Month: June 2019
16 Better is a little with the fear of the Lord,
Than great treasure with trouble.
17 Better is a dinner of herbs where love is,
Than a fatted calf with hatred.
Do we really believe this teaching? Do the actions of our lives demonstrate this truth? Are we really content with only our basic needs met, with love and a small dinner available to us? There are several enemies to contentment in this world. Satan attacks our contentment in Christ in as many ways as he can. Our enemy knows that if we can be made discontent that we will become distracted and spend more time getting than enjoying Him and giving to others.
Think about this with me. “Better is a little than a great treasure and better is a small vegan dinner than a good steak or roast.” Put that way, we would disagree on several levels. But add in “with the fear of the Lord” and “where love is” and we fully understand. What good is treasure without the Lord in your life? Jesus illustrated this several times; the rich young ruler wanted his riches more than discipleship and the rich man who ignored the beggar Lazarus opened his eyes in hell. King Saul had the wealth of Israel but hated David and lived in constant jealousy while he ate, well, “like a king.”
When the apostle Paul wrote, “I have learned in whatsoever state I am in to be content.” He was teaching us the same wisdom lesson that Solomon was trying to teach. Contentedness begins in the heart and overcomes the desires of the stomach and the flesh. When at peace with God and when at peace with those who love me us, we should be content and thankful, even for a meager meal. If we have peace and love and an old car and the same clothes as last year, and a small house or apartment, we should focus on what we have and not miserably wish for more. I have been in the grand homes of the unhappy wealthy and eaten at the full tables of the rich. But scarcely is the meal finished before the bitterness of life comes out through the discontent of everyone there.
Please note, this is not saying that all rich people are miserable. They are not. There are the wealthy who love the Lord, live in fear of Him and are content. God uses these people to fund His kingdom work in this life. Solomon’s point is that wealth does not bring peace and love but true wealth begins with the fear of the Lord and love toward those at the table with us. You may be wealthier than you realize.
It is Friday, try to join us for prayer at 11:45 today. I believe that God honors us with His guidance and His power to do His work when we pray to Him. We begin reading a Psalm and then pray praise to God from the Psalm, we ask God to shape our lives according to the Psalm, and then we pray for others that God will meet their needs according to the teaching of the Psalm.
Pray with us for Sunday that God will prepare those of us who are preaching and teaching. Pray that those involved in the children’s ministry and the music ministry and the audio and media teams that all will serve to the glory of God and do so with complete unity of heart and purpose. May our God be exalted and His word go forth with His power and His authority. I will be bringing a message on the seriousness of sin as John teaches us that there is a sin unto death.
Have a great day in the Lord,
13 A merry heart makes a cheerful countenance,
But by sorrow of the heart the spirit is broken.
14 The heart of him who has understanding seeks knowledge,
But the mouth of fools feeds on foolishness.
15 All the days of the afflicted are evil,
But he who is of a merry heart has a continual feast.
What is a “merry heart?” In this section, a merry heart makes for a cheerful face and a merry heart leads to a continual feast. The person with a merry heart brings joy into every room and gladness into every conversation. This merry-hearted person feasts on joy and peace all of the time. They know the joy of the Lord and the peace of God resulting in their entire being affected by this joy. A person with a merry heart must be one who lives reconciled to God, one who is not living in the pain of their sin, and one who rejoices every day.
We have all known people like this; these are the people who we wish we could have some of whatever it is they have. We wish we could be this joyful all the time. We think that the merry-hearted person never has problems and never has sorrow, but the truth is that they have learned that everything comes from the hand of God and they can always rejoice in God’s will. A merry-hearted person struggles, but they keep their struggles with God in private and know His joy before they leave His presence. The person of the merry heart is not oblivious to trouble, but their heart ever seeks the knowledge of God.
My friends, the joy of the Lord is not a pass from trouble. The joy of the Lord is His fulness as we seek His knowledge in every situation and every stage of life. Our constant reliance on the Lord enables us to have His peace when nothing else seems to be at peace. Sorrow can break the spirit but joy holds the deepest sorrows at arm’s length as we take them to God and lay them at His feet.
