箴言 16:3, 9 あなたのしようとすることを主にゆだねよ。そうすれば、あなたの計画はゆるがない。人は心に自分の道を思い巡らす。しかし、その人の歩みを確かなものにするのは主である。

Language and translation are interesting things. The mindset of a translator can have a major impact on how a passage can come out. In English, there are so many Bible translations that I think sometimes committees change wordings just to be different, while Japanese certainly doesn't have that problem. Going from Japanese to English in this passage, verse 3 would read, “Submit whatever you are thinking of doing to the Lord, and your plans will stand firm.” Verse 9 would read, “A person ponders his way in his heart, but it is the Lord who makes his walk certain.” The point the Bible is making is that we have to be submitted to God from the ground up, or our planning will come to nothing. Coming up with some scheme and asking God to approve it just won't cut it! We have a tendency to forget that God is God. James addressed this issue in James 4:13-17. We are to seek God's will and make our plans on the basis of what He reveals to us, though the Bible and otherwise, always aware that He has full right and power to change those plans at any time.


I have tended to respond to this reality by simply not planning, and that's not good either. Like James said in verse 17 of the passage mentioned above, failure to do what we know we should is sin, and planning that is submitted to God falls into the category of things we know we should do. Life is filled with unexpected events, both what we would call good and what we would call bad, but that doesn't release me from the responsibility to plan to make the best use of what God has placed in my hands, starting with time and energy. I see many who are effectively devastated by the failure of things to turn out as they had planned or imagined, and I need to be gentle in helping them yield things to God, without giving up their dreams. For that matter, I've been in Omura for going on 29 years now and haven't yet seen the massive harvest I have desired, but I must not give up hope, but rather maintain full commitment of my time and energy to God.


Father, various things have brought this point home to me recently, Thank You for being God, so that I don't have to keep everything straight myself! Help me rejoice in Your grace and not let human disappointment rob me of peace, joy, or contentment. Help me keep expecting wonderful things of You, so that I will be available and responsive to move in obedience to You at all times, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!




箴言 15:16-17 わずかな物を持っていて主を恐れるのは、多くの財宝を持っていて恐慌があるのにまさる。野菜を食べて愛し合うのは、肥えた牛を食べて憎み合うのにまさる。

The world is focused on wealth and sensual pleasure, but those ultimately do not satisfy, much less bring true happiness and contentment. We are created for love: loving God and loving one another. The devil tempts us to love things and to treat one another as things, but we've got to remember that he comes only to steal, kill, and destroy. Giving in to his temptations can be deceptively exciting at first, but the result is always bad. It takes wisdom to see through his tricks, but wisdom starts with fearing God. (Job 28:28, Proverbs 9:10, etc.) God tells us what will bring true joy and happiness, so the first thing the devil tries to do is get us to doubt and distrust God. When our faith and trust are firmly in God, we can have peace and joy regardless of our circumstances.


I have never had an overabundance of this world's wealth, yet people look at me and assume I am what they would call well to do, because they see I am blessed by God. As a matter of fact, He has blessed me so much that my loving wife can prepare a meal of vegetables that is indeed a better feast than someone else's “fatted calf!” Sadly, some look at me and their envy shades to jealousy, and that robs them of even more peace and happiness. I am not to pretend that I am not blessed, but I need God's wisdom to help people understand that God loves them just as much as He loves me, and that His plans for them are just as wonderful as His plans for me. If they, or I, focus on negatives and what we'd like to be different, that robs us of the enjoyment of what we already have. As Paul said, godliness with contentment is great gain. (1 Timothy 6:6)


Father, thank You for Your overflowing blessings toward me. Help me give You the thanks, praise, and glory You deserve. Help me communicate the breadth and depth and richness of Your love to those around me, so that they too may be rescued from the lies of the devil to walk in the peace and joy and satisfaction You desire and intend for us all. As Jesus told us, in this world we will have trouble. Help me and those I minister to to rejoice even in the middle of that because of Your victory, Your overflowing grace and love. Thank You. Praise God!



箴言 13:24 むちを控える者はその子を憎む者である。子を愛する者はつとめてこれを懲らしめる。

Misunderstanding of this principle has caused countless heartache down through the centuries. We have such trouble riding the line between abuse and indulgence, even though it's not so narrow. The problem is complex, but one factor is that raising children right is hard work, and we tend to be lazy. It is easier either to give in to whatever children want or to react emotionally rather than rationally to their misbehavior than it is to have clear principles for the home and stick by them. As I explain to couples frequently, we need boundaries for emotional stability, and parents are responsible for setting and maintaining those boundaries for their children. At the same time, children by definition test those boundaries, often not so much because they want to cross them as simply to confirm they are there. Some children do this more than others, and they can be much harder to raise! However, such a strong-willed child has great potential, either for good or for evil, and parents must love their children enough to make the effort to apply consistent discipline. Were this done, social problems around the world would show a precipitous decline!


My parents weren't perfect, but they seemed to understand this principle. I certainly didn't do a perfect job either, but I wasn't a total failure either. At this point, my responsibility is in teaching this principle to others, and in applying it to my spiritual children as a pastor, which can be even trickier than with physical children! Authority and accountability are at least somewhat understood with physical children, but that can be largely uncharted territory when it comes to spiritual children. Micromanaging is counterproductive with physical children and even more so with spiritual children. However, all children need clear guidelines, and I am responsible to help my spiritual children understand what those guidelines are. I don't set them, God does, but I am responsible to communicate and interpret them.


Father, once again I have outlined a task that is far beyond my human ability. Help me depend on and be obedient to You, and help me help the parents in the church do the same for their children, both physical and spiritual. Help us all perceive and express Your love accurately, so that succeeding generations, both physical and spiritual, may have all the blessings and security You intend for them, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!



箴言 12:4 しっかりした妻は夫の冠。

Few things show the decay of society as clearly as the degradation of marriage. God intends a husband and wife to complement (and compliment!) each other. As Genesis 2 indicates, the husband is incomplete without the wife, and vice versa. People sometimes speak of a “trophy wife,” generally meaning a particular beauty and/or one who brings money into the marriage, but such external factors have little to do with the true value of a wife. The English for this verse mentions “noble character,” but the Japanese simply says “solid,” implying sensible and productive. Physical beauty and finances alike are transient, but such values as this verse is talking about last through life and beyond. Sad to say, many men fail to look for such things in choosing a mate, and society teaches women not to value these qualities either.


I can't say that my thinking in this area was entirely clear 41 years ago, but I feel I had much better judgment than most men, and I know I was incredibly blessed by God. My wife has continued to grow in all the areas that matter, adding ability to ability and blessing me in more ways than I can count. At times I am sharply aware that I could not be who I am, doing what I do, without her. We are a unit, and that's the way God planned it. People respond to us in various ways, and particularly in Japanese society it is with a good bit of incredulity: they don't think we could be real. When they discover over time that we are indeed sweethearts as well as best friends and partners even after 41 years, sometimes the reaction turns to jealousy. We can't govern people's response to us, but we can continue to demonstrate what is possible in marriage. As I tell couples in counseling before I perform their weddings, marriage is one of God's greatest blessings to mankind, but they would hardly know it from looking at most of the marriages around them. My wife and I need to function as an example, giving hope and a goal to people who would be milling around rather aimlessly otherwise.


