申命記 6:6-7 私がきょう、あなたに命じるこれらのことばを、あなたの心に刻みなさい。これをあなたの子どもたちによく教え込みなさい。あなたが家にすわっているときも、道を歩くときも、寝るときも、起きるときも、これを唱えなさい。

It is helpful for us to remember that the vast majority of the Israelites were illiterate at the point this was written, so oral repetition was the only way to ensure the commandments were passed on from generation to generation. However, it would be a grave mistake to dismiss these instructions as nothing more than that. Particularly in this modern information age, people tend to keep less and less in their heads/hearts, preferring to remember simply how to look it up when they need it. The problem with that is, life and the devil don't stop for us to look things up; we've got to have them immediately on call, or we won't be able to stand against all that comes against us. It is particularly significant that Moses says to get God's Word into our children. The NIV says “impress,” but the Japanese is more graphic: “teach it into them.” The picture is one of teaching until the material is internalized, and that is exactly what we need to do, not just for our children but for one another.


As a pastor/teacher this is my major calling, and I do it with varying success. I often quote my grandfather's statement that “each person's Bible is only as big as the portion of it that is actually in their heart.” I've got a lot of the Bible in my head, which isn't bad, but I've got to keep seeking to engrave it on my heart, like Moses said. At the same time I need to be faithful and untiring in helping each believer do likewise. I can't force anyone to do this, but I can pray for and encourage them. I need to pray for them to have ears to hear, minds to understand, and hearts to obey what God is saying, so that they may be equipped to stand against the devil and be fully available to God, for His purposes and glory and for their blessing.


Father, thank You for the recent comments about how easy my messages are to understand. That's quite an encouragement after some other people had been complaining that they were difficult! Help me be faithful to feed those who have ears to hear and pray for those whose ears are closed, without agonizing over the latter group. Help me be increasingly faithful in applying Your Word in my own life and increasingly effective in communicating Your Word to others, so that Your Word may indeed accomplish that for which You send it, for our blessing and Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!



申命記 4:35, 39 あなたにこのことが示されたのは、主だけが神であって、ほかには神はないことを、あなたが知るためであった。きょう、あなたは、上は天、下は地において、主だけが神であり、ほかに神はないことを知り、心に留めなさい。

Monotheism was a hard concept for the Israelites to grasp at this point, at least as much so as for the average Japanese today. Egypt was famously polytheistic, and as has been said, it was much harder to get Egypt out of the Israelites than it was to get the Israelites out of Egypt. God orchestrated things so that the supernatural nature of their deliverance was evident, and He put on the “sound and light show” at Sinai for this same reason: to demonstrate to the people that He wasn't some figment of Moses' imagination, but was God Almighty. Old habits die very hard, so Moses was pointing out to the Israelites what had been done for them. Often we experience things that God is trying to teach us, but we let them go right over our heads and never get the point. The whole book of Deuteronomy is Moses trying to be sure the Israelites got the point of what had been told and shown them, and they had experienced.


This is certainly double-ended for me. I have been at least as dense as the Israelites at times, failing to get the point even when God was teaching me very patiently. At the same time I am in Moses' position, trying to help others recognize and appropriate the lessons God is teaching them. I need to take comfort in knowing that if God could use Moses, who was certainly not an Administrator, then He can use me, too. I have been stressing the point that we need to take our eyes off of ourselves and our problems to fix them on God, if we are going to overcome the problems, but then I have turned around and fixated on the problems in the church and failed to hear and trust what God was saying that was positive and encouraging. I need to listen to my own sermons! It is only the Holy Spirit who can really change hearts, so I need to welcome His work in me and pray for His work in others, keeping myself available as an instrument but not thinking I'm doing, or ever could do, the job myself.


Father, thank You for all You are doing here, even though I'm so slow to recognize and appreciate it. Thank You for the example of diligent outreach that a pastor friend is, and for the newsletter we have been working on to take around in the neighborhood. Thank You for getting us moving in new-believer training, and for the improved attitudes I'm seeing in several people. Help me not focus on where people are right now so much as to see where You want to take them and trust You to get the job done, even if You have to use me in the process. Thank You again for Your wonderful plans for us. Help me, help us, recognize and follow Your guidance so that we may rejoice to participate in Your plans, for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!




レビ記 19:33-34 「もしあなたがたの国に、あなたがたといっしょに在留異国人がいるなら、彼をしいたげてはならない。あなたがたといっしょの在留異国人は、あなたがたにとって、あなたがたの国に生まれたひとりのようにしなければならない。あなたは彼をあなた自身のように愛しなさい。あなたがたもかつてエジプトと地では在留異国人だったからである。わたしはあなたがたの神、主である。」

This passage is echoed in Jesus' story of the Good Samaritan. The Jews didn't see the Samaritans as their neighbors, they saw them as different and inferior. Jesus turned that around with His story, but even so the Pharisee to whom He told it couldn't bring himself to say, “Samaritan,” when Jesus asked him who had acted as a neighbor to the man who had been beaten up by bandits. This sort of thing continues to be a problem in the world today. However, the Bible is very clear that such interpersonal barriers are antithetical to the kingdom of God. No culture is innocent in this regard. In the US, the vast majority of churches are mono-racial and mono-cultural. That's not what heaven is going to look like! The church should be a practice ground for heaven, in this and every other area.


I've lived with this problem all my life, growing up as a Caucasian in Japan. Sometimes I was allowed to do things a Japanese person would not have been allowed to do, but often there has been a polite but firm wall, of being excluded because of being different. That has created something of a victim mentality in me, seeing more rejection than there really is, and that in itself is dangerous. The other side of this is rejection that is real, but not perceived as such by those doing the rejecting. I've got to find my acceptance in Christ and not allow the acceptance or rejection of others to sway me. That's a very tall order, and it is possible only as I am truly crucified with Christ.


Father, thank You for the many people who do accept me, to greater or lesser degrees. Help me escape a rejection complex, so that I won't perceive rejection that isn't there and so that I will be able to deal rationally with what is there. Help me indeed love others as I love myself, and teach the believers to do so regardless of racial or cultural or personal distinctions. Only Your Holy Spirit can do that work in us, so that is what I am asking for, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!



レビ記 19:18 「あなたの隣人をあなた自身のように愛しなさい。わたしは主である。」

Almost everything listed in the overall passage (11-18) seems a matter of course to most people today, but that's because Biblical values have largely permeated society. Without Biblical instruction, these things are not so obvious. I'm reminded of the time I told someone who had given his wife a black eye that wives aren't for hitting, and he said, “Who says?” He had no emotional or intellectual framework for that sort of value. All true morality and ethics spring from the two commandments Jesus quoted as of prime importance, and this verse is the second of those. As both Paul (Galatians 5:14) and James (James 2:8) point out, true obedience to this little short passage takes care of every facet of human interaction. The world would be a much nicer place if this were obeyed! However, we have strong resistance to acknowledging that other people have as much value as we do, and that poisons our thinking, words and actions.


