Proverbs

Words of value or words like gravel

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Proverbs 20

15  There is gold and abundance of costly stones,

but the lips of knowledge are a precious jewel.

17  Bread gained by deceit is sweet to a man,

but afterward his mouth will be full of gravel.

Just how valuable are our words?   What difference does what we say make? Is careless speech just ill-chosen words that don’t matter? Today’s proverbs speaks to the words we say, to what comes out of our mouths. The first proverb compares the lips of knowledge to gold and an abundance of costly stones. This parallel to wealth is common; another proverb says that a good name is rather to be chosen than great riches. We do not have to look very far to see unhappy wealthy people. The stars of society, the ones with the most money and the most fame seem to have great sorrow and misery in life. No, wealth and happiness are not synonymous.

As we think about words and wealth, we think about that person who always knows the right thing to say, they have a gift of great value. We want them around us when we cannot fix a relationship and we call them for advice because they just seem to know the right words to say. Their knowledge is a precious jewel in almost every situation.

The second proverb speaks to the man who uses his words for deceitful gain. He boasts about what he did and how he got rich. He likes his life and he likes the fact that he tricked someone else to get what he wanted. He struts in pride over his deceitfully gained bread. But (and whenever this word is used it expresses a different point of view) afterward there is no value in him for his words were not of value. “His mouth will be full of gravel.” This is quite a different picture from the mouth who speaks words of knowledge that are a precious jewel. A mouthful of gravel is disgusting! People walk on gravel, weather beats it, it is filled with all types of disgusting refuse and it used to describe the value of the words of those who use deception to better themselves.

Our words matter. Before speaking, let’s think about the value of what we are going to say, the truth behind it and why it will build up those who hear us. Perhaps we will come to be known as people whose words are like precious jewels.

We are rejoicing today that our brother Kongkin is both still with us and seeing improvement. His heart attack on Saturday was caused by an artery that was 99% blocked. God spared his life and spared us from great grief. Pray that his body will soon be able to receive a second stint in another artery that is 80% blocked.

Yesterday, sorry all of you in Chicago and the Midwest who are suffering through an Arctic Blast, we took Jared on the treadmill and then to the (outdoor) pool. He loves getting in and kicking his feet, throwing the ball, and splashing whomever is there.

 Have a great day in the Lord,

PS

We are all known by our actions

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Proverbs 20

11 Even a child makes himself known by his acts,

by whether his conduct is pure and upright.

How do we know what a child is like? How do we know what is going on in their little heads? This proverb makes it simple; a child is known by their actions whether their conduct is pure and right. What is a child like? Just ask a church nursery worker or a children’s church teacher which children are well-behaved and which ones are not. When mommy walks away the actions of the child tell us whether they have anger, fear, or peace; it does not take long to know which children know how to share and which ones grab the toy and hit the other children with it. Some children play well with others and some don’t. It does not take long to know the heart of a child.

This proverb begins with the word ‘even’ indicating a comparison is about to be stated. This word is used in Proverbs 16:7 “When a man’s ways please the Lord, he makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.” In this verse the word ‘even’ describes a comparison between our enemies and our friends including everyone in between.

In today’s proverb the comparison between children and adults reminds us that adults, like children, are known by their acts, by whether their conduct is pure and right. After listing the problems of her husband, a wife will end by saying, “but he really is a good man.” If a man’s actions are angry, profane, selfish, and hurtful, then he is not a good man. If a man or a woman is kind, giving, respectful, and faithful, then we could say that they, by their actions, are a good person.

But let’s turn the mirror toward ourselves, what do our actions say about us, what kind of a person are we? Let’s be honest, while we want to see a good reflection of ourselves, what do our actions tell others about who we really are? For the Christ-follower, we are to let Him live His life through us; at that point, our goodness is not our own but His through us. If even a child is known by his actions, what are we known to be?

Last night we had a small group meeting in Serpong with Yoke and Melanie. Romin invited two of his Iranian refugee friends who came. We studied Ephesians 1:1-8 together really enjoying the focus on God’s blessing to us, His choosing us, and His adopting us all to the praise of His glory according to His grace which He lavished on us. To hear from refugees, who have next to nothing, that they who once were rich in this world’s goods but now are poor in this world’s goods are now rich in Christ. It was a blessed evening around the Word of God with the people of God.

