第1コリント 2:12 ところで、私たちは、この世の霊を受けたのではなく、神の御霊を受けました。それは、恵によって 神から私たちに賜ったものを、私たちが知るためです。

As Paul goes on to make even clearer in verse 14, it takes the help of the Holy Spirit to understand what God has done for us. Otherwise, it's too preposterous! In several places throughout his letters Paul uses expressions like “riches of glory” and “mystery,” because the infinite grace of God overloads our human intellect. That is the reason the baptism in the Holy Spirit is so important, and also why so many people oppose it. They don't like the idea of something they can't possibly understand rationally! They need to come to a simple, childlike faith that says, the grace of God is good, period. As long as we are trying to figure everything out and remain in control, so to speak, we aren't going to enjoy the richness of God's grace to us. The reason so many people don't understand the things of God is that they have refused the Spirit of God.


This is a further amplification of something I have been feeling and expressing for several years: when the Christians of Japan wake up to who they are in Christ, it will change not only this nation but the world! As this verse makes clear, that will happen only when they open up to receive the Holy Spirit who is freely poured out. As a pastor, I am charged with being an instrument of that grace in this church. I find myself frustrated by various behaviors of believers who aren't acting like disciples, when what I need to be praying for is openness to the Holy Spirit for everyone in the church. People are terribly afraid of losing control, when surrendering control is precisely what they need to do. I heard a testimony from elsewhere in the country just the other day, in which someone really let go of the reins, so to speak, when witnessing to someone and said things by the Spirit that shocked them, but the results were magnificent. I need to encourage the believers that God will never give them anything bad, so that they will open up to receive the abundance He has for them.


Father, thank You for Your amazing grace! Help me be more and more open to Your Spirit myself, so that I may more effectively encourage the believers to do likewise. Help me be an open channel for Your Spirit to flow through, breaking the chains that bind our hearts and minds so that we may follow You fully, for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!



ローマ 15:30 兄弟たち。私たちの主イエス・キリストによって、また、御霊の愛によって切に願いします。私のた めに、私とともに力を尽くして神に祈ってください。

Probably countless missionaries use this verse in their “prayer letters,” because the thought and the need are no less true and urgent today than they were for Paul. The only reason we sometimes see this as trite is that we don't really understand or believe the power of prayer. It's interesting that where the Japanese, which I have come to trust as being close to the Greek, says “use all your strength in prayer,” the NIV says “join me in my struggle by praying.” It is true that prayer for someone is participation in their labors, but it is also true that we should not be halfhearted in our praying, and that is all too often the case. We tend to say a little prayer, if we pray at all, and then forget about it. That certainly isn't using all our strength! Everyone has struggles, and some are more intense than others, but prayer is a way in which we can genuinely come alongside brothers and sisters in Christ to support them. I well remember the tag line of a program that was on AFRTS (US military) Far East Network radio when I was a child. It said, “More things are wrought by prayer than this world dreams of.” I thought it was true at the time, and I still believe it!


As a missionary pastor I am certainly on both sides of this matter. I pray for the people in the church, both believers and “seekers,” I pray for those outside the church who haven't yet come to the place of being “seekers,” and I pray for brothers and sisters around the globe as I learn of their needs in one way or another. At the same time, I am very much in need of prayer myself. I am faced with pressures, distractions, and temptations, and my own strength is insufficient for the task. I well remember the period of close to 10 years, starting after we had been in Omura for a few years, when we lost the prayer support we began our ministry with because of the dissolution of a church. We were here and going through the motions, but our focus was dissipated and our effectiveness was quite low. That situation didn't correct until the Lord opened the way for us to make real connection with the members of a home fellowship, and they took us on as a prayer concern. Prayer makes a massive difference!


Father, thank You for the incredible privilege of prayer. It is indeed participating in what You are doing. Help me not only exercise it more and more fully, but also lead the believers to do likewise. Thank You for those who attend regular prayer meeting. That meeting has come under attack recently, which is hardly surprising since it does major damage to the work of the enemy! I ask Your protection for each member, and I pray that their number may increase. Show me how to teach prayer, both to those who join me in it (not difficult) and to those who don't (much more difficult). And I do ask for intercessors around the world, to lift up this church and the work here, so that Your plans and purposes may be fulfilled on Your schedule for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!



ローマ 15:7 こういうわけですから、キリストが神の栄光のために、私たちを受け入れてくださったように、あな たがたも互いに受け入れなさい。

The English gives the impression that it is our accepting that gives glory to God, while the Japanese leans toward it being Christ's accepting us that gives God glory. I would imagine that the Greek construction could be applied either way, because God is glorified when His character is revealed, and that applies in either case. This verse reminds me of Jesus' story of the Prodigal Son. A big part of our problem in being obedient to this verse lies in our failing to grasp just how many barriers got torn down for Christ to be able to accept us. When we get a handle on that, we understand just how minor and petty the various objections we have to accepting others really are. At the same time, we need to remember that whereas God accepts us as we are, He doesn't leave us as we are. We are to accept one another, but that doesn't mean we are to place some sort of stamp of approval on attitudes and lifestyles that mock God. This is a huge issue in the current big fuss over homosexuality. Some Christians don't get it right, condemning the person along with the behavior, and militant homosexuals demand acceptance of their behavior and refuse fellowship on any other terms. This sort of challenge should help us see how minor most of the issues that trip us up really are!


Acceptance has been a major issue all of my life, growing up as a Caucasian missionary kid in Japan, attending a U.S. military dependents school. I've felt more kinds of rejection that I could list! That made me want to not need other people, but I realize that is a false hope, because we are created as social beings. I need to allow the rejection I have felt cause me to be sensitive to others, accepting them without accepting their sin. I find I have the most trouble with people who are quick to reject others on given issues, even if I am not being rejected. Points of theology are hardly unimportant, but they should not be barriers to fellowship! I have very strong disagreement with, for example, Catholic theology on prayer (to saints, etc.), but I am far closer to any Catholic than I am to any Buddhist or atheist!


Father, thank You for Your grace toward me. That's what this verse is all about. Help me indeed be a transmitter of that grace to all I encounter, even the ones who seem less than gracious. Help me not only accept people without condoning their sin, but also lead the believers to do the same. May we be a church that is marked by acceptance indeed, as You desire and intend, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!



ローマ 14:4 あなたはいったいだれなので、他人のしもべをさばくのですか。しもべが立つのも倒れるのも、その 主人の心次第です。このしもべは立つのです。なぜなら、主には、彼を立たせることができるからです。

We all have a tendency to judge one another that seems to be part of human nature. Jesus dealt with it, as did just about every NT writer. I think it comes from the desire to feel better by comparison, because if someone is worse, then we are better, or so we feel. What the Bible says, with remarkable consistency, is that God is both the standard and the Judge, so we need to leave such things to Him. A Japanese expression is remarkably appropriate: acorns comparing height. There is plenty of variation among acorns, but it is totally insignificant compared to the size of the tree, or even of the humans who might be observing them. All of us are woefully inadequate compared to God, but as Paul says here, God can and will empower each person who is committed to Him. This verse doesn't just apply to the people around us, it applies to us as well. As Jesus' younger brother Jude said in his beautiful benediction, God is able to keep us from falling and present us before His throne without fault and with great joy. (Jude 24)


All Christians are told to admonish one another (Colossians 3:16), and as a pastor that is a particular responsibility, so I need to distinguish between evaluating and judging. That can be difficult! The key word here, as in so much of Christian life, is grace. I need to love people enough to warn them of risky behavior, without condemning them and writing them off. I think this particular verse is speaking specifically of someone who is committed as a servant of God. God will indeed make everyone with that commitment stand firm, but the danger comes with those who are wavering in that commitment. For whatever reason, many turn aside to serve other things. If I am walking in love, I will give warning and correction, but even so, I must remember that each person is God's servant, not mine. If my heart is broken over the activity of a brother or sister, I must remember that God grieves even more.


Father, thank You for Your faithfulness. We are indeed weak and unreliable, but You are totally dependable. Help me trust You not only with everything in my life but with everyone I deal with as well. May I be fully available to You to speak and act in relation to people for their blessing, without thinking or feeling that I have to, can, or should run their lives for them. May I personally be true to You so that everyone who sees me may be encouraged, not only to seek to be true to you but also that You can enable them to do so, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!