Jared had a slow couple of days. So last night when he began to perk up, I got him up to “dance” with me. Dancing with Jared is holding both of his hands and swinging them while trying to take small steps around the room. He thought this was quite funny and smiled and laughed. Then Stefani got him to “dance” with her and again he squealed and laughed with her. We know that when Jared is struggling he cannot help it so when his mind clears up he wants to know that all is well. Thanks to so many of you who over the years have prayed for Jared and his well-being.
Have a great day in the Lord,
10 Harsh discipline is for him who forsakes the way,
And he who hates correction will die.
11 Hell and Destruction are before the Lord;
So how much more the hearts of the sons of men.
12 A scoffer does not love one who corrects him,
Nor will he go to the wise.
Why do some people seem to never learn? They go from problem to problem, fine to fine, relationship to relationship, and never seem to realize that the problem is within themselves. No, none of us like correction. Be honest; when was the last time you really felt good when someone corrected you and even disciplined you for your actions? In these proverbs we learn about the ones who need harsh discipline, those who hate correction, and those who do not love the ones who correct them.
Growing up as the middle child, I watched my older sister and my younger brother get into trouble. Not wanting what they got I became compliant to my parent’s correction. At that age, compliancy is better than rebellion. In our years at the boys home we came to understand that there really are rebellious people who need harsh correction and who hate those who correct them. In the pastorate I learned that there are adults like this also. When you see someone’s attitude toward correction and their attitude toward the one doing the correction, you learn a great deal about their character. Those who hate correction and those who correct them seem to go from job to job, from jail to jail, and from friend to friend. They finally land with people like themselves.
The middle verse here says that both hell and destruction are before the Lord, that is, they are before His eyes and nothing gets away from God’s notice. If God sees the activities of death and hell, surely He knows men’s hearts. Satan, the great deceiver, knows how to tempt men’s hearts but the Lord knows what is in men’s hearts. God knew Job would not forsake Him. Jesus prayed for Peter knowing that in temptation he was going to fail. God knows your heart as well. If God so knows our hearts then God also knows how much correction our hearts need. Let’s heed God’s correction, apply it, and repenting of our sinful ways let us walk in God’s light and love instead.
Yesterday our family visited Yayasan Elsafon school for the blind here in Jakarta. We sat in our their rehearsal for chapel music. What a thrill to see these blind young people using their talents with abandon for the Lord. I was saddened to hear that one of the boys I met in December had gotten sick and “gone to be with the Lord.” Pray for these children and young people to be the men and women that God created them to be. There is a set of twin brothers who are gifted musicians. One of them Jesse, played piano as Stefani sang Amazing Grace. These young people brought the joy of the Lord to our hearts.
Have a great day in the Lord,
Proverbs 14:9 (NKJV)
9 Fools mock at sin,
But among the upright there is favor.
Proverbs 14:9 (NIV)
9 Fools mock at making amends for sin,
but goodwill is found among the upright.
Proverbs 14:9 (ESV)
9 Fools mock at the guilt offering,
but the upright enjoy acceptance.
My friends, sin is not a laughing matter. Making matters right from sinful words and deeds is not a laughing matter. Bringing an offering to God for our sin is not a laughing matter. As long as there has been comedy, sin has been made fun of. We laugh when people imitate a drunk, a prostitute, a homosexual, a liar, and more. Comedy makes fun of good people by mocking righteousness and godliness. Saturday Night Live has created an entire new taste for making fun of any one and any thing at any given time. To “roast” someone is to make fun of them at any level that can be imagined.
To mock something is to make light of it so that it seems unimportant or unnecessary. Mockery makes fun of something or someone who is doing something; both good and bad can be made fun of and belittled. This proverb is especially interesting to us who love the Lord, love righteousness and grieve when we sin. Sin is not a small thing to us; sin is not something that we would mock and make light of. When we do sin against another person, we want them to take our apology seriously and carefully so that our relationship will be restored.
