Proverbs

A person with a merry heart is good for others.

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Proverbs 17
22 A merry heart does good, like medicine,
But a broken spirit dries the bones.

Here is a fun proverb to consider. Everyone enjoys a truly happy person. This is the person who walks into a room and everyone feels better. Their presence brings the anticipation of good news, edification, laughter, and pleasantness. A person with a merry heart can be like a good medicine that lifts away sorrow and depression and makes life warm and sunny again. We all enjoy a truly happy person for we benefit so much when they come around.

The opposite of a person with a merry heart is a person whose spirit is broken. This person is more like Eeyore who sees a cloud behind every silver lining, sees every glass half-empty, and could not come up with a positive thought in a room filled with good news. The person with a broken spirit has been hurt by life and does not think that they can ever be truly healed. Everybody is out to bring them more hurt, so they live in their cocoon, under their own rock, in their own cave, miserable in their own darkness.

The truth is that at different times in life we find ourselves in both categories but we should more often be of a merry heart. While bad things happen, the child of God has been given the greatest eternal gift possible. The work of Christ on our behalf removes our sin and its stain from the presence of God the Father; the Holy Spirit takes up residence within us to confirm the word of God and to constantly remind us of our eternal security. Whatever happens beyond this should be placed under the blood of Christ enabling us to rejoice in the Lord always.

Our world needs the medicine that we, whose hearts are filled with the joy of the Lord, can bring them. When we who follow Christ walk into a room the people in that room should be glad to see us knowing that we bring love, peace, joy and acceptance with us. The joy of the Lord makes our hearts merry which then makes us good, like medicine, to those we meet.

The goodness and the kindness of God are His continual gifts to us. When we, the church of God, gather as the family of God in church, we again and again enjoy the goodness and the kindness of God. I so rejoice in the gathering of God’s family at JIBC. We are blessed by singing praises, by fellowshipping and by gathering around God’s word. My heart is overwhelmed week after week. “Thank you, Lord, for bringing Your people together to enjoy Your presence in this life.”

My son, Justin, is travelling to Kenya to teach for ten days in a seminary there. Pray for safety in travel, for health in a different environment, for strength in weakness, and for the pastors who come to gain a better understanding of the Word of God. These pastors make great sacrifices to come to training. They could never afford to leave their country but they do want to understand the Word of God better.

Pray for one another. The enemy of our souls wants us defeated, discouraged, and he wants us to believe his lies. Pray that each of us will recognize who our true enemy is and that we will stand against his schemes as we live and fight the battle of the Lord.

Have a great day in the Lord,
PS

Determine whom to justify and whom to condemn; it matters to God.

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Proverbs 17

15 He who justifies the wicked, and he who condemns the just,

Both of them alike are an abomination to the Lord.

16 Why is there in the hand of a fool the purchase price of wisdom,

Since he has no heart for it?

Listening to the news has become a frustrating exercise. One politician says the other politician is bad and the other politician says the first one is bad. Both have reasons to prove their points against the other. One side is against abortion while the other side is for abortion; one side is for climate change and the other is against it, and so on. One side is for the current leadership and the other side is against the current leadership and the media picks their side to justify and to condemn. Today we see that God calls those who justify the wicked and those who condemn the just an abomination to Himself.   The word ‘abomination’ indicates something that is especially vile, even to God. With this in mind, we must be careful whom we justify and whom we condemn.

Do you remember the old song, “Who is on the Lord’s side?” This song came from Joshua’s last message to Israel asking them if they would serve the Lord or the Baals. Joshua stated that if God be God, follow Him. The same call comes to us today but seems to be a little more difficult to discern. For while we clearly want to follow the Lord, the voices around us are unclear, to say the least. Even churches and “Christian” leaders are clouding the clarity of God’s Scriptures. In this day, we are called to search the Scriptures daily to determine who is wicked and who is just so we can know whom to stand with and whom to condemn.

