Bible Reading: 2 Corinthians 5:12-21

You’re blessed when you care. At the moment of being ‘care-full’, you find yourselves cared for.” [Matthew 5:7 The Message]

Floyd McClung tells the most wonderful story of a 72-year-old Sunday school teacher called Pop Jenkins. Floyd was in his second year of theological studies, and bumped into this elderly, five foot three inch, roly-poly grandfather in the library. He was shabbily dressed in a tattered old suit. This eccentric old man told Floyd he had been looking for him, and then told him that God had called him to be a doormat for Floyd! So strange! Eccentric!

Sometime later, Floyd and Pop Jenkins travelled together from Southern California to the Gulf of Mexico on what would be Floyd’s first “missionary journey” and throughout that trip, Pop Jenkins challenged Floyd with the same question over and over again: “Do you really care?” It got very annoying especially when the novelty wore off. Every 10 minutes or so the same questions: “Do you care about people? Do you care that people are going to hell? Do you really care?” He questioned Floyd’s goals, values, sports, motives for ministry – everything. “Do you want to serve God? Why do you want to serve God? Do you really care about people? He challenged Floyd’s relationships, securities and longing to serve God!

There were Christian crosses in the graveyard of San Felipe – religious people dying without Jesus in a land of Christ less crosses. “Do you care, Floyd?” They visited a church service where hundreds of poor people bowed before an icon of a dead priest. Pop Jenkins unashamedly wept and asked once again, “Floyd, do you really care what happens to these people?”

Floyd said, “Something began to happen inside of me. I cried as I watched him put his arms round a drunken man on a dusty road. As he wept and prayed. I saw a man caring. I realised that here was man motivated by the love of Christ.” Here was a man who lived his whole life for others. Compassion touched them, changed them. People couldn’t remain the same when Pop Jenkins came along.

A deep longing was created within Floyd. There was intensity about this man’s love for people that was annoying to anyone superficial in their Christian faith. He was single-minded. He was serious. He cared. He loved people. Floyd said about this man and that trip, “It spoiled me for the ordinary!”

This is compassion and mercy – here is love, and it is mercy that puts feet to our prayers. The apostle Paul said, “The love of Christ compels us” and “the love of God is poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit given unto us”.

[2 Corinthians 5:14 and Romans 5:5]

Just one question today: Do you really care?


Bible Reading: Psalm 136:1-26; Lamentations 3:22-25

Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.” [Matthew 5:8]

Mercy is an active word. It is impossible to be merciful and not be doing something! It is an integral part of God’s character, and it is only because of His mercy that we are able to know God and give ourselves to Him. Paul spoke of mercy in Romans 12:1-2 when he urged us, in view of God’s mercy, to offer our bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God.

The Greek word translated as merciful is the adjective ‘eleēmōn’. It comes from another Greek word ‘eleeo’ that is sometimes translated as compassion. The stress here is on pity shown by action and not just in thought. It is to show kindness to the destitute or to those who are in trouble. I once heard a missionary speaker describe compassion as “love with pain”. God’s mercy towards us could certainly be described as love with pain – it cost the death of His own Son.

Someone has described grace as “God giving us what we don’t deserve,” and mercy as “God not giving us what we do deserve. He shows compassion by rescuing us from the trouble and pain caused by sin and forgiving us. In that last sentence, we see the main aspects of mercy – they are compassion and forgiveness. Instead of giving us what we deserve, God gives us a hope and a future.

God had compassion on us, and He expects us to have compassion on others. In Micah we read, “What does the Lord require of you, but to do justly, to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God?” [Micah 6:8].

Over the years, I have had close contact with Youth with a Mission and one of the things that has most impressed me about their ministry has been the Mercy Ministries alongside their evangelistic zeal. The two go together – there is not a dichotomy. It is not true that one is only social and the other “spiritual”. I wonder how many people in West Africa are thankful today that the Youth with a Mission ship came into port bringing medical personal and surgical equipment. Many people have received artificial limbs as a result of that ministry! This is merciful and practical.


In what way has God shown mercy to you personally? What is your response to that mercy in your relationship with others?

In Psalm 136 and the word “mercy” is found in each of its 26 verses. Why is the psalmist putting so much emphasis on mercy?

In Lamentations 3:22-25 we find both “mercy” and “compassion”. What do these verses say about mercy? Would you now thank God for His mercy?


