Month: November 2019

Does working hard make us good people?

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Proverbs 21:4 (NKJV)

4 A haughty look, a proud heart,

And the plowing of the wicked are sin.

Proverbs 21:4 (ESV)

4 Haughty eyes and a proud heart,

the lamp of the wicked, are sin.

Luke 11:34 (NKJV)

34 The lamp of the body is the eye. Therefore, when your eye is good, your whole body also is full of light. But when your eye is bad, your body also is full of darkness.

 

When Samuel the prophet went to anoint one of Jessies’ sons to be the next king of Israel, the oldest and the strongest sons seemed to be the ones to anoint. But God stopped Samuel and told him that these men appeared good on the outside, but God was looking at their hearts. In today’s proverb we find men that look good on the outside, but their insides are filled with sin.

 

When we lived in Wisconsin, I had the privilege of getting to know some farmers. These men, and their wives, worked more hours, worked year-round, and made huge investments of time and money awaiting their harvest. One man, in his 70’s at the time, had more work energy in him than I ever did. I once worked loading ice once next to a farmer’s wife and I could not keep up with her. Farmers work hard. So, when we read Proverbs 21:4 and are told that either the plowing of the farmer or the light of the farmer is sin, we seem to be missing something.

 

As we look at people and look at their lives, we will find one common thread amongst them all. Everything that everyone does is ultimately for their own benefit or for the benefit of their family, so for their well-being. For a hard-working farmer, the basis of his or her work is for their own benefit. At that point, they are working with a selfish, self-serving motive. The light that is in them, as Jesus said, is bad making them full of darkness. (I have known some hard-working farmers who were not good dad’s nor good husbands, so their hard work did not make them good people.)

 

Here is the challenge to us: if the hardest working people on the planet are not made good by their hard work, neither are we. We are all prone to pride, which the Lord hates and which is called sin. Our hard work is often something we take credit for instead of giving God the glory for. When we take the credit for our hard work our pride makes the light in us become darkness. Friends, let us give glory to God for every gift that He gives to us thus fighting against our human pride and it’s corresponding darkness.

 

We are thanking God today for healing little Ezra’s body enough so that he could go home. Look at the joy in the faces of the family as they receive him from the hospital. It has been a difficult week for them, but God has been gracious and kind and they are now together. This Thanksgiving Day, for the Schroder’s is special, indeed.

 

As it is Friday in Jakarta, we are praying for God to prepare all of us for church on Sunday. As you pray for teachers and musicians and pastors and other workers, remember to prepare your own heart and body to be in church, ready and on time to rejoice with God’s people and to hear God’s word.

 

We ask prayer for our first ladies conference here at JIBC. Tomorrow 40-50 ladies will be gathering from 9-5 to hear God’s word and to discuss the messages amongst themselves. May God use this time to strengthen the bond of friendships and to draw hearts to Himself.

 

Have a great day in the Lord,

PS

 

Sacrifice or righteousness?

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Proverbs 21

3            To do righteousness and justice

Is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice.

The truth of this proverb goes against most religions of the world. When worshippers go to their shrine or to their temple they are expected to make some type of sacrificial gift to the church, the god, or to the religious leader. Yes, they are expected to and sometimes demanded to give. Through their sacrificial giving the weight of their sin is lessened through the promise of the religion, its writings or its leaders.

Remember when king Saul came back from their attack on the Amalekites? God had commanded complete annihilation due to the extreme wickedness of this people. Saul killed all the people, except the king, a trophy of his conquest, and the people brought back livestock telling Samuel the prophet that they were going to use some of the animals for sacrifice to God. God’s answer was timeless. 1 Samuel 15 records that rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft and stubbornness is like idolatry, instead, God wants obedience above sacrifice. In Micah 6:6-8 the prophet asks how many sacrifices he would need to come before God and God’s answer is that He requires that the prophet do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with God.

It seems to me that a sacrificial gift is easier than changing the way we life. Living righteously in an unrighteous world and showing justice and mercy is difficult, to say the least. In fact, apart from the indwelling Christ with His righteousness and His mercy, changing our lives is impossible. We see here that God instructs us how to live in Him and how to let His life shine through ours. For it is not how much we give that shows others God’s glory but how we live. Sacrifices? We make them every day as we love others above ourselves thus showing them righteousness and mercy; in these sacrifices God is well pleased.

 

This Saturday our ladies at JIBC are having a True Woman Conference watching videos from last year’s conference in Indianapolis. Over forty women have signed up for this all day event. Pray with us that God will encourage our ladies in their walk with Him and that their fellowship will build the unity of the church. I am thankful for all of the ladies who have worked to put this together and am looking forward to what the Lord is going to do here.

