申命記 18:18-19 「わたしは彼らの同胞のうちから、彼らのためにあなたのようなひとりの預言者を起こそう。わたし は彼の口にわたしのことばを授けよう。彼は、わたしが命じることをみな、彼らに告げる。わたしの名によって彼が告げるわたし のことばに聞き従わない者があれば、わたしが彼に責任を問う。」

This passage has been seen as Messianic since hundreds of years before Jesus was born, but as is usual with long-range prophecies the Lord gives us, the fulfillment didn't match the preconceptions. The Japanese is a little more explicit than the English, grammatically speaking, in specifying that this is talking about a single individual. That actually is why this was seen as Messianic, when God raised up many prophets over the years. The verses immediately following are obviously talking about many prophets of varying authenticity, which makes the Messianic attribution seem somewhat out of context. However, Jesus is the only person ever to fulfill these two verses perfectly. (Hebrews 1:1-2) Prophets since then are a different category, and this is where modern understanding gets confused. It is clear from the Biblical record that God continues to use prophets. One such case is Agabus (Acts 11:27-28, 21:10-11). This idea of God using prophets today is hotly contested in some areas by people who insist that once the NT canon was completed, there was no more need for prophets. However, those same people are likely to consider their own sermons as being on the level of Biblical prophecy! Since Pentecost, the Holy Spirit is indeed poured out on all believers, but the degree to which He is received and welcomed varies greatly. That means any believer can, and should expect to, be used by God to speak into situations. However, that is different from the office of Prophet that Paul talks about in Ephesians 4:11. The point to remember in all of this is that when God uses a human instrument to speak to people, those people are responsible to God for what they have heard.


As a Pastor/Teacher who has been used both in direct prophecy and in prophetic preaching, this is of great concern to me. I am to keep my spiritual ears tuned and unclogged to hear what God is saying to me and what He wants to say through me, but I am not to try to hold people responsible to me personally for the truth I speak. Rather, I am to recognize that if God is really speaking through me, then He can take care of what happens after that as well. I must be especially careful not to deceive myself into thinking I am in any way exempted from having to be obedient to the truth I speak. Jesus Himself was perfectly obedient to everything He said. I am never to place myself on a pedestal, but I am to recognize that God has chosen to speak through me, and walk in the purity and humility that are called for.


Father, it is enormously satisfying to realize You have spoken, or even are speaking, through me, but pride is a major problem. Help me be fully faithful, without taking personal credit. I don't deserve any! I especially ask that You enable me to live out what You speak through me, filled and motivated by Your love, so that I will in no way hinder what You desire to do through me, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!



出エジプト記 34:2 「朝までに準備をし、朝シオン山に登って、その山の頂でわたしの前に立て。」

This verse has never stood out to me before that I can remember, but it strikes me right now as a pattern for devotions. In the first place, we are to be prepared. That means having gotten enough sleep, and it especially means preparing our hearts to meet with and hear from God. If we really expect God to meet with and speak to us, we will have open, expectant hearts, and we will likely be prepared to make a record of what we are told. The second thing I see here is going to a specific place to meet with God. For each person that will be different, but I do know the difficulty of focusing on God when we are surrounded by things that remind us of other things we need or want to do. There are practical limits to the degree of isolation we can have on a regular basis, but I know from experience that it is extremely difficult to have a good devotional time when surrounded by hustle and bustle. The third thing I see here is standing before God, presenting ourselves with no other agenda than to hear and obey. We are all too prone to go to God to try to manipulate Him into doing what we want. It is absurd that we think that way, but we do. Rather, we need to go before God with our agenda in our hands and lay it down at His feet, renewing our commitment to Him as Lord of every detail of our lives. If we will do that, He will indeed meet with us, and “tell [us] great and unsearchable things [we] do not know.” (Jeremiah 33:3)


By God's grace I have developed a strong habit of daily devotions, but I haven't had nearly the success I would like in encouraging others to do the same. People are touched when I share the insights I am given, yet God stands just as ready to speak to them as He does to me. I think a big part of the problem is that people don't see God as personal enough, as interested enough in them to speak to them. That can be a tough wall to break down! I am to keep sharing what God speaks to me, and I am to encourage others to listen to what He is saying to them. That means especially communicating the love of God, because without that awareness, we are afraid of what God might say to us! I need to help them understand that because of the cross of Christ, repentance brings real forgiveness, making them holy and pure enough to hear the words of our holy God. Hearing from God is addictive! I don't get a big “hit” every morning, but it doesn't take very many of those to get me hooked to keep trying!


