Proverbs

We must not join those who are running in fear

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Proverbs 28:1

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,

PS

 

 

Be a Sharpening Friend

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Proverbs 27

17 As iron sharpens iron,

So a man sharpens the countenance of his friend.

The gathering of brothers and sisters creates a sharpening of one another.  When we get together as brothers and sisters in Christ there is intentional edifying through words of love, encouragement and even correction.  I have sharpened my own knives for as long as I can remember having knives.  A dull knife is pushed against a sharpening stone at a certain angle; the movement of the knife blade against the stone cleans off small burrs and grinds the two edges of the knife until it sharpened.  The steel of the blade is actually changed at the edge of the knife.

Many times I have had burrs on my life and the edge of life has become dulled.  Friends and family have come at those times and have worked to restore the sharpness that my life needed.  As Christians, we need to keep our faith sharpened, our confidence in God’s word sharpened, and our ability to love others sharpened.  A dull knife can cut some things, but it is not an effective tool.  For us to be as effective as God would have us to be, the spiritual edge of our life needs to be maintained.

While we have more time on our hands, let us work at sharpening our own spiritual edge and let us consider one another to provoke to love and to good works.  Whom can you love right now?  Whom can you edify right now?  As we sharpen our own lives we will be able to sharpen those around us.  Let us be people who care enough to edify, to sharpen others in our conversation, in our texts, in our time together.  Be a sharpening friend.

 

During yesterday’s sermon, a thought came to me that made the current workings of God crystal clear to me.  God is our good Shepherd and as our good Shepherd He is leading us to green pastures and to still waters.  He is guiding our lives as He sees fit.  Picture the Good Shepherd lovingly guiding us, His sheep, to green pastures and to still waters.  God has always led His people well.  God is leading His church as He sees fit today.  Yesterday I brought a message from Isaiah 45:5-8 that teaches us God brings both peace and calamity.  Satan brings confusion; God brings calamity.  God uses calamity to accomplish His ordained purposes.  Yes, the Good Shepherd is leading His people to His places. 

Have a great day in the Lord,

PS

Better is a friend who is near, their friendship is sweet to us

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Proverbs 27

9      Ointment and perfume delight the heart,

And the sweetness of a man’s friend gives delight by hearty counsel.

10    Do not forsake your own friend or your father’s friend,

Nor go to your brother’s house in the day of your calamity;

Better is a neighbor nearby than a brother far away.

We, here at JIBC, lost a dear friend yesterday.  Miles would have turned 30 today, he went to be with the Lord yesterday.  (His death was not Corona virus related.)  For the past two Sundays, Miles braved the COVID 19 threat and came to church with me to lead music for our livestream programs.  As one who understood the sound board, he also set that up for me.  This past Sunday, after the service, we went to a local South American restaurant where we were the only customers and enjoyed a couple hours of really good food and sweet fellowship only as brothers in Christ can enjoy.  We knew the sweetness of a man’s friendship as we talked heartily back and forth about life, about God, and about living for Christ.

Both my family and his are back in the US so Miles would have considered the people of JIBC as neighbors that are near.  Many of us had serious life-conversations with Miles for his passion was to point people to Christ.  It was easy for Miles to move from talk about work or motorcycles, or drones, or music to talk about Christ, what He was doing, and how He was using us here.  In so many ways, Miles was a neighbor that was near to us.  He lived far enough away, in Tangerang, that the trip here could take anywhere between 45 minutes to an hour and a half. On his motorcycle, Miles often got here wet from the rain. Last Sunday, his shoes were so wet that he took off his shoes and socks for the service, but never did he complain about any of that for he was happy to serve the Lord as a part of this church.

No one is perfect so this is not to say that our friend had no faults; this is only to say that he was an example of a friend whose sweet counsel many of us enjoyed and he made himself to be our close neighbor even when our physical brothers are far away.  We need men and women who because of Christ in them are our close neighbors.  We need close neighbors who provide us their sweet counsel and comfort and service.  We need those neighbors who loving Jesus serve even when that service is inconvenient and even a bit risky.

