Month: September 2019

Humility first

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Proverbs 18

12 Before destruction the heart of a man is haughty,

And before honor is humility.

Proverbs 15

33 The fear of the Lord is instruction in wisdom,

and humility comes before honor.

1 Peter 5:5 & James 4:6

“God resists the proud,

But gives grace to the humble.”

Can we agree today that pride is our enemy? Every time it sticks up its ugly head, pride gets between us and God. Every time I absorb the praise of men or take credit alone for my work, I am in sin for not reflecting the glory to Whom it belongs. Pride, our desire to be better than someone else, to prove ourselves worthy, or to make others think better of us, is something to fight against every day.

Notice that the Proverbs verses do not tell us that we cannot have honor, they tell us not to seek honor but to seek humility. It is the humble person who quietly does their job well, who does not seek the praise of others, but knows what they need to do and without fanfare, just does it. In humility, we might never be recognized for our work, but we know it is important and that we are doing it first for the Lord.

We need to look at Joseph who did his job for Potiphar and then did his job for the prison warden. Joseph was a slave with a vision of God’s purpose for his life. Joseph could never attain that purpose as a slave, but he consistently did what was in front of him in places of great humility. There were no gifts, no ceremonies, and no apparent purpose for his work, but he worked anyway. In the end, we see that God was preparing Joseph in humility to serve Him with great honor.

Whatever we do today, let us do it as to the Lord not unto men knowing that we are serving the Lord Jesus Christ. This is not our job, our work, or our projects, they are the Lord’s and we are serving Him. In the end, the more humbly we serve the more God will raise us up to where He wants us.

True safety or imagined safety?

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Proverbs 18

10 The name of the Lord is a strong tower;

The righteous run to it and are safe.

11 The rich man’s wealth is his strong city,

And like a high wall in his own esteem.

Where do we go for refuge in life? Do we go to places of our own making, places that have made us feel good in the past or to people that have made us feel good? In today’s Scripture we find two places to run for safety, the Lord or our own accomplishments.   In verse 11 we can find all types of “high walls of our own esteem.”   The NIV puts it this way, “The wealth of the rich is their fortified city; they imagine it a wall too high to scale.” When we erect walls to protect ourselves, we imagine, we esteem them impenetrable and go hide behind them.

Where do we go for refuge in life? Do we go to places designed by our own imagination, places that give us a false peace? Wealth can take wings and fly away. A bad investment, a major health problem, a job loss, a day in court, a broken down car, a house repair issue, money can take wings and the protection we thought it would provide leaves us exposed. Friends can turn against us; I am reading the book of Job right now and am astounded at the brutal attacks of his “friends” who came to see him. Secret places can be found and developed, favorite songs and movies can fall short. All the places of refuge that we create are places of imagined safety.

“The name of the Lord is a strong tower.”

Psalm 61

1 Hear my cry, O God;

Attend to my prayer.

2 From the end of the earth I will cry to You,

When my heart is overwhelmed;

Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.

3 For You have been a shelter for me,

A strong tower from the enemy.

4 I will abide in Your tabernacle forever;

I will trust in the shelter of Your wings.

David knew where to run and found safety in the Lord’s strong tower. Solomon knew that the name of the Lord was the best place to find protection. When we need a place to run, let us run to the strong tower of the Lord’s Word, His peaceful presence is a place of comfort, of wisdom and understanding, a protected place where we find the Prince of peace.

 

Our family is thankful today for God’s care. Justin came home safely from his teaching in Kenya, Bobbi and Stefani got home safely from their Visa run to Singapore, and all of us, including Ben and Steve, found God’s strength to proclaim His word in church on Sunday. We humbly thank the Lord for His riches to do His work.

As I am preaching through the book of Colossians, I opened a New Testament hymn in Colossians 1:15-20. You would enjoy taking time to read and think through this hymn of exaltation of Christ. There are twelve statements identifying the Lord Jesus in these six verses. I wish we knew the tune they used and were able to sing it with the early church. Lift up Christ this week; He draws people to Himself when He is lifted up.

Have a great day in the Lord,

PS

 

 

Selfish words, the destruction of fools

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Proverbs 18

6 A fool’s lips enter into contention,

And his mouth calls for blows.

7 A fool’s mouth is his destruction,

And his lips are the snare of his soul.

8 The words of a talebearer are like tasty trifles,

And they go down into the inmost body.

James 3:2  For we all stumble in many things. If anyone does not stumble in word, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle the whole body.

When the Bible talks a lot about a particular subject, it must have been a needed topic. Think about it, the first recorded human conversation was a man using his words to attack his wife and his God. Genesis 3:12  Then the man said, “The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I ate.” From then on, mankind has used words to attack each other. God had to command people to be kind to each other, to treat each other right. Our sinfulness seeks ways to use words to get around our sin, to justify it, or to blame it on someone else.

Today’s verse says that a fool’s mouth is his destruction. While we think we are justifying ourselves, in actuality, we are destroying ourselves. Every time we use our mouths to blame-shift, to attack, to get our way, to cut down, and to gossip, we are hurting ourselves the most. People who always talk about others end up alone. Their mouth becomes their greatest enemy.

