Proverbs

Regardless of how popular evil is, it is still evil to God

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Proverbs 15:26–29 (ESV)

26     The thoughts of the wicked are an abomination to the Lord, but gracious words are pure.

27     Whoever is greedy for unjust gain troubles his own household, but he who hates bribes will live.

28     The heart of the righteous ponders how to answer, but the mouth of the wicked pours out evil things.

29     The Lord is far from the wicked, but he hears the prayer of the righteous.

In today’s passage we see the thoughts of the wicked, those greedy for unjust gain, the mouth of the wicked and the distance of God from the wicked. It is always interesting to me that words penned some 3,000 years ago are still as true today as they were then. People have not changed, and wisdom is still a benefit to those who seek it. Evil people have the same issues now that they had then.

In my lifetime the proliferation of evil men and women into the leadership of the United States has been astounding. I call them wicked because they want to live without consequences of their sinful desires. They want to be sexually active without the consequence of having a child, so the abortion industry has killed well over 50,000,000 people and still wants more. Government leaders want to approve all sorts of sexual deviancy through laws enabling homosexual marriage (an oxymoron if there ever was one), enabling homosexuals to adopt innocent children and more. Transgenderism is confusing the youngest in society. The legalization of drinking and of marijuana use as a recreational drug goes against every spiritual instruction of not becoming enslaved to anything. But since it is people in leadership and popularity that are flying these flags, wickedness is becoming more and more acceptable. Regardless of their level of popularity, the thoughts of the wicked are an abomination to the Lord.

It is no surprise to read that the Lord is far from the wicked.

On the other side, the words of those filled with grace are still pure words; those who hate bribes live a better and more secure life; the heart of the righteous thinks about the right answer, and the Lord hears the prayer of the righteous.

We may be on the wrong side of the political and the popular elite, but we are on the right side with God. May we not be swayed by the voices of abomination that are working diligently to turn society to their evil desires, but may we recognize true grace and true wisdom continuing to walk in them.

My brother-in-law, Shawn, has appointments this week to seek to understand what is happening with his eyes. Thank you for your prayers for him, please continue to seek the Lord on Shawn and Donna’s behalf.

Tomorrow we will again host a prayer time at 11:45 at JIBC. These have become precious times of opening God’s word and praying together. Join us if you can.

Have a great day in the Lord,

PS

 

Walking a good and safe road

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Proverbs 15:19–21 (ESV)

19     The way of a sluggard is like a hedge of thorns, but the path of the upright is a level highway.

20     A wise son makes a glad father, but a foolish man despises his mother.

21     Folly is a joy to him who lacks sense, but a man of understanding walks straight ahead.

The Scripture writers often used the illustration of the kind of roads someone was travelling on as a description of their life. In verses 19 and 21 the idea of a level highway and walking straight ahead indicate the life of one who knows where he or she is going, is making good progress, and does not make needless turns to the right or the left. A level highway makes for good travel, good speed, and little danger of a crash or of making a wrong turn. All in all, travelling straight ahead on a good and level highway is where all of us want to be.

This level highway is contrasted with walking through a hedge of thorns while living in folly, or in useless activities. If you have ever had to walk in thorns, you choose your steps very carefully and you really cannot help but getting scratched. You do not make much progress and a short distance can take a very long time. This struggle of direction and progress is used to describe one who is lazy and one who lacks good sense. By the choices of their lives they do not make much progress, they are easily distracted from their purpose, and nothing seems to come easy for them.

In the middle of this contrast of the paths of life is a simple and repeated statement about a wise son who makes a glad father and a foolish son who despises his mother (he despises her because she wants to help guide him but he would rather live in the folly of the thorns). Parents want to help their children to avoid the thorns while enjoying the level highways of life. Parents want to see their children walking in wisdom and reaching their goals. Young people, let your parents help you. They are heavily invested in you and know you better than anyone else. As you benefit from your parents as a wisdom source, you will avoid the thorns and the folly of senseless living. You will enjoy your parents and they will be glad for your life.

 

We would request your prayer for Bobbi’s brother, Shawn. Shawn had to make an emergency trip to the US from Brazil due to an issue in his eye. It is very painful and has a risk of losing his eyesight. They were at Duke University Hospital where tests were run. Pray for wisdom for the doctors and comfort and healing for Shawn. Pray for peace for Shawn’s wife Donna and for their children, Andrew and Anna-shay are still living at home.

