Psalm 90:1 (HCSB)
1 Lord, You have been our refuge
in every generation. (from generation to generation)
Psalm 91:1–2 (HCSB)
1 The one who lives under the protection of the Most High
dwells in the shadow of the Almighty.
2 I will say to the Lord, “My (source of) refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.”
By the grace of God, my parents have found their refuge in the Lord, Most High. By the grace of God, their parents found their refuge in the Lord, Most High. And as far as I know, even my parents, parents, parents, found their refuge in the Lord, Most High. These ancestors of mine date back to the mid 1800’s and would have been alive during the American Civil War. My grandparents were alive during WW I and WW II. My parents were alive during the Cold War, the Cuban missile crisis, the Korean War, and the Vietnam war. They all lived through outbreaks of diseases and viruses, plagues that took thousands of lives and crippled thousands more.
In meditation on Psalm 90:1 and 91:1 today, I had the wonderful realization that from generation to generation the Lord has been the refuge of our family. In the hours of their trials, diseases, wars, political crisis, and death, they found their place of safety in the protection of the Lord Most High.
Furthermore, in the same way that Moses and Elijah appeared with Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration, my grandparents at least twice back are also currently with the Lord Jesus who was their refuge in life and their Savior for eternity.
What does God want from me? He wants me to hold on to the same promises in Psalm 90 and 91 that were read by my family for generations past and will be read for generations forward. God is the same and His refuge, His place of protection, is where we can dwell, where we can live every day of this life and forevermore.
God’s steadfast love never changes, and His mercies endure forever. Great is His faithfulness both to our generations past, present, and future.
So far, my dad and mom are at peace. There are some moving issues that are being worked out but in talking to them, they are at peace. Thank you all for your prayers for them. Please continue to uphold them before the Lord. God is and has been their refuge for many years. He is not going to forsake them today.
As the US approaches July 4th, this could be the most unusual, strange, and even most violent Independence Day ever. Let’s join in prayer for our brothers and sisters in the US to know God’s protection and care in the days and weeks ahead.
Have a great day in the Lord,
1 Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel,
you who lead Joseph like a flock.
You who are enthroned upon the cherubim, shine forth.
2 Before Ephraim and Benjamin and Manasseh,
stir up your might
and come to save us!
3 Restore us, O God;
let your face shine, that we may be saved!
Jesus Christ called himself the Good Shepherd. The Psalmist knew God as his Shepherd. God, the Good Shepherd, is always leading his people with carefulness and with his steadfast love. From the family of Jacob, a dysfunctional family by any definition, God shepherded Joseph from the favorite son to the slave of Pharaoh, to the head prisoner, to the vizier of Egypt so that Joseph could prepare the way for God to save His nation. Only God can prepare a path like this.
God is still shepherding His people; Jesus is our Good Shepherd. Psalm 23 so carefully lays out our Shepherd’s care in guiding, providing, and protecting us.
Even so, there are times we feel a need to cry out to God more. There are times when we will seek His face with greater fervency and desperation. This is one of those times. While nations are reopening, Covid is still here. It will be like malaria, influenza, polio, and AIDS; we will know it is here and try to live with it. However, since Covid has so many unknowns our fear level is high. We need to seek God’s face with a greater fervency.
We agree with the Psalmist, “Restore us, O God; let your face shine, that we may be saved.”
Here at JIBC, we are thankful that we can have public services again. We are also thankful that God has protected us so far. We are thankful for the many Zoom groups that are meeting together for study, counsel, prayer, and encouragement. Furthermore, we are seeking the shine of God’s face upon us to know His leading for us.
Today I need to ask your prayers for my parents. For 2 ½ years they lived with me. When I left the US, we found a place for them not far from my brother’s house. For eight months or so they lived there until dad’s physical condition required more care and my sister decided to take them into her home in Pennsylvania. After fourteen months with her both of my parent’s health has become quite fragile and in need of more nursing care than my sister can provide. On Monday dad and mom will be moving into a nursing home near Philadelphia. Because of Covid my sister cannot go in with them to help them set up and get moved in, they can only bring them to the door and say goodbye. Dad and mom are people of great faith, they really are, and yet this transition is going to be difficult. Pray for their well being on every level as God shepherds them again.
Have a great day in the Lord,
23 Nevertheless, I am continually with you;
you hold my right hand.
24 You guide me with your counsel,
and afterward you will receive me to glory.
25 Whom have I in heaven but you?
And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you.
26 My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
27 For behold, those who are far from you shall perish;
you put an end to everyone who is unfaithful to you.
