ヨハネ 3:2 「先生。私たちは、あなたが神のもとから来られた教師であることを知っています。神がともにおられるのでなければ、あなたがなされるこのようなしるしは、だれも行うことができません。」

Everything has a purpose, and miracles are no exception. They don't simply meet a need, they demonstrate the power of God and authenticate His messengers, as evidenced here. What Jesus taught would have been just as true even if He had not performed miracles, but those miracles made people like Nicodemus acknowledge that there was Divine activity going on. Today we tend to ask for miracles without thinking how God might want to use them. Actually, people today tend to be very jaded by technology. Someone said that “Any technology, if sufficiently advanced, is indistinguishable from magic.” Even when God works a miracle, we look for some other explanation. If God isn't going to get credit, why should He do miracles in the first place? That's probably a major reason why miracles are far more common in some African countries than they are in Japan or the US. If we give God credit for the things He is already doing in our lives, I can't help but feel that the “miraculous” would be far more common.


For 30 years I have desired dramatic miracles to demonstrate the truth of the Words God speaks through me, but I realize that there are many who would refuse to believe even in the face of miracles, and thankfully, there have been those who have believed without miracles. I still would not be upset at miraculous confirmation! I cannot dictate to God when He is to do what, because the probability that I would be wrong is very close to 100%. I need to be faithful in my obedience and active in expecting Him to act in line with His character. I should be at peace knowing that He is love, holiness, power, faithfulness, and all of that. At the same time, I am not to hesitate to pray for miracles, and to recognize and acknowledge them when they happen. As a pastor, I need to help the believers recognize God's hand in their lives. He does some pretty remarkably things all the time, and we too often fail to recognize them.


Father, You know my situation better than I do. You know my frustration when people dismiss Your truth simply because it is spoken by someone who is not Japanese. That's true enough when it happens with non-believers, but it is downright painful when it happens with Christians, and it has. Help me trust You fully with myself and with those in my care, so that You will be completely free to work Your miracles, recognized or not, in all of us, for Your satisfaction and pleasure. Thank You. Praise God!



ヨハネ 1:16-17 私たちはみな、この方の満ち満ちた豊かさの中から、恵みの上にさらに恵みを受けたのである。とい うのは、律法はモーセによって与えられ、恵みとまことはイエス・キリストによって実現したからである。

“From out of His abundance we have all received grace upon grace.” That truth is so real and so deep, and yet so many miss it. We don't deserve anything but destruction, yet God has poured His mercy out upon us. The minute we start thinking we deserve to have it easy, we lose out on most of the benefits of what we do have. The secret to a happy life is recognizing that we don't deserve as good as what we have, but that God in His grace and mercy has prepared even better for us. Gratefulness and expectation do a lot toward overcoming the negative junk the devil shovels onto us. The purpose of the Law of Moses is to help us understand how gracious God is. We cannot possibly keep every detail of the written code, and as James said, “Whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it.” (James 2:10) That is why we focus so much on grace! In some ways legalism seems easier than following grace, because external rules don't require us to think so much about why we are doing things. However the Bible is abundantly clear that we cannot be saved by our own efforts, that is, by obeying a set of rules, but only by believing in the grace of God. (Ephesians 2:8-9)


In addition to this being of utmost importance in my own salvation, as a pastor I am charged with helping those around me understand it as well. Actually, this is at the core of the Gospel that all believers are charged with communicating. I've got to help people see that faith expressing itself through love is our goal. (Galatians 5:6) Christians today run around applying all sorts of litmus tests to one another to check on doctrinal purity and the like, but that is divisive in the face of Jesus' prayer that we would all be one! (John 17:20-21) That's not at all to say that I should accept anything that comes down the road, or that I should fail to lay a solid doctrinal foundation in the believers, but it is to say that I should focus on God's grace before I start looking for things to disagree with.


Father, this is something I have been strongly aware of for a long time. It hurts me when someone rejects what I see as a Biblical truth, and it hurts me even more when, from my viewpoint, they lay down truth to take up error. Help me be consistent in speaking Your truth in love, not to defend You and certainly not to defend me, but to let Your Spirit work Your truth into people's hearts. May I be an effective channel of Your grace and truth to all I encounter, for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!