Little Ezra Wayne had is off the oxygen now and might go home tomorrow. We are thankful for his little life.

Have a great day in the Lord,

PS

Put off that old greasy and tattered shirt of the flesh and put on the shirt of Christ’s beautiful righteousness

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Colossians 3

5 Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. 6 Because of these things the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience, 7 in which you yourselves once walked when you lived in them.

8 But now you yourselves are to put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth. 9 Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds, 10 and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him, 11 where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave nor free, but Christ is all and in all.

This was the passage for yesterday’s sermon here at JIBC. Any passage that begins with the word “therefore” is referring to those teachings that came before it. In this case, we have just been told that since we have been risen with Christ, we are to seek those things that are above and to focus our attention and affections on these heavenly sights. Because of all that we learned of our salvation through Christ, whose fullness we have within us, we are to put to death, literally to make corpses of our earthly members, our fleshly desires.

Please understand, our human desires for life are from God. We are not to set aside our desires for love, companionship and intimacy for these are from God; we are called to put down, like a filthy, greasy, smelly shirt, the things of this world that lead us to perverted fulfillment of these God-given desires. The Bible, God’s holy word to us, is not unclear about this. No, God’s mind is very clear. (Spend some time in Leviticus 20 to see the mind of God regarding human sexuality.)

As God calls us to put off this filthy ruined shirt of our flesh, He also calls us to put on the righteousness of Christ. When we put on Christ and gather in Him, we are one. All people from all nations and classes are made one in Christ so that we all know that Christ is all in all. (You can listen to the sermon by following the links if you are interested in hearing more about this passage.) I do trust that your church is a beautiful tapestry of the cross sections of your community where all gather as one in the fullness of the Lord Jesus.

 

Our first son, Steven, and his wife, Rachel, has their sixth child early Sunday morning. Ezra Wayne Schroeder came into this world and his little lungs were struggling. Apparently his lungs are not fully developed but this is not unusual. (Our first grandson had the same issues.) We are thankful for little Ezra Wayne as we pray for God to bring his lungs to full development. We thank God for the gift of life that He pours out upon us through His kindness to us.

 I am again thankful for our church here in Jakarta. God has brought so many people from so many backgrounds to join together for His glory. Pray that those who come empty will leave full and that all of us would take God’s word home with us. Last night, as I prayed with Jared, he thanked God for shaking hands at church. Yes, when we are friendly even Jared notices.

 Have a great day in the Lord,

PS

Ultimately, God is over all

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Proverbs 21

1 The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord,

Like the rivers of water; He turns it wherever He wishes.

2 Every way of a man is right in his own eyes,

But the Lord weighs the hearts.

When decisions are made by others for us, God wants us to know that their hearts are in His capable hands. Every day governments make decisions for their people. Some of those decisions are for the good of the government and some are for the good of the people. Every day judges around the world give their judgment regarding cases set before them, while they promise to judge fairly, they do not always do so. We learn today that when kings and rulers and judges of people make decisions that affect their people, the One in charge is God.

On one hand this is very comforting but on the other hand this is very confusing. For if God directs the hearts of those over us like a river that turns, then why are bad laws made and why are bad judgments passed out? We rejoice over God’s guidance of good laws and we scratch our heads over God’s guidance of bad laws.

In Isaiah 40 the prophet asks us this question:

13 Who has directed the Spirit of the Lord,

Or as His counselor has taught Him?

14 With whom did He take counsel, and who instructed Him,

And taught Him in the path of justice?

Who taught Him knowledge,

And showed Him the way of understanding?

As the heavens are far above the earth, so great is God’s wisdom above ours. Therefore, when God directs the authorities of this world and they make apparently bad decisions, God is working His eternal will. The powers of darkness and of evil rejoiced in the world-wide approval of abortion while we grieved at the continual loss of human life in the womb. We can guess at God’s purpose here and we do fight against abortion, but God was not asleep when these laws were made. What is God’s purpose for bad laws? Someday we can ask Him and He may explain His eternal purposes to us. But until then we pray for those in authority to lead us in God’s righteousness and peace believing that God is at work in their hearts to accomplish His eternal purposes for us.

 

It is Friday, today we take time to seek the Lord regarding our church and its preparations for Sunday. We pray for family members and missionary friends around the world who are preparing for their Sunday service. We pray for churches in our cities and towns that will open God’s word on Sunday that they will open it faithful to God and with His authority. Do stop today and seek the Lord’s guidance for your church and for other churches that you can pray for.