ローマ 13:14 主イエス・キリストを着なさい。肉の欲のために心を用いてはいけません。

Sometimes the NIV practice of translating “flesh” as “sinful nature” is helpful, but sometimes it clouds the issue, as here. The Japanese is very straightforward: “Don't use your soul to satisfy your flesh.” These days society is very focused on the “desires of the flesh,” as this verse puts it. That leaves us with hearts that are too busy to consider God, and that's exactly what the devil is after. Our bodies are given to us as gifts from God and are not evil in themselves, but are to be taken care of properly. However, when our focus is on the physical, we lose out on the far greater half of existence. Since the devil is out to steal, kill, and destroy, that's exactly what he wants to happen. The first half of this verse is the answer: putting on Christ. We have trouble visualizing that sometimes, but a good analogy would be a “super hero suit.” Paul uses that imagery several times in his letters, notably in talking about the armor of God in Ephesians 6. If we have put on Christ, we are wearing the armor of God! Putting on Christ doesn't mean losing, much less destroying, who we are. Rather, it is a fulfillment of God's purpose in creating us, because He intends that we be His children, and Christ is the Son of God. “Putting on Christ” means acting in every way as a child of God, in the name of the Son.


This is one of the great mysteries of the Gospel, and I am charged with communicating it. To do that effectively, I've got to practice it myself. It's not something that sinks into our awareness very readily, and takes a lot of repetition and practice, but that's what life on earth is for! I must not give up on anyone, including myself, but trust God to complete in us the work that He has started. (Philippians 1:6) I need to teach on this issue more often, basing it on the foundation of who Christ is and also provide hooks so that my hearers can grasp the practical reality of it. It does no good to teach theology if I fail to help the believers apply it in their lives.


Father, this is certainly a present, practical issue. Help me be true to You in ever detail, in what to teach, when, and how, so that the believers may be built up and equipped to do the work of ministry as You desire and intend. May they desire and strive for true maturity in Christ, not condemning themselves for where they are now but not being satisfied with it either. May we all grow so that Christ is manifested fully in this church, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!



ローマ 12:21 悪に負けてはいけません。かえって、善をもって悪に打ち勝ちなさえ。

In a sense this verse wraps up the content of the previous several verses. We have proverbs like, “Fight fire with fire,” but as Jesus taught in the Sermon on the Mount, that doesn't apply in the kingdom of God. Paul also is very specific on this point. (2 Corinthians 10:3-4) The OT injunction of “an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth,” was never intended to promote retribution, but rather to limit punishment for crimes. The irony of worrying about whether the execution of murderers is “humane” is enormous, because they certainly had no such concerns when they committed their crimes. However, that is a corporate, judicial action rather than a personal one. On a personal level, this verse should always be our guide. When we respond to evil with evil, the devil wins twice. I will never forget the time a young militant Buddhist accosted my mother and me in a park in Fukuoka around 50 years ago. He figured out from seeing us that my mother was a missionary, and he was in attack mode. His major point was that his Sokagakkai sect only asked of people what was possible for them, but Christianity demanded the impossible, specifically bringing up “Love your enemies” as an example. My mother didn't bat an eye, but told him a true story of humanly impossible love, and I think it shook him. I wouldn't be surprised to someday see him in heaven, because she was overcoming evil with good.


My parents certainly weren't perfect, but I grew up with many such examples of overcoming evil with good. I have hardly done a perfect job of it myself, but I do know from experience that the results are far more satisfying and long-lasting if that is my policy, rather than trying to defend myself in a strictly human way. I need to be consistent, expressing the character of Jesus at all times rather than just occasionally. I'm not to be riding myself on this issue, but at the same time I must remember that failures in this area are to be repented of, rather than glossed over. That fits in with this past Sunday's message!


Father, thank You that You never meet evil with evil, but are only good all the time. Thank You that Your goodness includes justice and holiness, but even there You always provide a way for us to repent and be forgiven, if we will accept it. Help me express Your character accurately, teaching the believers so that they also may trust You fully, and together we may be an expression of Your kingdom on this earth, for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!




ローマ 11:33 ああ、神の知恵と知識との富は、何と底知れず深いことでしょう。そのさばきは、何と知り尽くしが たく、その道は、何と測り知りがたいことでしょう。

People are forever trying to figure God out, and they just can't do it. As Paul expresses in Romans 1:20, some things are evident about God simply from the natural world, but one of the things that is evident about Him is that He's a lot smarter than we are! We have two problems in this area: first, we are finite and He isn't, and second, we aren't satisfied with that state of affairs! This is one reason why Jesus said we have to enter the Kingdom of God as little children, or we will never enter at all. (Mark 10:15) Little children are aware of their ignorance, and they don't feel they have to know everything before they can trust. Little children are often very curious and want to learn all they can, but they don't insist on knowledge before obedience. It is as they grow older that that kicks in! Spiritual maturity could actually be described as “growing younger,” because it is marked by a return to not insisting on knowledge before trust and obedience. The better we understand that God's smart and we aren't, the more peace we have and the more fruitfulness, which comes from closer obedience. One of the delights of walking with God is the glimpses He sometimes gives us of what He is doing, but insisting on seeing before we follow is a tragic mistake.


I've certainly had my struggles in this area! I am deeply grateful for God finally getting it through to me that He's smart and I'm not. The current US political situation is an all-too-graphic example of the results of intellectual hubris. I know because I've been there! I still am not immune from thinking I know better – than others, or even than God. I have to keep reminding myself that I'm not God, and I can't “fix” every situation. A benevolent dictator is still a dictator, and I must stand firm against my impulses in that direction. If I will keep myself available to God, He will use me to bring His good will into play, but I can't go around deciding strictly on my own what that will is, and trying to bring it to pass by my own efforts. That's a sure recipe for really making a mess of things!


Father, thank You for Your patience and faithfulness toward me. As You told me so clearly years ago, there are many things in the world at this point that You're not happy about either. Help me trust You to turn those things around and use even them for eventual blessing and for Your glory. Help me stay available to You at all times in every area, so that I may be useful to You in producing the fruit You desire from my life, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!



ローマ 8:33-34 神に選ばれた人々を訴えるのはだれですか。神が儀と認めてくださるのです。罪に定めようとするの はだれですか。死んでくださった方、いや、よみがえられた方であるキリスト・イエスが、神の右の座に着き、私たちのためにと りなしてくださるのです。

When we confess something to God in faith, it goes under the blood of Christ and can never rightly be used against us again. The devil desperately doesn't want us to know that, because once we really get it through our heads and into our spirits, he has virtually no power over us. His name means “accuser,” and that's what he does. When we understand, deep down, that we are really, really forgiven, then accusations become meaningless. When he brings something up to us, we can say, “Sure, I did that, but it's under the blood, and I am the righteousness of God in Christ.” (2 Corinthians 5:21) Our past sins no longer define who we are. The danger in that, of course, is in taking God's grace for granted and taking our own sins lightly. Earlier in Romans Paul had to speak against the idea that God's grace frees us to sin, instead of freeing us from sin. (Romans 6:1-2, 15) That is of course a lie of the devil. Sad to say, in our human weakness we are quick either to condemn ourselves or excuse ourselves, when instead we need to forgive ourselves as God has forgiven us in Christ.


As a pastor, this isn't just an issue for me, it is something I need to communicate to every believer. That's what this morning's message is all about, and I certainly need the anointing of the Holy Spirit to get it across. I already have lots of Scriptures in my notes, and this isn't one of them! When teaching a fundamental truth like this, there is so much material that I am in constant danger of overwhelming my audience. I need to let the Holy Spirit fix my brakes as well as my accelerator! I need to speak only as much as my hearers have ears to receive, but then, I have a wide variety of hearers at one time in a Sunday morning service. I need to be faithful to speak what the Holy Spirit prompts me to, neither more nor less, and let Him sort it out in the hearts and minds of my hearers.


