Immorality’s call; Morality’s answer

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Proverbs 5:1–6

1     My son, be attentive to my wisdom;

incline your ear to my understanding,

    that you may keep discretion,

and your lips may guard knowledge.

    For the lips of a forbidden woman drip honey,

and her speech is smoother than oil,

    but in the end she is bitter as wormwood,

sharp as a two-edged sword.

    Her feet go down to death;

her steps follow the path to Sheol;

    she does not ponder the path of life;

her ways wander, and she does not know it.

 

The evil man or the evil woman have left their upbringing, left their moral moorings, and spend their lives intentionally pulling other people down with them. These immoral people need to be called out for the shameful and awful people that they have become. In recent years, there has been a movement to stop powerful immoral men from targeting young impressionable women. This has been an important step in empowering moral women to stand up for themselves.

In this passage, Solomon writes about the immoral woman who spends her life seeking to destroy the men who will give her their attention. Men are accountable for their actions, no doubt. Before the days of internet pornography there were women who used their beauty to pull men into their immoral traps. Nowadays, the number of immoral women seeking to get men to spend money on them has multiplied. Solomon’s message must be heeded. He knew that the path of immorality led to death and to the grave. Unlike nearly every show or movie, immorality is not a beautiful beginning of a wonderful relationship, but immorality always brings pain, it is the nature of sin.

Ladies, what would happen if the beautiful moral women of our world stood up against the beautiful immoral women of our world? What if the women of righteousness determined to redefine every woman made in God’s image? Suppose every young girl who thinks that giving up her virginity was a normal passage of life knew that there were thousands of adult women who respected their morality and maintained their beauty for their husbands?

Solomon’s message is timeless but pretty much ignored today. Let’s stand up for morality, stand against immorality in all forms, and use our bodies, made in God’s image, for the purposes that He created them.

 

My first birthday in Indonesia cannot be topped! We had birthday cake in men’s Sunday school class, birthday doughnut and cake in church and another fruit topped birthday cake for lunch. I think there were four Happy Birthday songs and dozens of sincere well wishes. It was quite a day, to say the least. It seems that my son, Caleb, who was here a week before, put a bug into some people to have a little bit of extra fun with me. Thanks Caleb, they did just as you asked. Yes, it was fun.

As I am preaching through 1 John we came across 2:15-17 yesterday. The emphasis of this passage is quite negative, fearful, and difficult to live. When John states that if we love the world the love of the Father is not in us, we all cringe. It was a joy to emphasize the positive side of this passage, which is that we can live in the love of the Father. God wants us to enjoy Him so much that the loves of this world will fade behind us. Pray with me this week that we will become better lovers of God, filled with His love to us and thus be less and less pulled into this world.

 Have a great day in the Lord,

PS

Family at JIBC 2-19

Guard your heart; who you are matters

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Proverbs 4:20–23

20           My son, give attention to my words;

Incline your ear to my sayings.

21           Do not let them depart from your eyes;

Keep them in the midst of your heart;

22           For they are life to those who find them,

And health to all their flesh.

23           Keep your heart with all diligence,

For out of it spring the issues of life.

 

During high school and college my practice was to read a chapter of Proverbs every day so that every month I would read through the whole book. If I missed a day I would read the chapter that corresponded to the day of the month. As I go back to the Proverbs I feel like I have returned to an old friend. The continual reminders to give attention to the words, to incline my ear to the sayings, to not let them depart from my eyes, and to keep them in them in the midst of my heart are blessed reminders to keep following Wisdom’s instruction.

 

Wisdom never grows old and never goes out of style. Politics change, cultures go from good to bad and from bad to worse but Wisdom never changes. Her call to treating people right, to thinking through our actions beforehand, and to fearing God first and foremost still make the most sense as a right way to live. Re-reading the Proverbs pushes the cultural smoke out of the way and reminds us that there is a right way and a wrong way and that the right way is the best way.

 

Verse 23 is one of the special diamonds of the Proverbs. It is a call to keep, to protect, to place a military guard around our hearts and to do so with all diligence. This brings to my mind an intentional strategy of protection. You have a lock on your front door, locks on your windows, and maybe even a security system of some sorts hooked up to alert you of intruders to your home. You may have guards that you hire or that your apartment hires for your protection. We like to be protected from potential harm. We should put this much intentional protection around our hearts.

 

From our hearts, the very core of who we are, come the most important issues of life. Stuff comes and goes, events come to pass and are gone, but the person we are comes from within us. The person others know us to be has to do with how we treat them, how we love them, and how we respect them. Watch over your heart, protect the core of who you are, that is what comes out.