Because of the Corona restrictions in Jakarta, there will only be a few at Miles funeral tomorrow.  We plan to livestream the funeral over Facebook so more of you can participate.  Pray for Miles wife, now widow, her name is Ella.  Pray for her to know the Lord’s great peace in the valley of the shadow of death.

Be careful and be safe. Share the love of the Lord with one another in new and creative ways.

Have a great day in the Lord,

PS

Looking ahead avoids regrets

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Proverbs 27

11    My son, be wise, and make my heart glad,

That I may answer him who reproaches me.

12    A prudent man foresees evil and hides himself;

The simple pass on and are punished.

The call for wisdom is great in every generation and is especially great now.  As we look at the escalation figures of COVID 19, the world crisis is only beginning.  What wisdom do we need and how do we live without exposing ourselves to this virus?  How do we minister God’s love and grace in the midst of this?  Two Sundays ago, I recommended that when we go shopping that we should buy extra food to put aside for others who will be coming to us for food.  As jobs dry up people are going to get hungry; we as Christians should be prepared to give out food.  I am reminded of God’s warning to Egypt and God’s preparation of Joseph as the one who would prepare the country for a time of famine.

Acting with wisdom now will give us opportunities to show love and care in the near future.

A prudent man is one who looks carefully at the situation before him and acts with caution to prepare himself for what is ahead.  We need this quality in our lives.  There is spiritual and physical evil around us all the time.  As one of my mentors said, we are all 3-4 bad decisions from moral failure.  We must consciously be aware of this and live with careful wisdom all the time.  Before we act, before we jump into a situation, in prudence, we must look ahead a few steps and see where it might lead.

In the end, we are trusting the Lord and living by faith. Yet, we are called to move with a careful looking ahead throughout our lives.  In talking to my parents last night, we were talking about their lives and how God has used them. During that conversation I told them that they should be thankful that they do not have a “box full of regrets.”  When each of us get old, which we will, may we be able to look back at our lives and not see a “box full of regrets.”  With prudence, let us look ahead and avoiding the evil move wisely through life.

 

Keep one another in prayer.  More than ever, we need the loving prayer of one another.  Some of us are going to get sick, it is inevitable.  Please respond to this email with prayer requests for us to share.  We pray because God hears and answers when we do. 

Have a great day in the Lord,

PS

A true friend tells you the difficult truths that you need to hear

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Proverbs 27

5     Open rebuke is better

Than love carefully concealed.

6     Faithful are the wounds of a friend,

But the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.

One thing about growing up in a pastor’s home is that there are certain truths that you hear all the time, and you hear them in real life situations.  I well remember my dad telling how the wounds of a friend are faithful but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.  If you have lived very long, you have known people who only told you what you wanted to hear while you knew they were against you.  These are people who at first you think will be great friends but in the end stab you in the back.  They never were your friend, they probably have never been anyone’s friend.

The other side of this proverb is that the wounds caused by a friend are faithful.  This happens when someone loves you enough to tell you something difficult about you, something that hurts when they tell you.  You know the conversation, it’s the one you work up to because it is so difficult to have.  Your dear friend, your brother or sister, your husband or wife, or even your parents have a way they do something or say something that always brings hurt to you and they seem oblivious to your hurt.  You don’t want to hurt them back nor do you really want to walk away, what do you do?

In this proverb we are called to open rebuke and faithful wounds.  We are told that these are acts of love, acts of true friendship.  Jesus taught us to take the beam out of our own eye before we seek to remove the telephone pole out of our neighbors’ eye, so the first step of confrontation is to carefully examine our own hearts.  Study the Scriptures, pray over your own faults, confess them to God and to others, then humbly confront the one you love about their faults.  Be faithful with your wounds, be loving in your approach, your friend or family member may be upset at first, let the Lord work on them. Be a faithful friend.

 Yesterday’s message was on a Theology of crisis. As Christians, children of God, we should know enough about God and about His workings with mankind to carry us through any crisis at any time.  I have posted this message on YouTube and trust it will help you think about the Coronavirus and our response to it with a biblical basis.  Here is the link to that message: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7boMKpjLiAw

We are well here in Jakarta.  Just like each of you, our lives have been changed as our governments and health officials seek effective ways of protecting us from spreading this virus.  I am definitely praying more and for more people that God would keep them during this time. If you have any specific requests, people you are praying for, please let me know and we will add them to our prayers also. 