 Please pray for a family friend who has had to leave her husband with her children due to his abuse. There is much unknown in the days ahead brining all kinds of emotions up to them. Pray for this family’s protection and for the husband to submit to his church as they seek to correct his sinful ways toward his family and toward his God.

 Have a great day in the Lord,
PS

The value of love and faithfulness in leadership

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Proverbs 20:28 (ESV)

28  Steadfast love and faithfulness preserve the king,

and by steadfast love his throne is upheld.

Proverbs 20:28 (NIV)

28 Love and faithfulness keep a king safe;

through love his throne is made secure.

 

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have government leaders whose lives were known by their love and faithfulness? Even a step further, wouldn’t it be wonderful for them to love their people so much that the people want to keep them in leadership of their country?   How sad it is that most, not all, countries today are having leadership troubles. Kings, Prime Ministers, Presidents, Representatives, Commanders, and more, suffer from selfish ambition and unfaithfulness to their marriage, their finances, and are actually then unfaithful to the very people that they are sworn to protect. Every day it seems that another country is protesting and rebelling against a corrupt leadership. The people do not feel the love and thus they are insecure and hoping for a change.

Well, few of us, if any, will become country leaders, but we are leaders somewhere. We can take a look at this proverb and we can determine that we will lead our small circle of influence with love and faithfulness. We can commit to treating people with fairness, kindness, and righteous judgment. We can commit to showing mercy whenever we are able to do so. We can commit to putting the needs of those under us and those over us above our own needs. We can consider the value of their lives as we lead them and thus make them more secure.

This can appropriately apply to dads and moms, to employers and managers, to team leaders and to bosses, to church pastors, elders, deacons, department directors, and to anyone who has someone working or volunteering under them. Those who look up to their leaders have an expectation that they will be treated with love and faithfulness every day. When leaders treat those under them as expected, loving and respecting relationships are formed and people, happy with their position, serve well.

Are we, as leaders, known for our love and faithfulness? Are those we work and serve with secure with us?

 

November 19th is my brother Bill’s birthday. Since we don’t see each other often, many of you don’t know that I have a brother or know little about him. Bill has been a faithful husband and father, a hard worker, and took careful and loving care of our parents when I left the US. Happy Birthday Bill. People have often asked why I wasn’t named “Bill,” since we cannot get into our parent’s heads we will never know, but I am glad you can carry our dad’s name, you have carried it well. Happy Birthday.

 Have a great day in the Lord,
PS

 

A Tribute to a dear friend, Bonnie Roberts

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Psalm 116

15           Precious in the sight of the Lord

Is the death of His saints.

1 Thessalonians 4

13 Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. 14 For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him.

 

A dear friend of our family went to be with the Lord early Monday morning. Her parting from here, though difficult for those of us who loved her and for her family, was precious in the sight of the Lord. Bonnie Roberts started the Naperville Men’s Glee Club over 30 years ago. 20 years ago, I joined the group and began a friendship with Bonnie that impacted me and my entire family. Four of our children participated in concerts with the glee club, two of my sons were members and one is currently the assistant director. Bonnie loved them all and treated them like they were her family. (We are not unique, she treated other men’s families as she did ours, this was her heart.)

 

Bonnie loved the children and spent time in focused conversation with them. Throughout her life, Stefani knew that she was important to her. Bonnie’s love for music was something she hoped the next generation would catch from her and develop. In many ways, the glee club was Bonnie’s extended family; we called ourselves “brothers in song” and we felt a family tie with Bonnie leading us to higher and higher performance standards. In retrospect, we knew she cared for us and that care enabled us to be under her leadership in a unique familiy relationship.

 

While NMGC is a large part of Bonnie’s legacy, secondary to her children and grandchildren of course, I will always appreciate her love for spiritual music. Men of all religious and non-religious backgrounds would whole-heartedly sing songs of faith, songs of redemption, and songs of heaven together. I believe this music was Bonnie’s first love. Yes, the fun songs were fun to do and the classical songs had their unique beauty, but songs of faith and hope in the God of faith and hope brought out her greatest passion. Bonnie loved the Lord Jesus Christ and had placed her faith in Him early in her life. She led church choirs in different places and times. And Bonnie loved to lead us to sing songs of powerful praise. Great hymns like “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing,” “ “Steal Away to Jesus,” “Cantique,” and “Amazing Grace how sweet the sound” were among the favorites of us all. She chose good music, sometimes difficult to sing, but when presented was beautiful in its chords, progressions, highs and lows.

