Month: July 2019

A God who hears His children

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Proverbs 15

29    The Lord is far from the wicked,

But He hears the prayer of the righteous.

30    The light of the eyes rejoices the heart,

And a good report makes the bones healthy.

31    The ear that hears the rebukes of life

Will abide among the wise.

 

If there was only one reason to follow the God of heaven, answered prayer would be that reason. God blesses our lives in many ways most of the time. When life gets hard and trials and pains come, the reality that we can pray to a God who hears and answers keeps us going. 1 John tells us that if we know that God hears us then we also know that we have the petition that we have asked from Him. How do we know that God hears our prayers? He has promised to hear the prayers of His children. The wicked have no such promise. They cry out to God like the priests of Baal who prayed and cut themselves and their god was silent.

When we pray, God gives us light that rejoices our hearts. This light might not come the instant of our prayer but over time, God shows us His heart and His will shining His light on our confused path. This light rejoices our hearts and makes our very bones healthy. Having a God who hears and answers prayer is one of the greatest blessings of walking with Him.

In verse 31, we have to acknowledge that there are also times when our God rebukes our lives. I have been in prayer seeking God’s face and had a sin or a bad conversation come to mind and knew that God was rebuking me. When we listen to these rebukes we abide, we live, in the neighborhood of the wise. Oh my friends, let us listen to the rebukes of life to live with others who are seeking the Lord.

 

Sunday at JIBC was a truly blessed time together. We enjoyed the people of God and the Word of God. Thanks to all who served the Lord together to make this body, this church, a wonderful place to be with God’s people. I have begun a series on the church and spoke on the church, the body of Christ, from Ephesians 4:9-16.

We leave today for the US where we will spend a week with our sons in California, a week with our family and Illinois and then I will go see my parents for a few days before I fly out on the 14th to come back to Jakarta. Pray for us as we travel. Jared travels well, just pray that his mind will remain calmed from his seizures.

Have a great day in the Lord,
PS

Here is a link to the sermon on the church:

https://sites.google.com/jibc.or.id/jibc/sermons?authuser=0

 

Pay attention to the example of Israel

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Proverbs 15

25    The Lord will destroy the house of the proud,

But He will establish the boundary of the widow.

26    The thoughts of the wicked are an abomination to the Lord,

But the words of the pure are pleasant.

27    He who is greedy for gain troubles his own house,

But he who hates bribes will live.

Having just read through 1 and 2 Kings, this section really comes to light. The nation of Israel, whose history was written for our example (1 Corinthians 10:10-11), went from great and mighty and filled with wisdom to complete rebellion against God, idolatry, foolishness and destruction. When they were humble before God, He established them over and over. Bu when they were proud and rejecting God, they felt His destructive hand.

When the nation of Israel read the words of the Lord and put them into practice, they enjoyed pleasant peace of that purity. But when the nation filled their minds with wicked thoughts they became an abomination to the Lord filling themselves with idolatry, sacrifice of children to heathen Gods, and all types of temple prostitution both male and female. I have asked myself how they could go from the kingdom of David to the kingdoms of Jeroboam, Rehoboam, Ahab and Manassah, in so few years. I have to conclude that mankind does the same thing. A father might serve the Lord while the son rejects the Lord and the example of his father and becomes an abomination before God.

When the nation of Israel was not content with what God gave them but went to battle without the Lord’s guidance, they troubled their own house. Men died who should not have died. David became greedy and took Bathsheba to the troubling of his own house. We must never think that we are better than David or anyone else who in their greediness troubled themselves and those around them.

My friends, we must pay attention to the wisdom of God. We must flee from idolatry. We must live humbly and obediently before our God. When we do, we honor the Lord who in turn gives honor to us. We might be poor, we might be rich, but we must live in humility and in wisdom.

 

Welcome to Friday. Be sure to take time to pray for Sunday. I will begin a series on the church this Sunday. Read Ephesians 4:9-16 for a preview of the message. Pray for all of us who are serving the Lord in church this coming Sunday.

