Month: October 2019

Honorable people stop a quarrel

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Proverbs 20:3 (NKJV)

3 It is honorable for a man to stop striving,

Since any fool can start a quarrel.

Proverbs 20:3 (NIV)

It is to one’s honor to avoid strife,

but every fool is quick to quarrel.

Why is it that strife and quarrels can come up so quickly? I can be having a great day and a quarrel comes out of nowhere. I did not ask for it, I did not do anything wrong, yet BAM, here comes a quarrel. Now, I wish I could tell you that I always react honorably and avoid strife thus stopping the quarrel; unfortunately, I don’t want to be in the wrong and trying to justify myself thus prolongs the quarrel.

Can we act honorably in those moments? Can we avoid the strife and avoid the quarrel? Apparently we can because that is what Solomon is telling us is honorable. When a ship loses the wind that fills its sails it stops moving, when we act in honor and with wisdom, we can take the wind out of the sails of the quarrel and watch it come to a stop.

The next time a quarrel begins, words are said that make you want to defend yourself, look to God for wisdom, ask Him for the soft answers that turn away anger, use His words, be humble, and watch the quarrel come to a quick end. It takes two to tango, as the saying goes, and it takes two to argue. When one refuses to dance there is no dance, and when one refuses to quarrel, there is no quarrel.

 

In our time here we have met different store employees. Last night, two Informa employees came to dinner and brought a husband and a boyfriend. It was delightful evening as we ate, played some games, watched some of Jared’s favorite music, looked at pictures, and got to know each other. The young ladies spoke a little English and the men not any. It always makes for a fun time of trying to understand each other. Keep praying with us for open hearts and lives.

 November 9th at JIBC we are hosting a night of praise and worship. We are starting at 6:00pm and will be singing, reading Scripture and singing some more. If you play an instrument and would like to join the musicians, please bring it. If you have favorite songs, we will give opportunity for the audience to chose songs to sing. This is an open service so people from other churches are invited to come and sing praise to God with us. The gospel will be given throughout the service.

Have a great day in the Lord,

PS

Wisdom teaching on alcoholic beverages

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Proverbs 20

1 Wine is a mocker, Strong drink is a brawler,

And whoever is led astray by it is not wise.

The book of Proverbs, as you recall, is a book of wisdom sayings which bring understanding to the simple bringing them from their simplicity to wisdom. This verse of wisdom brings different responses to different people, even within the church. Some of you hold on to this proverb as a good reason not to drink anything alcoholic while others of you will use this verse to remind you never to over-do your alcohol. Whichever side you take, do not miss the point of this wisdom teaching.

A mocker is one who despises wisdom, they scorn that which is righteous. A brawler is a fighter, a person who looks for a reason to fight with another. These two words bring some very vivid pictures to our minds. Wine is given the personality of one who mocks, one who scorns truth. It looks very appealing and can bring some merriment to a difficult day. The flavor of wine comes from grapes that are carefully grown to be made into wine. The alcoholic content is low but it is there. For those who drink wine, the warning is clear, do not be deceived by it. Do not let it lie to you and take you places that you should not go.

The picture of strong drink is one of a fighter, an angry man looking for a fight. Strong drink is that which is intended to make people drunk. We are not to serve strong drink to others. In Proverbs 31:6 we are advised to give strong drink to someone who is dying; for them, it is a sedative. Isaiah 5:11,22 and Habakkuk 2:15 all make strong statements against strong drink and serving it to others.

Yes, Jesus turned water into wine. According to custom, they always mixed their wine with a minimum of seven parts water. Wine both flavored and purified the water. Paul called Timothy to “drink a little wine for your stomach’s sake and for your often sickness.” Wine had a medicinal purpose. But those who wanted to get drunk drank their wine unmixed with an intention for drunkenness which the Scriptures often teach against.

Since we all have propensities for taking things too far, Solomon warned us all about the deceptive and brawling nature of wine and strong drink.

