Devotionals

Let’s Take the Opportunities to Choose Wisdom

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Proverbs 24

1 Be not envious of evil men,

nor desire to be with them,

    for their hearts devise violence,

and their lips talk of trouble.

    By wisdom a house is built,

and by understanding it is established;

    by knowledge the rooms are filled

with all precious and pleasant riches.

 

The word pictures described here make an obvious choice for what we really want in life. No one wants violence; no one wants trouble in their houses. On the other hand, all of us want a level of wisdom in our houses, understanding of what is important, rooms filled with precious and pleasant riches. We can envision the difference quite easily.

Once we see the difference, to what degree will we strive to attain the better side of this picture? No one is born wise, for we are born with hearts that are deceived, wills that are selfish, and goals that might take some sin to achieve. We revel in acts of the flesh and laugh at foolishness and sin. So then, how do we transition to gaining wisdom, understanding, and right knowledge?

The first step in change is recognizing that change is needed. Looking back, when you have acted in selfishness, where did it get you? When did you act in envy and trouble to get something you wanted, did you really enjoy what you gained?   Now, what do you need to think and do differently to act in the wisdom that brings security and value? The funny thing about wisdom is this, no one may support your decision to act in wisdom and understanding but everyone will envy the results of your wise choices.

I have read many stories of foolish people who got rich, really rich, but lost it all and ended in poverty and shame. (Not that being poor is shameful, but these people become poor because of their foolishness.) On the other hand, I have known hundreds of average people who sought the Lord’s wisdom and understanding and while living moderately in life had a family that was established and had the precious and pleasant riches of God’s grace to enjoy every day.

 

Two years ago I began the journey toward another degree that would provide the credentials needed to teach on the seminary level. I took a year off of that journey when we moved to Jakarta. In October, I restarted the journey. In the last two weeks of December and into the first week of January, my class assignments on top of my church speaking schedules, took over my life and I was not able to give time to prepare these devotionals. This week and next I am in Louisville, KY taking class. My plan is to get back to writing the devotionals as things get back to normal.  

We had a great Christmas together with our church family and are so happy to be in Jakarta at JIBC. Bobbi and both have completed a year now and look forward to 2020 as we continue to serve with our brothers and sisters in Christ.

Have a great day in the Lord,


PS

Time, Talent, Treasure, Trust, what are we doing with ours?

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2 Timothy 4

For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.

God gives each of a measure of life. He alone knows when we will be born and when we will die. Along with our lives, God gives each of us the four T’s in different measures.

We all have:

  1. Time – v.6 “the time of my departure is at hand.”
    1. The amount of time we have is the amount of time we are accountable to God for.
    2. This is a measurable amount though we do not know the measure. Some live longer, some not very long at all. The amount of time we have is all that we have.
    3. Matthew 20:1-16 The laborers in the vineyard were called to work for the master with the amount of time that they were in the vineyard.

 

  1. Talents – v.7 “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”
    1. Each of us have different abilities from birth.       All of these abilities need to be developed and matured until we can use them fully for God’s glory. Hebrews 12:1 We each are assigned a race that we are to run. You cannot run any race except the one God has given you.
    2. God gives us abilities and then tells us to develop and use them until He comes.   Matthew 25:14-30 Each servant was given different amounts of money to invest according to his own ability.

 

  1. Treasures – v.8 “Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day”
    1. Most of us do not have treasures of gold hidden in a vault.
    2. All of us have treasures that we place value in.
    3. Jesus calls us to seek, as our priority, as our treasure, His kingdom and His glory. Matthew 13:44-46 – Jesus is the pearl of great price, our greatest Treasure.

 

  1. Trust – v.8 “not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.”
    1. This might be the most difficult of the T’s.
    2. Trust is based on previous experience. The disciples were afraid of the storm based on being in previous storms. But they had never had Jesus in the boat with them before.
    3. When we feel we have been mistreated trust becomes difficult. Mary and Martha were disappointed that Jesus let their brother die. They both corrected him when he arrived.
    4. Whatever God brings into our lives, He brings it for our good and for His glory. Romans 8:28 & 32, Luke 15:11-21 – The prodigal son trusted that his father would receive him.