28 But for me it is good to be near God;
I have made the Lord God my refuge,
that I may tell of all your works.
From the creation of man, God has enjoyed being with the men and women of His creation. In this Psalm we read that the Psalmist was continually with God and God held his right hand. When I walk with Jared, I often hold his hand, or he holds mine. Jared is much more secure in his walk when he is held on to. Perhaps that is the picture here. It is not that we cannot live apart from God holding on to us, but our life is much more secure when He does.
The Psalmist continues that when he is with God and held by His hand, he also hears the counsel of God both for the good of this life and for going into the next life. As we face life and death, God’s close presence with us makes all the difference. We have God to look forward to in heaven and when we look to Him in this life, there is nothing on earth that compares. God is our strength when our human hearts fail; He is our portion forever.
The Psalmist ends stating even more clearly that it is good to be near God; God is His refuge, his place of safety. Jesus promised His disciples that He would be with them always. Jesus promised to send them, and us, His Holy Spirit to be with us always in this life. We too can say that we enjoy being with God as God enjoys being with us. God holds our right hand and we hear His counsel. God’s presence is all the difference as we go through life and thus we know that we are prepared to see Him in heaven.
With this in mind, we tell others of all His wonderful works.
Open, yes, church is open. JIBC has been open for two Sundays now. We are thankful for those who have joined with us as we gather, sing, pray, read Scripture and hear God’s word preached. The fellowship is sweet through the masks and distancing. We are still sanitizing the building, taking temperature, and keep record of who comes so we can gather with a level of safety. We will again have service this coming Sunday with those who will attend.
Our services are still available on Facebook at “Jakarta International Baptist Church,” as well as on YouTube at “JIBC Online Ministry.”
We pray for each of you every week. Please send us any special requests you may have by email or WhatsApp.
Have a great day in the Lord,
1 God is our refuge and strength,
a very present help in trouble.
2 Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way,
though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea,
3 though its waters roar and foam,
though the mountains tremble at its swelling. Selah
4 There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy habitation of the Most High.
5 God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved;
God will help her when morning dawns.
6 The nations rage, the kingdoms totter;
he utters his voice, the earth melts.
7 The Lord of hosts is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah
8 Come, behold the works of the Lord,
how he has brought desolations on the earth.
9 He makes wars cease to the end of the earth;
he breaks the bow and shatters the spear;
he burns the chariots with fire.
10 “Be still, and know that I am God.
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth!”
11 The Lord of hosts is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah
The use of language is important in communicating any thought or intent. As we read this Psalm today we must notice and rejoice that every person who has ever read this Psalm has read it in the present tense. These expressions, “God is,” and “there is,” and “is with us,” and “is our fortress,” and “I am God,” stir our hearts and bring great hope and rejoicing. All that God is will never change and His present hope, help and presence in our lives carries us today.
As the world begins to return to work and worship, we will know that the Covid virus us not gone. I trust we have had ample time to confirm to our souls that God is greater than Covid and that while it has just come on the scene, God has always been here and been with us. While the information on Covid has changed a hundred times or more, now the WHO is telling us that Covid cannot be transmitted by asymptomatic people, God’s information has never changed. No expert has proven Him wrong on any subject at any level. God is as true today as He was when this Psalm was written.
Come with me today and let us rejoice in the current love and power of our God. Let us rejoice in His moment-by-moment presence in our lives. Let us be still and know that He is God, that He is with us, and that He is our fortress, and all that of this is true right now, today.
The Indonesian government has lifted the ban on religious gatherings; JIBC will be open and gathering for church here in our auditorium this coming Sunday, June 14th. Yes, we will follow the protocols of sanitizing and distancing, and checking temperatures, and wearing masks. We have removed 2/3 of the chairs and will have both masks and hand sanitizers for all. Then, we are going to gather and rejoice. While we will not have Sunday school or nurseries yet; we will have three sanitized rooms available for parents to take their children.
Our message this Sunday will come from Psalm 34, a psalm of praise and thanksgiving. Our hearts will be lifted together as we sing and pray and rejoice in our God. For those who are comfortable to do so, gather with us by 10:45.
For those who are not yet comfortable gathering publicly, we will still be posting our recorded music and video for you. As a church, we love every one of you and long for the day when we will all be ready to gather, to share the Lord’s Table, and to rejoice in the Lord together. Psalm 34:3 Oh, magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together! That day is coming by God’s good grace toward us.
