詩篇 34:22 主はそのしもべのたましいを贖い出される。主に身を避ける者は、だれも罪に定められない。

Choosing just one verse to write on out of this psalm is difficult indeed. Every line speaks to me! This last verse presents some challenges for translators. The Japanese sticks literally with the Hebrew for the first half, saying “redeems the souls of His servants,” while the NIV uses the slightly more understandable rendering of “redeems His servants.” The second half presents a challenge for expressing in Japanese, because it is extremely difficult to distinguish between “guilty” and “condemned.” That is a problem throughout the Bible, and it is a very important distinction theologically. Paul goes to great lengths to be as clear as possible that we are all guilty of sin, but that in Christ we are not condemned. It's not that our sins are excused, it is that Jesus has taken the penalty for our sins on Himself so we don't have to pay it. Chu Kosaka has a song in which he says “the price of sin is too heavy to bear; there's no way you can do it by yourself.” He understands redemption! David didn't know about the cross of Christ, but he knew God, and he knew that somehow, God would take care of the guilt of those who committed themselves to Him, so that they would not be condemned.

詩篇から一篇だけを選び出すのは、とても難しいことです。全ての言葉が心に響いてくるのですから!最後の節は、ひどく翻訳しにくい箇所です。前半部分、日本語ではヘブル語に忠実に「しもべの魂を贖い出される」となっていますが、NIV版では「しもべを贖う」となっていて、少しわかり易くなっています。後半部分を見てみると、日本語にするのが大変だったことがうかがわれます。と言うのは、「有罪guilty」と「罪に定めるcondemned」の違いを現すのが、とても難しいからです。同様の事は聖書全体を通して言えることですが、神学的に大変重要なことです。パウロは私たち全てが罪人であること、しかし、キリストにあって罪に定められないことを、長々と明白に記しています。私たちの罪が容赦されたからではなく、イエス御自身が私たちの罪の刑罰を負ってくださったからです。小坂 忠さんはその歌詞で「罪の代価はあまりに重く・・・」と歌っています。小坂さんは贖いをよく理解している人です。ダビデはキリストの十字架を知りませんでしたが、神様を知っていましたし、罪に定められないように、犯した罪を神が取り扱ってくださるであろうと知っていました。

Even as I rejoice in the truth of this verse, I am faced with the challenge of communicating it to the Japanese. By God's grace I am learning more and more of the various cultural factors that make it so hard for the Japanese to understand forgiveness and redemption, but just knowing that doesn't necessarily enable me to get through the layers of misunderstanding to impart the truth of the Gospel. Just the other day I heard a US Buddhist leader quoted as saying that you won't find a personal God who can forgive sin in Buddhism. I have known that, but hearing it “from the horse's mouth,” so to speak, gives me both a better understanding of the Japanese and ammunition for talking to Japanese people about what is different about the Gospel. In the final analysis, I can't save anyone, but I can present the Gospel to them and the Holy Spirit can use my words to open their eyes and hearts to receive God's salvation.

この節にある真実を私は喜んではいますが、日本人に伝えていくことの難しさとも直面しています。日本人に赦し、贖いを理解できなくさせている文化的要因が、神様の恵みによって、私にはますます分かってきています。しかし、要因が分かったからと言って、福音伝道のための誤解の層を打破できるわけではありません。つい最近、アメリカの仏教指導者が、仏教では赦しをしてくれる神様を個人的に見いだせない、と言っていました。私はその言葉をいわゆる「権威ある人」 から聞き、日本語と、福音の違いを日本人に教える際の強みを得て、またよく理解が得られた気がしました。最終的に、私が人を救うことはできませんが、福音を示していくことならできます。神の救いを受け入れるように彼らの目と思いを開かせるために、聖霊様に用いられ、私が言葉を語ることならできるのです。

Father, this is what I'm all about, as You know. Thank You for continuing to teach, train and guide me so that I may be more effective in the task. Thank You for Your anointing as I spoke yesterday. Thank You for all who were present, and for the response I felt. I pray that we would all grow as worshipers indeed, particularly in private and lifestyle worship, so that when we gather for corporate worship Your glory may fall on us, demonstrating Your reality not only to us but to all around us, producing a great harvest in Your kingdom. Thank You. Hallelujah!



詩篇 33:10-11 主は国々のはかりごとを無効にし、国々の民の計画をむなしくされる。主のはかりごとはとこしえに立ち、御心の計画は世々に至る。

This is an important Scripture to remember in the middle of all the political turmoil in the world. It seems there's hardly a country anywhere that doesn't have its share of political unrest. However, only God's plans stand firm; He's the only one who knows the end from the beginning. It is indeed distressing to see government leaders do and say things that are in blatant violation of God's law, and even of common sense, but the operative attitude should be, “this too will pass.” God is not happy about man's stupid choices and actions, but mankind cannot thwart God. We are to “seek peace and pursue it,” as David said in Psalm 34 and Peter quoted (1 Peter 3:11). That means seeking God's will and actively doing it, to the best of our ability. Governments will continue to do stupid and even tragic things at times, but our hearts are to be fixed on God, who never makes a mistake and whose plans are eternal.


I have done my share of moaning and groaning over what goes on in Washington and Tokyo and other capitals, but I need to fix my mind and heart on what is going on before God's throne in heaven. This actually applies to all human plans, and specifically to the ones I'm involved in. I need to be faithful as a planner, but my first motive and action must be to seek God's plans and do my best to follow them. We have a church business meeting coming up in a week, and we will be making various plans. I need to be focused on obedience to God myself and pray faithfully that everyone involved will have the same focus. On the broader scale, I need to pray for the governments of my two nations, and for other governments as well, but not be thrown into a tizzy when they fail to do what is right. If my heart is firmly grounded in Christ, trusting God and His plans, then I won't be shaken by anything that goes on in the temporal.


Father, thank You for this reminder, particularly in light of the past few days. I am indeed easily disturbed! Thank You for the special word of assurance You gave me this morning. Help me keep my hope and expectation in You, and not in myself or anyone else, fallible as we are. Help me be a voice encouraging others to trust You as well, so that the ranks of Your disciples may multiply, for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!




詩篇 31:19 あなたのいつくしみは、なんと大きいことでしょう。あなたはそれを、あなたを恐れる者のためにたくわえ、あなたに身を避ける者のために、人の子の前で、それを備えられました。

Christians often provoke the jealousy of non-Christians, whether they realize it or not. Christians should have all the things everyone really wants: peace, joy, meaning in life, the assurance they are loved and cared for. Those who become jealous at that either don't understand that the same blessings are equally available to them, or they are unwilling to let go of the junk – sin and pride – they are clinging to and take hold of the blessings. Life for the Christian is certainly not without difficulty, as Jesus Himself assured us (John 16:33), but it is good with a real, fundamental goodness, and those who are clinging to the false trinkets the devil offers can't stand that.


People consistently think I have more income than I actually do, because God blesses me. If I were to focus on the negatives of my life (and the devil tries to get me to do so), then I would spend all my time depressed. However, God's blessings are very real and abundant, and as Paul, James, and Peter all said, our difficulties in this life become totally insignificant when compared to what God has prepared for us in heaven. The Lord has spoken to me several times in recent weeks to focus on Him rather than on the negatives so that I can rejoice in the abundance of blessings He is indeed pouring out on me. If my hope and expectation are truly in God, then I will never be disappointed.


Father, thank You for Your grace toward me. Thank You for all You allow me to experience, whether it's enjoyable at the moment or not. Help me not run from dealing with issues that confront me, but help me also not think or feel that I have to deal with them on my own. Help me rest and rejoice in You whatever is going on around me. May my life draw people to seek You for themselves, rather than be jealous because of all You do for me. May my thoughts, words and actions be pleasing to You, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!