 

Have a great day in the Lord,

PS

All of our ideas do better with the counsel of others

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Proverbs 15

22   Without counsel, plans go awry,

But in the multitude of counselors they are established.

23   A man has joy by the answer of his mouth,

And a word spoken in due season, how good it is!

24   The way of life winds upward for the wise,

That he may turn away from hell below.

How do we make decisions? What process do we put ideas through to determine if they are good or bad, better or best? Are we our own best counsellor? Are we the greatest source of wisdom that we know so when we make plans we only consult with ourselves?   According to the teachings of wisdom, we need the counsel of others, several others even, to help us establish our plans. When we seek the advice of others, (v 23) their words may bring joy and value to our plans. Finally, (v 24) the wise around us will help our lives wind upward in a good direction opposing the descent of life away from wisdom and away from God.

Asking advice has often been hard for me because I know what I think and I don’t want to be questioned. Usually, when I ask someone else to think with me, they make me think about the potential failure of my plans, which thoughts seldom cross my mind. These negative thoughts frustrate me and make me wish I had not asked for advice; however, when I stop and consider the potential problems, my ideas are actually improved and gain greater value. It’s not that my ideas are bad but that they need the input of those who see from different viewpoint.

What we learn here is that the counsel and the words of others are good to consider and can actually make our ideas better causing them to have a greater chance to succeed. Their words have value and can help us move upward, away from death and failure, to bring greater glory to God in what we do. Let us humble ourselves, practice wisdom, and ask the advice of others as we go through this life.

 

Over the weekend my dad ended up back in the hospital with a urinary tract infection. He came home earlier today and is feeling better. Thank you for your prayers for him.

 We were able to enjoy some of the wonders of creation this week as we took a short trip to a nearby island. Belitung island is far enough away from Jakarta to be free from the air pollution and free from the traffic. It was a nice break for us as we are ending Stefani’s stay in Indonesia. The highlight of the trip was snorkeling over coral reefs and watching the beauty of the reefs, the fish, the colors, and constant movement just a few feet away. Belitung also has some amazing granite rock formations jutting out of the ocean making small islands to stop and enjoy. We saw again that God’s creativity has no end.

Have a great day in the Lord,

PS

Laughing at folly is not really funny

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Proverbs 15

21    Folly is joy to him who is destitute of discernment,

But a man of understanding walks uprightly.

 

In the days of Noah those around him mocked his work. “How crazy was this man to build a boat as big as a football field far away from water? He said he heard a voice from God, we did not hear any voices.” In modern terms, Noah would have been mocked by Saturday night live, radio talk shows, internet memes, political cartoons and more. The mockery continued until the first raindrops fell, but then it was too late.

Lot was mocked in Sodom. Peter tells us that Lot’s righteous soul was vexed. The men of Sodom mocked Lot and his righteousness. When Lot tried to warn them of impending judgment, they laughed at him and he again became the object of their folly. Until the fire fell, but then it was too late.

The rich man ignored the beggar Lazarus and though he knew that Lazarus claimed faith in Christ, the rich man mocked the beggar until he died. As the rich man opened his eyes in hell, it was too late.

For thousands of years the fools of this world have made a mockery of people of wisdom. Folly was and is their joy. They love to make fun of sin too. Elsewhere, Solomon compared the laughter of fools to the burning of small sticks in a fire. They crackle but they burn quickly and do not provide any heat. Those around us love those who make fun of sin and of righteousness. There is a certain joy in being able to do a good “roast.” Solomon did not agree, and we should stand closer to Solomon on this. There are things that should not be laughed at, should not be mocked.

The comparison in this verse is that the men and women of understanding walk uprightly, that is, they do not find mockery a joy. In the discernment of the upright there is understanding of people’s hurts and their pains when mocked. There is understanding of folly by those who walk uprightly and the upright who know the end of foolishness cannot laugh at it, they understand more.