Have a great day in the Lord,
In these devotionals, you do not usually see a 40 verse Psalm to read. In this Psalm we see a continual comparison between the righteous and the wicked. As you read it notice the blessings of God upon the righteous, which blessings also use the words “deliver,” “dwell forever,” and other such words of God’s protection and blessing. As you read about the contrasting wicked, notice words like “cut off,” “not be found,” and “was no more.”
The value of this Psalm for us today is that the wicked, those who are against God and against His values of life, justice, and righteousness, seem to be in control. The wicked have taken center stage in so many places, especially in the US cities. Godless men and women are using violence, destruction, and theft to promote their anger and desire for anarchy. They are causing everyone, it seems, to listen to them and to give in to their violence. According to Psalm 37, it is the righteous who are established forever. It is the wicked who will be cut off and forgotten.
While it seems the wicked are prospering, God is in control and they will soon be gone and forgotten.
Enjoy this Psalm, overlay it on today’s riotous actions. God is not asleep; He has established boundaries of all human activity; He is taking care of the righteous.
1 Fret not yourself because of evildoers;
be not envious of wrongdoers!
2 For they will soon fade like the grass
and wither like the green herb.
3 Trust in the Lord, and do good;
dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness.
4 Delight yourself in the Lord,
and he will give you the desires of your heart.
5 Commit your way to the Lord;
trust in him, and he will act.
6 He will bring forth your righteousness as the light,
and your justice as the noonday.
7 Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him;
fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way,
over the man who carries out evil devices!
8 Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath!
Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil.
9 For the evildoers shall be cut off,
but those who wait for the Lord shall inherit the land.
10 In just a little while, the wicked will be no more;
though you look carefully at his place, he will not be there.
11 But the meek shall inherit the land
and delight themselves in abundant peace.
12 The wicked plots against the righteous
and gnashes his teeth at him,
13 but the Lord laughs at the wicked,
for he sees that his day is coming.
14 The wicked draw the sword and bend their bows
to bring down the poor and needy,
to slay those whose way is upright;
15 their sword shall enter their own heart,
and their bows shall be broken.
16 Better is the little that the righteous has
than the abundance of many wicked.
17 For the arms of the wicked shall be broken,
but the Lord upholds the righteous.
18 The Lord knows the days of the blameless,
and their heritage will remain forever;
19 they are not put to shame in evil times;
in the days of famine they have abundance.
20 But the wicked will perish;
the enemies of the Lord are like the glory of the pastures;
they vanish—like smoke they vanish away.
21 The wicked borrows but does not pay back,
but the righteous is generous and gives;
22 for those blessed by the Lord shall inherit the land,
but those cursed by him shall be cut off.
23 The steps of a man are established by the Lord,
when he delights in his way;
24 though he fall, he shall not be cast headlong,
for the Lord upholds his hand.
25 I have been young, and now am old,
yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken
or his children begging for bread.
26 He is ever lending generously,
and his children become a blessing.
27 Turn away from evil and do good;
so shall you dwell forever.
28 For the Lord loves justice;
he will not forsake his saints.
They are preserved forever,
but the children of the wicked shall be cut off.
29 The righteous shall inherit the land
and dwell upon it forever.
30 The mouth of the righteous utters wisdom,
and his tongue speaks justice.
31 The law of his God is in his heart;
his steps do not slip.
32 The wicked watches for the righteous
and seeks to put him to death.
33 The Lord will not abandon him to his power
or let him be condemned when he is brought to trial.
34 Wait for the Lord and keep his way,
and he will exalt you to inherit the land;
you will look on when the wicked are cut off.
35 I have seen a wicked, ruthless man,
spreading himself like a green laurel tree.
36 But he passed away, and behold, he was no more;
though I sought him, he could not be found.
37 Mark the blameless and behold the upright,
for there is a future for the man of peace.
38 But transgressors shall be altogether destroyed;
the future of the wicked shall be cut off.
39 The salvation of the righteous is from the Lord;
he is their stronghold in the time of trouble.
40 The Lord helps them and delivers them;
he delivers them from the wicked and saves them,
because they take refuge in him.
Be encouraged my friends. Our hope is not in the White House nor in the Courthouse. We go to God’s house, open His word together and find our identity there. We will dwell forever with our God through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. The wicked only have a moment to make their play, we have eternity with the God of all creation and of all salvation. Be at peace in Him. (BTW this Psalm is written to all people of all places and of all races. God does not see color, He sees eternal souls created in His image.)
Have a great day in the Lord,
1 I will bless the Lord at all times;
his praise shall continually be in my mouth.