 

According to the passage above, Bonnie, who went to sleep in Jesus, will come again with Him. No, for the believer, death is not permanent, it is temporary, so while we miss you already, Bonnie, we will see you again in the presence of our Lord. Thank you for your love for music, for spiritual music, but mot of all, for your love for us.

 

 

God’s compass for our lives, set North on Christ

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Colossians 3
1 If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. 2 Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. 3 For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.

As this was the passage for yesterday morning’s message, it is very fresh in my mind. In the introduction, I told you that God used these verses to be a compass in my heart. In my high school, we had to memorize Scripture and this passage was one we learned. A compass always shows you the direction North, this passage always shows the way Christ. When we seek with a purpose and set our affections, our heart’s desires, on things above, we will not lose our way.

When walking with a compass, you have to walk around obstacles and then find your direction again. A few points off on the compass can put you far off your destination. It is the same in life. Obstacles to faith and practice come up, we miss church, we accept a slightly different viewpoint, and the movement might not be far, but it will cause us to deviate from where God wants us to go. Setting our mind on things above, keeping our affections on things above, not on things of this earth, is a constant call to keep readjusting our direction to Christ.

Brothers and sisters, this call to seek that which is above and set our continual thoughts on things above is needed today more than ever. There are many calls to readjust what the Bible teaches to accommodate sinful lifestyles and godless actions. The church of Jesus Christ will become more and more separate from the world as they race further from the truth that we fiercely hold on to.

Where is you compass set? Does it need to be readjusted?

Yesterday was a blessed day for many of us. I do keep up with my sons and their ministries as well as others that we pray for. We open up God’s house and God’s word with an expectation that He will meet with us and speak to our hearts. As we gather in faith God is ever faithful to gather with His children, those who possess His Spirit. Thanks to all who served the Lord in church on Sunday morning.

Our Iranian friends here are asking prayer for their country. So many countries of the world are in turmoil today, including the US. May God watch over His children, our brothers and sisters in these troubled countries around the world.
Have a great day in the Lord,
PS

The lamp of the Lord in us

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Proverbs 20

27 The spirit of a man is the lamp of the Lord,

Searching all the inner depths of his heart.

The evolutionist think that man is the highest form of the evolved creatures. Atheist think that there is no God and therefore no higher being to direct life. In today’s proverb we find a truth about God and man that flies in the face of evolution and atheism. Within our thinking is a consciousness of right and wrong. Remember when Cain was jealous and thought to kill his brother? God spoke to Cain’s subconscious, God put a lamp, a light, into Cain’s heart to show him right from wrong.

How many animals have a sense of right and wrong that dictates their behavior? How many in the animal kingdom does the spirit of the Lord direct to ethical and moral behavior?   I well remember the day when my parent’s Doberman ate a chocolate cake off the counter. She did not feel badly at all for her “sin,” to her it was just a wonderful opportunity. I also remember the time she picked up the neighbor’s little dog in her mouth and shook that little dog back and forth then dropped it on the ground, again, with no conscience of right or wrong.

On the other hand, we, as humans made in God’s image, have a sense of right and wrong; “the lamp of the Lord,” that shines into our darkened hearts strives to lead us away from sin into right actions. David said that the Word of God was a lamp to our feet and a light to our path. The spirit of man is the lamp of the Lord that searches the inner depths of our hearts leading us to righteousness and morality when we listen to it. The lamp of the Lord goes into the darkest parts of our lives and shines his light into our darkness. We can never say that did not know right from wrong; we can never say that the devil made us do something. David knew he sinned against God and against Bathsheba and Uriah. David ignored God’s warning that night. On the other hand, Daniel purposed in his heart not to eat the kings meat that was offered to the idols of Babylon. He knew the meat was unclean and that God did not want him to eat it.

When we know that the lamp of the Lord is leading us away from a certain conversation or from a certain activity, the best course of action is to turn toward the lamp of righteousness away from the darkness that has been exposed. May we be known as people of the Light, people of the Lord, because we follow the light that God provides.

Take time today to pray for Sunday. Pray also for the families of the children shot in Santa Clarita, CA. I often think that this could have been one of my children. Our friend here, Kongkin, went home from the hospital yesterday. We are thanking God for answered prayer on his behalf.

Have a great day in the Lord,

PS

Who is responsible for our reputations?

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Proverbs 20

22           Do not say, “I will recompense evil”;

Wait for the Lord, and He will save you.

24           A man’s steps are of the Lord;

How then can a man understand his own way?