This proverb tells us that foolish people mock both sin itself and any efforts to reconcile the pain that sin has caused. Sin is not a laughing matter. Sin is the most serious trauma on planet earth. Sin separated Adam and Eve from God and separated them from each other. Sin brought death to Abel at the hands of Cain. Sin brought the destruction of the world in the flood of God’s judgment. Sin brought the confusion of the languages of the world and sin has caused every death and every sickness in history. Every war is attributed to someone’s pride, selfishness, prejudice and hatred. Ultimately, sin brought the Savior to this earth where He suffered and died because of our sin.
Heed this warning, fools make a mockery of sin, its consequences, the efforts to reconcile from it. God sees sin as a serious issue to be fought against, died to, confessed, and repented from.
Do you have an appetite for the Word of God? Is that appetite being fed each week? I have been reminded of just how closely our enemies live and how quickly these enemies want to deceive us from God’s truth. Pray for one another to remain faithful to God, to seek His word daily, to sit under its preaching and teaching, and to have hearts and minds open to its messages. Our battles are real and the stakes are high. Pray together for us to be better and better students of God’s truths.
Have a great day in the Lord,
8 The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord,
But the prayer of the upright is His delight.
9 The way of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord,
But He loves him who follows righteousness.
There are several times in the Bible when the phrase, “abomination to the Lord” is used. An abomination is something that is more evil to God than regular sin. Things that were an abomination to God in the Law were usually punished by death. Something that was an abomination to God was an action to really be avoided. You might not be able to abstain from every sin, but you certainly should abstain from things that God called an abomination. (Do a search on the word ‘abomination’ in the book of Leviticus and Deuteronomy.)
That being said, Solomon used the word ‘abomination” here to describe the sacrifice of the wicked and the way of the wicked. This lesson should help us understand that when a wicked man or woman does something good in the name of philanthropy or in the name of religion, God is not impressed. When godless people make a big donation to a worthy cause, God does not take notice and give them a good mark in His record book. On the contrary, when a wicked man or woman makes a sacrifice for the good of another, even their motive is self-serving, and God adds this sin to their list of sins. Everything they do is about themselves, nothing they do is purely for the worship of God.
The contrary part of the wicked is the upright and the righteous. While the wicked make a great sacrifice, the righteous need only say a prayer to please the Lord. Our prayer of faith is more pleasing to God than the multi-million-dollar gift of the wicked. The simple cry of our heart to God gets His Divine attention and He is pleased that we came to Him. Yes, the kingdom of God on earth relies on the donations of others and yes, we should be giving of our resources to further God’s kingdom. What we learn here is that God is first pleased with our simplest prayers. When we give, it is not for self-praise but for God’s glory. We sacrifice to God on every level of our lives and we do so out of love, not obligation, out of selfless worship not with any desire for personal exaltation, and God is pleased. (Can you think of people in the life of Christ who worshiped Him and He was pleased?)
Once again, if you are able to join us at 11:45 today for prayer, please do. We read the Scriptures together and praise God with His words. Then we look at our own needs and the needs others from the Scriptures and pray more.
Remember to pray for our teenage young people who face awful temptations every day. From song lyrics to the content of TV and movies our teens are faced with the filth of this world all the time. Pray that they will have the discernment to know good and evil as well as the courage to stand up to it and resist it. I am working with a young man here who needs our prayers to commit to his parent’s wisdom and guidance. I am sure he is one of thousands or more in Christian homes who needs our prayers and loving guidance.
Be in prayer for Sunday throughout today and tomorrow. May God be highly exalted.
Have a great day in the Lord,
4 A wholesome tongue is a tree of life,
But perverseness in it breaks the spirit.
5 A fool despises his father’s instruction,
But he who receives correction is prudent.
6 In the house of the righteous there is much treasure,
But in the revenue of the wicked is trouble.
7 The lips of the wise disperse knowledge,
But the heart of the fool does not do so.
In Psalm 1 we are given a picture of the blessed one, who by not walking in the way with the ungodly, by not standing around with sinners and by not sitting with the scorners is compared to a tree of life that brings for his or her fruit in its season, their leave does not wither and everything they do prospers. Here, in verse 4, we are given that analogy again. One who uses their tongue to speak words of wholesome communication is like a tree of life. This is a beautiful picture of strength, deep rooted security against the storms, fruitfulness throughout life’s seasons, and one who provides comfort and security to others.