 

Have a great day in the Lord,
PS

 

 

Are our hearts better than others?

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Proverbs 20

9 Who can say, “I have made my heart clean,

I am pure from my sin”?

The short answer here is simple, no one cans say they have made their hearts clean, that they are pure from their sin. Jeremiah said that the heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked. Jesus came to die for sinners; He did not come to die for good people but for wicked and sinful people. Jesus said, “I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” While we know all of this to be true, let’s take an honest look at our own hearts.

Whenever you see a person living in sin’s darkness do you see yourself or are you glad you are not that bad? Whenever you hear about someone suffering because of their sinful lifestyle, do you conclude that they are getting their just reward or does your heart go out to them in pity and compassion? I fear that most of the time we look down on those whose sin appears worse than our own. I fear we are quick to cast judgment on those suffering because of their sinful choices when we have made righteous choices and do not suffer as they do. (Maybe you are above this but I know the pride of my self-righteous heart.)

The timeless truth is this, none of us can say, “I have made my heart clean, I am pure from my sin” In Romans 6 & 7 Paul reminds us of the awful propensities of our flesh. Even though we have died to sin we still battle with our flesh in such a way that at times it feels like we cannot do what we should while we always do what we should not do. Perhaps our sin battles are not in front of everyone else, perhaps we have maintained a level of respectability because we can keep our sin hidden. Nonetheless, we cannot make ourselves pure, we cannot clean up our hearts sinful desires.

So how do we compare to those whose sin is front and center in their lives? On a scale of 1-10 with 10 being the worst person you have ever met, where is your heart, the desires of your flesh?   How successful have your attempts at cleaning up your heart been? Let’s be honest, we are pretty miserable too. Our only glory is in the work of Christ who knowing all of our sin and all of our propensities to sin gave His sinless life to set us free from sin’s bondage and from sin’s penalty. We did not do anything to procure our salvation, we relied on God’s amazing grace and He came through to take away our sin from before Him.

As we look around us today, let’s put our faces on the sinners we see, let us see ourselves in their predicament then thank God for saving us while reaching out a hand in love the help them up and out of their sin. No, we did not make our own hearts clean and neither can anyone else. Those who need a hand up need the Savior’s hand to lift them out of their sin just as He lifted us up out of ours.

On Monday night we said goodbye to Stefani. She made it safely to Sacramento this morning. God oversaw a couple of snafus and we are thankful for His oversight of all things. Our place is quieter now and even Jared is missing his sister.

 Pray today for our friends Zachary and Lea; they are missionary candidates waiting permission to come to the US for flight training. In the mean time, two of their three children have come down with fevers. This family lives very tightly as they await God’s open doors. Pray for healing of the their children and provision for all of their needs.

Saturday night is our night of praise and worship. We are inviting people to come, sing, bring a song, and to enjoy the Lord and His word together. The singing begins at 6:00. I hope to see many of you there.

 Have a great day in the Lord

PS

 

Giving a faithful representation of ourselves

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Proverbs 20

6 Most men will proclaim each his own goodness,

But who can find a faithful man?

7 The righteous man walks in his integrity;

His children are blessed after him.

Aug 13, 2015  “A new survey from CareerBuilder of more than 2,500 hiring managers found that 56% have caught job candidates lying on their resumes. The most common fib seems to be embellishing skills or capabilities; 62% of respondents say they’ve come across this, and 54% say they’ve caught applicants taking liberties when describing the scope of their responsibilities.” (quote taken from money.com)

We have a bad habit of making ourselves sound a bit better than we really are or making our situation sound worse than it really is. We want others to both think better of us and to feel more pity for us than we deserve. The simple question, “How did you sleep last night?” will show you whether the person you are talking to wants pity from you or can simply answer your question.

We also like to be the hero of our own stories. Someone was in need and when we swooped in it was our words, our compassion, our help that made the great difference in their lives.

Notice the words of Solomon, while each of us proclaim our own goodness, it is difficult to find a man or a woman whose words are faithful with whom they really are. The challenge here is to be sure that we paint ourselves honestly with words faithful to what really happened. We might not get the praise nor feel the pity, but we will be faithful with our words.

