Devotionals

Stolen pleasures are deadly

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Proverbs 9

13   A foolish woman is clamorous;

She is simple, and knows nothing.

14   For she sits at the door of her house,

On a seat by the highest places of the city,

15   To call to those who pass by,

Who go straight on their way:

16   “Whoever is simple, let him turn in here”;

And as for him who lacks understanding, she says to him,

17   “Stolen water is sweet,

And bread eaten in secret is pleasant.”

18   But he does not know that the dead are there,

That her guests are in the depths of hell.

 

In light of today’s emphasis on open sexuality, the normalization of sleeping together, the weakening of the marriage promise of faithfulness, and the willingness of men and women to pervert their minds sexually, this passage of wisdom literature needs to be given close attention. Let’s skip discussing veses 13-16, they speak for themselves, and let’s focus on vs 17-18.

What is it about “stealing a kiss” or “a secret affair” that excites the senses? Going back 3,000 years Solomon describes the offer of “bread eaten in secret” as being “pleasant.” There is something within our sinful nature that always likes to get away with something. As a young teenager I would look for ways to steal little things from the store or from someone’s house. When I succeeded there was a sense of devious accomplishment. From secretly watching pornography to having a secret relationship, the devious side of us understands that “bread eaten in secret is pleasant.”

However, this devious satisfaction going to be short lived. For the moment this devious pleasure is discovered we know shame and embarrassment for getting caught. Solomon went a step further teaching us that when we succumb to this devious pleasure we are setting our lives and our souls up for the destruction of death and of hell. Those who live in devious immorality, and all immorality at all levels is devious, are setting themselves up for the death of relationships and for eternal separation from God himself.

Let us not be simple in understanding. Let us be fully aware that secret sexual pleasures do not lead to strong trusting relationships but just the opposite, they lead to death at several levels. When we are confronted to eat stolen bread in secret places, let us remember the words of wisdom that this stolen bread will turn to poison in our stomachs and bring ruin that we cannot overcome. Yes, God created us sexual beings, and yes, God provided a holy place, marriage, for these desires to be righteously fulfilled. But know this, any sexual activity outside of marriage will not end well for it is not God’s design.

 

Yesterday we had a visiting music team lead us in our music worship. Pak Asido and his friends did a wonderful job of bringing us into their music and lifting up our Lord together. We are going through 1 John and yesterday we looked at chapter 3 verses 2-3 how that when we see Christ we will be like Him for we will see Him as He is; we are to therefore purify ourselves just as He is pure. This is a very practical message for our time. If you missed it you can find it at https://sites.google.com/jibc.or.id/jibc/sermons

 

For those in Jakarta, I asked yesterday if anyone had an adult bicycle or tennis racquets that I could borrow for two weeks. If you do, please let me know. As I mentioned, my son Justin, his wife Katelyn, and their four boys are coming in tomorrow to be with us for ten days. We are looking forward to this time with them, but not nearly as much as the boys are looking forward to coming to Indonesia.

 

Have a great day in the Lord,

PS

What is the fear of the Lord?

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Proverbs 9

10     The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,

and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.

11     For by me your days will be multiplied,

and years will be added to your life.

12     If you are wise, you are wise for yourself;

if you scoff, you alone will bear it.

Why, do you suppose, that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom? Solomon makes this statement several times in Proverbs so there must be something to this teaching. When I was a young child under my father’s instructions, there were times that I did what I was supposed to do only because I feared his chastening hand. That chastening hand was both loving and firm. I never doubted my father’s love, nor did I doubt that he would correct me if I did wrong. Is the fear of the Lord at all similar to what I felt under my dad’s upbringing? If we feared God’s corrective hand are there actions we would avoid? Perhaps, the fear of the Lord is the fear of His just discipline. If the only reason we followed the Lord was out of fear of being corrected, we would avoid a great deal of trouble.

But do notice that the fear of the Lord is only “the beginning” of wisdom. When we begin to obey out of fear of correction, we will soon mature and obey out of love and respect. Ultimately, we will learn of God and the knowledge of the Holy One will give us insight to life. As I got older, I no longer feared my father’s correction, but I then respected his knowledge and sought to learn from him. When we learn from God about Him, that knowledge will guide us from foolishness into wisdom.

Then, verse 11, as we follow wisdom, we gain better days of life and more years to live them. Many stories have been written about a “fountain of youth” or about ways to live longer and better. Solomon puts it simply: fear the Lord and learn about Him and you will add better days and more years to your life. Verse 12 tells us that when we practice wisdom, we do it for ourselves. In the end, we are the primary beneficiary of our wisdom choices. Conversely, when we act in foolishness, we will bear the pain of those choices. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.”