People like this tree have been tremendous examples to me. I have admired their strength, wanted their security, and hoped to be just as fruitful. This analogy is tied to tangible actions of righteousness and of words spoken that are wholesome and true. In verse 7 we are told that the lips of the wise disperse knowledge. Wisdom that comes out of the mouth begins in the soul where wisdom must dwell. People with foolish hearts cannot speak with wisdom for there is no source within them.
Just as wholesome words are compared to a strong and fruitful tree that give life, so a perverse tongue, one that spews pain, breaks the spirit of life in those who hear it. “Life and death are in the power of the tongue,” and “the tongue no man can tame.” We cannot make ourselves use our tongues wisely but we can let God change our hearts so that our words come from a better source. A foolish person cannot help but to break the spirit of those who hear them. Words from a sinful and foolish heart are going to inflict pain because they come from pain. How can a person without peace speak any words of peace?
“Dear God, change our hearts so that the words we speak will be words of life and strength and hope to all who hear us. Let us be ever aware of what we say that our lips disperse your knowledge and not our own selfishness. May those who know us have a better life because of the words that come from our tongues to their ears.”
We had a wonderful lunch yesterday with a church family. It is always thrilling to us to hear how God works His salvation in people’s lives and then continues His work bringing joy and peace that are uniquely from Him. Stephen and his wife are golf pros teaching golf here in Jakarta. They are around super rich people every day and have come to realize that they have more than their clients do. Every night they go home to their family together with God’s love. Their wealthy clients go home alone or go home to painful relationships. Last Sunday, Stephen brought a client to church. We hope to meet together to point this man to Christ. Pray for Stephen and his wife as they minister God’s grace to successful people who need Jesus.
Have a great day in the Lord
3The eyes of the Lord are in every place, keeping watch on the evil and the good.
19 You are great in counsel and mighty in work, for your eyes are open to all the ways of the sons of men, to give everyone according to his ways and according to the fruit of his doings.
17 For My eyes are on all their ways; they are not hidden from My face, nor is their iniquity hidden from My eyes.
12 For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. 13 And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.
It has become very apparent that society today 1. does not believe in God Almighty and 2. does not realize that God sees all that they do. We can make this assumption because if people did believe in God and did believe that He saw all that they and that He was going to hold them accountable for what they did, they would do things very differently.
When I was growing up, it was shameful to be divorced and it was shameful for a couple to get pregnant before they married. Men and women did not live together for that was considered a fornicating relationship. Television shows did not use profanity and women were always covered and modest. Over time this has all changed and these things that used to be considered shameful and sinful are now common and normal. Is God still watching? Are people aware that God is watching and that He is keeping records to hold them accountable one day?
Perhaps we believe that when we get our day before God, if He exists, that if we don’t like His verdict we can appeal to a higher court. Or perhaps we just assume that since God made us this way that He will just have to accept us the way we are.
The Hebrews reference begins with a statement about the living Word of God and ends with an accounting as to what we did with His Word. It seems to me my friends, that God has remained in His righteous place and we are the ones who have moved away from Him. Let’s get back to the realization that God does see all that we do, both in private and in public, and let us be aware that there is an accounting before Him.
The good news of the Gospel is that Jesus Christ paid the price for our sin and we will not be held accountable for our sin anymore. The truth is that God still sees all that we do rewards us in this life both positively and negatively for the choices that we make under His Lordship. Therefore, even we, God’s children, need a constant awareness that our Heavenly Father is always watching what we do. This is spiritually and physically healthy for us.
Yesterday was a good day at JIBC as we looked at 1 John 5:11-13, the crescendo of John’s epistle telling us that when we have the Son of God we have, presently have, eternal life. What a great promise this is to us; eternal life is in Jesus Christ; God gives us the Son who brings His eternal life into us. What an absolutely wonderful fact affirmed to us. If you would like to hear this message go to https://sites.google.com/jibc.or.id/jibc/sermons?authuser=0 if you are in Indonesia the link is www.jibc.or.id/sermons
(If the links do not work, cut and paste them into your browser.)
Have a great day in the Lord,