Like Paul said, I've got to be careful that after preaching to others I don't fall short myself! (1 Corinthians 9:27) I've got a way to go before I can say that I'm loving even my brothers and sisters in Christ in the same way as He loves us. (John 13:34) In our finiteness we are inescapably self-centered, but I must not let that be an excuse for shortchanging those with whom the Lord brings me into contact. That's why the Bible specifically talks about our “neighbor.” We can't love someone we've never heard of! With the Internet and other news coverage we find out about far more people than anyone could in past eras, but unfortunately that sometimes tends to dull our response to everyone, even those close to us. I must not let that happen, but let God's love and compassion flow through me unhindered. Recently I've not been consistently reading and praying about the reports from Intercessors Network, and that's not good. I need to accept and rejoice in the responsibility and privilege of praying for those in the Body of Christ who are suffering for their faith, however geographically distant from me they might be. At the same time I must not close my heart to those physically close to me either, but let the Holy Spirit direct me in expressing God's love to all.


Father, thank You for reminding me that I will always have room to grow. Keep me from drawing back from that in any way. May I press on into Christ, expressing Him more and more fully in every area of my life, so that the works of the devil may be destroyed and more and more people be brought into Your family, for their salvation and Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!

お父様。いつも成長していかなくてはならないことを、思い出させてくださり有難うございます。このことから、たじろぎ引き下がることのありませんように。キリストに寄り頼み、人生の日々の中で、ますます十分にキリストを示していけますように。そうすることで悪魔の働きを打ち壊し、ますます多くの人があなたの家族となり、救われますように。あなたのご栄光のために。 感謝します。神様を賛美します!


出エジプト記 20:20 そこでモーセは民に言った。「恐れてはいけません。神が来られたのはあなたがたを試みるためです。また、あなたがたに神への恐れを生じて、あなたがたが罪を犯さないためです。」

It is unfortunate that here (in the Japanese), where there is such an opportunity to use the two different characters for “fear,” that this translation just uses the one. Moses is obviously talking about two different kinds of fear. God does not want us to be so scared of Him that we hide from Him, but He knows that a healthy respect and deep honor toward Him are essential in keeping us from sin. His motive in desiring to keep us from sin is love, mentioned in verse 6. This Japanese translation uses “love” in speaking of how we are to be toward God, but it uses “grace” in expressing how God responds to us. There is truth in that, but a NT understanding of agape love would make it desirable to use “love” in both directions. God does not give us rules to be mean to us or to restrict us needlessly; He desires our greatest good, and gives us guidelines in how to achieve that.


Being raised as I was, I've never had much terror of God, but then I haven't always had the respect and honor toward Him that I should have had, either. Never having doubted my parents' love for me, it has been easy to believe that God loves me as well. However, just as I failed to be consistently obedient to my parents as a child, I have certainly been less than consistent in my obedience toward God. I need to demonstrate the respect and honor that are due to God, both because He is worthy and that is the best thing for me, and because people look to me as an example of how they are to relate to God. I need to demonstrate intimacy with respect, love with honor, because that is what God has designed us for and it is the greatest of blessings.


Father, help me have the right kind of fear of You and lead others to do the same. Help me walk in the strictest obedience, not out of a fear of punishment but out of love, because You are certainly worthy of nothing less. Help me communicate Your love to as many people as possible, so that they too may fear and love You, for their salvation and Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!




創世記 22:18 「あなたの子孫によって、地のすべての国々は祝福を受けるようになる。あなたがわたしの声に聞き従ったからである。」

Our obedience doesn't affect just us. All the evil that is in the world today is the result of someone's disobedience to God somewhere at some time. If we decline to obey God we miss out on blessing for ourselves, but the ripple effects of that are beyond calculation. I have seen a chart of two individuals from before the American Revolution: one who was faithful to God and one who was in active rebellion against Him. The differences in their descendants was astounding! The faithful man had doctors and judges and leaders of all sorts in abundance among his descendants, and the rebel had quite a list of criminals of all sorts among his. The effects of our obedience don't stop at our physical descendants; Abraham's obedience brought blessing to all mankind through Jesus, who was Abraham's physical descendant. Disobedience is selfish, as well as stupid!


I am certainly the recipient of blessings as a result of the obedience of my ancestors, and I must not forget that. The song “Make me a Channel of Blessing” never seemed particularly deep to me as a child, but I don't think that was a fair evaluation. Desiring to be a channel of blessing is hardly an ignoble motive for obedience to God! I need to continue to seek to bless others by my obedience, and I need to teach the believers to do likewise. I was asked yesterday if all interpersonal problems were the result of sin, and I had to answer “Yes,” because if we were all living in obedience to God the way Jesus did, there would be no such problems. (Jesus had problems, but they were the result of others' sin.) The devil gives us all sorts of excuses for disobedience to God, but not a one will stand up under the light of the Holy Spirit, and each one will deprive us and many others of blessings God desires to pour out on us.

私は祝福を受けているのは確かに先祖が従順だったからです。そのことを忘れないようにすべきです。“Make me a Channel of Blessing”(私を祝福の器にして)の歌は、子供の時には大して深く心に響かなかったようですが、その考えは正しくはなかったようです。祝福の器になるのを望む事は、神に従うための卑しい動機ではありません!私の従順さで人にも祝福があるよう求め続けていこうと思っています。同じことを信者にも教えていきます。個人間の問題全てが罪の結果かどうか、昨日尋ねられました。もし私たちがイエスのように従順に生きているなら、そのような問題は起こらないはずです。それで私は「ええ、そうですよ」と答えました。(イエスに問題はありましたが、それは他の人の罪の結果でした。)神様に従わせないために悪魔はあらゆる口実を与えますが、聖霊の下に立てるものはなく、その各々が神様が注ごうと望んでおられる、私たちと他の多くの人の祝福を奪うことでしょう。

Father, thank You for Your presence and anointing in the service yesterday, and for all who were able to attend. Thank You for the agreement in the decisions about New Believers classes. I pray that each of the believers would be active in their growth, seeking to know and do Your will, so that they individually and all of us collectively may receive and enjoy the blessings You desire to pour out on us, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!



