Proverbs

Ultimately, God is over all

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Proverbs 21

1 The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord,

Like the rivers of water; He turns it wherever He wishes.

2 Every way of a man is right in his own eyes,

But the Lord weighs the hearts.

When decisions are made by others for us, God wants us to know that their hearts are in His capable hands. Every day governments make decisions for their people. Some of those decisions are for the good of the government and some are for the good of the people. Every day judges around the world give their judgment regarding cases set before them, while they promise to judge fairly, they do not always do so. We learn today that when kings and rulers and judges of people make decisions that affect their people, the One in charge is God.

On one hand this is very comforting but on the other hand this is very confusing. For if God directs the hearts of those over us like a river that turns, then why are bad laws made and why are bad judgments passed out? We rejoice over God’s guidance of good laws and we scratch our heads over God’s guidance of bad laws.

In Isaiah 40 the prophet asks us this question:

13 Who has directed the Spirit of the Lord,

Or as His counselor has taught Him?

14 With whom did He take counsel, and who instructed Him,

And taught Him in the path of justice?

Who taught Him knowledge,

And showed Him the way of understanding?

As the heavens are far above the earth, so great is God’s wisdom above ours. Therefore, when God directs the authorities of this world and they make apparently bad decisions, God is working His eternal will. The powers of darkness and of evil rejoiced in the world-wide approval of abortion while we grieved at the continual loss of human life in the womb. We can guess at God’s purpose here and we do fight against abortion, but God was not asleep when these laws were made. What is God’s purpose for bad laws? Someday we can ask Him and He may explain His eternal purposes to us. But until then we pray for those in authority to lead us in God’s righteousness and peace believing that God is at work in their hearts to accomplish His eternal purposes for us.

 

It is Friday, today we take time to seek the Lord regarding our church and its preparations for Sunday. We pray for family members and missionary friends around the world who are preparing for their Sunday service. We pray for churches in our cities and towns that will open God’s word on Sunday that they will open it faithful to God and with His authority. Do stop today and seek the Lord’s guidance for your church and for other churches that you can pray for.

 Please pray for a family friend who has had to leave her husband with her children due to his abuse. There is much unknown in the days ahead brining all kinds of emotions up to them. Pray for this family’s protection and for the husband to submit to his church as they seek to correct his sinful ways toward his family and toward his God.

 Have a great day in the Lord,
PS

The value of love and faithfulness in leadership

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Proverbs 20:28 (ESV)

28  Steadfast love and faithfulness preserve the king,

and by steadfast love his throne is upheld.

Proverbs 20:28 (NIV)

28 Love and faithfulness keep a king safe;

through love his throne is made secure.

 

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have government leaders whose lives were known by their love and faithfulness? Even a step further, wouldn’t it be wonderful for them to love their people so much that the people want to keep them in leadership of their country?   How sad it is that most, not all, countries today are having leadership troubles. Kings, Prime Ministers, Presidents, Representatives, Commanders, and more, suffer from selfish ambition and unfaithfulness to their marriage, their finances, and are actually then unfaithful to the very people that they are sworn to protect. Every day it seems that another country is protesting and rebelling against a corrupt leadership. The people do not feel the love and thus they are insecure and hoping for a change.

Well, few of us, if any, will become country leaders, but we are leaders somewhere. We can take a look at this proverb and we can determine that we will lead our small circle of influence with love and faithfulness. We can commit to treating people with fairness, kindness, and righteous judgment. We can commit to showing mercy whenever we are able to do so. We can commit to putting the needs of those under us and those over us above our own needs. We can consider the value of their lives as we lead them and thus make them more secure.

This can appropriately apply to dads and moms, to employers and managers, to team leaders and to bosses, to church pastors, elders, deacons, department directors, and to anyone who has someone working or volunteering under them. Those who look up to their leaders have an expectation that they will be treated with love and faithfulness every day. When leaders treat those under them as expected, loving and respecting relationships are formed and people, happy with their position, serve well.

Are we, as leaders, known for our love and faithfulness? Are those we work and serve with secure with us?

 

November 19th is my brother Bill’s birthday. Since we don’t see each other often, many of you don’t know that I have a brother or know little about him. Bill has been a faithful husband and father, a hard worker, and took careful and loving care of our parents when I left the US. Happy Birthday Bill. People have often asked why I wasn’t named “Bill,” since we cannot get into our parent’s heads we will never know, but I am glad you can carry our dad’s name, you have carried it well. Happy Birthday.