Bible Reading: Genesis 26:12-15

The receding tide had revealed a previously hidden old tin kettle on the beach at the English seaside town of Brighton. It was filled with seawater and a sea gull alighted on the kettle. The bird began to bathe, putting into the kettle first one wing and then the other followed by its claws and finally its head. What a silly sea gull – trying to bathe in an old tin kettle when only 100 metres away was enough water to bathe all the sea gulls that were, are and ever will be! What a parable of the Christian who God has made to be filled with His fullness but who chooses instead to wade in the shallows.

God’s promise to those who seek first His kingdom and His righteousness is that they will be filled. God made us for fullness and we should not be satisfied with anything less than that which God desires and intends for us.

God’s will is that we should be filled. God’s word constantly emphasises that His plan is always fullness. He fills all things [Eph. 1:23; 4:10]. He commands us to be Filled with all the fullness of God” [Eph. 3:19]; to “Be filled with the Spirit” [Eph. 5:18]; to be filled with the knowledge of His will” [Col. 1:19]; to be filled with the fruits of righteousness” [Phil. 1:11]. We are to be filled with goodness, and with all knowledge [Romans 15:14]. Mary says, “He has filled the hungry with good things” [Luke 1:53]. One day, the glory of the Lord will fill all the earth [Habbakuk 3:3]. David speaks about his cup running over in Psalm 23:5. It is the overflow of a life that is filled with God!

In our Bible reading today, we find Isaac unblocking the wells that the enemy had blocked up. He desperately needed water for life. The water symbolises the Holy Spirit. Jesus spoke about the Holy Spirit in terms of rivers of living water. The water was available to Isaac but the well was blocked, so he unblocked the well. Unblocking wells is not for the contented, self-satisfied or faint-hearted! When Isaac had unblocked the wells, he then “dug another well”. He was satisfied with a holy dissatisfaction!

Perhaps the greatest secret of progress in the Christian life is a healthy and hearty spiritual appetite. Again and again, scripture addresses its promises to the hungry. God ‘satisfies him who is thirsty, and the hungry He fills with good things’ [Psalm 107:9]. If we are conscious of slow growth, then perhaps the reason is that we have a jaded appetite? It is not enough to mourn over past sin; we must also hunger for righteousness!


Isaac unblocked the well that had been blocked by the enemy. What are things that enemy uses to block our lives and hinder us from being filled with the Holy Spirit and all the good things that God has promised us?

What do you think of the statement, “Perhaps the greatest secret of progress in the Christian is a healthy and hearty spiritual appetite?”. How would you judge your spiritual appetite at the present time? What could you do to increase your spiritual appetite?


Bible Reading: Matthew 5:1-48

One of the key teachings of the Sermon on the Mount is about righteousness.

The beatitudes are all about righteousness. The first two beatitudes lead to a hunger for righteousness [v6]. The third, fifth, sixth and seventh beatitudes, meekness, showing mercy, purity and being peaceable reveal the character of righteousness. This righteousness often leads to persecution [v10]. Literally, righteousness has to do with being gentle showing mercy, being radically pure in heart and making peace instead of retaliating! This is what God is like!

In Matthew 5:20, Jesus explains that righteousness is more than just obeying a set of rules, and in the verses that follow He shows how this works out in practice. When we repent of sin and turn to Jesus, our status before God is changed. God now sees us in Jesus as righteous. He has given us His righteousness as a gift. Now we have the Holy Spirit inside of us and His fruit in us is righteous. We have been made righteous but must now live a life of righteous. The apostle John puts it like this, “…. let no one deceive and lead you astray. He who practices righteousness [who is upright, conforming to the divine will in purpose, thought, and action, living a consistently conscientious life] is righteous, even as He is righteous” [1 John 3:7 Amplified Bible].

In Matthew 5:13-16, Jesus says that we are to shine as light in the world and to be as salt that cleanses, preserves from decay and gives flavour. We are to be God’s flavour in the world. Although we are saved by faith, the evidence of faith is works of righteousness!

Jesus makes it clear that unless our righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, we will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven. Their righteousness was nothing more than keeping rules and regulations. They stuck rigidly to the law but did not deal with the issue of the heart. The law said that we should not kill but Jesus speaks about the issue of anger that causes people to kill. The law said we must not commit adultery but Jesus says speaks of the root of adultery which is lust. The law says that we should love our neighbour, but Jesus says we should love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us.


What are the six specific and practical areas of righteousness that Jesus ephasises in Matthew 5:21-48?

