Devotionals

Soul keeping vs. Careless ways

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Proverbs 19
16 He who keeps the commandment keeps his soul,
But he who is careless of his ways will die.

When we were younger, America was considered a “Judeo-Christian” nation. The Ten Commandments were on the walls of courtrooms and in town squares. The rule of law was based on absolutes of right and wrong as defined in the Bible. Keeping the commandment of God was thought to be good for families, good for churches, and even good for society.
But then a shift began where prayer was banned from the public schools, the Bible was not to be taught in the public schools, and all public displays of the Ten Commandments were removed. Before long, the rule of law was based on public opinion instead of the objective Word of God. Situation ethics was taught as God’s absolutes were put aside. Right and wrong became fuzzy and was subjected to the upbringing, emotions, and feelings of the people in the culture.
We have watched a shift from those who keep the commandments, to the keeping of their souls, to a world that is careless of the ways of their lives. Ironically, divorce rates, depression, and suicides have dramatically increased. While the world has turned away from God’s commandments, they have come much closer to death and to all of the pain that separation from God brings.
As a pastor, I strive to bring people back to the absolutes of God’s word. The result of this shift back to God’s commandments is people who have peace in their souls. Carelessness with life, from Adam and Eve to today, always brings death of some sort. Only when we follow our Lord Jesus, the living Word, will we know His grace and peace as He keeps our souls both in this life and forevermore.

As we get close to Sunday the church has much to do. There are lessons to prepare, music to rehearse, media to upload, audio to tweak, and our own hearts to get tuned to listen. For all that happens to get Sunday ready for church, the people who come should leave as spiritually filled as they are physically filled after a great meal. Spend time in prayer for your church service on Sunday. Ask God to tune your heart to receive all that is there. After church, take time talking about what you have learned and how you have worshipped. Enjoy everything about Sunday as you would a concert or a sporting event. For the believer, the gathering of the church is the highpoint of the week.

We host our small group tonight at 7:00. As we study the book of James we enjoy the life experiences of one another that help explain the text. See you tonight.

Have a great day in the Lord,
PS

What makes a “good” family?

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Proverbs 19

13 A foolish son is the ruin of his father,

And the contentions of a wife are a continual dripping.

14 Houses and riches are an inheritance from fathers,

But a prudent wife is from the Lord.

Where does a “good” family come from? How can we have a “good” family? There are many opinions about the answer to these questions. First, we would need to define the word ‘good’ so we can agree on the goal. In this passage, a foolish son (child) can be the ruin of his father and a contentious, arguing wife is continual pain to the whole family. So, a “good” family would not have foolish children causing shame nor an arguing wife who brings continual misery.

As a parent of many years, I can attest to the pain of a foolish child. When children act in foolishness the parents grieve. As parents, we learned quickly that control was an illusion. Our kids were going to do as they wanted and we were there to guide them, pray for them, and to try to keep them from failure. When they resisted our wisdom, we felt like we were the failures.

In verse 14 it is established that one’s father can give them a house and an inheritance of riches, but if a man ends up with a prudent wife, one who walks in love and wisdom, she is a gift from the Lord. No, I did not choose my wife, God gave her to me. Honestly men, do you really think that you wooed her to want you? If you have a good wife, she was God’s gift to you.

In pulling these two Proverbs together, we can synthesize that a “good” family begins with a husband and wife that the Lord brings together. Our families are not the result of our upbringing but are God’s gift to us. Psalm 127:3 tells us that our children are God’s heritage to us; the fruit of the womb is his reward. So, a “good” family is the result of God’s kindness shown to us. When we understand this, we will rely upon Him for every aspect of marriage and family. We will go to Him with our family problems and our struggles. We will seek God’s wisdom in our marriage and in our parenting. A “good” family begins and continues both thanking God and trusting God knowing that apart from Him we are lost and doomed to suffer the pains of selfishness and rebellion.

Please pray for a 17-year-old boy who is facing the consequences of his foolishness. He has a short time to turn his life around before many things collapse around him. His parents know the Lord and we are all banded in prayer this week.

 

Have a great day in the Lord,

PS

Avoiding anger for the right reason

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Proverbs 19

11 The discretion of a man makes him slow to anger,

And his glory is to overlook a transgression.

 

In studying Proverbs 2, we learn that discretion is the ability to look past the current decision to see the consequences that will result. The opposite of discretion is carelessness, foolishness, and immaturity. Whenever anger is the first emotion and angry words are the first reaction, big problems follow. Words are used that cause pain and rejecting actions are shown that are not easily forgotten. None of us want to be characterized by anger but all of us have either responded in anger or been the recipients of someone else’s anger. Knowing the painful end of anger should cause us to have enough discretion to be slow to anger.

A slow boil is one that takes time to get hot. It cooks the food slowly and effectively. Being slow to anger can be compared to a slow boil. Yes, there is good reason to be upset, yes, something sinful is being exposed, but showing composure while slowly rising in emotional temperature, will enable the mind to think more clearly and will make sure that the words used are constructive not destructive. Yes, there is a place for anger, but explosive anger never accomplishes anything righteous. “The wrath of man does not work out the righteousness of God.”

