詩篇 108:12-13 どうか敵から私たちを助けてください。まことに、人の救いはむなしいものです。神によって、私たちは力ある働きをします。神が私たちの敵を踏みつけられます。

From the overall content of the Psalm I would guess that this was written after David had been crowned king. In any case, he had been through enough to say, “The help of man is worthless (futile).” However, he also knew that with God's help, no obstacle was too great. I think the Japanese is likely a more literal translation when it says in verse 13, “By God we will work powerfully.” God doesn't usually hand us victories without our participation; He knows that will not allow us to grow in faith and obedience. Rather, He will enable us to do things, and endure things, that we weren't capable of without His help. The danger comes in our mistaking the victories we gain as being ours, rather than His. God's help is unlimited for those who really trust Him, but when we start thinking we can do things on our own, look out! David, having learned that the help of man was worthless, also knew that his own strength was insufficient, so he sought God.


I've certainly experienced this lesson, but how well I've learned it is open to question! I've tended to be slow to ask for help from people, but that wasn't so much because I was depending on God as because I thought I could handle things myself. That's certainly stupid! The only way to walk in the richness of what God intends for me is to be sharply aware that every ability I have is on loan from God, and that only by walking in obedience and trust will God's purposes for me be fulfilled. I think that's a reason He has placed me where I need to administrate, when administration is my weakest area. That forces me to depend on Him! God can and does use others to come along side me, but when the authority is mine, the responsibility is also mine, and failing to shoulder it makes more problems, as I have experienced. I need to be willing to “work powerfully” in every area, with God's help.


Father, thank You yet again for Your grace. Thank You for Your faithfulness to teach me again and again lessons I'm slow to learn. Thank You that, as saints through the ages have testified, I can endure anything, do anything, by Your power operating in and through me. Thank You for You faithfulness to speak through me Sunday by Sunday, and particularly for how You've been doing that this year. I pray that I would be fully responsive to You this morning so that Your Word may flow through me unhindered and undistorted. May each one who listens, this morning or later electronically, have ears to hear You indeed, so that we may be transformed according to Your will, for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!



詩篇 107:43 知恵のある者はだれか。その者はこれらのことに心を留め、主の恵みを悟れ。

As it says in Proverbs 9:10, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” There is a world of difference between intellect and wisdom, between knowing facts and real understanding. One of the amazing things about the world as it is today is how so many people can see everything and yet deny God. “Sophomoric” could well be the defining adjective of the modern world, with more knowledge than in any past generation yet without true wisdom. We are so quick to look at externals and never see the God who created it all and gives it meaning. As this verse says, anyone with true wisdom will look at everything and perceive something of the gracious love of God. God has given mankind intellect and curiosity, creativity and skill, but without a grasp of and gratefulness for where it all comes from, it is ultimately empty and can result in great evil.


I've been blessed in many ways, but the greatest blessing is that I have come to a degree of understanding of God. That is far from perfect, and like Paul I press on toward the goal that calls me upward, but I have the peace of knowing I'm on the right road. That gives me the privilege and responsibility of communicating that understanding of God to others, not from any sense of pride but out of profound gratefulness. That task is all the greater in Japan, where the vast majority of the population has no grasp of Creator God, much less of the glorious reality that He loved them enough to send His Son to die for them. The size of the task has stripped me of any illusion that I could accomplish it on my own, forcing me to turn to God and depend on Him. That's a good thing! I cannot do it, but He can use me as His instrument in opening people's hearts and minds and drawing them to Himself. I am gifted as a teacher and work as an educator, and my major subject is the grace of God, and all that means. Whether I am in the pulpit, at the podium, or anywhere else, my task is to be available to the Holy Spirit for opening people's eyes and turning them to Jesus.


Father, thank You for how You made me and how You use me. Help me be more and more available and responsive to You so that I may fulfill the purposes for which You made me. Thank You for the good first classes I've had in the new school term. I pray that I would do a good job from the school's standpoint, but more than that I pray that I would communicate Christ to my students. It is not my place to preach in the classroom, but I thank You for the freedom to pray for my students and otherwise point them to You. I ask for harvest from my school classes this year, with students not just coming to church but encountering You in truth and committing themselves to Jesus Christ as Lord, for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!



詩篇 107:13, 15 この苦しみのときに、彼らが主に向かって叫ぶと、主が彼らを苦悩から救われた。彼らは、主の恵みと、人の子らへの奇しいわざを主に感謝せよ。

These two verses are a recurring chorus through this Psalm. The striking thing to me is that they are used equally to speak of situations that were self-inflicted and those that were not. If we will turn to Him, God will help us in whatever difficulty we find ourselves in, whether it is the result of our own sin or someone else's. God indeed allows us to suffer the consequences of our rebellion against Him, but not out of spite or revenge; He is always waiting for us to come to our senses and turn to Him. An important point in this is that we need to recognize His grace toward us and express thanks. Otherwise we run the risk of taking God for granted, and that leads to recurring problems rather than growing maturity and intimacy with God.


I was incredibly blessed to have been raised with this awareness, but now as a pastor I am charged with communicating it to others, who often enough have no background in turning to a loving heavenly Father. For such people, the story of the Prodigal Son is shocking indeed, to the point that they have trouble grasping its implications for them. Here too I need to cry out to God, rather than presuming on the gifts and experience I've been given, because His Spirit is the only one who can open people's eyes and lead them to repentance and faith.


Father, thank You for yet another reminder of how I need to live before You. I have a stubborn tendency to rely on the gifts You've given me, rather than staying in constant awareness of my dependence on You. Thank You that You do respond most graciously every time we turn to You with all the honesty we can muster. Lord, I doubt my own motives at times. Keep me from seeking the easy way out all the time, but also keep me from turning my back on the help You offer. May I lead others to full submission and fellowship with You by my example, not by preaching at them. May we together rejoice in Your grace and goodness toward us, for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!



詩篇 103:2 わがたましいよ。主をほめたたえよ。主の良くしてくださったことを何一つ忘れるな。

I like the way the Japanese puts it: “Don't forget a single one of the good things the Lord has done.” Of course, the English has the advantage of not limiting it to past things, but the Japanese makes up for that, putting verses 3-5 into one sentence that is present tense. The whole point is that we are prone to forget what God has done for us, which makes it harder for us to recognize what He is doing for us right now, much less believe and trust what He will do for us in the future. This whole Psalm reflects David's experience of God, yet even he was led astray by failing to focus on what God had already done for him. The devil is an expert at dangling things in front of us, telling us we don't have them but we really need or deserve them. Often, either we don't need them (at least not yet) or else we already have them, and just haven't realized it! The devil is always trying to convince us God is stingy, when nothing could be further from the truth.


I am not immune to the lure of flashy toys (particularly computers), but thankfully age has brought a growing appreciation of all I have already received. The intangibles are of course the most important, but that is also the area in which I am most tempted to frustration. Why does that person act that way? Why doesn't that person respond and believe? I need to learn better how to release those issues to God as well, along with all the physical/material issues. Looking back, I can see that God has indeed done remarkable things in my life, protecting me from major traps and attacks of the devil and blessing me certainly far beyond anything I might have deserved. As I have commented just recently, people tend to think I have a lot more income than I do, because God has blessed me in ways that don't interest the tax office! I need to allow that awareness to open my eyes to all that God is doing for me now, so that I may trust Him fully for all I will ever need in the future, experiencing the full joy that He intends for me. (John 16:24, 17:13)


Father, thank You for the overwhelming quantity and quality of Your blessings to me. I feel like this Psalm is indeed my testimony. Keep me from presuming on You in any way. Rather, keep my appreciation and gratitude fresh, so that I may give You the thanks and praise and glory You deserve. Thank You. Praise God!