Father, Your Word is so rich! Keep me from choking my hearers on too much at one time. Help me rather present good nutrition in ways that will be easy to receive and digest, so that the flock may indeed be fed and nurtured to grow as You intend. Help me apply every truth to myself first, never speaking down to anyone but rejoicing in Your grace. May we, individually and collectively, be all, and exactly, what You desire and intend, for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!




ローマ 5:10 もし敵であった私たちが、御子の死によって神と和解されたのなら、和解された私たちが、彼のいのちによって救いにあずかるのは、なおさらなことです。

God has already done the work for our reconciliation and salvation; the question is simply whether we will receive it by faith. We have such difficulty accepting this! We think (with the encouragement of that liar, the devil) that we have to do something to earn salvation, to pay God back for all the things we have done against Him. The problem is, that debt is too great for anyone to repay it by their own effort, so God had to take care of it from His side, canceling it by the blood of Christ on the cross. Any way we look at it, that is a mystery! How could God do that? Why would He do that? We come back to the reality that God is love, and it is His character. He is also holy, and cannot simply excuse sin, so He had to forgive it through the cross. In practical terms, even Christians have trouble believing this on a day-to-day basis. When we stumble, the devil is quick to tell us that we have disqualified ourselves from following Christ, so we might as well give up. We need to remember that since he is a liar, that cannot be true! This verse is pointing out that because of the death of Christ, we are God's enemies only if we insist on it; He has taken down the barrier. That being the case, Christ's life in us is salvation indeed, if we will only receive it.


This is closely connected to tomorrow's message. The truth here is so deep that it has to be imparted by the Holy Spirit, so I must not rely on my powers of persuasion. They won't work! I need to let the Holy Spirit illuminate this to my spirit, and use my words and my delivery to illuminate it to the hearts and minds of my hearers. I need to trust Him myself, if I want my hearers to trust Him! Likewise, I need to rejoice in this magnificent salvation that God has provided, if I want my hearers to do the same. I need to remember that, as Mark Conner and others have said, the messenger is the message!


Father, I know this, and sometimes I operate in it and sometimes I don't. Thank You for Your patience with me. Thank You for the time yesterday when You used my words to open the eyes of someone to the reality that repentance isn't just regretting the consequences of our sin, it is regretting the sin itself and turning away from it. Thank You for being faithful to use me in spite of my abundant shortcomings. Thank You for all You enabled me to get done yesterday. Help me remember what needs to be done today and do each thing in turn, not allowing myself to be distracted, so that Your will may be done in and through me, on Your schedule and for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!



ローマ 1:16 私は福音を恥とは思いません。福音は、ユダヤ人をはじめギリシャ人にも、信じるすべての人とって、救いを得させる神の力です。

This is the point at which many people, church members even, disqualify themselves from being called Christian. If Christianity is not superior to other religions, then it is as meaningless as worshiping the head of a sardine, to reference a Japanese proverb. It matters intensely whether someone thinks Jesus is one god among many, or whether they believe that He is the only Son of the Creator, the only way to the Father and salvation. (John 14:6, Acts 4:12) The former position might be a good, moral person, but only the second position can be called Christian. The devil has put a lot of effort into promoting relativism, especially in areas that formerly had a Christian majority. The one good thing that can be said about Islam is that it is not relativistic! On the surface, the single most noticeable difference between Islam and Christianity should be how they go about propagating their religion. From the start, Islam has explicitly endorsed force as a method of “conversion,” and they are violent in the defense of their beliefs. In sharp contrast, Christianity had has the Sermon on the Mount from the outset, and conversion is not possible without the convicting, convincing power of the Holy Spirit. Christians are not to be violent in their propagation or defense of the Gospel, but they are to be absolutely unyielding in their faith and obedience to it.


I have been accused numbers of times of “cultural imperialism” by people who haven't understood faith as anything but cultural. If I have tasted such a great salvation, how can I not seek to draw others into it? There is strong pressure in a country like Japan that is not culturally Christian to bow to the cultural norms and be quiet about your faith, but I believe that falls under what Paul is calling being ashamed of the Gospel. As a Caucasian in an Oriental country, I am not expected to conform so much, but Japanese believers come under enormous pressure. As a pastor, I am to be a support and encouragement to them, lifting them up in prayer. However, I cannot stand for them; they have to choose to stand themselves. As I said just this past Sunday, I didn't grow up in a non-Christian home, so my empathy and even understanding are severely limited. However, God knows every detail, and I am to be His instrument in supporting them in their struggles.


Father, thank You for this reminder. Keep me from laying unnecessary burdens on anyone. Rather, help me point them to Christ, who invites all who are burdened to lay those burdens at His feet. May we be a church that is uncompromising in our devotion and obedience to You, but also one that nurtures the young, binds up the wounded, heals the sick, and liberates the captives, for their salvation and Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!



ヨハネ 21:22 イエスはペテロに言われた。「わたしの来るまで彼が生きながらえるのをわたしが望むとしても、それかあなたに何のかかわりがありますか。あなたは、わたしに従いなさい。」

This little detail of the story is extremely important for every believer. We are very quick to compare ourselves with others, both favorably and unfavorably, and Jesus is saying that's none of our business. Each person is individually responsible before God, and we are to seek His instructions and His evaluation, rather than that of people. That said, we do need to remember that God uses people to speak into our lives for direction and correction. I've seen more than enough of people who say, “I'm following God,” and use it as an excuse to be totally self-centered. The specific emphasis here is that we aren't to be jealous of one another. John was the only one of the first 12 apostles to die a natural death, but that doesn't mean he had it any easier than any of the others. With blessing comes responsibility, and often we aren't ready to shoulder what comes with the blessing that is making us envious. This is what Paul was talking about when he said we must each carry our own load (Galatians 6:5).

この話しは少し詳しく書かれていますが、全ての信者にとってとても 大切です。良きにつけ悪しきにつけ、私たちはすぐに人と比べたがりますが、そうしたことは全く無関係なことだとイエスは教えています。各自が神の御前、個々の責任を負っています。そして、人からではなく、神からの指示と評価を求めるべきです。つまり、神は導き、正すために、そして私たちの命に語るために人を用いられることを覚えておきましょう。「私は神に従います。」と口にしながら、完全に自己中心さの言い訳にした人達を私はあまりにも多く見てきました。ここで特に強調してあることは、私たちは互いに妬み合わずとも良い、ということです。ヨハネは12弟子の中で、ただ一人、自然死を遂げた人ですが、それでも他の弟子達よりも安楽だったわけではありません。祝福には責任が伴いますが、祝福に伴って来る、人を妬みに駆り立てるものを背負うだけの心構えが私たちにはできていません。パウロが私たちは互いの荷を負い合うべきだと教えている通りです。(ガラテヤ6:5)

I think I am more often the object of envy rather than envious of others, but that certainly doesn't mean I'm immune. Years in ministry have taught me that no church is without problems, and we don't get to choose which problems we will face. What I do know is that God's grace is and will be sufficient, whether it is for the really long haul like the Apostle John, or for martyrdom like his brother James. I am not to compare myself with others, and I need to work to help the believers do likewise. I need to practice and teach that each one is responsible as a steward before God, not only of material goods but of abilities, time, and opportunities as well. We are not and will never be evaluated by God on the basis of what He has given someone else, but only on the basis of what we have done with what He has given us.


Father, this is something I've had to deal with off and on over the years. You know well that I haven't been the most faithful steward in some areas. Help me maintain focus on You, allowing You to show me what You want done with what You have placed in my hands. Help me likewise encourage the believers to stop damaging comparisons. Jealousy has done major damage, in this church and many others. Help me show the believers how You have blessed and equipped them, so that they may get about the business of using all of that for You and Your kingdom, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!