Father, thank You for Your amazing grace! You are indeed gracious, loving and compassionate, just as You told Moses. Help me communicate Your reality to more and more people, more and more effectively, so that they too may enjoy the fellowship with You that their hearts really long for, and that You desire as well. Thank You. Hallelujah!




出エジプト記 33:13 「今、もしも、私があなたのお心にかなっているでしたら、どうか、あなたの道を教えてください。そうすれば、私はあなたを知ることができ、あなたのお心にかなうようになれるでしょう。この国民があなたの民であることをお心に留めてください。」

This is certainly the prayer of every true Christian leader. As Moses starts out by saying in verse 12, it is God who calls people and sets them into leadership. Some desire leadership positions out of personal ambition, but in the kingdom of God, that is a sure recipe for disaster. As I was saying to a young man just yesterday, to great agreement, no one should even attempt to be a pastor without the call of God to do so. Even given such a call, though, we are helpless without God's guidance and direction. It is the task of every Christian leader to seek to be led by God. The good new is, as Joy Dawson has said, God wants to lead us even more than we want to be led. It is never the problem that God doesn't care! Problems come because we ignore God and fail to seek Him. It is highly ironic that Christian leaders would ignore God, but it happens all too often. As the Lord said through me on the 14th, obedience to God starts with character, and only then moves to activity. A heart that is pleasing to God is one that recognizes our dependence on Him, not in abject fear but in joy and gratitude for His mercy, grace and love. Such a heart will indeed seek God fully, and as God said through Jeremiah (Jeremiah 29:13), when we do that, we will certainly find Him.

これは確かにどの本当のクリスチャンリーダーの祈りです。モーセは12節で言っているように、人々を呼んでリーダとされるのは神様です。幾人かは個人的な野望からリーダーシップのポジションを望みますが、神様の三国ではそれは崩壊の確実なる要素です。昨日私が青年に言ったように、お互いとても同意したのですが、だれも神様が牧師になるようにいわない限り牧師になるよう試みることさえすべきではありません。そのようなしるしがあったとしても、私たちは神様の導きや指示なしでは役に立ちません。神様によって導かれることを求めることはどのクリスチャンリーダーの役割です。良いことに、Joy Dawsonが言ったように、私たちが導かれたいと思う以上に神様は私たちを導きたがっています。神様が心を留めないという問題は決してありません。私たちが神様を無視したり求めなかったりすると問題が起きます。クリスチャンリーダーは神様を無視することはとても反していることです。しかしそれは頻繁すぎるほど起こっています。14日に主が私を通して言われたように、神様への従順はその人がどのような性格であるかということから始まり、それがあってから初めて行動へと移るのです。神様を喜ばせる心は、救いがたいほどの恐れではなく、彼の慈悲、恵みそして愛に対する喜びと感謝の中で私たちが彼に依存しているということを理解する心です。そのような心は神様を完全に求めるでしょう。そして神様がエレミヤを通して言ったように(エレミヤ書29:13)、私たちがそのことをすると私たちは神様を確実に見つけるでしょう。

I am something of a case study in this. I did not desire to be a pastor, because, again as I was saying to the young man yesterday, I didn't want the responsibility. I wanted to exercise the teaching gifts I had been given, without the messy, day-to-day dealing with interpersonal relationships and problems. God had other ideas! I have complained for most of my pastoral career that I wasn't given administrative gifts. My lack of gifting remains, but that's beside the point; I've got to seek God and depend fully on Him. He has indeed grown and changed me a great deal over the years, and I need to trust Him to keep doing that. I commented yesterday that I'm not good at praising people. That too got great agreement! I need to be active in seeking to encourage people where they are, and not just place some lofty goal ahead of them. I need to praise progress, and not withhold praise until completion and/or perfection. I've got to remember, as Moses said to God, that these are His people, before and far more than they are mine. Saying “they are God's and not mine” is trying to evade responsibility, but I certainly have no right of possession, and the wisdom and power necessary to shepherd them lies with God and not with me. I need to remember, as I often tell others, that God will never ask of me anything He hasn't enabled me to do.