黙示録 14:13 また私は、天からこう言っている声を聞いた。「書きしるせ。『今から後、主にあって死ぬ使者は幸いである』」御霊も言われる。「しかり。彼らはその労苦から解放されて休むことができる。彼らの行いは彼らについて行くからである。」

The world cannot wrap its head around the the idea of people who die being blessed. People talk about going to heaven, but it is still always seen as a tragedy when someone dies. It is indeed a tragedy when someone loses the opportunity to spend eternity in Christ, but for someone who has already accepted and committed to that relationship, physical death is a relatively minor transition point. We are so conditioned to fear death that it often takes some time for a genuine Christian even to get out of that mindset, but doing so brings a peace that the world knows nothing about. That is how martyrs go gladly to the grave, while the world marvels.


I believe I'm pretty well established in this viewpoint, helped greatly by the circumstances around my parents' deaths, knowing that they have indeed been rewarded richly for their faithfulness. However, I have to be careful in how I talk to others, because saying, “They died? How wonderful for them!” would certainly offend needlessly. I need to work with the believers in my care until they have the assurance expressed in this verse, which will be a powerful motivation for them to draw others to Christ so that these others, too, may have this assurance. There are many around me who are not yet in Christ, and I need to be fully available to the Holy Spirit in drawing them to repentance and faith, for their salvation and God's pleasure.


Father, thank You for Your incredible plan of salvation, giving eternal life in Christ to all who will believe. Thank You for the privilege of being a messenger of that good news. Help me be more and more effective in that role, so that many more may receive the gospel and so that those who have received it may be rooted and grounded in it, standing firm against the plans of the devil and fulfilling all that You desire and intend, for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!



黙示録 1:9 私ヨハネは、あなたがたの兄弟であり、あなたがたとともにイエスにある苦難と御国と忍耐とにあずかっている者であって、神のことばとイエスのあかしとのゆえに、パトモスという島にいた。

Two parts of this verse stand out to me, and they are related. The first is the list John gives of things we share in Christ Jesus: suffering, the kingdom, and patient endurance. There are some today, particularly in the US, who focus almost exclusively on the “kingdom” part of that, with a triumphalism that doesn't go down well in much of the world and is certainly at odds with the Biblical record. On the other hand, I run into people all the time who seem to be focused on suffering, never mind whether it is in Jesus or not. They are so sour and pessimistic that you wonder why they are Christians! John knew all about the suffering and patient endurance because in the last part of the verse he mentions in passing that he was on the barren island of Patmos, used as a prison by the Romans, because of “the Word of God and the testimony of Jesus.” He was in the middle of suffering in Christ! However, he didn't have trouble with the “patient endurance” part of it, because he knew that in Christ he also was an heir of the kingdom of God. Some of the most triumphant passages in the whole Bible are found in Revelation, but John was no triumphalist. He was not saying we can sidestep suffering and don't need to endure patiently. He has a lot to teach us!


I need to be reminded occasionally of the kingdom that is ours in Christ so that my patient endurance may be strengthened, but I don't need to get upset at problems and suffering of various kinds, thinking they are something out of the ordinary. Buddhist philosophy says that life is essentially bad, which is why “nothingness,” escape from it all, is seen by Buddhists as the highest good. I deal with that mindset all the time, but I must not descend into it myself. I need to remember and preach that no amount of suffering we could endure on this earth could begin to compare with the glory that awaits all who are in Christ by grace through faith. Likewise, I need to remember and preach that God's grace and glory are not reserved for heaven but begin even now, and life even on this earth is filled with blessings, if we will open our minds and hearts to receive and recognize them. Frankly, I find that some people resent it when I live like that myself, because they see me as privileged when they aren't, not realizing that I have suffering as well, and the same grace and love are poured out on them, if they will only recognize it. I need patient endurance indeed in such situations, and I need God's wisdom and anointing to communicate the truth to such people in such a way that it will get through and set them free from the lies of the devil.


Father, thank You for Your overwhelming grace and love. Thank You for those times when they are expressed in things I find enjoyable, and thank You for those times when they take the form of trials that stretch and grow me, even when that is painful. Help me trust You so fully that I don't complain about anything, to others or even in my heart, but rather rest in the assurance that You are more than equal to anything that comes against me, and so delight to be Your child, for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!



第1ヨハネ 5:18 神によって生まれた者はだれも罪を犯さないことを、私たちは知っています。神から生まれ方は彼を守っていてくださるので、悪い者は彼に触れることができないのです。

This is a very dangerous verse to mistranslate and misunderstand, and for once the NIV gets it right and the Japanese gets it wrong. The Greek grammar indicates continuing action in the verb “sin,” and that makes all the difference. The whole of the NT, and specifically this 1st letter of John, makes it very clear that Christians commit sins; what John is saying here is that they don't continue in them and enjoy them. God indeed calls us to be perfect, as He is perfect (Matthew 5:48), but the completion of that is when we are before His throne. We are never to be satisfied with sinning (that's the sort of thing this verse is talking about), and the moment we are aware of having sinned we need to turn to God in repentance. However, some people have taught a doctrine of sinless perfection. If that is strictly applied, then that would mean no one is saved! Our repentance should be up-to-date enough that we can say with Paul, “I know of nothing against me,” (1 Corinthians 4:4) but thinking we cannot or will not sin is setting ourselves up for a fall (1 Corinthians 10:12).


I struggle with cross-language, cross-cultural issues every day, and I also deal with the reality of my flesh being at war with my spirit. I must allow the Holy Spirit full freedom to convict of sin and I must be very quick to repent when He shows it to me, but I must never fall into the pride of thinking I am above sin. At the same time, I must encourage the believers not to condemn themselves for tripping up at times, but not to be satisfied with continuing weakness in any area. When Jesus calls us to be holy, how can we do otherwise? In Christ we are more than conquerors (Romans 8:37) over all the attacks of the enemy, and that includes temptations to sin. I need to walk in Christ's provision without thinking that I have arrived. Humility with assurance might seem to be a difficult balance, but it needs to be my aim both for myself and for the floc


Father, once again I find myself faced with my own lack of wisdom and ability. I can't convey the Gospel in all its richness unless You do it through me. Help me indeed impart truth, so that people will be set free from the lying traps of the enemy (John 8:32). Help me walk in Your truth, Your holiness, so that nothing will distort Your Word that You speak through me, for the salvation of many and for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God




第1ヨハネ 5:10-12 神の御子を信じる者は、このあかしを自分の心の中に持っています。神を信じない者は、神を偽り者とするのです。神が御子についてあかしされたことを信じないからです。そのあかしとは、神が私たちに永遠のいのちを与えられたということ、そしてこのいのちが御子のうちにあるということです。御子を持つ者はいのちを持っており、神の御子を持たない者はいのちを持っていません。

This is rather long to write on, but it is enormously important. If we really believe God, then the Holy Spirit will testify in our hearts that we have eternal life through Jesus Christ. People who don't have assurance of salvation really aren't believing God, because God has said that His Son died and rose again to give us eternal life. That life is in Christ, and is utterly unavailable and impossible apart from Him. We've got to get that through our heads and into our hearts, or we will easily be deceived and whipped around by the devil, who is the father of lies and enemy of the Truth. Sad to say, the majority of American Christians, even, don't have a clear conviction that salvation is found only in Christ. With the strong encouragement of the devil, people have distorted the righteous requirements of God and made Him out to be some sort of marshmallow Santa Claus (soft and sweet), and there is no salvation in that lie. One of the foundation stones of the Gospel is that we are sinners and need to repent. Our sin is so horrible before God that He had to send His Son to take the penalty on Himself, or we would all have been utterly destroyed. Any “gospel” that fails to lead people to repentance is a lie.


