Month: August 2019
24 Pleasant words are like a honeycomb,
Sweetness to the soul and health to the bones.
25 There is a way that seems right to a man,
But its end is the way of death.
Before we think about verse 25, which many of us have heard throughout our lives as something to avoid, notice first the contrast between the end of 24 and the end of 25. It is no coincidence that Solomon put these two together to cause us to pay attention. Notice then the contrast: “Sweetness to the soul and health to the bones” against “But the end is the way of death.” What we see is life and death in the balance. Life, meaning a soul at peace and a body that is strong verses the way, the path, the road, the jalan, that leads to death.
People today seem to talk about mistakes they made, about a failed relationship or something that cost them more than they anticipated. People don’t talk in the absolute terms of life and death. It seems that Solomon, directed by God’s Holy Spirit, wants us to think more seriously about our words and about our choices. Do we even know how to define, “sweetness to the soul?” When was the last time you talked about something that was sweet to your soul? If we think about this for a moment, we might think about something or someone who makes us feel good, who when they leave we are glad they stopped to see us; or, we might think of a really good time with someone.
On the contrary, when someone is making right choices, using pleasant words, and overall are careful with their life and with ours, we enjoy that person and just like to be with them. We say that those people are good for us. On the other hand are those who do what seems right to them, that is, they don’t care much about the consequences to themselves or those with them. They make decisions quickly without advice. They might even pride themselves in being a quick thinker. But they are not enjoyable, we don’t look forward to being with them. The path they are on is leading to their pain and maybe to ours. No, we don’t leave them with sweetness in our soul and with health in our bones but with a pit in our stomach and an ache in our life.
So, yes, these are life and death issues. We don’t just make mistakes; we hold our very lives in our hands and the paths we chose take us places whether we like them or not. Choose wisely.
There are times in life when everything is crystal clear. I remember watching families who were standing on the ruins of their home and town saying, “We are thankful we still have each other.” This week was one of those weeks for our family. As events unfolded, we had each other. When we had a need, Christian brothers and sisters stepped up. Never forget that people are people and that stuff is stuff. Stuff can be replaced, people we love cannot. No, there were no health emergencies, don’t worry, just God working on us to draw us closer to Himself in greater humility and reliance.
Have a great day in the Lord,
16 How much better to get wisdom than gold!
And to get understanding is to be chosen rather than silver.
17 The highway of the upright is to depart from evil;
He who keeps his way preserves his soul.
This timeless truth has been proven throughout history in every generation of mankind. The man next to me on the airplane was watching a movie I had never seen entitled, “The Wolf of Wall Street.” Though I could not hear the words the plot was evident, an extremely rich man gives his new wife incredible stuff, a yacht, a mansion, world travel, and more. She is elated over the gift. However, as the story continued there were problems in their marriage, problems with their friends, ultimately problems with the Law and more. I fell asleep and did not see how it ended but it seemed to make the point that they had riches but not wisdom and understanding about what was important in life.
While this seems to be an extreme example it is evidence that the world knows the importance of wisdom in life. We all agree that when we have the love of family and friends we are rich in this life. But then we see something we want or a financial goal we would like and, if we are not careful, we can sacrifice what is of less importance for that which is of more importance. In the end, we regret our choices and so do those whom we love. Wisdom is better than the riches of gold and getting understanding is better than choosing mountains of silver.
When we get this, we will know the highway of the upright which enables us to travel above the way of the evil of this world. Evil is everywhere, but following God’s righteousness enables us, as it were, to fly above the filth. When we keep ourselves on the right road, we make the righteous turns, we will preserve our way, that is, we will live to protect our soul from all of that evil. We understand the idea of choosing the right road. The wrong road can lead us to time wasted, opportunities lost, and more.
Seek God’s wisdom more than gold and silver and find His highways your travelling place above the mess of those rejecting God’s instructions.
Throughout my life, God has shown me over and over that when I fully rely on Him that He is the faithful One who has all that I need and will do His will when I entrust all to Him. The Lord has shown Himself powerful throughout the Old Testament narratives, in the New Testament church, throughout history, and in my life. I thank God today for His power that works in us when we live to submit ourselves to Him and to His best.