Father, thank You again for Your overflowing grace and blessing to me. Though I was hardly focused on obedience to Your plan for my life at the time, You guided me clearly and firmly, and I have reaped the benefits for 41 years. Thank You. Help me be the husband You intend me to be for as many years in the future as You keep us here. I am at times in awe of the abilities You have placed in my wife. Help me be the support and facilitator she needs to make full use of those abilities for the sake of the Body of Christ and for Your glory. May we together be the demonstration of Your plan for marriage that You intend us to be, tearing down the lies of the enemy and opening people's eyes to the truth, for their blessing and Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!



箴言 10:12 憎しみは争いをひき起こし、愛はすべてのそむきの罪をおおう。

This is a verse I tend to agree with very readily, since I have a strong tendency toward conflict avoidance. The difficulty comes in distinguishing when it is more loving to correct than to ignore. If we are sensitive to every slight and every wrong, that's paranoia, and we feel hurts that don't exist outside of our own minds. Being secure in love, that is, that we are loved, is the opposite of paranoia. At the same time, failure to recognize wrong and stand for right is surely the path to destruction, either for us or for the person in the wrong or both. The Bible tells us to hate what God hates, so we need to remember that God doesn't hate people, He hates sin. We often have a lot of trouble making that distinction! We are quick to seize on externals of all sorts, but God looks on the heart, and we are called to be like Him.


Avoiding conflict when I shouldn't have has gotten me into a good bit of trouble over the years, both personally and for the church. Failure to confront has allowed problems to fester and become worse. At the same time, I have generated unnecessary conflict by how I have corrected. I have a lot of room for growth on both sides of that issue! I need to love people enough to risk conflict by correcting them, when I have been given responsibility for them, and I also need to do so gently, encouraging the good rather than slamming the bad. It is far more effective to praise and reward desired behavior than it is to harp on undesired behavior. I know that and try to teach it in the area of parenting, but all too often I forget it in spiritual parenting, that is, pastoring. I need to grow in putting myself in the other person's place and guiding/admonishing accordingly.


Father, You choose and use imperfect vessels. The longer I live the more I am aware of that. Thank You for Your grace. Help me be an open channel of that grace to those around me, relating to them not with my wisdom or strength but with Yours, diminishing so that You may increase. Fill me with Your love so that my every word and action may express that love accurately and clearly, even when it calls for correction or even rebuke. Help me remember that love doesn't run from, it runs to, it seeks but it doesn't chase down. Thank You. Praise God!




箴言 9:8 あざける者を責めるな。おそらく、彼はあなたを憎むだろう。知恵のある者を責めよ。そうすれば、彼はあなたを愛するだろう。

Response to rebuke is an excellent indicator of wisdom! As verse 10 says, a proper respect for God is the beginning of wisdom, and that presupposes a level-headed self-evaluation. Self respect isn't at all the same thing as conceit, but people sometimes get them confused. Self respect doesn't think it's always right, just that it's worthy of respect. How correction is given is very important here. Sad to say, many people don't know how to correct without making the person corrected feel stupid and/or worthless. That is especially damaging in a parent/child relationship. Parents and children alike need to be able to differentiate between being wrong and being bad. The failure to do so can be tragic, as is evident throughout society to anyone with discernment. In America today, they have such a distorted concept of self esteem that they aren't rewarding excellence in children for fear of “damaging” those whose performance is is less than excellent. That actually is more damaging, because it destroys the whole concept of right and wrong, excellence and mediocrity. Honest correction and honest praise are both vital to healthy emotional, intellectual, and spiritual development.


Once again I am sharply aware of how blessed I was in my upbringing. Even so, my track record of responding to correction hasn't been the best. A teachable spirit is indeed a sign of wisdom, as this verse says, and by that standard my growth in wisdom has been slow! As a pastor, I am responsible to correct others. I need to be careful to do it with gentleness and love and respect, but I must not draw back from doing it. One area in which I feel I am weak is in praising progress. I have a tendency to demand perfection, in myself and others, and that can be damaging. However, I am not to blame myself totally for others' reaction to correction, because each person has their own history before we ever meet. Actually, the Bible records a wide spectrum of responses to God's correction!


Father, help me respond rightly to correction, however You choose to give it. I certainly do better with some channels of correction than with others! Help me distinguish between Your correction and the accusations of the enemy. That can be a hard one! Help me encourage the believers in the same area, because we are all under attack. May I be Your agent to correct and encourage, rather than the devil's tool to condemn and discourage. If I try to do that in my own strength and wisdom I'll get it wrong, so guide me closely in order to build up the Body of Christ, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!



箴言 8:13 主を恐れることは悪を憎むことである。わたしは高ぶりと、おごりと、悪の道と、ねじれたことばを憎む。

Many people claim to love/fear God, yet are remarkably tolerant of evil. As Paul pointed out in 1 Corinthians 5, as long as we are in the world we will be rubbing elbows with evil. The question isn't one of proximity, but of attitude. If our focus were on the evil around us, we would quickly lose sight of God and in the process, lose His character, which is love. However, we must indeed hate evil when we find it in ourselves, and it generally isn't hard to find! There are times when we are called to take direct action against the evil that is around us, as when Jesus drove the money changers out of the temple, and we are indeed commissioned to destroy the works of the devil, since we are sent as Jesus was (John 20:21, 1 John 3:8). However, anything we do, on that line or any other, must be motivated by love, love for God and for His children, or it is meaningless, as Paul pointed out in 1 Corinthians 13.


Like probably everyone else, I have been remarkably adept at excusing things in myself that I would condemn in someone else. That certainly doesn't help me! I am not to be constantly digging for things to repent of, and I especially must not dig up things that have already been confessed and repented of, but I must be sensitive and responsive when the Holy Spirit shines His light on anything current. As a pastor, I am responsible for warning and admonishing those in the flock who are allowing evil in their lives, and that's a hard thing for me. I must remember the grace and mercy of God, but I must not use that as an excuse for tolerating evil. At the same time, I must not be legalistic, and particularly I must not be focused on insignificant externals. God looks on our hearts, and I must seek to do the same. Our hearts will indeed be expressed in our lifestyles, so I am not to ignore such things, but my focus should be on the internal rather than the external. As always, this is beyond my human ability, so my prime focus and my full dependence must be on God.


Father, forgive me for being tolerant of evil in my own heart and life. I see the shipwrecks that others have made of their own lives, and I want none of that. Help me be fully focused on You in love and obedience, so that every decision, every word and action, may be pleasing to You for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!




箴言 5:18-19 あなたの泉を祝福されたものとし、あなたの若い時の妻と喜び楽しめ。愛らしい雌鹿、いとしいかもしかよ。その乳房がいつもあなたを酔わせ、いつも彼女の愛に夢中になれ。

The physical relationship of a husband and wife has been greatly distorted over the years. The devil has done all he could to portray sex within marriage as boring and sex outside of marriage as exciting, because his desire is to defile and destroy that which is holy. The Bible, on the other hand, while acknowledging the power of sexual temptation, portrays sex outside of marriage as ultimately damaging, and sex within marriage as satisfying and rewarding. The Biblical view builds individuals, families, and society as a whole, while the devil is out to destroy all of those. The onslaught of lies and filth is overwhelming at times, so it is imperative that each believer keep watch over their own heart and trust what God says, rather than listen to the lies of the devil.