詩篇 26:8 主よ。私は、あなたのおられる家と、あなたの栄光の住まう所を愛します。

A missionary friend of mine used this verse on T-shirts he had made for his church members. It certainly speaks of devotion to God, but in my mind it raises the risk of identifying the church with the building. For so long I have stressed that the church is the people of God and the building is simply where we gather that perhaps I have lost a proper appreciation for physical “houses of God.” It doesn't help that I live in the church building at this point, and I'm having this devotional time in the back of the sanctuary. It has bothered me sometimes when people haven't seemed to respect the sanctity of the location, but I'm probably the chief offender!


God is indeed everywhere, but from ages past He has chosen to manifest Himself in specific locations. If I want God's glory to dwell in this place, I've got to start living with that expectation. I indeed desire that everyone who enters this building be touched by the presence of God. That being the case, I need to act with respect toward the location at all times. That doesn't change the reality that God's people are the Church, the true House of God, but it will make it easier for people in their human frailty to anticipate encountering God when they come here. I have been distressed at some people's casual attitude toward attendance, and this could be one of the keys to correcting that.


Father, growing up as I did was certainly filled with extraordinary blessings,but it also had its pitfalls, making me tend to treat the holy as common. I know that my whole life is to be holy, but I have sometimes failed to grasp the idea of the holiness of things that are dedicated to Your use. Help me make the distinctions You want me to make so that in the process, not only will my life become more holy but also I will lead the believers on the same path, so that together we will be Your holy people, accurately demonstrating Christ to those around us and drawing many more into Your kingdom, for their salvation and Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!



詩篇 18:1 主、わが力。私は、あなたを慕います。

The OT committee of this Japanese translation took the last of the explanatory preface to this psalm and made it the first part of verse 1, so that it starts out, “He said:” Aside from that, once again the English uses “love” where the Japanese uses something else, in this case, “yearn for.” It's a term I have actually only encountered in the Bible or in Christian songs. It seems quite appropriate here, but the question becomes whether it is familiar enough to “click” with the average Japanese reading it. If you read the whole psalm the context is clear, even apart from the preface: David is deeply grateful for God rescuing him from very difficult circumstances, and this is his response. God was his strength at that time, and He is our strength as well, if we will turn to Him in trust.


God has taught me by word and experience to trust Him, but I haven't been that good a student. Anxieties of all sorts take their toll, and that's not a toll God wants me to pay! David wrote several psalms that apply to the matter of trusting, and Paul, as well as Jesus Himself, told us very specifically not to be anxious. I know those scriptures and quote them to others, and yet I don't always apply them effectively in my own life. I need to remember at all times that God is indeed my strength, and rest in the assurance that He will provide all I need in every way.


Father, thank You for Your persistence in teaching me to trust You. Help me recognize the actions You want me to take and be prompt and faithful to do them, but leave the worrying to You! Thank You for the assurance that the plans You have for me are for good and not evil, for blessing and not destruction. Praise Godr




詩篇 11:3-4 「拠り所がこわされたら正しい者に何ができようか。」主は、その聖座が宮にあり、主は、その王座が天にある。

It is important to realize that verse 3 is being spoken by someone who is trying to make David fear, and verse 4 is his response. The English renders verse 3 as “foundations” while the Japanese renders it as “hiding places,” but the point is, the speaker is being a verbal terrorist, trying to make David think he has nowhere to turn. David's response is superb: God is still God! This whole psalm is a statement and commitment of faith, and is a beautiful example for all who seek to follow God.


This is especially appropriate right now, when political events in the US make it seem that the foundations of society are being destroyed and righteous people can't seem to stop it. Political activism on the part of the truth isn't a bad thing, certainly, but we have to remember that God is still God. I am personally disgusted by what is going on and am very concerned for the sake of my children and grandchildren, but I've got to remember that nothing can happen that will in any way diminish the deity and sovereignty of God. He is allowing the US to enter a time of judgment, I feel, because of all the blatant choosing of evil over righteousness, but as the Biblical record showed, even in such times the Lord is the refuge of the righteous, and He will never be shaken. I am not to let my soul get all stirred up and anxious, but I am to be faithful in intercession on behalf of the righteous. Likewise, I am to pray for God's mercy, not just for the US but for each nation, so that His kingdom may come and His will be done, for His glory.


Father, thank You for being God. I do ask that Your justice prevail in the US, and in Japan too, for that matter. I don't see the end of all this mess, but You do, and I know that Your plans are glorious. I pray that the Church in America, the Body of Christ in that location, would wake up and start acting like the Church indeed, so that society will have its foundations renewed and the scum cast off. I pray for my children and grandchildren, that You would protect them from the tide of filth that has swept the land. Draw them to Yourself in all holiness and righteousness, so that they may walk in the sure protection of Your shadow, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!



詩篇 5:3 主よ。朝明けに、私の声を聞いてください。朝明けに、私はあなたのために備えをし、見張りをいたします。

There are various differences in the English and Japanese translations of this verse. In the English the first half is a statement (You hear), while in the Japanese it is a request (please hear). In the second half the English says “lay my requests before you and wait in expectation,” while the Japanese says “I provide (make an offering) for you and stand watch.” I don't know how culturally biased it might be, but I certainly prefer the English in this case!


That said, what caught my eye about this verse is the thought of approaching God in the morning. That's the same in both languages! It is my personal experience that my days go very differently when I start them out with a focus on God than when I fail to do so. I have had a solid habit of morning devotions for long enough now that when circumstances make it impossible, everything feels strange! God calls us to put Him first in our thoughts and priorities, and the simple matter of putting Him first on our schedules can be a big help in that area. I seldom encounter anyone who has a regular practice of first-thing-in-the-morning devotions who is very far off track spiritually. God honors such an attitude, and responds with gracious fellowship and guidance.


I certainly desire for everyone in the church to be faithful in morning devotions, but this isn't something I can force on anyone. I can encourage, but trying to make it mandatory would remove the benefit, because resentment would close their hearts toward God even if they went through the motions. When people hear what time I get up to have devotions they say, “I could never do that,” but if they were to get a job that required them to be at work at 7:00 a.m., they would manage without too much adjustment. It's all a matter of priorities. I need to make regular morning devotions seem as appealing as possible, but my focus needs to be on putting God first, rather than on any external schedule or ritual. People think of me as a “professional Christian” and of themselves as other than that, so they have trouble thinking of me as an example for them to follow. I don't know what to do about that! As in everything else, I need to seek God and depend on Him in this area.


Father, thank You for Your patience with me in bringing me to create such a strong habit of devotions. Help me exercise that same patience toward the members of my flock. It is a mystery to me how I can share the joy of fellowship with You morning by morning and they not be aggressive in seeking the same. Many of them do try to follow through, and I thank You for that. Actually, I have very little idea who actually has what habits when it comes to devotions, but You know everything about each of us. Help me yield each individual to You, trusting You with them even as I make myself available to instruct, encourage, and admonish them, so that they may enter into all that You intend and have prepared for them, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!



ネヘミヤ 13:26-27 「イスラエルの王ソロモンは、このことによって罪を犯したではないか。多くの国々のうちで彼のような王はいなかった。彼は神に愛され、神は彼をイスラエル全土を治める王としたのに、外国の女たちが彼を罪を起こさせてしまった。だから、あなたがたが外国の女をめとって、私たちの神に対して不振の罪を犯し、このような大きな悪を行っていることを聞き流しにできようか。」

I'm not the only person to find Solomon's actions hard to believe! We might tend to think of Solomon and Nehemiah as almost contemporaries, but they were separated by a few hundred years. Even so, in the OT context religion was seen as for the most part integral to nationality, which is something we actually see a lot of even today. The problem with intermarriage was actually not so much racial as religious. The problem of children of interracial marriages not being able to speak Aramaic (probably the “language of Judah” referred to in verse 24) was symptomatic but not central. If the men in question had taken seriously their position and responsibility as spiritual heads of their households, none of this would have been an issue. After all, Rahab and Ruth were in the direct ancestry of King David! In both those cases, however, the women committed themselves to the God of Israel, and God blessed them. Paul brings up this whole issue as one of being “unequally yoked.” Spiritual unity is of the utmost importance in a household, and yet it is often taken very lightly. For better or for worse, the marital relationship is far more than physical, but many men in particular tend to overlook that, to their peril.