Why is sticking to the law an insufficient righteousness to gain access into the kingdom of heaven?

What is the place of listening to the Holy Spirit and making right choices in the practical righteousness that Jesus speaks about in Matthew chapter five?

What do you think is the reason that we have a tendency to slip back from the righteousness that Jesus teaches us in Matthew chapter five to the law, rules and regulations?


Bible Reading: Revelation 2:1-7

Definitions of hungering and thirsting after righteousness include an increasing sense of the need for God that nothing else can really satisfy.

It is a longing to be righteous, holy, and God-like in character. It also means wanting God’s will for our lives, and all that this might mean. Later in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said, “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness” [Matthew 6:33]. God’s kingdom in our lives means that God rules over our lives. His kingdom and righteousness are two different things but totally inseparable.

Biblical righteousness, however, is far more than a private and personal affair. It is also an issue of community. When a group of people begins to seek and act in righteousness it will bring transformation to that community [and with it probably opposition & persecution!!]. That community may be a family, a home fellowship, a church, a district or even a nation. In our home church there is a foundation stone with the words, “Righteousness exalts a nation” carved into it. This is taken from Proverbs 14:34 and the full text reads, “Righteousness exalts a nation but sin is a reproach to any people.”

The bottom line in hungering and thirsting after righteousness is a hunger for God Himself. The hymn writer put it like this, “My goal is God Himself, Not joy nor peace, nor even blessing but Himself my God”.

When you hunger after God, the other things are automatic: the desire to be like Him, to be holy, to do His will. To hunger after Him is to love Him … to love Him is to keep His commands! Sometimes other things have taken priority, so that we have become satisfied with less than God. Amy Carmichael called it, “The subtle love of softening things, of easy choices, weakenings”, where things other than God have become our priority. It may the attention of others, their love, or even fellowship. It is possible to substitute pleasure, ministry, work, or even emotional experiences in place of the God Himself. Jesus’ words to the church in Ephesus make this so clear. They were hard working, patient, and loved the truth but had left their first love for Jesus.

This beatitude is a test of our spiritual desires – we each know in our hearts whether our greatest desire is to know God and His righteousness.


Is there a distraction in your life that relegates God to anything other than the first place in your life? If so, what is it and how will you deal with it? What do you need to do to making seeking God and His righteousness the most important thing in your life?

Read Revelation 2:5-6. What did Jesus tell the church in Ephesus to do in order to recover their first love? What were the consequences if they failed to do this? What do you think is the meaning of the candlestick being removed?


Bible Reading: Psalm 84:1-12

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled.” [Matthew 5:6]

Some people would undoubtedly see a contradiction between the Christian teaching of being satisfied in Christ and yet hungry at the same time.

Jesus promised to satisfy us and said, “I am come that they might have life, and have it to the full“ [John 10:10]. On several occasions, the Psalmist speaks of being satisfied. He writes, “My soul will be satisfied as with the richest of foods; with singing lips my mouth will praise you” [Psalms 63:5]; “He satisfies your desires with good things” [Psalm 103:5]; “He satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things” [Psalm 107:9]; “In your presence is fullness of joy” [Psalm 16:11].

It is good to balance these words of being satisfied with the hunger that godly men spoke of in the Bible. David, who walked with God, and had such wonderful experiences with God, spoke of a deep hunger and thirst. He said, “As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God” [Psalm 42:1-2]. “You are my God, I earnestly seek you; I thirst for you, my whole being longs for you” [Psalm 63:1]. My soul yearns, even faints for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God” [Psalm 84:2].

Job, in the midst of terrible trials says of God, “I have esteemed the words of His mouth more than my necessary” [Job 23:12].

The apostle Paul, in the latter period of his life wrote, “That I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being made conformable to His death” [Phil. 3:10].

The first lines of some of the greatest Christian hymns and songs speak of hunger for God. These include, “I hunger and I thirst, Jesus my manna be”, “As the deer longs for the water, so my soul longs after you”, “O for a heart to praise my God, a heart from sin set free”, and “O for a closer walk with God”.


What was David’s greatest desire as expressed in Psalm 84? What are the blessings he speaks of in the Psalm?

Charles Spurgeon challenged people to have a soul thirst for God. Will you ask God to give you a fresh hunger and thirst to know Him?

What would you consider to be the biggest hindrance to hungering and thirsting after righteousness?