I certainly live in the world, and I can't say that I have been totally successful in staying clean of its attitudes. However, God has been incredibly gracious, giving me a loving wife, a graceful deer indeed, at a young age. Being “intoxicated” with her (to use the terminology in this passage) has been a powerful protection for me against the wiles of the devil more times than I could count. As a pastor, I not only need to stay true to her in thought and deed, I need to communicate to others that purity and faithfulness are indeed possible, as well as rewarding. The pressures of devil-saturated society are immense, but they are no match for the power of the Holy Spirit. I need to help the believers seek and receive the filling, protection, and guidance of the Holy Spirit so that they will be able to stand firm, clad in the armor God provides, and not miss out on any of the abundant blessings He intends for them.


Father, thank You for all You are doing in this church. Thank You for Your gracious design for humanity, despite the distortions that are so rampant. Help me be Your agent for Your will to be done, in my own life and in the lives of those under my care, so that the lying works of the devil may be destroyed and Your kingdom come, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!



箴言 4:18 義人の道はあけぼのの光のようだ。いよいよ輝きまして真昼となる。

I have always liked the little song that takes the Japanese for this verse almost verbatim and sets it to music. The important point of the verse is that salvation is a process: we don't get it all at once. Just as the day doesn't go from total darkness to total light in an instant, in the same way God's purposes are worked out more and more in our lives as we grow and mature. Salvation itself is indeed a transaction, accomplished by an act of the will by the grace and mercy of God, but instant transformations are rare, and even when they happen they are simply the “kick start” to further growth in every area of life and personality. Some people's expectation of salvation is very distorted, and when they discover that they haven't suddenly become perfect, they give up. Nothing could be a bigger mistake! I have always agreed with the explanation of the three tenses of salvation: we have been saved, we are being saved, and we will be saved. Those who acknowledge Christ and commit to Him as Lord have been saved from the penalty of sin, they are being saved from the power of sin, and they will be saved from the presence of sin.


This is something I need to talk about a bit more, perhaps. Those who come to Christ are often discouraged at their own failures, and the devil does all he can to try to convince them they were never converted in the first place. I need to explain the principle expressed in this verse, fleshing it out with the abundance of material in the New Testament, so that they will not be deceived but will press on to ever-growing maturity. I've certainly experienced growth myself, but the more I mature, the more I am aware that I have more room to grow! I need to be fully committed on a personal level to consistent growth, because only then will I be fully effective in encouraging people to join me in spiritual growth.


Father, thank You for the time I had with the person in the new believer's class yesterday. Thank You that I could clarify this point for her, and tell her I think she's doing really well for where she is on her spiritual journey. Thank You for her level of commitment and participation. Thank You for the example she is for other believers. Sometimes they look at me and assume they could never reach the place You've brought me, so she is a better encouragement for them than I am. Help them also not resent her growth when she hasn't been a Christian as long as they have! I pray that each believer in this body would recognize both their own need and their own potential for growth, and press into You to achieve it. May we all grow in every area, individually and as a church, so that we may fulfill Your plans for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!



箴言 3:11-12 わが子よ。主の凝らしめをないがしろにするな。その叱責をいとうな。父がかわいがる子をしかるように、主は愛する者をしかる。

This passage isn't just impressive to me; it's quoted verbatim in Hebrews 12:5-6. It's important because we have a tendency to do exactly what verse 11 is telling us not to do. Hebrews goes into more detail about our tendency to resent correction, and it's spot on. Sometimes we resent it all the more precisely because we realize we are in the wrong! However, every good father knows that letting things slide is no way to love your children; correction needs to be prompt and appropriate. Sometimes the Lord respects our free will enough that we get ourselves into deep trouble, but the responsibility always lies with us. Actually, it is those who seem to be corrected less by God for their rebellion who are worse off! We need to be thankful for every bit of correction God gives us, recognizing that we are stubborn and headstrong, and that left to ourselves we would indeed be like sheep running off a cliff (to use the shepherding image that is so common in the Bible). Part of the problem is that we really can't see the consequences of our wrong actions ahead of time; they just feel good or enjoyable or “natural” at the time. That's why God has given us the Bible, to tell us where wrong paths lead and what the right path is. However, many people dismiss the Bible as ancient, irrelevant literature, thus “despising the Lord's correction and resenting His rebuke.” This is very visible in the US right now, with people insisting on their “right” to be perverted!


I've had my share of correction from God, and He has been remarkably restrained and gentle about it. I shudder to think how things might have turned out, had I taken a different fork at several points in my life. I need to remember that as I deal with those under my care as a pastor. I must never think that I am God, but I must not hesitate to express His truth in love. It's kind of like the slogan, “Friends don't let friends drink and drive.” When I see destructive behavior, I need to apply God's Word in love. Otherwise, as God said to Ezekiel, their blood will be on my hands!


Father, thank You for Your loving correction. Help me not resist when it is applied to me, and help me be a willing, loving agent when You choose to apply it through me. I pray for those around me who are deeply wounded by the failure to apply correction at the right time in the right way. I ask Your grace and mercy, and I pray that Your will would be done for us all, because as Your word says, it is not Your will that any should perish, but that all should come to a knowledge of the truth. (1 Timothy 2:4, 2 Peter 3:9) Thank You. Praise the Lord!




詩篇 147:10-11 神は馬の力を喜ばず、歩兵を好まない。主を恐れる者と御恵みを待ち望む者とを主は好まれる。

Reading the Japanese for verse 10, for the first time the verse makes sense! The English says, “nor His delight in the legs of a man.” The Japanese says, “nor does He delight in foot soldiers.” Horses were used mainly in battle, so everything clicks if the companion phrase is foot soldiers. Previously, I had the image of a runner on a racetrack! The point, of course, is that God isn't interested in human measures of strength or power. Why should He be, when He is omnipotent? Rather, He delights in those who recognize Him for who He is, and thus are ready to enter into relationship with Him. This is another passage where I wish the Japanese translators had used the character that means “deep respect” (for the word “fear”), rather than the one that means “terror.” God doesn't want us quaking in fear before Him, but we must not take Him lightly, either. We cannot have a right relationship with Him if we think He is going to pat us on the head and give us candy regardless of what we do. Likewise, we will not relate rightly to Him if we think He is going to be stingy, arbitrarily withholding what we need. We need to remember that He is both holy and loving.