 

I met with a man today who wants accountability regarding his life choices. We talked about many things and committed to meet twice a month to ask each other questions about what we are doing and how we are doing. Do you have a friend that holds you accountable, a friend that sharpens your life when you get together? This man made a wisdom choice today and I will appreciate our getting together as well.

As it is Friday I ask again that you would be in prayer for ours and your church services this Sunday. We are looking forward to a great day together as we welcome new men and women into our church membership. We are thanking God for the people that He is bringing into our church to work together for His kingdom and glory.

Have a great day in the Lord,

PS

Always be able to be corrected, it is the way of the wise.

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Proverbs 9

7     “He who corrects a scoffer gets shame for himself,

And he who rebukes a wicked man only harms himself.

8     Do not correct a scoffer, lest he hate you;

Rebuke a wise man, and he will love you.

9     Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be still wiser;

Teach a just man, and he will increase in learning.

In working through the Proverbs there is a stark contrast between the fool, the scorner, the simple ones and the wise. Having studied this when I was a teenager, I have observed this contrast in people as well as in my own life. The key difference between these people is their willingness to listen and to receive instruction.

Here is the picture, someone you know, a family member, a co-worker, or a friend, messes up; I mean, they really mess up. As a person who cares you go to them to give them instruction so they won’t mess up again. If the person you correct is a scoffer they will turn the whole thing around on you so you leave feeling ashamed. The scoffer does not want instruction but only wants to communicate that they don’t want to be corrected. Suppose the person you correct is fool, one who lives in wickedness, they might come after you to harm you or your reputation for trying to help them. If you have lived long enough, you have been treated this way by foolish people that you tried to help.

What happens when you correct a person who is striving to follow wisdom? According to Solomon, the person who wants wisdom will love you and will increase in their wisdom through the situation. Unfortunately, there seem to be only a few who really want instruction and are thankful for it. Before we get too judgmental let’s look in the mirror of our own lives. How many times have you reacted wrongly to correction? We can justify our reaction by saying that the person did not correct us right or that they had no right to correct us; however: the point is not on the one doing the correction but on how the correction is received. So, the next time you are corrected in any arena of your life, take a deep breath, listen to the one correcting you, and thank them for their correction. Your response will be the response of one seeking wisdom, and you will build your relationship with the person who corrected you.

 

We spent time this morning and last night talking face to face with our kids and grandkids in Illinois and in California. When my brother-in-law and is wife, Ed and Jan, went to Brazil 33 years ago there was no such technology. Even though we are 10,000 miles away, we can still be in our families lives and in their homes for a little bit of time each week. How thankful we are that when we left Chicago we knew that when we landed we could still see and talk to our family and friends. In missions, this really is a new way to stay connected. I thank God for giving men and women the minds to develop and use all of this.  

A woman yesterday, who works in customer service and helped us in a situation, asked me what the difference was between Muslim, Catholic, and Christian. We had a wonderful talk about the difference between works and grace, between a promise of eternal life through sins forgiven and a hope of eternal life after a lifetime of human effort. Pray that the Holy Spirit will prick this woman’s heart about her sin and her need.

Have a great day in the Lord,

PS

Wisdom’s Call to the Simple

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Proverbs 9

1       Wisdom has built her house, She has hewn out her seven pillars;

2     She has slaughtered her meat,

She has mixed her wine,

She has also furnished her table.

3     She has sent out her maidens,

She cries out from the highest places of the city,

4     “Whoever is simple, let him turn in here!”

As for him who lacks understanding, she says to him,

5     “Come, eat of my bread

And drink of the wine I have mixed.

6     Forsake foolishness and live,

And go in the way of understanding.

Once again, Solomon uses the woman Wisdom to set the stage for a call to living a life of wisdom and understanding. She builds a house, she sets a wonderful table, she goes out to the city and looks for those whom she can direct in the right ways of life and calls them to her feast. Her feast is desirable, it is fulfilling, and will be filled with guests to share in her wisdom.

When Solomon uses the term “simple ones” he is describing a man or a woman who is still teachable. The evil woman looks for the simple ones to pervert. The fool looks for the simple ones to draw into his foolishness. The woman Wisdom seeks the simple ones to train their hearts away from foolishness toward wisdom. She calls the simple ones to eat of her bread and to drink of her wine; these are indications of eating and drinking that which is good for you. She calls the simple ones to forsake foolishness and live and to go in the way of understanding. When a simple person follows wisdom they will become a person of wisdom. They will see the folly of foolishness and turn away from it. Thus, Wisdom calls to the simple to gain understanding so they can live in wisdom and righteousness throughout life.