I am not immune to the temptation to “soften” the Gospel myself, so I must stand firm against it. In love I've got to tell people they're headed for hell. Many people feel that since there's only one God, then all religions are the same. This is a lie that is very active, even among the people I minister to. I've got to be lovingly clear on that issue, combating the lie with the truth of God so that people may be set free. I must not let people think they are saved without repentance. That doesn't have to mean copious tears, but it does require a commitment to change, with the help of God. I must not distort things into a “works” salvation, but I also must not let people think that saying a few words is all they have to do; there must be heart commitment.


Father, more than once I've failed to make sure that people were truly repenting when they asked for baptism. I don't want to put any unnecessary barriers in anyone's way, but that feeling has caused me to be less than clear on the subject of repentance at times. Forgive me. Help me communicate clearly that apart from Christ we are all headed for hell, but that in Christ we have eternal life. Help me be a creator of disciples for Christ, and not someone who just gathers pew-warmers. May we all accept Your call to come deeper and higher in Christ, for the salvation of many and for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!




第1ヨハネ 4:18 愛には恐れはありません。全愛は恐れを締め出します。なぜなら恐れには刑罰が伴っているからです。恐れる者の愛は、全ものとなっていないのです。

This statement is so true, and so obvious if we think about it. A small child who has been in a fully loving environment has no fear at all. In a sense, we learn to fear. The problem is, we then find it hard to learn not to fear. The world can be a really scary place! We have fear of injury, fear of failure, fear of abandonment, and the list goes on and on. What John is saying is that a proper appreciation and understanding of God's love, receiving it into our hearts, generates such a level of trust that there is no room for fear. Things still happen to us, but we know that God will never allow anything that can't be for our good (Romans 8:28), and so we don't fear. It is important to distinguish between different kinds of fear here, which is difficult in English but much easier in Japanese, which uses different characters with the same reading to indicate the kind of fear this verse is talking about and the fear of God, which is a deep respect and appreciation of His power and majesty. (Unfortunately the Japanese translation I use most of the time uses the same character – the one in this verse – for fear throughout the Bible, adding some other words to shade the meaning, but other translations do better on that point.) Checking on our fear level is a good way to check on how well we are recognizing and abiding in God's love.


I regularly pray for a revelation of God's love for people, particularly with the people I visit at the mental hospital, who are often bound by various phobias. However, this problem extends to just about everybody, and not just the people with recognized problems. I'll never forget God telling me to trust His love, just before I got into a situation I certainly wouldn't want to repeat. That situation was the result of my shortsightedness, but God uses even our mistakes to teach and grow us. His love is big enough for that! Anxiety is a very common form of fear, and I need to stand firm against it at all times. I know that God loves me and that that He's more than big enough to handle everything that comes my way, so I need to rest in that assurance, and rejoice!


Father, thank You for the incredible richness and abundance of Your love. Thank You that it is based on grace, and not some merit system. Help me not only appropriate it for myself, as You intend, but also extend it to those around me, as You also intend. Help us as a church, Your family, appropriate and express Your love more and more fully, not just so that we will recognize and enjoy all that You want to pour out on us, but also so that those around us may be drawn into repentance and faith with us, for their salvation and Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!



第2ペテロ 3:14 そういうわけで、愛する人たち。このようなことを待ち望んでいるあなたがたですから、しみも傷もない者として、平安をもって御前に出られるように、励みなさい。

A major problem in the Church today is that very few people are actually looking forward to Christ's return. It has disappeared from preaching, and the majority of church members are carried along with the general flow of society, rejoicing in or lamenting things from a strictly materialistic standpoint. This chapter seems particularly appropriate for the Church in the 21st Century! We are indeed called to be faithful in our daily lives as good stewards of the time, resources, and opportunities the Lord gives us, but we need to remember that it will all end, and none of what we get so wrapped up in will matter any more. If we have that awareness, it is much easier to maintain priorities that are pleasing to God, and that's what this verse is saying. Someone without the assurance of salvation would not be “waiting in hope,” as the Japanese expression puts it, for the end of the world, so we cannot expect our unsaved family and friends to join us in this attitude. That can get pretty lonely at times. However, remembering that every bad thing will be gone and every good thing replaced by something even better can and should be an enormous comfort. There are many different opinions, all of them based to some degree on the Bible, as to how all this is going to come about, but the important thing is that it is going to happen, and we need to live in that awareness and expectation.


I've hardly ever preached on End Times, somewhat as a reaction to preachers who seem to preach on nothing else, but that's obviously not good. As the saying goes, I shouldn't throw the baby out with the bath water. I do talk about how the end will come for everyone I talk to in less than 100 years, but that's not entirely the same thing. I can say that I am increasingly looking forward to the end, whether it is the end of the world or just my own personal physical end, but that doesn't mean I'm not enjoying the journey. I need to include End Times in my preaching, because most of my flock has no foundation of understanding on the issue. Young people in particular have great trouble grasping their own mortality, much less the impermanence of all things. I'm not to dump on them, but rather encourage them to look up, look forward to what God has planned and promised that is far better than anything we've ever seen or could see on this earth.


Father, thank You for Your patience with us all, just as Peter wrote about. Help me be a good steward of however much time I have left here, so that when Your time for me comes, whether it is personal or universal, I will have done all that You desired and intended for me, for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah




第1ペテロ 5:10 あらゆる恵みに満ちた神、すなわち、あなたがたをキリストにあってその永遠の栄光の中に招き入れてくださった神ご自身が、あなたがたをしばらくの苦しみのあとで完全にし、堅く立たせ、強くし、不動の者としてくださいます。

The longer I live the more aware I am that everyone has suffering in their life. It's the natural consequence of living in a world tainted by the sin of rebellion against God. That's why it's so important that Jesus said, “In this world you will have trouble, but take heart, for I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33) He both acknowledged our current reality and pronounced victory over it. Our natural impulse is to want to be saved out of our situations, but God's plan is to save us in and through our situations. Someone being cheerful and peaceful when everything is going well is no surprise, but someone being cheerful and peaceful when everything is falling apart around them makes people take notice. That's when we really witness to the Lordship of Christ, and cause others to desire His salvation. We aren't to pretend that bad things aren't happening, but we are to remember that God is greater and bigger and above all our difficulties, and walk in trust and peace. We really can't do that in our own strength, but if that is our choice, God will enable us to do it for His glory.