Pray for a man named Midian, his sons Patrick and Torino attend JIBC. Midian was admitted to a local hospital with cancer at serious levels in his body. I hope to see Median today.

Have a great day in the Lord,

PS

 

Anger is to be avoided

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Proverbs 15:18 (ESV)

18     A hot-tempered man stirs up strife, but he who is slow to anger quiets contention.

Proverbs 15:18 (NIV)

18 A hot-tempered person stirs up conflict, but the one who is patient calms a quarrel.

We live in an angry world. From political anger to parents who are angry at their kids games, to anger in churches to road rage and anger in the home, we live in an angry world. We wonder when one country in anger will attack another country. We see terrorist actions where one religious’ sect in anger attacks another religious’ sect. Anger in parking lots leads to verbal and physical assaults. An internet post can quickly lead to angry responses. We just do not have to go very far to face someone’s anger. We live in an angry world.

I would like to suggest that this type of anger has no place in the heart of the Christian. There are very few times when righteous anger is called for and most of us do not have the self-control to keep our emotions in check even when we are righteously angry. Solomon has much to say about anger and its problems. In today’s reference we see that someone who is hot-tempered stirs up strife and conflict. To stir something up is to mix it up to a new level. Anger usually increases the strife and the level of conflict of any given situation. When anger enters a situation people lose control, things are said that should not be said, emotions rise, and relationships are hurt.

On the other hand, one who is slow to anger and patient of spirit, has the ability to quiet down a contentious situation, to settle down a quarrelsome room. In moments of anger when my tongue has something quick and cutting to say, I hear a voice within telling me not to say it. Do you hear that voice? It is what we do next that determines us a people of anger or a people of patience who are slow to anger.

I read this morning from 1 Kings 3 where God asked Solomon what he would want from God and Solomon asked God for understanding and for wisdom to rule His people. In James 1:4-6 James tells us that whenever we ask for wisdom, with faith believing God will grant our request, that God will give us the wisdom that we need for that situation. My friends, in the face of an angry situation, before we speak, let us ask God for wisdom so that we cool the anger before it ignites instead of throwing gas and a lit match into the room. Let us beGod’s people of patience who bring peace to difficult situations.

 

Sunday was a good day at JIBC. We rejoiced together and gathered around God’s powerful word together. In 1 John 5:16-17 we studied the call to pray for those in sin and sought to understand the sin unto death. We concluded the service taking time in small groups to pray for those we know and love who are still living in sin that they may hear the call of God to repent of their sin and come to Him. You can hear the message by clicking the link at the bottom of this page.

 Yesterday, we took Stefani and Jared to Taman Safari. On the way there one of our tires picked up a nail slowing us down for over two hours. Since traffic picked up while getting our tire fixed we got to the park in the midst of its peak time. Later in the day, much later than we would have chosen, we were in a line of hundreds of people and met a couple who went to Iowa State University in the 1990’s. We asked them if they knew George and Dottie Hatfield, whom our church in Illinois supported as missionaries to foreign students on campus. This Indonesian husband and wife met at Iowa State and were discipled as young Christians by George and Dottie! I also met a young family from Saudi Arabia. The wife was dressed in a burka, head to toe, and they had four handsome young sons. We took pictures and exchanged numbers. Bobbi then met a Philippine family and exchanged info with them. They were Catholic and very friendly with Bobbi.

 So while the park was amazing, if you ever come to Indonesia we will take you there, God had several Divine appointments for us. We are so thankful to be in this great country.

Have a great day in the Lord,

PS

 

 

 

Are you content with a little as long as you have the Lord and love?

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Proverbs 15

16    Better is a little with the fear of the Lord,

Than great treasure with trouble.

17    Better is a dinner of herbs where love is,

Than a fatted calf with hatred.

Do we really believe this teaching? Do the actions of our lives demonstrate this truth? Are we really content with only our basic needs met, with love and a small dinner available to us? There are several enemies to contentment in this world. Satan attacks our contentment in Christ in as many ways as he can. Our enemy knows that if we can be made discontent that we will become distracted and spend more time getting than enjoying Him and giving to others.

Think about this with me. “Better is a little than a great treasure and better is a small vegan dinner than a good steak or roast.” Put that way, we would disagree on several levels. But add in “with the fear of the Lord” and “where love is” and we fully understand. What good is treasure without the Lord in your life? Jesus illustrated this several times; the rich young ruler wanted his riches more than discipleship and the rich man who ignored the beggar Lazarus opened his eyes in hell. King Saul had the wealth of Israel but hated David and lived in constant jealousy while he ate, well, “like a king.”