ヨハネ 21:7 そこで、イエスの愛されたあの弟子がペテロに言った。「主です。」すると、シモン・ペテロは、主であると聞いて、裸だったので、上着をまとって、湖に飛び込んだ。

One thing about Peter, when he learned a lesson, he really learned it! The memory of his denying he ever knew Jesus was all too fresh in his mind, and he was determined never to act like that again. We are told (Luke 24:34, 1 Corinthians 15:5) that Peter got a personal visit from Jesus after the resurrection, but before the incident here. (Don Francisco wrote a magnificent song about that, called “He's Alive,” that still moves me each time I remember it.) If Jesus was there, Peter wanted to be close to Him! That was because Peter understood that he was forgiven, and it changed the way he looked at everything. That awareness is of vital importance, and the devil does all he can to keep us from holding onto it. In Japan, as I have written time and time again, the whole issue of forgiving and being forgiven is a major stumbling block, probably the biggest, to people coming to Christ and living for Him. When we understand the reality of our guilt, and the reality of God's forgiveness through the cross of Christ, then not even the threat of martyrdom could persuade us to deny our faith. Lack of understanding of those two things leaves us weak to stand against the pressure to conform to unbelieving society around us, and powerless in our attempts to communicate the Gospel.


Having lived with this issue all my life, working with it in active ministry for over 30 years, what I have to be careful of is not giving up on people. After all, if God can forgive me, He can do anything! I need to be tireless in expressing the love, grace, and forgiveness of God to those around me, even when they are offended to be told they need to be forgiven! That particular point was something of a gut-punch when I finally learned it, just within this past year. That is one area in which I must not bow to “cultural sensitivity!” A Japanese pastor insisted to me that Japanese don't need to be told they are guilty of sin, because that awareness already drags them down. However, a person must acknowledge their guilt before God to receive His forgiveness. Becoming a Christian isn't simply acquiring a ticket to heaven. In fact, without repentance, going through the motions of church membership is no guarantee of heaven at all! I need to seek and exercise the anointing of the Holy Spirit to get through to people so that they will indeed lay their burdens at the foot of the cross and receive, and give, forgiveness as God intends.


Father, I've struggled with this so much that resignation is a real problem. I am not to resign myself to minimal results, but at the same time I must not think I can produce results on my own. Help me keep that balance, looking to You with expectation and rejoicing in what I see You doing, so that I may be fully available for however You want to use me, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!



ヨハネ 20:17 イエスは彼女に言われた。「わたしにすがりついていてはいけません。わたしはまだ父のもとに上っていないからです。わたしの兄弟たちのところに言って、彼らに『わたしは、わたしの父またあなたがたの父、わたしの神またあなたがたの神のもとに上る』と告げなさい。」

The Bible is filled with dramatic moments, but this is one of the top. I would imagine that Mary was wrapped around Jesus' ankles like she would never let go! Jesus wasn't reprimanding her for her reaction, but was saying she couldn't stay in that posture. Jesus' words as to why, though, are very interesting: “because I've not yet risen to the Father.” The implication is that after that, clinging would be OK. On the face of it, that doesn't make much sense, but 10 days after He rose to the Father, the Holy Spirit was poured out on all the believers. We're supposed to cling to Him! The message that Jesus told Mary to give to His disciples (He said brothers, but she obviously understood Him to mean His disciples, since He had made that connection earlier – Mark 3:35) is absolutely mind boggling. In this one sentence, Jesus was raising believers to His level! We must not get confused and think we can do anything without Him, but as John said later, “In this world we are like Him.” (1 John 4:17) When Christians really start acting like what the Bible says we are, God's kingdom will come indeed!

I once heard a sermon on this verse by someone who, I later found out, was allowing the devil to trick him into conceit. Conceit is certainly a problem if we focus only on the positive statements of the Bible. I must stay fully grounded, recognizing the conditions that are stated and staying in close submission. At the same time, I need to lift my own eyes, and help the believers lift theirs, off of our personal weaknesses and limitations so as to understand that God can use even such vessels as these to accomplish His will. This is something I harp on all the time, but this verse should give me, and the believers, a glimpse of where we're headed.


Father, I feel You are getting through to us, at least more than I have ever experienced before. Help us hear You accurately and not let the devil steal any bit of it, so that we may receive Your cleansing and healing, Your vision and power, to do Your will on Your schedule for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!



ヨハネ 19:30 イエスは、酸いぶどう酒を受けられると、「完了した」と言われた。そして、頭をたれて、霊をお渡しになった。

This extremely moving scene brings to mind Jesus' own words, when He said, “No one takes [my life] from me, but I lay it down of my own accord.” (John 10:18) Throughout His crucifixion, Jesus was in control in a very real sense. Had He not submitted voluntarily, no one could have done anything to Him. However, as He again said, this was why He had come to the earth. (John 12:27) Jesus was and is the ultimate example of love, for the Father and for us, because He was absolutely obedient to the Father and He laid His life down for us. We often fail to grasp the magnitude of what Jesus did, because we have so little frame of reference for it. We have never been in infinite perfection in heaven, and then chosen to accept limitation, degradation, suffering and death for the sake of those who don't deserve such a sacrifice on their behalf. Writers from Isaiah to Paul expressed it in the best words they could, but no words could express it fully. It takes a revelation of the Holy Spirit to grasp it, and even then we can hardly understand what we have been shown. God is love, and the ultimate expression of that is the incarnation, life, suffering, and death of His Son. It took the resurrection to help the disciples understand what had really happened, and then the rest of their lives to allow that reality to soak into them.

大変感銘を呼ぶシーンですが、イエスは御自分の語られた「誰も私からいのちを取った者はいません。私が自分からいのちを捨てるのです。」(ヨハネ 10:18)の言葉を思い出しておられます。十字架上でイエスはとても現実的な感覚にありました。もしイエスが進んで捧げていなかったなら、誰もイエスに何もできなかったことでしょう。しかし、イエスはまた、なぜイエスがこの地上に現れたのかを再び語っています。(ヨハネ12:27)イエスは御父と私達に愛を示す究極の手本でしたし、今もそうです。なぜならイエスは御父に完全に従い、私たちのために命を差し出したからです。イエスのなさったことのあまりの偉大さを私たちは、しばしば理解できません。完全に人の理解を超えた行為だからです。私たちは天にある永遠の完全性を経験したことがありません。そのため有限、堕落、苦しみ、死をそうした犠牲に値しない人のために受け入れています。イザヤからパウロに至るまでの作者はできる限りの最高の表現でそのことを表現していますが、どんな描写を持ってしても不十分です。理解するためには聖霊による啓示が必要で、それでもなお、示されたことの殆どを理解できないでしょう。神は愛であり、その究極が御子の命、苦悩、死によって表現されているのです。何が起こったかを弟子たちが分かったのは復活があったからです。そして彼らは残りの生で現実を神あるものへと受け入れていきました。

I am at no special advantage when it comes to grasping this point, because human intellect alone can't do it. Like every other believer, I need to meditate on the reality of the incarnation and crucifixion of the Lord of Glory in order to let the Holy Spirit illuminate it for me, opening the eyes of my heart to see and appreciate it. The movie, “The Passion of the Christ,” was a magnificent tool for this purpose, but the life of the director since it was produced shows that he didn't let it sink into his own spirit. I must not make that mistake, preaching to others without appropriating the truth myself. I need to let the Holy Spirit remind me of it as often as necessary, so that I may walk in full submission and obedience to God, standing firm against the devil at all times and in every area. I have desired to be as obedient as Jesus was. I should not let go of that goal, but allow the Holy Spirit to work it in and through me.


Father, the past several Sundays the message has been building, as You had me point out yesterday, and it's a message of obedience. Help me live it out in every area of my life, grasping the enormity of what You have done for me and responding with total gratitude and obedience. You deserve nothing less! May I be an example and an encouragement to the believers, so that together we may be fully useful in Your hands, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!