I enjoyed Sunday’s message on “The Church, A Spiritual Hospital.” And while we want to provide all who come with the hope and the plan for healing that they need, there are times that every church member comes to the church as a patient in need of spiritual healing. Pray with me that JIBC will be known as a place of spiritual healing for all people. Ask the Lord to give us a vision of this and a heart to really help the hurting of this life
Sunday morning, I announced that a group from Elsafon School for the Blind was coming September 15th. They called us and asked if they could come the 8th instead. So, as you plan to invite people, we have a week less to plan this.
Have a great day in the Lord,
12 It is an abomination for kings to commit wickedness,
For a throne is established by righteousness.
13 Righteous lips are the delight of kings,
And they love him who speaks what is right.
As long as there has been society there has been rulers, kings, presidents, chiefs, and so forth. We are not the first society to struggle with our national leadership nor will we be the last. As Christians, it can be difficult to have the right perspective on the government. Over 3,000 years ago, King Solomon gave us this advice about our rulers.
As the king of a city or of an empire, righteousness is befitting the office. When we think of kings of history who were wicked, we use terms like “barbaric” or “evil.” A wicked king would be one who used his power for his own good, to increase his own bank account to satisfy his own fleshly desires. Unfortunately, history is filled with such kings. When governments have been ruled in wickedness the people get weary of it and look for a way to overthrow it.
On the other hand, when a king is righteous and treats his people with righteousness for their good, that king’s rule is established, secure, and even prosperous. Solomon was a good and righteous king who established his kingdom, at least for a while. His son, Rehoboam, was a wicked king who was considered an abomination by ten tribes who rebelled against his wickedness and his authority.
Furthermore, when a king speaks in righteousness, that is, his words are peace, and kindness, and respect, that king will bring delight to the people that he is governing over. A ruler who uses his words carefully and right will be loved by those he governs.
We do not need to look to far into history to find these proverbs to be true. When we, as Christ-followers, struggle with our government leaders, it will be because they are not righteous in their words nor in their actions. The further the government leaders stray from God’s righteousness, the more abominable they become. We do have instructions on this in the NT:
1 Timothy 2: 1 Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, 2 for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. 3 For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, 4 who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.
We are called to pray for our government authorities so that we may lead quiet and peaceable lives and that they may come to know the Lord as Savior. This is the Christ-follower attitude toward government and its leaders.
It is Friday again and we are in preparation time for Sunday. Join us today for prayer at 11:45 as we seek God’s face together. Gather with other believers this day and pray for your pastor for Sunday school teachers, for musicians and for technical workers in your church. Pray for God to gather with you as you come together under His word and His Spirit this Sunday.
Thank you for your prayers for those I was able to share Christ with this week. The Word was well received, and hearts were definitely softened. Continue to pray with me for clarity of understanding that will bring these dear people to faith in Christ alone as their eternal Savior form their sins.
Have a great day in the Lord
A man’s heart plans his way,
But the Lord directs his steps.
Oh, how often this has come true. We make big plans, work hard to think it all through, do all that we can to make sure the details are in place, and then God stops the whole thing. We try again to push open the closed door and once again find that the Lord had directed our steps in another direction. At that moment we cannot see the hand of God and just wish something would work, but later we look back and see that God was kind to us and protected us by directing our steps another way.
The difficulty of that moment is to stop trying to make our plan work. In our humanity, our emotion, our logic, and even our pride, we have committed to this plan of action. Others have shared their excitement and are looking to us to make it work. To stop trying is to be embarrassed and shamed and to let down others. But if God is clearly stopping us, we had better pay attention and stop.
We had a friend we grew up with who brought home a boy friend that her parents did not trust. She was in love with him and was convinced that her parents were just being too strict. The parents gave in out of fear of losing their daughter for good. Within weeks of the wedding the new husband became abusive and his abuse escalated until she left him. God tried to stop her, but she did not want to be stopped. We all grieved that year as our friend got so hurt.
There have been items I have wanted to buy, figured out how I could buy it, researched buying it and told friend I was going to buy it. But when I talked to Bobbi, she brought in different perspectives to show me wisdom I had not considered. To push forward against wisdom is foolish but it is what I wanted to do because I wanted it.
When we make plans, we need to include God and His wisdom in the plans. If during the plans God closes the door then we need to be OK with God closing that door. We make plans, God directs our lives. By faith we give in to God and follow His leading for His glory and for our good.