I have the enormous advantage of having been raised by parents who modeled this kind of relationship with their children. I think that all 4 of us children knew that our parents delighted to give us good things and be nice to us, but we also knew that there were rules, and we had better obey them! Either side of that would have been insufficient without the other. That prepared us to understand that God is love, but that love isn't weak: it always goes for the greatest good, rather than the easiest path. My challenge as a pastor is that the majority of people I work with haven't had the same sort of advantage in this area that I have: their parents were either arbitrary, distant, indulgent, or some combination of those. That creates a major handicap when it comes to their relating to God, because of how strongly our physical fathers color our image of our heavenly Father. I need the wisdom of God and the anointing of the Holy Spirit to express the nature and character of God to them in ways they can understand, so that the truth will set them free from the lies they have believed. With that, I need to model Godly fatherhood. My physical children left the nest years ago, but I am a father figure to a lot of people right now. I need to be so in tune with my heavenly Father that others may know and understand Him through me.


Father, this is another challenge that is totally beyond me, so I turn to You. I ask You to destroy the lying works of the enemy in the hearts and minds of those I deal with, so that they may be set free to know You as You are, receiving Your full salvation and delighting in You, for Your pleasure and glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!



詩篇 146:5 幸いなことよ。ヤコブの神を助けとし、その神、主に望みを置く者は。

This verse may be a truism, but it's amazing both how true it is and how many people refuse to believe it! It is a very blessed thing when someone realizes both that they need God's help and that He stands ready to provide it. That, after all, is the basis of salvation itself, since we must realize we need it and that it is available in Christ Jesus. However, we have an amazing capacity for depending on anything and everything but God, and in the long run the results are never good. We place our hope in an incredible variety of things, many of which totally defy logic and common sense, rather than in the God who made us and loves us. I am always saddened to hear of people who depend on fortune tellers or astrology, and that is so common – though those very people are likely to deny that they “really believe that stuff.” We see so many who depend on money, or their job, or the government. It would seem sometimes that the government is doing all it can to create such dependency! Depending on God isn't passive, it's actively looking for the solutions He provides and being grateful to take part in them, even when it requires personal effort. An American proverb says, “God helps those who help themselves.” That's not in the Bible, and it sometimes leads to ignoring God's help, but it does catch the reality that we are to be active in our trust and obedience. It is sad that so many Americans have forgotten that.


As my devotional reading has pointed out rather frequently, my temptation in this area has been to depend on the abilities God has given me, rather than in the God who has given them to me. As this verse says, I need to be intentional in making God my help. Thankfully, He is faithful to present me regularly with situations my own abilities can't make a dent in, so I'm forced to turn to Him. Sometimes when situations are resolved people make over me as though I had done it, and I must not yield to that. I've got to be clear, both in my thinking and in my words, that any good result that comes through me originates in God, and He deserves the credit and the glory. As I face increasingly difficult situations, I've got to be sure my hope is anchored in God alone, whatever channels He might use to provide His help to me.


Father, thank You for all the challenges You allow me to face, big and small. Thank You that You are more than equal to any of them, and to all of them put together! Thank You that in getting through those challenges my faith does grow, however slowly. I'd like some “faith growth hormone” (instead of human growth hormone)! I'd also like to be Your pharmacist, dispensing that faith growth hormone to all with whom I interact, so that we may all enjoy the blessedness of which this verse speaks, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!



詩篇 145:18 主を呼び求める者すべて、まことをもって主を呼び求める者すべてに主は近くあられる。

The Bible is full of references to God being “near” or “far.” That is interesting usage, considering that God is infinite, so we are by logical definition inside Him, since we are finite. However, it's not talking about physical distance so much as it is about emotional distance, for want of a better word. Probably most people have experienced feeling very distant from someone, even if they happen to be in the same room. Likewise, we can feel very close to someone even when we are physically separated. God is happy when we recognize our need of Him and follow through by calling out to Him, seeking Him, and He responds by being “near” to us. Moses said, “[God] will never leave you or forsake you,” (Deuteronomy 31:6) and Psalm 139 points out that we can never “escape” from God, even if we try to. (Jonah is a good example of that!) However, we can be remarkably adept at ignoring God sometimes, and when our hearts are hardened we can't feel Him, even though He is near.


I certainly have my times of being more and less aware of God. I greatly prefer the more! This morning is a good example. I slept poorly, waking up several times with a toothache, but when I went to distribute Bibles with the Gideons in spite of the pain I had been in, I was not aware of the pain the whole time I was actively distributing the Bibles. I've experienced this sort of thing more times than I could count; being active in my obedience to God straightens out my priorities and my perceptions, and life becomes much more enjoyable! God allows things that are unpleasant in my life precisely to teach me to focus on Him regardless of my circumstances, so that I may walk in the fullness of all He intends for me.


Father, as always, thank You for Your grace. Thank You that the dentist took me right away, even before he was officially open. Thank You that the indicated course of treatment at this point is medication rather than drilling! Thank You for the many children who received Bibles gladly this morning. I pray that they would read them, get “hooked” on them, and come to repentance and faith while they are still young, so that they may walk in the richness of what You intend for Your children, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!




詩篇 143:9 主よ。私を敵から救い出してください。私はあなたの中に、身を隠します。

There are so many clues in his Psalms as to why David was counted as a man after God's own heart. This Psalm has several of those, but this verse is one that I don't think has ever stood out to me before. David is actually using terminology here that is central to the New Testament, and actually to the Gospel itself, when he says, “I hide myself in You.” Being “in God,” “in Christ,” “in the Spirit” is the greatest privilege of the believer, because that is how we receive the abundance God has for us. Faced with difficulties, David was making the very best possible choice by saying he would hide himself in God. David had many physical enemies, but this applies to the spiritual enemies every believer faces even more than it does to physical enemies. When the devil comes after us, we need to just step into Jesus!


I have had a recurring fantasy, based on a science fiction story I read in my childhood, of being able to put on some kind of “energy field” that would not only alter my appearance, it would give me many powers and abilities I don't have naturally so that I could be a “champion of justice,” or some such thing. Actually, I have something that's better, because I can “put on Christ,” (Galatians 3:27 and many more), and in Him is the fullness of the Godhead! (Colossians 2:9) As a pastor I try to help people understand that this is available to them, but I've got plenty of room to grow in walking in it myself. I shouldn't wait until I am aware of danger and/or attack before hiding myself in Christ! That's where I need to live, because only there will I find true life, joy, peace, and satisfaction.


Father, I have so much more to learn about being in Christ, in You and in Your Spirit, with You dwelling in me by Your Spirit. Like my father before me, I know that it is only by Your grace and the indwelling revelation of Your Spirit that this will happen. Help me seek it more than anything else, to value it above life itself, because that is indeed its true value. All that I desire – effectiveness in ministry, peace, joy, all the rest – is found there. I know that, yet I allow other things to get in the way. Help me seek You with singleness of heart, so that I may abide in You and You in me, fulfilling Your plans on Your schedule for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!



詩篇 138:6 まことに、主は高くおられるが、低い者を顧みてくださいます。しかし、高ぶる者を遠くから見抜かれます。

Throughout the Bible it is clear that pride is one of the worst sins: saying you don't need God. By that measure, modern man is perhaps in greater danger than any previous generation! By God's grace mankind has accomplished so much, many think they have no need of God. The scientists at CERN in Switzerland, operating the world's largest particle accelerator, say they are looking for something they are calling the “god particle,” implying that they see a physical explanation for everything in the universe and have no need of theology. The Bible makes it clear that sort of attitude is a major reason God allows natural disasters to strike: to teach us that we need Him. I love the Japanese expression in the second half of this verse: “God sees through the proud from a distance.” The message is clear: God is close to the humble, for good, but He doesn't have to get close to the proud to see through them and know their foolishness. We need to remember that God is indeed high and lifted up, just as Isaiah saw in his vision (Isaiah 6), but He gets “up close and personal” with those who recognize their need for Him and cry out to Him.