ヨハネ 17:26 「そして、わたしは彼らにあなたの御名を知らせました。また、これからも知らせます。それは、あなたがわたしを愛してくださったその愛が彼らの中にあり、またわたしが彼らの中にいるためです。」

Many, many passages of Scripture are worthy of deep reflection and meditation, but none more so than the High Priestly prayer of Jesus, just before His arrest and crucifixion. This last line has an expression that in literal translation is confusing to modern readers, that the NIV is quite justified in modifying. The NIV says “made You known,” where the Japanese, as a more literal translation, says, “made Your name known.” At the time, a person's name was taken to represent all that they were, which is why it's such a big deal that we are given the right to pray in Jesus' name, and why it's so much more than tacking a few words onto the end of our prayers. That said, it is of vital importance that the more we know of God, the more His love will fill us and the more Christ will be formed in us. I come back yet again to my father's catch phrase of “Give all you know of yourself to all you know of Christ.” We are to keep growing in our knowledge of God, because the more that knowledge permeates us, governing our thoughts, words and actions, the more we will grasp His love for us and reflect Him to those around us. God allows circumstances to show us those areas in us that are not conformed to Christ, but that should not be reason for despair. Rather, we should give those unlovely parts of ourselves to Him, so that He may cleanse and heal them and restore them to the purpose for which He allowed them in our lives. Undesirable traits are never more than distortions of traits that are useful indeed, though they may look very different. We are created in the image of God, and the more we know of Him, in intimate fellowship rather than just intellectual knowledge, the more we will look like Him.

聖書に書かれている多くのメッセージはじっくり読み、考えてみるだけの価値がありますが、捕えられ、十字架にかかる直前のイエスの教えほど大切なものはないでしょう。最後の文を現代文に字義どおりに訳すると現代人は読んでいて混乱することでしょう。NIV版ではかなり修整が加えられています。NIVの [made You known」が日本語ではより字義通りに「あなたの御名を知らせました。」となっています。また人の名前は全てを表現するものですから、イエスの御名において祈る特権、祈りの結びに添える言葉がとても大切なのです。私たちが神を知るほどに、神の愛が私たちを満たし、ますますキリストが私たちの内に生きるのです。私の父のキャッチフレーズだった「分かっただけの自分を分かっただけのキリストに捧げなさい」の言葉をまた思い出しました。私たちは神の知識において成長し続けるのです。それは知識が深まり浸透するほどに、私たちの考え、言葉、行いに影響し、ますます神の愛を分かり、私たちが神の愛を周りに反映させられるからです。私たちがキリストに順応していない部分を示すために神様は様々な状況を用いて教えられます。だからと言って何も嘆く必要はありません。むしろ、そうした愛の欠如した部分を神様に明け渡しましょう。そうすることで神様は私たちを清め、癒し、修復してくださり、神の目的にかなうようにしてくださいます。好ましくない特性は歪んだ特性そのものであり、たとえそうは見えなくとも用いることができます。私たちは神に似せて創られたのですから、単に知性でとらえるのではなく、深い交わりの中で神を知るほどに、ますます神に似た者とされるのです。

This is certainly an ongoing lesson! When I am tired, when I am distracted, in various situations, I look and act very different from Jesus Christ. I am not to condemn myself for that, but neither am I to accept it in the sense of excusing it. I need to let Him enable me to repent indeed, showing me how not only to regret what is wrong but genuinely turn around and be right instead. The evidence is that this can be slow going, taking a lot of repetitions for the lessons really to get through. I must not give up, but trust God to make the necessary changes in me as I learn more and more not only how absolutely trustworthy He is, but also how to release myself to Him.


Father, this isn't just a problem for me. Help me be effective in Your hands in helping others along the same road. Thank You that I don't have to be perfect to be useful! Keep me from coming across as holier-than-thou, as having everything under control, because that would be hypocrisy. Help me rather communicate the love and grace You have poured out on me, so that I and those to whom I minister would together be transformed into the likeness of Your Son, for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!



ヨハネ 16:33 「わたしがこれらのことをあなたがたに話したのは、あなたがたがわたしにあって平安を持つためです。あなたがたは、世にあっては患難かんなんがあります。しかし、勇敢でありなさい。わたしはすでに世に勝ったのです。」

I quote this verse with great frequency, but I usually focus on the latter half. What stands out to me this morning is the first half. God tells us many times, particularly in the NT, not to be anxious, and here He is explaining what He has done to help us to that end: He has given us the information we need. He hasn't told us in detail what will happen in each life; it wouldn't be to our benefit if He did, because it would remove much of the basis for our spiritual growth. However, He has told us as much as we need to know, which is the the things He has provided for us. That provision centers on the Holy Spirit, who helps us appropriate God's Word and live in obedient trust, until we go to our reward of eternity with our Lord. When we have that firmly in mind, we will have peace indeed!


I need to remember what God has told us of His provision, and as a pastor, a major part of my work is helping others understand it as well. I have certainly had my battles with anxiety of various sorts, and they all come down to choosing to trust God. If I have so much trouble with that, as deeply and as faithfully as God has blessed me, then I should have an abundance of understanding and patience toward others who are in that struggle. I need to be faithful in pointing them to Christ, but I must not talk down to them in the process. That can be a major problem! I must not be flippant about other people's problems, however minor they might seem to me, because what matters to that person is their perception of the problem. I need gently to help them understand that all our problems on this earth are “light and momentary” (2 Corinthians 4:17), so that they can grasp the second half of this verse and rejoice in Christ.


Father, at times I am amazed at my own capacity to be anxious, even after all You have done for me. Forgive me. Help me not only trust You fully myself, but also help others to do likewise. “Trust and obey” is certainly a valid motto! May I live by it indeed and so see through and avoid the traps of the devil, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!




ヨハネ 15:20 「しもべはその主人にまさるものではない、とわたしがあなたがたに言ったことばを覚えておきなさい。もし人々がわたしを迫害したなら、あなたがたをも迫害します。もし彼らがわたしのことばを守ったなら、あなたがたのことばをも守ります。」

Ouch! This is a verse we would like to forget! The record is clear that whereas sometimes vast crowds followed Jesus, there were many hostile people among them, and Jesus' public ministry was very short indeed. We seek the crowds, but bemoan the hostility! Instead, we need to rejoice at those who do receive the Word we share, but not be surprised at those who refuse it. It is of course most painful when someone who was in the receiving group then turns around and refuses, but Jesus experienced the ultimate of that in Judas. We are to be so committed to Christ that people's response to us, however good, won't distract us, and however bad, won't make us give up. We are created as social beings, because God desires us for fellowship with Himself. That makes us care a great deal about the people around us, whether we want to do so, or want to admit it, or not. That's why the first commandment is to love God totally, and loving our neighbor as ourselves is the second. There is indeed priority there, and if we get that backwards, we quickly discover that we are not loving at all, either God, our neighbor, or ourselves.


The combination of my personality and childhood hurts made me believe I didn't really need other people, because I wanted it to be true. I was just deceiving myself. I do need others, and I care about their opinions, sometimes intensely. I've got to be careful that I don't allow the need for human affirmation to take precedence over obeying God. Jesus' words in this verse are very applicable, to me and to everyone who would follow Him fully. Physical struggles are minor compared to the emotional struggles of rejection, betrayal, and that whole bag. I need to remember that God will never leave me or forsake me (Deuteronomy 31:6), and nothing can separate me from His love (Romans 8:38-39).


Father, thank You for the dream this morning, in which I was telling people who were committed to You that sometimes following You was easy and sometimes it was like doing a belly crawl nude over broken glass, but that in the end it was worth it. Thank You for this verse, that alludes to some of those broken glass moments. Help me be unwavering in my commitment and obedience, indeed giving all I know of myself to all I know of You daily, continuously, so that all of Your purposes in, for, and through me may be fulfilled, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!



ヨハネ 15:4 「わたしにとどまりなさい。わたしも、あなたがたの中にとどまります。枝がぶどうの木についていなければ、枝だけでは実を結ぶことができません。同様にあなたがたも、わたしにとどまっていなければ、実を結ぶことはできません。」

The entire Upper Room Discourse (John 13~17) is so rich that practically any verse is worthy of a sermon by itself. That's all the more reason that we need to abide in Christ, depending on the Holy Spirit, because there's no way we could assimilate and apply it all on our own. Because we can't do it on our own, the devil tries to tempt us to give up and not try, settling for spiritual mediocrity, because that way we're far less threat to him. When we do abide in Christ and allow His Spirit to fill and guide us, it's like there's an army of little Christs running around, tearing down the works of the devil and setting people free. It doesn't take much thought to realize the devil doesn't want that! In relation specifically to this verse, some people equate “fruit” with souls won to Christ, and some equate it to the fruit of the Spirit. (Galatians 5:22-23). The thing is, it is both of those, and more besides. It includes all the “good works God has prepared in advance for us to do.” (Ephesians 2:10) Trying to do those good works without abiding in Christ is a recipe for total failure, not to mention burnout. The good news is that if we will abide in Christ and allow His Word and His Spirit to abide in us, then we will bear that fruit as naturally as a grape vine bears grapes, with as little effort. The effort that is called for is simply to focus on Christ in love and obedience; He will take care of everything else!