詩篇 99:3 国々の民よ。大いなる、おそれおおい御名をほめたたえよ。主は聖である。

Several things stand out about this verse to me, and one of them is completely invisible in the NIV translation, because it uses a pronoun instead of saying, like the Japanese, “peoples of the nations.” Again and again in the OT, and particularly in Psalms, we have the call for all nations to know, love, and worship God. This was why God chose Abraham and his descendants: so they would spread the knowledge of Him across the globe. However, that fulfillment had to wait until the NT age, and even then He had to allow persecution in order to get the believers moving beyond the borders of Judea. We are so slow to grasp the missionary vision!


A second thing that hits me about this verse is the focus on the Name of God. As I said a couple of days ago, in the culture of the time a name was considered to embody the essence of someone or something, and names weren't always shared freely. This is expressed very clearly in the 10 Commandments, where we are forbidden to take God's name in vain. Doing so means we are taking God Himself lightly, not giving Him the honor and reverence He deserves. That is an issue even in Japan, which has no cultural tradition of swearing, as Westerners think of it.


The third thing about this verse is actually the theme of the whole Psalm: the holiness of God. In Japanese the very phrase sounds awkward: “the Lord is holy.” There are various expressions involving the word holy, like holy book (Bible), holy person (saint) and the like, but the concept of holiness is not part of normal awareness. To tell the truth, it's no better in the US either, because, though the word is there the understanding of holiness has been lost for the most part. Regaining the awareness of the holiness of God is actually an issue for the whole Church worldwide.


I need a fresh awareness of God's holiness myself! As I am well aware, familiarity breeds contempt, and I have been around the holy all my life. I need to be renewed in awareness and appreciation of the holiness of God, both for my own attitude and obedience toward Him and so that I will be more effective in introducing Him to others. A major part of the magnificence of the Gospel is that holy God cared enough about sinful man to send His Son to save us. Understanding the grace of God fully requires a grasp of both His holiness and our sinfulness.


Father, thank You for this reminder. You knew I needed to be reminded of Your holiness. Help me walk in awareness and appreciation of Your holiness, for You tell us to be holy as You are holy. May nothing get in the way of my communicating Christ effectively to those around me, so that they too may worship Your holiness, for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!




詩篇 98:9 確かに、主は地をさばくために来られる。主は義をもって世界をさばき、公正をもって国々の民を、さばかれる。

It should be fairly obvious that only those who are in the right would rejoice that God is coming in judgment! Israel got rather presumptuous on that point, and many of the prophets warned that “the day of the Lord” wouldn't be at all as they imagined it. Now that we have the whole Bible we can get a much better picture of what God's judgment looks like, and from the human viewpoint it really isn't pretty. From our
standpoint, the “problem” is that God isn't fooled by appearances; He knows our hearts. When God judges with “righteousness and equity,” we come out guilty! That's why the NT makes it very clear that only in Christ do we have right standing before God and confidence on the Day of Judgment. The Gospel isn't necessarily good news if we don't understand that A) we are guilty and B) real forgiveness is possible because of Christ. Isaiah prophesied it before it happened in the flow of time“All we like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.” (Isaiah 53:6) Until we understand that judgment is very real and that we are guilty, we don't understand the magnificence of God's grace.

Trying to communicate this is a constant struggle for me. Modern society, perhaps more than in any past age, bends over backwards to excuse instead of forgive, to overlook instead of call to accountability. That's why in America today so many attack the Bible and those who try to stand on its truth. That's why in Japan, the very concept of accountability is difficult to express clearly. I can't begin to overcome those things in my own wisdom and strength, but rather than be discouraged, I need to remember that nothing is impossible with God, and that the work of the Holy Spirit is to convict of sin, righteousness and judgment. (John 16:8-11) If I try to do the convicting, I will come across as judgmental and will be rejected. I must speak the truth in love and let the Holy Spirit do the rest. Sometimes even then people will reject me because they will see me as the source of the guilt they feel, but I must not let that deter me. I need to love people enough to risk rejection.


Father, this is a really big issue, one of the biggest. Thank You for the courage You have given me recently in this area, and for how You are working in various people. Help me continue to grow as a channel of Your uncompromising love, so that people may be delivered from the deceptive traps of the devil. May I fear no one and nothing apart from You, allowing Your love and grace to flow through me unhindered and undistorted, for the salvation of many and for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!



詩篇 97:6-7 天は主の義を告げ、すべての国々の民は主の栄光を見る。偶像に仕える者、むなしいものを誇りとする者は、みな恥を見よう。すべての神々よ。主にひれ伏せ。

Science has explained various natural phenomena to the point that we tend to forget that God designed it all and that He still maintains control. He's not some “Divine Watchmaker,” as thinkers in the Enlightenment Period liked to say, but rather someone who not only created but also remains intimately concerned with every detail of His creation. Familiarity indeed breeds contempt, to the point that we become blasé about even pictures from the ISS and Hubble. (Well, pictures from the Hubble telescope still have some power to awe us.) The point is that we need to remember where all that magnificence came from, and know that it is God's glory. Verse seven seems particularly applicable to countries like Japan and India that have multitudes of idols. America has been monotheistic since its inception, so the command for all gods to kneel before God the Creator doesn't necessarily click, but it is very applicable in Japan!


Ministering to a multicultural congregation as I do (not to mention the fact that my messages are accessible around the world on the Internet), I need to be careful that I don't speak to just one culture, but allow God's Word to speak to us all. Cross-cultural evangelism has its challenges, but it also forces me to examine what is faith and what is culture. I have long been aware that many missionaries have taught culture as though it were faith, and I have understood how wrong that is. However, I haven't always been free of that myself! The point I've got to remember and teach is that truly Biblical culture is at odds with every human culture at one point or another. I need to seek to be relevant to the various cultures to which I minister, but not let that be an excuse for compromise. I need to proclaim the truth in love, and ask the Holy Spirit to keep me straight on what is truth and what is simply unquestioned culture.


Father, thank You that You can keep it all straight! Help me indeed trust and obey You, and not lean on my own understanding. There's no other way I can minister effectively to all the people You bring my way. Thank You for the ways in which You use me to challenge cultural assumptions. Keep me from conceit, but help me rest securely in the assurance of Your truth, speaking that truth in love and demonstrating it with my life, so that as many as possible may be rescued from the deceptions of the devil and brought into the liberty of Your Spirit, for their blessing and Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!



詩篇 92:12-14 正しい者は、なつめやしの木のように栄え、レバノンの杉のように育ちます。彼らは、主の家に植えられ、私たちの神の大庭で栄えます。彼らは年老いてもなお、実を実らせ、みずみずしく、おい茂っていましょう。

The Bible talks about everyone from nursing infants (Psalm 8:2) to old people being active in serving God. There is a place for “age appropriate” programs in the church, but excessive emphasis on that can deprive everyone of the richness of inter-generational interaction and service. Paul admonishes Timothy not to let anyone despise him for his youth (1 Timothy 4:12), and this passage and others in Psalms speak of fruitful old age. The old have wisdom, the young have vigor, and everyone has a place and something to contribute. I certainly don't think age will be an issue in heaven!