2 My soul makes its boast in the Lord;
let the humble hear and be glad.
3 Oh, magnify the Lord with me,
and let us exalt his name together!
4 I sought the Lord, and he answered me
and delivered me from all my fears.
5 Those who look to him are radiant,
and their faces shall never be ashamed.
6 This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him
and saved him out of all his troubles.
7 The angel of the Lord encamps
around those who fear him, and delivers them.
You have heard it said that the Bible is a dynamic book. Dynamic is the opposite of static. Something static is unmoving, unfertilized, inactive, stationary, unable to help itself much less anyone else. A broken-down car on the side of the road is static. But the Bible is dynamic, it is alive, it moves in us, it applies to every day of our varied lives. The Bible is life-giving to everyone who picks it up, opens its’ pages and lets it speak to them. The Bible is the very breath of God breathed into our gasping souls. It is like CPR to a patient who needs to be resuscitated.
If you read Psalm 34:1-7 in December it would have meant something to you then and encouraged your heart in whatever difficulty you were facing. But as you read this passage today, after Covid-19, after world-wide infections, after cities and countries faced huge death tolls and infections, after government failures around the world, after the terrible riots and loss of life and livelihood in the US, this living word breathes the vital life of God into us.
Let’s face it, our fears are different now then they were six months ago. Our fears have a totally different face and depth to them. We have been the poor man or the poor woman who cried out hoping the Lord would hear us and save us from all our troubles. And even our troubles have taken shapes we could not have imagined six months ago. Some of you have gone for two to three months without a paycheck. Some of you have suffered at the hands of the Covid virus. Some of you have lost loved ones and friends whom you would not normally have lost. We have all faced a level of isolation that we don’t like. Our fears are quite different, and our cries to the Lord have been extremely specific.
In today’s passage we find hope; the angel of the Lord encamps around those of us who fear the Lord. We can look back and see the deliverance of the hand of God. We know that our fears can be lifted by our faith and that our faith in a Sovereign God allays our fears. So yes, bless the Lord, praise Him continually, make your boast in Him and be glad. Magnify the Lord with me today and let us all exalt His name together.
Tomorrow, the malls here are going to open. The lights were on last night as they were preparing to have customers for the first time in two months. Before long now, the church should open up as well. I can’t wait. Let’s pray that we, as a society, are ready to deal with Covid as a new virus on the block. It is going to still be here. Let’s pray for God’s protection, be careful, and look for ways to care for those around us who are still hurting, confused, or wondering what God is doing.
Be in prayer for our Sunday service online. May God continue to use His word even though we are not gathering.
Have a great day in the Lord,
10 The Lord sits enthroned over the flood;
the Lord is enthroned as King forever.
11 The Lord gives strength to his people;
the Lord blesses his people with peace.
This passage brings me back to where God wants me to be, that is, acknowledging that He sits on His throne in full control over the flood. The flood was the greatest act of judgment in history. It was the greatest loss of human life at one time. This Covid virus is another time of great human loss. This Scripture reminds me that God sits on His throne over the flood. Has God ever not been in control? Has God ever gotten off His throne?
As we watch the news and hear of the loss of life and livelihood around the world, yes, God is on His throne above this flood. Remember this, a king on his throne was his place of authority and power; God on His throne is His place of eternal authority and all power. When we need strength, it is to the Lord’s throne we must go. When we need peace, it is God’s blessing we must seek.
What are our needs today? Is God able? Is God listening when we call out to Him? Though His response may seem slow, God is able, God is listening, and God is working in our world and in our lives for our good and for His glory. May we cry out to Him with as much zeal as we have. “He sits enthroned over the flood; the Lord is enthroned as King forever. The Lord gives strength to his people; the Lord blesses his people with peace.”
1 Why do the nations rage,
And the people plot a vain thing?
2 The kings of the earth set themselves,
And the rulers take counsel together,
Against the Lord and against His Anointed, saying,
3 “Let us break Their bonds in pieces
And cast away Their cords from us.”
4 He who sits in the heavens shall laugh;
The Lord shall hold them in derision.
5 Then He shall speak to them in His wrath,
And distress them in His deep displeasure:
6 “Yet I have set My King
On My holy hill of Zion.”
It should be very clear to those of us who follow Christ and seek the wisdom of God that the nations today are raging against this pandemic, against the virus, and against each other far apart from the counsel of the Lord. They take counsel together against the Lord and against His Anointed. The nations seek to break the bonds of God from their lives and to cast off His loving cords of restraint and guidance. Not once have I heard a national leader tell us that we need to seek the face of God, repent from our sin, and cry out to Him for mercy. (If you have heard of a national leader who has said this, please send me the link to the article.)