ルカ 16:10-11 「小さい事に忠実な人は、大きな事にも忠実であり、小さい事に不忠実な人は、大きな事にも不忠実です。ですから、あなたがたが不正の富に忠実でなかったら、だれがあなたがたに、まことの富を任せるでしょう。」

Verse 13 of this chapter is perhaps more famous, but this is equally deserving of our attention. This is the ultimate answer to those who those who ignore God in financial matters, whether by insisting that tithing was only for OT days or whether by perhaps tithing but then ignoring God in the use of the other 90%. Jesus is saying that material wealth is like play money, to teach us stewardship principles so that we will be ready for the real stuff. The problem is, we get entranced with the play money, and don't value what is real. I'm reminded of a cartoon I saw of someone who, for some reason, had been allowed to take a bar of gold with him to heaven. When he showed it to a friend who had arrived before him, the friend said in astonishment, “You brought paving!?” Children often play with pebbles they pick up, sometimes pretending they are gems. Jesus is saying that all material wealth is exactly like that. God has “the riches of glory” (to use Paul's _expression) available for us, but we need to show that we are ready to handle it by our stewardship of material things.

この章の13節はひょっとするとより有名かもしれません、しかしこの節も等しく私達の関心を向けるに値します。これは金銭的な問題において神を無視する人々 ―十分の一献金は旧約時代に限られたことだと主張したり、ひょっとすると献金はしているかもしれないが残りの90%を遣うことにおいて神を無視しているような人々―に対する究極的な答えです。イエスは物質的な富はお金で遊ぶようなものであると言っています、そして本質的な物事に備えられるように責任の原理を教えているのです。問題は、お金で遊ぶことからはいってしまうと、本質的なものを重要視しないということです。私は、何かの理由で、金の延べ棒を持って天国に入ることを許された人の物語のアニメを思い出しました。彼がそれより先に天国へ行っていた友達にそれを見せると、その友人は驚いて「君は(わざわざ)敷石を持ってきたのかい?」と言ったのでした。子供たちはよく小石を拾い集めては、それらを宝石のふりをしてごっこ遊びをします。イエスはすべての物質的な富はまさしくそのようなものだと言っているのです。神は(パウロの表現を用いるならば)「栄光の富」を私たちのために備えてくださっています、しかし私たちは物質的な富を舵取りできる準備があることを示さねばなりません。

Once again, I had a head start on a lot of people in this area because of my upbringing. In a missionary family there were certainly times when money was tight, but I don't remember ever feeling like we were poor. On the contrary, God provided abundantly for us in various ways, to the point that I think quite a few people thought we were wealthy. The point is, the focus was never on the material, but on spiritual, intangible riches. We loved music and reading and family, and above all we loved God, and He took care of everything else. As a missionary myself, and in my case, without the support of a sending organization, I have certainly experienced God's faithfulness in more ways than I could list. However, the temptation is always there to get anxious about material things, despite God's perfect track record. Right now we're in the middle of trying to simplify and eliminate, and that too is a part of stewardship. I need to be faithful in all of it, not just for my own sake but because I am an example for many, and almost everyone is caught in materialism to some degree.


Father, help me be faithful with everything You put in my hands, whether material or spiritual. As You said through me yesterday, everything You give us has a purpose. Help me recognize Your purpose for each thing so that it may be fulfilled, for Your pleasure and glory. Thank You. Praise God!




ルカ 15:10 「あなたがたに言いますが、それと同じように、ひとりの罪人が悔い改めるなら、神の御使いたちに喜びがわき起こるのです。」

The simple fact of the matter is, it is a joyful thing when someone gets saved by repentance and faith. It's odd, really, but sometimes we forget that. On the other hand, we also sometimes forget that salvation requires repentance, and people who “join the church” without acknowledging and repenting of their sins are indeed not saved. A person may go through the motions, and indeed have copious tears in the process, without really repenting, not of the consequences of their sins but of the sin itself. Esau is a good example of that, as it points out in Hebrews 12:16-17. He “repented” of the consequences of his attitude, but he didn't repent of the attitude itself. Recognizing that sin has consequences is an important step toward repentance, but “into bliss and out of blister,” as my grandfather used to put it, is not a Biblical description of salvation. My grandfather's point was that some people think that saying a little formula will get you from hell to heaven, without repentance demonstrated by a changed life, and it doesn't work that way. John the Baptist had that very clear. (Matthew 3:8 and Luke 3:8) The other side of that, though is that we aren't to go around being “salvation inspectors.” That's putting ourselves in God's place, ant that's a very serious sin in itself. We are to keep our own repentance up to date, and as we share the Gospel we are to be clear in communicating that repentance is necessary, but God is the ultimate judge of repentance and salvation, not us.


