Devotionals

Righteousness in Government brings a secure people

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Proverbs 14

34    Righteousness exalts a nation,

But sin is a reproach to any people.

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

But his wrath is against him who causes shame.

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

Have a great day in the Lord,
PS

 

Be slooowww to anger

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Proverbs 14

29    He who is slow to wrath has great understanding,

But he who is impulsive exalts folly.

30    A sound heart is life to the body,

But envy is rottenness to the bones.

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 Have a great day in the Lord,
PS

Deliverance, Refuge, and Satisfaction

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Proverbs 14

25    A true witness delivers souls,

But a deceitful witness speaks lies.

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

And His children will have a place of refuge.

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

To turn one away from the snares of death.

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

Have a great day in the Lord,

PS

The end of Ramadan, Lebaran, asking for forgiveness

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John 1

The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. 11 He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. 12 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. 15 (John bore witness about him, and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks before me, because he was before me.’ ”) 16 For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. 17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.

John 1:29–34 The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! 30 This is he of whom I said, ‘After me comes a man who ranks before me, because he was before me.’ 31 I myself did not know him, but for this purpose I came baptizing with water, that he might be revealed to Israel.” 32 And John bore witness: “I saw the Spirit descend from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him. 33 I myself did not know him, but he who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ 34 And I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God.”

Last night, for the first time in my life, I witnessed the Muslim night of Lebaran. Here is a brief description taken from an expat website:

“At the end of the month of Ramadhan and its special religious observance is the Eid holiday, called Idul Fitri or Lebaran in Indonesia. In Indonesia, this is the time when Muslims visit their family and friends to ask for forgiveness for any wrongs they have committed in the previous year. They express this wish in the phrase “Mohon Maaf Lahir Batin” which means “forgive me from the bottom of my heart/soul for my wrongdoings in the past year”. A traditional Arabic (Muslim) greeting for the Eid celebrations is also commonly used in Indonesia “Minal Aidin Wal Fa Idzin“, which is expressed upon meeting friends and family during the festive days. Traditional foods are consumed, family and friends gather to ask forgiveness and exchange greetings.”

On this night of “Lebaran” the Muslims take time to ask forgiveness for their sins and to pray for power to live faithfully in the coming year. We typically hear the Muslim prayer calls over the loudspeakers four to five times a day, they are relatively short as they call the faithful to prayer. Last night we heard the prayer calls over the loudspeakers continually from 8:00PM to 12:00 midnight. As we stood on our deck we could hear six to eight different mosques crying out, in Arabic, for forgiveness. These calls were mixed with intermittent fireworks of celebration.

As I heard these continual calls for forgiveness, I prayed that these dear people would realize that the only forgiveness of their sin is through Jesus Christ. I cannot fault their sincerity and commitment to their beliefs, but I weep for their efforts of finding forgiveness apart from the only Savior who alone came as the Lamb of God to take away our sin. The difference is that in their teaching, Mohammed and Jesus were prophets; in our Bible we learn that Jesus was God before He came, took on human form but never set aside His deity, prophesied as a prophet and then proved Himself to be the very Son of God, was crucified to bear our judgment and rose from the dead to give us all eternal hope.

Join with us in prayer that our Muslim friends who cried out last night for forgiveness of sin would realize that their system is impotent to remove the sins they so sincerely cry out to have forgiven. Pray that their eyes will be opened to see Jesus, whom John the Apostle and John the Baptist proclaimed was the Son of God who alone can take away our sins.

 

For the first time yesterday, I had a Christian taxi driver. It was a blessing to fellowship with this man as we came home. I also met a man who is trying to get Ravi Zacharias to come to Indonesia. We exchanged information to see if Ravi coming here could be a reality.

This Friday and Saturday I will be bringing the messages at a singles retreat here in Jakarta. Pray for my preparation and for God to use His word to change lives and to shape them into His image.

 Have a great day in the Lord,
PS

The deep satisfaction that comes from God’s goodness

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Proverbs 14

14    The backslider in heart will be filled with his own ways,

But a good man will be satisfied from above.

15    The simple believes every word,

But the prudent considers well his steps.