Have a great day in the Lord,

PS

A Time to Pray, Not a Time to Sleep

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Matthew 26

36 Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and said to the disciples, “Sit here while I go and pray over there.” 37 And He took with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and He began to be sorrowful and deeply distressed. 38 Then He said to them, “My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Stay here and watch with Me.”

39 He went a little farther and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, “O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.”

40 Then He came to the disciples and found them sleeping, and said to Peter, “What! Could you not watch with Me one hour? 41 Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

42 Again, a second time, He went away and prayed, saying, “O My Father, if this cup cannot pass away from Me unless I drink it, Your will be done.” 43 And He came and found them asleep again, for their eyes were heavy.

44 So He left them, went away again, and prayed the third time, saying the same words. 45 Then He came to His disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Behold, the hour is at hand, and the Son of Man is being betrayed into the hands of sinners. 46 Rise, let us be going. See, My betrayer is at hand.”

Our Lord knew what was next, He has spoken of it to His disciples and even to the crowd. As we consider the humanity of Christ, we see the frailty of human flesh for just knowing what was next did not prepare the Savior, He needed to pray. Do you find it interesting that Christ in flesh even asked His disciples to watch and pray with Him? This was the most important moment in history and the disciples missed it because they gave in to sleep instead of watching in prayer. Christ’s rebuke of them is stunning. He gave them a specific moment of watchful prayer and they slept.

My friends, the world is in another defining moment. Over 100,000 people who were well one, two and three months ago are terribly sick, some have recovered, many have not. Hospitals are filling up, supplies are running low, and medical professionals are weary. Financial markets are collapsing and fortunes are being swept away. Major corporations are facing the reality of bankruptcy putting untold amounts of people out of work. People are coming to grips with their humanity. Let us remember the call of Jesus to His disciples to watch and to pray.

God has never lost control of this world. It is His creation and He is not a distanced deity waiting to see how it all works out. In times of God’s judgment He always calls His people to pray. Are you praying more? Are you gathering for prayer? Is your pastor calling you to greater prayer? Are you calling your pastor to more prayer? Though written to Israel, the principle of 2 Chronicles 7:14 is timeless. God told His people that when they strayed from Him and found themselves in great affliction that when they called out to him and confessed their sins with humility that God would hear their prayers, forgive their sins, and heal their lands. Our sins, on a world-wide basis, are great before God. Let’s lead the parade here and confess our sins and then the sins of others as we cry out to God in a time where watchful prayer is so desperately needed.

Our son Justin and his wife and four sons are with us here in Jakarta. It is a joy from God to have them with us. They bring so much energy and life to every waking hour. We are taking them on a short trip next week and they are quite excited in anticipation.

 Have a great day in the Lord,

PS

Internal attitudes of laziness, the real battleground

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Proverbs 24

30     I passed by the field of a sluggard,

by the vineyard of a man lacking sense,

31     and behold, it was all overgrown with thorns;

the ground was covered with nettles,

and its stone wall was broken down.

32     Then I saw and considered it;

I looked and received instruction.

33     A little sleep, a little slumber,

a little folding of the hands to rest,

34     and poverty will come upon you like a robber,

and want like an armed man.

 

Laziness is nothing new. Solomon observed laziness in his day, and we see it today. Instead of looking at the results of being lazy, those are obvious, let’s look at the characteristics of those who are lazy. Far too often I corrected my kids for not picking up their things, but that was only the visible part of the problem.

Solomon tells us that the sluggard lacks sense. In other passages this describes a person who lacks understanding, one who does not know the end of his actions, he is destitute of discernment. It also describes a person who might not want to receive any instruction. With this in mind, let’s look at our own lives and ask a couple of questions.

First is this, how many times have we used the excuse that we just did not know how to do what we were asked to do? Perhaps we were tasked with something outside of our comfort zone and instead of working hard we decided we did not know how to do it. It seemed easier to just plead ignorance than to take the time to learn how to do it.

