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