Considering that I'm already well past the average life expectancy of even a couple of generations ago, this is very germane. People bring up the subject of retirement around me with increasing frequency, but I don't see that as anything pressing. I am not to get in the way of younger people, but I am to be active in allowing the Lord to use me in my current station in life. I want to keep bearing fruit! I am not to berate myself for not being younger, but neither am I to write myself off because of how many birthdays I've had. My job and my privilege is to be faithful and fruitful for as long as the Lord keeps me here, and that could even be another 30 years!


Father, thank You for Your faithfulness to use me, and for the prospect of Your doing that for some time to come. I certainly look forward to heaven, but I don't want to skip out on anything You have for me to do here. Thank You for the two new song translations You've given me in the past couple of days. That's certainly not something that's age-dependent! Thank You for the good level of health You have given me. Help me be a good steward of this body so that health issues won't get in the way of fruitfulness. Thank You for the message You've given me for this morning, and for the growing understanding You're giving me of the spiritual warfare issues in Japan. I see enormous potential for harvest, and I look forward to participating in it. I ask You to allow me to see the harvest in Japan that my parents prayed and worked for, bringing multitudes into Your kingdom, for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!




詩篇 91:14 彼がわたしを愛しているから、わたしはかれを助け出そう。彼がわたしの名を知っているから、わたしは彼を高く上げよう。

Though this is clearly something God is saying, the Japanese doesn't put it in quotes and add “says the Lord” the way the English does, presumably because the Hebrew doesn't. Likewise, the NIV is much more interpretive (rather than literal) when it says “protect” and “acknowledges,” where the Japanese says “lift high” and “knows.” I think the NIV is defensible here, because we put such a limited definition on “know.” In OT Hebrew usage, marital intimacy is referred to as “knowing,” and we can hardly grasp the implications when the same word is used of “knowing” the name of God! This is much the same as our shallow understanding of praying “in Jesus' Name.” Cultures back then identified a person with their name much more closely that we do, to the point that we have a hard time understanding what some passages are really saying. Only as we gain understanding of this sort of usage do we grasp such statements as “The Name of the Lord is a strong and mighty tower.” (Proverbs 18:10) What the Lord is saying in this Psalm is that someone who knows Him intimately has no reason to fear anything, because, as Paul says, that person's life is “hidden with Christ in God.” (Colossians 3:3) We should be more concerned about getting close to God than about protecting ourselves, because if you've achieved the one, you've achieved the other and far more besides.


Intimacy with God has been a major goal for me for a long time, but it doesn't always operate as my primary goal. That needs to change! I've got to put Christ first and foremost in everything, refusing the many distractions of the world, my flesh, and the devil. That isn't to say that I'm to ignore everything else, but it is to say that I am to pursue intimacy with God in the middle of everything else I am doing. After all, He never leaves me, so I should be aware of His presence at all times and act accordingly. This is a seemingly simple principle, and it is interesting how very hard it can be to put it into practice consistently!


Father, thank You for Your patience with me as I slowly grow to be more like Jesus. Thank You for not giving up on me! You know better than I do that I can't do any of this in my own strength, but I commit my will to You, so that You may accomplish it in me, for Your pleasure and glory. Thank You. Praise God!



詩篇 89:15-16 幸いなことよ、喜びの叫びを知る民は。主よ。彼らは、あなたの御顔の光の中を歩みます。彼らは、あなたの御名をいつも喜び、あなたの義によって、高く上げられます。

I find myself yet again wanting a Hebrew scholar on hand to help me grasp the original text, because the nuances are certainly different in English and Japanese. In verse 15, the Japanese says “those who have learned the shout of joy,” while the English says “those who have learned to acclaim You.” Given the overall context, it seems probable that the Japanese is closer to being a literal translation but the English is inferring the reason for the joy. Verse 16, however, actually changes the meaning, because the Japanese says “They are lifted high by Your righteousness,” while the English says “They exult in Your righteousness.” The one is a concrete thing God does for us, while the other is merely a response to God's character. I selected these two verses because of the thought in the English that it is a blessed thing to praise God, but I find that I am more moved by the thought in the Japanese that it is God's righteousness that lifts us high, not our own effort or righteousness. It is precisely because God is so gracious and loving that we praise Him, and praising Him increases our appreciation for all He does and puts us squarely in the flow of His blessings. That is a blessed thing indeed!


I have known since childhood that singing to God is a blessed thing, but I have certainly entered into a deeper dimension of praise and worship since then. Songs can be Christian, and even be in the hymnal, and yet be neither praise nor worship. Prayerful consideration will show that a lot of songs sung in churches are man-centered, and touch on God only peripherally. When praise becomes truly blessed is when the focus is fully on God. As long as we are focused on ourselves, we won't be lifted high by His righteousness. I need to remember that personally, and I need to be active in moving this church toward true Christ-centeredness, not just in what and how we sing but in every area.


Father, thank You for this reminder. Thank You that Cathy won't be here this coming Sunday so that the other musicians, and hopefully the whole congregation, will be encouraged to think more about their participation in the worship service. Help us all lift our eyes to You and worship You in spirit and in truth as a body, so that it will spill over into individual and lifestyle worship for each believer, for our blessing and Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!




詩篇 86:11 主よ。あなたの道を私に教えてください。私はあなたの真理のうちを歩みます。私の心を一つにしてください。御名を恐れるように。

There are many good things in this Psalm, but this particular verse grabs me every time I read it. For once there are no significant differences between the translations in the two languages, though I do wish the Japanese had used the character for “fear” that means “deep respect” rather than the one that can mean “terror.” That said, this is a very meaningful passage. In the first place, we have to know God's way before we can be obedient to Him. He doesn't say, “Obey Me,” and then fail to give us directions. This is why He spoke to and through Moses and the prophets, it's a big reason Jesus came, and it's why God had it all recorded in the Bible. It is also why He commissions us to communicate the Gospel, and it is a major function of the Holy Spirit. When we receive God's Word, then we are responsible to walk in it. That word is truth indeed, in direct contrast to the lies of the devil. It is unfortunate that the characters for “truth” are read with the same sounds as the characters for “psychology,” because there is often a vast difference between the two!


The second half of the verse is what grabs me particularly. Probably every language has proverbs or idioms referring to “doublemindedness,” or something of the sort, because it is a common human condition. We end up undecided between two positions on an issue, and it can be paralyzing. David's desire, echoed by every true believer, is to be so focused on God as to choose Him in every situation, not wavering but giving Him the honor and obedience He deserves.


It would be nice if I could say that my heart was always undivided in obedience to God, but that's sadly not the case. People look at me and assume I'm better than I am. I have to keep watch, because the enemy of my soul is constantly looking for ways to trip me up, and at times he succeeds. I am quite prone to distractions, failing to focus on the task at hand because something else has grabbed my attention. I need to be active in my pursuit of God, recognizing the traps of the enemy and standing firm against him, so that I may not wander from God's path.


Father, thank You that You are faithful and reliable, even though I am not. Thank You for the Bible in all its richness, and thank You for speaking to me in other ways as well. Thank You for Your gracious generosity in speaking Your truth to and through me. Help me be faithful not just in communicating it to others but in walking in it moment by moment myself. Particularly, may this church be a community of disciples, fully committed to You and Your kingdom, so that all that You desire to do through us may be fulfilled, for the salvation of many, for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!