The warning is obvious, as children of God, blood-bought joint-heirs with Christ, we are not to be like the fools of this world. Our words are to be kind, tenderhearted, forgiving, and edifying. Our words are to be prayerful and filled with comfort. At times our words need to be corrective but never in anger or in bitterness. When correcting our words should be filled with love and compassion for the one we are correcting (and we correct others only after we have removed the beam from our own eye).

The greatest way to use our words is to use them to exalt the Savior, to lift Him up in this world. When we use our words for Christ, we will find great fulfillment as givers of life instead of takers of life. We can be faithful to our new Father when we use our words to show Him to those who hear us.

 

It is hard to believe that it is Friday already. Where do the weeks go? I am preparing a message from Colossians 1:15-20 and have been amazed to see twelve different descriptions of Christ in these six verses. In Colossians, Christ is exalted over and over. This section was probably a hymn of praise to Christ that was sung in the first century. When we sing praise to our Savior, we are joining the saints of the past two thousand years. Yes, Christ is worthy.

 Our little nephew seems to be healing a bit ahead of schedule. We are thankful. He is still wired up and has IV’s in him. He looks quite pitiful. Keep his parents, Shawn and Suzanna, in your prayers too.

Pray for Sunday, for all who will be serving the Lord and His kingdom. Pray for those coming that Satan will be defeated and that God’s power will be made known.

 Have a great day in the Lord,

PS

 

 

Wisdom flows from a manly man

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Proverbs 18

4 The words of a man’s mouth are deep waters;

The wellspring of wisdom is a flowing brook.

In Proverbs the type of person is often defined by an adjective such as, the wise man or the foolish man. However, in this proverb the man is “a man.” When I was growing up, a manly man was good man. A manly man stood up for his family and for his country. A manly man was not ashamed of his faith and served God boldly in his church. When a manly man spoke, he was speaking from a place of wisdom and of strength. This is the type of man that Solomon is speaking of here.

When a man of wisdom and strength speaks he should be listened to and his words should be considered. He is speaking from experience and from study and from the fear of the Lord. I have heard words of great wisdom from men who were not elders nor deacons but had value in their words. While the writers of today’s comedy and cartoons want to degrade men, the words of Solomon still ring true. Men without character who are filled with selfishness are not men of wisdom. Foolish men are not filled with wisdom. These are not the men this proverb is referring to.

 

When someone speaks words of wisdom, they are speaking from a continual source. A person of wisdom is not like a fortune teller who might get it right once in a while; no, a person of wisdom is like a flowing brook of fresh water, their wisdom continues. In a day when true godly wisdom seems to be a rare commodity, let us both seek people of wisdom and let us become people of godly wisdom, people whom, when we speak, wisdom flows from like deep waters out of our mouths.

 

Bobbi’s nephew’s son came through his heart surgery well. They are in a waiting period now to see how well his little body responds to this surgery. Keep praying for Shawn and his wife and their little son to know the closeness of the hand of God upon them.  

The world is in an uproar. From Great Britain to Jakarta to Hong Kong, to the United States, to Venezuela, to north African countries, to Iran and to Saudi Arabia, and more, the world is in an uproar. As we watch and read the news, we must cry out more to the Prince of Peace to work His work in the hearts of men and women everywhere. God always has been and always will be in control shaping human events to accomplish His eternal plan. Pray now for the safety of God’s people and for the furtherance of the gospel amidst all the turmoil.

Have a great day in the Lord

PS

Be humble, let others help with your ideas

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Proverbs 18

1 A man who isolates himself seeks his own desire;

He rages against all wise judgment.

2 A fool has no delight in understanding,

But in expressing his own heart.

3 When the wicked comes, contempt comes also;

And with dishonor comes reproach.

Today we learn an important lesson about those around us. When a man or a woman seek their own desires, they rage against wisdom, they have no delight in understanding, and they feel the constant need to express their own heart’s desires (remember that the heart of man is evil). When evil men and women come, contempt comes with them as they dishonor all righteousness, especially those who love righteousness.

Before coming to Indonesia, I subscribed to the Chicago Tribune online. Most days I will review the paper to get Chicago and US news. The writers for this newspaper hate righteous people, despise anyone who stands for godliness, and mock all who uphold the Bible as a rule for life. It is frustrating to read all articles with a leaning toward those who seek their own desire as they rage against wise judgment. As these writers express their own hearts, their determination against godly wisdom show in their contemptuous words and accusations. They are so frustrating to read that I seldom complete a whole article.

We too must be careful not isolate ourselves to our own ideas. We should follow the example of the wisdom seekers in Proverbs 2 who seek for wisdom as for hidden treasure and seek understanding as one might seek silver and gold. We can have good ideas but remember this, good ideas are made better when refined. We must not rage against wise judgment as we seek to float our own ideas. Instead, we are better off seeking godly wisdom from others and allowing our ideas to percolate with theirs thus improving ours.

In the multitude of counsellors there is safety. A fool rejects anyone else’s ideas for the fulfillment of his or her own. Show wisdom and let others help with the good thoughts of your head and of your heart.