In our journey, we often try to give instruction to those who seem to have lost their way only to find out that they “know what they are doing” and have no interest in God’s wisdom. Verse 16 addresses those who are fools telling us that we cannot put wisdom into their hand for they have no interest in trading money, or anything else, to get it. My father used to say that you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink. A biblical fool has no interest in the water of life nor in the wisdom of God. They have no heart for it.

It has always been important for God’s people to know God’s word.   Take time in it every day. Meditate on those who succeeded and on those who failed and determine how to live for God in our lifetime. Avoid the error of the fool and let the Word of God be your wisdom source throughout your life.

 

Welcome to Friday. It is a beautiful day in Jakarta. As we approach Sunday, be sure to spent time in prayer for your pastor, your church, and those who will be attending on Sunday. Find ways to serve the Lord through your church; at least ask God to lead you across the path of one who needs to be loved and edified. God will give you that unique opportunity and you will go home rejoicing that the God of heaven used your mouth and your body to show His love and care.

This Sunday I will begin a series on the book of Colossians. The exaltation of Christ is the them of the book and so every message will have something to do with the lifting-up of Christ. Colossians is a beautiful letter encouraging the people of Colosse to look in a greater way to Christ as their all in all.

 Please remember Bobbi’s nephew Shawn and his wife in your prayers. They will be delivering a baby this weekend and they already know that this little guy has heart issues. Pray for healing and for wisdom and for comfort during this trial of life and faith.

 

Have a great day in the Lord,

PS

Taking the wind out of a quarrel

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Proverbs 17

14 The beginning of strife is like releasing water;

Therefore stop contention before a quarrel starts.

When is it easier to clean the floor, before or after the water has stopped coming from the broken pipe? When is the better time to fix a leak, when it is just dripping or when the pipe has burst? Since we know the obvious answer to these questions, we should also understand this proverb.

We all know when contentious words are said, they are usually followed by, “Why would you say that?” or “Do you really mean that?” These reactions are the moment to remember this proverb. Before another contentious word is said and a quarrel begins, stop the hurtful words; yes, just stop them. Just like repairing a leaky pipe before it breaks, stop the contentious words before they turn into a quarrel.

Proverbs 15:1 says that a soft answer turns away anger. Whenever we respond to contention with soft words of kindness and humility the angry moment blows away. While the other person is getting ready for a full-fledged fight, gentle and humble words take the wind out of their quarrelsome sails and they have no where to go. Since we are to keep all corrupting words from coming out of our mouths and we are to use our mouths for edification to the glory of God, stopping a contention before it gets into a quarrel is what our Father God would want us to do.

So, the next time we are drawn into a quarrel, let’s see if we can pause, look to heaven for the right words, and bring a stop to the contention of the moment to the glory of God.

 

We all got to talk to my parents last night, they are doing quite well at this time and we are thankful. There is one area that they need prayers for, and that is their ability to sleep through the night. Since they are staying with my sister, she hears them every time they get up and she is not sleeping well either. Ask the Lord to remedy this situation for my parents and for my sister, Dawn.

Victory Academy, the boys home and school that we started and worked with, is in need of a single man to work with them for this school year. The RA position is vital to the work with the boys. Since no one has agreed to this position, the school has had to postpone their opening. There were seven parents ready to send their sons to the program and now are having to seek other options or wait. Pastor Mark and Lynne and the staff are praying and seeking God’s provision. We all know that this is in God’s hands and are trusting Him for the right person. If you know any young men who could take a year to work at Victory Academy, please let me know or contact Pastor Mark directly at mm@vafb.org or call at 715-759-5976.

 Have a great day in the Lord,

PS

Correcting a Fool

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Proverbs 17

10 Rebuke is more effective for a wise man

Than a hundred blows on a fool.

11 An evil man seeks only rebellion;

Therefore a cruel messenger will be sent against him.

12 Let a man meet a bear robbed of her cubs,

Rather than a fool in his folly.

In the book of Proverbs, the fool is the one who cannot be reasoned with, will not be corrected, and has the least hope of changing for the better. While there have been times that I have made foolish decisions, I hope that I never end up living the life of the fool. In this section we see that a fool will not receive correction, seeks only rebellion, and is not to be messed with in the height of his folly.