Father, thank You for yesterday. It was filled with “pastoral ministry.” I don't know that I did it perfectly, but You did some good things through me. Thank You. Help me not complain about anything, but rather trust You to guide me as I need it, seeking to be Your obedient child in every area of my life. This season of the year can be overwhelming for a pastor. Help me let You handle the emotional pressure, and rest and rejoice in You each moment, delighting in You so that You may delight in me, for the sake of the Body of Christ and for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!



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

If I recall correctly, I've used this passage in a message titled, “The Blessings of Obedience.” God's love is unconditional, but He uses those who will listen and obey Him. Abraham faced perhaps the ultimate test of obedience, harder even than being asked to sacrifice his own life, and he passed. That is why God could use him in a long line that went through David to bring us Jesus, the Son of God, the Savior of the world. Abraham was hardly a perfect vessel, any more than any of his descendants before Jesus was, but he had the absolute commitment that God was looking for. God still honors such commitment. Jesus gave Peter a magnificent promise when Peter asked what the apostles would receive for their commitment. (Matthew 19:27-30) The Gospel of Mark is generally agreed to be the recollections of Peter, and he specifically includes persecutions in the list. (Mark 10:28-31) Following God in total obedience isn't an easy path, but the rewards, for ourselves and for others, are magnificent.

私が正しく覚えているなら、私はこの箇所を説教の中で「従順することの幸せ」というタイトルで使いました。神様の愛は無条件ですが、彼に聞き従う人を使います。アブラハムは自分自身の命をいけにえにするように求められるよりも辛い、あの従順という恐らく究極であったテストに面し、そして彼は合格しました。それはなぜ神様が彼を、ダビデから神様の息子、世の救い主であるイエス様を私たちに与えてくださるまでの長い歴史において使うことができたかという理由です。アブラハムはイエス様がいらっしゃる前の彼のどの子孫よりも完璧な器だったとは言いがたいのですが、彼は神様が求めていらっしゃった確かな献身さがありました。神様はそのような献身さを今も高く評価しています。ペテロが使徒は献身さのために何を頂けるか質問した時、イエス様は彼にすばらしい約束をしました(マタイによる福音書 19:27-30)マタイの福音書は一般的にペテロの記憶であると言われ、彼はそのリストにはっきりと迫害のことを述べています。神様に完全に従うことは簡単ではありません。しかし私たちへのまた他の人たちへのその報いは壮大なものです。

My obedience hasn't been total, nor as instant as it could have been, but I'm growing! I know that I desire to be totally obedient, so I rest in God's promise in Philippians 2:13. He is indeed working in me both to will and to do what He desires, and I am profoundly grateful. I will not be perfect at it until I am out of this body, but I know that He's on the job, and it doesn't depend just on me. I am to rejoice in every opportunity to choose obedience, knowing that each time I do so will make the next choice easier. As a pastor, I need to encourage the believers that God is at work in them as well, even when they stumble and fall. I need to teach and preach obedience to God with­out compromise, but I need to do so with love, mercy, and compassion. I am not to excuse disobedience to God, but I am to proclaim repentance and forgiveness. God's love and grace are indeed bigger than our failures. I encounter situations daily that are the result of disobedience, and I need to be available to God to speak His truth, light, and life into them, for healing, redemption, and salvation.


Father, Thank You for all You are doing. It is painful sometimes to see what my spiritual children are going through, but I know You will be as faithful with them as You have been with me. Help me be the encouragement and the example that You want me to be, so that the Body of Christ may be built up in every respect, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!



創世記 3:4-5 そこで、蛇は女に言った。「あなたがたは決して死にません。あなたがたがそれを食べるその時、あなたがたの目が開け、あなたがたが神のようになり、善悪を知るようになることを神は知っているのです。」

Sometimes lies succeed because of their very audacity. Satan is calling God a liar and a deceiver, not to mention saying that He is stingy. Eve didn't have any background of life experience to prepare her to withstand such a lie, but she still had her free will, as did Adam, and she could have chosen obedience to God. The particular temptation, of becoming like God, is powerful precisely because it is so close to the truth. God indeed desires that we become like His Son, as is expressed clearly in Romans 8:29,but that's not the same thing as our taking the attributes of God for ourselves. Many false religions build on this very idea, with Mormonism being a prime example. That is the way of pride and greed, when God's way is one of humility and serving. The path of life is obedience to the One who is the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6).There is no other way we can attain to resurrection and true life (John 11:25-26).