Looking back, I can honestly say that every “bad” thing in my life has been either A) the result of my sin, B) God knowing better than I did what I actually needed, or C) God training me to focus on Him and depend on Him instead of myself. I haven't had major personal tragedy in my life the way many people have, but I have certainly had some pretty unpleasant experiences! I wish I could say I have learned my lessons quickly and well, but to do so would be an extreme exaggeration. I still fight with pride, with relying on the gifts that are in me instead of on the One who gave them to me. Yesterday was a good case in point, though I ended up coming through it well. I knew what my problem was and I knew the solution, but God allowed me to hit a number of roadblocks along the way to get me to be active in depending on Him. Yesterday was just a computer problem, but the same principle applies to the important issues of life as well. I have no reason to get upset at anything in my life. Rather, I need to trust God and thank Him for every opportunity to depend on Him more fully.


Father, thank You for yesterday indeed. Thank You for Your timing of every detail. Thank You that the end result was good, from every standpoint. Thank You for the multiple times through the day that you enabled me to step back, figuratively speaking, look to You, and be active in my trust, with thanks. Yesterday was a strictly temporal issue; help me do the same with the many things that confront me that have eternal implications, for myself or for others. May I be diligent and faithful without thinking it depends on me. May I be fully available and responsive in Your hands, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!




詩篇 136:26 天の神に感謝せよ。その恵みはとこしえまで。

Japanese reading this Psalm would have no idea why it was included in the “love” readings, because where the English says “His love endures forever,” the Japanese says “His grace endures forever.” Actually, that is true for many of the passages in the “love” listing, and it points out the difficulties involved in translation. The point of this Psalm, however, is a recitation of good things God had done for Israel in the past, to remind them that He doesn't change, that is, He could do it again. We all have a tendency to think, when reading accounts of past miracles, “That was then.” We have great difficulty really believing that God can and will act with equal grace and power in our own circumstances. Somehow we are always surprised when God does something remarkable that affects us, much more so than if it simply involved other people. The Bible is a record of how God has dealt with people in the past, but we need to read it with the understanding and expectation that God will do the same and greater things in our lives today.


I'm a prime candidate to receive this message! Not only am I very familiar with the Biblical record, I know of many things God has done in the 2000 years since the close of the canon, and particularly in recent years. Not only that, I have seen God act miraculously in my own immediate circumstances. Even so, I have trouble trusting that God will act in this situation. I have seen Him come through time and time again, and even I am amazed that my faith is so small. In a sense, I do and I don't believe He is going to act. I need to surrender the “don't” part of that to Him and receive the faith that He has prepared for me as a gift. (Ephesians 2:8) At least I'm in good company, when Jesus said repeatedly to His disciples, “O you of little faith!”


Father, thank You again for Your patience with me. Help me receive the faith You have for me, as a great shield with which to quench all the flaming arrows the devil shoots at me. I indeed desire to move mountains, not for my sake but for the salvation of the Japanese people, and I have Your assurance that a living faith will do the job. Help me fix my eyes on You in every situation, personal and corporate, so that Your will may be done on Your schedule for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!



詩篇 130:3-4 主よ。あなたはもし、不義に目を留められるなら、主よ、だれが御前に立ちえましょう。しかし、あなたが赦してくださるからこそ、あなたは人に恐れられます。

This is an enormously important Scripture on the issue of guilt and forgiveness. That's, of course, important for every human being, but it's a huge issue in Japan, where they have such a shallow understanding of the whole thing. In the first place, the concept of sin itself is difficult, since it is a “shame” culture rather than a “sin” culture. That is to say, the expressed motive for not doing something is not because it is inherently wrong (a sin), but because it would be embarrassing (shame). This is used in child discipline, where children are told, “Don't do that. People will laugh at you.” Because of this background, I think the Japanese translators were wise to use “unrighteousness” in verse 3, rather than “sin” like the English does. But then we get to the matter of forgiveness. I have written at some length on the Japanese lack of understanding of the issue, because I am convinced that it is the major obstacle in the way of the salvation of the Japanese people. When they don't understand what real forgiveness is, it's no wonder they are uncomfortable with the whole idea of absolute right and wrong, because they don't grasp that real forgiveness is possible. However, it's not just Japanese who fail to understand the concept in verse four. The use of “fear” in the verse is slightly misleading, because of our lacking a word that means precisely what is conveyed by the widespread Old Testament usage. If God did not forgive, then He would be no more to us than a bogeyman, and we would do our utmost to pretend He didn't exist. That is precisely what many people in all cultures do today. This was true even in the 1st Century, when Peter wrote 2 Peter 1:9. Knowing that there is absolute right and wrong, that sin is real, and that God really does forgive those who turn to Him in repentance, should make us all rush to Him and cling to Him above, before, and beyond everything else.


This is obviously a huge thing in my ministry, but it is certainly no less important for me personally. I've got to maintain sensitivity to recognize when I do sin and humility to repent immediately, knowing that forgiveness is real and available. If I don't grasp that for myself, I'll never be able to communicate it effectively to others. I have demonstrated over the years that my intelligence, reasoning, and everything else are totally ineffective in bringing anyone to a right understanding of God, but that God can use me to save people if I will be submitted and available to Him. Over the years He has been giving me a better, deeper understanding of the task at hand, and if I will be fully committed, available, and obedient to Him, He will use me to bring many into His kingdom in truth.


Father, I am continually blown away by the magnificence of Your grace. Help me not take it lightly, carelessly treading it under foot, but rather rejoice to walk in it moment by moment, drawing others into the same sort of fellowship with You, for their salvation and Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!



詩篇 127:2 あなたがたが早く起きるのも、おそく休むのも、辛苦の糧を食べるのも、それはむなしい。主はその愛する者には、眠っている間に、このように備えてくださる。

In English the mistranslation has become so traditional that the editors of the NIV could only put the correct translation in a footnote! I myself have quoted this verse many times thinking it was a promise of the provision of sleep, when actually it is a promise of provision while we sleep. In context, that makes much more sense. This verse and the one before it do not mean we have no need to be diligent, but they do mean that we must never forget the power is ultimately God's. We are quick to make plans and then ask God for a rubber stamp of approval, but that thinking has everything backward. The Tower of Babel story (Genesis 11:1-9) actually has the same point: any plans that leave God out are doomed to ultimate failure. Sometimes they might seem to be succeeding, but their end is emptiness. It is only when we seek God's plans and apply ourselves to them that eternal success is ensured.


I have a tendency simply not to plan, but that doesn't leave me out of this equation. It is a truism that failing to plan is planning to fail, and I have certainly been guilty of that. I also have a tendency to be presumptive of God's guidance and provision, instead of being grateful and pressing in for more. God is more than patient with me, but I have no excuse to be trying that patience! As a pastor, I deal with many people who are anxious about many things. I need to assure them of the faithfulness of God, helping them recognize that when our faith is tested it is stretched and grows, so that it is stronger and we are stronger. God is our Provider, our Shield and our Fortress, along with being our loving Father. I must remember that always, and encourage each believer in that same assurance.