詩篇 85:8 私は、主であられる神の仰せを聞きたい。主は、御民と聖徒たちとに平和を告げ、彼らを再び愚かさには戻されない。

I was touched by what this verse says in the NIV translation, and then I read the Japanese and discovered that it says something quite different. The English says, “I will listen,” the Japanese says, “I want to hear.” The middle part of the verse is essentially the same in the two languages, but the last part is where the big difference comes. Where the NIV expresses it as a warning, “but let them not return to folly,” the Japanese says, “He will not return them to folly.” The reason that's a big deal is that to me, the NIV is stressing the responsibility of the believers to be attentive to what God is saying and fulfill the conditions for His promises, while the Japanese is asking for God to do it all, with no responsibility on the part of His people. That bothers me because in my experience and conviction, whereas all the power is in God's hands and He is indeed loving and gracious, He is very much a God of righteousness, and He requires repentance. We are quick to seize on various Biblical promises and ignore the conditions that are clearly stated. To me, in the NIV at any rate, this verse is a good example of that. God promises (the Japanese says “proclaims”) peace to His people, but if they want that peace, they've got to quit acting foolishly. The Bible is clear in its entirety that we can't receive the flow of God's blessings if we insist on clinging to our sin.


To me this is a vitally important point, but it's not an easy one to get across all the time. Actions have consequences, but that's not the same as the Buddhist teaching of karma, because God is real, He is personal, and He is gracious and loving. I need the anointing and power of the Holy Spirit to be able to communicate what grace is and what it is not. Paul had the same struggle, as he expressed in Romans. Where sin is great, grace is even greater, but that's no excuse for sin. (Romans 5:20- 6:2, 6:15-16) This whole issue is difficult to grasp because of poor parenting, I think. Parents should model unconditional love along with clear guidelines and discipline, but that happens all too seldom. That's why Biblical teaching on parenting is potent pre-evangelism: those who have been raised properly by their human fathers are well prepared to respond properly to their Heavenly Father. I have no wisdom or power to do this on my own, so I've got to stay sensitive and obedient to the Holy Spirit at all times.


Father, at times I feel overwhelmed by the task of communicating the good news of Your kingdom to those who have no ears to hear, no background to understand. Thinking about it, that's what Moses faced too, not to mention many other of Your servants throughout the Bible. Help me not give up, but rather keep depending on You and allow You to use me, so that Your purposes may be fulfilled for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!



詩篇 84:12 万軍の主よ。なんと幸いなことでしょう。あなたに信頼するその人は。

It's no wonder that many contemporary worship songs have been created from this psalm! This last verse sums up the whole theme. The psalmist trusts God and is aware of the manifold blessings of that heart attitude. God is indeed far more interested in whether we trust Him than in whether we adhere to some particular religious pattern. Some such patterns can be helpful in keeping our focus on God, but some actually get in the way. The biggest danger is in relying on the pattern instead of on God. Earlier this morning I was remembering the man whom I met in the mental hospital and who is still not considered “well.” When he was attending the weekly gatherings I had there it took him quite some time to make a commitment to Christ, because he understood that he had to forsake all other religions and cling to Christ alone, but one day he said, “I'm ready.” I lost track of him after he transferred to another hospital further away, but a few weeks ago he showed up with his daughter for prayer meeting. I don't know what he had to do to convince her to bring him! He is one with whom I will be rejoicing before the throne! He trusts in God, regardless of his circumstances.


When he showed up here it was a massive encouragement for me, and a reminder that the fruit of my labor is in God's hands, and God is faithful. “Trusting God” applies to every area of life, and it certainly applies to the ministry I do in Jesus' name. There are those who have left this church, and some who seem to have abandoned faith. That is certainly painful to me, but I need to trust God with them, praying for them but knowing that their destiny is between them and God, and that God is faithful. I need to be striving to grow active faith and trust in the believers who are here now, knowing that failure to trust cuts us off from a multitude of blessings. I've certainly tasted both sides of that! I myself need to walk in all that God has prepared for those who trust Him, so as to yield nothing to the devil and as an example to others, for His glory.


Father, thank You again for Your patience and grace toward me for the many times I've failed to trust You fully. Thank you for the countless demonstrations of Your reliability that I've experienced. Help me indeed trust You more and more fully, so that I will flow more and more perfectly with Your Spirit, doing Your will on Your schedule for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!



詩篇 69:30-31 私は神の御名を歌をもってほめたたえ、神を感謝をもってあがめます。それは雄牛、角と割れたひづめのある若い雄牛にまさって主に喜ばれるでしょう。

God is always more interested in our hearts than in our material gifts. After all, as was pointed out in yesterday's message, He created everything material in the first place! Even in praise and worship we need God's help to do it properly, but it is the desire that God is looking for. As the hymn says, “Tune my heart to sing Thy praise.” When our hearts are tuned to God it is glorious indeed. If our hearts are cold and unresponsive to God, then no amount of ritual can compensate. This isn't limited to those who are musical, but it is my experience that even those with no perceivable musical talent love to “make a joyful noise unto the Lord” when their hearts are open to Him.


Having been raised in a musical family that loved God, singing to Him is a deep part of who I am. I probably don't exercise that enough at this point. Times of leading corporate worship, like yesterday morning, are good but not enough. When Cathy started playing yesterday evening and I came in and started singing it felt good as well as sounded good. When I am intentional about using my musical gifts for God, I reap the benefits. I need to make time on a daily basis to sing to God, because in so doing I will sharpen my focus on Him and be a better steward of what He has entrusted to me.


Father, thank You for all the good things You did here yesterday. Thank You for the good New Believers class and the good service. Thank You for Your anointing on the message, and that it was well received. Thank You for the very good talking time in the afternoon, and for how You are continuing to work in the heart and life of each member of this flock. I pray that we would all be transformed more and more into the likeness of Your Son, so that all of Your purposes for us may be fulfilled for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!




詩篇 69:30-31 私は神の御名を歌をもってほめたたえ、神を感謝をもってあがめます。それは雄牛、角と割れたひづめのある若い雄牛にまさって主に喜ばれるでしょう。

God is always more interested in our hearts than in our material gifts. After all, as was pointed out in yesterday's message, He created everything material in the first place! Even in praise and worship we need God's help to do it properly, but it is the desire that God is looking for. As the hymn says, “Tune my heart to sing Thy praise.” When our hearts are tuned to God it is glorious indeed. If our hearts are cold and unresponsive to God, then no amount of ritual can compensate. This isn't limited to those who are musical, but it is my experience that even those with no perceivable musical talent love to “make a joyful noise unto the Lord” when their hearts are open to Him.


Having been raised in a musical family that loved God, singing to Him is a deep part of who I am. I probably don't exercise that enough at this point. Times of leading corporate worship, like yesterday morning, are good but not enough. When Cathy started playing yesterday evening and I came in and started singing it felt good as well as sounded good. When I am intentional about using my musical gifts for God, I reap the benefits. I need to make time on a daily basis to sing to God, because in so doing I will sharpen my focus on Him and be a better steward of what He has entrusted to me.


Father, thank You for all the good things You did here yesterday. Thank You for the good New Believers class and the good service. Thank You for Your anointing on the message, and that it was well received. Thank You for the very good talking time in the afternoon, and for how You are continuing to work in the heart and life of each member of this flock. I pray that we would all be transformed more and more into the likeness of Your Son, so that all of Your purposes for us may be fulfilled for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!




