Month: June 2020

God is always our Good Shepherd

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Psalm 80

      Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel,

you who lead Joseph like a flock.

        You who are enthroned upon the cherubim, shine forth.

          Before Ephraim and Benjamin and Manasseh,

        stir up your might

and come to save us!

      Restore us, O God;

let your face shine, that we may be saved!

Jesus Christ called himself the Good Shepherd.  The Psalmist knew God as his Shepherd.  God, the Good Shepherd, is always leading his people with carefulness and with his steadfast love.  From the family of Jacob, a dysfunctional family by any definition, God shepherded Joseph from the favorite son to the slave of Pharaoh, to the head prisoner, to the vizier of Egypt so that Joseph could prepare the way for God to save His nation.  Only God can prepare a path like this. 

God is still shepherding His people; Jesus is our Good Shepherd.  Psalm 23 so carefully lays out our Shepherd’s care in guiding, providing, and protecting us. 

Even so, there are times we feel a need to cry out to God more.  There are times when we will seek His face with greater fervency and desperation.  This is one of those times.  While nations are reopening, Covid is still here.  It will be like malaria, influenza, polio, and AIDS; we will know it is here and try to live with it.  However, since Covid has so many unknowns our fear level is high.  We need to seek God’s face with a greater fervency. 

We agree with the Psalmist, “Restore us, O God; let your face shine, that we may be saved.” 

Here at JIBC, we are thankful that we can have public services again.  We are also thankful that God has protected us so far.  We are thankful for the many Zoom groups that are meeting together for study, counsel, prayer, and encouragement.  Furthermore, we are seeking the shine of God’s face upon us to know His leading for us. 

Today I need to ask your prayers for my parents.  For 2 ½ years they lived with me. When I left the US, we found a place for them not far from my brother’s house.  For eight months or so they lived there until dad’s physical condition required more care and my sister decided to take them into her home in Pennsylvania.  After fourteen months with her both of my parent’s health has become quite fragile and in need of more nursing care than my sister can provide.  On Monday dad and mom will be moving into a nursing home near Philadelphia.  Because of Covid my sister cannot go in with them to help them set up and get moved in, they can only bring them to the door and say goodbye.  Dad and mom are people of great faith, they really are, and yet this transition is going to be difficult.  Pray for their well being on every level as God shepherds them again. 

Have a great day in the Lord,

PS

God With Us

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Psalm 73

23     Nevertheless, I am continually with you;

you hold my right hand.

24     You guide me with your counsel,

and afterward you will receive me to glory.

25     Whom have I in heaven but you?

And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you.

26     My flesh and my heart may fail,

but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

27     For behold, those who are far from you shall perish;

you put an end to everyone who is unfaithful to you.

28     But for me it is good to be near God;

I have made the Lord God my refuge,

that I may tell of all your works.

From the creation of man, God has enjoyed being with the men and women of His creation.  In this Psalm we read that the Psalmist was continually with God and God held his right hand.  When I walk with Jared, I often hold his hand, or he holds mine.  Jared is much more secure in his walk when he is held on to.  Perhaps that is the picture here.  It is not that we cannot live apart from God holding on to us, but our life is much more secure when He does.   

The Psalmist continues that when he is with God and held by His hand, he also hears the counsel of God both for the good of this life and for going into the next life.  As we face life and death, God’s close presence with us makes all the difference.  We have God to look forward to in heaven and when we look to Him in this life, there is nothing on earth that compares.  God is our strength when our human hearts fail; He is our portion forever. 

The Psalmist ends stating even more clearly that it is good to be near God; God is His refuge, his place of safety.  Jesus promised His disciples that He would be with them always.  Jesus promised to send them, and us, His Holy Spirit to be with us always in this life.  We too can say that we enjoy being with God as God enjoys being with us.  God holds our right hand and we hear His counsel.  God’s presence is all the difference as we go through life and thus we know that we are prepared to see Him in heaven. 

With this in mind, we tell others of all His wonderful works. 

Open, yes, church is open.  JIBC has been open for two Sundays now.  We are thankful for those who have joined with us as we gather, sing, pray, read Scripture and hear God’s word preached.  The fellowship is sweet through the masks and distancing.  We are still sanitizing the building, taking temperature, and keep record of who comes so we can gather with a level of safety.  We will again have service this coming Sunday with those who will attend. 

Our services are still available on Facebook at “Jakarta International Baptist Church,” as well as on YouTube at “JIBC Online Ministry.” 

We pray for each of you every week.  Please send us any special requests you may have by email or WhatsApp. 

Have a great day in the Lord,

PS

God is our present God, He is with us right now, today.

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Psalm 46

      God is our refuge and strength,

a very present help in trouble.

      Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way,

though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea,

      though its waters roar and foam,

though the mountains tremble at its swelling. Selah

      There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,

the holy habitation of the Most High.

      God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved;

God will help her when morning dawns.