 

Last night Stefani wanted to watch something with Jared that he likes, so we watched “The Tigger Movie.” Jared was all smiles and very thankful for his sister. He had pizza, French fries, and pop. Altogether, this made a good night for Jared.

 Have a great day in the Lord,

PS

When do we stop needing instruction?

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Proverbs 19

25 Strike a scoffer, and the simple will become wary;

Rebuke one who has understanding, and he will discern knowledge.

26 He who mistreats his father and chases away his mother

Is a son who causes shame and brings reproach.

27 Cease listening to instruction, my son,

And you will stray from the words of knowledge.

Each of these proverbs speaks about people who do or do not receive instruction and wise correction. To “strike the scoffer” means to correct with a painful correction. The scoffer will not listen to instruction so he must receive painful correction; when the scoffer is corrected, the simple one, the one without instruction, will pay attention and might change his way.   When a person with understanding is rebuked, he will see the knowledge in the rebuke and will accept it. A son who refuses the instruction of his parents brings shame and reproach to them as he chases them out of his life. When any son stops listening to instruction he will soon stray from the safety of knowledge.

When we buy something with any complexity, it comes with an owner’s manual. For the item to work at its designed capacity we need to consult and follow the owner’s manual. Since we paid for the item and it is supposed to bring us some level of satisfaction, we willingly pay attention to the manual. We can call the Bible “God’s owner’s manual.” As such, it has the instructions that we need to live our lives to their fullest capacity. As an owner’s manual, it only helps when it is picked up, read, and followed.

It has become very clear to me that people do not like instructions. Some men don’t like owner’s manuals as they want to figure it out by themselves. Others take the owner’s manuals very seriously for awhile and then file it away. Unfortunately, we treat God’s owner’s manual much the same way. As complex as life is, we desperately need instructions. Where we go for instructions matters and what we do with those instructions also matters. Let us be people in the “has understanding” category, those who truly seek the instruction of the Lord and do all that we need to do to follow those life-giving instructions.

 

Each Sunday has it’s own personality and yesterday was a day of focusing on people who need the word of God and who need the Lord. Thanks to Phil Fields and his ministry as they have translated the New Testament into modern Bahassa and are working on completion of the Old Testament. Our songs pointed us to Christ and those who need Him and His message of salvation, from Colossians 2:6-8 we focused on the reminder of the day when Christ called us to His salvation. After the service we enjoyed an international lunch together and the church stayed and fellowshipped for a long time. I thank the Lord for JIBC and for His people who gather weekly around the Word and around the fellowship of the body.

 After the message, one young man told me that he has not yet had that “greatest day of his life,” the day of salvation. He said he was on that journey but was not there yet. Pray for this young man this week to know the call of God on His life to salvation. I have asked prayer for Johanna as she fights cancer. Today, she is going to Kuala Lampur for an evaluation and hopefully treatment. Pray for her healing. Pray also for a couple that has contacted me about their marriage. God knows their need and the answer to it. Pray for them as they seek the Lord that they might seek Him in humility together.

 Have a great day in the Lord,
PS

Correction has life-long value

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Proverbs 19

18 Chasten your son while there is hope,

And do not set your heart on his destruction.

19 A man of great wrath will suffer punishment;

For if you rescue him, you will have to do it again.

20 Listen to counsel and receive instruction,

That you may be wise in your latter days.

Have you ever noticed how much of life is being corrected? It begins when we are very small and continues throughout life. This section looks at correction. In verse 18 we are told that there is a time when our children will receive correction; those are the days of hope for them. When parents do not correct their children in the days of hope and then try to correct them in later years, the now grown children don’t listen.

The next verse deals with a man in his anger. When someone lives an angry life, they tend not to take correction. Their anger weaves its way into all parts of their lives. Once anger becomes the ruling characteristic of a person, they will need help, and they will need that help again and again because they won’t take correction.