Second question is this, since we don’t want to be considered lazy, do we find reasons not to do the important things, the hard things, and console ourselves that we are better than someone else or better than we used to be? This is the hard one, for instead of doing something 100% right, we can find a way to do it so that we can say we did it, but we know it did not get our full effort. However, when our work is questioned, we simply say, “Well, I did the best I could.” At that level, we did not ask for instructions nor for help, we really did not want to, we were lazy of heart.

I don’t think I am as bad as the sluggard whose field Solomon passed by; however, laziness is a battle I face. I don’t want to ask for help and I want to do the minimum level of work to be accepted. As we battle this character flaw, this sinful way of living, we can look to Christ who in submission to the will of the Father, did all that He was sent to do. Jesus, in obedience, went all the way to the Cross until He could boldly proclaim that He had finished what He came to do. Then He died. With Christ as our example, let us strive to do all that we are called to do until we too are finished here.

 

In response to the growing alarm and panic regarding the COVID-19 virus, I brought a message yesterday looking for a biblical response to fear and to love. I asked the church to seek for the balance between preparing for protection and being loving to one another. We looked at the correlations of fear to faith and to the reality of God’s sovereignty over all things. I read an article from World Magazine about the church in China and the unique opportunities they are facing to lead people to Christ. As Christians, people who know where we will be after we die, we ought to be leading those around us to greater faith. They are filled with fear and need to know that there is hope in Christ regardless of the crisis. (The link below will direct you to that sermon.)

https://sites.google.com/jibc.or.id/jibc/sermons?authuser=0

Have a great day in the Lord,

PS

We do not ever need to “get even.”

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Proverbs 24

28     Be not a witness against your neighbor without cause,

and do not deceive with your lips.

29     Do not say, “I will do to him as he has done to me;

I will pay the man back for what he has done.”

 

Romans 12:

18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. 19 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.”

Getting back to those who “got” you has become somewhat of a sport. The saying, “I don’t get revenge, I get even,” has become a badge of honor. One man I knew upped his game by saying, “I don’t get even, I get ahead.” Most of the time, getting even or getting ahead is a form of vengeance. For some this is a simple joke played on another, but for the angry at heart, getting even will include a form of meanness or pain.

We once had a boy who was committed to getting even with his parents for their abuse against him. Bobbi asked him one day, “When will you know that they have paid enough?” This question needs to be asked everyone who is set on getting even. When we take out a loan we know how much we need to pay back. But when we begin the payback of revenge, when will we know that the person has paid enough for us to stop our revenge?

The Scripture is clear on this point. Solomon calls us not to make a pay-back to the one who has hurt us, and Paul reminds us to live peaceably with all by never avenging ourselves. Paul then reminds us that true vengeance belongs to God and He will justly repay the wicked for their acts against us. Do you believe this? If you believe this, then you will drop all your efforts of revenge and vengeance against those who have hurt you or those who are hurting you. If you believe that God can do a better job than you at getting even, then you will be free to live at peace in your own heart.

Remember that bitterness is the only poison that while intended for another we drink ourselves. When we are seeking revenge, we are poisoning our own lives and our own souls.

 

A woman came to church the last two Sundays wearing a hijab. When we asked her about her faith, she said she had professed Christ. Some of us are in contact with her now and I ask you to pray for her to come to a full understanding of following Christ as her only hope. Religious people often add Christ to their current belief, but our Lord will not be shared. Pray for this woman to come to faith in Christ and in Him alone.

We have so very much to be thankful for today. Yes, the world is living in fear of COVID-19 but I know the God who is omnipotent and sovereign over all. Our God has saved us from our sin and will one day call us to His eternal home. As people talk to you about a global epidemic, remind them that the first global epidemic was sin and infected every one from birth. Jesus Christ came as the cure for that virus and God will deliver us from this virus either in life or in death. Either way, we have much to be thankful for.

Have a great day in the Lord,

PS

Be careful whom we call “good.”

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Proverbs 24

23    These things also belong to the wise:

It is not good to show partiality in judgment.

24    He who says to the wicked, “You are righteous,”

Him the people will curse;

Nations will abhor him.