In my time at the boys home and in my years at rescue missions, I have met those who have been corrected over and over, in a sense they had received hundreds of corrective “blows” on their foolish backs yet in the end went back to their sinful foolishness. You recognize a fool when you meet someone who has had much correction and then blames everyone else for their problems. They have been repeatedly corrected but never leave their foolish thoughts and actions. We have helped those who went back to their foolishness the moment the help ended.

At the same time, I am thankful for those who when they received a rebuke for their foolishness turned completely from it. These are the men and women who see the end of folly and with a little correction will turn from it. Their conscience is sensitive and they do not want to end up in destruction.

My take away from this verse has been that I want to be a person to whom a word of correction is sufficient to get my attention. I wish I could tell you that this were always true of me, but God and I know my stubbornness and know the times God has worked me over with a hundred blows only to see me return to my foolishness. Look at your life today and ask God to give you a sensitivity to correction.

 

A young man came by last night burdened for his country. In watching the news and seeing people doing horrible things to one another, his heart broke. As we talked together we considered these people’s needs of the Savior who alone can give them hope. Then we talked about those around us whose trouble we cannot know but we know that they need the Lord. Pray with us for unique opportunities to talk to those around us about the Savior, the Lord Jesus. When people come to Christ, then and only then will they find the answers that they so desperately need.

Have a great day in the Lord,

PS

Reacting and responding in love when hurt

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Proverbs 17

9 He who covers a transgression seeks love,

But he who repeats a matter separates friends.

Someone you love has just hurt you. You do not know why they hurt you, but they did. The more you think about it the more it bothers you. You are coming up to an intersection of actions; either you will forgive the person out of love for them, or you will talk about what they did with someone else.

The second path, talking about the hurt with someone else, has the ability to get back to the one who hurt you, but not from you. The person you tell might tell someone else who tells someone else and by the time it gets back to the one who hurt you, your relationship is far more damaged than it should have been. The one who hurt you now wonders why you did not come to them and now has hurts because of your action of repeating the matter.

The first path, in love covering up the hurt and seeking the right time to go back to the loved on who hurt you, is more difficult, for it causes you to have to face a conflict. But the result is the restoration of you and the one you love. In loving relationships, things are said and done that cause hurts. I have come to realize that when I am hurt, the one who hurts me often has no idea that I have been hurt. What they said or what they did wasn’t intentional, it just happened that way. To go back in love and to explain that you have been hurt can make the relationship stronger for now you both know the hurt and will try to avoid it in the future.

To love others more than self will drive us to the right reactions when we are hurt. In love, turn back to the one you love before you go and tell the story to someone else.

 

Yesterday at JIBC was such a wonderful day of God’s presence. The young people from Elsafon school for the blind were amazing testimonies of God’s grace and power. They played piano, saxophone, and sang with such love and power that we were blessed far beyond our expectations. They stayed and had lunch with us at the church and we were able to visit with them a bit more. We all realized that if they, though blind, can serve the Lord with such joy and power, then we have little, to no excuse. Thank you Elsafon youth for showing us Christ. You can find them on Facebook at yayasanelsafan.

 We are serving the Lord this week with His promised presence in all that we do. Today, one of our church ladies is ministering to a young woman who is pregnant while in college. She goes with the presence of Christ enabling her. Pray for this young woman who needs Jesus and wisdom in caring for the child in her womb.

Have a great day in the Lord,
PS

 

 

The painful process of purifying

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Proverbs 17

3 The refining pot is for silver and the furnace for gold,

But the Lord tests the hearts.

Some of the illustrations used in ancient literature are not as familiar today as they were then. Personally, I have never watched gold nor silver purified over a fire. The process in Solomon’s time, as I understand, was quite lengthy and required the metals to be heated until the impurities floated on the surface. The impurities would be taken out and the process repeated until there were no impurities left and gold or the silver was then considered pure.