This is a very, very big issue in Japan, with such a small pool of Christian young people, and particularly with the shortage of Christian men. I need to encourage Biblical priorities in this area, and so far I seem to have had some success, though not perfectly so. I must not put people down for being anxious to get married, certainly, but I need to pray for them to find the right partner in God's timing. It's the timing that's the problem. They don't see me as a credible witness in this area when I got married at 20! It comes down to encouraging them to trust God in every area, because He's the only one worthy of such trust.


Father thank you for the testimony yesterday from someone who declined an arranged marriage for this very reason. I do pray for Your best, both in partner and in timing, for each single person in this church. I believe that You desire to raise up many Godly households that will not only raise up children to love and fear You but also serve as examples to society as a whole of what You intend a family to be, in all love and joy and purity. May Your will be done, for the destruction of the works of the devil and for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!



ネヘミヤ 1:5 「ああ、天の神、主。大いなる、恐れるべき神。主を愛し、主の命令を守る者に対しては、契約を守り、いつくしみを賜る方。」

When we approach God it needs to be with an awareness of who He is. As cupbearer to the king of Persia, Nehemiah was quite familiar with the use of titles in addressing people, and he was also aware that he was addressing the King of kings. Japanese society still has a pretty big awareness of titles, but American society has been rather aggressive in abandoning the use of titles in addressing people. When it comes to people I don't think that matters particularly, especially when Jesus was rather negative on the subject. (Matthew 23:8-12) However, if we try to pull God down into that sort of democratization we are in real trouble. He is, after all, the Creator of the universe and there is none other. With incredible grace and love He chooses to relate to us individually, seeking an intimacy with us that violates all logic, but if we take that lightly, devaluing grace by our presumption, then we take ourselves out of the flow of that grace, and that is a terrible thing indeed.


This is a particular danger for me, because I was raised with an expectation of intimacy with God. That is actually an incredible blessing, because many people never come to that place of intimacy with Him, but it is all too true that familiarity breeds contempt. I am all too prone to presume on God. That has been one of the problems with our church services, because if I am not in holy awe of the One in whose presence we are gathered, how can I expect anyone else to be? I am preaching on worship this morning, desiring that it be a workshop in real worship for all present, but I need to be the first student! As I sing such things as “Holy Lord” I need to be aware of what that means, not thinking “I translated that pretty well, didn't I,” but bowing down, internally even if not externally, before the holy God of all creation.

これは特に私にとって危険なことです。神と親しくあるよう期待されて育ったからです。これは、多くの人が神と親しい位置にはない事を思うと、実はとてつもない祝福です。しかし、この親密さが傲慢さを生み出すのも事実です。私は、神様に対し当然視しすぎる傾向が強くあります。これはこの教会にある問題の一つですが、私たちの集うところにご臨在くださるただ一人のお方に対し、もし私が聖なる畏れを持たないならば、一体、私はどうやって人に期待できると言うのでしょう?今朝、私は礼拝について話をします。出席者全員にとって真の礼拝場所となることを望みますが、まず私自身も学ばなくてはなりません!たとえば Holy Lordを歌う時も、歌の意味を意識し、「上手く訳せている」など考えないようにし、全ての創造者である聖なる神様の御前では、うわべではなく、内面をしっかり凝縮させたいものです。

Father, thank You for what You've been saying to me as I've been preparing today's message. Forgive me for failing to worship You as You deserve, and then turning around and being critical of those who don't seem to value corporate worship. Forgive me for being judgmental in any way. Help me rather recognize the degree of grace and mercy that was necessary for me to be able to stand before You at all, and so submit myself to You fully in gratitude and worship. May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my strength and my Redeemer. Thank You. Praise God!




エズラ記 3:11 そして、彼らは主を賛美し、感謝しながら、互いに、「主はいつくしみ深い。その恵みはとこしえまでもイスラエルに」と歌い合った。こうして、主の宮の礎が逸れられたので、民はみな、主を賛美して大声で喜び叫んだ。

Here again, as in many places in the OT, the English uses “love” while the Japanese uses “grace.” That's not a factor I had thought deeply about before this current cycle of readings, but it does point up some cultural differences. Regardless, this is certainly an impressive scene. The designated musicians performed the appropriate number, and the people responded with overflowing joy. Praise and thanks are always important parts of worship, and God's people are to be worshipers. Worship can be very quiet, it can be very loud, or it can be anywhere in between. The point is that the people's hearts were united in thanksgiving and praise, and their focus was on God and what He had done for them. All too often, what we call worship is nothing more than self-centered ritual, a habitual pattern that begins and ends with us and leaves God out more or less completely.


As I have prepared for tomorrow's message on worship, the Lord has pointed out to me that I fall into this trap to a degree myself. If my focus is on my part in the “worship service,” rather than on the One whom I am serving, then it fails to be worship and instead becomes an exercise in narcissism. As the leader I must have a degree of self awareness as well as an awareness of how the people are responding, but my focus has got to be on God or the whole thing becomes an exercise in futility. If I am sensitive and submitted to the Holy Spirit then He will indeed lead us all before the throne of God and it will be glorious, but I must not whip up a humanistic counterfeit through psychological manipulation.


Father, we have much to learn about worship. I know we will worship perfectly in heaven, but I want to start now! I ask for Your revelation, anointing, and specific guidance not only for me but for each person who leads worship in this church, that we may grow in every facet of worship until this will become the absolute highlight of the week for every believer, something never to be missed, and that we will all be transformed in the process, becoming accurate expressions of Jesus Christ our Lord, for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!



第2歴代誌 20:17 「この戦いではあなたがたが戦うのではない。しっかり立って動かずにいよ。あなたがたとともにいる主の救いを見よ。ユダおよびエルサレムよ。恐れてはならない。気落ちしてはならない。あす、彼らに向かって出陣せよ。主はあなたがたとともにいる。」

I have long loved the whole story of Jehoshaphat, not just because it's a really interesting, dramatic story, but because it has so much good truth in it. This particular prophetic pronouncement has strong application for just about every area of spiritual warfare. In the first place, it says that “You will not have to fight this battle.” Sometimes we really do have to fight, but actually not very often. Usually, it's more the pattern that is shown in this particular incident. Second, the people are told not to be afraid or discouraged. For the most part, our own emotions do us more damage than our enemy. He knows that, and does his best to provoke fear. (The devil is the first and foremost “terrorist,” and all who deserve that label are inspired by him.) Knowing that, refusing to be shaken emotionally is most of the battle. The third thing here is that even though they were not going to have to fight, the people had to go out and face the enemy. We must do the same thing. Ignoring the devil lets him sneak up on us! As James tells us, we have to submit to God and then resist (stand against) the devil. (James 4:7) If we will do both parts of that, then the devil has no choice but to flee, because he cannot stand against God.


This is yet another area in which I “know” better than I “do.” (Actually, I have room to grow in every area of life!) Sometimes I allow emotions to get the best of me; sometimes I fail to submit fully to God; sometimes I fail to stand up firmly against the devil. However, I have certainly tasted the glorious reality of God's victory when I am faithful to do those things. As a pastor, my desire and commission is to teach and lead others to do the same, so that the devil's devices may be defeated and God be glorified. As I teach people about the dangers of disobedience, it must always be from the positive, encouraging standpoint that God has the solution for our weakness and it is His strength, the solution for our unfaithfulness and it is His faithfulness, the solution for our sinfulness and it is His righteousness in Christ Jesus our Lord.