This is not difficult for me to understand from an objective, intellectual standpoint, but when I'm the one in the middle of problems, the depth of my understanding certainly gets tested! I have difficult things to deal with in my own life, and everyone around me has problems in theirs. The danger for me is in coming across as not understanding their difficulties, or worse, not caring, and I have been accused of exactly those things. I need God's wisdom in expressing empathy while pointing them to the solution and encouraging them not to wallow in self-pity. I need to listen with an open heart, but not fail to express God's hope and direction to people. The current fad in counseling is what is called Rogerian (named for the American Psychologist who promoted it), in which the counselor essentially contributes nothing except a sympathetic ear. The problem with that is that it denies the possibility that the Word of God has answers for our problems. I've got to be careful not to switch into “prescription mode” before the person has had their say, but I must not hesitate to speak the Word into their life as the Holy Spirit directs.


Father, thank You for the privilege of being part of Your answer for people's needs. Help me take no pride in that, but rather relate to people in true, humble appreciation of Your grace. Keep me from coming across as arrogant or uncaring, much less being that way; rather let me express Your love and grace and truth in ways that people can receive it and be set free, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!



第1ペテロ 3:15 (16) むしろ、心の中でキリストを主としてあがめなさし。そして、あなたがたのうちにある希望について説明を求める人には、だれにでもいつでも弁明できる用意をしていなさい。ただし、優しく、慎み恐れて、また、正しい良心を持って弁明しなさい。

The NIV puts all of this in one verse, while the Japanese runs the second sentence into the next verse. But it is important to consider all of it together. In the first place, we've got to keep Jesus as Lord, in and of our hearts. Going through external motions and rituals with the wrong motive and attitude is certainly unacceptable to God and produces nothing good. That doesn't mean that we aren't to do things if we don't feel like it. Sometimes we are called to give the sacrifice of praise, for example (Hebrews 13:15), praising God specifically when we don't feel like it simply because we know He is worthy of our praise. That is indeed honoring Him as Lord in our hearts. If we have that awareness of His Lordship, we will also have hope that the world dreams of but really knows nothing about. Such hope cannot be hidden, and people are going to ask about it precisely because they don't have it and they want it. This is far and away the most effective evangelism. However, our response must not be in pride, looking down on the inquirer because they don't yet know Christ. Rather, it must be gentle, concerned lest something in us would get in the way of the enquirer encountering the Savior. That in itself should be sufficient motivation to live so as to keep a clear conscience!


I certainly need to apply this in my own life, but as a pastor I find myself very involved in trying to help the believers apply it in theirs. We are all prone to compartmentalize our commitment to Christ, calling Him Lord while keeping certain areas back from Him. When we do that, we are not only ineffective in evangelism, we also miss out on many of the blessings He has prepared for us, starting with the hope and assurance this passage talks about. I've got to remember this myself and also communicate it to the believers, with all the gentleness the passage also talks about.


Father, thank You for all You are doing, and particularly for how You are working in me. I have known for a long time that for this church to grow, I've got to keep changing and growing, but I seldom know how I need to change until You start working that change in me. Sometimes that process isn't comfortable. Forgive me for complaining. Thank You for the assurance that Your plans are indeed good, acceptable and perfect. May I indeed live with Christ as Lord in every area and detail of my life, so that all of Your plans may be fulfilled on Your schedule for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!



ヘブル 12:7 訓練と思って耐え忍びなさい。神はあなたがたを子として扱っているのです。父が懲らしめることをしない子がいるでしょうか。

In the world today, there are probably many people who have indeed never been disciplined by their fathers. Their fathers were either completely absent, or whatever discipline there was, was handled by their mothers. This is a major part of what has been call the “father wound” that is born by so many today. In Japan this is compounded by the lack of a word that means exactly “discipline.” There are various words that touch on different aspects of it, and Japanese Bible translations work around it with words like “training” and “punishment,” as in this verse, but there is no single word that carries the meaning of the Greek term, that has been carried over into English. The word “discipline” is closely linked to “disciple,” which is a valid word and concept in Japanese, but there is nothing that would allow such constructs as, for example, self discipline. That can make it very difficult for Japanese to understand that sometimes God is disciplining them to make them more like His Son Jesus, but that the punishment for their sins has already been born by that same Jesus. This often creates a distorted outlook on the difficulties of life. Jesus said, “In this world you will have trouble, but take heart, for I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33) It's hard to “take heart” if we think God is beating on us all the time.


As a pastor in Japan in the 21st Century I have to deal with all aspects of this all the time. Many, if not most, of the people around me bear the “father wound” to some degree, and their concept of God is distorted accordingly. I've got to get past the idea that loving parents spoil their children (a very common idea in Japan) to help people understand that it is precisely because God is the perfect Father that He does not spoil us. He delights to give us good things, and He is certainly loving and compassionate, but He cares enough about us to discipline us, to take us out of the traps of the devil and free us to be all that He created us to be. Communicating that is obviously beyond my human ability, but nothing is impossible for God. I must got give up or lose hope, but make myself available at all times and in all ways so that He can use me to reveal Himself and His nature to those around me.


God, thank You for the human father You gave me, and especially for being my heavenly Father. Thank You for Your gentleness and patience with me, and Your discipline. Help me recognize Your discipline and not “kick against the goads,” as You told Paul (Acts 26:14). Help me have Your loving compassion toward those around me, working with them to help them overcome the various traps of the enemy, so that together we may rise up as the Body of Christ that You created us to be, for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!



ヘブル 5:14 まして、キリストが傷のないご自身を、とこしえの御霊によって神におささげになったその血は、どんなにか私たちの良心をきよめて死んだ行いから離れさせ、生ける神に仕える者とすることでしょう。

People today aren't used to a system of animal sacrifice, so they might have trouble understanding the background for this verse. Under the Old Covenant, the blood of animals was offered to God as atonement for the sins of people. (To God, people are more valuable than animals.) Hebrews is obviously written to Jews, who in the 1st Century were very much used to the idea of animal sacrifices, and the author of Hebrews goes to considerable lengths to explain how the cross of Christ is the culmination and fulfillment of that system, bringing it to an end. Today we would think that blood and ashes (verse 13) would make us dirty, but the point was ritual cleansing.