Think with me about the parallel of these verses. The steps of our life are of the Lord’s planning. This means that God is never surprised by what happens, He never has to reboot or start over, and He never needs to apologize for a project gone wrong. If we have a high view of God’s sovereign way for our lives, then there are times that we cannot understand what has happened. Only through the eye of faith and trust can we accept those things that don’t seem to make sense to us.

In light of this truth, when someone treats us wrongly and we feel a need to vindicate ourselves or to get some sort of vengeance, who is in control? Was God asleep when the wrong was done? Does God need our help to save us from the shame and embarrassment of evil done to us? At the moment of the evil done to us we are not thinking about a sovereign Lord who will protect us and make things right, no, we are thinking about how to get even or how to justify ourselves.

In light of this, when we are wronged, what should our response be? How should we treat the person who wronged us? Psalm 27:14 tells us to wait on the Lord, be of good courage, and He will strengthen our hearts. With this in mind, the next time we are wronged, let’s look to heaven, take a deep breath, give it to God, and wait on Him to take care of us. Why, you ask, should God step in? God calls us His children, chosen, predestined to adoption to the praise of the glory of His grace. If we belong to God then we can trust Him to right the wrong; besides, He is far better at this than we are.

 

Yesterday, a man here asked if were going to watch the impeachment hearings. I told him that no, I was not going to watch them. The hatred of the politicians in the US is painful to watch. There is no respect for someone with a different view, there is hatred. When hatred comes in it clouds everything else. Hatred is a lens that skews everything it looks at. I am so grieved by the hatred of the politicians, the hatred of the press, the hatred of the famous people, and the way their hatred influences all who follow them. God is totally removed. God’s love is nowhere to be found. The preaching of the Cross is abject foolishness for it would mean embracing the love of God as well. Pray for a revival of hearts toward the call of God to love one another as He has loved us.

Have a great day in the Lord,

PS

Words of value or words like gravel

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Proverbs 20

15  There is gold and abundance of costly stones,

but the lips of knowledge are a precious jewel.

17  Bread gained by deceit is sweet to a man,

but afterward his mouth will be full of gravel.

Just how valuable are our words?   What difference does what we say make? Is careless speech just ill-chosen words that don’t matter? Today’s proverbs speaks to the words we say, to what comes out of our mouths. The first proverb compares the lips of knowledge to gold and an abundance of costly stones. This parallel to wealth is common; another proverb says that a good name is rather to be chosen than great riches. We do not have to look very far to see unhappy wealthy people. The stars of society, the ones with the most money and the most fame seem to have great sorrow and misery in life. No, wealth and happiness are not synonymous.

As we think about words and wealth, we think about that person who always knows the right thing to say, they have a gift of great value. We want them around us when we cannot fix a relationship and we call them for advice because they just seem to know the right words to say. Their knowledge is a precious jewel in almost every situation.

The second proverb speaks to the man who uses his words for deceitful gain. He boasts about what he did and how he got rich. He likes his life and he likes the fact that he tricked someone else to get what he wanted. He struts in pride over his deceitfully gained bread. But (and whenever this word is used it expresses a different point of view) afterward there is no value in him for his words were not of value. “His mouth will be full of gravel.” This is quite a different picture from the mouth who speaks words of knowledge that are a precious jewel. A mouthful of gravel is disgusting! People walk on gravel, weather beats it, it is filled with all types of disgusting refuse and it used to describe the value of the words of those who use deception to better themselves.

Our words matter. Before speaking, let’s think about the value of what we are going to say, the truth behind it and why it will build up those who hear us. Perhaps we will come to be known as people whose words are like precious jewels.

We are rejoicing today that our brother Kongkin is both still with us and seeing improvement. His heart attack on Saturday was caused by an artery that was 99% blocked. God spared his life and spared us from great grief. Pray that his body will soon be able to receive a second stint in another artery that is 80% blocked.

Yesterday, sorry all of you in Chicago and the Midwest who are suffering through an Arctic Blast, we took Jared on the treadmill and then to the (outdoor) pool. He loves getting in and kicking his feet, throwing the ball, and splashing whomever is there.

 Have a great day in the Lord,

PS

We are all known by our actions

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Proverbs 20

11 Even a child makes himself known by his acts,

by whether his conduct is pure and upright.

How do we know what a child is like? How do we know what is going on in their little heads? This proverb makes it simple; a child is known by their actions whether their conduct is pure and right. What is a child like? Just ask a church nursery worker or a children’s church teacher which children are well-behaved and which ones are not. When mommy walks away the actions of the child tell us whether they have anger, fear, or peace; it does not take long to know which children know how to share and which ones grab the toy and hit the other children with it. Some children play well with others and some don’t. It does not take long to know the heart of a child.