この二階の広間での教えは(ヨハネ13~17)大変、豊かな教えであり、どの節を用いても一つの説教ができるほどです。私たちが自力で理解し吸収し、実行できる方法は他にないのですから、私たちはキリストとともにいて、聖霊様に従うべきです。私たちの力ではできないので、悪魔は私たちを諦めさせるようにそそのかし、試みを断念させ、霊的凡庸さを押しつけようとします。それが悪魔にとって私たちを脅威と感じずに済むからです。私たちがキリストにとどまり、聖霊様に満たされ導かれるなら、小さなイエスの軍団が動き、悪魔の策略を打ち壊し、人々を解放します。少し考えただけでも悪魔がそうしたことを望んでいないことは分かるでしょう。具体的にこの節では、「実り」とキリストを得た魂とを同義とする人がいます。また御霊の実りと見なす人もいます。(ガラテヤ5: 22~23)その両方、あるいはさらにそれ以上の意味があり、「その良い行いをあらかじめ備えてくださったのです。」(エペソ2:10)も含まれます。こうした良い行いをキリストなしに行おうとすると、完全な失敗に終わるか、言うまでもなく燃え尽きてしまうだけでしょう。しかし、嬉しいことに、私たちがキリストにあり、御言葉と聖霊が私たちの内にとどまっていただくなら、葡萄のつるが自然に葡萄を実らせるように、あまり努力せずとも私たちも実りがあります。その努力とは、愛あるキリストにただ目を向け、従うことです。キリストは全てを取り扱ってくださるでしょう。

This is a wonderful truth that I need to be reminded of frequently. The world knows nothing of effortless fruit-bearing! Like Paul said, we might wind up working harder than anyone, but it is God's power working in and through us, not our own. (1 Corinthians 15:10) I must not be afraid of hard work, but I must not approach it as though I had to do it in my own strength. I need to remember that a lot of the “bumps in the road” I encounter in life are allowed by God to teach me to abide in Him. That itself is enough reason to be thankful for them! I am not to be anxious about anything, but just focus on abiding in Christ and allowing His life to flow through me. If I will do that, the fruit will follow as surely as day follows night.


Father, thank You for all that You are doing. Thank You for the day yesterday, for enabling us to get the exhibit ready and for everyone who came to see it. You had several special “appointments” in the course of the day! Thank You. Thank You for what You have planned for today, as well. Help us abide and rest in You throughout the day, doing each thing in turn and not being anxious about the next thing, so that Your life may indeed flow through us to bear the fruit You desire and intend, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!




ヨハネ 14:23-24 イエスは彼に答えられた。「だれでもわたしを愛する人は、わたしのことばを守ります。そうすれば、わたしの父はその人を愛し、わたしたちはその人のところに来て、その人とともに住みます。わたしを愛さない人は、わたしのことばを守りません。」

Throughout this chapter Jesus links love and obedience, and it's not just here, but many places throughout the Bible. That's one more bit of evidence that most of the time, our working definition of love is inadequate. Jesus doesn't just want to be our “feel good friend,” He demands to be our Lord, and anything less is less than salvation. The promise here of the Godhead coming to live with us is magnificent, but it is inextricably linked to obedience, and it is very clear that those who don't practice loving obedience won't have that blessing. In the current climate, particularly in the US, there are many who would claim that's “unfair.” They forget that God makes the rules, and they have lost the whole concept of accountability. God is indeed loving and gracious, but actions have consequences, and God requires that we give Him our hearts before He will live there.


This fits perfectly with the message this past Sunday on Living Faith. On this earth our obedience isn't perfect, and neither is our fellowship with the Godhead, nor our faith. I have desired deeper fellowship for many years, as well as deeper, stronger faith, and the key to both is obedience. That's not to say that I'm to be a legalistic prig, but it is to say that obedience to God needs to be my primary, driving motivation. Evangelism to put feathers in my cap might win a few people, but it won't do me any good. My motivation must be that God said to do it, and He is worthy of total adoration and obedience. The same may be said of every aspect of Christian life. If my love for God doesn't drive me to willing obedience, then that love is inadequate. I am indeed not to be legalistic, but I must seek to be obedient to God even beyond the written code. That's what Jesus was talking about when He said that our righteousness must exceed that of the Pharisees. (Matthew 5:20) That's a verse that I've had trouble with in the past, because I hadn't come to this understanding.


Father, thank You that You do continue to deepen, broaden, and strengthen my understanding of You and Your Word. Help me be totally committed to obedience to all You show me, giving all I know of myself to all I know of You indeed, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!



ヨハネ 13:34-35 「あなたがたに新しい戒めを与えましょう。互いに愛し合いなさい。わたしがあなたがたを愛したように、あなたがたも互いに愛し合いなさい。もし互いの間に愛があるなら、それによってあなたがたがわたしの弟子であることを、すべての人が認めるのです。」

In a sense, this is where push comes to shove. We can make all sorts of claims about things that are strictly internal, but love is relational: there can be no love without an object of that love. The disciples were confident of Jesus' love for them because He had demonstrated it over three and a half years in daily, practical living. There is no record that He went around saying, “I love you!” Now, He is commanding, not suggesting, that they love each other in the same way. I wonder if they didn't have at least some internal resistance to the idea when He said it! However, His next statement is one that has been demonstrated as true down through the centuries: the love of God present among believers is the clearest demonstration of who Christ is, and that we belong to Him. The Romans, busily killing and otherwise persecuting Christians, said, “They know how to die, and they know how to love one another.” This isn't a false love that says black is white, excusing sin, but it is God's love that says, “That's wrong and you need to correct it, but I love you anyway.” We tend to trip up on this point, excluding people from our love for various reasons, not realizing that every time we do so, we are taking a step further away from God's love. Meditating on God's love for us is one of the most profitable things anyone can do!


I am certainly not a perfect lover, and sometimes that gets tested more severely than at other times. Humanly, we tend to respond to rejection, perceived or real, by rejecting, but God's love isn't like that. Jesus loved Judas! That's why when people demonstrate God's love, the world takes notice. If I want those around me to open their hearts to God's love, then I must be an open channel for that love myself. John, as “the disciple whom Jesus loved,” wrote about love a great deal in his Gospel and his letters, but even crusty old Paul wrote the exquisite description of God's kind of love found in 1 Corinthians 13. Someone being “hard to love” is no excuse; I've got to let God's love flow through me unhindered.


Father, help me grasp Your love more and more, so that I will be more and more effective in allowing it to flow through me. Forgive me for the times I have willfully blocked the flow, letting hurts or pride get in the way. Help me be an effective demonstration of Your love to the believers, so that as Your love flows abundantly among us, more and more will be drawn in to commit themselves to Christ as well, for their salvation and Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!



ヨハネ 13:20 「まことに、まことに、あなたがたに告げます。わたしの遣わす者を受け入れる者は、わたしを受け入れるのです。わたしを受け入れる者は、わたしを遣わした方を受け入れるのです。」

This verse is of enormous interest to every missionary, certainly. The question becomes one of defining “receive.” We have no trouble accepting that those who receive Jesus receive Father God as well, but things get confusing when it comes to people who receive those Jesus sends to them. The sermon on 8/1 was about how Jesus has sent us as He was sent, quoting John 20:21-22. That being the case, does everyone who receives a Christian receive Christ? I think the answer lies in how we are received. If we are received as nice people, that's not bad, but I can't see, from the rest of the Bible, that it brings salvation. If we are received as messengers of God, that's a different story. I think it is analogous to Jesus' siblings, who didn't accept Him as the Messiah until after His resurrection (John 7:5). If someone receives a Christian because they are a Christian, then Jesus is very clear that they will be rewarded. (Matthew 10:42) The reverse of that is likewise true, where in the Muslim world people are often rejected specifically because they are Christian. In practical terms, we should avoid being needlessly offensive, but we should not fail to proclaim the Gospel out of fear of offending someone. If we are clear as to Whom we serve and represent, then we give people more opportunity to receive Christ by receiving us.