 Have a great day in the Lord,
PS

 

The lamp of the Lord in us

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Proverbs 20

27 The spirit of a man is the lamp of the Lord,

Searching all the inner depths of his heart.

The evolutionist think that man is the highest form of the evolved creatures. Atheist think that there is no God and therefore no higher being to direct life. In today’s proverb we find a truth about God and man that flies in the face of evolution and atheism. Within our thinking is a consciousness of right and wrong. Remember when Cain was jealous and thought to kill his brother? God spoke to Cain’s subconscious, God put a lamp, a light, into Cain’s heart to show him right from wrong.

How many animals have a sense of right and wrong that dictates their behavior? How many in the animal kingdom does the spirit of the Lord direct to ethical and moral behavior?   I well remember the day when my parent’s Doberman ate a chocolate cake off the counter. She did not feel badly at all for her “sin,” to her it was just a wonderful opportunity. I also remember the time she picked up the neighbor’s little dog in her mouth and shook that little dog back and forth then dropped it on the ground, again, with no conscience of right or wrong.

On the other hand, we, as humans made in God’s image, have a sense of right and wrong; “the lamp of the Lord,” that shines into our darkened hearts strives to lead us away from sin into right actions. David said that the Word of God was a lamp to our feet and a light to our path. The spirit of man is the lamp of the Lord that searches the inner depths of our hearts leading us to righteousness and morality when we listen to it. The lamp of the Lord goes into the darkest parts of our lives and shines his light into our darkness. We can never say that did not know right from wrong; we can never say that the devil made us do something. David knew he sinned against God and against Bathsheba and Uriah. David ignored God’s warning that night. On the other hand, Daniel purposed in his heart not to eat the kings meat that was offered to the idols of Babylon. He knew the meat was unclean and that God did not want him to eat it.

When we know that the lamp of the Lord is leading us away from a certain conversation or from a certain activity, the best course of action is to turn toward the lamp of righteousness away from the darkness that has been exposed. May we be known as people of the Light, people of the Lord, because we follow the light that God provides.

Take time today to pray for Sunday. Pray also for the families of the children shot in Santa Clarita, CA. I often think that this could have been one of my children. Our friend here, Kongkin, went home from the hospital yesterday. We are thanking God for answered prayer on his behalf.

Have a great day in the Lord,

PS

Who is responsible for our reputations?

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Proverbs 20

22           Do not say, “I will recompense evil”;

Wait for the Lord, and He will save you.

24           A man’s steps are of the Lord;

How then can a man understand his own way?

Think with me about the parallel of these verses. The steps of our life are of the Lord’s planning. This means that God is never surprised by what happens, He never has to reboot or start over, and He never needs to apologize for a project gone wrong. If we have a high view of God’s sovereign way for our lives, then there are times that we cannot understand what has happened. Only through the eye of faith and trust can we accept those things that don’t seem to make sense to us.

In light of this truth, when someone treats us wrongly and we feel a need to vindicate ourselves or to get some sort of vengeance, who is in control? Was God asleep when the wrong was done? Does God need our help to save us from the shame and embarrassment of evil done to us? At the moment of the evil done to us we are not thinking about a sovereign Lord who will protect us and make things right, no, we are thinking about how to get even or how to justify ourselves.

In light of this, when we are wronged, what should our response be? How should we treat the person who wronged us? Psalm 27:14 tells us to wait on the Lord, be of good courage, and He will strengthen our hearts. With this in mind, the next time we are wronged, let’s look to heaven, take a deep breath, give it to God, and wait on Him to take care of us. Why, you ask, should God step in? God calls us His children, chosen, predestined to adoption to the praise of the glory of His grace. If we belong to God then we can trust Him to right the wrong; besides, He is far better at this than we are.

 

Yesterday, a man here asked if were going to watch the impeachment hearings. I told him that no, I was not going to watch them. The hatred of the politicians in the US is painful to watch. There is no respect for someone with a different view, there is hatred. When hatred comes in it clouds everything else. Hatred is a lens that skews everything it looks at. I am so grieved by the hatred of the politicians, the hatred of the press, the hatred of the famous people, and the way their hatred influences all who follow them. God is totally removed. God’s love is nowhere to be found. The preaching of the Cross is abject foolishness for it would mean embracing the love of God as well. Pray for a revival of hearts toward the call of God to love one another as He has loved us.

Have a great day in the Lord,

PS

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