This proverb begins with the word ‘even’ indicating a comparison is about to be stated. This word is used in Proverbs 16:7 “When a man’s ways please the Lord, he makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.” In this verse the word ‘even’ describes a comparison between our enemies and our friends including everyone in between.

In today’s proverb the comparison between children and adults reminds us that adults, like children, are known by their acts, by whether their conduct is pure and right. After listing the problems of her husband, a wife will end by saying, “but he really is a good man.” If a man’s actions are angry, profane, selfish, and hurtful, then he is not a good man. If a man or a woman is kind, giving, respectful, and faithful, then we could say that they, by their actions, are a good person.

But let’s turn the mirror toward ourselves, what do our actions say about us, what kind of a person are we? Let’s be honest, while we want to see a good reflection of ourselves, what do our actions tell others about who we really are? For the Christ-follower, we are to let Him live His life through us; at that point, our goodness is not our own but His through us. If even a child is known by his actions, what are we known to be?

Last night we had a small group meeting in Serpong with Yoke and Melanie. Romin invited two of his Iranian refugee friends who came. We studied Ephesians 1:1-8 together really enjoying the focus on God’s blessing to us, His choosing us, and His adopting us all to the praise of His glory according to His grace which He lavished on us. To hear from refugees, who have next to nothing, that they who once were rich in this world’s goods but now are poor in this world’s goods are now rich in Christ. It was a blessed evening around the Word of God with the people of God.

 

Have a great day in the Lord,
PS

 

 

A beautiful story of healing and peace

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Luke 8

But as He went, the multitudes thronged Him. 43 Now a woman, having a flow of blood for twelve years, who had spent all her livelihood on physicians and could not be healed by any, 44 came from behind and touched the border of His garment. And immediately her flow of blood stopped.

45 And Jesus said, “Who touched Me?”

When all denied it, Peter and those with him said, “Master, the multitudes throng and press You, and You say, ‘Who touched Me?’ ”

46 But Jesus said, “Somebody touched Me, for I perceived power going out from Me.” 47 Now when the woman saw that she was not hidden, she came trembling; and falling down before Him, she declared to Him in the presence of all the people the reason she had touched Him and how she was healed immediately.

48 And He said to her, “Daughter, be of good cheer; your faith has made you well. Go in peace.”

Leviticus 15 is a chapter of the Law that states the uncleanness of a man or a woman with a bodily discharge. Because of this bodily discharge the person who had this condition was impure and could not go to the Temple until the discharge was stopped and an atoning sacrifice had been made. For women, this specifically spoke to her monthly period discharge. In Luke 8 we read about a woman who had a bloody discharge for twelve years. This poor woman had spent all of her money going to doctors, subjected herself to all types of embarrassment, and yet was not healed. Her physical issue affected her spiritual issue even keeping her from worship in the Temple all this time.

Can we parallel this woman’s condition with everyone’s condition of sin? Sin keeps us from true worship; sin keeps us estranged from those we love; sin costs us every bit of money we throw at it in hopes of getting better. In the end, we can spend years of our lives with a discharge of sin that continually keeps us unclean. We know we are unclean and anyone who really knows us also knows that we are unclean, separated from God.

As this woman had no peace from her constant bloody discharge, so we have no peace from our constant outflow of selfishness, pride, envy, covetousness, bitterness and more. As she tried and tried to get help, so we try to do better, try a different church, a different religion, or we try someone else’s plan that seemed to help them but come away still flowing with sin’s awfulness.

Ultimately, this desperate woman determined to come to Jesus, whom she had heard could heal her. In her unclean condition, by law she was supposed to avoid a crowd lest someone touch her and become unclean, but in her desperation, she pushed through the crowd with faith to touch the robe of the Savior. You know the rest of the story. How much like her are we? Desperate for cleansing from our sin we pushed past family, past friends, and past our own reputation to humbly come to the Cross of Christ. We too came by faith realizing that He alone could save us from our sinful condition.

What a wonderful parallel for us to consider and what a wonderful woman of faith we can identify with. As she was, we were, as she became so did we. She, a child of sin and filled with sin’s effects came to Jesus and found healing, forgiveness, and peace.

 

Are you ready for Sunday? Are you preparing to gather with God’s people in His house? Are you making plans to be ready for Sunday? For us as followers of Christ, Sunday should be the best day of the week when we gather with one another in one Spirit to enjoy the worship of God and to gather around the word of God. Get ready, Sunday’s coming.

