb" or "You never were any good at that." David suggests what the content of your self talk should be: focusing on God's goodness to you and praising His holy name. One way to guide your inner talk is to have a robust dialog with others according to Revelation 12:11: "They triumphed over him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony." Are you sharing with others how good God is to you? Are you rehearsing God's goodness in your mind according to what you have, or do your thoughts focus on what you don't have or how bad things are?

Today's reading - Psalms 101-105

Life Matter: Give Thanks

"Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise;
give thanks to him and praise his name" - Psalm 100:4.

I used to hear older saints when asked how they were doing respond, "Well, the Lord got me up this morning and I'm thankful." I thought it was quaint response, if not simplistic, until I got older. Now I wake up every morning giving God thanks for another day. It is a good thing to give thanks to the Lord, for it helps you focus on your blessings and the goodness of God in the midst of life's uncertainties. Paul instructed us in Ephesians 5:20 to "always [be] giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ." Spend some significant minutes today thanking God for your life and the people and things that are in it.

Today's reading - Psalms 96-100