The third verse reminds us of the our continual need to listen and receive correction. For when we listen to counsel and receive instruction, the latter days of our lives will be better. I have known sweet and godly adults who in their later years remained sweet and godly and humble. I have known angry adults who in their later years were bitter and hard to get along with. How we receive correction in our lives will matter as our lives continue.

Submission is a strange thing. We all know that we are better off when we submit to the Word and the Spirit. Yet all of us have struggles submitting. Notice from these verses that when we submit to correction, to counsel, and to instruction we are the ones better off for it. Correction is not about the person correcting me, no, correction is about how I receive it. May we remain humble and moldable when we need to be corrected.

 

Please pray for one of our church ladies, a sister in Christ who is battling cancer. Johanna has been coming for a few months along with her daughter and her adult son. We have gathered around her as a church and prayed, we have been with her at home and prayed, and her battle continues. Please join with us in prayer for this sister to be eased from her pain and even healed from her cancer to the glory of God alone.

 Have a great day in the Lord,

PS

 

 

 

 

Can we expect repayment when we give to the poor?

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Proverbs 19

17  Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the Lord,

and he will repay him for his deed.

How often does someone in poverty reach out a hand to us for a gift? Growing up around Chicago, I saw the poor every time I went to the city. Later in life we began to minister to drug addicts who told us how much they could make in a day by standing on a street corner with their hand out. Then I began to see every poor person as an addict who would take my hard-earned money to buy awful drugs, so I did not want to give any more. No, that was not fair either. As a pastor, people ask me for money and the church considers giving to their need.

Proverbs 19:17 is our guide for Christian giving to the poor. We learn here that when we give to the poor we are lending our money to the Lord. I once loaned money to a man to buy a car. When the oil light came on the man ignored the warning and destroyed the engine. The man decided not to pay me back for a car that he could no longer use. Yes, I was quite upset but I learned this principle that day. Now, when someone needs money, I give it to them. When they promise to pay me or the church back, I let them know that whether they pay it back or not is on them and that I will never bring it up again. In the end, the Lord takes care of our investment to the poor.

The principle is clearly stated here; when we give to the poor we are lending to the Lord and the repayment is in the Lord’s hands. When we give money away, we are to give it with no conditions and with no strings for we are lending it to the Lord. Our giving is out of love, not obligation, out of need, not because we are supposed to. When we learn to give in love to those in need, we give freely and leave them the responsibility of how they spend it. To some people, I might pay their rent or pay their electric bill without giving them cash, if led to do so, but the repayment is up to the Lord.

You see, my friends, Jesus was a friend to me when I was just a sinner with no love for Him. He gave me His life so that I could live. When I give, I am displaying the love of Christ which at one time I needed to see. Give to the poor, lend to the Lord, and leave it all in His hands. Perhaps we will be able to point those we help to the Giver of all life.

 

As we are in our mission’s emphasis month we are getting to know some of our missionaries. Rene and Juliette are missionaries in Indonesia with Word of Life. Their goal is to reach young people for Christ by getting into schools with the gospel of Christ. Pray for Rene and Juliette to know the open doors of the Lord, to see God’s provision for their Visa and financial needs, so that they can minister Christ here for years to come.

On Sunday, we learned about unity in love and in knowledge. Why is this so hard for the church of Christ? We want to be unified, but we are not always loving with our knowledge. The flip side is that we love careless of knowledge. Pray together church that we may be as united as the cells in our human bodies. We also enjoyed looking at the riches of God in Christ and learned that when we go to our Lord for help that His supply far exceeds our need and that we can expect Him to meet our needs. What a great comfort we have in the riches of God in Christ.

Have a great day in the Lord,

PS

Soul keeping vs. Careless ways

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Proverbs 19
16 He who keeps the commandment keeps his soul,
But he who is careless of his ways will die.