Have a great day in the Lord,

PS

Praying for that which God has already done

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Leviticus 9

So they brought what Moses commanded before the tabernacle of meeting. And all the congregation drew near and stood before the Lord. Then Moses said, “This is the thing which the Lord commanded you to do, and the glory of the Lord will appear to you.”

22 Then Aaron lifted his hand toward the people, blessed them, and came down from offering the sin offering, the burnt offering, and peace offerings. 23 And Moses and Aaron went into the tabernacle of meeting, and came out and blessed the people. Then the glory of the Lord appeared to all the people, 24 and fire came out from before the Lord and consumed the burnt offering and the fat on the altar. When all the people saw it, they shouted and fell on their faces.

1 Kings 18

23 Therefore let them give us two bulls; and let them choose one bull for themselves, cut it in pieces, and lay it on the wood, but put no fire under it; and I will prepare the other bull, and lay it on the wood, but put no fire under it. 24 Then you call on the name of your gods, and I will call on the name of the Lord; and the God who answers by fire, He is God.”

So all the people answered and said, “It is well spoken.”

37 Hear me, O Lord, hear me, that this people may know that You are the Lord God, and that You have turned their hearts back to You again.”

38 Then the fire of the Lord fell and consumed the burnt sacrifice, and the wood and the stones and the dust, and it licked up the water that was in the trench. 39 Now when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces; and they said, “The Lord, He is God! The Lord, He is God!”

In the Leviticus passage we read about Aaron’s first atoning sacrifice as God’s high priest. Moses told Aaron and the people that they would see the glory of God on that day. When the sacrifices were made, God sent His fire and consumed the offerings on the altar confirming to Aaron and to all of the people that He had received their offerings and atoned their sin.

Generations later, Elijah challenged the prophets of Baal to a duel. The God that answered by fire would be the true God. The reason Elijah could make this bold statement was that he knew Leviticus and the history of the atoning sacrifice. Elijah knew that God had answered by fire before and that for His glory, God would do it again.

In reading this, I was reminded that God is pleased to answer our prayers when we pray for things that He has done before. Elijah’s faith was not on a whim but on the facts of God’s previous activity. Our faith is not on a whim either, it cannot be. Faith without substance is as empty as one with no faith. The substance of our faith, (Hebrews 11:1) is the previous actions of God for His people. If God never changes, if Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever, then we can expect our prayers to be answered as they have been answered somewhere before.

We often ask if some action or decision has precedence, has it been done this way before. If something has precedence, we have more confidence to attempt it again. The Bible is filled with ways that God both protected and provided for His people. Whenever we find ourselves in a difficult situation, God would have us come to Him and ask Him to provide for us or to protect us as He has done for others, so that He may receive great glory. These prayers of faith are the prayers we pray with confidence, just as Elijah did the day he prayed for fire to fall from heaven and consume his sacrifice, as it had at Aaron’s first sacrifice. In a way, Elijah was unfair to the prophets of Baal. He knew that His God had answered with fire before, he was betting on a sure thing. Let us come to God with the same confidence in the hours of our needs.

 

Join with me in prayer today for Victory Academy for Boys and for Pastor Mark. There are decisions that need to be made today and Pastor Mark needs God’s wisdom in a special way. Because of a staffing issue, the Academy did not open in September. They are opening in January this year. In the meantime, another situation has arisen. Join with us today in special prayer for this ministry.

 It is grievous to see so much pain taking place around the world. Many nations are living in unrest with riots, demonstrations, violence, and more. Pray for our brothers and sisters in difficult places and pray for men and women to seek the Lord and His peace in the midst of their confusion.

 Have a great day in the Lord,

PS

Are our hearts better than others?

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Proverbs 20

9 Who can say, “I have made my heart clean,

I am pure from my sin”?

The short answer here is simple, no one cans say they have made their hearts clean, that they are pure from their sin. Jeremiah said that the heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked. Jesus came to die for sinners; He did not come to die for good people but for wicked and sinful people. Jesus said, “I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” While we know all of this to be true, let’s take an honest look at our own hearts.

Whenever you see a person living in sin’s darkness do you see yourself or are you glad you are not that bad? Whenever you hear about someone suffering because of their sinful lifestyle, do you conclude that they are getting their just reward or does your heart go out to them in pity and compassion? I fear that most of the time we look down on those whose sin appears worse than our own. I fear we are quick to cast judgment on those suffering because of their sinful choices when we have made righteous choices and do not suffer as they do. (Maybe you are above this but I know the pride of my self-righteous heart.)