 

Each Sunday God blesses us with His glorious presence. We rejoice together in song, fellowship, and the opening of God’s word. Yesterday we finished our journey through the book of 1 John. The pain of sin and the opposing thrill of being in Christ was seen over and over again. We, the people of God, enjoyed opening our minds and hearts to the messages of God through His servant John.

After church we enjoyed the baptism of three of our young adults. We gathered a an apartment pool, heard testimonies, baptized and sang together. This is a great reason to gather on a Sunday afternoon.

Last night, Bobbi and I were invited to watch a Jakarta football (soccer) team play against a team from Papua. A man who lives in our building invited us to his game. We sat with his family and enjoyed the game.

My dad is back in the hospital with a UTI. They will keep him for at least two days to see the infection down and his strength renewed. If you would like to call him, I do have a room number.

Have a great day in the Lord,

PS

 

Wealth and the fear of the Lord; Food and love

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Proverbs 15

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.

In the NIV, it reads like this:

Proverbs 15

16 Better a little with the fear of the Lord

than great wealth with turmoil.

17 Better a small serving of vegetables with love

than a fattened calf with hatred.

When Paul wrote in Philippians 4 that he had learned to be content with much and with little, he made an important statement, a lesson that all of us need.   Every day we are bombarded with wealth all around us and with the apparent benefits of that wealth. We are invited to get rich quick schemes as well as home based “businesses” that guarantee freedom from our jobs. The idea of getting rich is something most of us, if not all of us, have pondered at one time or another. Solomon, arguably the richest man who ever lived, came to realize that a simple dinner of vegetables and herbs with love was better than the best cut of beef without love.

Have you ever sat down to a nice meal when a cloud of frustration and anger was over the table? You really wanted to enjoy the meal but the bickering and the bitterness going back and forth took the joy out of the meal. It wasn’t the food that was bad, it was the attitude at the table that made the difference.

While I have known Christian businessmen and women who were very successful and honored the Lord with their wealth, I have also known successful men and women who just were not happy. They liked to have fun but they had no fear of the Lord and their lives hinged on their success or lack of it. Solomon reminds us that it is not our bank account that makes the difference but whether or not we fear the Lord that makes the difference.

Yesterday, the man we have prayed for, Pak Median, went to be with the Lord. In his life, this man was extremely successful and highly respected. Yet he died. At death, a few things matter: 1. Did the person who died fear the Lord and place his faith in Christ to bring him to God? 2. Did the person who died love his family and those around him so that in death he is remembered as a good man? I have seldom heard people at funerals talk about how much money one made. At that point, as is true in all of life, what matters is whether or not they knew the Lord and lived for Him.

If you are pursuing wealth, pursue the fear of the Lord first. If you are pursuing good meals and good things, pursue love first. Wealth can enhance love or wealth can expose the lack of it.

 

Please pray for Patrick and his brothers and sister and mother as they go through three very full days of people coming by. In this culture, the casket is at the home and people come by throughout the day and night. The burial will be tomorrow, Saturday.

We gather at church today at 11:45 for our Friday prayer time. Do stop by and join us.

Pray for Sunday as all of prepare our hearts to gather around the Word of the Lord. We need God’s truth opened to our hearts and lives so that our faith may increase and our knowledge of God will lead us throughout our lives.

Thank you for your prayers this week.

Have a great day in the Lord,

PS

A Merry Heart and a Cheerful Face

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Proverbs 15

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.

We all understand the sorrow of heart that can break someone’s spirit. Either it has happened to us or we have seen it in a story. Sorrow leads to hopelessness and then someone’s spirit is broken; they become a walking shell. In Proverbs, we have often seen that the mouth of fools feeds on foolishness. This is an interesting use of eating foolishness while also proclaiming or vomiting out foolishness.

What I would like for us to look at today is the first part of verse 13 and the second part of verse 15:

“A merry heart makes a cheerful countenance,” and “he who is of a merry heart has a continual feast.”