Father, even I sometimes lose sight of just how glorious Your salvation is. Help me keep my eyes on You in trust, knowing that You have the solution, You are the solution to every difficulty I face. That applies to communicating Your gospel, too. I can't force people to receive Your Word, but Your Holy Spirit can take what You speak through me and work it into the minds and hearts of my hearers. I ask You to do exactly that, so that all of us, in this church as well as those who hear the message outside of this body, may rise up as a mighty army to do Your will, for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!




第2歴代誌 19:2-3 「悪者を助けるべきでしょうか。あなたは主を憎む者たちを愛してよいのでしょうか。これによって、あなたの上に、主の前から怒りが下ります。しかし、あなたには、良いことが幾つか見られます。あなたはこの地からアシェラ像を除き去り、心を定めて常に神を求めて来られました。」

I will probably always associate this passage with a very anointed message I heard from John Finochio that impressed me so much I made a cassette that I played over and over in my car. The subject of that message was “Seven Reasons to Keep Seeking God,” and the point connected with this particular passage was that seeking God causes God to overlook sometimes serious errors you might make. What strikes me about this chapter as a whole is the various things it says about how Jehoshaphat was setting his heart to seek God. He wasn't content to just seek Him personally in some sort of monastic setting, he used all the resources God had given him – authority, time, finances – to draw others back to God as well. Anyone who is genuinely seeking God is going to seek to take others with them on the journey, because the more we know of God, the better we understand that He desires that all people be saved and in a right relationship with Him. Self-centered piety is better than no piety at all, but it is hardly a fully expression of the Gospel.

私はこの節でいつも、大変油注がれたJohn Finochio のメッセージを思い出します。彼のメッセージに私はとても感銘を受け、カセットに入れ、運転中に繰り返し聞いたほどです。メッセージの題は「神を求め続ける7つの理由」で、この節との関連は、神を求めていることで、犯すかもしれない重大な過ちが神が大目に見てくれる時がある、という内容です。私はこの章全体に心ひかれますが、ヨシャパテが思いを神に向けた点に特に惹かれます。彼は、修道士のようなやり方で神を求めることに満足してはいませんでした。神が彼に与えたあらゆる資質、つまり、権威、時間、お金を用い、人を神に立ち返らせたのです。神を心から求めるなら誰でも、他の人にも同様のことを求めます。それは、神を知るほどに、全ての人に救いと神との正しい関係に入ることを神が望んでおられることを、より理解してくるからです。自己中心的な敬虔さは全くの不敬虔よりは、ましでしょうが、それでは十分に福音を現してはいないでしょう。

This is something I have been slow to learn, and in some ways it flies in the face of Japanese culture. Beliefs are considered very private and Japanese seldom talk about them, in decided contrast to various other cultures. This makes personal evangelism more difficult and it makes pastoral ministry more difficult, because when you don't know what people believe, you don't know what they need to be taught. That makes it all the more imperative that I listen carefully to the Holy Spirit in planning messages and teaching programs. Through various things the Lord has been pointing out to me that what is called for is instilling a Biblical world view. As recent polls have made very clear, a Biblical world view is in very short supply even in America, that has the Bible as part of its cultural heritage! That makes it all the more evident that I've got to rely on the Holy Spirit in my ministry, because there's no other way I can help people get their priorities, values, and goals in line with the Word of God. As I seek to do that, I've got to be honest in evaluating my own priorities, values and goals, because I'm sure there's room for improvement!


Father, thank You for Your patience with me. I need it at least as much as Jehoshaphat did! Help me let go of everything that stands in the way of my seeking and drawing close to You, so that I may be transformed more and more into the likeness of Your Son, for Your pleasure and glory. Thank You. Praise God!



第2歴代誌6:41 「神、主よ。あなたの祭司たちの身に救いをまとわせてください。あなたの聖徒たちにいつくしみを喜ばせてください。」

I have always found this turn of phrase interesting. Clothing is often what we notice first about a person, so it is significant that the priests are to be clothed with salvation. A priest by definition is an intermediary between God and men, and in the Protestant context that includes all ministers of the Gospel. The over-all impression that every minister should project is that in God there is salvation. Some ministers project condemnation and some project compromise, and some essentially project nothing at all. None of those are appropriate for a true representative of Jesus Christ, but they are none the less evident if we look around us. If those charged with communicating God to the people indeed communicate His salvation, then the people will have every reason to rejoice in His goodness. A right relationship with Creator God is the most blessed, joyful thing in the universe, and ministers should first, last, and always communicate that.


I can't say that I bat 1,000 in this area, but this is certainly my goal. At the same time, I need to be careful that I don't veer off into humanistic proclamation that excuses sin instead of calling for repentance. If my goal is simply to make people happy, I won't be leading them into God's salvation and their end certainly won't be happy. If I present the good news of the kingdom of God and the Lordship of Jesus Christ, then all who receive it will be happy indeed.


Father, my only hope of being an effective minister of the Gospel is Your grace. Thank You that Your grace is sufficient. Help me be clothed with salvation indeed, bringing hope to the hopeless and repentance to the proud, calling all to salvation in Christ Jesus. But Lord, it seems that so few receive the message, and sometimes those who do distort it horribly. I can't change anyone's heart; that's the work of Your Holy Spirit. I ask You to pour Your Spirit out on this church, this city, and this nation, that people's eyes may be opened to see You, see themselves, and repent and believe so that they may receive Your full salvation, for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!



第2歴代誌 5:13-14 そのとき、その宮、すなわち主の宮は雲に満ちた。祭司たちは、その雲にさえぎられ、そこの立って仕えることができなかった。主の栄光が神の宮に満ちたからである。

When there was focused unity in worship, God showed up. We have a tendency to worry about programs and schedules and all sorts of details, but God is looking for unity in worship. As David said in Psalm 22:3, God is enthroned on (inhabits) the praises of His people. I feel sorry for anyone who has never experienced the expressed presence of God when His people are gathered in praise and worship. Unfortunately, that's a lot of people, and even a lot of Christians. We tend to gather for social reasons or out of obligation, rather than to encounter the living God, and we generally get what we expect. God wants to touch us with His presence, to cleanse, strengthen, and encourage us, but we seem to have no appetite for it. There are some who are “feeling junkies,” going from meeting to meeting looking for emotional highs, and that is certainly a distortion. However, we have every reason to look for, and look forward to, direct encounters with God when we gather to worship.


I have certainly had such encounters, and not just in corporate worship, but even my expectation tends to be dulled when it comes to “ordinary” Sunday morning worship here. Familiarity indeed breeds contempt. I am disappointed and even upset when others fail to value our corporate worship times, and yet my own attitude could use a good bit of adjustment. One difficulty is that I tend to be focused on my part in the morning schedule, in what I've got to do. By definition, that removes my focus from God. Excellence is certainly desirable in service to God in every way, but the focus must be on God and not on the service itself. That is certainly easier to say than to do! I need to reexamine my priorities and not be so focused on what I am going to say and how the people are going to receive it. Rather, I need to be focused on God and the inexpressibly great privilege of gathering in His presence to offer Him worship and obedience.


Father, thank You for this word of correction. It is hypocritical of me to be upset at others failing to value corporate worship when, in a slightly different way, I fail to do so myself. Help me indeed focus on You, Your majesty, grace, love and glory, and worship You in spirit and in truth. I believe You desire us to be a worshiping people, a praying people, and a serving people. Help us grow in all those areas, for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!