Father, the timing of this is certainly interesting, but then nothing escapes you. Thank You for making me realize (finally) my computer hard drive was failing, after You tried to point it out to me a while back. Thank You for Your provision of the outboard hard drive to be able to dump the failing one into it, and for the software necessary to do that. Thank You for the various redundant systems that are in place so that this isn't the panic that it might have been. I do ask for clear guidance in recognizing Your provision of the replacement drive and for wisdom in implementing it. More than that, I pray that this experience would make me more sensitive to Your guidance in every area. Thank You for how You are indeed working in each member of this church, helping them recognize Your provision and learn to trust You in all things. Continue to grow us in trust and obedience, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God




詩篇 122:6-7 エルサレムの平和のために祈れ。「おまえを愛する人々は栄えるように。おまえの城壁のうちには、平和があるように。おまえの宮殿のうちには、繁栄があるように。」

This is an extremely topical passage, as it has been for the past 62 years since the resurrection of Israel as a nation. I don't know that there has ever been a nation so surrounded by bitter enemies. The reason is clear to a student of the Bible, but it is a complete mystery to the secular world. That makes it all the more important for Christians to uphold Israel in prayer. Her very existence is prophetic, and we ignore her to our peril. God has not abandoned His promises to Abraham, as even the New Testament makes clear. As a nation, Israel is not always in the right, but any evaluation of her actions that ignores this historical background and spiritual environment is going to be wrong, and that applies to the vast majority of media reports.


I am certainly not one who is obsessed with the Middle East, but having been born the same year as the nation of Israel, and having been born in a Bible-believing, Bible-teaching family, I have been aware of Israel and her struggles all my life. I continue to be delighted in her accomplishments and in the confounding of her enemies. My major focus is to be the tasks God sets before me, but I am also to be faithful to pray as David asked, and above that, to pray for the salvation of the physical descendants of Abraham – and not just those through Isaac! That last thought just came to me. The world would be a different place indeed if more of the descendants of Ishmael came to Christ. Ultimately, submission to Christ is the answer to all the world's problems, but we have the book of Revelation to tell us that, sadly enough, that submission isn't going to be willing for a vast number of people. I need to be faithful in prayer and action toward the goal of the salvation of as many as possible.


Father, this is an issue on which I am somewhat ambivalent. I am in full agreement with Christian groups that work for the support of Israel and the salvation of the Jewish people, yet I react against the guilt trip some of them seek to impose on those who don't dedicate their lives and ministries to that cause. Help me be faithful and obedient to You, so that my prayer, my words, and my actions may accomplish Your purposes on Your schedule for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!




詩篇 119:165-166 あなたのみおしえを愛する者には豊かな平和があり、つまずきがありません。私はあなたの救いを待ち望んでいます。主よ。私はあなたの仰せを行っています。

Not knowing Hebrew, I can't quibble over the various near synonyms used by different translation for the central theme of this Psalm. (In verse 165 the English says “law” where the Japanese says “teachings” and in verse 166 the English says “commands” where the Japanese says “pronouncements.”) All of them refer to the Word of the Lord, and we need to understand that can take many forms. The point in verse 165 is that loving God's Word has enormous benefits. However, verse 166 helps us understand just what “loving” means in this context. Some people love the Bible like a sacred religious symbol. (That's the way most Muslims seem to feel about the Koran.) Some of them treat it with such “reverence” that they hardly ever open it! However that way of thinking doesn't provide much peace and it certainly doesn't keep anyone from stumbling. We have to take the Word in and let it be written on our hearts for it to provide its full benefits, and verse 166 is talking about how to do that. We have to wait in hope for God's salvation, which is to say, we have to believe what He has said. The Bible is essentially worthless if we refuse to believe it! However, abstract faith is also inadequate by itself. As Jesus Himself stressed (and also John and James in their letters) we've got to do what God says for it to have its full impact in our lives. Faith that doesn't follow through is just window dressing. If we really love the Word of God we will be obedient to it.


I don't know how many times I've ever preached on Psalm 119, but it's not very many! However, this truth is rich and fresh and strong, fit to be applied in my life and in the lives of my hearers. Knowing the Word without doing it has long been a trap for me. If I am truly addicted to the Word, I'd better be doing it! If I have had such trouble in this area, then I should have patience and mercy toward others with the same struggle. However, that doesn't mean that I'm not to exhort everyone to be obedient to the Word, because living it out brings peace, victory, and great assurance.


Father, thank You for Your faithfulness. Keep me from being an “ivory tower” preacher. Help me communicate Your love and compassion to my hearers, not just with words but with actions. Help me love Your Word enough to do it, in the hard times and not just in the easy times. Help me be a source of encouragement and strength to the flock, not a source of criticism and judgment. Help me invest in them as You have invested in me, so that the Body of Christ may be built up for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!




詩篇 119:140 あなたのみことばは、よく練られていて、あなたのしもべは、それを愛しています。

I am reminded of Hebrews 12:1, being surrounded by a great cloud of those who have tried and tested God's Word and found it true and reliable. In scientific practice, any hypothesis must be tested before it is accepted. Few things in existence have been tested as thoroughly as God's Word, and it has come through with flying colors. (Many of the “scientific” objections to Christian faith are ironic and hypocritical in the extreme, but that's a different subject.) The difficulty lies in the necessity of faith, because we are experts at interpreting things the way we want to, and a sadly large number of people decline to accept the evidence that is clearly there for anyone who is willing to believe. As Paul points out in Romans 1:18-20, a number of things about God may be deduced from simply observing His creation. It is the Bible that helps us sort out our perceptions and get past our misunderstandings to come to a real knowledge of God. No wonder the psalmist loved it!


I have been blessed with both a background in the Bible and what people call a “high IQ,” and I have always found the two to complement, not contradict, each other. It is a delight to exercise my intellectual gifts in digging into the Word, but at the same time I am ever more aware that intellect alone cannot reach God. That's why Jesus said we must become as little children to enter, or even see, the kingdom of God. (Matthew 18:2-4, Luke 18:17, John 3:3) I am called and sent to communicate the good news of the kingdom to the Japanese, who according to the Guinness Book have the highest average IQ of any people group and have been remarkably resistant to the Gospel. The irony there is that for a majority of Japanese, their “faith” is a collection of superstitions, which is highly anti-intellectual. I know from experience that logical argument alone will never bring Japanese to faith, and I also know that I can't wave some wand and open their eyes to the truths of Scripture, so I'm back at the very best place to be: trusting God. I have seen some remarkable conversions, and I have also seen fierce spiritual opposition. I've got to keep my faith and trust in God, knowing that His Word never returns to Him without accomplishing that for which He has sent it. (Isaiah 55:11)


Father, thank You for Your Word, thank You for Your plan, and thank You for including me in that plan. Help me trust You and Your Word rather than my intellect, because I know that nothing is too difficult for You, and many, many things are beyond me. Help me stand firm against anxiety and discouragement, keeping my eyes on Jesus and looking forward not only to His return but also to His victory in my circumstances, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!




