イザヤ 40:9 声を上げよ。恐れるな。ユダの町々に言え。「見よ。あなたがたの神を。」

Once again the NIV has taken a step back from literal translation, and lost something in the process. I grew up with “Behold your God,” which is literal enough, but “behold” isn't used in normal conversation any more, so the emotional impact wasn't there. “Look and see your God” would be the best English I could come up with, but thankfully the Japanese is fine as it is. The phrase echoes in me because I am constantly telling people to get their eyes off of themselves and onto Jesus, probably because God has had to tell me that so many times! I am constantly amazed at how people can look at things and not really see them, and that's just in the physical realm. The problem is far more acute in the spiritual realm. God puts His grace and His goodness on full display, and yet we fail to see it, tying ourselves in knots over minor bumps in the road. If we would indeed “look and see” Christ, then everything else would fall into perspective and we would be able to relax and enjoy the journey.


Talk about preaching to myself! I got really irate yesterday at the nonsensical new regulations that won't allow anything over 1 pound (453g) to be sent to the US by air, blocking me from mailing Christmas presents. I wasn't ready to trust God, and I suffered for it. Later, I did hospital visitation for someone under a medical sentence of death. I could speak life and hope to him and his family, because I was at enough of a remove that I wasn't blinded by the circumstances. Surely I can learn to remember that God who can be trusted with the transition from physical death to eternal life can be trusted with the petty details of my life! Once again it is a matter of applying the truth that I already know to where the rubber meets the road.


Father, even as I am amazed at how others can look at things and not see them, I am also amazed at how I can know truth and not apply it. Thank You for Your grace and mercy! Help me continue to grow as Your child, seeing things as You see them, hearing what You are saying, and rejoicing to be obedient to You, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!



イザヤ 11:3-4 この方は主を恐れることを喜び、その目の見るところによってさばかず、その耳の聞くところによっ て判決を下さず、正義をもって寄るべのない者をさばき、公正をもって国の貧しい者のために判決を下し、口のむちで国を打ち、 くちびるの息で悪者を殺す。

One of the difficulties in translation is in deciding where to begin and end sentences, and the Japanese and English made different choices in this case. That does impact how we perceive what is said, even if analysis shows that the meaning is technically the same. The NIV connects the first line of verse 3 with verse 2, which tends to divorce the idea of “the fear of the Lord” from the righteousness and justice discussed in the rest of verse 3 and verse 4. Actually, the fear of the Lord is the only true basis for righteousness and justice, because mankind has demonstrated a virtually unlimited capacity for unrighteousness and injustice in those who do not fear God. For those who deny God, “righteousness” and “justice” are whatever are convenient for them at the moment, because absolute values depend on an absolute foundation, which can only be God. Several recent decisions by judges in the US have raised strong questions of what secret sins and perversions those judges might be hiding! The Bible is very clear that God hates acquitting the guilty as much as He hates convicting the innocent. (Exodus 23:6-7, Proverbs 17:15) Justice is not giving a free ride to those who will not work, or giving more “rights” to perpetrators than to victims!


This is an issue that can really get me worked up. However, I've got to remember that God is still God, and not just get indignant, but pray for change. I am to speak up when appropriate and I am to be faithful in prayer, and above all I am to live every part of my life in awareness of and submission to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. All the social issues that are so rampant today are spiritual at their roots, and that is how I must approach them. Spiritual battles can't be won by human schemes!


Father, with modern information technology I am much more aware of the incredible volume of injustice and unrighteousness that are rampant in the world today, but You have been fully aware of it all along. Help me remember that and release each thing to You in prayer. Help me submit my will to You in prayer, so that Your Name may be hallowed, Your kingdom come, and Your will be done in each situation, by Your grace and for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!



イザヤ 9:6 ひとりのみどりごは、私たちのために生まれる。ひとりの男の子が、私たちに与えられる。主権はそ の肩にあり、その名は「不思議な助言者、力ある神、永遠の父、平和の君」と呼ばれる。

This is one of the most famous of all Messianic verses, widely quoted every Christmas, but we still tend to overlook one little part of it. That is, the government, the Lordship, will be on His shoulders. This is precisely what the NT stresses, speaking of Jesus as Lord, but we don't have the same concept of Lordship in society today, and we miss the meaning. We get all tied in knots over various earthly governments, and indeed no earthly government is perfect, but the Bible calls us to remember that the ultimate government, Lordship, rule, rests with Christ; all other governments and authorities are temporary. This is why Paul, while living under the very oppressive Roman government, would tell the Romans, and Titus, that we are to be subject to the civil authorities. (Romans 13:1-7, Titus 3:1-2) There are indeed times when civil disobedience is called for (Acts 4:19; 5:29), but we need to remind ourselves that Jesus is the ultimate authority, and be fully submitted and obedient to Him.