第1列王記 11:3-4 その妻たちが彼の心を転じた。ソロモンが年をとったとき、その妻たちが彼の心をほかの神々のようへ向けたので、彼の心は、父ダビデの心と違って、彼の神、主と全く一つにはなっていなかった。

Solomon's idolatry continues to be a mystery to me. When God had appeared to him twice, as is pointed out in verse 9, and he had the books of Moses as well as the many psalms his father David had written, how could he do such a thing? Perhaps Ecclesiastes offers some clues, because in it Solomon talks repeatedly about emptiness. He was greatly blessed with intellect, but he trusted in that intellect instead of recognizing that before God, he was no more than an infant. He mentions “denying himself no pleasure” (Ecclesiastes 2:10), and he certainly didn't know what restraint was when it came to women, as this passage points out. Conceit and hedonism are a deadly combination! Thinking you are above God's laws will topple anyone, as history has shown repeatedly.


Perhaps the reason Solomon's story is so gripping to me is that I too have been blessed intellectually and have struggled with conceit over it. It was a major breakthrough, and blessing, when I realized that God wasn't simply “smarter than I am”; He is smart and I'm not. I also have been greatly blessed with a loving wife who has helped keep me on track in that area. The devil has made his attempts, but God has been gracious. I've got to keep my focus on God and seek to hear and obey Him, rather than trying to figure things out on my own with whatever gifts He has given me. It is increasingly clear to me that I don't have the wisdom called for by many of the situations I face. So I need to maintain my trust and obedience toward God, who is the only One who does have the wisdom and power to turn it all around for good.


Father, thank You for yesterday and all the good things it held. I still have a lot of trouble with trying to figure things out on my own, instead of releasing them to You in trust. Thank You for Your patience with me. Help me extend that same patience toward others, with Your love and wisdom, so that the Body of Christ may be built up for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!




第1列王記 10:9 あなたを喜ばれ、イスラエルの王座にあなたを着かせられたあなたの神、主はほむべきかな。主はイスラエルととこしえに愛しておられるので、あなたを王とし、公正と正義とを行わらせられうのです。

Paul says clearly that all authority is set in place by God (Romans 13:1), which really gives us something to think about. On the one hand, we get the leaders we deserve. On the other hand, authority is entrusted to us by God, and we are responsible to Him for its exercise. In the political system of the day, Solomon had absolute authority in Israel, and for the most part he used it well. This was what so totally impressed the queen of Sheba. However, like his father David, he misused his authority in the area of women, and it was a terrible snare to him. In any organization, if there's no one to tell the leader “no,” that leader is in a very dangerous position. Many, many leaders have fallen over exactly that issue. God desires good leadership for His people, and He gives leadership gifts and abilities, but how those are used are our responsibility. As I always tell couples in marriage counseling, there is no such thing as authority without responsibility, nor responsibility without authority.


I am in a position of authority and responsibility in this church, and to be honest, that aspect of my position isn't particularly appealing to me. I love to preach and to explain the Bible to people, and leading them into a vital relationship with Christ is an inexpressible joy. However, admonishing and correcting is a different matter! At times I am sharply aware of the authority of the Word I speak, but I don't feel it is my authority, particularly. It is certainly easy to relate to those who acknowledge the authority of my position, but even there it is hard to know how to exercise that authority correctly. As Paul again said, it is authority to build people up and not tear them down (2 Corinthians 10:8), and must seek and follow the guidance of the Holy Spirit to that end. Failing to exercise the authority I've been entrusted with is poor stewardship indeed, and I will be called to account for it. I must not be irresponsible, but be faithful in each task the Lord sets for me.


Father, I'm still not entirely comfortable with authority. Thank You for recent events that have brought that into sharp focus. Help me forgive but not excuse those who fail to acknowledge the authority You've given me in their lives, admonishing them in love so that they will get out of the devil's traps. Help me be faithful as a steward of Your authority invested in me, so that the Body of Christ may be built up indeed, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!



第1列王記 8:23 「イスラエルの神、主。上は天、下は地にも、あなたのような神はほかにありません。あなたは、心を尽くして御前に歩むあなたのしもべたちに対し、契約と愛とを守られる方です。」

In Solomon's day virtually everyone had a polytheistic/animistic world view, essentially unchanged from Moses' day. There were of course Israelites who knew that the gods of the surrounding nations were lies, and it is possible Solomon himself justified his later idolatry with the reasoning that since other gods weren't God, it didn't matter if he placated his wives by going through religious motions. However, he is called to account by his own words, because such activity certainly isn't “walking before God wholeheartedly.” It's interesting that the NIV renders the last of this verse as “You keep Your covenant of love,” while the Japanese goes with the more literal “You keep Your covenant and love.” We don't usually think of love as something that can be kept the way a covenant can be kept, but that's because we are so used to thinking of love as an emotion. I think the “love” in this verse is very close to the agape of the NT, because it is quite apart from emotion. Jesus said a lot about those who love Him will do what He says, and that's actually what this verse is talking about. It is sad that Solomon himself later strayed from it.


By the grace of God I think I have a better understanding of this than many, but that doesn't mean I walk in perfect obedience myself. I've got to keep a close watch over myself and I've got to be consistent in communicating the truth to others. Because we have such distorted views of love, and for that matter, distorted world views, it takes time and revelation for these things to get through to people. My task as a pastor is to help people allow the Bible to straighten out their world views, proclaiming the Word to them in ways they can receive it by the guidance and inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Logical reasoning certainly won't get the job done! Not that logic is bad, it's just insufficient to effect the fundamental changes that are called for.


Father, it's clear that I can't do this job on my own. I ask for Your anointing, for the work of the cross to be fulfilled in my own heart and life so that Your Spirit may flow unhindered through me to others, opening their eyes and destroying the strongholds the devil has built in their minds and hearts by his lies. May I and everyone in my care walk wholeheartedly before You indeed, so that all of Your plans and promises may be fulfilled in, for and through us, for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!



第1列王記 3:5 その夜、ギブオンで主は夢のうちにソロモンに現れた。神は仰せられた。「あなたに何を与えようか。願い。」

God is constant and outside of time, yet He works with us who are constantly changing over time. As a result, there are moments of special interaction in which we become more aware of Him than at other times, and they are often life-defining for us. If we respond well, then we progress on that 'best way' that God has prepared for us. If we respond poorly, then we wander until we repent and return. Some people refer to such moments as kairos times, because of different Greek words referring to time. (kairos means “an appointed time”) Solomon made good use of this particular kairos moment, but he later messed up badly out of failure in day-to-day faithfulness. Such special times of interaction with God are wonderful, but we cannot depend on them because they are entirely on God's initiative; we can't generate them. If our hearts are committed to day-by-day faithfulness and obedience, then we will recognize the kairos moments when they come and rejoice to receive all that God delights to give us.

神様は時間の内におられませんが、時を超えて、常に私たちに働いておられます。その結果、より神様に気づくことのできる特別な瞬間があります。その瞬間は、しばしば私たちの人生を決定するほどのことです。もし私たちがよく応答できるなら、神様の準備なさった「最良の方法」で進展できることでしょう。しかし、もしうまく応答できないなら、悔い改めと回帰に至るまでさまようことになるでしょう。このような時をkairos と呼ぶ人もいますが、これは時間を表す異なるギリシャ語から来ています。(kairos とは「約束された時」という意味です。)ソロモンは、このkairosの時を最大限に活用しましたが、後に、日々信仰が危うくなったために大変なことになってしまいました。このように神様と関わる特別の時を持つのは素晴らしいことです。しかし、主導権は神様にあり、人がそれを作りだすことはできません。もし日々、心から信仰を持って従うならば、kairosの時が分かるでしょう。そして神が意図されたことを喜んで受け取れることでしょう。

I have had several kairos moments, including one remarkably similar to this one Solomon had. A few of us were having something of a free-form praise/prayer time, perhaps at a regular prayer meeting time but perhaps not; I don't remember. I felt like God was offering me whatever I would ask for, and I asked God for the salvation of a particular person. He indeed made a fairly dramatic commitment not long after that, but I failed to equip him in all the areas he needed it, and he is not currently active in the church, though his faith is still valid. I seized the kairos moment, but fell short in the follow-through afterward. I need to recognize and rejoice in the special times God gives me, but I can't sit around waiting for them. Rather, I need to be faithful and diligent moment by moment, fulfilling the last thing God told me to do rather than sitting around waiting for the next thing. If I will do that, God will give me the special moments I need to inspire and encourage me so that I will be more useful to Him.