The doom and gloom of this pandemic are the primary news stories. We hear about some people who are acting quite heroically during this time and we hear about others who are taking advantage of this time to make some quick money or to gain political clout. Conspiracy theories abound with different levels of validation. Some say it will take years, others say it will be better in a few months. They debate between the value of human life and the value of human economy. Someone else said that the news companies are liking this because more people are watching news and as their ratings go up so do their profit margins.
Please notice verse 4. God is laughing at man’s roaring’s apart from Him. God does not take pleasure in the death of the wicked, so God is not laughing at the pains of mankind; however, God knows that those who are raging against Him have it all wrong. We could say that they are all “barking up the wrong tree.” Until they seek God’s wisdom, they are going to get it wrong. There is one King of glory and He is the Lord of hosts. Psalm 24:10 Who is this King of glory? The Lord of hosts, He is the King of glory.
Until the nations seek God’s wisdom all we can hope for is the best of human ideas. But what we really need is leaders who are truly seeking God’s face, His wisdom, and His answers. Let us pray that those who are in leadership over us will stop their human raging and will seek counsel from the King of glory, the Lord of hosts.
For the first time since March 21st, I took Jared to the store last night. Since he has no concept of wearing a mask, he had no sense of keeping it on his nose. I took three masks because of his swallowing issues and could have taken more. It was quite comical to keep pulling the mask up over his nose and wondering if it was doing any good at all. We are thankful for Jared’s good health. He has been very good about being quarantined for so long. He repeatedly asks to go to church, to put on his tie and go to church. Church has been a weekly part of Jared’s life since he was born, and he must be wondering why we don’t go. Thank you who have prayed for him so diligently. He is really doing well.
Tomorrow is Ascension Day here in Indonesia. Each year the Christian churches put on a combined service to celebrate the ascension of Christ. This year, the service is prerecorded and is available on https://ascensionday.online.church The service will begin at 10:00 AM Jakarta time which is 12 hours earlier than Chicago time. Join us for an hour of music and prayer and worship as we celebrate the ascension of our Savior and His call for us to continue on for Him.
Have a great day in the Lord,
1 How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
2 How long must I wrestle with my thoughts
and day after day have sorrow in my heart?
How long will my enemy triumph over me?
3 Look on me and answer, Lord my God.
Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death,
4 and my enemy will say, “I have overcome him,”
and my foes will rejoice when I fall.
5 But I trust in your unfailing love;
my heart rejoices in your salvation.
6 I will sing the Lord’s praise,
for he has been good to me.
There were times in the Psalmist life when he felt God was not hearing his prayer. In verses 1-4 he shares the fear of the silence of God. As I read this Psalm it reminded me of today, this Covid-19 day. All of us have prayed and asked God to remove this virus, to bring it to an end, or to heal our friends or family from it. God has seemed to be silent. He has seemed to hide His face from us and to leave sorrow in our hearts. Our eyes need His light, or we too might sleep the sleep of death. Those who reject God, His enemies, have assumed that we will be overcome and seem to rejoice when those who call upon the Lord get sick.
This is not an overreach. We are struggling today with the apparent silence of God.
In verse 5, the Psalmist changes his focus, and so must we. God’s unfailing love is His steadfast, never changing, undeserved love. This is a love that we can trust even when we have doubts. Our hearts can rejoice knowing that God has a salvation planned for us. We may not know when His salvation will come but we are certain it will; His unfailing love will not leave us alone.
Because God’s love is steadfast, we can sing His praise. Note here that the Psalmist does not say that his circumstances have changed, but his focus has changed. In the middle of our Covid-19 days, we can rest in the unfailing love of God and we can sing His praises for His goodness to us. God is good to us: He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to die for our sins so that we can be made righteous in Him. So, while our circumstances seem bleak, our eternity is secure. Sing God’s praises with me today; He has been good to us.
1 Blessed is the man
who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners,
nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
2 but his delight is in the law of the Lord,
and on his law he meditates day and night.
3 He is like a tree
planted by streams of water
that yields its fruit in its season,
and its leaf does not wither.
In all that he does, he prospers.
It should be interesting that passages we have known and studied take on a new light while living in a world-wide crisis. When we take our time to read and listen to the news, we find our minds running to many places and not all of them are godly. The unrighteous of this world are clamoring for position and power hoping that when all of this is behind us that they will have done the right thing. Conspiracy theories abound. Conversations quickly go to what the government is doing wrong and that they should be more concerned about the lives of people.