This is an issue that Cathy and I have discussed numbers of times since coming to Omura. We would be thrilled to see in heaven everyone who has graciously received us here, but most of those people have done so in total disregard of the fact that we represent Christ. It boils down to releasing each person to God. We aren't here to “count scalps,” however much we would like to see massive numbers of people come into the kingdom. We need to be faithful to give people the opportunity to receive Christ, which means proclaiming the Word “in season and out of season,” (2 Timothy 4:2) trusting that God will bring the harvest in His time.


Father, You know how much we would like to see a massive harvest, but I believe You would like to see it even more. Help me trust You with the seed You allow me to plant and water, not losing hope but always looking to You. Thank You for those who are receiving Your Word indeed and being transformed. May they be multiplied, for a massive harvest indeed, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!




ヨハネ 13:17 「あなたがたがこれらのことを知っているのなら、をれを行うときに、あなたがたは祝福をされるのです。」

Thinking about it, Jesus' disciples were in a terrible bind, because they had lived with the Son of God for over three years and had heard Him teach countless times, publicly and in private. They couldn't possibly remember it all to put it into practice! That's why Jesus told them, just a few minutes after he said this, that the Holy Spirit would remind them of everything He had said. (John 14:25) Jesus wasn't standing over them with a stick, saying, “You've got to do all of this,” He was pointing out that these things were for their blessing. It's true we can't really say we know the Word until we are doing it, but the point I get from this is that God is even more aware of our imperfection than we are, and He's trying to help us understand that what He tells us is for our blessing, not to dump a guilt trip on us. That's not to say that anything goes, and we're only to obey if we feel like it. Not at all! However, it is to free us from a neurotic self searching that is always sure there's something we're not doing right.


This actually is an enormous relief for me, because, as comes up so often, I know so much of the Bible that my failures are always before me, as David said. (Psalm 51:3) I'm thankful not to have done what David did, but I am certainly aware of my imperfection! I need both to practice and to teach the whole truth of God, without taking any of it as a burden. (1 John 5:3) I need to rejoice in God's Word the way the writer of Psalm 119 did, not just knowing it as objective fact but delighting in it personally. Only if that attitude comes through can I expect my hearers to respond the same way. Several have reacted to my messages as though I was laying burdens on them, when nothing could have been further from my intent. I need to communicate what a delightful, blessed and blessing thing the Word is.


Father, as is evident from the way some people have responded, I can't do this in my own wisdom and strength. I ask for a fresh anointing of Your Spirit so that Your Word may flow through me unhindered, not as a burden but rather setting people free from the burdens they drag around. You've given me an important, powerful word for this morning that should bring conviction to many. May they repent as You direct so that they may receive the enormous blessing that You intend, for the sake of Your kingdom and for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!



ヨハネ 12:26 「わたしに仕えるというのなら、その人はわたしについて来なさい。わたしがいる所に、わたしに仕える者もいるべきです。もしわたしに仕えるなら、父はその人に報いてくださいます。」

Some people say they want to serve God, but they aren't willing to go where He goes. Even Peter had trouble there. The first time he failed, saying that he didn't know Jesus, rather than risk being crucified with Him. The second time, he got the message and went into the home of a Gentile to tell him the Gospel. But then later he still had problems, and had to be rebuked by Paul for withdrawing from Gentile believers for fear of the opinion of Jewish believers. This is not a decision that, once made, never wavers. Rather, this is a commitment that calls for renewal on a daily basis. That commitment becomes easier when we really grasp where it ends up: at the throne of God. Jesus never said that following Him would be easy; quite the opposite, in fact. However, the “retirement benefits” are indeed the ultimate best! Just yesterday I had email from two retired missionaries who are facing imminent death, and the peace and joy that are expressed make it clear that in the long run, God's servants have it best. It doesn't take being a missionary to receive God's accolade of “Well done, good and faithful servant,” but it does take willingness to follow wherever He leads.


Someone looking at me, particularly from America, might automatically put me in the good group here. After all, I'm a missionary pastor! However, I am sharply aware that I am no better that Peter, certainly, and I've got to keep my commitment current. As Jesus said to His disciples in the Garden of Gethsemane, the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak. My flesh gets in the way all too often, occasionally physically but much more often emotionally. I get tied in knots and fail to be an accurate representative of Christ. As each situation confronts me, I need to be clear in my commitment to follow and serve Christ, whatever that means. Like Paul said, I need to keep my eye on the prize and not settle for anything less, like my “comfort zone.”


Father, right now I'm in a turmoil I didn't expect. I really didn't know that preparing for a 1-man photo show would tie me in knots like this. My biggest problem has been in elimination; I don't know when to stop and how to pare down to the best. I've got too much material, and I'm drowning in it! I ask for clear guidance, even at this point. May I hear You and be obedient, not just in what to exhibit and how, but in every other detail as well. My emotional turmoil has been hard on Cathy, particularly when she has health problems. I ask Your healing, strength, peace, and joy for her. May I indeed focus on You rather than on what I see as problems, so that I may be Your agent to each person and situation I'm involved with, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!



ヨハネ 11:48 「もしあの人をこのまま放っておくなら、すべての人があの人を信じるようになる。そうなると、ローマ人がやって来て、われわれの土地と国民を奪い取ることになる。」

In a sense, these members of the Sanhedrin were being politically astute, but they were missing the point entirely. That was because their focus was so thoroughly on the temporal that they couldn't begin to grasp the eternal, spiritual implications of what was happening. Their concern was for their way of life rather than the God who gave them life. They have a lot of company today! The irony, and the lesson, is that just a few years after this, exactly what they feared did indeed take place, but not for the reason they mention here. Rome did come in and destroy the temple and the nation, and it wasn't until 1948 that the nation was reinstated. Perhaps three years previous to the incident in this verse, Jesus had stated very clearly what would have been the far wiser course for the Sanhedrin to take: seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness. Again as Jesus had said, these men sought to preserve their way of life and so they lost it, instead of submitting it to God so as to receive it back a hundredfold.

ある意味で、議会のこのメンバーたちは政治的に抜け目のない人たちでしたが、重要な点を完全に見逃しています。彼らは一時的なことに完全に気を取られ、ここで起こっている霊的な永遠に関する意味合いが全く分かっていなかったからです。彼らの関心事と言えば、命を与えて下さった神にではなく、自分たちの生き方にありました。今日でも、そうした人たちは多くいます。ここで起こった皮肉なことと、学ぶべきことは、彼らが恐れていたことが2~3年後に、まさに実際に起こったことです。もっともそれは、彼らがここで口にしたことが原因ではなかったのですが。ローマ人が来て宮と国を破壊し、ようやくその国家は1948 年、再び建国されました。この節にある出来事の3年程前でしょうが、イエスは議会の人たちに、はるかに賢明であっだたろう方法をはっきりと教えています。つまり、神の御国と義を求めよと教えたのです。彼らは神に仕え、百倍もの報いを得ることをせずに、求めていたのが自分たちの生き方であり、そのため彼らは見失うのだとイエスは再度、説いています。

I have certainly not been free of a temporal perspective, but at least I know how I ought to be looking at things! Nate Saint's magnificent quote comes to mind: “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.” Nate Saint gave his physical life as a missionary to South American Indians just a few years after he said that, but his legacy, directly through the Indians and through his family and indirectly through books and a movie, has brought untold numbers into the kingdom of God in full discipleship. He, and even his wife and children, have been more than compensated for the loss of his physical life! I need to have that same attitude, not despising the temporal to the point of being a poor steward, but never letting it take precedence over the spiritual. I need to be sensitive to what God is doing and keep Him as my #1 priority at all times. As a pastor, I need to seek to open people's eyes to spiritual reality so that they won't be so whipped around by the temporal. Anyone without Christ has only the temporal as a frame of reference, so it's no surprise that they see “salvation” only in physical, temporal terms. I need to seek and be sensitive to the guidance and anointing of the Holy Spirit, so that He may use me to open people's eyes to see themselves and see God, for their salvation and His glory.

