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June 2015
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August 2015

Life Matter - Getting Real with God

"You have searched me, Lord,
    and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise;
    you perceive my thoughts from afar" - Psalm 139:1-2.

God already knows your thoughts and knows your words before you speak them. That is in part why the psalms are so brutally honest, for the writers knew it was ridiculous to try and hide their true feelings. Therefore, when someone says, "I would never say that to the Lord," they are missing the point that, if they thought it, it's as good as saying it, for God knows. You need to be honest with God in prayer, not for His sake, but for yours. God is not interested in formula praying or in you using King James' English when you address Him. You don't have to end your prayers "in Jesus' name" to get them heard and answered, but you do have to appear before God as you are and not as someone saying what you think God would want you to say. Are you being real with God in prayer? Do you pray transparent prayers, or are you trying to impress God or others with your prayer words? Do you see that God cannot change you into the person He wants you to be if you are pretending you are already that person?

Today's reading - Psalms 136-140

Life Matter - Vindication

"For the Lord will vindicate his people
    and have compassion on his servants" - Psalm 135:14.

One of the most difficult aspects of life to surrender to the Lord is your reputation. When someone makes an accusation or charges you with an offense, everything in you wants to defend yourself and correct what people are thinking about you. Yet the Lord desires that you trust your reputation with Him, allowing Him to be your agent and handle your public image. He promises to vindicate you, but He will do it on His own terms and in His own time. You must keep in mind that He may not clear your name in a way that suits you, but rather causes you to trust Him even more for your career, public image and relationships. The Bible already advised you that God is the one who will avenge wrongs done to you in Hebrews 10:30: "For we know him who said, 'It is mine to avenge; I will repay.”" Have you been contemplating taking revenge on someone who has wronged you? Have you been distressed over a wrong done to you or about an accusation or charges made against you? Can you see that the Lord wants you to trust Him and not take matters or your defense into your own hands?

Today's reading - Psalms 131-135

Life Matter - A Kingdom Worker

"In vain you rise early
    and stay up late,
toiling for food to eat—
    for he grants sleep to those he loves" - Psalm 127:2.

The issue of work is different for a believer than for someone who doesn't know the Lord. For the unbeliever, work is how he or she makes money. For believers, God has promised to provide, so they work to extend God's kingdom rule on the job. What does that mean? A believer works to witness and reveal to fellow workers, clients and customers God's love and His righteousness where integrity, honesty, fairness, work ethic and submission are concerned. Where possible, a Kingdom worker also exercises creativity and authority to bring new ideas and order to his or her sphere of work. Is there a difference between your work and the work of those around you who do not know the Lord? Is your attitude gentle and submissive, or strident and competitive? Do you see your work as your source of provision, or do you see God as the source? Do you understand that He is using your job to provide for you but He doesn't need your job to provide? What difference should all these truths make in your job, attitude and faith expectations?

Today's reading - Psalms 126-130

LIfe Matter - Whole Lot of Shakin' Going On

"Those who trust in the Lord are like Mount Zion,
    which cannot be shaken but endures forever" - Psalm 125:1.

It is easy to misinterpret a Bible promise to mean something that it does not mean. In Isaiah, God makes the promise that no weapon formed against you shall prosper (see Isaiah 54:17). It doesn't mean the weapons won't be formed or won't try to be effective against you, it just says they won't be successful. Jesus said the gates of hell would not prevail against the Church; He didn't say the gates would not try to prevail. In today's verse, it says that the people of God are like Mount Zion that won't be shaken and destroyed. It does not mean that shaking won't happen to remove everything in your life not consistent with the stability and purity of Mt. Zion. In Hebrews 12, the writer had this to say about shaking: "At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, “Once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.” The words “once more” indicate the removing of what can be shaken—that is, created things—so that what cannot be shaken may remain. Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our “God is a consuming fire” (12:26-29). Is there shaking going on in your life? Is your confidence shaken because there is shaking? Do you see that God is removing what can be shaken so that what cannot will prevail?

Today's reading - Psalms 121-125

Life Matter: Leaders and Kings

"It is better to take refuge in the Lord
    than to trust in princes" - Psalm 118:9.

God is a leadership God. He works through leaders but the tendency of mankind has been to put expectations on leaders that should only be put on the Lord. This has led time and again to the glorification and deification of leaders, and that always gets people in trouble - for leaders are mortal and will eventually pass from the scene, no matter how effective or evil they are. Israel craved a leader, a king like the rest of the nations had, and it got them into trouble when they put the leader before their allegiance to God. Samuel had this to say to Israel when the demanded a king: "But you have now rejected your God, who saves you out of all your disasters and calamities. And you have said, ‘No, appoint a king over us'" (1 Samuel 10:19). As a follower, are you putting too much trust in leaders, expecting them to do what only the Lord can do for you? As a leader, are you demanding more loyalty and commitment than is appropriate? You should pray for your leaders, submit to your leaders, but reserve your ultimate trust and loyalty for the Lord!

Today's reading - Psalms 116-120

Kenya Partners in Trouble

I don't share every correspondence I receive from Kenya, but I have received two lately that I must pass on to WemaKidsHungry you for your prayerful consideration. The first is from Alice, the founder of Each One Touch One Orphanage. Alice is a wonderful woman, but she has been under constant attack the last few years. Her husband is not in a good place spiritually, Alice had cataracts removed from both eyes and her nephew was recently killed in an automobile accident. If all that isn't enough she wrote me to say that her son, who has been a tremendous support and help to her, was recently hit by a car and suffered multiple, serious injuries. Let me allow Alice to tell you in her own words:

I got a call on Saturday morning that my son had been knocked down by a speeding car as he went to work. Since then, he is admitted at the Aga Khan Hospital - ICU.  Multiple fractures and deep cuts on the right leg. A dislocated pelvic bone.He will undergo a major operation today. Kindly send to us some money to buy the children some food - Alice.