The message of Psalm 1 has become more focused than ever. We are called here to delight ourselves in the law of the Lord and to meditate on it day and night. We have more time at home than ever before. We have more time to meditate on the Lord and upon His word than ever before. Furthermore, we have a greater need for God’s mind than ever before. As people of God, we need God’s knowledge to know His counsel. In Job 35:16, 38:2, and 42:3 we find the expression “counsel without knowledge.” Since no one today knows the mind of God and most are not interested in knowing God’s knowledge about this crisis, their counsel is without God’s knowledge.
My friends, if we want to be people of strength, refreshment, fruitfulness, security, and blessing (Psalm 1:3, the tree), then our primary source of meditation must be the Word of God, His holy Scriptures. Each of us who are redeemed have the Holy Spirit of God living in us whom Jesus sent to guide us into all truth and to teach us clarity regarding Himself. If we are going to be people of the light, people of the blessing, then we are to meditate in God’s law day and night.
This world is in such desperate need of people with good answers. I cannot give them answers about Covid 19 nor about the economy nor about when we will get back to normal, whatever that will look like. But I can tell them that God is good, that God is just, that God is merciful, that God cares about them, and that God is fully in control today. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever, He has written the last chapter and is moving the entire world population to where He wants us. This world needs answers and God will to show them to His people who meditate on His word first and foremost.
Our church here in Jakarta is giving out food baskets every week. This began when one man saw the upcoming need and donated 5 jt, or $300.00 toward the project. Since then, 57 food baskets, sembako bags, have been given. Each week, God burdens someone and the account increases. If you have been wanting to help people who are legitimately suffering due to a lack of work due to the crisis, 100% of what is given goes to buy food. Each food unit cost Rp 150,000 or about $10. If you are in the US and want to donate to this you can use our Paypal account, email@example.com. If you are in Indonesia you can donate to CIMB Niaga account IDR : 800 130 149 700
As you give, pray that these food gifts will show the love of Christ to those whose hearts are far from Christ to realize that the Christians in the community love them with the love of Christ.
Have a great day in the Lord,
5 The beast was given a mouth to utter proud words and blasphemies and to exercise its authority for forty-two months. 6 It opened its mouth to blaspheme God, and to slander his name and his dwelling place and those who live in heaven. 7 It was given power to wage war against God’s holy people and to conquer them. And it was given authority over every tribe, people, language and nation. 8 All inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast—all whose names have not been written in the Lamb’s book of life, the Lamb who was slain from the creation of the world.
The Lord revealed to the John that there would come a day when a “beast” would rise out of the crowds of the earth and would gain world-wide power. This “beast” is a man who rises with abnormal power and abnormal hatred against God and against God’s people. God will give this man the authority to wage war against God’s people and will seem to conquer them by killing and dominating them. While this will be a very dark time for the followers of Christ on this earth, we do know that this “beast” will not destroy Christianity.
Friends, there are powerful people in the world who hate Christianity and all that it stands for. They despise the Bible and those who read and live it. They are filled with their own lustful ways and prideful ideas and reject the grace of God at every opportunity. Their hatred comes out in a heartbeat as they live for themselves, against any of God’s righteousness. Know this, these haters of God will increase before the end of days.
But notice the bright spot here. In these dark days of godless rulers and godless living, there are those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life. This wonderful book has the names of all men and women that have given their sin to Christ and have received His righteousness from the Father. The death of Christ, God’s eternal Lamb, took place, as God sees it, from the foundation of the world. The blood of Christ is able to save all saints, Old Testament and New Testament, and today, who place their eternal faith in Him. Furthermore, all whose names are in this wonderful book will not now nor ever bow down to any other except the holy God of heaven. While all the inhabitants of the earth worship this awful beast, those who are known by God will refuse and will remain faithful to Him.
Come what may, we are in the right group. This group, those who names are written the Lamb’s book of life, will rejoice forever with each other and with our Savior, the Lord Jesus, the Lamb himself.
Pray for us today as we go to meet people in an impoverished community not far from our church. This little community faces flooding often but they have no where else to go. They have been flooded twice this week already. We have gotten to know one of the men who live there and he has invited us to meet the other families there. Our goal is to determine their needs and to see how, in love, we can care for them. By the end of today, I expect our fund for food to be zeroed out. By this time, we will have given out 47 sembako bags in the last three to four weeks. The need will continue. If you would like to help us with this, contact the church office or go to the church website for transfer information.