With discretion, the understanding of the consequences of our actions, there will be times when we will consider just letting something go. There are some offences that are better off let go. When we are sinned against, we need to seek resolve before the sun sets, before the day ends, but there are times when I perceive someone offended me, but it is only my perception. At those times I am much better off letting it go than making a point. In the end, I am thankful that God has forgiven me and that I can overlook an offence to the glory of God. Loving one another is the key. God has shown forth His love by loving us in all our sin (Romans 5:8); we are called to love one another with this same love. Overlook an offence to the glory of God and rejoice as His love flows through you.

 

In reading through the book of Genesis again, I was struck by the contrast between Noah and Lot. Both were warned by God of impending judgment and both lived in societies completely given over to sin. In Noah’s day we read that violence covered the land and that every thought of mankind was only evil continually. In Lot’s city of Sodom, all the men of the city wanted to sexually assault the two male visitors in Lot’s home. When the angels of God struck these men with blindness, they continued their perverse rage by blindly seeking Lot’s door. The major and painful difference is this: Noah’s sons and daughters-in-law got into the ark with him, Lot’s children and wife were so caught up in the identify and world-view of Sodom that some did not go with him, his wife looked longingly back, and his daughters committed incest to bear children. I was reminded of the importance of raising our children to know the Lord, to see the failure of sin, and ever keep before them the truth of God and His wonderful salvation. We cannot change the world, but we can raise our children with the knowledge of God and trust Him for their salvation.

Have a great day in the Lord,

PS

Who is telling the truth?

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Proverbs 19

5 A false witness will not go unpunished,

And he who speaks lies will not escape.

8 He who gets wisdom loves his own soul;

He who keeps understanding will find good.

9 A false witness will not go unpunished,

And he who speaks lies shall perish.

As we have seen, the book of Proverbs is a book of contrasts. Here in chapter 19 we find the same statement in verse 5 and in verse 9 with a statement about loving wisdom and keeping understanding between them. Do you read or watch the news and wonder who is telling the truth? It bugs me so much to hear two sides of the same story, both spoken with the conviction of truth, but both of them on complete opposite ends of the spectrum. Is one lying, are both lying, who is telling the truth? Does truth begin with one’s political position or does truth stand all by itself?

Twice we find stated that a false witness, one who speaks lies, will not go unpunished. In other words, at some point, the truth will be known, and the liar will face the consequences of their lies. Furthermore, those who speak lies will perish, that is, they will die and will come to nothing; their reputation as a liar will cause them to be forgotten, they will perish.

At times, we just need to sit back and let the Lord reveal the truth. We tend to jump on to the bandwagon that we think is the truth, but we need to wait to see where the truth is. In the getting of wisdom, we love our own soul; in keeping understanding we will find good. Instead of following the loudest voice or the most convincing argument, let’s seek God’s wisdom and God’s understanding. Jesus Christ is the way, the truth, and the life. God is truth. Since He knows the truth from the lie, we can find the truth when we seek God’s wisdom and His perfect understanding.

 

We began a mission’s emphasis month on Sunday. Our church supports seven missionaries/mission agencies in Indonesia. We heard from a woman on Sunday who has served in Indonesia for 50 years. May all of us be so faithful. We are praying that the people of JIBC will gain a greater understanding and burden to both give and go.

This morning, Stefani and Zani and I went early to a traditional market. It was a lot of fun to buy vegetables and fruits, some of them I had not seen before and bought them just to try them.

Have a great day in the Lord,

PS

Walking with Integrity

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Proverbs 19

1 Better is the poor who walks in his integrity

Than one who is perverse in his lips, and is a fool.

2 Also it is not good for a soul to be without knowledge,

And he sins who hastens with his feet.

3 The foolishness of a man twists his way,

And his heart frets against the Lord.

It would be a breath of fresh air to have men and women serving our countries who walked in integrity, were not striving to be rich, lived with the knowledge of God in their souls, did not hurry to sin and did not twist situations to their advantage fretting against the Lord. As sad as it is, this does not describe very many people, especially those in government leadership. It is no wonder that the countries of the world are in trouble.

Well, if we cannot look around and see very many people that these verses describe in the positive sense, then we can at least look into the mirror and ask if we live this way. Do we walk in our integrity? God is truth. Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. Integrity, for the Christian, should be a life characterized by truth, by integrity of character in all matters. When things go wrong, our reputation of integrity should protect us.

There is so much emphasis on success and wealth. Everywhere we look we see something better than we have and more expensive than we can afford. Paul said that he had to learn to be content, so do we. Godliness with contentment is great gain regardless of how much money we make. We know what it is to be poor; being poor is not shameful. Honor follows those who walk in their integrity. As we strive for things in this life, may we strive the most to be people of truth and honesty, respect and kindness, people of integrity.