Bible Reading: Psalm 37: 11

Yesterday we saw meekness in the life of Moses. Today, we will consider what three other servants of God in the Bible spoke about meekness.

The words Jesus spoke in Matthew 5:5 were quoted from Psalm 37:11, so it is good to go back to the original quote and to read what David says about meekness. David equates meekness with waiting for the Lord [cp. Ps. 37:11 & Ps. 37:9], and goes on to describe three characteristics of the meek person [that is, the one who waits on the Lord].

Firstly, they trust God [v5b]. Their confidence is in God and they know that He will work for them and vindicate them! They don’t fret over the wicked or get angry and anxious when others succeed because they are trusting God!

Secondly, they commit their way to God [v5a]. To commit your way to the Lord is “cast you burden upon the Lord”. Meek people admit their own insufficiency and give Him all their problems, pressures and frustrations.

Thirdly, They are quiet before God and wait for Him [v7a]. They trust God and wait patiently for God to work in their lives with a quiet steadiness knowing that God is in control!

Let’s consider what James says about meekness: he mentions meekness twice in his epistle. He says that we are to receive the engrafted word of God with meekness [James 1:19-21]. Meekness is teachable and cares about truth. We receive God’s Word and are not resistant or hostile to it! Later, James writes about the meekness of wisdom [James 3:13,17]. True wisdom is peaceable, gentle and open to reason.

Finally, let’s see what the apostle Paul says about meekness. In Galatians 6:1-2, Paul says that we should restore someone who has fallen into sin in a spirit of meekness, recognising that we also are fallible and can fall. Here is a clear definition of meekness – although it trusts God, it also has a right view of itself and of its own fallibility.

What a remarkable meekness is – it trusts God, commits its way to God, waits for God, receives God’s word, is peaceable, gentle, reasonable, and is humble enough to recognise its own fallibility. No wonder the NIV translates the word meekness is “humble”. This is the work of the Holy Spirit, and as He works in us, he produces the fruit of meekness.


In what way do you see in today’s word that humility is closely related to meekness?

“Meekness is having a right view of yourself.” Would you agree with this statement, and if so why do you agree with it?

In the past three days, we have looked at various characteristics of meekness. Would you write these down and put them in the front of your Bible and then regularly use this list as a spiritual check-up?


Bible Reading: Numbers 12:1-16

Today we will look at the character in meekness in the life of Moses. The Bible says that Moses was the most humble man on the face of the earth [NIV], but the words “most humble” are translated differently in the New King James Version which reads, “Now Moses was very meek, above all the men who were upon the face of the earth” [Numbers 12:3]. In the Numbers chapter 12, we see meekness manifest in three specific ways in the life of Moses.

Firstly, Moses did not retaliate when he was criticised. The attack came from those nearest to him, his sister Miriam and his brother Aaron [Num. 12:1-2]. They began by criticizing Moses’ marriage, but it quickly developed into an attack on Moses’ leadership. Moses did not retaliate when criticised.

Jesus manifested meekness in this way: When mocked and spat upon, He remained silent; when betrayed by His friends, He did not reproach them; He restored Peter, though he denied Him; He called Judas His friend when He kissed him; and when dying He forgave His enemies. He was in total control!

Romans 12:17-21 commands us not to retaliate, but rather to repay evil with good. It is the weak, not the meek that need to retaliate!

Secondly, Moses recognised that God was His defence. We see in Numbers 12:4-10 how God defended Moses. Corrie ten Boom said, “If you decide to defend yourself, God will let get on with it but if you let Him be your defender and don’t trying doing yourself, He will make a far better job of it!”.

Maturity is having nothing left to prove! You don’t need to defend yourself or prove anything!

Thirdly, Moses prayed God’s blessing upon his critics. Moses prayed for Miriam’s healing [Numbers 12:13]. We are commanded to “bless those who curse us” – we reverse the curse by doing the opposite of what the curse was meant to do.

Here is meekness, not to retaliate when criticised, not to defend yourself but to let God defend you, and to bless those who have done wrong to you. No wonder the Bible says that Moses was the meekest man on the face of the earth. Meekness is strength!


Have you been unfairly criticised? Meekness does not retaliate. How do you handle criticism?

How was meekness manifested in the life of Jesus? Ask the Holy Spirit to give you that same meekness that we see in the life of Jesus.

Why does it take great strength to let God defend us and not to defend ourselves?