Have a great day in the Lord,
5 “Look among the nations and watch—
Be utterly astounded!
For I will work a work in your days
Which you would not believe, though it were told you.
During these Covid days, we often ask God what He is doing. We wonder if God would have put a stop to this in Wuhan if that would have been so much better. We wonder the point of all the pain and suffering and death and fear going on all around the world. We are not the first ones to wonder what God was doing. The prophet Habakkuk witnessed the revival of the nation under King Josiah then he witnessed the nation’s fall back into idolatry. He wondered when God would bring judgment upon them for their sin.
God’s answer was that if the prophet knew all that God was doing, he would not believe it, he could not understand it. This is where we are today. For years we have known that the Holy God of heaven was going to one day bring His judgment upon a world that had utterly forsaken Him. If we knew the mind of God, we would not be able to understand it. God does bring His judgment upon sin; “the soul that sins, it shall die.” (Ezekiel 18:20) God’s judgment on sin comes in the form of death both in this life and in the next. But sometimes, God brings His judgment to the people of this earth.
No, I am not saying that Covid is God’s judgment, neither am I saying that it is not His judgment. What we do know is that God is in control and that God is doing His work and that we would not be able to comprehend it if He were to explain it to us. We cannot claim that God is judging a certain part of culture or a certain type of sin as people of all cultures and all backgrounds are being affected. What we do know is that God is at work. Let us not lose that vision. God is at work and He is doing all that He deems necessary.
At the end of Habakkuk’s prophecy, when God has explained that He is going to send the Assyrian army against Jerusalem and the southern kingdom, when God has given Habakkuk some understanding, note the words of the prophet:
17 Though the fig tree may not blossom,
Nor fruit be on the vines;
Though the labor of the olive may fail,
And the fields yield no food;
Though the flock may be cut off from the fold,
And there be no herd in the stalls—
18 Yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
I will joy in the God of my salvation.
19 The Lord God is my strength;
He will make my feet like deer’s feet,
And He will make me walk on my high hills.
Join with us in prayer today for the family of a dear friend. Cyril Syroteuk had a heart attack and went to be with the Lord. Pray for his wife Lois and their family as they now must navigate these dark waters. Cyril was a man who left a life he knew well to serve the Lord’s church. For the past 22 years he and Lois have served the Lord in churches in Canada. Their service has been to smaller churches whose unique needs God used Cyril and Lois to meet. Our lives have a piece missing today.
Pray for the people of Indonesia as they will struggle with the new law keeping them from travelling home during Mudik, part of the Ramadan holy month. Pray they will seek the God who hears during this time.
Have a great day in the Lord,
4 And his sons would go and feast in their houses, each on his appointed day, and would send and invite their three sisters to eat and drink with them. 5 So it was, when the days of feasting had run their course, that Job would send and sanctify them, and he would rise early in the morning and offer burnt offerings according to the number of them all. For Job said, “It may be that my sons have sinned and cursed God in their hearts.” Thus Job did regularly.
In reading this today a thought crossed my mind that needs some more meditation; perhaps you could help with this thought today.
We read that Job regularly made sacrifices for his children in case they sinned. Until this morning’s reading, Job’s actions always seemed a bit strange. But today, as I was thinking about how close Job was to Noah and Noah to Adam, the thought of atoning sacrifices was handed down from God to Adam to Noah to Job. The next thought was that when Adam and Eve sinned, God made the sacrifice for them. Noah made the sacrifices for his family. After Moses received the Laws from God, the father brought the sacrifices for the sins of his family and the priest made the sacrifice.
Fast-forward to God’s sacrifice of Christ for us. The pattern set by God was that someone else made atonement for the sins of another. Here is where this gets interesting: neither Adam nor Eve, the children of Job, nor the Israelite children asked for their sins to be atoned. Someone else who loved them made the atoning sacrifices on their behalf. Since this was God’s pattern, God was setting the stage for our atonement. We did not ask God to atone for our sins, and the Jews in Jesus’ day were preparing for their annual Passover sacrifices and did not think they needed a Savior.
John 3:16 makes it clear that it was God’s love that caused Him to send His Son to be our Savior. In God’s plan, Jesus would be sacrificed by God for man’s sin. Man did not and could not initiate this. When we accept Christ as our atoning sacrifice God saves us by grace through faith.
All religions of the world have this one point backward. They all teach that we must do something after we sin to “atone” on some level for our sin. If this is Satan’s deception, it is his best one. In guilt, we think we should do something. In love, God already did something. He made the atoning sacrifice just like He did in the Garden, just like Job did for his children. This then makes us the grateful recipients of the Father’s atoning sacrifice of the Son on our behalf.