When the apostle Paul wrote, “I have learned in whatsoever state I am in to be content.” He was teaching us the same wisdom lesson that Solomon was trying to teach. Contentedness begins in the heart and overcomes the desires of the stomach and the flesh. When at peace with God and when at peace with those who love me us, we should be content and thankful, even for a meager meal. If we have peace and love and an old car and the same clothes as last year, and a small house or apartment, we should focus on what we have and not miserably wish for more. I have been in the grand homes of the unhappy wealthy and eaten at the full tables of the rich. But scarcely is the meal finished before the bitterness of life comes out through the discontent of everyone there.

Please note, this is not saying that all rich people are miserable. They are not. There are the wealthy who love the Lord, live in fear of Him and are content. God uses these people to fund His kingdom work in this life. Solomon’s point is that wealth does not bring peace and love but true wealth begins with the fear of the Lord and love toward those at the table with us. You may be wealthier than you realize.

 

It is Friday, try to join us for prayer at 11:45 today. I believe that God honors us with His guidance and His power to do His work when we pray to Him. We begin reading a Psalm and then pray praise to God from the Psalm, we ask God to shape our lives according to the Psalm, and then we pray for others that God will meet their needs according to the teaching of the Psalm.

Pray with us for Sunday that God will prepare those of us who are preaching and teaching. Pray that those involved in the children’s ministry and the music ministry and the audio and media teams that all will serve to the glory of God and do so with complete unity of heart and purpose. May our God be exalted and His word go forth with His power and His authority. I will be bringing a message on the seriousness of sin as John teaches us that there is a sin unto death.

Have a great day in the Lord,

PS

Learn to receive correction with humility

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Proverbs 15

10    Harsh discipline is for him who forsakes the way,

And he who hates correction will die.

11    Hell and Destruction are before the Lord;

So how much more the hearts of the sons of men.

12    A scoffer does not love one who corrects him,

Nor will he go to the wise.

Why do some people seem to never learn? They go from problem to problem, fine to fine, relationship to relationship, and never seem to realize that the problem is within themselves. No, none of us like correction. Be honest; when was the last time you really felt good when someone corrected you and even disciplined you for your actions? In these proverbs we learn about the ones who need harsh discipline, those who hate correction, and those who do not love the ones who correct them.

Growing up as the middle child, I watched my older sister and my younger brother get into trouble. Not wanting what they got I became compliant to my parent’s correction. At that age, compliancy is better than rebellion. In our years at the boys home we came to understand that there really are rebellious people who need harsh correction and who hate those who correct them. In the pastorate I learned that there are adults like this also. When you see someone’s attitude toward correction and their attitude toward the one doing the correction, you learn a great deal about their character. Those who hate correction and those who correct them seem to go from job to job, from jail to jail, and from friend to friend. They finally land with people like themselves.

The middle verse here says that both hell and destruction are before the Lord, that is, they are before His eyes and nothing gets away from God’s notice. If God sees the activities of death and hell, surely He knows men’s hearts. Satan, the great deceiver, knows how to tempt men’s hearts but the Lord knows what is in men’s hearts. God knew Job would not forsake Him. Jesus prayed for Peter knowing that in temptation he was going to fail. God knows your heart as well. If God so knows our hearts then God also knows how much correction our hearts need. Let’s heed God’s correction, apply it, and repenting of our sinful ways let us walk in God’s light and love instead.

 

Yesterday our family visited Yayasan Elsafon school for the blind here in Jakarta. We sat in our their rehearsal for chapel music. What a thrill to see these blind young people using their talents with abandon for the Lord. I was saddened to hear that one of the boys I met in December had gotten sick and “gone to be with the Lord.” Pray for these children and young people to be the men and women that God created them to be. There is a set of twin brothers who are gifted musicians. One of them Jesse, played piano as Stefani sang Amazing Grace. These young people brought the joy of the Lord to our hearts.

 Have a great day in the Lord,

PS

 

 

 

Sin is Not a Laughing Matter

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Proverbs 14:9 (NKJV)

9     Fools mock at sin,

But among the upright there is favor.

Proverbs 14:9 (NIV)

Fools mock at making amends for sin,

but goodwill is found among the upright.

Proverbs 14:9 (ESV)

    Fools mock at the guilt offering,

but the upright enjoy acceptance.