詩篇 119:133 あなたのみことばによって、私の歩みを確かにし、どんな罪にも私を支配させないでください。

The writer of this Psalm obviously loved the Bible very deeply, and that love gave him a grasp of the value of the Bible in our lives. It is indeed the best, really the only, guidebook by which we may plan our lives, because it tells us why we were created, where we are headed, and how to live in the mean time. When we fail to appreciate the Bible for what it is, we fail to take it in and receive its benefits. A very major benefit is liberation from the rule of sin. Of course it is the cross of Christ that sets us free from sin, but it is the Bible that tells us about it and how to apply it in practical terms. Likewise, it is the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives that enables us to walk in all of God's good purposes for us, but He uses the Word because He is in total harmony with it. After all, He is the Author! We all tend to have particular sins that seem hard to shake off, and they are different for each person. However, as verse 11 of this same Psalm says, building up a store of God's Word in our hearts, and not just in our heads, will indeed keep us from sin. The operation of the Word and the Spirit are closely intertwined, because as it says in 2 Corinthians 3:17, where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom; we are not under the rule of sin.


It has been said that I am addicted to the Bible, and I hope that's true! However, if I fail to apply it in every area of my life, it does me little good. Success in my life depends on the degree to which I allow the Holy Spirit to work the Word into me and through me, so that I live it and breathe it. I desire to have sharp hearing when it comes to hearing God's voice, but I must not overlook what He has already had recorded as Scripture. Guidelines for virtually every situation are pretty clear in the Bible, if I have the heart to perceive them. As a pastor, I am charged with expressing those guidelines to my flock. I must not give an “independent interpretation,” as Peter puts it (2 Peter 1:20), but seek and allow the Holy Spirit to express God's heart in and through me without distortion.


Father, thank You for Your kindness and faithfulness in causing the Bible to be written. Thank You for speaking to and guiding the various writers and editors throughout the process. Help me indeed use and apply the Bible as You desire and intend, so that I may recognize and avoid the devil's traps, enabling me to walk in Your holiness, purity and power, and lead others to do the same, for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!



詩篇 119:108 どうか、私の口の進んでささげるささげ物を受け入れてください。主よ。あなたのさばきを私に教えてください。

Praising God is a strange thing. When we're not used to doing it, it can seem very awkward and unnatural indeed. However, the more we do it, the more joyful it becomes. The Japanese uses what is probably the literal Hebrew here, saying “the sacrifice of my mouth,” but as is often the case, a clear commentary is found in the New Testament. (Hebrews 13:15) The thing about praising God is that it helps us understand on an emotional level just how great God is. Otherwise, we have a strong tendency to try to pull Him down to our level, which of course means we misunderstand all sorts of things about Him. If we want Him to teach us His laws (the Japanese says “judgments”), it's got to be on the basis of understanding exactly how holy, righteous, just, and powerful He is. If we grudgingly go through the motions of praise and worship, that's a clear indication we aren't really looking at or listening to God. The more we really know Him, the more natural and delightful praise and worship will be, and vice versa.


Raised in a singing, believing family, singing praise to God has always seemed very natural to me, but I face the danger of taking it for granted, doing things out of habit instead of from my heart. At this point I don't think I trip up there very often, but I do have to be careful of hypocrisy. My words of praise to God aren't going to mean much if my next thoughts dishonor him, failing to value the people He has created and loves. The more my heart is aligned with Him in praise and worship, the more I will love what He loves and hate what He hates, expressing His will in every area of my life. The New Testament calls that “having the mind of Christ.” (1 Corinthians 2:16) That is what I desire for myself and for my flock.


Father, thank You yet again for Your patience with me. I have been so slow to get even to where I am, and I know I have a long way to go yet before I express the mind of Christ 100%. Help me exercise that same patience in dealing with the flock, not condemning and never belittling, but encouraging, guiding, instructing and admonishing. I certainly understand Paul's feelings in Colossians 1:28-29! Thank You that it's Your power that does the work in and through me. Help me keep my eyes on You, praising and worshiping at all times, corporately, personally, and in my lifestyle, so that I may become all that You intend, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!



詩篇 119:99-100 私はすべての師より悟りがあります。それはあなたのさとしが私の思いだからです。私は老人よりもわきまえがあります。それは、私があなたの戒めを守っているからです。

At first glance this might seem to be a very conceited statement, but it actually has some very important insights. Particularly in spiritual things, students can surpass their teachers because it's a matter of focus. Knowing spiritual truth as fact isn't enough; we've got to mull it over, think of its implications, and apply it for it to make the difference in our lives that God intends. Likewise, knowing God's will but failing to do it is foolish; the choice to be obedient instantly takes us to a higher level of discernment. Several verses in this Psalm speak of the author's suffering. It would seem that he was seriously ill at one point, but he spent the time on his sickbed thinking about God's law and considering what it meant for him. That is indeed a good path to spiritual maturity!


In my younger days I might have claimed this passage, but in my case it would have been conceit indeed! That's because I had a lot of head knowledge of the Bible but I was certainly not faithful in meditating on it, seeking to be obedient. Now that I am past 60 I am finally getting around to mulling the Word over in my mind, seeking deeper understanding so that I may apply it better, but it has certainly taken me a long time to get to this point! I feel like I am finally getting to a place where I might be useful to God, but I wasted a lot of time in the process. However, rather than focusing on regret, I need to focus more and more on God and His Word, because the power and the ability isn't in me in the first place, it's in Him. If I will be available and obedient, the next 20 years will bring far more fruit that the past 40!


Father, thank You for Your grace and love. Thank You for Your patience and mercy. Thank You for Your willingness to use even such a one as I. Help me indeed meditate on Your Word and allow it to bear Your fruit in and through me. Help me get out of the way more and more so that You will be free to do all that You desire to do. Help me live out Your Word, not as academic knowledge but as vital, life-giving truth, so that many may receive life through me, for their salvation and Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!




詩篇 119:66 よい分別と知識を私に教えてください。私はあなたの仰せを信じていますから。

Psalm 119 is like Proverbs, in that taken as a whole it is overwhelming, but in small bites it is rich indeed. This verse points out the reason there is so much foolishness, stupidity even, in such places as government: those involved don't believe what God says. As the Bible says repeatedly, wisdom starts with fearing God, and people who think they are powerful are very quick to forget they aren't God. If we will believe what God has said and is saying, then we will be able to discern right from wrong, wisdom from foolishness, even life from death. If we reject God, then we won't be able to discern any of those things.


I was raised with the idea that the Bible is absolute, but that doesn't mean I've always walked in obedience. I've got to remember at all times that there is no wisdom apart from God, no real power but His, and no “fact” that violates His Truth. I also need to remember that He doesn't need me to defend Him! I am to stand firm in the truth He has revealed to me, but I don't have to jump in every time people reveal that they don't accept that truth. If I did, I would be at it constantly! I am to speak His truth, but not to defend Him or me; He is more than capable of that. He has said enough wonderful things that if I really believe them, I will have peace and joy regardless of what comes against me or goes on around me.