私は何度かkairos の時を経験しています。その中には、丁度ソロモンと似たような経験もあります。私の記憶が定かではありませんが、私たちの内で、自由形式の賛美、祈りの時間を、特に祈祷会などで行っていた方が数人いたようです。私が求めることには何でも、とりわけ、特定の人の救いについて、神様は答えてくださっているように感じます。時間を要せずして、かなり劇的な献身をした男性がいます。しかし私は彼に必要なすべてのことを整えさせることができませんでした。現在、その男性はしっかりした信仰を持ちながらも、この教会で積極的な活動を行っていません。私は彼のkalrosの時はともかくも、その後のフォローを上手くできませんでした。神様に与えられた特別な時に気づき、喜ぶべきですが、私はただじっと待つだけではいけません。むしろ、一瞬一瞬を信仰を持ち、勤勉であり、次のことを待つのではなく、神様からの最新の言いつけを達成していくべきでしょう。それができた時、私がますます神に用いられるために、勇気づけと励ましを頂ける特別な時が与えられることでしょう。

Father, thank You for the various kairos moments You've given me over the years. They do stick in my memory! Help me be faithful in my daily obedience, asking for and acting on Your guidance and wisdom, both in my personal life and in the life of the church, so that we will move forward in all that You have planned for us, for the sake of the larger Body of Christ and for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!




第2サムエル 12:13-14 ダビデはナタンに言った。「私は主に対して罪を犯した。」ナタンはダビデに言った。「主もまた、あなたの罪を見過ごしてくださった。あなたは死なない。しかし、あなたはこのことによって、主の敵に大いに侮りの心を起こさせたので、あなたに生まれる子は必ず死ぬ。」

The simple fact of the matter is that sin has consequences. There is forgiveness, certainly, but that doesn't eliminate the consequences of our actions. When things are yielded to God He can turn them around and use them for good, as Paul pointed out in Romans 8:28, but that doesn't mean that things will be as good as they would have been had we committed to God without sinning. God's grace is incredibly huge, but it's not cheap. In this particular case, God could not allow this child conceived in murderous adultery to live and even potentially be David's heir. The child himself was guiltless and I don't think he went to hell, but there were principles that had to be made very clear. David's repentance, expressed so beautifully in Psalm 51, was genuine and effective, but it mitigated rather than eliminating the consequences of his sin. The whole incident, rather than being covered up as it would have been in a secular royal history, is recorded as an object lesson for future generations, which is one way God turned it around to use it for good.


I have certainly tasted the consequences of my failures to hear and obey God, and I constantly deal with people in the same boat. The problems are multiplied, however, when people refuse to recognize and acknowledge that the fix they are in is of their own making. I need wisdom and strength to speak the truth in love. That's certainly not “politically correct!” Glossing over or ignoring sin is of no benefit to anyone, however much it might seem to maintain tranquility in the short run. Japanese society values surface tranquility very highly, so I run into opposition and conflict on this issue. Frankly, I greatly prefer tranquility myself! However, I need the grace and anointing Nathan expressed when he confronted David, so that problems may be dealt with at their root and the works of the devil be destroyed, for the liberation of those caught in them and for the sake of the Body of Christ.


Father, You know my tendency to conflict avoidance better than I do, just as You know the problems it has caused. Help me love people enough to risk their reactions when I show them their sin. I know I am not their judge, but You have given me the responsibility and authority to shepherd this flock, and that includes the shepherd's rod and staff. Help me love people enough to correct them, not out of pride or in any way looking down on them but to rescue them from the traps of the devil. Show me how I need to repent, so that I too may walk in the very center of Your grace, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!



第2サムエル 7:14-15 わたしは彼にとって父のなり、彼はわたしにとって子となる。もし彼が罪を犯すときは、わたしは人の杖、人の子のむちをもって彼を懲らしめる。しかし、わたしは、あなたの前からサウロを取り除いて、わたしの恵みをサウロから取り去ったが、わたしの恵みをそのように、彼から取り去ることはない。

It is of great interest to me that the Japanese uses “grace” in this passage where the English uses “love.” I feel that shows differing understandings of both of those terms in the two cultures. God's love is certainly gracious, because we don't deserve it, and His grace is certainly loving, because He chooses to do what is best for us in spite of our actions. This passage is of course talking about David's son Solomon, but the principle of using human instruments to discipline us, His children, is certainly operative today. God uses us to guide and prod each other back onto His way when we stray from it. Unfortunately, we often don't recognize His hand in that and get mad at whatever human instrument He is using. That can create totally unnecessary enmity, and can also delay repentance. When things don't go the way we would like whatever the direct cause, we need to examine our hearts and see if God is desiring to correct us, and be quick to repent if we find that He is. Certainly not all opposition or setbacks are a result of our disobedience, but we need at least to entertain the possibility that they are, and allow the Holy Spirit to show us if that is the case.


I think I have a very spotty track record in this area. My repentance has not always been instant, or even sincere at times. I have put myself through far harder times than God desired for me. That being the case, I need to be understanding and patient toward those in the flock who are going through the same thing, without excusing the sin that God is trying to correct. That can be a hard line to walk! I need to speak the truth in love at all times, and also confirm whether a person has ears to hear me before I speak into their situation. God has given me authority to speak into people's lives, but if they don't recognize and acknowledge that authority, trying to exercise it can be counterproductive.


Father, I don't enjoy discipline, either receiving or giving it. Help me be so submitted to You that I recognize Your correction and respond immediately. Help me also love others enough to be willing to be Your instrument of correction for them, even at the risk of their turning against me. Help me remember Your Word to Ezekiel and be faithful to speak all that You desire to say through me, and not draw back out of a fear of man. May everyone in this church walk in close obedience to You, loving, encouraging, and admonishing one another just as You tell us to, so that all of Your plans for us may be fulfilled for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!



第2サムエル 1:26 あなたのために私は悲しむ。私の兄弟ヨナタンよ。あなたは私を大いに喜ばせ、あなたの私への愛は、女の愛にまさって、すばらしかった。

Like yesterday's passage, this one also is greatly misappropriated by homosexual activists. However, I feel it betrays David's lack of understanding of and appreciation for women. The idea of a wife as an equal partner, particularly for someone who had the financial and social resources to have more than one, was totally lacking in the society of his day. We know details of only two of his wives, but I have always felt that if he had stuck with his second one he would have been better off. (1 Samuel 25) Abigail sounds like a real winner in my book! However, it was through Bathsheba that the line continued to Joseph and Mary, so God used even David's weakness and stupidity to bring eventual great blessing. I still wonder what God might have done had David been wiser in this area, though.


I have been greatly blessed in the partner God has given me, and that's not to say the devil hasn't tried to mess that up. Looking back over the past 41 years, and before, actually, it's amazing how God has protected me in spite of myself. At this point He has me in a position where I often give marital advice to others, both before and after their weddings. I am not to speak presumptuously, but I am to share what the Lord has given me in terms of knowledge and understanding, so that others may be kept from the lies and traps of the devil.


Father, thank You indeed for Your grace to me. Help me be a good steward of that grace, in this area and each other one, so that I may be an effective instrument in Your hands for blessing, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!