詩篇 66:18 もし私の心にいだく不義があるなら、主は聞き入れてくださらない。

This verse is generally translated in the past tense (If I had cherished...) in English, but this Japanese translation puts it clearly in the present tense (If I cherish...). For a verse that is as familiar as this one is, that simple difference is refreshing. Prayer and answers to prayer are ongoing, so we need to keep continual watch over our hearts. We can't say, I cleaned up my heart so now I don't have to worry about it, any more than I could say that about my study! Just as my study quickly becomes cluttered with all sorts of stuff, so our hearts become cluttered with the flotsam of the world, so to speak. We need to let the Holy Spirit keep washing it out, not thinking that once it's done we can ignore it. It becomes a real problem when we start hanging onto things that aren't pleasing to God. When we refuse to let go then we cut off communication with God, because we have placed something ahead of Him in our values. As Jesus said, where your treasure is, there your heart will be. (Matthew 6:21) We are called to cherish God and our relationship with Him before, above, and beyond anything else. If we will do that, He will give us all we need and much more. (Matthew 6:33).


It is interesting, and so like God, for Him to point out something like this when I am speaking on money this morning. I've got to remember that priorities are far more than finances, though finances are going to be indicative of my priorities. I have certainly experienced ups and downs in my level of intimacy with God, and it's for sure that He hasn't changed! I've got to keep my repentance up to date, never presuming on past grace but always pressing into Him. I have seen many answers to prayer, but I know I have a lot of room to grow in that area as well. If I desire constant communication with my Lord, and I do, then I've got to keep out of the junk that blocks the signals (to use a cell-phone analogy).


Father, thank You for all You've brought me through to bring me to right now. Thank You for all You will take me through to bring me to Your throne. Help me indeed cherish You above, before, and beyond everything else, not slighting my relationships with others but keeping them in alignment. Help me understand on every level that You are my greatest joy, my greatest treasure, and not let the devil deceive me with any of his lies. Keep me from pride and from deception of any sort. May the words of my mouth and the thoughts of my heart be pleasing to You, Lord, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!




詩篇 63:6-8 ああ、私の床の上であなたを思い出し、夜ふけで私はあなたを思います。あなたは私を助け出した。御翼の影で、私は喜び歌います。私のたましいは、あなたにすがり、あなたの右の手は、私をささえてくださいます。

David's Psalms paint a rich picture of someone who delighted and trusted in God. It is therefore a strong caution to remember that even David fell badly when he drew back from actively depending on God. Sometimes the greatest danger comes when things are seeming to go very well, because that is when we have the greatest temptation to feel self-sufficient. That is a major reason why God sometimes allows circumstances in our lives that knock away all our props so that we are forced to depend fully on Him. God delights to bless us, but He knows that the greatest blessing is an intimate relationship with Him, and not anything material. Cautions about turning from God when we are materially satisfied abound in the Bible, from Genesis to Revelation. The point always is the focus of our hearts. If we are fully focused on God, it won't matter whether we have much or little. However, material abundance can be terribly distracting, so we need to be particularly careful when everything seems to be going right.


This is a very timely warning, because I feel like I have just come through some rough water and am moving on to a patch of much smoother sailing. If I lose my focus, this is when I am in most danger of capsizing! As I minister to others in need, I must remember that my need for God is just as great as theirs, and encourage them to turn to God with me. I've got to remember that my fortress (my place in Christ) is just as important when I'm not aware of a direct attack as when I am. There is never any substitute for abiding in Christ! If I will keep that in sharp focus, then perhaps it will be less necessary for God to keep allowing difficult circumstances simply to keep my attention!


Father, I do thank You for recent blessings, as well as Your overall grace and mercy toward me. Help me be faithful indeed on a day-to-day, moment-by-moment basis, remembering that without You I can't even take a single breath in my own strength. Help me indeed “sing for joy in the shadow of Your wings,” not moving out from that place of intimacy with You but valuing it above all else, so that I may be instantly and fully available to You for whatever You want to do through me, for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!



詩篇 62:1, 8 私のたましいは黙って、ただ神を待ち望む。私の救いは神から来る。民よ。どんなときにも、神に信頼せよ。あなたがたの心を神の御前に注ぎ出せ。神は、われらの避け所である。

Again the difference between the Japanese and the English is very interesting. The Japanese says, “My soul waits in silent expectation for God alone,” while the NIV says, “My soul finds rest in God alone.” I can see that waiting in silent expectation is restful, because anxiety is certainly the enemy of true rest. As a matter of fact, it's exhausting! Whatever the original Hebrew says, both the Japanese and the English agree fully on what David says next. David trusted in God, period. David had learned the hard way that people aren't fully reliable, but he had also learned that God is indeed reliable, and he based his life on that assurance. Accordingly, it was the most natural thing in the world for him to encourage those around him to trust God as well. He knew from experience that you can't shock God, so there is no risk to telling Him everything on your heart. He already knows those thoughts and feelings anyway, and pouring them out to Him enables you to let go of them as burdens and receive God's strength and refreshing.


It also strikes me that failure to recommend trusting God to others probably means you don't trust Him very well yourself. David had no hesitation in telling people to trust God because he had learned by experience how completely trustworthy God is. However, that wouldn't have happened if he had been clinging to other things during the various trials of his life. This should be a point of reflection and self-examination for us all.


I've dedicated my life to telling others to trust God, but that doesn't mean I bat 1000 at it myself. I need to remember that every trial is designed to teach me more of trusting obedience. I will continue to have trials as long as I am in this body, but the level and the result will continue to get higher. That's not to say they will get more difficult for me, because I will keep growing. Rather, it's to say that I will breeze through things that would have devastated me had I faced them in the past. That too is in God's hands, and He is to be trusted! My response to trials is to be an example and an encouragement to those around me. If I fail, it will be an object lesson for others, but as it says in Jude 24, God is able to keep me from falling, so I am not to be anxious but rather rest in trust.


Father, thank You yet again for Your grace toward me. It certainly is a demonstration of Your character! Help me respond appropriately, which, as You had me say back in March, is the essence of worship. Help me indeed worship in spirit and in truth in corporate settings, privately, and in every part of my daily life, so that all of Your plans and purposes for me may be fulfilled on Your schedule for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!



詩篇 61:2 私の心が衰え果てるとき、私は地の果てから、あなたに呼ばわります。どうか、私の及びがたいほど高い岩の上に、私を導いてください。

There are so many clues in the Psalms as to why David was spoken of as “a man after God's heart,” and this is certainly one of them. Everyone has moments when they feel weak, really at the end of their emotional strength, and at such moments we often feel very far from God. David used the expression, “the ends of the earth,” to indicate that. When we are in that situation the devil wants us to give up, to throw in the towel, but David knew what to do: he cried out to God. Sometimes when we feel distant from God we feel we can't pray, but that is a lie of the devil; there's no more important time to pray. The next imagery might not click for someone not used to an arid, rocky environment, but when the context is understood it becomes clear. In a forest, if you're being chased by something you might climb a tree. In a rocky desert, you climb a rock! David is asking to be led to a safe haven, a place of refuge, and as believers have understood in the centuries since he wrote it, that place is God Himself. Actually, David used the imagery of God as his rock, his fortress many times, and those who turn their hearts to God as he did will find the same to be true even today.


I have certainly experienced this myself, though I'm occasionally a little slow to respond properly when attacked. As a pastor, I seek to help others understand that God is just as available to them as He is to me. I find some people can't accept that God really is there, and some can't believe that He would really protect them, that is, they feel unworthy. As Paul pointed out, the Gospel really is scandalous from the world's viewpoint, because it says that social status and human strength are worthless in approaching God, but that He loved us so much He took on our weakness to die our death for us so that we might have His life. A God like that is certainly a Rock far higher than I am! I need to abide in the security of His love and at the same time make myself fully available to Him to draw others into that same security, because that is what He desires.