Father, thank You for the overflowing abundance of Your grace toward me. Thank You for each thing You allow me to experience and for the lessons You teach me through it all. Thank You for Your abundant provision and for your wisdom in how You provide it, so that I am less likely to take it for granted. Thank You most of all for loving me so much, sending Your Son to die for me and be raised from the dead, and for the unlimited number of lesser ways that You express Your love to me. Help me walk in constant, clear awareness of Your love and Your Spirit, so that my every breath will be praise and worship, as You desire and deserve. Thank You. Hallelujah!



詩篇 119:43 私の口から、真理のみことばを取り去ってしまわないでください。私は、あなたのさばきを待ち望んでいますから。

This is the prayer of a man who knows he speaks God's truth. Every preacher should have that assurance, but sad to say, it seems that some do not. The authority of Scripture has been attacked in every way the devil can think of, but if a preacher doesn't know it's the Word of God, then he's got nothing to say. Likewise, if a preacher isn't willing to let the Word speak to him to convict, guide, and encourage, then trying to use it for those purposes toward others will be empty and futile. I like the Japanese expression in the second half of the verse: “I wait expectantly (in hope) for Your laws.” A true man of God isn't going to act until he's heard from God, but that hardly makes him inactive, because he grasps the principles that are already laid down in Scripture. Specific guidance on specific issues is wonderful, and God isn't stingy in that area, but sometimes we grind to a halt seeking guidance when God is waiting for us to realize that He's already given abundantly clear guidelines on the issue we're worried about.


I've fallen into that last trap a few times, enough to realize that the bait is “our desires” that war against what we know to be God's will.
That's why Paul dealt with this issue extensively, in Romans 7 and 8 and Galatians 5, mentioning it in passing in Ephesians and Colossians as well. I've also fallen into the first trap at times, proclaiming the Truth without allowing it to deal with me. I'm blessed with a considerable familiarity with the Bible, but I've got to stay alert so that I won't proclaim it without doing it, thus deceiving myself (James 1:22). If I will remain open to the Word working in me, then I can indeed wait expectantly for God's laws, His judgments, to be manifested in every area of my life.


Father, thank You for the privilege of proclaiming Your truth. You have been faithful to do that in and through me over the years. Help me be more and more effective in transmitting that truth so that it sinks into people's hearts and minds and manifests in their actions, bearing the fruit that You intend. I certainly can't do that in my own strength, but You can do it through me, and that's what I ask for. May I be an effective sower, waterer, and, yes, harvester, so that more and more people may be gathered into Your kingdom in fullness, for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!



詩篇 118:19-20 義の門よ。私のために開け。私はそこから入り、主に感謝しよう。これこそ主の門。正しい者たちはこれより入る。

Very often we take God's grace so lightly. In the New Testament age we rightly stress that Jesus' blood can cleanse any sin, and that we don't have to clean ourselves up before we come to Him in repentance, because we can't. However, living in fellowship with Him from that point calls for walking in holiness. This isn't legalism, it's simple fact. The Bible is clear that if we nurture sin, it cuts us off from God (Psalm 66:18). John goes to some length to express that though everyone does sin, a true child of God does not continue in sin; it is repulsive to him. (1 John 1:8; 2:6, 9; 3:9-10) Society today (under the influence and strong encouragement of the devil) says we can do anything we feel like at the moment. Sadly, even some churches have swallowed this lie. We cannot enter God's presence unless we come through the gate of righteousness. It is true that our own righteousness is as filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6), but we have to choose to put on the robes of righteousness that Jesus has prepared for us. Otherwise, we are cast out (Matthew 22:8-13). This particular message has largely been lost from the Church today. As Don Francisco sings, “Holiness: it's the Lord's command, not the Lord's request.” Saying that, it's important to remember the line just before that in the same song: “It's not your food or drink; it's not the way you dress.” Holiness, righteousness in the sight of God, is indeed seeing and acknowledging God and responding appropriately. As the Lord spoke through me March 28th, that is lifestyle worship, and anything less is inadequate.


This point has been growing in me ever since the Lord spoke that through me in March. He woke me up early this morning with a dream of me leading an impromptu song on these lines: “Jesus, we give You the glory; Jesus, we give You our praise, But we know that it doesn’t mean much until we give You our days.” If I am only speaking truth and not living it, my words are hollow and powerless. However, if I am speaking God's Word out of a lifestyle of fellowship with Him, then nothing on earth can resist His power expressed through me. I must never be presumptuous, but I also must not limit God through my unbelief. I have no personal power, but God's power through me is infinite, if I am perfectly aligned with Him. I must not let temporal things get in the way of the eternal things God wants to do in and through me.


Father, I feel a rising tide of Your Spirit in me. I have been very slow to get to this point, but that's not been Your fault! Thank You for Your patience with me. Keep me from creating scenarios in my mind, trying to figure out what You're going to do and how. Rather, help me go deeper and deeper in fellowship and obedience with You. Thank You for the taste of victorious spiritual warfare You gave us the other night. It had been a long time since I had prayed like that. Help me expect You to work through me, look forward to it, and not let anything get in the way. May Your name be hallowed, Your kingdom come, Your will be done, for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!



詩篇 118:14 主は、私の力であり、ほめ歌である。主は、私の救いとなられた。

Many people would like God to be their salvation, but they aren't ready to rely on Him in everything (make Him their strength), and they don't delight in Him (make Him their song). Modern thinking, which we derive largely from Greek culture, tends to compartmentalize everything. Men in particular are noted for failing to make or recognize the connections between/among the different areas of their lives. Women are somewhat better about that, which mystifies men because they don't see why, for example, remembering a chore they had forgotten to do would make someone feel unromantic. In contrast, Hebrew thought is/was much more unified. The Old Testament treats people as units, which is why it sometimes comes across as legalistic. In Hebrew thought, a person's actions are going to be congruent with who and what they are. That makes for an approach that sometimes seems simplistic to us, but it can cut out a lot of the confusing junk of such things as “political correctness.” This verse is essentially saying that if we will depend on God in everything and delight in Him, He will indeed save us. That's actually a consistent theme throughout the Bible, and we forget it to our loss.


My difficulty in this area has been in depending on God. I have tended to rely on the gifts and abilities He's given me, rather than recognizing on a practical level that He is far greater and more powerful than anything I've yet experienced. As Psalm 37:4 says, I am to delight myself in the Lord, knowing that He will take care of every-thing. Jesus expressed it as seeking first the kingdom of God and His righteousness. (Matthew 6:33) I think I am doing that, but sometimes my actions say otherwise. My mind and my life indeed have many areas, but I've got to make Jesus Lord in every one of them, holding nothing back. This is what my grandfather was talking about when he spoke of giving God all the keys to your heart, not just the one for the front door. That's a nice analogy to preach on, but I've got to put it into practice!


Father, thank You yet again for not giving up on me. Your patience is amazing! Help me indeed live out the truth You have placed in me, not just giving it lip service but expressing it in every area of my life. May I rely on You and delight in You all the time, not just sometimes, so that I may avoid the traps of the enemy and fulfill all of Your purposes for me, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!