第1サムエル 20:17 ヨナタンは、もう一度ダビデに誓った。ヨナタンは自分を愛するほどに、ダビデを愛していたからである。

Homosexual activists insist that was the sort of relationship David and Jonathan had, but that simply brings to mind what Paul said: “To the pure, all things are pure, but to those who are corrupted and do not believe, nothing is pure.” (Titus 1:15) David and Jonathan are an illustration of what it means to love someone as you love yourself. Jonathan was well aware that David would supersede him on the throne of Israel, and yet he still did his utmost to protect and support him. David likewise was loyal to Jonathan, protecting and providing for his surviving son when the normal custom of the day was to kill all potential rivals to the throne. David and Jonathan have a lot to teach us, in all purity.


Loving someone as I love myself is a tall order. I feel I at least come close with Cathy, but even there, God is the judge. I know I need to be intentional in allowing God's love to flow through me to others, just as it has flowed to me. To be honest, I can do that only with God's help. My natural inclination is probably as selfish as that of anyone else, so I must be careful to choose to love in every situation. That's certainly easier to say than to do!


Father, thank You for the beauty and power of Your presence in the service yesterday. Thank You for Your faithfulness to move and to speak when we gather. Thank You for Your faithfulness likewise to keep working on and in each of us, teaching us how better to love You, love each other, and indeed, love ourselves. We are filled with questions about the future that often cause us anxiety, but You know the end from the beginning, and it's all in Your hands. Help us release each question, each item, into Your hands and rest in Your peace, trusting You and allowing Your Spirit to flow through us in love, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!



第1サムエル 18:28-29 こうして、サウロは、主がダビデとともにおられ、サウロの娘ミカルがダビデを愛していることを見、また、知った。それでサウロは、ますますダビデを恐れた。サウロはいつまでもダビデの敵となった。

Jealousy is such a sad thing. It comes from self-centeredness and a lack of faith that someone else's blessings don't detract from your own. In that way it is closely connected with greed. We humans are a sorry lot! I continue to be impressed with the way our daughter and her husband are raising their sons, because their older son's lack of jealousy toward his younger brother speaks volumes about how secure they have made the older son feel. He doesn't doubt that there's enough love to go around. God's love toward each of us is far greater and better, and yet we so easily fall into jealousy when we see someone else being blessed, often not recognizing the grace that is being poured out on us.


My biggest problems with jealousy on my own part are in relation to other pastors and churches, which is certainly ironic. If I am faithful in my obedience, God's plans for me will be fulfilled far better than I could set it up myself. I actually encounter more jealousy of me than I feel towards others, because people see how God has poured His grace out on me and they don't believe God loves them as much as He does me. The only thing I can do in such situations is to pray for those people, not flaunting blessings but seeking to help those people see how God has blessed them, perhaps in ways that He hasn't blessed me. I don't want anyone to end up as a life-long enemy because of jealousy!


Father, You have blessed me remarkably, and that indeed bothers some people. I pray Your grace for them and for me, that they would recognize Your love and grace toward them and open their hearts to receive it. Ralph Neighbor makes a very good point when he says that most unhappiness comes from distorted and unfulfilled expectations. I can't change people's expectations directly, but I ask You to touch their hearts and open their eyes so that they may be overwhelmed by Your love for them. May I likewise walk in the assurance of Your love so that I may enjoy life at least as much as our grandsons do, and lead others to do the same, for their blessing and your glory. Thank You. Praise God!




第1サムエル 18:9-10 その日以来、サウロはダビデを疑いの目で見るようになった。その翌日、わざわいをもたらす、神の霊がサウロに激しく下り、彼は家の中で狂いわめいた。

I would like to talk with an Israeli about this passage, because the English and Japanese have distinctly different slants in how they translate the Hebrew. Where the English says “jealous,” the Japanese says “suspicious,” and where the English says “was prophesying,” the Japanese says “was delirious” (or, “was acting insanely”). All those differences (and more) aside, the thrust of the passage actually remains the same: Saul's attitude toward David opened the door for an evil spirit, that today would probably be diagnosed as mental illness. Harboring evil thoughts and attitudes toward others opens us up to far more harm for ourselves than it brings harm to those other people. Nursing thoughts of revenge absolutely poisons us. In Saul's case it was very quick. The results aren't always that fast, but it's not unusual. That's the biggest reason God proclaims, “Vengeance is Mine.” (Deuteronomy 32:35, quoted in Romans 12:19) Releasing events, issues, and people to God is essential for true emotional and spiritual health.


I've experienced this on a small scale myself, and I've certainly dealt with people who have been devastated by it, both in the mental hospital and out of it. The difficulty in dealing with this issue is that it is fundamentally irrational, so logical arguments don't have much impact. In essence it is a sin issue, because such attitudes are in clear violation of the Word of God. As a pastor, I need to lay firm groundwork for people to understand how they are supposed to deal with hurts and jealousies before they happen, and give all the emotional and prayer support I can to those who are trying to deal with them after the fact. It is clear that this task, particularly helping people recover after they have made bad response choices, is beyond my ability, so I've got to be constantly and consciously dependent on God. The Holy Spirit can and will give me the wisdom I need, but I've got to ask for it for each individual and in each situation, and not think I can coast on what He's given me before.


Father, help me be free of jealousy/suspicion/paranoia myself. I can't help people out of their traps if I'm mired in one myself! Help me extend to others the grace and comfort I've received (2 Corinthians 1:3-4), so that together we may destroy the works of the devil and walk in the liberty, peace and joy of Your Holy Spirit, for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!



第1サムエル 1:17 エリは答えて言った。「安心して行きなさい。イスラエルの神が、あなたの願ったその願いをかなえてくださるように。」

This has always been a very interesting story to me, because Eli was not at all a good priest, allowing his sons to defame the tabernacle of the Lord with their immorality and greed, yet in the office of High Priest his words had the weight of blessing. Hannah's earnestness before the Lord was certainly a factor, but the Lord still used a corrupt priest to pronounce and confirm blessing. We have no way of knowing whether Hannah was aware of the problems at the tabernacle, but we do know that she received assurance that her prayer had been answered. This shows that the power is all God's, and not man's, and it also shows that offices are important. No human vessel is perfect, but God uses us anyway. No human organization is perfect, but God uses them anyway. Chains of authority are obviously significant in the kingdom of God, as the story of the Centurion and Jesus illustrates. (Matthew 8)


As an American who grew up in the '60s, I've never been overly comfortable with authority, and that has been a problem. Now I'm in the position of needing to exercise authority, but I still have problems with it. I've got to remember that all authority ultimately comes from God, and act accordingly. I am not to be swayed by those who abuse authority, nor be overawed by any human authority, but I must respect it and not violate it needlessly. Not having an organization over me has been liberating in a sense, but it has also kept me from having clear role models in exercising authority in the church. That makes it all the more imperative that I submit to God and seek His guidance in exercising the authority He has placed in me. Remembering that it is His authority, I must neither abuse it nor fail to exercise it for the benefit of the believers, as Paul pointed out. (2 Corinthians 13:10)


Father, thank You for Your organization of things. I've never been much of an “organization man;” help me fit into Your organization of the Body of Christ as You intend. Help me be fully submitted to You, and as a consequence exercise correctly the authority You place in me. Help me indeed build up the believers so that they may be fully equipped for all that You intend to do through them, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!



ルツ記 4:15 「その子は、あなたを元気付け、あなたの老後をみとるでしょう。あなたを愛し、七人の息子にもまさるあなたの嫁が、その子を産んだのですから。」

We tend to think of love most often in terms of romantic love or parental love, but here the focus is on the love of a daughter-in-law for her mother-in-law. Hardly your typical love story! However, the book of Ruth illustrates the reality that love is a decision that sometimes calls for real sacrifices, which Ruth seems to have made gladly for Naomi. At the same time it is a testimony to the faithfulness of God, whose ways are certainly far beyond anything we could plan. That's the point of Naomi's friends' statement that Ruth was “better than 7 sons” for Naomi. Seven is of course the number of completeness or perfection, and sons were very highly prized. That a daughter-in-law would be said to be “better than a perfection of sons” is an extreme statement indeed! God had a plan, and in that plan a foreign woman who understood the choice to love became an ancestor to Israel's greatest kings, and subsequently to the Messiah Himself. Far more than just a romantic love story. Ruth is a lesson in trusting God.