Father, thank You for being my Rock, my Fortress. Thank You for the assorted conflicts of recent days and weeks, and for bringing us through them. Thank You for the various things You've been teaching us in the process. Thank You that I can rest assured that You will allow nothing to happen that can't be used by You to bless me and others and bring glory to Yourself. Help me approach each day, each challenge, with that attitude and understanding, resting and rejoicing in You so as to yield nothing at all to the devil, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!



詩篇 57:2 私はいと高き方、神に呼ばわります。私のために、すべてを成し遂げてくださる神に。

Apparently the Hebrew lacks an object for the verb “fulfill” in this verse. The NIV supplies it by adding [His purpose] in brackets, while the Japanese simply sticks in “everything,” without indicating they have done so. Either is defensible as a translation technique, I think. The point of the verse is that David knew who he was crying out to, what sort of a being He was (and is). God isn't one who starts and doesn't finish, who promises but doesn't follow through. God is one who fulfills, who brings to completion. That's actually a very important part of His character. I think it was Oral Roberts who said, “God said it; I believe it; that settles it.” That expression became famous in Christian circles, but it actually can be improved: “God said it; that settles it.” Our faith governs our response to what God says, but it doesn't change whether God's statements are true and reliable. The New Testament is also full of statements of God's reliability. Many come to mind, but Philippians 1:6 has long been a favorite: “Being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” That's exactly the kind of faith David had, knowing that God completes what He starts.

この節では、ヘブル語の「成し遂げる」の目的語動詞が明らかに抜けています。それでNIVでは「神様の目的」という語がカギ括弧つきで加えてあります。一方日本語では具体的に示されてはいないながらも「すべてを」の語が入っています。どちらも翻訳テクニックを用いて難なく切り抜けていると思います。ここで大切なのは、ダビデはどなたに呼ばわっていたのか、どのような方だったのか(であるのか)を分かっていたことにあります。神が始め、終わらせるのではありません。約束はされましたが、実行はなさいません。神様は成し遂げるお方で、完成させるお方です。これは実は神様の御性質の大切な部分です。確か「神かく語りき、ゆえにわれ思う、万事なされし」と言ったのはOral Roberts だと思います。クリスチャンの間では有名な表現となっていますが、本当は「神かく語りき、ゆえに万事なされし」に改善されるべきでしょう。神様の言葉への反応は私たちの信仰によりますが、それで神様の言葉が真実であり信頼できるものであることに変わりはありません。新約聖書もまた、神様が信頼されるべきお方であることが沢山書かれています。多くの箇所が思い浮かびますが、ピリピ1:6「あなたがたのうちに良い働きを始められた方は、キリスト・イエスの日が来るまでにそれを完成させてくださることを私は堅く信じているのです。」が長い間、好きな聖句です。これこそ、神様は始められたことを完成されるお方だと知っていたダビデが持っていた信仰です。

Follow-through has actually been a point of distinct weakness for me. That's an area in which I still have a lot of room to grow to be like Jesus! We are all tempted to evaluate others, even God, on the basis of our own abilities and weaknesses. If we can't do something, we have trouble believing someone else could do it either. That can be a real hindrance in interpersonal relationships, but it's even more of a problem when we apply it to God. He has none of our weaknesses, but we have trouble really trusting that. Even though I have trouble at times in following through with my intentions and even my promises, I must never think that God is so limited. He is the one who fulfills. I need to trust that myself and proclaim it to others.


Father, thank You for Your perfect faithfulness. Thank You that You indeed fulfill all Your promises, just like Paul pointed out. (2 Corinthians 1:20) Help me be true to my word and follow through with all that You intend me to do, not depending on my own strength or ability but on You, being Your agent for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!



詩篇 52:8 しかし、この私は、神の家にあるおい茂るオリーブの木のようだ。私は、世々限りなく、神の恵みに拠り頼む。

My first thought was, “Why an olive tree?” Then I quickly realized that in that culture the olive was one of the most useful and valuable of all trees, producing food as well as oil for consumption and for lighting. On top of that, the olive is a very long-lived tree, with a life expectancy measured better in centuries than in years. It is indeed an apt simile for a righteous man of God. The olive is also in a sense a very patient tree, enduring drought and then flourishing again when water is available. For such a life, trust in God is indeed essential. Christians also go through periods of drought of various kinds. That's why the New Testament is filled with comments that speak of endurance, such as “with patience,” and “to the end,” and “until that day.” I don't know how long it takes for an olive sapling to grow to first fruit, but I do know that olives are in it for the long haul, and that should be our attitude as well.


Cathy and I have both come under fairly severe attack in the past 24 hours on this issue of fruitfulness, so this is a very appropriate encouragement. We need to be proactive in fixing our attention and our trust on God and not on ourselves or on anyone we work with. As the hymn says, “The arm of flesh will fail you; ye dare not trust your own.” (Stand Up, Stand Up for Jesus) That's not to say we are to be distrustful of people, but rather it is to say that our reliance needs to be on God and nothing less. God can, will, and does use very imperfect vessels to do His work. If that were not the case, none of us would stand a chance! I need to be humble and open for change, but let my peace and assurance rest in God rather than in anything else.


Father, thank You for Your faithfulness. I was somewhat blindsided by the emotional attacks yesterday, but they are an indication we are becoming more dangerous to the devil. Thank You. Help us stand firm in Your truth against his lies, however much he might camouflage them with half-truths. The main battleground is indeed in our minds. Help us indeed meditate, mull over, Your truth and goodness, just as You said yesterday, rather than gnawing on the bones the devil throws at us. Help us walk in humble obedience, and leave the results up to you, for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!



詩篇 48:9 神よ。私たちは、あなたの宮の中で、あなたの恵みを思い巡らしました。

It shouldn't be limited to there, but one purpose of having a specific place of worship is that by association, simply going there can prompt meditation on God's love and grace. Actually, the Japanese translation uses a phrase that I think registers much better than the “meditate” used by the NIV, and that is “to think over, to mull.” That's something we tend to do all the time, while meditation sounds like something to be done in a monastery. The question isn't so much whether we will run things over in our mind, but rather what we will be thinking about. One of my wife's “favorite” hymns is “Count Your Blessings.” (She likes so many, and for good reason, that the word “favorite” loses much of its edge.) This verse and that song are actually talking about exactly the same thing. If we focus on what we see as undesirable and mull it over in our minds, it will only lead to depression and/or a sour disposition. On the other hand, if we focus on God's love and grace toward us, then our spirits are lifted and we spend our days in anticipation of the next good thing God is going to do for us. When we live like that, not only do we enjoy life a lot more, we are much more pleasant to be around!

必ずしも特定の場で有る必要はありませんが、礼拝のための具体的な場を持つことの目的は、その場に行くと神様の愛と恵みに思い巡らすことのできる場を多いつくことにあるでしょう。ここでの日本語「思いを巡らす」は、NIVで使われている「熟考、瞑想する」より、はるかに良い意味合いを含んでいると思います。それこそ私たちが常日頃から、そうありたい態度です。熟考、瞑想は修道院に相応しい言葉に思えます。ここで問題となるのは思いを巡らすことにあるのではなく、むしろ何について思いを馳せるべきかにあります。家内のお気に入りの賛美歌に「Count Your Blessings.」があります。(家内は沢山の賛美歌が好きで、お気にいりという表現では不十分なくらいなのですが)今日の節とその賛美歌の歌詞は全く同じものです。もし私たちが好ましくないことにばかり集中し、考え込んでしまうならば、ウツになるか不快な思いに陥るだけでしょう。けれども、もし神様の愛と恵みに目を向けるならば、私たちの霊性は高められ、神様が私たちのためにしてくださる次の良きことに期待して日々を過ごせることでしょう。そうした生き方ができれば、生活を楽しめるばかりではなく、周囲にとってもさらに快適となれるでしょう。

I think I do better than many in this area, but I still have a lot of room for growth. I'm no stranger to insomnia! Recently the Lord has been telling me in various ways that I need to focus on the good instead of the bad, and this morning's reading is a continuation of that. My recent blood work, showing a considerable imbalance in my HDL/LDL cholesterol levels despite a healthy lifestyle, is an indication of how much I need to take this to heart, since stress is the one variable that I've not been consciously addressing. Even my body is telling me I need to be focusing on God's love and grace toward me!