The most striking thing about this verse to me is that it speaks of our consciences being cleansed through the blood of Christ. That happens two ways. The first is that it straightens out distortions so that we feel bad about things that offend God, but we do not feel bad about things that don't offend God. (This isn't generally the case for anyone apart from Christ.) The second is that it assures us that our sins are taken care of, the burden has been lifted, so that we can serve God with clear consciences. Anyone who is laboring under unforgiven sin is not going to be able to serve God properly, however much they might want to. Every sin must be placed under the blood of Christ, but once that is done, it is forever taken care of and forgiven, and we must not try to drag it up to repent all over again. We need to understand that once something is confessed and repented of it is forgiven because of the blood of Christ, and we are set free of it forever.


This is often a difficult concept for me to get across. People have great trouble understanding the magnificence and completeness of God's forgiveness, and as a result they not only have trouble forgiving themselves, they have trouble forgiving each other as well. The Bible says again and again and again that once God has dealt with our sin it is gone, and that's all there is to it. I need the help and anointing of the Holy Spirit to communicate that glorious reality, because it's clear that human intellect and persuasion can't do the job.


Father, thank You for Your grace, for the glory of Your plan of salvation for mankind. I not only don't deserve it, I can hardly take it in, and I'm certainly not very good at communicating it. Help me do better at that, speaking the truth in love so that Your Spirit can take my words and reveal Your love and grace to my hearers, for their salvation and Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!




ヘブル 5:14 まして、キリストが傷のないご自身を、とこしえの御霊によって神におささげになったその血は、どんなにか私たちの良心をきよめて死んだ行いから離れさせ、生ける神に仕える者とすることでしょう。

People today aren't used to a system of animal sacrifice, so they might have trouble understanding the background for this verse. Under the Old Covenant, the blood of animals was offered to God as atonement for the sins of people. (To God, people are more valuable than animals.) Hebrews is obviously written to Jews, who in the 1st Century were very much used to the idea of animal sacrifices, and the author of Hebrews goes to considerable lengths to explain how the cross of Christ is the culmination and fulfillment of that system, bringing it to an end. Today we would think that blood and ashes (verse 13) would make us dirty, but the point was ritual cleansing.


The most striking thing about this verse to me is that it speaks of our consciences being cleansed through the blood of Christ. That happens two ways. The first is that it straightens out distortions so that we feel bad about things that offend God, but we do not feel bad about things that don't offend God. (This isn't generally the case for anyone apart from Christ.) The second is that it assures us that our sins are taken care of, the burden has been lifted, so that we can serve God with clear consciences. Anyone who is laboring under unforgiven sin is not going to be able to serve God properly, however much they might want to. Every sin must be placed under the blood of Christ, but once that is done, it is forever taken care of and forgiven, and we must not try to drag it up to repent all over again. We need to understand that once something is confessed and repented of it is forgiven because of the blood of Christ, and we are set free of it forever.


This is often a difficult concept for me to get across. People have great trouble understanding the magnificence and completeness of God's forgiveness, and as a result they not only have trouble forgiving themselves, they have trouble forgiving each other as well. The Bible says again and again and again that once God has dealt with our sin it is gone, and that's all there is to it. I need the help and anointing of the Holy Spirit to communicate that glorious reality, because it's clear that human intellect and persuasion can't do the job.


Father, thank You for Your grace, for the glory of Your plan of salvation for mankind. I not only don't deserve it, I can hardly take it in, and I'm certainly not very good at communicating it. Help me do better at that, speaking the truth in love so that Your Spirit can take my words and reveal Your love and grace to my hearers, for their salvation and Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!



ヘブル 5:14 しかし、堅い食物はおとなの物であって、経験によって良い物と悪い物を見分ける感覚を訓練された人の物です。

You don't feed steak to infants! We understand that in the natural, but it can be easy to forget in spiritual matters. However, the path to maturity is clearly indicated here, with the mention of being trained by experience to distinguish good from evil. One problem is that all too many Christians don't even try to make that distinction on their own, relying instead on what their leaders tell them, and resenting it when those instructions clash with the desires of their flesh. I had a dear friend who was raised in church but later said it almost destroyed him, because he was only taught to do as he was told, and not to have a personal relationship with God through His Word and His Spirit. Real spiritual growth can be scary, because we have to decide on our own (or so it seems) what is in line with God's will and what is not. In reality, the Holy Spirit always stands ready to guide us, but at first we tend not to recognize His voice, and our very anxiety over the issue can close our ears to Him. Those who take in the Word on a daily basis and put their faith into practice in daily life grow quickly, but those who think it is just for Sundays hardly seem to grow at all.


There are those who are gifted as evangelists, explaining the basics of salvation clearly in ways that non-believers can grasp them and become believers, but I don't seem to fall into that group. My joy is to take believers who are hungry for more and lead them into the Word, mining the riches that are there. However, I get resistance from those who, for one reason or another, are not receptive. This is an issue of “hearing ears.” I am to make God's truth as easy to understand as possible and speak it in God's love, but I am not to allow resistant people to be a drag on the whole church. It is said that a flock moves at the speed of the slowest sheep, but that becomes a real problem when the sheep want to lie down and not move at all. Everyone needs times of rest of various sorts, but there must be forward momentum. I must not talk down to anyone, but neither should I allow them to wallow in immaturity.


Father, I ask for wisdom and guidance and above all love, so that I may do what is best for each believer, whether it is comfortable for me or them or not. Help me be consistent in making the right choices in my own life, and show me how to guide and encourage the believers to make the right choices as well, so that together we may grow in all ways, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God! 




ヘブル 4:2 福音を説き聞かされていることは、私たちも彼らと同じなのです。ところが、その聞いたみことばも、彼らには益になりませんでした。みことばが、それを聞いた人たちに信仰によって、結びつけられなかったからです。

Jesus spoke again and again of “hearing ears.” As this verse makes quite clear, those are ears of faith. People can hear the Gospel all their lives without really appropriating it into their hearts by faith, and sadly, some do exactly that. The faith called for isn't just an assent to the facts, it is believing that those facts apply to you, that you are a sinner in need of salvation and God has been so gracious as to provide that salvation. I really like the turn of phrase in the Japanese here, where it speaks of the Word of God being bound to people by faith. Without faith, the words just slide off of us, but by faith they wrap themselves around us in protection and covering and we take them into our innermost being and they “dwell in us richly,” as Paul puts it in Colossians 3:16. Without faith, the words are just words, but by faith they become the Word of God that spoke the universe into being.