 

We are all thankful for the working of the Lord on our behalf. Yesterday was another great day in the house of the Lord, and I am thankful for everyone who worked so hard to bring us together with order and peace. From the nursery to the sound board all who worked did so to the glory of God and for the flow of the service. We rejoice with Purity and with Zachary and Lia as we dedicated with them their child to the Lord. Remember church, we are a part of these children’s lives also. Let us commit to showing them love and godly wisdom.

Please pray for our nephew Shawn’s baby today. Sometime around 9:00 EST, this little one is going in for heart surgery. He is just a few days old and was born with a heart defect. Pray with the family for wisdom for the surgeon as well as quick healing for this little boy.

 Have a great day in the Lord
PS

Outward signs of wisdom within – talk less

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Proverbs 17
27 He who has knowledge spares his words,
And a man of understanding is of a calm spirit.
28 Even a fool is counted wise when he holds his peace;
When he shuts his lips, he is considered perceptive.
The more we know the less we need to say and the more we understand the less we come to anger. Keeping our mouth shut can sometimes make others think we have wisdom and perception.

We talk too much. We don’t hold our peace and shut our lips enough. No wonder we are not considered people of great wisdom. The more I talk the more I need to justify what I have said. The less I talk the more I give others the opportunity to be understood. The more I understand the calmer I remain while the less I understand the quicker I am to be angry. A respectable person is respected because they remain calm in the face of trouble, they shut their lips instead of adding to the trouble with their words.

Maybe you have been on the other side of this, perhaps you are the one who can’t ever get a word in. I had a deacon one time who spoke so seldom that when he did speak every one else stopped to hear what he had to say. It was as if we respected him for his silence and his few words were heavily weighted.

“Lord, may we grow into people of greater knowledge and of greater understanding so we can be people of fewer words and of a calm spirit in every situation. May we be under the Holy Spirit’s control so that we can hold our peace in every situation so that the foolishness of our souls will be hidden in your controlling quietness.”
As we prepare for Sunday, let us pray one for another and for those who will be serving us in the house of the Lord, His church. Pray for them to see personal spiritual victories and for them to be growing in grace and knowledge so that when they stand in front we will see more of Christ and less of them. Pray for their study time to be profitable and their rehearsals to be worshipful. Pray that God will bring those He wants to be in His house. On my way in this morning, a man in the street stopped me by name and told me he would be in church on Sunday. His name is Yonnie. Pray for Yonnie and others like him whose hearts God is stirring to come to church and to Himself.

Have a great day in the Lord,

PS

Never stop praying for them

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Proverbs 17

25 A foolish son is a grief to his father,

And bitterness to her who bore him.

During our years at Victory Homes, we saw many grieving and bitter parents. The rebellion of their own sons brought them great and continual pain. The word ‘grief’ in this proverb is the same grief that one has when a loved one dies. The difference is that the grief of death gets weaker over time while the grief of a rebellious son or daughter is a grief that does not go away. A mother suffers with bitterness of soul wondering why God let her give birth to a child who would despise her instruction. I have come to understand that a rebellious child is one of life’s greatest pains.

As we think about this today, I would like to draw us to greater prayer for all of our children. The enemies of this life, the world, the flesh, and all of the powers of darkness, want our children. The world calls out to their flesh nearly every waking hour. They are being called to accept all types of evil as normal, they are being called to fleshly experiments that can make the flesh feel good for a while, and they are being called to do all of this to the rejection of the truth that they have learned and seen in church and at home. Yes, our children need our parenting and yes, they really need our prayers as they are in a daily spiritual battle for their very souls.

All to often we try to logically talk to our children in hopes that we can convince them to do the right things with the right friends. May I suggest that we talk less and that we pray more. I learned early on that parental control is an illusion. My children had wills and plans of their own as they grew up. While I could be an influence, I was not in control of them. In prayer, we ask God to be in control of our children praying that they will listen to Him. We pray that the Word of God that they know will be a lamp to their feet and a light to their path. We pray that the temptations they give in to will not satisfy and will not lead them astray. We pray that the sins they give in to will not leave life-long scars. We pray that the truth of God will be the truth that they seek and the voice that they listen to.

We love our children differently than anyone else does for we birthed them, cared for them, fed them, educated them, took them on vacations, invested in their skills, and have prayed for them since birth. We are more invested in them than anyone else can be. We must continue protecting them in prayer for them. We pray because God calls us to. We pray because God loves them more than we do. We pray because we love them and want God’s best, not our best, for them. We pray for their eternal salvation which we know is God’s desire for them. 2 Peter 3:9 God is not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. You may be a grieving or bitter parent today; never stop praying for your child(ren) to hear and to surrender to the voice of God Almighty, their eternal Father who is mighty to save.

 

Shawn Alexander Jr and his wife gave birth to Stratford Emmanual Alexander. Little “Strad” will have surgery this week to repair his aortic valve and to seek to bring his heart to normal. Strad is healthy in all other areas. We continue to pray for God to bring His healing hand to Strad’s little body.

 Have a great day in the Lord,
PS