      The nations rage, the kingdoms totter;

he utters his voice, the earth melts.

      The Lord of hosts is with us;

the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah

      Come, behold the works of the Lord,

how he has brought desolations on the earth.

      He makes wars cease to the end of the earth;

he breaks the bow and shatters the spear;

he burns the chariots with fire.

10     “Be still, and know that I am God.

I will be exalted among the nations,

I will be exalted in the earth!”

11     The Lord of hosts is with us;

the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah

The use of language is important in communicating any thought or intent.  As we read this Psalm today we must notice and rejoice that every person who has ever read this Psalm has read it in the present tense.  These expressions, “God is,” and “there is,” and “is with us,” and “is our fortress,” and “I am God,” stir our hearts and bring great hope and rejoicing. All that God is will never change and His present hope, help and presence in our lives carries us today. 

As the world begins to return to work and worship, we will know that the Covid virus us not gone.  I trust we have had ample time to confirm to our souls that God is greater than Covid and that while it has just come on the scene, God has always been here and been with us.  While the information on Covid has changed a hundred times or more, now the WHO is telling us that Covid cannot be transmitted by asymptomatic people, God’s information has never changed.  No expert has proven Him wrong on any subject at any level.  God is as true today as He was when this Psalm was written. 

Come with me today and let us rejoice in the current love and power of our God.  Let us rejoice in His moment-by-moment presence in our lives.  Let us be still and know that He is God, that He is with us, and that He is our fortress, and all that of this is true right now, today. 

The Indonesian government has lifted the ban on religious gatherings; JIBC will be open and gathering for church here in our auditorium this coming Sunday, June 14th. Yes, we will follow the protocols of sanitizing and distancing, and checking temperatures, and wearing masks. We have removed 2/3 of the chairs and will have both masks and hand sanitizers for all. Then, we are going to gather and rejoice. While we will not have Sunday school or nurseries yet; we will have three sanitized rooms available for parents to take their children. 

Our message this Sunday will come from Psalm 34, a psalm of praise and thanksgiving. Our hearts will be lifted together as we sing and pray and rejoice in our God. For those who are comfortable to do so, gather with us by 10:45.

For those who are not yet comfortable gathering publicly, we will still be posting our recorded music and video for you. As a church, we love every one of you and long for the day when we will all be ready to gather, to share the Lord’s Table, and to rejoice in the Lord together. Psalm 34:3 Oh, magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together! That day is coming by God’s good grace toward us.

Have a great day in the Lord,

PS

One long contrast between the righteous and the wicked

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In these devotionals, you do not usually see a 40 verse Psalm to read.  In this Psalm we see a continual comparison between the righteous and the wicked.  As you read it notice the blessings of God upon the righteous, which blessings also use the words “deliver,” “dwell forever,” and other such words of God’s protection and blessing.  As you read about the contrasting wicked, notice words like “cut off,” “not be found,” and “was no more.”

The value of this Psalm for us today is that the wicked, those who are against God and against His values of life, justice, and righteousness, seem to be in control.  The wicked have taken center stage in so many places, especially in the US cities.  Godless men and women are using violence, destruction, and theft to promote their anger and desire for anarchy.  They are causing everyone, it seems, to listen to them and to give in to their violence.  According to Psalm 37, it is the righteous who are established forever.  It is the wicked who will be cut off and forgotten. 

While it seems the wicked are prospering, God is in control and they will soon be gone and forgotten.

Enjoy this Psalm, overlay it on today’s riotous actions.  God is not asleep; He has established boundaries of all human activity; He is taking care of the righteous. 

Psalm 37

      Fret not yourself because of evildoers;

be not envious of wrongdoers!

      For they will soon fade like the grass

and wither like the green herb.

      Trust in the Lord, and do good;

dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness.

      Delight yourself in the Lord,

and he will give you the desires of your heart.

      Commit your way to the Lord;

trust in him, and he will act.

      He will bring forth your righteousness as the light,

and your justice as the noonday.

      Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him;

fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way,

over the man who carries out evil devices!

      Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath!

Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil.

      For the evildoers shall be cut off,

but those who wait for the Lord shall inherit the land.

10     In just a little while, the wicked will be no more;

though you look carefully at his place, he will not be there.

11     But the meek shall inherit the land

and delight themselves in abundant peace.

12     The wicked plots against the righteous

and gnashes his teeth at him,

13     but the Lord laughs at the wicked,

for he sees that his day is coming.

14     The wicked draw the sword and bend their bows

to bring down the poor and needy,

to slay those whose way is upright;

15     their sword shall enter their own heart,

and their bows shall be broken.

16     Better is the little that the righteous has

than the abundance of many wicked.

17     For the arms of the wicked shall be broken,

but the Lord upholds the righteous.

18     The Lord knows the days of the blameless,

and their heritage will remain forever;

19     they are not put to shame in evil times;

in the days of famine they have abundance.