I have been given the privilege of speaking the Word of God, but if I fail to do it in love I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal, and if the Holy Spirit doesn't engender faith in my hearers, even loving words do no real good. With my gifting as a teacher, my natural impulse is to present the facts and expect people themselves to appropriate those facts and be changed. However, it seldom works that way. In addition to praying for my hearers I need to present the truth in small enough bites that they can take it in, and expressed in such a way that they will choose to do so. Rejoicing in my own salvation is not enough; I've got to make that salvation as easily available as possible to others, yet without compromise, so that as many as possible may indeed “enter God's rest,” as Hebrews puts it.


Father, thank You for the privilege of speaking Your Word. Help me be increasingly effective in that task. You have given me a personal burden for people, who are already saved, to understand and operate in the incredible riches of all You have provided and done for us in Christ. That calls for an ever-growing faith, in me and in them. Thank You for the things You have done recently to grow my faith. Help me be effective in growing my hearers' faith, so that they may rise up as a mighty army, destroying the works of the devil and bringing multitudes into Your kingdom, for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!




ヘブル 3:18-19 また、わたしの安息に入らせないと神が誓われたのは、ほかでもない、従おうとしなかった人たちのことではありませんか。それゆえ、彼らが安息に入らなかったのは、不信仰のためであったことがわかります。

The Bible has a number of passages that seem severe to us, and this is one of them. However, it's pretty hard to argue with, because it's simply explaining the historical record. What stands out to me is the close connection between disobedience and unbelief. A majority of disobedience toward God comes from unbelief. We either don't believe God really said or meant whatever it is that we are disobeying, or we don't believe that God's way really is best for us, which includes not believing we will suffer the consequences of our disobedience. The thing about this passage that should be most alarming to Christians is that the people it is talking about were already “saved,” that is, they had come out of Egypt. However, their unbelief kept them from being able to enter into the promised land of fruitfulness and rest that God had prepared for them. Unbelief and consequent disobedience keep a sad majority of Christians from the life of victory, peace, joy, and fruitfulness that God intends for them.


I'm certainly not an expert here, but I'm learning! Many times I have experienced the fundamental reality that believing, trusting obedience is the way to blessing, but I have also lost more peace and blessing over unbelief than I care to think about! I have experienced burn-out and a host of other problems that would have been completely unnecessary if I had really trusted and obeyed God. Failure to trust produces anxiety, first of all, but then it causes us to try to figure out our own way to do something, since we don't believe God is going to follow through. That's the kind of thinking that produced Ishmael, and Abraham's descendants have been suffering the consequences for thousands of years since.
As a pastor, I not only need to maintain my own trusting obedience, I need to encourage the believers to do likewise. Sermons are one way I can do that, but example and personal conversations are equally important. As the Bible says repeatedly, I need to instruct, encourage, admonish and correct, so that we may avoid the traps of the devil and walk in all that God intends for us.


Father, thank You for all You are doing here. Thank You that Your plans are for good and not evil, blessing and not harm, fruitfulness and not barrenness. Thank You for calling me to repentance for listening to negative voices. Help me be more and more tuned to hear what You are saying, with a heart that is quick to obey, so that all of Your plans and purposes may be accomplished for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!



ヘブル 1:14 御使いはみな、仕える霊であって、救いの相続者となる人々に仕えるため遣わされたのではありませんか。

In the first century as today, the devil tried to deceive people into worshiping angels, since that's what he started out as. This first chapter of Hebrews stresses that Jesus Christ is far greater than any angel, but since that leaves open the question of just what angels are, the chapter ends with this verse. There is much we don't know about spirit beings. Actually, there's much we don't know about human beings, but the ignorance is far greater when it comes to angels and demons. However, we don't have to know. What we need to remember is that God is greater than all and is alone to be worshiped as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We must also remember that He created us for adoption as His children, if we will only repent and believe what He has done for us in Christ. The Biblical record is clear that God uses angels exactly as this verse says, and we can take comfort in that. However, our focus must not be on the angels, but on God who sends them.


I've never been particularly obsessed with angels, though I have met people who seem to be. I need to keep my focus on God and ask Him to reveal to me whatever I need to know about angels and all the rest. Likewise, I need to keep the church focused on God and His will for us, and not let things like fascination with angels get in the way.


Father, thank You for how You do minister to us, through angels and through each other. Help me stay on track with You, operating according to Your priorities. Help me also “minister to those who are inheriting salvation,” building up the Body of Christ and drawing many more into it, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!



ピレモン 10-11 獄中に生んだわか子オネシモのことを、あなたに、お願いしたいのです。彼は、前にはあなたにとって役に立たない者でしたが、今は、あなたにとっても私にとっても、役に立つ者となっています。

Onesimus means “useful.” Different cultures have different naming conditions for their children, but every parent hopes to confer some blessing on their child when they name them. It is often seen as having significance for their destiny in life. We fulfill our destiny only in Christ. We might accomplish some things otherwise, but our fulfillment comes only when we have fellowship with God through Christ Jesus. That's the purpose for which God made us. It takes a different form for each individual, since God made each of us unique, but the common thread is that “self actualization” comes only when we realize the purpose of our existence is fellowship with and obedience to God. Onesimus had become like a son to Paul. When one person leads another to Christ a bond is formed, because together they are part of the same family, the family of God. Rightly done, there should be essentially the same sort of mentoring that a physical parent does for their children. Sometimes the “birth parent” is unable to fulfill that function, and an “adoption” takes place, but every child needs parenting, both physically and spiritually.


As a pastor I am very much in a parental position, and what I desire most for my children, both physical and spiritual, is that they fulfill the purpose for which God made them. I desire for them deep and joyful fellowship with God by His Holy Spirit. I desire fruitful and satisfying exercise of the gifts God has placed in them. I desire that they in turn become spiritual parents, birthing and nurturing people into the family of God. That is my desire, but the fulfillment is partial at this point, and is likely to remain so because of human weakness, but I must not give up pressing toward that goal of presenting everyone complete in Christ, as Paul said. (Colossians 1:28)


Father, thank You that You understand all the joys and trials of parenting, even better than I do. Thank You for Your patience with me. Help me be the father You want me to be to my physical and my spiritual children, always pointing them to You and encouraging them to move on in Christ in all that You intend for them. I feel like I'm not terribly good at it, but I know that You are perfect and You can do it through me, so that's what I'm asking for. May Your family grow, by every measure that matters, for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!