I feel like God orchestrated my marriage as surely as He orchestrated Ruth's, and I have certainly experienced God's amazing plans and provision in many other ways as well. As an individual believer I need to exercise the faith and trust such experience engenders, and as a pastor I need to encourage such faith and trust in those in my care. We tend to get so wrapped up in trying to figure out solutions to everything we see as problems that we lose our peace and joy and get worn out in the process. I need to exercise both trust and faithfulness on the most practical level, and teach others to do the same. It is easy to say, “I trust God,” but follow-through can be a different matter!


Father, thank You for the lessons in this area You've been teaching me even over the past few days. Thank You for how far along the computer reorganization has come, and for Your solution to each problem I've encountered. I do ask for Your answers for the remaining issues. Thank You again for Your provision for all my needs, and for knowing better than I do what my needs really are. Help me trust You in the small things and the big, and lead others to do the same, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!



ヨシュア 23:10-11 あなたがたのひとりだけで千人を追うことができる。あなたがたの神、主ご自身が、あなたがたに約束したとおり、あなたがたのために戦われるからである。あなたがたは、十分に気をつけて、あなたがたの神、主を愛しなさい。

The biggest problem with success is that we tend to think we did it, and forget that success occurred only because God made it possible. We are utterly dependent on the grace, mercy, and power of God, yet we forget that and think we don't need Him. The NIV including the conjunction, “so,”at the beginning of verse 11 adds a great deal to the understanding of this principle. It is precisely because God enables us to do remarkable things that we must be careful to love Him. Otherwise, we'll fall into conceit and bring total disaster on ourselves. God delights to do good things for His children but if we fail to acknowledge where those good things come from, not only do they dry up, we also get far less than the full benefit of them. Loving God is a choice that brings a feeling. It is not simply a feeling or even a choice motivated by a feeling. Our feelings are completely unreliable when it comes to love, of God or of anyone else; we must be careful to choose to love, as Jesus stressed when he specified the greatest two commandments.


I have had an ongoing struggle with this all my life, because God has blessed me with many abilities and I have tended toward conceit about it all. That conceit has led to many failures and embarrassments, and I can't blame God for any of those. It's not wrong to recognize the abilities God has given me, but I must never take them for granted. Rather, I must acknowledge to myself and others that it is only because of God that such accomplishments are possible, giving Him the glory in more than just lip service. Only then will I have hope of getting the believers to understand that God can, wants to, and will use them just as much as He does me, if they will make themselves available to Him.


Father, thank You for the very educational four days I've just had. Thank You for keeping me from starting on the computer migration on Saturday, so that all the computers were available for what needed to be done Sunday. Thank You that the new computer program installation itself went very smoothly, so that I wasn't stressed Sunday night. Thank You for all the hitches and headaches Monday, and for guiding me in where to look for answers. And thank You for clearing those hitches and headaches up yesterday, so that I can focus today on completing the installation, and then move on to getting the new set up in the other computer. Thank You that that task should be much simpler! Continue to grow and guide me on focusing on the task at hand, not being distracted by other things I'm involved with, so that I will be fully available to You for each thing You want to do through me, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!




ヨシュア記 22:5 ただ主のしもべモーセが、あなたがたに命じた命令と律法をよく守り行い、あなたがたの神、主を愛し、そのすべての道を歩み、その命令を守って、主にすがり、心を尽くし、精神を尽くして、主に仕えなさい。

In reading the Bible we sometimes forget the time intervals involved. Moses had been dead a long time at the point Joshua said this, and much had happened that might have crowded out the memory of what they had been taught. Human beings have a remarkable ability to forget things. Compared to God, we are much like a goldfish, whose attention span is measured in seconds. That is why God had people write what is recorded in the Bible, rather than just relying on verbal transmission. That's also why it's important that each believer learn to read and take in Scripture for themselves, and do so regularly. At the time of the Japanese persecution the Catholics were conducting mass in Latin and were relying on Latin Bibles. When the foreign missionaries and even the Japanese clergy were driven out, imprisoned, or killed, the believers who hid had very little to go on, and the quality of their knowledge and faith deteriorated badly with each generation. Once again we are faced with the need for each “faith generation” to have effective teaching and personal involvement and ownership in their faith. Now, printed Bibles are commonplace so that is not a problem. However, the Bible must be read and absorbed and put into practice if it is going to be effective in people's lives from generation to generation.


I am certainly a case in point here, having a rich multi-generational faith heritage, but needing to apply the Scriptures personally to and in my own life. I cannot forget the long period in which I wandered spiritually, with plenty of head knowledge of the Bible but without heart application. Right now I am charged with communicating the deposit the Lord has placed in me, and I see the importance of it all the more. I cannot just dump facts on people; I've got to help them understand how those fact apply to their lives, so they can absorb them and put them into practice. It was not an accidental choice of words that Jesus told us to make disciples! Faith cannot be said to be fully transmitted until the one receiving it has become a disciple indeed.


Father, as You know better than I do, this is beyond my ability, but You can do it through me. My heart grieves all too often at how slow people are to commit to You in genuine discipleship, but then I remember how I have grieved You over the years. Help me exercise the grace, mercy, patience, comfort, and encouragement I have received, so that as many as possible may be brought into the richness of the discipleship You desire and intend for us, for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!



申命記 30:11, 14 まことに、私が、きょう、あなたに命じるこの命令は、あなたにとってむずかしすぎるものではなく、遠くかけ離れたものでもない。まことに、みことばは、あなたのごく身近にあり、あなたの口にあり、あなたの心にあって、あなたはこれを行うことができる。

It was strictly accidental that this passage (11-20) was repeated from the day before, but there is certainly plenty of important content in it. Verse 14 is so important Paul quoted it in Romans 10:8 as part of his explanation of how a person is saved. Actually, the devil does all he can to keep us from knowing and believing what this says, because since he is destined for hell, he wants to take as many people with him as he can. As a result, people make salvation out to be something terribly complicated and difficult, when it is actually very simple. The humility and repentance required may be difficult because of our pride, but the transaction itself is very simple. God does not ask of us anything He does not make it possible for us to do. We have enormous difficulty believing that at times, but it is absolute truth. This was true 3,500 years ago when Moses was talking to the Israelites, and it is true today. Sometimes we don't want to believe it, because we would rather give in to temptation and wallow in sin, but that doesn't change the facts. The problem is, the devil manages to make sin look so attractive, so fun, that we don't believe being obedient to God is really better even in the long term, much less in the short. That's where we've got to know the truth, so that we can be set free. (John 8:32)


I run into this constantly. Just the other day I was talking to someone who said he couldn't relate to me because I was too “well behaved,” making it clear that he thought that was no fun. He is completely deceived, as is evidenced by the wreck he's made of his life. I need to stand firm on God's truth, communicating it in love and demonstrating by my life what a possible, delightful thing it is. Choosing obedience to God always looks harder before the fact than in retrospect! The more often and the more consistently we make that choice, the easier it becomes and the more God's gracious blessings flow in our lives. I've got to communicate that reality to those around me as effectively as possible, so that they may be rescued from the snares of the devil.


Father, thank You that Your commands aren't too difficult, nor are they burdensome (1 John 5:3). Help me be faithful in my own obedience and effective in encouraging others to be obedient as well, so that together we may fulfill Your plans for us, for our blessing and Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!