I have certainly allowed myself to get upset over human governments many times over the years, so it is good to have this reminder. I am reminded of what it says in Hebrews 2:8-9, that whereas we don't see everything lining up with what God desires in the world today, we do see Jesus with the eyes of our hearts, and that should be enough to give us peace and joy regardless of what is going on around us in the natural. The Lordship of Christ is far from being a merely theoretical, philosophical construct. It is the most practical reality there is, and I need to keep my mind and heart fixed on it.


Father, my shortcomings in this area cause me no end of grief. I get so stirred up over one thing and another, not recognizing on the emotional level that You are still God, Jesus is still Lord, and I have nothing to be upset about. Forgive me. Keep me from making demands of others, emotionally or otherwise, but help me rather rest in submitting everything to You. To this point I have gotten worn out almost every Christmas, particularly since becoming a pastor, and it has been far more from emotional stress than from physical activity. This year is so far no exception! Thank You for the training in releasing each activity, each responsibility, to You, so that I may avoid the thieving traps of the devil and delight in the peace and joy that You have provided for me, for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!



イザヤ 7:9 「もし、あなたがたが信じなければ、長く立つことはできない。」

There are times when “you” being singular or plural masks important meaning in Scripture. Isaiah was speaking from the Lord to King Ahaz, but here he specifically uses the plural pronoun to speak of standing in faith. Likewise, the NIV says “stand at all,” where the Japanese says “stand for long.” Sometimes we think we are standing pretty well, but without faith in God, our almighty Redeemer, that is a strictly temporary situation. It is clear throughout the Bible that faith, that is, relying on God rather than on what our senses and intellect tell us, is essential. That can be a major stumbling block to those who take pride in being rational and “scientific,” yet even most such people will admit, when pressed, that there are things our intellects can't tell us. The biggest problem with hyper rationalism is that it ignores the spiritual. That's highly ironic, when one of the biggest puzzles for astrophysicists (considered by many to be the pinnacle of the scientific world) is “dark matter,” that is, stuff they can't see. They insist on running their lives by what they can see, and yet they acknowledge that their own best data says that the majority of the universe is invisible! Any world view that leaves out the invisible and the unknown, attempting to eliminate the need for faith, is highly deficient to say the least!


I was raised in a highly intellectual household that was also a household of faith. What an incredible blessing! I was never taught to ignore my intellect, and science was highly respected and recommended, but there was always the underlying awareness of the limits to all that. God was presented as the absolute truth, though our awareness and understanding of Him is partial and imperfect. (1 Corinthians 13:9-12) I was taught that seeking God is even more sure of success than seeking intellectual knowledge. (Jeremiah 29:13; 33:3) My challenge right now is in communicating that truth to those who were not so blessed as to be raised in such an environment. I cannot be on some intellectual or spiritual high horse, looking down on those who do not understand; that would be completely counterproductive. I've got to seek God and trust the Holy Spirit to get His truth through to people, using my words and actions whenever He so desires. I have experienced more times than I could count the reality that I can't save anyone! I must stand in faith so that others may be brought to faith, for their salvation and the glory of God.

私はとても知的な家庭に育ちました。それはまた信仰を持った家庭でもあります。なんとすばらしい恵みでしょう!私は自分の知性を無視するようには決して教わったことはありません。また科学は非常に関心高いもので推奨されていました。しかしその全てにおいて限界があるという認識が常に基礎にありました。神様についての私たちの認識や理解が一部分的なもので不完全でありますが、神様は絶対的な真実として存在していました(コリント人への手紙 第一13:9-12)私は神様を求めることは知性を求めるよりももっと成功を確実にすると教わりました(エレミヤ書29:13、33:3)私の今のチャレンジは、知的な環境で育ち、あまり幸せでない人たちに真実を伝えることです。私は、理解していない人たちを見下すような、知性的態度や霊的な傲慢な態度でいてはいけません。それは全く逆効果です。私は神様を求め、神様が望まれる時はいつでも私の言動を用いて、精霊様が神様の真実を人々に伝えてくださるということを信じなければなりません。私は誰をも救えない現実を数え切れないほど経験しました!人々の救いのため、また神様の御栄光のために、彼らが信仰へと導かれるように、私は信仰にしっかりと立たなければなりません。

Father, thank You for expressing this so clearly through me this morning. Help me depend on You at all times, rather than on the gifts, intellectual and otherwise, that You have placed in me, so that in everything Your will may be done, in and through me, for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!