25    But those who rebuke the wicked will have delight,

And a good blessing will come upon them.

 

There was a day when a person’s character, how he or she lived their lives, was more important than what they did or what their talents were. For example, when we look back at King David and look at all of his conquests, his might, his establishing of the throne in Jerusalem, his determination to build a Temple for God, and more, it is all overshadowed by his sin against Bathsheba, Uriah, and God. His unwillingness to correct his sons also comes up as a weakness of his life. Yet today, when someone has done something great, their sinful way of living does not seem to matter. So many “famous” people and even world leaders are or were sexually immoral, have crimes in their past, are habitual liars, are homosexuals, pray to another god, and/or have been habitual law-breakers but because they have done something “great” none of their wickedness is ever brought up.

Our society has become so immune to someone’s private sins that whenever someone brings up the private sins of another they are immediately rebuked and put into the category of a hater or of a judgmental person. The righteousness of God is not respected and when we call a public figure to a greater righteousness we are cursed and mocked. No surprise, this was predicted three thousand years ago.

As people of God’s wisdom, followers of His word, we answer to Him first and foremost. Someone needs to call out sin for what it is and to reserve the compliments of goodness to those who are truly righteous. According to this passage, when we rebuke the wicked we are doing the right thing and will know a good blessing. Let’s be true to God’s word and to His righteousness. We must not call evil people good but must humbly and boldly call people to a higher standard of life, the righteousness of Jesus Christ.

As I looked out over the city of Jakarta last night, a storm came by. The clouds and rain cast an eerie glow over the city. It was beautiful as the clouds came in and the lightning filled the sky. We serve an amazing God who created everything we see and put it on a planet that is designed to sustain all of the life that God created. We studied God’s creation yesterday morning in light of Psalm 136 which states over and over that “His mercy endures forever.” We, the constant recipients of that mercy, rejoice in our wonderful and omnipotent creating and redeeming God.

Have a great day in the Lord,

PS

Godly wisdom is sweet and valuable

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Proverbs 24

13     My son, eat honey, for it is good,

and the drippings of the honeycomb are sweet to your taste.

14     Know that wisdom is such to your soul;

if you find it, there will be a future,

and your hope will not be cut off.

Psalm 19

10     More to be desired are they than gold,

even much fine gold;

sweeter also than honey

and drippings of the honeycomb.

 

In a world filled with the ‘wisdom of the loudest voices’ there is a void of true wisdom. The loudest voices often have the highest positions or the most money and an agenda they are pushing. We often hear these voices but afterward have serious questions about the true wisdom of what they just said. We usually feel empty and frustrated as we try to discern just what agenda is being pushed.

The Bible uses the sweetness of honey to describe the fulfillment of our sweet tooth. (They did not have Snickers, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, and Kit-Kat back then.) Honey is so sweet that you cannot eat much but when you eat it you know you are getting true sweetness. This is the nature of wisdom; when we get godly wisdom we know we are getting truth. Psalm 19 1-9 discuss the Word of God and concludes with verse 10 regarding the desire of God’s word being greater than the desire of fine gold and honey.

As men and women who seek wisdom from God’s word, we should people that bring valuable understanding to the confusing voices of our day. God’s word is full of wisdom both in word and in example. For instance, Solomon had the greatest wisdom of all time, but in his great wisdom he did not watch out for the dangers of beautiful women who worshipped idols and they turned his heart from wisdom to foolishness. His example is a warning us of the potential danger of our own weaknesses.

When we hear godly wisdom, we know it is true, it is valuable, it is sweet, and as such is fulfilling. Wherever we go and whomever is speaking, we should filter what is said through the wisdom of God and determine just how wise or how foolish those words of men really are. We should be careful of whose bandwagon we jump on and whom we give our support and allegiance to. As followers of Christ, we hope to lead others to follow Him with us. Seeking and finding godly wisdom will allow us to be beacons of God’s light, His truth, and yes, even His sweet fulfillment.

 

Yesterday’s flooding in Jakarta was not as bad as the first flood of the year but it caused damage and frustration. Pray for a friend named Mahdi who was caught away from home on his motorbike. The water damaged his motorbike and being wet for so long he ended up sick. Pray for this young believer to know the love and power of his Savior today.