16    A wise man fears and departs from evil,

But a fool rages and is self-confident.

17    A quick-tempered man acts foolishly,

And a man of wicked intentions is hated.

18    The simple inherit folly,

But the prudent are crowned with knowledge.

19    The evil will bow before the good,

And the wicked at the gates of the righteous.

This section begins with a description of one who acts and lives in the foolishness of their own way of life.   Here is the statement: “The backslider in heart will be filled with his own ways.” Foolish people who have backslidden from their upbringing, cannot be taught. They are filled with justification of their own creation. They know the truth but have slidden away from it and are glad to be away. Those on the outside looking in grieve over the backslider’s direction but will not be heard when they try to give truthful instruction.

According to the next few verses we can conclude that the backslider believes those who they hang with, they rage in self-confidence, they act foolishly, they inherit folly, and ultimately they will bow in humility before those who have lived in goodness. I have found that the best actions to take toward a backslider from the truth is to 1.) love them, 2.) pray for them, and 3.) do not give them instruction as they have no heart for it. If God gets ahold of their hearts they will come back and thank you for loving them in their mess. (Loving someone in their sin is not agreeing with them but it is hugging, remembering special days, reaching out, loving their children, and so on.)

The second part of verse 14 is where I want to live. As we live in God’s goodness, we find that He satisfies our souls from above. Satisfaction at the level of our souls is a satisfaction that only comes from the Lord God. Life is not easy and earthly satisfaction is temporary, at best. Only when we walk with God will know His lasting peace and satisfaction in our souls.

 

We have much to rejoice in today. The Word of God was exalted yesterday and God’s people responded to that exaltation. I am ever thankful when the Spirit of God takes the Word of God and makes it live in people’s hearts and lives. I pray for each of you who heard God’s word yesterday that you are taking it, meditating on it, understanding it, and applying it. My thanks to all who served in church yesterday. Without you we could not effectively get to preaching the Word.

Most Sundays we have people over for lunch in an effort to get to know God’s family at JIBC. Yesterday, after lunch and testimonies, a young woman there asked to talk with me. From her testimony it was clear that she was on a journey to faith but had not yet trusted Christ as her Savior and Lord. Before long, this young lady did bow her head and heart to Christ confessing her sin and asking Him to save and lead her. We all rejoiced for some time in one more brought into the fold of God.

 Pray for your Muslim friends this week. As they end Ramadan they have a day of prayer and confessing of sin. This night of prayer and confession is to forgive them of their sins and to empower them to live for Allah for the next year. Pray that Muslims around the world will realize that year after year nothing changes and that there must be another Answer for their sin and for their power to live.

Have a great day in the Lord,

PS

A house in sin or a tent in righteousness?

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Proverbs 14

11    The house of the wicked will be overthrown,

But the tent of the upright will flourish.

12    There is a way that seems right to a man,

But its end is the way of death.

 

Notice in this section how Solomon compares the house of the wicked with the tent of the upright. A house indicates stability, financial ability, permanence and more. A tent indicates a level of poverty, the need to move regularly, insecurity, and a desire for a house. Solomon uses these two very different types of dwellings to teach an important lesson on wickedness of life verses uprightness of life. On any given day we would all desire the permanence and comforts of a house over the most plush of tents. But the point is not the dwelling place where we live but the attitude with which we live.

 

Those who live in wickedness, though they prosper greatly, are always at risk of losing everything they have. They have much of this world’s goods. Many of the music videos of the rap culture show the prosperity of wickedness and call the children of the next generation to want what they see in the videos. They see big houses, fancy cars, beautiful women, and lots and lots of money. Today, we also see those who use their money to buy favor and find themselves under the scrutiny of the law. Money is not the greatest success.

 

On the other hand, is the poor family who have next to nothing of this world’s goods but have the love of God, the righteousness of Christ, and the corresponding happiness of the faithful. I have been in big and beautiful houses that were cold and uninviting; I have been in the small and old homes of the godly poor and have known wonderful and inviting love. The way that seems right might not lead to life but to death. The way of the Lord, though it may not seem right, is right, and the end of His way is life for He is the way, the truth, and the life.