第2テモテ 3:16-17 聖書はすべて、神の霊感によるもので、教えと戒めと矯正と義の訓練とのために有益です。それは、神の人がすべての良い働きのためにふさわしい十分に整えられた者となるためです。

It is sad that Japanese Bible translations are so hard for most Japanese to understand. Part of that is the fault of the translators, but part of it is that a number of central Biblical concepts are very difficult to express in Japanese. What comes immediately to mind is the concept of forgiveness. The character that applies to the Biblical concept of forgiveness is seldom used by the average Japanese, and it is read in exactly the same way as another character that means permission. As a consequence, God's unconditional forgiveness, which we are to learn to express toward each other, is a very difficult concept for most Japanese to grasp. If we don't understand how we are forgiven, forgiving others becomes much more difficult. Despite such translation difficulties, this passage is indeed true; but because of those difficulties, great patience is needed in the teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness that is talked about. The Word must actually communicate before it is effective in people's hearts and minds.


This problem isn't unique to Japan. Many American Christians use the Biblical words with no real grasp of their meaning. I must not presume on my hearers' ability to absorb the Word that I pour out on them. I need God's wisdom and anointing to explain and illustrate what the Bible is saying so that they can relate to it and relate it to their lives. My personal tendency is if it's the Word, then that's that. However, that flies completely over the heads of most of my hearers. Like Timothy, from infancy I've known the Scriptures, but few people have that advantage. I've got to learn how to bring the Word down to their level without diluting or degrading what it says, and that is beyond my personal ability.


Father, thank You that nothing is impossible for You. Thank You that Your Spirit can speak into any heart that is even a little bit open. That's what I ask and pray for. I pray that I would be totally available and yielded to You so that I would not get in the way of what You want to do in the hearts and lives of my hearers. I pray that every time I speak, even in the most casual conversations, that I may speak no unproductive word (Matthew 12:36) to anyone, but only what builds them up and brings You glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!



第2テモテ 2:1-2 そして、わが子よ。キリスト・イエスにある恵みによって強くなりなさい。多くの証人の前で私から聞いたことを、他の人にも教える力のある忠実な人たちにゆだねなさい。

Faith, and consequently the Church, is never more than one generation away from extinction. Christians are called to live in right relationship to God themselves, but if they are doing that, their faith will spill over to those around them. What Paul is telling Timothy is that we need to be intentional about it, not simply from the standpoint of evangelism but with the thought of the person we evangelize being equipped to evangelize someone else. Probably the vast majority of Christians today don't feel qualified themselves to evangelize, and certainly panic at the thought of having to equip someone else to do the job. This points up a major failing in the Church today: the ministers aren't equipping the saints to do the work of ministry (Ephesians 4:12). The average person in the pew is a consumer, pure and simple, but Jesus never designed His Church that way. None of us are complete experts, but we need to be willing to use and communicate what we do know and can do. Every believer knows more of Christ than an unbeliever. And teaching someone else is one of the surest ways to grow in that area yourself!


As a pastor this ought to be what I'm all about, but I sometimes dump information on people without training them in how to use it. I have a lot of room to grow in understanding where people are, so that I can help them move on to where they should be. I can't go running off ahead of the flock; I've got to nurture them and help them along the way, however much I want them to move faster. Just saying, “Oh grow up!” is a strong temptation, but it wouldn't be effective in growing the Body of Christ. I don't always know what's right, but I do hear from the Lord and I do have a fairly deep knowledge of the Scriptures. But I've got to let people feel they've really been heard before I dump the truth on them.


Father, help me grow in exercising what You've placed in me without riding roughshod over the sheep. Help me be true to Your plans for me, so that the Body of Christ may be built up as You intend, and not as I imagine, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!




2 Timothy 1:6 それですから、私はあなたに注意したいのです。私の按手をもってあなたのうちに与えられた神の賜物を、再び燃え立たせてください。

God's gifts aren't passive, and they aren't meant to be kept on a shelf. God always gives His gifts with the purpose of building up the Body of Christ and bringing Him glory, so if they aren't used in that way He is certainly not pleased. One of Jesus' more severe parables is that of the talents (Matthew 25:14-30), from which English gets the very word, talent. In that, the person who failed to use what was entrusted to him, out of fear or whatever other reason, was punished rather severely. Exercising the gifts God has placed in us can be risky in various ways, but that makes them opportunities for growth in faith and obedience. Using the gifts we've been given in obedience to God gives richness and meaning to life that can be had no other way, but it requires the choice to do so.


Passages on gifts produce a wide variety of responses, because there are such a wide variety of gifts, and different people may have more or less, just as in Jesus' parable. Each person needs to be willing to put in the hard work that is required to be a good steward of the gifts that have been entrusted to them. At the same time, those in leadership need to be encouraging each of the believers in their gifts, giving them opportunities to exercise them and not squelching them by insisting that things be done a particular way.


Father, help us be faithful. We have difficulty prioritizing our time accurately, and we need Your help. We are often at a loss as to what to do next, yet there are needs crying out all around us. Help us understand Your plan for each of us, as opposed to Your general plan for the area or the world, so that we will know how to fit in and exercise the gifts You have placed in us. Timidity might be a problem for some, but fear of hard work or fear of failure might be problems for others. Help us trust You and apply ourselves fully, for the sake of the Body of Christ and for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!



1 Timothy 3:13 というのは、執事の務めをりっぱに果たした人は、良い地歩を占め、また、キリスト・イエスを信じる信仰について強い確信を持つことができるからです。

The requirements Paul lists in 1 Timothy 3:1-13 for holding office in the Church are clear and unambiguous (except for the translation difficulty of whether he's talking about deacons' wives or deaconesses in verse 11). They don't seem excessive, but they certainly aren't lax. However, few people would want to serve if there was no benefit, and this verse mentions an enormous benefit: those who serve well have strong assurance of their faith. Good standing in the community is something an immature person might see as a primary goal, but rock-solid faith is even more valuable. The more someone serves in the Church with the sincerity Paul talks about, the less they will be shaken by events around them. Perhaps the reason is that salvation is a matter of the Lordship of Christ; if He's not your Lord, He's not your Savior. Serving, by definition, puts you in submission to someone or something. (That's why many people resist serving.) The more we put ourselves in submission to Christ, the more His gracious salvation is operative in our lives.


Each believer needs opportunities to serve so that their faith may be strengthened. We are not saved by works, but we need to work out our salvation (Philippians 2:12). That may seem contradictory, but in reality it isn't We are saved by grace through faith, not by works (Ephesians 2:8-9), but faith that does not work is no faith at all (James 2:17). A pastor doing everything in the church himself not only wears him out, it deprives the believers of opportunities to grow in their faith.


Father, we all have a lot to learn here. Help us grow in exercising the gifts You've given us and also in allowing and encouraging others to exercise the gifts You've given them. Just because we can do something pretty well, but just because we can doesn't mean we should, if we are depriving someone else of the opportunity for service. Help us apply that principle with Your wisdom, allowing everyone to grow in their faith and their gifts, building them up and building the Church up, for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!