Using this illustration of heating and scraping and reheating, Solomon states that in the same way, God purifies our hearts. I remember hearing once about a rough diamond being taken to a diamond cutter who works that rock cutting it until it perfectly reflects the light and it becomes a beautiful and valuable stone. The speaker stated that if the diamond could talk, it would say, “Ouch!” When God tests our hearts, it is painful. He heats and scrapes and heats and scrapes until we come into His image, His desire for us in this life.

By nature, we do not like this purifying process, but no one who goes through it looks back and wishes they were the person they were before. We are always thankful for the product, we just do not like the process. Let us submit to the processes God brings into our lives as He works on us to bring us to a place of greater value and greater glory for Him.

 

My dad is home now and feeling well. My mom and sister are at greater peace now. All of us are thankful to God who gifted those who worked so skillfully on dad. It is a joy to see the Lord still directing my parent’s path of life. Thanks for all your prayers and love.

Sunday I will be bringing the last message on the Church series. This one is about the Church – a birthing center. We will be looking carefully at the Great Commission and at God as the only giver of life. Every church should be having new Christians born into God’s kingdom. Just as we cannot produce children at will, neither can we convert someone at will. Just as God partners with parents to implant a soul into the womb so God partners with His people when they give out His word to place faith and new life in the one born again. Pray for Sunday that God will use His word to bring us closer to His image.

Have a great day in the Lord,

PS

Riches and wealth or quietness and peace

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Proverbs 17

1 Better is a dry morsel with quietness,

Than a house full of feasting with strife.

Which would you rather have every day for the rest of your life, lots of money and lots of food of all types, or peace and quiet in your house? I have been in the homes of unhappy rich people. They had the house, the nice cars, the boats, the horses, the cruises, all the stuff that poor people want, but they were unhappy with each other. Every meal had a cloud over it; every trip had a cloud over it, every fun thing they did was to try to get rid of the cloud for a moment. I remember leaving one such home and thanking God for His peace in my home. When we delivered furniture, we often found ourselves in downtown Chicago high rise apartments. We would leave and on our way home sing these words, “I am richer than a king, wealthier than a star, happier than a millionaire driving a fancy car. Jesus lives within and my riches are in Him, I’m richer, richer than a king.”

When Christ lives in us and our homes are places of God’s dwelling, peace and quietness of soul bring great satisfaction with contentedness. One of the happiest homes I was ever in was a man’s home with old carpet, old furniture, crowded living (they had seven children in a small house), a great dinner, singing during dishes, and the peace of God throughout. I remember thinking that if I ever had a home that was the kind of home I wanted.

What do you want? Some people can handle both wealth and contentedness, they have a gift from God to use for His glory. Some of us just need to be content with what we have and thankful that with our meager meal we have the joy of the Lord, the quietness of soul, and the peace of God at our table. Do you grieve when you hear about well known people divorcing or losing their kids to addictions? They may have it all but in reality they have nothing and have now lost what was most important.

Look at our verse again: “Better is a dry morsel with quietness, Than a house full of feasting with strife.” Pray with me to be content with God’s peace and that we may stop hoping for greater feasting. God promises to meet our needs and then calls us to be content with whatever He gives us. That is quietness of soul.

My dad’s aortic valve replacement was a success. Yesterday they showed him the new valve working on a sonogram. I did not know how beautiful a working heart valve can look. He is feeling well and hopes to go home soon. Thank you for your prayers for him.

On Sunday I brought a message about the church being a spiritual army. This week has been a time of great spiritual battles for many of us. Pray with us today for those among us who are in the front lines of the battle. The enemy is strong and deceptive, but our Captain is mighty in the truth. Pray that we all will follow our Lord Jesus and rely on His strength to face these fierce battles. One brother in Christ was served divorce papers, another loses his house in less than two weeks (he has three children), another is struggling for peace in God’s will, another is facing disappointment, a sister is seeking reconciliation with her parents while another sister is battling against gossip and a family has issues that don’t seem to go away. You could add to this list. As an army under the same Captain, we must fight in prayer for one another. We need each other in the battle. Band with me in labored prayer for one another.

 Tomorrow we will gather for prayer at the church at 11:45. Sunday we have children from Elsafon school for the blind coming to worship with us.

 

Have a great day in the Lord,

PS