20     But the wicked will perish;

the enemies of the Lord are like the glory of the pastures;

they vanish—like smoke they vanish away.

21     The wicked borrows but does not pay back,

but the righteous is generous and gives;

22     for those blessed by the Lord shall inherit the land,

but those cursed by him shall be cut off.

23     The steps of a man are established by the Lord,

when he delights in his way;

24     though he fall, he shall not be cast headlong,

for the Lord upholds his hand.

25     I have been young, and now am old,

yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken

or his children begging for bread.

26     He is ever lending generously,

and his children become a blessing.

27     Turn away from evil and do good;

so shall you dwell forever.

28     For the Lord loves justice;

he will not forsake his saints.

        They are preserved forever,

but the children of the wicked shall be cut off.

29     The righteous shall inherit the land

and dwell upon it forever.

30     The mouth of the righteous utters wisdom,

and his tongue speaks justice.

31     The law of his God is in his heart;

his steps do not slip.

32     The wicked watches for the righteous

and seeks to put him to death.

33     The Lord will not abandon him to his power

or let him be condemned when he is brought to trial.

34     Wait for the Lord and keep his way,

and he will exalt you to inherit the land;

you will look on when the wicked are cut off.

35     I have seen a wicked, ruthless man,

spreading himself like a green laurel tree.

36     But he passed away, and behold, he was no more;

though I sought him, he could not be found.

37     Mark the blameless and behold the upright,

for there is a future for the man of peace.

38     But transgressors shall be altogether destroyed;

the future of the wicked shall be cut off.

39     The salvation of the righteous is from the Lord;

he is their stronghold in the time of trouble.

40     The Lord helps them and delivers them;

he delivers them from the wicked and saves them,

because they take refuge in him.

Be encouraged my friends.  Our hope is not in the White House nor in the Courthouse.  We go to God’s house, open His word together and find our identity there.  We will dwell forever with our God through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.  The wicked only have a moment to make their play, we have eternity with the God of all creation and of all salvation.  Be at peace in Him.  (BTW this Psalm is written to all people of all places and of all races. God does not see color, He sees eternal souls created in His image.) 

Have a great day in the Lord,

PS

Exalt the Lord together, He answers our fearful cry

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Psalm 34

      I will bless the Lord at all times;

his praise shall continually be in my mouth.

      My soul makes its boast in the Lord;

let the humble hear and be glad.

      Oh, magnify the Lord with me,

and let us exalt his name together!

      I sought the Lord, and he answered me

and delivered me from all my fears.

      Those who look to him are radiant,

and their faces shall never be ashamed.

      This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him

and saved him out of all his troubles.

      The angel of the Lord encamps

around those who fear him, and delivers them.

You have heard it said that the Bible is a dynamic book. Dynamic is the opposite of static.  Something static is unmoving, unfertilized, inactive, stationary, unable to help itself much less anyone else.  A broken-down car on the side of the road is static.  But the Bible is dynamic, it is alive, it moves in us, it applies to every day of our varied lives.  The Bible is life-giving to everyone who picks it up, opens its’ pages and lets it speak to them.  The Bible is the very breath of God breathed into our gasping souls.  It is like CPR to a patient who needs to be resuscitated.

If you read Psalm 34:1-7 in December it would have meant something to you then and encouraged your heart in whatever difficulty you were facing.  But as you read this passage today, after Covid-19, after world-wide infections, after cities and countries faced huge death tolls and infections, after government failures around the world, after the terrible riots and loss of life and livelihood in the US, this living word breathes the vital life of God into us.

Let’s face it, our fears are different now then they were six months ago.  Our fears have a totally different face and depth to them.  We have been the poor man or the poor woman who cried out hoping the Lord would hear us and save us from all our troubles.  And even our troubles have taken shapes we could not have imagined six months ago.  Some of you have gone for two to three months without a paycheck.  Some of you have suffered at the hands of the Covid virus.  Some of you have lost loved ones and friends whom you would not normally have lost.  We have all faced a level of isolation that we don’t like.  Our fears are quite different, and our cries to the Lord have been extremely specific. 

In today’s passage we find hope; the angel of the Lord encamps around those of us who fear the Lord.  We can look back and see the deliverance of the hand of God. We know that our fears can be lifted by our faith and that our faith in a Sovereign God allays our fears.  So yes, bless the Lord, praise Him continually, make your boast in Him and be glad. Magnify the Lord with me today and let us all exalt His name together.

Tomorrow, the malls here are going to open.  The lights were on last night as they were preparing to have customers for the first time in two months.  Before long now, the church should open up as well.  I can’t wait. Let’s pray that we, as a society, are ready to deal with Covid as a new virus on the block. It is going to still be here.  Let’s pray for God’s protection, be careful, and look for ways to care for those around us who are still hurting, confused, or wondering what God is doing.

Be in prayer for our Sunday service online.  May God continue to use His word even though we are not gathering. 

Have a great day in the Lord,
PS