This is of course the very heart of the Gospel I preach, but I too am vulnerable to appeals to pride and greed. Intellectual pride has tripped me up more times than I care to think about. It was a major breakthrough for me when I finally got it through my head that it's not that God's smarter than I am, it's that He's smart and I'm not. It is not wrong to seek knowledge, but it is a terrible trap if, in that, we fail to seek the One who is the Source of all true knowledge. This is so obvious in the world today, with so many pursuing Science as an alternative, humanistic god so that they can “discard the cultural baggage of religion” and do whatever they want. That leads not only to spiritual death, but also to the worst atrocities known to man, not to the utopias that people claim. I am to stand firm in the Truth of God, because only that will keep me free from the traps of the devil.

これは言うまでもなく私が説く福音のとても中心となるものです。しかし私はまたプライドと貪欲に負けてしまいます。 私は自分が気づいていない以上に何度も知的なプライドのわなに捕らわれてしまっています。神様が私よりも知的だということではなく、神様は知的で私はそうではないということを自分でやっと理解したとき、それは私にとって大きな突破口となりました。知識を求めることを悪いことではありません。しかし、もし私たちが全ての確かな知識の源である方を求めることに欠けるなら、それは恐ろしい罠です。これは、多くの人が人間的神として科学を代わりに追及し、宗教の文化を捨て、彼らがしたいようにするという今日の世界ではとても明確です。それは霊的な死へと導くだけではなく、人々が求める理想的な世界ではなく、いわゆる最悪な残虐行為へと導きます。私は神様の真実にしっかりと立ちます。なぜならばそれが唯一、私を悪魔の罠から自由にさせるからです。

Father, thank You for both the simplicity and the depth of the Gospel. Help me not only be faithful and effective in proclaiming it, but also fully active in appropriating it and living it out. Help me indeed not trust myself, but trust You in me. That might look the same to an outside observer, but the results are so different! Help me seek You always and be instant in my obedience, so that all Your perfect plans for me may be fulfilled, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!




黙示録 2:4 しかし、あなたには非難すべきことがある。あなたは初めの愛から離れてしまった。

I have heard a great deal of discussion of what their “first love” might have been, but what strikes me this morning is that in their zeal for theological orthodoxy, they had forgotten to love. As the Lord said through me very strongly in the message yesterday, if we aren't loving God and loving our neighbor, then we aren't being obedient to God, whatever else we might be doing that He told us to do. The Bible is clear (and not just in 1 Corinthians 13) that without love, everything else is meaningless. Thinking of this verse this way, the picture that emerges of the church in Ephesus is all too familiar: the church that is active in programs and orthodoxy, but has become critical and unloving. Christ commends them for their orthodoxy, but says that it is not enough. From this perspective, “the things you did at first” would be welcoming and loving all who walk in the doors, using spiritual discernment to weed out the imposters, but focusing on love rather than judgmentalism. The Upper Room Discourse (John 13-17), among other passages, should make it abundantly clear that love, expressed in practical action, must be our first priority.

「初めの愛」がどのようであるかという大きな議論を聞いたことがありますが、今朝私を打ったのは、愛することを忘れたという神学的正説に対する彼らの熱心さです。昨日そのメッセージの中で主がとても強く私を通して話されました。もし私たちが神様を、また私たちの隣人を愛していないなら、たとえ神様が私たちにするように言われた他のことをしていたとしても、私たちは神様に従ってはいません。聖書にははっきりと愛がなければ何の役にも立たないと(コリント人への手紙 第一 13章の以外にも)書いてあります。エペソにある教会のイメージがすべてとても馴染み深いものであったなら、この説を考えると、その教会はとても活動的で正統であっても批判的な不愛の教会になっています。キリストは正統であるべきことを命令していますが、それは十分でないとも言っています。この視点から見ると、「あなたが最初にしたこと」とは、ドアに入ってくるすべての人を迎え愛し、偽者を取り除くため、裁きよりも愛に焦点をおき霊的な優れた判断力を使いことでしょう。他の箇所にある(ヨハネによる福音書 13-17章)二階の広間での会話は、実用的な行動の中で表現される愛は私たちの最優先であるべきことをとても明確にしています。

As a pastor and as an individual believer, I've got to keep this in sharp focus. With modern mobile society, we get people in the church from a wide variety of spiritual backgrounds. I have no room to be proud, because those I have raised personally aren't necessarily the cream of the crop! I need to work with all the Lord gives me, seeking to lead them into loving obedience to God in every area of their lives. It's not easy being loving and teaching love to those who are unloving! I need to be gentle and clear in helping them understand how their attitudes and actions are less than loving, so that they may repent, just as Christ called the Ephesian church to do.


