Devotionals

The tongue can bring great life, security and hope

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Proverbs 15

4     A wholesome tongue is a tree of life,

But perverseness in it breaks the spirit.

5     A fool despises his father’s instruction,

But he who receives correction is prudent.

6     In the house of the righteous there is much treasure,

But in the revenue of the wicked is trouble.

7     The lips of the wise disperse knowledge,

But the heart of the fool does not do so.

In Psalm 1 we are given a picture of the blessed one, who by not walking in the way with the ungodly, by not standing around with sinners and by not sitting with the scorners is compared to a tree of life that brings for his or her fruit in its season, their leave does not wither and everything they do prospers. Here, in verse 4, we are given that analogy again. One who uses their tongue to speak words of wholesome communication is like a tree of life. This is a beautiful picture of strength, deep rooted security against the storms, fruitfulness throughout life’s seasons, and one who provides comfort and security to others.

People like this tree have been tremendous examples to me. I have admired their strength, wanted their security, and hoped to be just as fruitful. This analogy is tied to tangible actions of righteousness and of words spoken that are wholesome and true. In verse 7 we are told that the lips of the wise disperse knowledge. Wisdom that comes out of the mouth begins in the soul where wisdom must dwell. People with foolish hearts cannot speak with wisdom for there is no source within them.

Just as wholesome words are compared to a strong and fruitful tree that give life, so a perverse tongue, one that spews pain, breaks the spirit of life in those who hear it. “Life and death are in the power of the tongue,” and “the tongue no man can tame.” We cannot make ourselves use our tongues wisely but we can let God change our hearts so that our words come from a better source. A foolish person cannot help but to break the spirit of those who hear them. Words from a sinful and foolish heart are going to inflict pain because they come from pain. How can a person without peace speak any words of peace?

“Dear God, change our hearts so that the words we speak will be words of life and strength and hope to all who hear us. Let us be ever aware of what we say that our lips disperse your knowledge and not our own selfishness. May those who know us have a better life because of the words that come from our tongues to their ears.”

 

We had a wonderful lunch yesterday with a church family. It is always thrilling to us to hear how God works His salvation in people’s lives and then continues His work bringing joy and peace that are uniquely from Him. Stephen and his wife are golf pros teaching golf here in Jakarta. They are around super rich people every day and have come to realize that they have more than their clients do. Every night they go home to their family together with God’s love. Their wealthy clients go home alone or go home to painful relationships. Last Sunday, Stephen brought a client to church. We hope to meet together to point this man to Christ. Pray for Stephen and his wife as they minister God’s grace to successful people who need Jesus.

 Have a great day in the Lord

PS

What Can God See?

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Proverbs 15

3The eyes of the Lord are in every place, keeping watch on the evil and the good.

Jeremiah 32

19 You are great in counsel and mighty in work, for your eyes are open to all the ways of the sons of men, to give everyone according to his ways and according to the fruit of his doings.

Jeremiah 16

17 For My eyes are on all their ways; they are not hidden from My face, nor is their iniquity hidden from My eyes.

Hebrews 4

12 For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. 13 And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.

It has become very apparent that society today 1. does not believe in God Almighty and 2. does not realize that God sees all that they do. We can make this assumption because if people did believe in God and did believe that He saw all that they and that He was going to hold them accountable for what they did, they would do things very differently.

When I was growing up, it was shameful to be divorced and it was shameful for a couple to get pregnant before they married. Men and women did not live together for that was considered a fornicating relationship. Television shows did not use profanity and women were always covered and modest. Over time this has all changed and these things that used to be considered shameful and sinful are now common and normal. Is God still watching? Are people aware that God is watching and that He is keeping records to hold them accountable one day?

Perhaps we believe that when we get our day before God, if He exists, that if we don’t like His verdict we can appeal to a higher court. Or perhaps we just assume that since God made us this way that He will just have to accept us the way we are.

The Hebrews reference begins with a statement about the living Word of God and ends with an accounting as to what we did with His Word. It seems to me my friends, that God has remained in His righteous place and we are the ones who have moved away from Him. Let’s get back to the realization that God does see all that we do, both in private and in public, and let us be aware that there is an accounting before Him.