 We enjoyed lunch yesterday with a young family hoping to get a Visa to go to the US for training to serve the Lord. We were so blessed to be with them and to see how God is caring for them as they seek His will.

My dad is back in the hospital with an infection and my mom is struggling with where she is in her life. Pray with us for them and for my sister who is their primary caregiver.

 Have a great day in the Lord,
PS

Seeking advice keeps us safe

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Proverbs 24

5      A wise man is strong,

Yes, a man of knowledge increases strength;

6      For by wise counsel you will wage your own war,

And in a multitude of counselors there is safety.

7      Wisdom is too lofty for a fool;

He does not open his mouth in the gate.

The message of these verses is that getting the advice of others is a good thing to do. First, we see the wise man, the one strong of character who continually gains knowledge and strength. In the medical field and in the teaching field people must get continuing education credits and renew certifications. They are increasing in knowledge of their field and we think this is good.

When a country goes to war, we hope they have gotten good counsel before putting lives and resources at risk. War is risky and the ones in charge need wise counsel. Many Presidents are criticized for going to war without the right wisdom. However, when a multitude of counsellors get together safe actions result. The one who learns to ask others and to listen to them will not go to war with a great risk, for their risk will be minimalized by the counsel.

A foolish person cannot seek the wisdom of others; they think their wisdom is superior to others so there is no need to listen to anyone. In the gate, that is in the presence of people of wisdom, the foolish person does not ask for advice.

Most of us are not going into literal battles where our very lives are at risk; however, there are many times in life when the counsel of others should be sought and submitted to. One of the problems with youth is that they think they know what they want and they think they know what will happen next. Young people and young adults need to stop and seek advice of those older than them to keep from regretful decisions. And yes, we as adults still need the counsel and advice of others before we step into regretful situations.

Let’s begin and continue to seek the multitude of counsel throughout our lives so that we continue to live in the safety of wisdom.

Yesterday at church we had a taste of heaven. Our congregation regularly has people from all over Asia in the service. Our international regulars come from South Africa, Sweden, Ecuador, Brazil, Australia, Great Britain, and the U.S. Yesterday we had visitors from India and from Sri Lanka as well. What a joy to share the joy of the Lord with so many people from so many nations.

As Christians, we are the ones to be praying first for our brothers and sisters who are suffering with the COVID-19 virus. They are suffering and crying out to the Lord and we can cry out with them. There are other brothers and sisters who are putting their own lives at risk to care for those who are infected. Then we need to pray for those who are seeking a vaccine to have God’s wisdom to get this discovered much more quickly than usual. We do not have anyone here yet, that we know, who is infected, but it shouldn’t be long as this thing spreads so easily. If God is trying to get the world’s attention, I hope they are listening.

 

Have a great day in the Lord,

PS

A correlation between fainting and faith

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Proverbs 24

10 If you faint in the day of adversity, your strength is small.

Some statements of truth are quite small and quite powerful, such is this little one. Just a few thoughts today. First is that we will all face adversity. Life is comprised of blessings and of problems with a few times of coasting in-between. James wrote telling us that we ought to count our times of trials as blessings from God who designs our trials to shape us. Job wrote that the thing he feared worst came upon him. Peter had a crisis of faith and denied the Lord in his crisis. Hannah, the mother of Samuel, could not conceive and was just miserable for several years. Adversity comes upon us all.

A second thought here is correlation between fainting and faith. To faint is to falter, to stutter-step, to trip, or to stumble. In Hebrews 12:3 we are called to look unto Jesus so that we don’t faint; Jesus did not faint in the day of His greatest adversity. Remember that the Christian life is a life of faith when we are called to obey the Word of God even when we don’t understand it all. It is the same in life; adversities come, we don’t understand them, and we are called to stand firm and not faint.

Thankfully, we are not told that when we faint we have no faith, just that our faith is small. It is through the adversities of life that we find God to be faithful, good, and kind. In the adversities God is the One who is there for He never changes and never leaves nor forsakes His own. Since the Word of God endures forever it’s promises also endure. Therefore, when adversity comes, we have God’s word to go to, to lean on, to hold us up, to keep us from fainting.