Father, help me keep growing in my own love, for You and for my neighbors. Help me set a clear, strong example, so that the Body of Christ in Omura may be as You intend. Lord Jesus, thank You for reminding me just now that You said You would build Your church. Keep me from trying to take over, but help me be fully yielded and available to You for that work, for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!



黙示録 1:17-18 それで私は、この方を見たとき、その足もとに倒れて死者のようになった。しかし彼は右手を私の上 に置いてこう言われた。「恐れるな。わたしは、最初であり、最後であり、生きている者である。わたしは死んだが、見よ、いつ までも生きている。また、死とハデスのかぎを持っている。」

It is very beneficial to consider, every once in a while, just who it is we worship. John had been as close to Jesus as anyone during His earthly ministry, but even he “fell at His feet like a dead man” for sheer “shock and awe.” But Jesus, true to His nature, put His hand on him and told him not to be afraid. We are so prone to forget, on an emotional level at any rate, that our God is totally awesome! We tend to focus on one aspect or another and ignore the rest, when God is absolutely magnificent in every dimension. We tend to focus on Jesus' humanity and neglect His divinity. The one thing that would have been surprising to the Israelites who were with Moses at Mt. Sinai about this experience of John was that Christ laid His hand on him and told him not to be afraid. They had seen the fire and heard the thunder! John was the perfect person to receive this revelation, because he was the “disciple whom Jesus loved,” (John 13:23, etc.) close enough to lean his head against Jesus' chest, the one charged with taking care of Mary until she died. (John 19:25-27) Even he was blown out of the water by the absolute power and majesty of Christ in His glory! If we can have even a taste of that revelation ourselves, then every earthly consideration fades to insignificance.

時に自分が礼拝している対象が誰なのか考えるのはとても益になります。ヨハネはイエス様がこの地球上で宣教している間他の者と同じように彼のそばにいましたが、彼でさえ、本当に「ショックと恐怖」のために「彼の足もとに倒れて使者のようになった」 しかしイエス様は、彼の本質どおり、彼の手をヨハネの上におき恐れるなと言いました。私たちは感情がどんなレベルであるにしても、私たちの神様が本当に荘厳であることを忘れがちです。神様はすべての面において完全に優れていますが、私たちは、一つの面に焦点を合わせて、残りを無視する傾向があります。私たちはイエス様の人間性に注目したり、彼の神性を無視する傾向にあります。イエス様が手をヨハネの上に置き恐れるなと言ったヨハネの体験は、シナイ山でモーセと一緒にいたイスラエル人にとっては驚くことの1つでしょう。彼らは火を見、雷鳴を聞きました。ヨハネはこの黙示を受けるほど完璧な人でした。なぜならば彼は「イエス様が愛しておられた者」(ヨハネの福音書13:23等)であり、イエス様の懐に頭を寄りかかれるほど近い存在であり、マリヤが亡くなるまで彼女の世話を任された者(ヨハネによる福音書 19:25-27)でありました。彼でさえ、キリストの栄光の中で、絶対的な力と尊厳によって非常に驚かされました。もし私たちが自分達であの黙示を少しばかりでも経験できるなら、あらゆる地球的考えが取るに足りないものへと弱まります。

I had the great blessing of being raised with a strong awareness of the love of God, which is probably a major reason I identify so strongly with John. I need to see Christ as He is portrayed here! I have an intellectual awareness of who He is, but my emotions don't necessarily keep up. I have had times of deep worship, but I can't say that I have ever been flattened by sheer awe, the way John was. I sing the little chorus, “What a Mighty God We Serve,” but the reality behind the lyrics hasn't sunk in as much as it might. I am not to forget that He is love, but I also need to be equally aware that He is power and authority and holiness.


Father, give me a revelation of Your power to carry me through. Sometimes I let circumstances and schedules overwhelm me, and today certainly has that potential. Help me rest in You, allowing You to replace my strength with Yours, knowing that Your strength is absolute. Help me trust You fully, refusing anxiety of any sort, knowing that the vessel is no big deal, considering the treasure that is in it. I pray that the service, the counseling, the choir rehearsal, and every other detail of the day will go exactly as You intend, in Your power, love and grace, for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!