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March 2015
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May 2015

Life Matter: Mind Your Business

"My heart is not proud, Lord,
    my eyes are not haughty;
I do not concern myself with great matters
    or things too wonderful for me" - Psalm 131:1.

I was in Zimbabwe, about to follow a dynamic, animated and hilarious speaker at a church conference. The people were standing and cheering him on. I was actually considering both changing my message along with my delivery when the Spirit "spoke" to me. He told me to "stay within myself," which I did and delivered the word the Lord had given me. Today's verse urges you to "stay within yourself" as well by minding your own business and not concerning yourself with matters that don't concern you. When you are proud, you think you know more than you do and you can begin to judge others and comment on things for which you have no experience, insight and gifting. Are you staying focused on the business and people that matter most to you, or have you strayed into fretting about things that are none of your business? Do you see that this is a matter of pride and that the answer is to humble yourself and tend your own matters?

Today's reading - Psalm 131-135

Life Matter: Your Mercy Needs

"Out of the depths I cry to you, Lord;
Lord, hear my voice.
Let your ears be attentive
to my cry for mercy" - Psalm 130:1-2.

It is easy to cry out for mercy when you have messed up or when you are in over your head or "out of the depths" as the psalmist phrased it. Then you are acutely aware of your need for God's grace that you don't deserve. It is much more difficult to maintain your sense of need when everything is going well. Yet your need for mercy is just as great when things are going well as when they are not going so well. The wisdom writer addressed this tendency in Proverbs 18:23: "The poor plead for mercy, but the rich answer harshly." When you are aware of your need, you tend to answer softly and tread quietly. When you don't see the need, you can become insensitive to the needs of others. Jesus guaranteed one surefire to get the mercy you need: "Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy" (Matthew 5:7). Are you in touch with your need for mercy on a daily basis? Has that awareness affected how you pray and talk to others?

Today's reading - Psalms 126-130

Life Matter: Your Helper

"I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
    where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord,
    the Maker of heaven and earth" - Psalm 121:1-2.

The psalmist reflected on where His help came from, and he concluded it came from the Lord. He looked to the mountains the Lord had created and realized the same God who created them created him. The writer also knew that his help did not come from within - his intelligence, wits, skill or family business - but rather from an outside source. This perspective caused him to humble himself and recognize the Lord's role as his provider and helper. Do you have this same humble perspective? Have you reflected lately on how well God takes care of you? Are you humbled in the realization of how well God has taken care of you? Do you fret or rest in the truth that the same God who made everything you see also created you? If He can make and maintain the universe, then He can certainly continue to maintain you. Thank Him and rejoice in Him today!

Today's reading - Psalms 121-125

Life Matter: Your Promises

"I will fulfill my vows to the Lord
    in the presence of all his people" - Psalm 116:14.

There are times when you make commitments and then later circumstances may make them difficult to fulfill. Some are small things like, "I'll call you soon" and then you don't call the person, or "I'll be praying for you" and then neglect to pray. Some are more major promises, like "I am going to pray 30 minutes every day" or "I pledge to give $1,000 toward that church project." Still others are songs sung in church: "I seek You only, Lord" or "You are my all," only to find that you don't live up to your promise to seek or remain true. Jesus told a short parable to emphasize the importance of not saying the right thing but doing it: "'What do you think? There was a man who had two sons. He went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work today in the vineyard.' 'I will not,’ he answered, but later he changed his mind and went. Then the father went to the other son and said the same thing. He answered, ‘I will, sir,’ but he did not go. Which of the two did what his father wanted?' 'The first,' they answered" (Matthew 21:28-31). Are there promises you have hanging over your life that you have not fulfilled? What are you prepared to do about them? Remember, it's better to not promise and do than to promise and not do.

Today's reading - Psalms 116-120

May 3 Deadline

By next Friday, I need to send $3,000 to Alice for the school fees of the children under her care, and for Mary who is with another orphanage. (Two of those under our care are pictured below, Phyllis and Elizabeth.) So far, $1,600 has come in, so we need $1,400 in six days, a small amount for the Lord. I thank Him in advance for His care and I have promised Alice she will have the money. Here is what she wrote earlier this week:

Dear Dr. John,

All the children got enlisted for remedial classes up to the 17th of this month. Some did this because of Phyllis:Elizabeththe teachers strike that affected public schools at the beginning of the year; others because the teachers wished to revise with them the topics the children found difficult to grasp during the term.

I have thought it wise to give you an indication of what is required for them to resume learning on the 4th of May, 2015. I am putting together their expenditure of first term which l will share with you in a short while.

From the attached table, one gets to appreciate what you have chosen to put into the lives of the EOTOO children. It is not a mean feat and all we can do is to thank you for feeling for these needy children.

God bless you.

Alice for EOTOO

Today I wrote in my daily devotional about the benefits of being generous to the poor, in which I quoted several of my favorite verses from Proverbs concerning help to the poor: "Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will reward them for what they have done" (Proverbs 19:17) and "Those who give to the poor will lack nothing, but those who close their eyes to them receive many curses" (Proverbs 28:27).