1 Corinthians 14:33 For God is not the author of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints.
Thank you for your prayers yesterday for my meeting with a local businessman. God opened up the conversation to talk openly about faith, sin, repentance, and Christ the sacrifice for our sin. Because of prosperity gospel preachers, this man had turned his heart against Christianity thinking that all Christian churches just wanted your money. Pray for the Word sown to bring fruit to repentance.
I am meeting a family at lunch today whose mom has cancer. Pray again as we talk about the Lord and faith in Him that this family will be open. They too have been victims of the prosperity gospel and struggle with Christianity in that form.
A young lady who grew up in our church and was often in our home contacted me yesterday with concern for a young man in her life. Pray for A to open his heart to Christ.
I have personal request that I ask prayer for. God knows. Please join with me in this matter.
Have a great day in the Lord,
When a man’s ways please the Lord,
He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.
In reading the words of another, it is important to understand what that person meant as they wrote. In order to understand writing, a basic knowledge of the sentence structure is helpful. In this sentence we find that the subject of the first phrase is ‘man’ and the subject of the second phrase is ‘He.’ Since ‘he’ is a pronoun we need to know who the pronoun refers to in order to understand the meaning. This is especially important since the second phrase has three pronouns all referring to someone in the first phrase. In order to help understanding, let’s replace the pronouns with the proper noun: “When a man’s ways please the Lord, the Lord makes even the man’s enemies to be at peace with the man.”
This verse is often used in counselling to discuss a husband or a wife or a fellow church member that someone is not getting along with. The instruction is not that we try harder to get along with one another for that often ends in frustration and failure. No, the instruction is that we seek to please the Lord. In counselling, the person asking is usually looking for something they can do differently or for the counsellor to talk to the other person and to tell them to get along better. But that is not what the Scriptures teach.
Pleasing the Lord with our lives is our first and our highest calling. In order to please the Lord, we need to learn from His word that which He loves and that which He hates. We then learn to love those things that God loves and to strive to avoid those things that God hates. Our life goal, because we have been saved by God’s grace, is to live to please the Lord who saved us. Galatians 2:20, Romans 12:1-2, and 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 speak to living this life for the Lord.
Solomon then is telling us that when pleasing God is our goal, God will make even our enemies to be at peace with us. Here is the picture: imagine a scale of 1-10 with 1 being your enemies and 10 being those you love. When you live to please the Lord, God will make even those at the 1 level, even your enemies, and all others also, to be at peace with you. God takes the responsibility of making those around you to live at peace with you when you make pleasing God your priority.
Today and tomorrow I have two appointments to talk with people about the Lord. Pray for the Lord to open these conversations to bring about His love, conviction of sin, repentance and justification by faith. These are people I have come to know, have met with before, and am looking forward to pointing them to the Savior.
I went to see Ryiha’s father last night. He is pretty banged up but is not hospitalized. He is a brother in Christ. Pray with him for quick healing from the Lord.
Have a great day in the Lord,
6 In mercy and truth
Atonement is provided for iniquity;
And by the fear of the Lord one departs from evil.
Having grown up in church, there was a time in my life when people’s testimonies of God’s salvation were hard to understand. They talked of lifetimes of sin and wickedness and then of God’s mercy and truth atoning their sins and justifying them before the Father. As a young teenager, these did not make much sense to me except to make me wish that I somehow had a testimony like theirs. Being a Sunday school kid from the cradle roll forward, the only real “sin” that I could identify with was a little stealing, a lot of lying, and a fair amount of lust.
Later in life I began to realize just how far from God I was; hearing His call one Sunday I surrendered my heart and my sin to Jesus Christ. But it was still several years later that I understood the testimonies of those saved out of great sin. Eventually I understood how much sin I really was capable of and I began to understand that God did not just save me from my childhood sinfulness but from the sinfulness and even the sinful potential of my whole life.
God, in mercy and truth, provided atonement for the iniquity, not only of the first 13 years of my life but for the next 47 years of my life and beyond. Yes, God saved me from what I could have done, but God also saved me from what I would do. He who knew all of my sin, past and future, called me to himself to save me from every sin of every day of my life until He would take me into His sinless presence. Now, I too have a testimony of God saving me from great sin by His mercy, truth and grace. God in love reached down through time and loved me; while knowing all of the sin that I would ever commit or would wish to commit, He called me to Himself to eternally atone for my sins.