Are you in an adversity today? Ask the Holy Spirit to open your understanding to God’s word. Open your Bible and seek God’s guidance during your trial. As He shows you His power, His love, and His grace your faith will grow and the adversity, instead of causing you to faint, will do just the opposite and make you a stronger and more confident child of God.

 

We are rejoicing n God’s commitment to meet with us when we gather as His church. Sunday after Sunday we gather and cry out to God to gather with us. Week after week God shows up and leads us as we worship Him through song and through His word. God provides reconciliation as well, unity in His church, and He is glorified. After church I was able to meet with two men and share Christ with one of them. Pray that this man will receive clarity from God’s Holy Spirit and be led to salvation.

Each week we pray that anywhere the Word of God is opened and proclaimed that those who hear will receive the message and come to Christ or mature in their faith of Christ. We serve a mighty God who freely gives His miracle of salvation to those who believe and put their eternal faith in Him.

Have a great day in the Lord,

PS

No, our leaders are not acting in wisdom

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Proverbs 24

   Wisdom is too high for a fool;

in the gate he does not open his mouth.

   Whoever plans to do evil

will be called a schemer.

   The devising of folly is sin,

and the scoffer is an abomination to mankind.

 

It seems to me that the majority of world leadership today is lacking wisdom. No, they are not ignorant people, on the contrary, they are highly intelligent people. As I read the book of Proverbs, Solomon says that people who plan to do evil are schemers and those who devise to do folly, or foolishness, are committing sin. Furthermore, those who scoff at God’s truth are an abomination to mankind, that is, those they are supposed to be leading.

When my dad raised me, he taught me to respect people in government positions. He taught me to respect the authorities that were over me. It seems to me that back then, those who were in authority were respect worthy. We are still called to respect them and especially to pray for them, but it sure would be easier to do if they acted with wisdom and not with such evil scheming and foolish actions.

Leadership is supposed to lead with wisdom and with concern for all whom they are leading. Leadership is to seek the counsel of other people of wisdom and work together for the good of those whom they lead. Solomon also said that when the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice but when the wicked are in authority the people mourn. People in many nations are mourning today because of foolish and evil leadership.

So, what are we to do? 1 Timothy 2:1–4 “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. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” We must increase our efforts in prayer for our leadership. They are acting foolishly but so did Nebuchadnezzar, whom God humbled. Let us pray that our nation’s leader will have Nebuchadnezzar moments when they will be humbled before the God of heaven and acknowledge that He is in control, not them. God can still change lives and do the impossible work of bringing salvation to needy souls.

 

Bobbi and Jared are visiting our family in the US right now. Jared is doing well and we are thankful for this. He really does know and love all twelve of his nieces and nephews. It is an interesting relationship that they all share with him. Jared knows all of his family by name, at times he talks about them, sometimes we pray for them all, and he fills in any blanks I leave.

 Please pray with us for this upcoming Sunday. I am almost finished preaching through the book of Colossians. What a great journey this has been for us. I am also wrapping up from my last class having turned in a project yesterday and another one due the 21st. Word of Life Indonesia has asked me to speak at two of their upcoming youth retreats. Pray for these opportunities to point young people to the Savior.

 Thank you for all of your prayers for the Schroeders. We appreciate you and thank God for your prayers and for your love.

 Have a great day in the Lord,

PS

A wise person seeks the advice and counsel of others

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Proverbs 24

5      A wise man is strong,

Yes, a man of knowledge increases strength;

6      For by wise counsel you will wage your own war,

And in a multitude of counselors there is safety.

 

We live today in a self-made world. Phrases like, “If its to be its up to me” and “Follow your passion” and so many others teach us from a very young age to find what we want to do and to do it. The idea of getting advice is dependent on the situation and if the advice we get does not agree with what we want to do then we are free to ignore the advice and do what we wanted to do. Purchase and payment plans enable us to buy things without advice. Take a moment today and notice what a person of wisdom does with important life situations.