What are your thoughts?
We pray regularly for all of our friends to have and to know God’s grace, peace and strength. In this strange times we must be turning more to God, increasing our faith, and learning the lessons God is teaching us. This is not a time to be doubting our God. He is in control, James 1 tells us this. Sunday’s message was taken from James 1:2-8 as we looked at God’s purposes, our joy, and God’s wisdom. You can find this message at www.jibc.or.id
Have a great day in the Lord
The wicked flee when no one pursues,
But the righteous are bold as a lion.
Opening this proverb is a key truth of God that we need today. People are running for their lives; they are fleeing something that they don’t understand. The more people are infected and the more who die the greater the fear becomes. Someone has counted the words “Fear not” about 365 times in the Bible. Yes, that is one for every day. God knows our hearts and knows how quickly we can run to fear. In a world filled with fear, we who follow Christ, who have His eternal Spirit in us, should not be running in fear. Remember the words of Philippians 1:21, “For me to live is Christ, to die is gain.”
The second part of this proverb speaks to the attitude of the righteous. The righteous are those who seeking the Lord enjoy His righteousness, live above the guilt of their sin, and know that Jesus already paid that debt. Here we are taught that the righteous have a boldness, similar to the boldness of a lion. In the movie Lion King, one character asked the young lion king what he was afraid of. The other character said, “He is not afraid of anything, he is at the top of the food chain.” Since Jesus already defeated death, we don’t need to flee in fear. Death is defeated for us as well.
As a pastor, I have done many funerals. Those who know their loved one closed their eyes in death to open them in the presence of Jesus had a comfort unique to Christians. I have been with Christians who breathed their last breath, they were peaceful, not fighting but relaxing in the arms of Jesus. Yes, the righteous face the greatest fear with boldness. But, those without Christ, the wicked hearted, selfish people of this world are running here and there in fear. We should be people of such peace that those around us will wonder why we are not more like them. This pandemic is growing, it might take some of us. While we will fight to live, let us not run in fear. Let us rest in faith that God is with us from the cradle to the grave and then we will be with Him forever. “Wherefore, comfort one another with these words.”
I trust your Easter Sunday, Resurrection Sunday, was as blessed as ours. We enjoyed sharing the video of our service in Jakarta, and then Caleb called to talk about the sermon which he watched with us from China. We had lunch, rested, and then reflected, sang, and waited for our son’s churches in the US to begin their services. We watched all of Steve’s service, the music in Ben’s service, and the sermon in Justin’s service. We got in bed and then Stefani and Dwayne called us to enjoy some of their Easter Sunday with us. Please understand, all of this was possible because Jesus rose from the dead. If he had died like all other religious founders, we would not be following Him, there would not be an Easter Sunday, and as Paul said in 1 Corinthians 15, above all men we would be the most to be pitied. Yes, the Savior rose and promised to raise us like Him when the Father is ready.
Have a great day in the Lord,
2 Corinthians 1
3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. 5 For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ. 6 If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer. 7 And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort.
Are you struggling with all the mandatory changes taking place around us? I certainly am. I like routine, I like knowing what is happening next, and knowing who will be doing what. In this time of forced change, I still want routine but find it increasingly difficult to maintain. Furthermore, there is not an end in sight. Yes, I still have time for my private devotions and sermon preparation and Zoom small group meetings, but so much is out of place.
As we turn to 2 Corinthians 1, we must turn to the true Source of all comfort, God Himself. Our heavenly Father is “the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort.” He is where we must go, where we must turn. We must remember that God has never sat on His throne and wrung His hands in surprised amazement at the events on this earth. God created this world, each of us, and the calamity that we now face. This same God wants us to turn to Him for our comfort.
Having said this, I now must turn to the God of comfort today. We acknowledge that this whole situation we live in will not get better soon. Those of us who have the God of comfort in us and with us are the only ones with real and lasting hope. Even still, we wake up struggling, let us quickly go to our heavenly Father, the God and Father of all comfort. He is in charge, He alone will keep us where we should be, at rest in Him.
John Piper has written a new book on Coronavirus and Christ. It is available as a free download from this link from Crossway.
We will be posting our Good Friday service Friday night at 6:00 on the church Facebook page. Since the government has now restricted all religious gatherings, we will no longer do livestream but will post a new video prepared each week for the service. So, Resurrection Sunday’s service will be available 10:45 on Sunday.
Have a great day in the Lord,