Thank you for your prayers for yesterday’s service here. In my weakness God spoke to us through His word and challenged us to be a better family under His fatherhood. When the church functions as a healthy family should we grow, we are secure, we solve problems, we face trials, and we love one another as brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers should. I pray that our church will have this family love for years and generations to come.
Pray with us for Rhiya’s father who was a passenger on a motorcycle and was in an accident yesterday. Pray for them to find the care that they need and for his healing.
Bobbi and Stefani and Jared enjoyed being at Grace for Life yesterday. Our church family there are so gracious and loving to us. We will ever be thankful for our years of serving the Lord together in Naperville.
Have a great day in the Lord,
3 Commit your works to the Lord,
And your thoughts will be established.
According to modern counsellors, you are to think right to do right. But here we read that in order to think right, we have to act right. Have you ever tried to think right when you were doing something wrong? Whenever we feed the flesh, that is, we are actively acting in sin, our thoughts are not righteous; they cannot be. In my days of working with drug addicts, whenever someone was actively drinking or drugging they were unreasonable. You could not bring their minds to a good place when they were feeding their flesh. All sin is like this. When we are actively in sin we cannot and do not think right.
Solomon teaches us to commit our works to the Lord first. This means that we are to act right first. We do not just try to do better, no, we are to commit, fully submit our works to the Lord. In submission to the Word and the Spirit we will make right choices regarding our actions. When our actions are committed to the Lord then we will begin to think right. In other words, Solomon was right. Commit your works to the Lord and then your thoughts will be established in righteousness.
So much of human thinking is a struggle. Philippians 4:8 tells us to think about those things that are true, honest, just, pure, lovely, and of a good report, those things that are praiseworthy, think on these things. As we commit our works to the Lord then we will be able to think right. Think about this for a while. Commit your works to the Lord and then your thoughts will be established.
Friends, this has been an interesting three weeks for us. We left Jakarta and flew to Taipai, and then went on to San Francisco where we met Ben and drove up to Lincoln, California. We spent a week in California with our sons Ben and Justin, their wives, Anna and Katelyn, and their children Emily and Josiah; Joel, Hudson, Owen, and Carson. We then flew to Chicago to spend a week there with our son Steven and his wife Rachel and their children Hadessah, Elianna, Steven, David, and Amira. It was a special joy to have Caleb and his wife Lindsey join us at Steve’s for a couple of days. We were able to see some friends from our church in Naperville, but only a few. Bobbi, Stefani and Jared are staying there for two more weeks and will go to church at Grace for Life next Sunday. After Chicago I flew to Philadelphia to see my dad and mom who are now living with my sister Dawn and her husband John. On Sunday we had a special treat of a family get together where I was able to see Dawn and John’s adult kids, Deborah, Johnny, Nathan, James and Wendy. Their spouses and kids were there making Sunday quite special. On Wednesday, the 14th, Bobbi and my 38th anniversary, I boarded a plane at JFK airport in New York to travel to Doha, Qatar and then to go on to Jakarta, my new home. Like I said, this has been an interesting three weeks. I am scheduled to land in Jakarta at 9:00PM on Thursday. Our first Sunday out we went to Steven’s church, First Baptist of Big Rock, and then the next Sunday I went with my parents to John and Dawn’s church, Grace Church of Philly. This Sunday I will be back with my church family at JIBC and am looking forward to being back with them.
My parents are doing well, for being 88 years old. Dad told me about a time after his senior summer of high school when the White Sox manager invited him to get signatures, meet the players and come into the dugout. He had never told me this before. He has always been a huge White Sox fan and now I know a little more as to why. He is facing an aortic valve replacement in the next couple of weeks. Mom is doing well and Dawn is doing a great job keeping track of all meds, medical visits, therapy sessions, meals, catheter and more. I am thankful for her and John’s commitment to our parents health and well being.
I will post some pictures later.
Thursday night I landed in Jakarta and got home around midnight. After a good night’s sleep I feel great and am looking forward to getting ready for Sunday. I will be bringing a message on the Church, the Family of God. Pray that our church will grow into a close-knit spiritual family as we focus on God’s desire for His family.
Have a great day in the Lord,