 

As we prepare for Sunday, remember to pray for your church. God has brought His church together for His glory for the furthering of His gospel. Pray that your church will gather around the Word of God, maturing in faith and knowledge, making the gospel known.

Two men in our church request prayer for medical situations; remember Rikardo and Tymoti in your prayers and they have medical procedures today. Remember the family of Mr. Wiranto in prayer. Mr. Wiranto is a government official here in Indonesia who was stabbed yesterday by a radical Islamic man. Pray for this government as they seek to bring greater peace to Indonesia.

Have a great day in the Lord,

PS

 

True friends are always there

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Proverbs 18

24  A man of many companions may come to ruin,

but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.

Proverbs 19

4 Wealth makes many friends,

But the poor is separated from his friend.

In a day when “friends” are counted in a Facebook column or an Instagram account, we may have “many friends” whom Solomon might have called “many companions.” There is a concern today that this generation is not going to know the meaning of real friendship. The expression, “I’ve got your back” is not an expression of real friendship but one of defending someone. Michelle Obama “had the back” of a profession football player who came out as homosexual; she was not his friend. In today’s way of thinking, one’s list of “friends,” those who follow a social media feed, provide the security of acceptance. Solomon’s words need repeating: “A man of many companions may come to ruin.”

How many friends stick in times of wealth and in times of poverty? How many friends stick when everything is going well and when everything is going bad? Felicity Huffman had many “friends” until she was exposed for bribing her daughter’s way into college. Her “friend list” got really short, really fast. The question today is not how many “friends” we have on social media, but how many friends do we have that we can count on when our money and our health run out?

I mentioned yesterday that Jesus Christ is the friend that sticks closer than a brother, and for His friendship we are eternally grateful. Yet, when we need the hand of a friend, the voice of a friend, and the care of a friend, how many can we call? May I suggest that you break out of your routine to be a friend to a friend in their time of trouble? Last Sunday, when Rikardo ended up in the hospital, a woman and her daughter from church came and spent six hours caring for him. The next day a couple from the church came and stayed with him for several hours while the hospital was struggling with Rikardo’s insurance. When either of these families have a need in the future, Rikardo will be there as they were there in his hour of need. A real “friend” is not on a social media list, no, a real friend is there when your brother or sister cannot be there. A real friend sticks closer than a brother and is your friend regardless of what they might “get” from the friendship.

 

Yesterday, two of our deacons and I went to visit some Iranian refugee men who are also our brothers in Christ. It was a joy to hear of their journeys to faith in Christ. These men also told us about the atrocities of Sharia Law in Iran. Whenever one leaves Islam for any other religion, they become a target for anyone faithful to Islam to kill. These brothers, most of them, left Iran because they were targeted for leaving Islam. As refugees, it takes 3-7 years for the UN to finish their case and move them to an approved country. In the meantime, they cannot work as they would be “taking jobs away from Indonesians.” As we talked, these men told us how much they like Donald Trump because he is the only one with courage enough to stand up to Iran and tell them that they are treating their people wrong. They said that Barak Hussein Obama (their emphasis on “Hussein”) did not help the Christians in Iran at all as he supported the regime with their Sharia Law. Pray with us as our church seeks to help these refugees who fled their country because of their faith in Christ.

 

Have a great day in the Lord,

PS

Friendship, Being Friendly, Having a Friend

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Proverbs 18

24 A man who has friends must himself be friendly,

But there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.

John 15

12 This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends. 14 You are My friends if you do whatever I command you. 15 No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you.

The human element of this passage is that friendship is the result of friendliness. Those who are not friendly do not have many friends. The opposite is the point of the verse; those who treat others with friendliness will have friends. One of the byproducts of being depressed is to lose friends; this loss is because the one depressed will stop being friendly. What does it take to make a call, send a text, or meet someone for lunch? When we act in friendliness toward others, we will make friends and we will help ourselves out of our own loneliness.

The spiritual element of this passage is that Jesus Christ calls us His friends. He laid down His life showing us His love and He now wants us to be His eternal friends. Jesus is the friend who sticks closer than a brother for He is ever with us. We can make human friends who are closer than our natural brothers and sisters. Jesus in us and our lives in Him are possible because He has acted in friendliness toward us. The greatest act of friendship is to lay down your life for your friend. While we might be willing to do this for someone very close to us, Jesus laid down His life for us when we were very far from Him.

Rest assured in the friendship of the Lord Jesus. Not only did He call His disciples friends, He also proved His claim to friendship by giving up His life for His friends. When we feel alone, we are not. When we feel forsaken by our earthly friends, Jesus has not forsaken us. It is the friendship of Christ that carries us throughout this life and on into eternity. This idea of a friend with God is unique to Christianity. He loved us first and love Him in return. We do not live in fear of angering our God for He has confirmed His loving friendship to Him. Let us live in the security of knowing our Savior as our eternal friend.

 

Have a great day in the Lord,

PS