Father, thank You indeed for Your grace and Your patience. Thank You for yesterday and all it held. Thank You also for getting us through the very packed schedule. Thank You for the many good things You are doing in and around us. Thank You for the abundance of testimonies in the service, and for how well the business meeting went. Thank You for the fellowship afterward, and for the way You are answering prayer in that respect. Father, help me let go of the things I've been trying to carry myself, emotionally, that You never intended me to carry. Help me indeed rest and rejoice in You, mulling over Your goodness to me instead of being distracted by all the junk, so that I may walk in all that You intend and nothing less, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!




詩篇 47:1-2 すべての国々の民よ。手をたたけ。喜びの声をあげて神に叫べ。まことに、いと高き方主は、恐れられる方。全地の大いなる王。

The impressive thing about these two verses is how inclusive they are. The invitation goes out to the people of every nation, and God is spoken of as the great King over all the earth. The Jews had their times of ignoring or even resisting their commission as God's representatives to communicate His character, His love and grace to the whole world, but throughout the Old Testament there are moments, like this one, when it shines through. Christian faith is often thought of as exclusive, and is put down and even attacked on that point, but that simply shows how people swallow the lies of the devil. God is holy and righteous and unique, and no amount of “political correctness” can ever change that, but He loves all of His creation with amazing even-handedness. Every human being deserves destruction for having turned their back on God, failing to acknowledge and obey Him, but in His love He gives us all the same opportunity to repent and believe and receive eternal life. That's what Easter is all about!


I've been attacked for “cultural imperialism” more than once, both by Japanese who think their “8 million gods” are enough, and by westerners who thought they had escaped the “confines” of Christianity by coming to Japan. I must not let such attitudes pull me down, because like every other Christian, I am a part of the Body of Christ and am His representative to draw more people to salvation. Rather than exclusion, my whole purpose is inclusion! However, it has to be on God's terms rather than ours, and that that is what people rebel against. I must not fail to proclaim the need for repentance, out of fear of offending people or of being rejected by them.


Father, I find my greatest hesitation comes because I fear people instead of You, failing to love them enough to risk being rejected by them. Keep me from offending needlessly, but keep me from drawing back simply from a fear of offending. May I be an effective communicator of Your love, grace, and holiness to all I encounter, drawing them to You for their salvation and Your glory. May today's services in all Your churches accurately present the magnificence of Your plan of salvation, for a great harvest. Thank You. Hallelujah!



詩篇 44:6-7 私は私の弓にたよりません。私の剣も私を救いません。しかしあなたは、敵から私たちを救い、私たちを憎む者らをはずかしめなさいました。

The excellent analysis of this passage by John Finochio will probably always stay with me. As he pointed out, we all have tools to do the tasks that confront us, here expressed as a bow and sword. However, though we need to exert ourselves to be as skillful as possible with those tools, successful results are in God's hands. We have a strong tendency to look at the task, look at the tools, and look at our abilities, and leave God out of the equation. That's the kind of thinking that led to the sinking of the Titanic! It also limits God, because we are unable to believe Him for more than we could accomplish on our own (or that we think we could). Anything we could accomplish on our own without God isn't really worth having! However, if we will submit whatever we have in our hands to God, He can use that, and us, to accomplish more than we could dream. Samson and the donkey's jawbone comes to mind, and of course there's the wonderful song by Ken Medema about Moses and his staff that asks, “What do you have in your hand?”

この節に関してJohn Finochioは見事な分析をしていますが、恐らくそれは私の心から離れないことでしょう。彼が示しているように、直面する問題に対処するための道具を、私たちはみな持っていて、ここでは弓と剣で表現されています。私たちはこうした道具をできるだけ巧みに使わねばなりませんが、成功へもたらすのは、神様の御手にあります。私たちは問題、道具、私たちの能力などに目を向け、神様を除外する傾向が強くあります。それは、タイタニックを沈ませることになってしまった考えと似たようなものです!また、神様に限界を設けていますが、それは独力でできないのと思うのと同様に、神様を信じることができないからです。(あるいは、自力でできたと思ってしまう)神様を抜きにして、自力で達成したと思うのは実に値しないことです。けれども私たちが手にしているどんなことも、神様に委ねるならば、神様はそれを用いて、私たちが夢に見る以上に達成させてくださるのです。サムソンとロバの顎骨の話しを思い出します。モーゼと彼のスタッフが「君の手にあるものは何だい?」と尋ねているKen Medemaさんの素晴らしい歌があります。

I've known this principle intellectually for a long time, and had the privilege of meeting Ken Medema over 30 years ago when I was in seminary, but it has taken a very long time for it to sink in very deeply for consistent application. God has placed many tools in my hands, but I have tended to delight in the tools rather than keeping my eyes on God. Good tools are enjoyable, as I just experienced in making the new outside bulletin board for the church, and experience and skill are helpful, but it is God who gives the good result. Something like the bulletin board is very minor in the over-all scheme of things, but I face problems and opportunities that are bigger than I realize. If I will keep my eyes on God and trust in Him, then His glorious plans will be fulfilled. If I don't, then opportunities will be missed and obstacles not overcome, by me at any rate, and God will have to use someone else.

私はこの教えを長い間、頭では知っていました。私がまだ神学校にいた30年以上も前のことですが、Ken Medemaさんと出会う特権を頂きました。しかし、本当に真意を深く、常に持つには長い時間がかかりました。神様は私の手に多くの道具を与えてくださっていますが、私は目を神様に向けることよりも、与えられた道具を喜んでしまいがちです。教会の外に新しく設けた掲示板を立てた例のように、経験や腕といったことは役に立ちはします。しかし、そのことで良き結果を与えてくださるのは神様です。神様から頂いた道具は楽しいものです。掲示板のようなことは、全体的な計画の中ではささいなことに過ぎないでしょうが、私が気づいている以上に問題やチャンスと遭遇しました。もし私が神様に焦点を合わせ、信頼するならば、神様の栄光ある御計画が成就するはずです。もし私が信頼しないならば、私はチャンスは逃がし、障壁を乗り越えれないでしょう。それでも、他の誰かを神様は用いられるでしょう。

Father, I know this in my mind but I feel I still have a long way to go in practicing it consistently. Help me live out the truth You have placed in me, not leaning on my own understanding or abilities but relying fully on You, so that all You desire and intend to do in and through me may be fulfilled, for the sake of the Body of Christ and for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!