Bible Reading: Matthew 11:25-30

Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.” [Matthew 5:5]

Meekness is the least understood of the characteristics of the “Happy” man praised by Jesus! To the world, meekness means weakness, timidity, and the lack of hardness needed to be successful. Others see it as indecisiveness and of being weak-willed. It is, however, actually the very opposite of these views. Jesus, quoting from Psalm 37:11, says that meekness is a pre-requisite for great success – “the meek shall inherit the earth”.

The word meekness is remarkable in its original use. It comes from the Greek adjective “praüs” which means ‘gentle’, ‘humble’, ‘considerate’, ‘courteous’ and therefore exercising the self-control without which these qualities would be impossible. In Classical Greek literature, the word “praüs” is used of tame animals, such as a wild stallion that has been broken in and brought under control. It is also used of soothing medicine, a gentle breeze, and mild words that calm strong emotions. John Wycliffe translated Matthew 5:5 as “Blessed be mild men”.  

Meekness is one of the aspects of the fruit of the Spirit [see Galatians 5:23]. The NIV translates it as “gentleness and self-control.” The meek person is strong – gentle but in control. He is as strong as steel.

Meekness has to do with humility and a teachable spirit. In the NIV “meek” is translated as “humble” [Num. 12:3]. Jesus spoke of Himself as “meek and lowly in heart.” There is a sense that this thought of being lowly has to do with being submissive. In one of Plato’s works, a child asked a physician to be tender with him. He used the same Greek word translated as meek or gentle! Those who were polite, treating others with dignity, courtesy and tact were called “gentle”.

In summary, meekness is gentle, strong, self-controlled, teachable, humble, tender and submissive. In the large and complete Oxford English dictionary, there is an interesting definition of meekness from old English poetry that following the usual definitions. It is “to be devoid of self-will”.

God’s promise to the meek is that they will inherit the earth. This is translated as enjoy peace and prosperity in Psalm 37:11 – they will inherit the earth because they are children of God’s kingdom! In the next two readings, we will consider some of the examples of meekness in the Bible.


How has your view of meekness changed or been corrected as a result of reading today’s word?

Why do you think that meekness is actually great strength?

Read Matthew 11:28-30. In what way do you think that Jesus is meek?

What do you learn about meekness from Galatians 5:22-23?


Bible Reading: Isaiah 43:1-7; Romans 8:28

God promises to comfort those people who mourn over their own sins, and those who mourn over the sins of others. Thirdly, God promises to comfort His people who mourn when bad things happen to them.

People often asked is, “Why do bad things happen to God’s people?”. In many respects, this is a wrong question because it is based on a wrong pre-supposition about the nature and character of God. It assumes that so-called “bad things” are not good for us. The question of why bad things happen to God’s people is never asked or answered in God’s Word.

In many cases, we do not know the answer to why certain seemingly bad things happen to us. Perhaps it is because at this present time we only know in part [1 Cor.13:12]. For example, in Acts chapter 12, James died by the sword but Peter was delivered from prison. We do not know why James died and Peter lived. There is a mystery in godliness and in God’s sovereignty. In a day when we have deified knowledge, it is humbling but important to admit that we don’t know everything, and nor does God intend us to do so during our present time on earth. The temptation to want to be as God is as real today as it was in the Garden of Eden!

Bad things do happen to God’s people. There are missionary graves in West Africa where Christian pioneers often died young because of terrible disease. Christians do experience broken marriages and children do go astray. I will never forget being with two loving Christian parents as the life-support machine keeping their five year-old son alive was turned off. God’s people are not exempt from such pain. The real question to ask is, not why do bad things happen to God’s people, but rather what happens to God’s people when bad things happen to them? The answer? They either become bitter or better! Sorrow never leaves you where it finds you. Sorrows embraced as God intended, believing that He is working for good, will lead to a deeper trust in Him, but if becomes the source of bitterness can cause even greater loss.

The comfort that God offers to His people is not a neurotic pat on the back, but calmness“Fear not…My peace I give unto you”; courage“Be strong…I am with you,” and commitment – God is totally committed to us!  He promises us “When you pass through the waters I will be with you.” So often God meets with us in these difficult times and in him we find comfort. He is “Jehovah Shammah” [Ezekiel 48:35] – “The God who is there”.


Sometimes it is very hard to understand why certain things happen, but do you agree with Romans 8:28 that all things work together for good to those who love God and who are called according to His purpose?

What did Job say in Job 42:5 after all the loss and pain that he had experienced? According to Job 42:12-17, how did things turn out for good in Job’s life?