The good news of the Gospel is that Jesus Christ paid the price for our sin and we will not be held accountable for our sin anymore. The truth is that God still sees all that we do rewards us in this life both positively and negatively for the choices that we make under His Lordship. Therefore, even we, God’s children, need a constant awareness that our Heavenly Father is always watching what we do. This is spiritually and physically healthy for us.

Yesterday was a good day at JIBC as we looked at 1 John 5:11-13, the crescendo of John’s epistle telling us that when we have the Son of God we have, presently have, eternal life. What a great promise this is to us; eternal life is in Jesus Christ; God gives us the Son who brings His eternal life into us. What an absolutely wonderful fact affirmed to us. If you would like to hear this message go to https://sites.google.com/jibc.or.id/jibc/sermons?authuser=0 if you are in Indonesia the link is www.jibc.or.id/sermons

(If the links do not work, cut and paste them into your browser.)

 

Have a great day in the Lord,
PS

The Right response to Anger

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Proverbs 15 (KJV)

1 A soft answer turneth away wrath:

But grievous words stir up anger.

Proverbs 15:1–2 (NKJV)

1 A soft answer turns away wrath,

But a harsh word stirs up anger.

2 The tongue of the wise uses knowledge rightly,

But the mouth of fools pours forth foolishness.

 

My father probably taught me this verse as a young child because I don’t remember a time when in times of anger it wasn’t emphasized. So much emphasis was this given that I do not remember a time when my father lost his temper; a soft answer was his habit of life. I did not hear my father yell at my mother either. We did get his frustration when we deserved it, but he was never out of control with anger. I did not realize how unusual this was until I got older and knew others who lived angry lives and pointed back to their fathers and mothers whose anger was a regular part of life.

The second half of verse 2 teaches us that foolishness “pours” out of fools. Foolish pouring might be the “grievous words” of verse 1. Any fool can get angry; it is a person of wisdom who remains under control in anger’s presence. The person of wisdom uses knowledge rightly, that is, they are careful with their words, even in the presence of frustration.

Have you ever mentally removed yourself from an angry situation to try to understand the person who was angry and to ask God for wisdom to defuse their anger? As Christians who possess the Holy Spirit of God, we should be carriers of God’s peace, the opposite of foolish fleshly anger. On a day-to-day basis we should be people of soft, controlled and loving words that turn away the anger of others.

 

If you are in the Kemang area or close to it, join us at 11:45 for noon prayer today. We take time to read and to pray God’s word together. This has become a healthy part of our week.

Be in prayer for Sunday as we prepare for our time together in God’s house with God’s people.

Thank you for your prayers for Monica and for Justin. Monica should be released no later than tomorrow and Justin was released earlier today. Difficult situations God has taken care of in His wisdom and lovingkindness.

Have a great day in the Lord,

PS

 

 

Can we really trust a God whom we cannot see?

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1 Samuel 8

19 Nevertheless the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel; and they said, “No, but we will have a king over us, 20 that we also may be like all the nations, and that our king may judge us and go out before us and fight our battles.”

21 And Samuel heard all the words of the people, and he repeated them in the hearing of the Lord. 22 So the Lord said to Samuel, “Heed their voice, and make them a king.”

And Samuel said to the men of Israel, “Every man go to his city.”

 

Let’s take a diversion from Proverbs today and look at a situation in Israel that defines us still today.

God in heaven had been the leader of Israel since the days of Abraham. Jehovah God showed His power over Egypt, over the Red Sea, over hunger and over thirst and over all the enemies of His people in the Promised Land. Everywhere Israel went, Jehovah God went before them and brought down every army meeting Israel’s every need. In the process of time, Israel realized that they did not have a visible king to go before them in battle, to be their figure head, like every other nation had. So they came to Samuel, the God ordained prophet and judge, and demanded that God give them a king they could see. This demand was a direct attack on the God that they could not see who led them by faith in His power and His ability to meet all of their needs.

How much are we like the people of Israel? God promises to meet all of our needs when we seek Him and His kingdom as our priority. God, who gave us all of our desires, has very specific instructions for the right and wrong ways to fulfill the desires of our lives. Psalm 37:4 says, “Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart.”

If God has promised to give us the desires of our heart, then every sin of the heart and the flesh that demands a visible and immediate gratification of that which God has promised is both an idol of the heart and an act of faithlessness. Here is an example: When we covet something that we cannot get we are not trusting that God will meet our needs in that area. When we are bitter, we are not trusting that God has orchestrated all things for our good and for His glory. And when we lust sexually, we are not trusting that God has a plan for our sexual satisfaction.