私も束の間の関心事に気を取られたことがありますが、少なくとも物事をどう見るべきかをわきまえていると思います。Nate Saintの素晴らしい言葉を思い出しました。「失うこともなく、得続けることもないものを与えようとする者は正しい」の言葉です。この言葉の数年後、Nate Saintは南米に赴き、南米インディアンにこの世での人生を捧げました。インディアンと彼の家族を通して直接に、そして書物や映画を通して間接的に、彼の遺産は多くの人を確かな弟子として神の御国に導いのたです。彼自身、そして妻と子供たちは、彼のこの世での死があっても、それ以上に報われています。私も同じ心がけを持ち、たとえ今は不十分な牧者であろうとも、この束の間を厭うことなく、霊を第一優先させたいと思っています。神がなさっていることに細心の注意を払い、神をいつも私の第一におきたいのです。牧師として、人々が霊的事実に目を開くように努めていきます。彼らが束の間のことで嘆かずに済むようにしたいのです。キリストを心に持っていない人は単なる束の間のことしか持っていません。儚いのです。ですから、彼らが「救い」を物的に、一時的なこととしてしか見れないのも当然です。聖霊様の導きと油注ぎを心して求めていきます。人々の目が開き、彼ら自身が神を見ることのできるように私を用いてほしいのです。人々の救いと神のご栄光のために。

Father, thank You for the girl who came to talk again yesterday. Thank You for enabling me to be clear on this point, in words anyway. I ask You to work what You said through me into her heart and mind so that she will understand Your love indeed, valuing it more than the immediate physical and emotional gratification she is clinging to. Thank You for the message that You have prepared in me for Sunday, and for how it is impacting how I talk to people even now. I pray that as a church we will indeed seek first Your kingdom and Your righteousness, accomplishing Your will on Your schedule for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!



ヨハネ 11:35-36 イエスは涙を流された。そこで、ユダヤ人たちは言った。「ご覧なさい。主はどんなに彼を愛しておられたことか。」

Jesus was obeying Romans 12:15 before it was even written! He was mourning with those who were mourning as a demonstration of His love for them, even though He knew the outcome was not going to be mournful at all. And the record shows that His tears were effective in communicating His love. The Jewish historian Josephus records that Jesus was very emotional, with what today would be called mood swings, going quickly from one strong emotion to another. That shows us that emotions aren't bad, but we aren't to let them control us. Jesus' emotions in the Garden of Gethsemane before He was arrested were so intense that He literally sweat blood. This is a phenomenon that has been recorded otherwise, and happens only under the most intense emotional stress. However, He did not allow that emotion to cause Him to run away from what He knew was coming, and He was able to respond calmly to those who came to arrest Him, even Judas. Emotions are tools, not to mention being a gift. Life would be dreary indeed if we didn't have them! However, we aren't to let them master us, but rather stay committed to Jesus Christ as Lord, whatever emotions are going on inside us.


I tend to be somewhat more emotionally controlled than some people, but that's hardly to say that I'm unemotional. And yes, I've let my emotions whip me around more times than I could count. I am not to despise emotions, in myself or in anyone else, but I am not to allow them to sway me from obedience to God. (The devil loves to try to make that happen, because he likes nothing better than to pervert God's pure gifts and use them for evil.) I also need to work with those around me who are in the middle of emotional storms. I can't do it, but I must remember that I serve the Lord who said, “Peace! Be still!” and the wind and the waves became calm. (Mark 4:39)


Father, thank You for emotions. Help me be a good steward of all of them You give me, and help me be effective in guiding others to do the same. Help me delight in all You give me and do for me, but still keep my focus on You rather than on Your gifts. May everything You give me, including emotions, accomplish what You intend and not be subverted to any other end. Thank You. Praise God!



ヨハネ 11:5-6 イエスはマルタとその姉妹とラザロとを愛しておられた。そのようなわけで、イエスは、ラザロが病んでいることを聞かれたときも、そのおられた所になお二日とどまられた。

The NIV backs off from using the literal, “therefore,” to start verse 5, because the idea that God's love for us can cause Him to allow more suffering is something many people don't want to accept. However, the Japanese follows the Greek in making it a causative statement. Accepting everything as an indication of God's love is a level of faith and trust most of us haven't quite reached yet! That's not to say that disease and injury and the like are good, but it is to say yet again that God never allows anything that can't be used for our good, if we will only release it to God and trust Him with it. This kind of trust can often be harder for those around the one most directly affected, particularly in the case of a sudden death. I know that for my father, waking up in heaven rather than on earth after heart surgery at age 64 was a huge blessing, but it was very hard on my mother, and it wasn't easy for a lot of people. In this story, Martha and Mary went through a lot over their brother's death, but Jesus knew that the way the Father had planned it, it would not only give unshakable faith to many at that time, it would allow Jesus to say things that would be recorded to strengthen countless people in the centuries since then. When we can grasp that God is big enough to use everything, no matter how horrible it might be at the moment, we enter a level of peace that most of the world knows nothing about.


This is a lesson I've been slow to learn myself, so I must not look down on or be impatient with those who are struggling. For that matter, I've still got plenty of room for growth in this area! As a pastor, the most difficult thing is in trying to teach this principle when people see me as calloused or uncaring about their suffering. Brother Hiroki was right on when he said, from Romans 12:15, that genuine love will weep with those who weep. I must not forget that, but at the same time I must keep pointing people to God in faith and trust, encouraging them to submit to Him so that they can then resist the devil and all he does, and walk in the peace, joy, and victory that God intends.


Father, thank You for speaking this to me yet again. I feel like a broken record sometimes in the pulpit, saying again and again that we must take our eyes off of ourselves and our circumstances and fix them on You, but that is a lesson we are slow to learn. Help me indeed grasp it more fully myself, so that I may in turn teach it in all love, grace, and patience, for the sake of the believers and for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!




ヨハネ 10:16 「わたしはまた、この囲いに属さないほかの羊があります。わたしはそれらをも導かなければなりません。彼らはわたしの声に従い、一つの群れ、ひとりの牧者となるのです。」

This particular statement is one that even the 12 apostles had difficulty grasping, as is evidenced by the dramatic means God had to use to get Peter to share the Gospel with Gentiles, as recorded in Acts 10. We are quick to divide people into groups. That wouldn't be so bad if the purpose were just to include, but just as often the purpose is to exclude. This is a difficult issue, because there indeed are various groupings among people, the most fundamental of which being those who are committed to following God and those who aren't. However, even there the purpose should not be to exclude those who reject God, but to invite them to join the obedient group. We divide up into many, many smaller and less important groups, even within the Church, and at times we take those groupings as more important than the first, fundamental one. Here too, the biggest problem is that we treat our groups as exclusive, rather than seeking to bring others in. The Trinity is certainly the most exclusive group in existence, yet the Trinity seeks to bring us into full fellowship! (John 14:20, 17:21) This means that cliques are automatically a bad idea. We are not to compromise with evil and we are not to go around with a superior attitude. Rather, we are to be wholehearted in our commitment and obedience to God and seek to get as many as possible to join us in that attitude.


This is again very personal, because cliques have been destructive in this church. I am to foster warm, personal fellowship, but I must be on the lookout against groups becoming exclusive rather than inclusive. That's a vital as well as difficult issue in this culture, which places such an extremely high value on the group. However, nothing is impossible for God! Breaking up groups that have become cliques is something I've never actively tried to do, but I'm sure that preventing them in the first place would be much easier! However, I know I don't have wisdom or skill to do either, without the strong and clear help of the Holy Spirit. My focus must be on God first and foremost, and allow Him to show me when and what action is to be taken. I've God to remember that this is His church, and I'm just an assistant manager!


Father, thank You for what You are doing in this church right now. Thank You for the warm, open fellowship we are enjoying at this point. I pray that we would continue to grow as a welcoming church, not compromising the Truth but drawing more and more people in. I pray that we would all teach, admonish, encourage, and above all, love one another, so that we may be united as a body as well as integrated into the total Body of Christ, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!