 

The proverb begins with a statement, a truth: “A wise man is strong.” When we consider the strength of a man or a woman we consider whether they are people of wisdom and character. One who lives acting on wisdom is considered one who is strong. But look at the punctuation here, we do not see a period but a comma and then a semi-colon indicating that this is one sentence that requires full consideration to gain full meaning.

 

A wise man is strong, a man of knowledge increases strength, when he uses wise counsel and when he seeks the safety of a multitude of counsellors. (Please read this again.)

 

There is a reason that I do not like to ask others about my ideas or plans, they often criticize my thoughts, change them, or completely throw them away and tell me to start over. Quite frankly, I think my ideas are very good and worth moving forward on; others see problems and holes in my ideas and suggest changes based on their experiences, their studies, and their emotions. So, no, I do not like to ask others to critique my ideas. (The foolish idea that my ideas are good apart from the multitude of counsel around me has gotten me into trouble more than once.)

 

So then, if we are to be people of wisdom and knowledge, we need, yes, we need to ask those around us, those who know us, those who love us, and those who will be stuck with our ideas, for their counsel. Furthermore, a person of wisdom will seek the counsel of others, this is wise behavior.

 

We buy insurance for all types of calamities; this proverb tells us that safety in life comes from asking other people for advice. People of wisdom ask others for counsel and advice before they go to war, before they make life-changes, before they make great mistakes.

 

While the coronavirus continues to spread, we, the ones who believe we will go to heaven to be with Christ, should be the ones showing compassion and confidence to those around us. We should not be foolish regarding our health but we should, using normal cautions, care for those who are in fear. There is a proverb that states, “The horse is prepared for the day of battle, but safety is from the Lord.” Yes, we prepare for the issues around us, and yes we have confidence that God is ultimately in control of the outcome. Pray together for God to use even this outbreak to bring people to His mercy, grace and peace.

 

Have a great day in the Lord,

PS

Let’s Take the Opportunities to Choose Wisdom

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Proverbs 24

1 Be not envious of evil men,

nor desire to be with them,

    for their hearts devise violence,

and their lips talk of trouble.

    By wisdom a house is built,

and by understanding it is established;

    by knowledge the rooms are filled

with all precious and pleasant riches.

 

The word pictures described here make an obvious choice for what we really want in life. No one wants violence; no one wants trouble in their houses. On the other hand, all of us want a level of wisdom in our houses, understanding of what is important, rooms filled with precious and pleasant riches. We can envision the difference quite easily.

Once we see the difference, to what degree will we strive to attain the better side of this picture? No one is born wise, for we are born with hearts that are deceived, wills that are selfish, and goals that might take some sin to achieve. We revel in acts of the flesh and laugh at foolishness and sin. So then, how do we transition to gaining wisdom, understanding, and right knowledge?

The first step in change is recognizing that change is needed. Looking back, when you have acted in selfishness, where did it get you? When did you act in envy and trouble to get something you wanted, did you really enjoy what you gained?   Now, what do you need to think and do differently to act in the wisdom that brings security and value? The funny thing about wisdom is this, no one may support your decision to act in wisdom and understanding but everyone will envy the results of your wise choices.

I have read many stories of foolish people who got rich, really rich, but lost it all and ended in poverty and shame. (Not that being poor is shameful, but these people become poor because of their foolishness.) On the other hand, I have known hundreds of average people who sought the Lord’s wisdom and understanding and while living moderately in life had a family that was established and had the precious and pleasant riches of God’s grace to enjoy every day.

 

Two years ago I began the journey toward another degree that would provide the credentials needed to teach on the seminary level. I took a year off of that journey when we moved to Jakarta. In October, I restarted the journey. In the last two weeks of December and into the first week of January, my class assignments on top of my church speaking schedules, took over my life and I was not able to give time to prepare these devotionals. This week and next I am in Louisville, KY taking class. My plan is to get back to writing the devotionals as things get back to normal.  

We had a great Christmas together with our church family and are so happy to be in Jakarta at JIBC. Bobbi and both have completed a year now and look forward to 2020 as we continue to serve with our brothers and sisters in Christ.

Have a great day in the Lord,


PS