 

Tomorrow is a big day, a really big day; I turn 60. Some may say that I am a young 60 but 60 sounds really old. I remember wanting to be 30; it may sound strange but as a pastor/preacher getting out of my 20’s was a good thing. Since then we spent years at Victory Homes, years in Aurora/Naperville, and now we are in Jakarta. This is a life that I could not have written a script for but am thankful for God’s continual leading. We have had our share of pains and trials, struggles with sin, the world, finances, family, friends, church, and health; through it all God has been faithful to His word to care for us, mature us, and keep us in His peace. I am thankful that Bobbi and I have been able to intersect with so many people and point them to the Savior. If we have the genes of our parents, we have another 25 years of service to go.

 

Have a great day in the Lord,

PS

 

 

Stop, change directions, follow the Light

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Proverbs 4:14–19
14 Do not enter the path of the wicked,
And do not walk in the way of evil.
15 Avoid it, do not travel on it;
Turn away from it and pass on.
16 For they do not sleep unless they have done evil;
And their sleep is taken away unless they make someone fall.
17 For they eat the bread of wickedness,
And drink the wine of violence.
18 But the path of the just is like the shining sun,
That shines ever brighter unto the perfect day.
19 The way of the wicked is like darkness;
They do not know what makes them stumble.

The instruction of wisdom will always have a positive side and a negative side because wisdom has to do with the choices that we make throughout our lives. I was recently watching a show that asked the question whether or not a man’s life is determined by his worst action. This caused me to stop and to think about justice in the human realm. A man gets drunk, gets in his car and kills another human being. That action will change his life whether he goes to prison or not. Does that one action make that man a murderer and make him worthy of prison? I would say that when we forsake God’s wisdom we cannot predict the outcome and our lives can be quickly changed for the negative.
Solomon gives us stern and sharp warnings to stay away from those who reject God’s wisdom and walk in foolishness. “Do not enter the path of the wicked, and do not walk in the way of evil. Avoid it, do not travel on it; turn away from it and pass on.” We might just say, “Don’t go that way.” The warning indicates that we, like Eve, are susceptible to the pull of the way of sinners, and we are. But Wisdom calls us away from that path and tells that those who designed that evil path, though they make it fun, have destruction, wickedness, and violence on their minds. In other words, the path of evil fun is a dead end, a doomed path.
Then we are told about the beautiful and blessed alternative, called “the path of the just like the shining sun.” My friends, at the end of life, what do you want to remember? Do you want to remember the path of the fleshly fun filled with struggles, sin, and violent people or do you want to remember the path of light with those who treated you justly and kindly in the light of the Lord? Therefore, there are some paths of this world that we just need to get off, block off, and avoid. Instead we can then seek the paths of God’s justice and righteousness and peace. This the instruction of Wisdom.

One of the joys of Christian parenting is being able to enjoy your adult married children and their spouses. Caleb and Lindsey just spent nineteen days with us and we had a wonderful time. We did not go out every day though we did go out. We did not fill our schedules though we did more than usual. It was just nice to share life together. We are thanking the Lord for the hearts of our children to love the Savior and to reach people for His kingdom. Even while here, Caleb and Lindsey reached out in friendship to many people around us. Do keep them in your prayers as they return to teach, to love, and show the Savior through their lives.

Jared will miss his brother and sister. He got up early this morning to see them off. Jared does know his family and loves when they are around.
I am praying for your spiritual growth this week. Whatever you are doing or how ever busy you may be, I pray that you will seek the Lord, His face, and knowledge of Him through His word.

My thanks to all who worked so hard to make Sunday a special and Spirit-filled day in the Lord’ house. Church was such a blessing to so many. Thanks to all who served so willingly.
Have a great day in the Lord,
PS

fam eating out 2-19 (2)

Love your neighbor as yourself

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Proverbs 3:27–30

27    Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due,

When it is in the power of your hand to do so.

28    Do not say to your neighbor,

“Go, and come back,

And tomorrow I will give it,

When you have it with you.

29    Do not devise evil against your neighbor,

For he dwells by you for safety’s sake.

30    Do not strive with a man without cause,

If he has done you no harm.

 

There are times when wisdom instruction is what we might call a “du moment.” We read it and think, “well of course this is true, why does this need to be said?” Jesus capsulized the entire OT Law in two sentences when He said that it can be fulfilled by loving God and loving others as ourselves. If we were to love God purely and love our neighbors with the same love that we love our own lives, we would never break any of God’s laws. In these proverbs we find some practical ways of taking care of our neighbors with the same care that we would like to be treated.