What do we do when Wisdom calls? We want to think that we are among those who listen to wisdom, but aren’t there times when our lives crave a foolish act, a foolish relationship, a foolish entertainment, a foolish purchase, or some foolish words? None of us are above hearing and heeding the call of the foolish man and the evil woman. As the woman Wisdom called to the simple of her day, she is still calling to us today. The call is to follow her instruction and to live; eat at her table and be satisfied.

 

Thank you, church, JIBC, for gathering with us yesterday. We rejoice in the fellowship, the worship, the ministry of the Word and the open hearts to the gospel. As the message of salvation was preached, three people indicated that they called upon Christ to save them at the end of the message. We are praying for them to know the reality of abiding in Christ this week. Another man with whom we shared the gospel earlier, has come to Christ and is hungry for spiritual food. We are thanking God for so many opportunities to live and give His gospel.

Thank you, church leadership for your love for the Lord and His church. Our meeting Saturday was helpful in many ways and I look forward to this next year of serving our Savior together.

Have a great day in the Lord,

PS

The Wisdom of God Available for Us

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Proverbs 8

22    “The Lord possessed me at the beginning of His way,

Before His works of old.

23    I have been established from everlasting,

From the beginning, before there was ever an earth.

24    When there were no depths I was brought forth,

When there were no fountains abounding with water.

25    Before the mountains were settled,

Before the hills, I was brought forth;

26    While as yet He had not made the earth or the fields,

Or the primal dust of the world.

27    When He prepared the heavens, I was there,

When He drew a circle on the face of the deep,

28    When He established the clouds above,

When He strengthened the fountains of the deep,

29    When He assigned to the sea its limit,

So that the waters would not transgress His command,

When He marked out the foundations of the earth,

30    Then I was beside Him as a master craftsman;

And I was daily His delight,

Rejoicing always before Him,

31    Rejoicing in His inhabited world,

And my delight was with the sons of men.

32    “Now therefore, listen to me, my children,

For blessed are those who keep my ways.

33    Hear instruction and be wise,

And do not disdain it.

34    Blessed is the man who listens to me,

Watching daily at my gates,

Waiting at the posts of my doors.

35    For whoever finds me finds life,

And obtains favor from the Lord;

36    But he who sins against me wrongs his own soul;

All those who hate me love death.”

 

Here we again the see Wisdom talking, telling us how she was with God as He planned and created the world. Wisdom was God’s master craftsman as God planned and created the world, its animals, its complex systems and man. As we look at the created world, we see design and intent all around us. The idea of evolution that time and chance brought about order and complexity is absurd in every science except origins. God, the Master designer, worked carefully with great wisdom in His design and implementation of every aspect of His creation. As men were created wisdom was their delight.

 

In light of all that Wisdom has done, we are called to listen to wisdom, to hear wisdom, and to watch for wisdom, so that we may find wisdom. In finding wisdom we also find life and obtain favor, or grace, from the Lord. We are seeing a repeating theme in Proverbs of seeking after wisdom to obtain it for the bettering of our lives. In other words, wisdom is good for us. Remember that wisdom begins in the fear of the Lord; wisdom is the understanding of what our actions will cost us before we act. Wisdom then enhances our lives in ways beyond our understanding.

 

The chapter ends with a warning. Those who sin against wisdom, that is they act apart from it, wrong their own soul. Please understand from wisdom that our actions have consequences either positive or negative. When we ignore wisdom, the negative consequences will bring pain to the core of our lives, our very souls. Think through your life actions and life choices from Wisdom’s point of view. You will not end with regrets but with the honor and joy of wisdom living.

 

This week is Shepherd’s Conference at Grace Community Church in Southern California.   Take some time to look up Shepherds Conference, enjoy the music as 4,000 pastors, elders, and deacons join to sing God’s praise with Keith and Kristin Getty, let your heart be stirred by some of the greatest preachers of our day. The Word of God will be opened carefully and powerfully. Whatever time you take to watch Shepherds Conference will be time well spent.

 

My parents celebrated 65 years together yesterday. What a great testimony of a commitment to each other and commitment to God they have been. Happy Anniversary Dad and Mom.

 

Have a great day in the Lord,

PS

The Person, Wisdom

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Proverbs 8

12     “I, wisdom, dwell with prudence,

And find out knowledge and discretion.

13     The fear of the LORD is to hate evil;

Pride and arrogance and the evil way

And the perverse mouth I hate.

14     Counsel is mine, and sound wisdom;

I am understanding, I have strength.

15     By me kings reign,

And rulers decree justice.

16     By me princes rule, and nobles,

All the judges of the earth.