詩篇 42:8 昼には、主が恵みを施し、夜には、その歌が私とともにあります。私のいのち、神への、祈りが。

Yet again the Japanese uses “grace” where the English uses “love,” but then the word for “grace” carries strong overtones of “blessing,” and is often used with that meaning. In any case, the writer is dealing with depression, and for that reason this Psalm and the one following (which was probably originally connected, and only got separated by a later editor) are extremely appropriate for modern society. Today we try to deal with depression using various medications, but since the problem is deeper than that, drugs are palliative at best. The psalmist had a better idea: focus on God and let His truth, His presence straighten things out. This verse is very insightful. In the first half he reminds himself that God pours His grace/love out on him daily, but it is the second half that is most interesting. Depression often interferes with sleep, so as a man of faith, the psalmist spends that time in prayer, and calls it “the song of the Lord.” As someone battling depression, his prayers might not have been very “uplifting” if someone had overheard them, but the point is that he was focusing in on God, because he knew that was the solution, both for his depression and for whatever circumstances had led to it. It is likely that he also was indeed letting lyrics of praise and worship songs run through his mind. That too is an excellent idea!


I've certainly had my own struggles in this area, because the devil is relentless in his efforts to steal our peace and joy. I've practiced this verse many times! As I often tell others, the only real answer to depression is getting our focus off of ourselves and onto God, choosing to trust Him with ourselves and our circumstances. Even knowing that so well, I have to choose to apply it on a day-to-day, moment-by-moment basis, and I'm not 100% successful in that. When I am dealing with others who are battling depression I am never to take their struggles lightly, but I also must not back down from the truth that God is the answer, and seek to help them get their eyes off of themselves and onto Him.


Father, thank You again for Your faithfulness. Thank You for being worthy of our trust. Thank You for Your gentle patience with our weakness. Help me exercise that same patience toward others, with-out leaving them to wallow in self pity. Help me remember that You are indeed the answer to every problem, both in my life and in the lives of those I deal with, and that often Your answer is to change us rather than changing our circumstances. Thank You for being God. Help me communicate You in every situation, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise the Lord!



詩篇 40:10 私は、あなたの義を心の中に隠しませんでした。あなたの真実とあなたの救いを告げました。私は、あなたの恵みとあなたのまことを大いなる会衆に隠しませんでした。

I don't know about the Hebrew, but the English puts this verse in the present tense and the Japanese puts it in the past, which makes the English seem much more active. There are many Christians who cannot speak this verse of themselves in honesty, either in past or present tense! God blesses us all, but when we fail to acknowledge that in front of others we are depriving Him of the glory He deserves and we are dulling our own sensitivity toward God. One reason David was a man after God's heart was that he was quick to recognize and proclaim God's blessings. This Psalm was completely honest on his part! Jesus has commissioned us to be His witnesses (Acts 1:8), but many believers block the flow of the Holy Spirit in their lives by failing to let Him flow through them to others. “Lifestyle evangelism” is valid and important, but often it is a cop-out, an excuse for not speaking. As Chu Kosaka sings, “If you don't speak, who's going to encounter God?” Not everyone is gifted or called as an evangelist, but every Christian is commissioned as a witness.


My conviction of this truth has only grown deeper over the years, but I feel I face quite an up-hill battle getting it across to most of the believers. Japanese society is very reticent to speak of personal matters, and that militates against active witnessing. On top of that, when Buddhism completely lacks the concept of a personal, approachable God, religion in general becomes very impersonal for most Japanese. In contrast, nothing could be more personal than Christian faith, since it requires acknowledging individual sin, accepting atonement and forgiveness for that sin, and leads to an intimate relationship with God. Focusing on the difficulties of my task isn't going to get me very far, however. I need to acknowledge those difficulties but remember and proclaim that my God is far greater than any difficulty, and rejoice to make myself available to Him.


Father, thank You for all You are doing in each of us in Shinsei no Sato. Thank You for those who are open to testifying of Your grace and love to them. I pray that increasingly such testimonies wouldn't be limited to our worship services but would be an integral part of each believer's lifestyle. Lord, culture can be such a straitjacket. I pray that You would enable each of us to rejoice in and enjoy the good parts of our cultures, but not be bound by elements that contradict Your Word. Help us be Your witnesses indeed, so that many may be set free from the traps of the enemy and brought into Your kingdom, for their salvation and Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!




詩篇 37:25-26 私は若かったときも、また年老いた今も、正しい者が見捨てられたり、その子孫が食べ物を請うのを見たことがない。その人はいつも情け深く人に貸す。その子孫は祝福を得る。

This whole Psalm is all the more impressive because David states here that he is saying these things as a “senior adult.” Without that affirmation, we might be tempted to think it was little more than a collection of platitudes. With that affirmation, we know that this is wisdom gained from a lifetime of loving God, not perfectly and not without making some bad mistakes, but still submitting to Him in humble appreciation. David is very much one of the “great cloud of witnesses” mentioned in Hebrews 12:1, who testify to the faithfulness of God. A cynic would dismiss practically everything in this Psalm, which shows that cynicism doesn't know the heart of God! We know that, because the Bible explicitly states that David was a man after God's own heart. (Acts 13:22) The fact remains that commitment to God brings multi-generational blessing; He can be trusted.


I have benefited immensely from this principle because of the faithfulness of my parents and grandparents. I wonder at times how much my children appreciate how they benefit as well. God is too good a Father to give us instant “easy street;” He knows we need to be trained and grow in trust and obedience. I need to teach my spiritual children (since my physical children are somewhat out of reach both in distance and age) to trust God and walk in obedience so that they may walk in the abundance of blessing that God has prepared for them. There are precious few multi-generational Christians in Japan; I need to work to increase their number! I had occasion to say to someone just the other day that God desires Christian homes and families. That has always been and will always be true. From the time of Abraham on, God has spoken of and bestowed generational blessing. I need to communicate that gracious truth in ways that will encourage and build people up, whether they are currently in a Christian family or not.


Father, thank You again for Your grace to me. I certainly didn't choose my parents and grandparents! Help me be a good steward of the spiritual riches that have been poured out on me, with no trace of conceit but with profound gratitude, so that the works of the devil may be destroyed and many brought into Your kingdom, for their salvation and Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!



詩篇 36:5-6 主よ。あなたの恵みは天にあり、あなたの真実は雲にまで及びます。あなたの義は高くそびえる山のようで、あなたのさばきは深い海のようです。あなたは人や獣を栄えさせてくださいます。主よ。

Once again the Japanese uses the word “grace” where the English uses “love,” but as I've noted before, those can be two words for the same thing. The important thing about this passage is that it comes right after a very biting description of evildoers. The point is that there are indeed evil people in the world and they indeed ignore God to their own destruction and do a lot of damage to others in the process. BUT, God is God and nothing can change that. Once again I am positively nauseated by some of the news coming out of Washington, but I must not let that make me take my eyes off of God or shake my assurance in any way. It doesn't matter if bad news is political or economic or social or whatever; God is still God and He's greater and more powerful than all of that put together. There's a Gospel song that was written during an economic recession a few years ago that talks about shortages of this, that and the other, but then it says, “There's no shortage of God's mercy, there's no shortage of God's love.” That's what this passage is talking about. Those who are firmly grounded in God and obedient to Him have nothing to worry about, whatever is going on around them.


It's not wrong for me to be distressed by evil, because God is less happy about it than I am. However, I must not allow other people's disobedience and rebellion toward God distract me from my own worship. As David said in Psalm 16:11, there is joy in God's presence, there are more pleasures with Him than everything this world could possibly offer. If I am focused on Him in corporate, personal, and lifestyle worship, then I will be in my “happy place” indeed, regardless of what is going on around me.


Father, thank You indeed for Your absolute faithfulness. Help me remember that faithfulness even as I am hearing news of leaders who hate Your law. Help me depend on You at every turn, in big decisions and little, rather than trusting my own intellect. Help me remember that physical, emotional, and spiritual prosperity come from You and nowhere else, and so seek You and be anxious for nothing. Thank You. Praise God!