The next verse tells us that the righteous walk in their integrity. When we have and live in the righteousness of Christ, we do not need to embellish our integrity, just walk faithfully in His. When we walk faithfully in the righteousness of Christ, others will notice, particularly our children. Even though we do not walk with Christ so that others may see, when we are walking faithfully, others, especially our children, take notice.

 

We thank God today for meeting with us yesterday. Wherever you gathered with God’s people in God’s house you should have enjoyed fellowship, praise, and the opening of God’s word. Week after week we gather on Sundays and the Lord rejuvenates our spirits, convicts us of sin, corrects our thinking, increases our faith and love as He matures us in Him. We enjoyed our time in Colossians 2 thinking about how Christ, the fullness of the Father, comes to live in us bringing His fullness with Him. We do not get a piece of Christ or a little bit now and more later, we get the fullness of Christ the moment He comes into our hearts. We praised God for the fullness of Christ in us.

 Stefani goes back to the US today. We have been blessed to have had her here these months. She is ready to get back to college life, family and friends there. Today she leaves for California where she will spend a few weeks with her brothers, Ben and Justin and their families. Pray with us for safety as she travels. Pray for Jared who is going to miss her terribly.

Have a great day in the Lord,

PS

Honorable people stop a quarrel

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Proverbs 20:3 (NKJV)

3 It is honorable for a man to stop striving,

Since any fool can start a quarrel.

Proverbs 20:3 (NIV)

It is to one’s honor to avoid strife,

but every fool is quick to quarrel.

Why is it that strife and quarrels can come up so quickly? I can be having a great day and a quarrel comes out of nowhere. I did not ask for it, I did not do anything wrong, yet BAM, here comes a quarrel. Now, I wish I could tell you that I always react honorably and avoid strife thus stopping the quarrel; unfortunately, I don’t want to be in the wrong and trying to justify myself thus prolongs the quarrel.

Can we act honorably in those moments? Can we avoid the strife and avoid the quarrel? Apparently we can because that is what Solomon is telling us is honorable. When a ship loses the wind that fills its sails it stops moving, when we act in honor and with wisdom, we can take the wind out of the sails of the quarrel and watch it come to a stop.

The next time a quarrel begins, words are said that make you want to defend yourself, look to God for wisdom, ask Him for the soft answers that turn away anger, use His words, be humble, and watch the quarrel come to a quick end. It takes two to tango, as the saying goes, and it takes two to argue. When one refuses to dance there is no dance, and when one refuses to quarrel, there is no quarrel.

 

In our time here we have met different store employees. Last night, two Informa employees came to dinner and brought a husband and a boyfriend. It was delightful evening as we ate, played some games, watched some of Jared’s favorite music, looked at pictures, and got to know each other. The young ladies spoke a little English and the men not any. It always makes for a fun time of trying to understand each other. Keep praying with us for open hearts and lives.

 November 9th at JIBC we are hosting a night of praise and worship. We are starting at 6:00pm and will be singing, reading Scripture and singing some more. If you play an instrument and would like to join the musicians, please bring it. If you have favorite songs, we will give opportunity for the audience to chose songs to sing. This is an open service so people from other churches are invited to come and sing praise to God with us. The gospel will be given throughout the service.

Have a great day in the Lord,

PS

Wisdom teaching on alcoholic beverages

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Proverbs 20

1 Wine is a mocker, Strong drink is a brawler,

And whoever is led astray by it is not wise.

The book of Proverbs, as you recall, is a book of wisdom sayings which bring understanding to the simple bringing them from their simplicity to wisdom. This verse of wisdom brings different responses to different people, even within the church. Some of you hold on to this proverb as a good reason not to drink anything alcoholic while others of you will use this verse to remind you never to over-do your alcohol. Whichever side you take, do not miss the point of this wisdom teaching.