17     I love those who love me,

And those who seek me diligently will find me.

18     Riches and honor are with me,

Enduring riches and righteousness.

19      My fruit is better than gold, yes, than fine gold,

And my revenue than choice silver.

20     I traverse the way of righteousness,

In the midst of the paths of justice,

21     That I may cause those who love me to inherit wealth,

That I may fill their treasuries.

In his youth, Solomon had the opportunity to chose wealth, power, or wisdom. When he chose wisdom the result was ultimate wealth and power. He could not have known this at that time but in the end he could see how that choosing wisdom was the best path he could have taken. Here in chapter 8, Wisdom is given a personality, a friend group, and character qualities. We learn that wisdom befriends all that is good for us in life. Wisdom hates evil, pride and perversion.

Wisdom, in verse 17, loves those who love her and is found by all who seek after her. Proverbs 8:17 has been one of the guiding beacons of my life. This along with James 1:4 has often called out leading me to seek wisdom in life’s situations. We are not born with wisdom, in fact, foolishness seems to be quite natural. Seeking wisdom is seeking the direction of God; it is looking for the best path possible for all who are involved. Wisdom is loving God and others before loving self. Wisdom thus makes peace or at least lets all others involved know that we are looking for the best result possible.

In verse 19, wisdom is better than gold, though verses 18 and 21 speak to riches being one of the by-products of seeking wisdom. My friends, seek after godly wisdom for when you do seek her you will find her. The results of wisdom may or may not be a level of success in this life but remember that riches of this life are not always gold and silver; the enduring riches may be the people who love and respect you throughout your life.

 

I received videos yesterday of Rachel in Jakarta, the girl who was thrown from the car nine weeks ago, beginning to walk again. While this was a joy to watch I realized that she still needs our prayers for the strength of her legs and of her will. Do keep her in your prayers as she begins the long road back after breaking both of her legs in December.

Do remember to pray for our kids in high school and in college. There are many pressures around them all the time. Some struggle with health issues that pull against their study time. When you think about it, give a student a call or a text letting them know you are thinking about them and praying for them.

Have a great day in the Lord,

PS

Who you befriend makes a difference

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Proverbs 8

1     Does not wisdom cry out, And understanding lift up her voice?

2     She takes her stand on the top of the high hill, Beside the way, where the paths meet.

3     She cries out by the gates, at the entry of the city, At the entrance of the doors:

4     “To you, O men, I call, And my voice is to the sons of men.

5     O you simple ones, understand prudence, And you fools, be of an understanding heart.

6     Listen, for I will speak of excellent things, And from the opening of my lips will come right things;

7     For my mouth will speak truth; Wickedness is an abomination to my lips.

8     All the words of my mouth are with righteousness; Nothing crooked or perverse is in them.

9     They are all plain to him who understands, And right to those who find knowledge.

10     Receive my instruction, and not silver, And knowledge rather than choice gold;

11     For wisdom is better than rubies, And all the things one may desire cannot be compared with her.

It helps us to remember that the Bible was not written in chapters and verses. Chapters and verses were added later so we could find particular places. Knowing that helps us think around these divisions. Proverbs chapter 7 is a description of an immoral woman who calls out to the simple man with the intent to ruin his life. Chapter 8 is the call of the woman Wisdom to the simple man with the intent to make him wise. To understand the contrast read all of chapter 7 then go right into chapter 8 as if it were the same thought. For whereas foolish people want to ruin those who follow them, wise people want to build up people who follow them.

These instructions should open the eyes of our understanding to the people we listen to, the people we want to accept us, the people who will ultimately harm us and the people who will be good for us. My father taught me that the things that change your life are the books you read and the people you meet. He was just following the instruction of Solomon. The people we meet and want to be like do change our lives for better or for worse.

In our work-a-day world, we cannot determine who will work next to us, over us, or below us. We have to endure some pretty foul and foolish people. However, we don’t have to become their best friend, nor do we have to let their foolishness influence our lives. Solomon’s point here is that there are different people around us, some will do us evil, some will do us good. Be careful who you hang out with. They will influence your life.

 

Once again, I must thank all who prayed for me and for your pastor yesterday. God was honored as His name was exalted and His word was opened. The dinner plate of the meat and vegetables of the Word was served and God’s people were fed. After church we had another group of JIBC family over for lunch. What a blessed time we had enjoying our food and then enjoying one another. Bobbi and I love hearing how our new friends journeyed to faith in Christ. So many people from so many places through so many different circumstances, some quite painful, to find the grace of God greater than their sin. Only God can be behind this much love and grace and faith.

 

Have a great day in the Lord,

PS