My friends, sin is not a laughing matter. Making matters right from sinful words and deeds is not a laughing matter. Bringing an offering to God for our sin is not a laughing matter. As long as there has been comedy, sin has been made fun of. We laugh when people imitate a drunk, a prostitute, a homosexual, a liar, and more. Comedy makes fun of good people by mocking righteousness and godliness. Saturday Night Live has created an entire new taste for making fun of any one and any thing at any given time. To “roast” someone is to make fun of them at any level that can be imagined.

To mock something is to make light of it so that it seems unimportant or unnecessary. Mockery makes fun of something or someone who is doing something; both good and bad can be made fun of and belittled. This proverb is especially interesting to us who love the Lord, love righteousness and grieve when we sin. Sin is not a small thing to us; sin is not something that we would mock and make light of. When we do sin against another person, we want them to take our apology seriously and carefully so that our relationship will be restored.

This proverb tells us that foolish people mock both sin itself and any efforts to reconcile the pain that sin has caused. Sin is not a laughing matter. Sin is the most serious trauma on planet earth. Sin separated Adam and Eve from God and separated them from each other. Sin brought death to Abel at the hands of Cain. Sin brought the destruction of the world in the flood of God’s judgment. Sin brought the confusion of the languages of the world and sin has caused every death and every sickness in history. Every war is attributed to someone’s pride, selfishness, prejudice and hatred. Ultimately, sin brought the Savior to this earth where He suffered and died because of our sin.

Heed this warning, fools make a mockery of sin, its consequences, the efforts to reconcile from it. God sees sin as a serious issue to be fought against, died to, confessed, and repented from.

 

Do you have an appetite for the Word of God? Is that appetite being fed each week? I have been reminded of just how closely our enemies live and how quickly these enemies want to deceive us from God’s truth. Pray for one another to remain faithful to God, to seek His word daily, to sit under its preaching and teaching, and to have hearts and minds open to its messages. Our battles are real and the stakes are high. Pray together for us to be better and better students of God’s truths.

 Have a great day in the Lord,

PS

 

Sacrifices of abomination verses prayers of delight

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Proverbs 15

8     The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord,

But the prayer of the upright is His delight.

9     The way of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord,

But He loves him who follows righteousness.

There are several times in the Bible when the phrase, “abomination to the Lord” is used. An abomination is something that is more evil to God than regular sin. Things that were an abomination to God in the Law were usually punished by death. Something that was an abomination to God was an action to really be avoided. You might not be able to abstain from every sin, but you certainly should abstain from things that God called an abomination. (Do a search on the word ‘abomination’ in the book of Leviticus and Deuteronomy.)

That being said, Solomon used the word ‘abomination” here to describe the sacrifice of the wicked and the way of the wicked.   This lesson should help us understand that when a wicked man or woman does something good in the name of philanthropy or in the name of religion, God is not impressed. When godless people make a big donation to a worthy cause, God does not take notice and give them a good mark in His record book. On the contrary, when a wicked man or woman makes a sacrifice for the good of another, even their motive is self-serving, and God adds this sin to their list of sins. Everything they do is about themselves, nothing they do is purely for the worship of God.

The contrary part of the wicked is the upright and the righteous. While the wicked make a great sacrifice, the righteous need only say a prayer to please the Lord. Our prayer of faith is more pleasing to God than the multi-million-dollar gift of the wicked. The simple cry of our heart to God gets His Divine attention and He is pleased that we came to Him. Yes, the kingdom of God on earth relies on the donations of others and yes, we should be giving of our resources to further God’s kingdom. What we learn here is that God is first pleased with our simplest prayers. When we give, it is not for self-praise but for God’s glory. We sacrifice to God on every level of our lives and we do so out of love, not obligation, out of selfless worship not with any desire for personal exaltation, and God is pleased. (Can you think of people in the life of Christ who worshiped Him and He was pleased?)

Once again, if you are able to join us at 11:45 today for prayer, please do. We read the Scriptures together and praise God with His words. Then we look at our own needs and the needs others from the Scriptures and pray more.

Remember to pray for our teenage young people who face awful temptations every day. From song lyrics to the content of TV and movies our teens are faced with the filth of this world all the time. Pray that they will have the discernment to know good and evil as well as the courage to stand up to it and resist it. I am working with a young man here who needs our prayers to commit to his parent’s wisdom and guidance. I am sure he is one of thousands or more in Christian homes who needs our prayers and loving guidance.

Be in prayer for Sunday throughout today and tomorrow. May God be highly exalted.

Have a great day in the Lord,
PS