COVID 19

Exalt the Lord together, He answers our fearful cry

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Psalm 34

      I will bless the Lord at all times;

his praise shall continually be in my mouth.

      My soul makes its boast in the Lord;

let the humble hear and be glad.

      Oh, magnify the Lord with me,

and let us exalt his name together!

      I sought the Lord, and he answered me

and delivered me from all my fears.

      Those who look to him are radiant,

and their faces shall never be ashamed.

      This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him

and saved him out of all his troubles.

      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,
PS

The Lord is on His throne above the flood

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Psalm 29

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.”

They are seeking guidance from the wrong source

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Psalm 2

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,

PS

In His silence, God is still good to us

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Psalm 13

How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever?

How long will you hide your face from me?

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?

Look on me and answer, Lord my God.

Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death,

and my enemy will say, “I have overcome him,”

and my foes will rejoice when I fall.

But I trust in your unfailing love;

my heart rejoices in your salvation.

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.

Let’s keep our meditation in the right place

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Psalm 1

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;

    but his delight is in the law of the Lord,

and on his law he meditates day and night.

    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, stevebobbi6@hotmail.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,

PS

 

We really need God’s comfort today

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2 Corinthians 1

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ. 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. 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.

 https://www.crossway.org/articles/coronavirus-and-christ-by-john-piper/?utm_source=Crossway+Marketing&utm_campaign=d30e376335-20200408+-+General+-+Free+Book+COVID-19+John+Piper&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_0275bcaa4b-d30e376335-299223533

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,
PS

Priests Intercede in Prayer

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1 Peter 2:2 Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind. 2 Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, 3 now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.
4 As you come to him, the living Stone-rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to him-5 you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.  (Revelation 1:4-6. 5:9, 20:6)
We are a kingdom of priests to God.  We have been saved by the blood of Christ, sanctified before the Father and set apart into His priesthood.  As such, we must pray, we must intercede to God to stop the spread of this deadly virus. Brothers and sisters, as followers of Jesus Christ, let us make spiritual sacrifices to God through Jesus Christ. May God hear our prayers and heal our land.

Pray with me today: 

Lord God of heaven and earth, Creator of all, and Savior, we come today to confess our sin and the sin of our nation.

 

We have become self-sufficient and have lived without dependence on you. We live our lives making our own plans and hoping you will agree. We have adopted many of this world’s ways and ideas and have left some of the clear teachings of your Word.

 

The world around us is filled with sin, with violence, covetousness, and with immorality of all types. The people around us worship everything but you. We often bow at the altars of money or recreation or comfort.

 

Father, your church, that you died to save, is no longer following your Great Commission, we are not personally carrying your gospel to others nor discipling others as you called us to do. We attend church on Sunday’s but are not a church family all week. We do not edify one another to love and to good works as you have called us to. Forgive us Lord for this sin.

 

Father, as we confess our sin we also turn from it. We have been deceived and now want to see your truth. We want to be drawn away from our sin so that we can love you purely. We repent and come to you with hearts wholly given over to call you “Lord;” furthermore, we want to follow you in every way you may lead us that we may be your holy body, your holy church.

 

We come to you Lord broken-hearted over the people, those made in your image, who are suffering from the COVID virus today. We grieve over those who are sick, those who have lost family and those who are going to die soon. Lord, death is our enemy, an enemy you have already defeated. Would you come down and save us from this enemy today. We intercede as we hold their hand and yours to bring them to you. Would you come to our city, as you stopped the death angel in David’s day, may you stop him again today. We understand that there is a normal cycle for this virus to run; we are asking you today, by your power and grace, to step in and to show us mercy. May you step in in such a way where all will know that you have worked. May no other religion claim that their deity helped but may all know that you have stopped this plague.

 

Father, we thank you for your mercy. Every one of us deserve the greatest disease possible for our rebellion against you. But in love, you sent your Son, Jesus Christ, to take the penalty of our sin. You provided the only answer to sin’s deathly chill. We thank you for your present and eternal mercy and grace given to us through the death and the resurrection of Jesus Christ. We long, Father, to be able to point people to the God of love and grace who has already provided healing for their eternal souls. Thank you, God, for your perfect will. We submit ourselves to that will as we intercede for our friends, our neighbors, and our fellow countrymen.

 

Lord, save us today from this sickness we ask; and Lord, save this city and this country from their sin through the work, the death, burial, and resurrection, of the Lord Jesus. It is in Jesus name, and through His shed blood that we humbly and boldly pray…