 

As the church of the redeemed, we live in two worlds. We have one foot in this life and one foot in eternity. We receive stimulus from both worlds and decide which to follow more intensely. In his final words of this life, Paul looks back and looks ahead. We must ask ourselves how we are doing with all that God has given us. When we, like Paul, look back and look ahead, what will we see, what will we say? Let live in such a way that we too will love the literal appearing of Christ, whether here or in eternity.

The three weeks of Christmas and New Years have given me more wonderful opportunities to preach God’s goodness and grace as well as His plans for us. I apologize for not keeping up with these devotionals, but my days have been filled with preparations for speaking as well as for a class I am taking next week. Today’s devotional was yesterday’s message at JIBC. One of our members asked if I would preach these four T’s as he was preparing the song service and wanted to incorporate them into the whole service. We are thankful God who uses us as His ministers of His truths.

We have had several people that we met in 2019 and have sought to spend time with them for Christ’s sake. Pray that in 2020, as we continue cultivating these friendships, that we would see some come to Christ. We realize that the harvest here is plenteous. Pray with us for a harvest of souls.

Have a great day in the Lord,

PS

 

 

What if Jesus had never come?

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Merry Christmas friends. While studying for tonight’s message, I came across this piece from Streams in the Desert, a devotional book written in 1925. The message is striking and riveting. Consider what it would be like if Jesus had not come, and then, rejoice oh world, the Savior has come!
A FEW years ago a striking Christmas card was published, with the title, “If Christ had not come.” It was founded upon our Savior’s words, “If I had not come.” The card represented a clergyman falling into a short sleep in his study on Christmas morning and dreaming of a world into which Jesus had never come.
In his dream he found himself looking through his home, but there were no little stockings in the chimney corner, no Christmas bells or wreaths of holly, and no Christ to comfort, gladden and save. He walked out on the public street, but there was no church with its spire pointing to Heaven. He came back and sat down in his library, but every book about the Savior had disappeared.
A ring at the door-bell, and a messenger asked him to visit a poor dying mother. He hastened with the weeping child and as he reached the home he sat down and said, “I have something here that will comfort you.” He opened his Bible to look for a familiar promise, but it ended at Malachi, and there was no gospel and no promise of hope and salvation, and he could only bow his head and weep with her in bitter despair.
Two days afterward he stood beside her coffin and conducted the funeral service, but there was no message of consolation, no word of a glorious resurrection, no open Heaven, but only “dust to dust, ashes to ashes,” and one long eternal farewell. He realized at length that “He had not come,” and burst into tears and bitter weeping in his sorrowful dream.
Suddenly he woke with a start, and a great shout of joy and praise burst from his lips as he heard his choir singing in his church close by:
“O come, all ye faithful, joyful and triumphant,
O come ye, O come ye to Bethlehem;
Come and behold Him, born the King of Angels,
O come let us adore Him, Christ, the Lord.”
Let us be glad and rejoice today, because “He has come.” And let us remember the annunciation of the angel, “Behold I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people, for unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2:10, 11.)
“He comes to make His blessing flow,
Far as the curse is found.”
May our hearts go out to the people in heathen lands who have no blessed Christmas day. “Go your way, eat the fat, drink the sweet, and SEND PORTIONS TO THEM FOR WHOM NOTHING IS PREPARED.” (Neh. 8:10.)
Living in Indonesia for a year now, and facing my second Christmas here, I have come to realize that the entire Muslim, Buddhist, and Hindu population here as well as the entire countries of China, Thailand, North Korea, and more, do not live knowing that Christ has come. If they do Christmas, it is just another day but it has no meaning and no special reason to think about Jesus Christ. So as you rejoice in your Christmas, pray for those who have never known even one Christmas for they do not know of Christ.
Have a great day in the Lord,
PS

Mary’s Great Praise

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Luke 1:

46 And Mary said:

“My soul magnifies the Lord,

47    And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.

48    For He has regarded the lowly state of His maidservant;

For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed.