To trust in God is to believe that He is leading us, by faith, into all that He wants for us. To live by faith is to give every desire into the hand of God and to wait on Him to meet our needs and desires according to His perfect and loving will. So then, every time we take our desires into our own hands, we are demanding that God give us a visible “king” to lead us; we no longer trust that God, whom we cannot see, is leading us well. Our faith, like Israel of old, is placed in a king of our own making who cannot do what God is doing to meet our every need and desire.

Monica’s procedure yesterday had a mishap when during the procedure her pancreas was wounded. We are asking God to heal her sufficiently for a gall bladder removal surgery tonight.

Our son Justin had a lung surgery today. It went well and the doctors gave a good report on the success of the procedure to secure the lung in place so it would never collapse causing greater damage.

Stefani made it safely to China and is with Caleb and Lindsey.

Pray for a friend named Neal whose sister died last week. Neil is here and his family is in Wales. Pray that they all would know God’s grace and peace.

Have a great day in the Lord,

PS

Righteousness in Government brings a secure people

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Proverbs 14

34    Righteousness exalts a nation,

But sin is a reproach to any people.

35    The king’s favor is toward a wise servant,

But his wrath is against him who causes shame.

Throughout Proverbs and human history, there is a distinct correlation between wisdom and righteousness, foolishness and unrighteousness.  When a government acts in wisdom toward its’ people and acts in wisdom with its’ military and with its’ money, the people rejoice. A wise government results in a strong nation. In my lifetime we have seen this in different countries around the world. Rulers respect the people they are ruling, the people are happy with the government, economics are stable, military is protecting, and all is good.

On the other hand, a sinful ruler, a government that thinks of itself first, a government that is not careful with the people’s money and that does not protect them well, brings forth reproach from the people who are insecure and unhappy on several levels. A people who are ruled by a foolish and unrighteous government feel shame and reproach from their rulers. Unfortunately, we have all seen this type of government as well.

So what can we do about this? Let’s look at 1 Timothy.

1 Timothy 2: 1 Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence.

My friends, we cannot storm our government offices demanding change, they don’t seem to listen to Christians anymore, at least not in Aurora. But we are called by the Lord to pray for our government that they may walk in righteousness enabling us to live quiet and peaceful lives in godliness and reverence. Let’s take time today and tomorrow to pray for our governments, those in authority over us, that they may lead in righteousness allowing us to live for our Lord in quietness and peace.

 

I am often reminded of our enemy who seeks to pull us away from the work of God. Pray for one another that in the midst of our lives and work the power of God will overcome all of the enemies’ attacks upon us. Pray for those who are speaking out about their faith to know the power of the gospel against the enemies of God.

Monica’s gall bladder stint went well yesterday, today they are to remove her gall bladder. Continue to pray with us for success and quick healing for our sister.

Have a great day in the Lord,
PS

 

Be slooowww to anger

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Proverbs 14

29    He who is slow to wrath has great understanding,

But he who is impulsive exalts folly.

30    A sound heart is life to the body,

But envy is rottenness to the bones.

Anger is not a character quality. Anger might be a family trait, but it is one to get rid of not to hang on to. Another proverb says to make no friends with an angry man and with a furious man do not go, lest you learn his ways and get a snare to your soul. Another one says that anger rests in the bosom of fools. To act in anger is to act impulsively, to act in such a way that you do not care for those around you. Anger is an expression of frustration that when it spills out it shows the foolishness of the angry person. Envy and anger are cousins; envy produces anger. You want something or someone that another person has, you dwell on what you want and before long you explode in anger over this envious desire.

On the other hand, the one who is slow to anger, she holds her temper, he respects the person and controls himself, that person is considered to have great understanding. It does not say that we never have anger but that we are slow to get there. A long fuse gives you time to resolve the problem and to put out the fuse well before the blow up. Your heart remains faithful, life remains in your body, and those around you determine that you are a person of great understanding.

How we respond is deemed to be who we are. When Jesus Christ enters our lives He brings His peace with Him. Because of this entering of Christ into our very souls, we are going to be different and one key way of difference is how we react when we are provoked to be angry.