Then I heard from Pastor Francis who runs a school and orphanage called Upako Center. He is battling to stay on his land as his landlord has pursued the eviction without due process.

I have told you in the past that life is difficult in Kenya, especially if people are going to walk with integrity and not cooperate with the corruption that is prevalent. Alice, Francis, Peter, Pauline, Irene and all our partners face trials we can't even imagine here in the West. Yet they persevere and do it with grace and dignity, and God makes a way where there seems to be no way.

I want to make a trip over in October to encourage them all and to check on the work we are partnering to do there. I will talk to you about that in coming weeks.

In the meantime, I will send Alice $500 this week. I ask you to join with me to pray for justice in regards to Pastor Francis and Upako. After you pray, please send a donation to help us help our partners. We have the benefit baseball game on August 29. Can you come or help someone else to come? Can you contribute something today to the Sophia Fund to help feed widows and orphans? You can give today, right now, at my website or by sending a tax-deductible contribution to PurposeQuest, PO Box 8882, Pittsburgh, PA 15221-0882.

Life Matter - Water in a Dry Place

"Tremble, earth, at the presence of the Lord,
    at the presence of the God of Jacob,
who turned the rock into a pool,
    the hard rock into springs of water" - Psalm 114:7-8.

God led His people in to the wilderness, another word for the Sinai desert. The temperatures were scorching, the nights were bitter cold, there was no food and of course there was no water. What's more, there were millions of people, plus all their herds of animals, and they wandered there for 40 years before they entered the Promised Land. Did any of them starve or die of thirst? Absolutely not! God was able to provide for them; in fact, He led them there to prove that He could provide under impossible conditions to build their faith. Instead, they hardened their hearts and did not have faith: "For I do not want you to be ignorant of the fact, brothers and sisters, that our ancestors were all under the cloud and that they all passed through the sea. They were all baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea. They all ate the same spiritual food and drank the same spiritual drink; for they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ. Nevertheless, God was not pleased with most of them; their bodies were scattered in the wilderness" (1 Corinthians 10:1-5). Are you like the Israelites in the desert, not trusting God even though He has shown Himself strong on your behalf again and again, providing something from nothing for you?

Today's reading - Psalms 111-115

Life Matter - Friendship Betrayed

"In return for my friendship they accuse me,
    but I am a man of prayer.
They repay me evil for good,
    and hatred for my friendship" - Psalm 109:4-5.

There is an aspect of Psalms that not only describes the experience of the psalmist, but also points ahead to the ministry and suffering of Jesus. Jesus lived the psalms, just like you do when you read them to identify with the human pathos they represent and narrate. In these verses, we learn that Jesus (along with David) was a friend to others, yet His friendship was rejected and was repaid with hatred and accusations. What did David (and Jesus) do in response to these hurtful acts? They prayed! They took their disappointment and pain and told their heavenly Father about it. What do you do when your goodness is rejected and met with an evil or callous response? Do you lash out at others? Do you become despondent or depressed? Do you forgive or hold a grudge? Or do you take it to the Lord to ask Him to touch your pain and heal your heart? Do you hold back from any future friend-like investments in others?

Today's reading - Psalms 106-110

Life Matter - Choosing Friends

"My eyes will be on the faithful in the land,
    that they may dwell with me;
the one whose walk is blameless
    will minister to me" - Psalm 101:6.

David declared that he was careful about choosing both his friends, associates and his spiritual leaders. He understood what Paul wrote much later: "Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character" (1 Corinthians 15:33). Paul also wrote, "Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?" (2 Corinthians 6:14). Paul clarified his instruction when he wrote, "But now I am writing to you that you must not associate with anyone who claims to be a brother or sister but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or slanderer, a drunkard or swindler. Do not even eat with such people" (1 Corinthians 5:11). Are your friends and associates claiming to be believers but behaving badly? Are you in church fellowship with folk who do not evidence Christian behavior and attitudes? Be honest: Is their behavior rubbing off on you and affecting your walk and devotion to the Lord? If it is, what are you prepared to do about it?

Today's reading - Psalm 101-105

Life Matter - Change

"Sing to the Lord a new song;
    sing to the Lord, all the earth.
Sing to the Lord, praise his name;
    proclaim his salvation day after day.
Declare his glory among the nations,
    his marvelous deeds among all peoples" - Psalm 96:1-3.

For you to sing a new song to the Lord means that you must stop singing the old song. No, that is not an endorsement for contemporary music over hymns, but rather an indication that God desires to bring change into your life. As a believer, you should eat change for breakfast, so to speak, for the Spirit who lives in you is always moving and changing you and the things around you. Unfortunately, you may be standing in the way of that change due to your old nemesis: fear. You can fear the new thing so you oppose it for what you believe are spiritual reasons - not wanting to get ahead of the Lord or to miss the Lord. Jesus Himself said in Revelation 21:5, "He who was seated on the throne said, 'I am making everything new!' Then he said, 'Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true!'" What change are you resisting that, if you embraced it, would allow you to sing a new song? What excuses are you using to resist the change? 

Today's reading - Psalms 96-100