 

From a wonderful day on Sunday to an amazing trip on Wednesday to an Ascension service on Thursday, I have had continued opportunities to lift up Christ. On Wednesday we went with friends to visit some people of the Badui tribe. These talented and sweet people have had hundreds of years of spiritism and animism. It was a joy to meet some in a market, buy some of the cloth that they are weaving on their porch and some bracelets that they create. It was a continued joy to meet some in their home and to sing silly songs and show the wordless book. Stefani and Bobbi had their first fresh coconut milk right from the tree! We fed the chickens in the yard with some of the fresh coconut on the inside. Poor Bobbi got car sick both riding in and out; I think she will stay out of a car for a week or two.

 

Yesterday was Ascension Day in Indonesia. It is a national holiday. I was invited to preach the message at a combined service of several churches held at All Saints Anglican church in central Jakarta. The church was packed as Christians from all over the city gathered to celebrate and remember Christ’s ascension into heaven. I spoke from the words of the angels and the words of Peter, “This same Jesus…” I was thankful for the opportunity and pray that some of those in attendance will come to Christ as so many did on the day Peter preached in Jerusalem.

 

We are getting ready for Sunday now. In about an hour we will have our Friday noon prayer time praying for the Lord to work in our hearts and in the hearts of those we know and love. As Christians we are called by the Lord to pray. As Christians we never pray as much as we should. Turn off the TV and the phones and spend time in prayer for God to bring those who hear His word to faith in His eternal salvation. Pray for unique opportunities for each of us to bring Christ and His hope to those around us.

 

Have a great day in the Lord,

PS

Fools make fun of sin and cannot find wisdom

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Proverbs 14

6     A scoffer seeks wisdom and does not find it,

But knowledge is easy to him who understands.

7     Go from the presence of a foolish man,

When you do not perceive in him the lips of knowledge.

8     The wisdom of the prudent is to understand his way,

But the folly of fools is deceit.

9     Fools mock at sin,

But among the upright there is favor.

Foolish people, those who have rejected God’s wisdom in their life, have some interesting characteristics. At times they know they need wisdom but because they have rejected it so often, are unable to find it. They have listened to human reason, human logic, and the desires of their own hearts so much that true wisdom runs away from their understanding. Our world today is filled with people, politicians and actors, for starters, who seem incapable of making wise choices. They have lived apart from God and His wisdom for so long that they seem totally unable to make any wise decisions.

Because those who cannot know wisdom live so often in their scorning of truth, they now make fun of foolishness and of sin. The Saturday Night Live culture makes fun of everything. They make fun of sin, they make fun of righteousness, they even make fun of truly good people. In the end, no one is really above the mockery of the fools. The folly of fools is deceit. Even when they laugh, lies are in their laughter. Be careful, my friends, of joining the fools in their mockery of sin and of righteousness. Their foolishness may be funny, but it is not righteous and they are mocking that which God calls sinful.

On the other hand, knowledge of life is easy to those who understand God’s ways and among them there is favor. I would rather have the favor of the righteous than the passing and empty laughter of the fools. Living in wisdom is so much better on so many levels. I know that the world around us is getting worse and worse in regards to their respect of others; so, we who do respect one another will stick out more and more. This is ok as we are seeking the wisdom of the God of the universe not the passing acceptance of the fools and the scorners of our God.

 

Sunday’s message was a very important message for every Christian to know. In 1 John 4:17-19 the apostle tells us that there is no fear of judgment in perfect or in mature love. When we who have been redeemed through the blood of Christ stand before God, we will not be afraid for Christ has already paid the price of our sin. There will be nothing between us and our Savior thus there is no need of any fear of seeing God nor of standing before Him in judgment. There is no nor will there ever be any condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus. We praise God for His wonderful plan for our salvation and we, in mature love, should not be afraid to see the Lord God who is in us now and in whom we now live. You can find this message at our church website www.jibc.or.id

 

Thanks to all who worked together on Sunday to do the will of the Lord and to serve His church. We so enjoy one another as God’s church.

Have a great day in the Lord,

PS