A mocker is one who despises wisdom, they scorn that which is righteous. A brawler is a fighter, a person who looks for a reason to fight with another. These two words bring some very vivid pictures to our minds. Wine is given the personality of one who mocks, one who scorns truth. It looks very appealing and can bring some merriment to a difficult day. The flavor of wine comes from grapes that are carefully grown to be made into wine. The alcoholic content is low but it is there. For those who drink wine, the warning is clear, do not be deceived by it. Do not let it lie to you and take you places that you should not go.

The picture of strong drink is one of a fighter, an angry man looking for a fight. Strong drink is that which is intended to make people drunk. We are not to serve strong drink to others. In Proverbs 31:6 we are advised to give strong drink to someone who is dying; for them, it is a sedative. Isaiah 5:11,22 and Habakkuk 2:15 all make strong statements against strong drink and serving it to others.

Yes, Jesus turned water into wine. According to custom, they always mixed their wine with a minimum of seven parts water. Wine both flavored and purified the water. Paul called Timothy to “drink a little wine for your stomach’s sake and for your often sickness.” Wine had a medicinal purpose. But those who wanted to get drunk drank their wine unmixed with an intention for drunkenness which the Scriptures often teach against.

Since we all have propensities for taking things too far, Solomon warned us all about the deceptive and brawling nature of wine and strong drink.

 

Last night Stefani wanted to watch something with Jared that he likes, so we watched “The Tigger Movie.” Jared was all smiles and very thankful for his sister. He had pizza, French fries, and pop. Altogether, this made a good night for Jared.

 Have a great day in the Lord,

PS

When do we stop needing instruction?

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Proverbs 19

25 Strike a scoffer, and the simple will become wary;

Rebuke one who has understanding, and he will discern knowledge.

26 He who mistreats his father and chases away his mother

Is a son who causes shame and brings reproach.

27 Cease listening to instruction, my son,

And you will stray from the words of knowledge.

Each of these proverbs speaks about people who do or do not receive instruction and wise correction. To “strike the scoffer” means to correct with a painful correction. The scoffer will not listen to instruction so he must receive painful correction; when the scoffer is corrected, the simple one, the one without instruction, will pay attention and might change his way.   When a person with understanding is rebuked, he will see the knowledge in the rebuke and will accept it. A son who refuses the instruction of his parents brings shame and reproach to them as he chases them out of his life. When any son stops listening to instruction he will soon stray from the safety of knowledge.

When we buy something with any complexity, it comes with an owner’s manual. For the item to work at its designed capacity we need to consult and follow the owner’s manual. Since we paid for the item and it is supposed to bring us some level of satisfaction, we willingly pay attention to the manual. We can call the Bible “God’s owner’s manual.” As such, it has the instructions that we need to live our lives to their fullest capacity. As an owner’s manual, it only helps when it is picked up, read, and followed.

It has become very clear to me that people do not like instructions. Some men don’t like owner’s manuals as they want to figure it out by themselves. Others take the owner’s manuals very seriously for awhile and then file it away. Unfortunately, we treat God’s owner’s manual much the same way. As complex as life is, we desperately need instructions. Where we go for instructions matters and what we do with those instructions also matters. Let us be people in the “has understanding” category, those who truly seek the instruction of the Lord and do all that we need to do to follow those life-giving instructions.

 

Each Sunday has it’s own personality and yesterday was a day of focusing on people who need the word of God and who need the Lord. Thanks to Phil Fields and his ministry as they have translated the New Testament into modern Bahassa and are working on completion of the Old Testament. Our songs pointed us to Christ and those who need Him and His message of salvation, from Colossians 2:6-8 we focused on the reminder of the day when Christ called us to His salvation. After the service we enjoyed an international lunch together and the church stayed and fellowshipped for a long time. I thank the Lord for JIBC and for His people who gather weekly around the Word and around the fellowship of the body.

 After the message, one young man told me that he has not yet had that “greatest day of his life,” the day of salvation. He said he was on that journey but was not there yet. Pray for this young man this week to know the call of God on His life to salvation. I have asked prayer for Johanna as she fights cancer. Today, she is going to Kuala Lampur for an evaluation and hopefully treatment. Pray for her healing. Pray also for a couple that has contacted me about their marriage. God knows their need and the answer to it. Pray for them as they seek the Lord that they might seek Him in humility together.

 Have a great day in the Lord,
PS