There are different ways to “withhold good” from others. Gratitude is one way of doing good to one another. When time and energy is taken by one person for the care of another the greatest kindness in return might be a simple “thank you.”  The writer reminds us not to withhold good.

Beyond gratitude, this also speaks to caring at levels beyond normal care. There have been people in my life who went beyond normal care to help me. I remember them all. When we see someone in need and we have the ability to help them through that need, we should. This is loving your neighbor as yourself.

When our neighbor has a need, we ought not make them wait if we are able to help them. Why put them off until tomorrow when they have a need today? How would we feel if we had a need today and someone put us off until tomorrow? Again, loving others as we love ourselves is the fulfillment of the Law.

Protecting those near us is another form of loving them. We do not devise evil against ourselves nor should we devise evil against a neighbor, one who is near to us. When others devise evil we should walk away and warn the one who is being devised against. Loving others as we love ourselves has some practical actions that Solomon clearly speaks to.

Of course, our nearest neighbors are our family members, those we work next to, and those we go to church with. Our physical neighbors are also worthy of our love and care. Let us seek to love all of our neighbors as we love ourselves.

 

As I write these devotionals now to audiences on two continents, I need to be more clear with my prayer requests. As I asked prayer for Edna yesterday I did not know that there was an Edna in Indonesia who is anticipating surgery. Edna in Illinois had her surgery yesterday. Thank you for your prayers for her.

 

Yesterday afternoon we took Caleb and Linsey to a zoo in Jakarta. We were amazed again at the wonderful variety of God’s creation. From the Komodo dragon, to the pelicans to a wide variety of monkeys and apes and more, the wonder of God’s creative genius is on beautiful display. And of course, since it is the tropics, the foliage is thick and green. We were able to get a chair for Jared to wheel him around and he especially enjoyed the gorilla and the monkeys. Jared is a big fan of Tarzan so they reminded him of Kerchack and Tarzan’s friends.

 

Have a great day in the Lord,

PS

What life looks like when we practice God’s wisdom

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Proverbs 3:21–26

21    My son, let them not depart from your eyes—

Keep sound wisdom and discretion;

22    So they will be life to your soul

And grace to your neck.

23    Then you will walk safely in your way,

And your foot will not stumble.

24    When you lie down, you will not be afraid;

Yes, you will lie down and your sleep will be sweet.

25    Do not be afraid of sudden terror,

Nor of trouble from the wicked when it comes;

26    For the Lord will be your confidence,

And will keep your foot from being caught.

When we read this we come to understand that our Lord and God, the giver of all wisdom, wants us to live life filled with grace, he wants us to live in safety while walking securely, He wants us to sleep well without fear, and He wants us to have confidence as we go through life. It sounds to me like our God, our Creator and Lord, has designed life and knows how to best guide us through it.

Before you get carried away or begin throwing all of your life’s problems at this passage, understand that the point being made here is that when we seek God’s wisdom, when His wisdom is precious to us and we walk in its light, life will make sense; it will not be easy but it we will be at peace in our souls knowing that we are following God and His wisdom. I have now lived long enough to know people who have loved God’s wisdom and those who have rejected God’s wisdom. My cousin died at 27 years of age from cancer. He did not have a long life, but following God’s wisdom he did not a life filled with regrets. His family has grieved his death for years, but they knew that he was a godly young man and rejoice in his short life. We have had health issues, financial issues, family struggles, and more just like anyone else, but each night we put our heads on our pillows and sleep in God’s wisdom. When trouble comes, we need not be afraid of it because the Lord is our confidence.

My friends, when I read passages like this one, I come away asking God to lead me in His wise path. By faith I want to follow the Lord and practice His wisdom in my life. We are not promised an easy and comfortable life but we are promised a life of peace within and security without. Put God’s wisdom to the test, you will never regret your decisions and will know His security in your life.

 

I am troubled today by the amount of evil that is being pushed upon us in this world. I am troubled when good men and women give in to the evil in the name of politics. The killing of children in the womb of their mothers is evil. Men having sexual relations with men and women with women is evil. Romans 1 tells us that all of this is against our created nature. Governments that are not responsible with the people’s money are doing evil. Nations that do not take care of their poor, giving them chances to better themselves, are doing evil. The Facebook police are filtering Christians who are standing against sinfulness. All of this troubles me because my heart from God knows good from evil. Let us pray more and more and speak openly of good and evil that we may point those around us to God’s love, grace, and life.

Join us in prayer for our sister, Edna, who had another surgery today.  I received notice that the surgery was successful and that she will remain in ICU overnight. Edna has suffered much in the past years as her body has given her trouble.  