When we were younger, America was considered a “Judeo-Christian” nation. The Ten Commandments were on the walls of courtrooms and in town squares. The rule of law was based on absolutes of right and wrong as defined in the Bible. Keeping the commandment of God was thought to be good for families, good for churches, and even good for society.
But then a shift began where prayer was banned from the public schools, the Bible was not to be taught in the public schools, and all public displays of the Ten Commandments were removed. Before long, the rule of law was based on public opinion instead of the objective Word of God. Situation ethics was taught as God’s absolutes were put aside. Right and wrong became fuzzy and was subjected to the upbringing, emotions, and feelings of the people in the culture.
We have watched a shift from those who keep the commandments, to the keeping of their souls, to a world that is careless of the ways of their lives. Ironically, divorce rates, depression, and suicides have dramatically increased. While the world has turned away from God’s commandments, they have come much closer to death and to all of the pain that separation from God brings.
As a pastor, I strive to bring people back to the absolutes of God’s word. The result of this shift back to God’s commandments is people who have peace in their souls. Carelessness with life, from Adam and Eve to today, always brings death of some sort. Only when we follow our Lord Jesus, the living Word, will we know His grace and peace as He keeps our souls both in this life and forevermore.

As we get close to Sunday the church has much to do. There are lessons to prepare, music to rehearse, media to upload, audio to tweak, and our own hearts to get tuned to listen. For all that happens to get Sunday ready for church, the people who come should leave as spiritually filled as they are physically filled after a great meal. Spend time in prayer for your church service on Sunday. Ask God to tune your heart to receive all that is there. After church, take time talking about what you have learned and how you have worshipped. Enjoy everything about Sunday as you would a concert or a sporting event. For the believer, the gathering of the church is the highpoint of the week.

We host our small group tonight at 7:00. As we study the book of James we enjoy the life experiences of one another that help explain the text. See you tonight.

Have a great day in the Lord,
PS

What makes a “good” family?

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Proverbs 19

13 A foolish son is the ruin of his father,

And the contentions of a wife are a continual dripping.

14 Houses and riches are an inheritance from fathers,

But a prudent wife is from the Lord.

Where does a “good” family come from? How can we have a “good” family? There are many opinions about the answer to these questions. First, we would need to define the word ‘good’ so we can agree on the goal. In this passage, a foolish son (child) can be the ruin of his father and a contentious, arguing wife is continual pain to the whole family. So, a “good” family would not have foolish children causing shame nor an arguing wife who brings continual misery.

As a parent of many years, I can attest to the pain of a foolish child. When children act in foolishness the parents grieve. As parents, we learned quickly that control was an illusion. Our kids were going to do as they wanted and we were there to guide them, pray for them, and to try to keep them from failure. When they resisted our wisdom, we felt like we were the failures.

In verse 14 it is established that one’s father can give them a house and an inheritance of riches, but if a man ends up with a prudent wife, one who walks in love and wisdom, she is a gift from the Lord. No, I did not choose my wife, God gave her to me. Honestly men, do you really think that you wooed her to want you? If you have a good wife, she was God’s gift to you.

In pulling these two Proverbs together, we can synthesize that a “good” family begins with a husband and wife that the Lord brings together. Our families are not the result of our upbringing but are God’s gift to us. Psalm 127:3 tells us that our children are God’s heritage to us; the fruit of the womb is his reward. So, a “good” family is the result of God’s kindness shown to us. When we understand this, we will rely upon Him for every aspect of marriage and family. We will go to Him with our family problems and our struggles. We will seek God’s wisdom in our marriage and in our parenting. A “good” family begins and continues both thanking God and trusting God knowing that apart from Him we are lost and doomed to suffer the pains of selfishness and rebellion.

Please pray for a 17-year-old boy who is facing the consequences of his foolishness. He has a short time to turn his life around before many things collapse around him. His parents know the Lord and we are all banded in prayer this week.

 

Have a great day in the Lord,

PS