49    For He who is mighty has done great things for me,

And holy is His name.

50    And His mercy is on those who fear Him

From generation to generation.

51    He has shown strength with His arm;

He has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.

52    He has put down the mighty from their thrones,

And exalted the lowly.

53    He has filled the hungry with good things,

And the rich He has sent away empty.

54    He has helped His servant Israel,

In remembrance of His mercy,

55    As He spoke to our fathers,

To Abraham and to his seed forever.”

Take some time today to enjoy the song of Mary after she knew she had been made pregnant by the Holy Spirit. Of all people in her life, I would suppose that she was the only one without any doubts whatsoever. Yes, Joseph believed the angel, but his first thought was to put her away for being unfaithful to him. Later, Jesus was accused of being born of fornication which accusation put Mary in a very bad light. We can assume that Mary would know throughout her life that her first pregnancy was going to raise questions and eyebrows, but Mary knew the wonderful truth.

In this her song, Mary lifts up the name of the Lord and rejoiced in God her Savior. God did great things for her and His name was holy. From beginning to end, Mary speaks continued praise to her God. Mary knew that a miracle, a one-of-a-kind miracle had taken place within her womb and she just had to lift up the name of the God whose miracle she was carrying. Notice how she identifies with the lowly, with those who fear Him, the hungry who are filled with good things, and with the servant whom the Lord helped in His mercy.

Mary is well aware that the Lord shows strength with His arm, the Lord scatters the proud, He puts down the mighty, and He sends the rich away empty. Mary was among the poor of this world, yet God had uniquely smiled upon her in remembrance of His mercy. God was fulfilling His promise of a Messiah and Mary was the vessel God was using. While none of this made sense, Mary greatly rejoices in her God-given position, as the mother of God’s Son.

We thank God for Mary, a young faithful woman of Israel, whom God chose to carry the Lord Jesus and bring into this world. Not much more is said about Mary, but she knew that God had done something wonderful in her. We know when God has saved us, we know when the Holy Spirit of God dwells within us, and we too should sing songs of praise that God has mercifully chosen us. Let us join Mary in praising our God and Savior for His wonderful works in us.

 

Thank you for your prayers on Monday, the opportunity to preach Christ at a company Christmas party was wonderful. I am thankful to Rikardo for putting this all together and to the company who allowed it and supported it. We now pray for the fruit of salvation to come from the seed sown.

Take opportunities this next week to speak openly of the Christ of Christmas. People might be a bit more willing to speak of the Savior during this season of the year.

Have a great day in the Lord,

PS

Riches and honor from humility

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Proverbs 22

4 By humility and the fear of the Lord

Are riches and honor and life.

Philippians 2

Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, 11 and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

 

With Christ as our example, we should have greater understanding of this proverb. Jesus did not come in power and authority but in humility and in the fear of the Lord. Jesus came fully submitted to the Father’s will, which He completely did fulfill. In Ephesians we read over and over about the unsearchable riches of Christ. Jesus is also known as “the Life.” For though Jesus came in poverty and He came to die, Jesus ended up highly exalted and the only true life-giver.

 

No, we will not be like Christ in His exaltation, but we will be lifted up by God when we too live in humility and in the fear of the Lord. I am very thankful for the examples of humility I have known in this life. Their human abilities, surrendered to Christ, made them humble, approachable, and even kind because they knew that everything they had came from God. As I watched these truly “great” people, their testimony gave me solid examples to follow in church and in business, and I am thankful for each of them.

 

In the end, we all want riches, and honor and life. To gain these rewards as lasting benefits, we must commit to walking in humility and in the fear of the Lord. Those of you who knew my dad, know that he always deflected praise. He thanked those who helped him, he thanked his wife, and he thanked his Lord. My dad did great things but walked humble with his God. His riches are eternal. Let us all look past the riches of this life to the riches and honor of God’s kingdom. Let us walk today in humility and in the fear of the Lord.