Have a great day in the Lord,
PS

Founded by wisdom, living by the same wisdom

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Proverbs 3:19–22

19    The Lord by wisdom founded the earth;

By understanding He established the heavens;

20    By His knowledge the depths were broken up,

And clouds drop down the dew.

21    My son, let them not depart from your eyes—

Keep sound wisdom and discretion;

22    So they will be life to your soul

And grace to your neck.

 

Look at two thoughts here today. The first thought the writer assumes the audience knows. So well known is the first thought that it is assumed we will get the connection between the first and the second thought.

The first thought is that the Lord founded the earth by wisdom, understanding and knowledge. Not only did God create the earth by wisdom but God established all of the cycles of the earth to enable it to function. This passage directly relates to the water cycle of evaporation and rain. If you are an evolutionist, how long did the earth fail to work until time and chance figured out the water cycle?   Solomon, the wisest guy who ever lived, gave God the credit for figuring this out and implementing it. I am a creationist. God created this earth in six literal days and had all of the earths’ seasons and processes ready to start within those six days. God, by wisdom, understanding, and knowledge created the earth and established its’ functions.

Secondly, because God used such great wisdom, understanding and knowledge we are not to let His wisdom depart from our eyes. We are to keep sound wisdom and discretion until they become life to our souls and grace to our necks. We might not be able to afford too many necklaces to adorn us, but God’s wisdom and discretion are ornamentation enough. When we know that God created the heavens and the earth, we will soon see the hand of God in all places that we go and in all that we do. This wonderful creative and sustaining wisdom will also be our guide and adornment.

 

Having been raised and lived in the U.S. I have never been wished a happy new year in February. But this morning I have awaken to many well wishers wishing me a Happy Chinese New Year. To all of my new friends, thank you for the well wishes. Caleb and I got up early and biked over to a pasar national or to an Indonesian market. It opens at 5AM and closes at 8AM. We got fruit I had never heard of, vegetables, fresh doughnuts, beef, chicken, and a spice mix that when mixed with rice was enough for a dinner for us all. It was quite fun and a great place to get fresh groceries. It was indeed a Happy New Year for us.

We have some sisters in the church here who are struggling with work contracts, payments, and thus personal finances. Pray with these women that they will see God caring for them and for their children.

Have a great day in the Lord,

PS

What makes you happy when you find it?

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Proverbs 3

13           Happy is the man who finds wisdom,

And the man who gains understanding;

14           For her proceeds are better than the profits of silver,

And her gain than fine gold.

15           She is more precious than rubies,

And all the things you may desire cannot compare with her.

16           Length of days is in her right hand,

In her left hand riches and honor.

17           Her ways are ways of pleasantness,

And all her paths are peace.

18           She is a tree of life to those who take hold of her,

And happy are all who retain her.

 

Have you ever found something that made you really happy? Last night Bobbi left her drink cup at a small shop in the mall. We went to dinner with a family and on the way out she stopped at the shop and her drink cup was still there. She found it and she was happy. I remember losing children in malls and being overjoyed when we found them. You have had the same lost and found moments. In this verse we are told that when wisdom is found happiness is the result. Gaining understanding also makes us happy. The writer goes on to explain that wisdom is more precious than great wealth and all that can be humanly desired.

When we find wisdom we also gain length of days, true riches and true honor. Think about it, how often do we get happy when someone wins the lottery, gets a clean bill of health, or gets something they always wanted? The gain of something we wanted brings us joy. How much more joy should we get when we gain God’s wisdom and gain His understanding for life’s situations?

We don’t usually think this way. We don’t think about gaining something intangible that is of great value to us and to others. So Solomon writes to bring us clarity about that which really matters. The book of Proverbs is a good place to start in the search for wisdom that matters. I began reading a Proverb a day in high school and did so through high school and college. This month I found myself back in Proverbs and still learning God’s wisdom and His knowledge for life’s situations. Rejoice in the finding of wisdom and knowledge. Most everything else we get happy about is temporal.

 

Good news and God’s answer to our prayers: my dad went home Thursday. He passed the PT test and so did not require a stay in a rehab facility. We talked this morning and he is really glad to be out of the miserable hospital. If you live in the area and have a chance to go see them, please do. It means a lot when friends stop by.

Pray again for Sunday. Wherever you attend church the pastor is preparing to bring a message to you from God’s word. This spiritual preparation is not without spiritual attacks. Pray for all of Sunday’s preparations so that as the church gathers around the Word of God that the Spirit of God will meet with us all.

 

Have a great day in the Lord,

PS