The timeless truth is this, none of us can say, “I have made my heart clean, I am pure from my sin” In Romans 6 & 7 Paul reminds us of the awful propensities of our flesh. Even though we have died to sin we still battle with our flesh in such a way that at times it feels like we cannot do what we should while we always do what we should not do. Perhaps our sin battles are not in front of everyone else, perhaps we have maintained a level of respectability because we can keep our sin hidden. Nonetheless, we cannot make ourselves pure, we cannot clean up our hearts sinful desires.

So how do we compare to those whose sin is front and center in their lives? On a scale of 1-10 with 10 being the worst person you have ever met, where is your heart, the desires of your flesh?   How successful have your attempts at cleaning up your heart been? Let’s be honest, we are pretty miserable too. Our only glory is in the work of Christ who knowing all of our sin and all of our propensities to sin gave His sinless life to set us free from sin’s bondage and from sin’s penalty. We did not do anything to procure our salvation, we relied on God’s amazing grace and He came through to take away our sin from before Him.

As we look around us today, let’s put our faces on the sinners we see, let us see ourselves in their predicament then thank God for saving us while reaching out a hand in love the help them up and out of their sin. No, we did not make our own hearts clean and neither can anyone else. Those who need a hand up need the Savior’s hand to lift them out of their sin just as He lifted us up out of ours.

On Monday night we said goodbye to Stefani. She made it safely to Sacramento this morning. God oversaw a couple of snafus and we are thankful for His oversight of all things. Our place is quieter now and even Jared is missing his sister.

 Pray today for our friends Zachary and Lea; they are missionary candidates waiting permission to come to the US for flight training. In the mean time, two of their three children have come down with fevers. This family lives very tightly as they await God’s open doors. Pray for healing of the their children and provision for all of their needs.

Saturday night is our night of praise and worship. We are inviting people to come, sing, bring a song, and to enjoy the Lord and His word together. The singing begins at 6:00. I hope to see many of you there.

 Have a great day in the Lord

PS

 

Giving a faithful representation of ourselves

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Proverbs 20

6 Most men will proclaim each his own goodness,

But who can find a faithful man?

7 The righteous man walks in his integrity;

His children are blessed after him.

Aug 13, 2015  “A new survey from CareerBuilder of more than 2,500 hiring managers found that 56% have caught job candidates lying on their resumes. The most common fib seems to be embellishing skills or capabilities; 62% of respondents say they’ve come across this, and 54% say they’ve caught applicants taking liberties when describing the scope of their responsibilities.” (quote taken from money.com)

We have a bad habit of making ourselves sound a bit better than we really are or making our situation sound worse than it really is. We want others to both think better of us and to feel more pity for us than we deserve. The simple question, “How did you sleep last night?” will show you whether the person you are talking to wants pity from you or can simply answer your question.

We also like to be the hero of our own stories. Someone was in need and when we swooped in it was our words, our compassion, our help that made the great difference in their lives.

Notice the words of Solomon, while each of us proclaim our own goodness, it is difficult to find a man or a woman whose words are faithful with whom they really are. The challenge here is to be sure that we paint ourselves honestly with words faithful to what really happened. We might not get the praise nor feel the pity, but we will be faithful with our words.

The next verse tells us that the righteous walk in their integrity. When we have and live in the righteousness of Christ, we do not need to embellish our integrity, just walk faithfully in His. When we walk faithfully in the righteousness of Christ, others will notice, particularly our children. Even though we do not walk with Christ so that others may see, when we are walking faithfully, others, especially our children, take notice.

 

We thank God today for meeting with us yesterday. Wherever you gathered with God’s people in God’s house you should have enjoyed fellowship, praise, and the opening of God’s word. Week after week we gather on Sundays and the Lord rejuvenates our spirits, convicts us of sin, corrects our thinking, increases our faith and love as He matures us in Him. We enjoyed our time in Colossians 2 thinking about how Christ, the fullness of the Father, comes to live in us bringing His fullness with Him. We do not get a piece of Christ or a little bit now and more later, we get the fullness of Christ the moment He comes into our hearts. We praised God for the fullness of Christ in us.

 Stefani goes back to the US today. We have been blessed to have had her here these months. She is ready to get back to college life, family and friends there. Today she leaves for California where she will spend a few weeks with her brothers, Ben and Justin and their families. Pray with us for safety as she travels. Pray for Jared who is going to miss her terribly.

Have a great day in the Lord,

PS