 

Yesterday we enjoyed having 40 children from Mamasayan orphanage in our service. These kids were happy, vibrant, and joyously lifted God’s name in praise for us. I thought that we could all learn something from these kids about being content with where we are and praising God in the middle of life’s trials.   Christmas is a difficult time for orphans and widows; pray for those around you will be alone this Christmas, ask them over during the holidays and enjoy their company for awhile.

This evening, I will be bringing a gospel message at an office party here in Jakarta. One of our men works in this office and has worked it out for me to bring a message. This is a great opportunity to introduce Christ to many people. Pray for God to do His mighty work through us for His glory, the salvation of souls.

 

Have a great day in the Lord,

PS

Looking ahead, then deciding

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Proverbs 22

3 A prudent man foresees evil and hides himself,

But the simple pass on and are punished.

4 By humility and the fear of the Lord

Are riches and honor and life.

A prudent man or a prudent woman is one who looks ahead to consider the future effect on what they do today. Living within your income is a prudent action. Eating responsibly is a prudent action. Living a forgiving life is prudent living. It is much easier to repair something today than to let it remain broken until it costs you more than you have to replace it later.

Jesus taught of both heaven and of hell. He said very clearly that some would go to heaven and that some would go to hell. A prudent person says, “I don’t want to go to the hell Jesus spoke of so what did Jesus say about going to heaven?” Jesus called people to Himself saying, “Come unto me all who are burdened and heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life, no man comes to the Father except through me.” As we enjoy Christmas, we are enjoying God’s gift of eternal life through Jesus Christ. Jesus called the sinners to repentance from their sin and to believe in Him. John said, “He who has the Son has life.” Those who have Christ also have eternal life.

But “the simple pass on and are punished,” that is, they have no concern for the future as they live today. The simple people might know the truth but do not pay any attention to it. They may know that there is a future but they chose to live for today and for today alone. Solomon says that the simple, those who do not pay attention to the future actions of their lives today, will be punished, that is, they will be held accountable for their foolishness, for their sin. It happens, people rush into sin knowing that there is a payday someday but think it won’t happen to them. How sad.

Let us chose today to be among the prudent, those who seeking the Lord, know the end of our actions, and make the righteous changes that are necessary today. For “by humility and the fear of the Lord are riches and honor and life.

Our niece, Lexie, is 27 weeks pregnant and went into labor last night. Pray with us that she will carry the baby longer. The longer in the womb, the more time the baby has to fully develop. Please pray for Lexie and for her baby.

Have a great day in the Lord,
PS

The Value of A Good Name

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Proverbs 22

1 A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches,

Loving favor rather than silver and gold.

2 The rich and the poor have this in common,

The Lord is the maker of them all.

When people hear your name, what do they think first? What actions or attitudes are associated with your name? We all have a reputation that we have developed over time. In today’s proverb we learn that having a good reputation, a good name, is of greater value than great financial riches. When I look back over my life, there are a few people whose names are associated with favor and love, all of whom were great influences on my life. I have known several really rich people who were quite selfish and could have been a great blessing but were not.

To be a person who shows loving favor to other is better than having silver and gold. It seems that we spend a great deal more time on the silver and gold of this world than on being a person of loving favor. Before we attack ourselves, it takes money to live, so it is not that we should not seek money to live but our emphasis even at work is showing loving favor while we work.

A friend who is homosexual once told me that he had met two types of Christians, those who love and those who hate. What a shame that people who bear the name of Christ are known for hatred. We who bear the name of our Lord must be faithful to His name as we live, as we work, and as we go through life. A good name is rather to be chosen than anything else we might work for in this life.

 

On Sunday, we announced the need of a family in Indonesia who lost everything they own in a landslide. This family both knows the Lord and have committed their lives to serving Him. While we announced their needs we also give the information to make money transfers to them through their mission agency. If you need that information, here it is. Dedicate the gift to Melky.

BCA No. Rek 738 004 8536 or

CIMB No. Rek 054.011.215.3008

Acct Name: Yayasan Parahyangan Indah

 Have a great day in the Lord,

PS