 

Here at church yesterday we looked at the testimony of the water, the blood and the Spirit to the validity of the Son of God, the Lord Jesus Christ. This is a study worthy of every Christian so that you can know that our Lord Jesus was totally confirmed by the Father and the Spirit both then and now. Since Christ is so confirmed in who He is and in what He has done, we can speak openly of Christ in any and in every situation that we find ourselves. For those who heard this message, I cannot wait to hear how you opened us a Jesus conversation and how God led that conversation to bring His salvation to someone else. Here is the phrase we said to each other, “I believe that Jesus Christ is God in the flesh, that He lived, died and rose again to save us from our sin.”

 Our son Justin developed a spontaneous (without prior cause) hole in his lung. After a few hours in the hospital where he was treated for this, they released him until Tuesday when he will have a surgical procedure to mostly keep this from being dangerous, if it happens again. He preached yesterday with a pic line in his chest and Saturday night he married a couple whom they have discipled. Pray with us that this surgery will go well.

 Monica, the wife of Dickey, is having an arthroscopic procedure on her gall bladder today and gall bladder removal surgery tomorrow. Pray with her for success and for healing. They are supposed to go to Australia for an education opportunity, pray for them to know and rest in God’s leading.

 Stefani left for China this morning. She will spend ten days with Caleb and Lindsey. They are quite excited to be together in China.

 Have a great day in the Lord,
PS

Deliverance, Refuge, and Satisfaction

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Proverbs 14

25    A true witness delivers souls,

But a deceitful witness speaks lies.

26    In the fear of the Lord there is strong confidence,

And His children will have a place of refuge.

27    The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life,

To turn one away from the snares of death.

 

Throughout this amazing book we are taught the benefits of wisdom and the foolishness of folly in many different ways. God’s purpose must have been that we know wisdom and that we know how to choose wisdom over folly. Here we see the truthfulness that delivers souls. This was written long before Christ came to be our Savior, so Solomon is not referring directly to Christ. Nonetheless, the truth of God from His word always delivers the souls of those who place their faith in God’s truth. The importance of the truth cannot be overstated. In the past few years there have been several sin-filled movements that have redefined themselves making themselves sound good when they are nothing but evil. While the truth of God may not be popular, it is the only Word that saves souls. Let us be bold with the truth for the right reasons.

As we speak the truth we will also, in the fear of the Lord, have a strong confidence about us. Those who know us should know that we are confident with God’s truth. We do not apologize for living out God’s truth, it is our confidence. Furthermore, in this confidence of God’s truth we know God’s place of refuge. I am thankful that I have never needed to find an escape in a bottle or in a pill or in a needle. I am thankful that I have never needed an escape in my life for God is my foundation and my place of refuge.

As truth saves the soul, the fear of the Lord brings satisfaction to our thirsts. When we love our Lord and fear disobeying His loving commands, He also becomes our fountain for the water of our lives. When we think about true satisfaction, we realize that the world around us knows nothing of this. They go from activity to activity, concert to concert, movie to movie, bar to bar, and vacation to vacation looking for that moment of satisfaction and never finding it. In their quest they only find the snares of death.

“Oh Lord, thank You for saving our souls, providing our refuge, and satisfying our thirst. As those around us seek for life in the wrong places may our lives be beacons of your wisdom, your protection, and your satisfaction.”

 

Today is our son Ben’s and his wife, Anna’s, fourth anniversary. Looking back over our parenting years it has occurred to me that everything we did trained our sons, for good or for bad, to be husbands and fathers. Ben brings us great joy as he loves his wife, loves his two children, Emily and Josiah, loves the Lord and the Lord’s people. God has given His grace to Ben and Anna and they radiate with that grace. “Thank you, Lord, for your grace and peace, your wonderful gifts to is all and especially today to Ben and Anna.”

I will be speaking today and tomorrow at a Word of Life singles retreat here in Jakarta. Pray for opportunities for discipleship and for open hearts to God’s word. We are all going so even Jared will get to enjoy as much as he can.

 

It is Friday, remember to pray for all of us pastors who are preparing for Sunday and looking forward to proclaiming God’s word on Sunday. Pray for every teacher in the church as well as for the nursery workers and the musicians that Christ will be seen in us all.

 

Have a great day in the Lord,

PS