I am asking you to help these poor children this week with a gift toward their school fees. You don't have to do a lot, but I ask that you do something, no matter how small it seems to you. I have documented in previous weeks that this is not a luxury for these children, but a necessity if they are to have any chance as adults to make a meaningful living in their country. You can give most quickly using PayPal through my website or by sending a tax-deductible check to PurposeQuest, PO Box 8882, Pittsburgh, PA 15221-0882. Thank you and may the Lord bless you according to the promises in His word as you help these poor children.

Life Matter: Generosity

"Good will come to those who are generous and lend freely,
    who conduct their affairs with justice. . . .

They have freely scattered their gifts to the poor,
    their righteousness endures forever;
    their horn will be lifted high in honor" - Psalm 112:5, 9.

God loves a generous person. The Bible is full of exhortations to be generous, reminding you how God rewards those who remember the poor. That assumes you know who the poor are, are in touch with their needs and have the willingness to help. If you have time, do a search of the word 'poor' in the book of Proverbs and you can see some of God's promises for the generous person. A few of my favorites are: "Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will reward them for what they have done" (Proverbs 19:17) and "Those who give to the poor will lack nothing, but those who close their eyes to them receive many curses" (Proverbs 28:27). Do you know any poor in your country or another? What do you do to help the poor? How can you increase your awareness of the needs of the poor and then increase your level of support?

Today's reading - Psalms 111-115

Life Matter: Hatred

"May his days be few;
    may another take his place of leadership.
May his children be fatherless
    and his wife a widow" - Psalm 109:8-9.

There is a human emotion often revealed in the psalms that is unpleasant to talk and think about, and that emotion is hatred. In today's passage, David was praying about an enemy who has opposed him and David cried out to God to do bad things to that enemy. You may recoil at such talk, but there are important things to notice here. First, David did not take revenge; he entrusted that job to the Lord. Second, David was honest with the Lord and did not gloss over his feelings, telling God what he thought God would want to hear. Third, David recognized that there was evil in the world and he went to a good God to help him deal with it and sort it out. Jesus taught about how to treat your enemies when He said: "You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you" (Matthew 5:43-44). Do you have any enemies about whom you need to talk to God? Are you masking your strong emotions, even hatred, because you don't want to admit you have them?

Today's reading - Psalms 106-110

Life Matter: Your Humanity

"As a father has compassion on his children,
    so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him;
for he knows how we are formed,
    he remembers that we are dust" - Psalm 103:13-14.

The Lord is comfortable with your humanity, perhaps more comfortable with it than you are. He knows you and He still wants to use you, as you are today and as you will be in the future. I write that because many people are convinced that God must do major reconstruction on their lives before He can use them. The good news is that He is ready to use you now for His purpose. That means you can stop beating yourself up that you are not in a 'better' place than you are, and that you can stop delaying your purpose work until a more opportune moment. Do you beat yourself up that you aren't more spiritual, intelligent or prepared to serve the Lord? Are you even open to the fact that God wants to use you today, just as you are? What have you been putting off that you can and should embrace today as a work that God wants you to start and do now?

Today's reading - Psalms 101-105

Life Matter: The Kingdom

"Say among the nations, 'The Lord reigns.'
    The world is firmly established, it cannot be moved;
    he will judge the peoples with equity" - Psalm 96:10.

The redeemed have credibility to say to the unredeemed that the Lord reigns when He truly reigns in the lives of His people. When Jesus started His ministry, He preached this message: "'The time has come,' he said. 'The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!'" (Mark 1:15). Jesus came preaching the Kingdom and He expects you and I to do the same thing. That means that God wants to establish His government in your life, in the life of the Church and then in every ethnic group on earth. Are you a 'Kingdom person'? Have you accepted Jesus as both Savior and Lord or King? Are you working to have His rule cover every area of your life? Then are you helping to extend His rule to other areas, like where you work? Finally, are you helping others who are proclaiming the Kingdom as missionaries in other lands?

Today's reading - Psalms 96-100

Life Matter: Praise and Worship

"Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord;
    let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation.
Let us come before him with thanksgiving
    and extol him with music and song" - Psalm 95:1-2.

There is certainly nothing wrong with private devotionals in which you spend time worshiping and praising the Lord. The context of this passage, however, is for "us" to sing for joy, and that means a group of people worshiping in a corporate setting. Jesus gave His life for the church; it is the apple of His eye. If Jesus felt church was that important, you should too. And part of the dynamic of gathering is to experience the combined singing, clapping and joy of many voices joined together in one accord. Paul instructed the church with these words: "Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts" (Colossians 3:16). Are you part of a worshiping local congregation? Do you attend regularly and make your gifts available to the leadership and members? Do you actively worship when you do attend, putting aside all worry and distractions to joyfully join your voice with others?

Today's reading - Psalms 91-95