Those of you who know my father, Pastor Bill, know that he was always cheerful. He said it took less muscles to smile than to frown and he taught me that the joy of the Lord is our strength. My dad loved to tell you good news and held his tongue about gossip and people’s problems. When he came in the room, we were happy and glad he was there. According to today’s verse, my dad had a cheerful face because he had a merry heart. When our hearts are full, content, and filled with joy, our faces will be cheerful, our words will be edifying, and our overall demeanor will reflect the joy of the Lord

The second part speaks to a continual feast that is enjoyed by those who have a merry heart. When we are joyful, almost everyone else is uplifted and our joy is fed day by day. When our hearts are merry, that is, they are joy-filled and overflowing, those who come around us feed on our joy and we feed on theirs. We never go hungry in our souls for the joy of the Lord is both given out and received in return.

Is your heart merry today? Do those who know you enjoy you because you bring joy with you every time? Meditate today on the goodness of God that brought you to repentance, then meditate on the love of God that saved you knowing that you would sin again and again until you die. Rejoice in God’s mercies that are new every morning and thank God with one another, then, your heart will enjoy a continual feast.

 

Yesterday was a good day of opportunities to serve the Lord and His kingdom. I mentioned my lunch appointment and God gave me great freedom to talk to this young dating couple about Him, forgiveness of sin, and the fulness of Christ. Pray for their eternal salvation.

Later in the day I met a missionary here named Jonathan and we went out looking for people to talk to about the Lord. We found one man who was not interested in a conversation about sin. The next young man listened to the gospel message but could not accept the Bible as his authority. We left him with some videos on a flash drive. Pray for God to bring this young man to Himself.

Have a great day in the Lord,

PS

Correction accepted or Correction rejected?

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Proverbs 15

10 Stern discipline awaits anyone who leaves the path;

the one who hates correction will die.

11 Death and Destruction lie open before the Lord—

how much more do human hearts!

12 Mockers resent correction,

so they avoid the wise.

The most difficult times of parenting might be when parents need to discipline their children. True discipline is both fair and painful while inflicting pain on your child is so hard to do. This section looks at those who reject instruction and find themselves under the stern discipline of God and of men. In Hebrews 12 we read that those whom the Lord loves He corrects like a father who delights in his son and corrects him for his own good. Discipline is not a hateful act but a loving act. Discipline is the desire of those inflicting it to change the heart and the path of the one who is going astray.

One of the more painful realizations of life is that there are people who hate correction. They mock the truth and seem to always run toward more and more rebellion. They avoid people of wisdom because they neither want their wisdom nor do they want their rebuke. And while I have known many mockers who resented correction, that same desire has also been in my own heart and I find the need to fight against it. You see, none of us likes correction, especially when we think we did it right. But correction is a necessary part of life.

The 11th verse provides a very interesting point in the middle of two verses about correction. Everything is before, or in front of, the eyes of the Lord. When we do well, God sees it. When we don’t do well, God sees it. In fact, God sees us from the cradle to the grave and everywhere in-between. So when we deserve correction God knows that we need it and God knows how we receive it. Let’s work at being people who receive the correction that we need and even thank those who correct us for caring enough to give us instruction on the way of life.

 

Yesterday, I invited you to view the sermon on 1 John 5:21 by clicking the link below. The link wasn’t working and the sermon was not posted yet. I think we have fixed all of that now so you should be able to click the link and go to the church website’s sermon page. This sermon was on idolatry itself while next Sunday’s message will be on how to overcome idols of the heart.

 If you would like to hear Sunday’s  message go to:  https://sites.google.com/jibc.or.id/jibc/sermons?authuser=0 
If you are in Indonesia the link is:

https://sites.google.com/jibc.or.id/jibc/sermons

 Whom are you praying to come to Christ? I am meeting a man today whose faith I am not sure of. Look for people to care about for Jesus’ sake. Love them and point them to the Savior.

 

Have a great day in the Lord,

PS