As a pastor I need to be very clear on this issue. I need to be gracious and loving, but also discerning, which isn't the same as judging but all too often is confused with it. I am to rejoice whenever anyone expresses repentance, but at the same time I'm not to take everything at face value, particularly in assigning responsibility. Paul was clear in 1 Timothy 3 that people are to be evaluated as John the Baptist indicated before they are to be given responsibility in the Church. I am to present as open a door as possible, but as Jesus said, that door is narrow, compared to what the world offers. I must remember that the kingdom of God is not a matter of legalism, but of righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit. (Romans 14:17)


Father, sometimes I go too much one way and sometimes too much the other on this issue. Help me rejoice indeed with people who express repentance, while being Your agent in helping them learn to walk it out in daily living, for their blessing and Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!



ルカ 11:35 だから、あなたのうちの光が、暗やみにならないように、気をつけなさい。

The English says “is not” and the Japanese says “does not become” darkness. I think that's a pretty big difference. I'll have to check with my Greek scholar wife to see which is the more accurate translation! God's Word is light, but sometimes we turn it into darkness by our interpretation of it. That is of course a problem in taking verses out of context, but it even happens with supposedly expository preaching, when the liberty of the Holy Spirit is exchanged for legalism. Jesus' biggest arguments were with the Pharisees, who were very much the Fundamentalists of their day. By standing on the letter of the Old Testament Scriptures, they missed the intent completely. As Paul said, the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life (2 Corinthians 3:6). That's not at all to say that what is written is unimportant, or that we can be cavalier in our interpretation. It is saying, as Jesus says in this verse, that we must not use the Bible as an instrument of bondage. That is darkness and not light! The Bible is to set us free so that we don't have to obey the flesh and the devil. It is indeed to lead us into righteous, holy living, but not by being bound by legalism.


As a pastor, this is a matter of particularly vital importance to me. I must be faithful in speaking the Word, but I must do so by the power and in the love of the Holy Spirit, or the light will become darkness. I should love the Word as much as the writer of Psalm 119 loved it, but I must apply that Word in the love of God toward the people He sent His Son to redeem. I see church leaders who dilute the Word to the point of nonexistence in an effort to make their churches attractive to non-believers, and I also see church leaders who take some Biblical truths and teach them accurately enough, but in violation of the love and grace of God. God is not pleased with either one! I am to be true to the Word in every detail, but as Paul makes very clear in 1 Corinthians 13, I must do so in the love and grace of God, or it will benefit nothing.


Father, this is humanly speaking a very difficult line to follow. I ask for Your grace, guidance, and power, particularly with those I see who are straying far from it to one side or the other. May I be Your agent of grace to all I encounter, so that Your light may not be dimmed in me, but shine clear and bright to draw many into the intimacy with You that You desire, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!



ルカ 10:16 「あなたがたに耳を傾ける者は、わたしに耳を傾ける者であり、あなたがたを拒む者は、わたしを拒 む者です。わたしを拒む者は、わたしを使わされた方を拒む者です。」

This is an extremely important principle, but it is also subject to misapplication. Whereas it is very true that Christians shouldn't take rejection of the Gospel personally, some seem to have an attitude of “If you don't like me you don't like Jesus.” That's taking it a bit too far! We are commanded to love one another, but that doesn't mean that all personalities coexist smoothly! When we are filled with the Holy Spirit it is certainly easier to deal with abrasive and otherwise irritating personalities, but that's no excuse for us to be abrasive or irritating! That said, I need to come back to why Jesus said this in the first place. Many people are threatened by a proclamation of God's truth, because they know they are in violation of it. Actually, someone who reacts vehemently is a better prospect for salvation than someone who doesn't react at all, because they are at least hearing what is being said. The hardest people to reach are those that simply ignore the Gospel.


Japanese culture can make it hard to determine how you are being heard. I have often gotten polite smiles and nods and even words of seeming agreement when actually there was no comprehension at all of what was being said. Japanese congregations are notoriously stone faced, though thankfully that has been changing in recent years. It can be very hard to gauge how a sermon is being received. They are the polar opposite of the US Black churches I have preached in! However, that doesn't mean that Japanese do more poorly about applying the Word they have received. I need to be faithful in communicating what God has spoken to me and leave the reception in God's hands. I need to be as personable and winsome as possible, but always remember that it doesn't matter particularly what people think of me, but rather how they respond to Christ in me.


Father, this has been an issue with me, but sometimes from the opposite direction. People seem to like me, but they can't seem to understand that what they find likable is Christ in me. I ask for words and anointing to communicate that more effectively, helping people understand that they can have everything they find attractive about me. I ask for that particularly tonight as I go to the graduation parties, that the impression I leave with my former students would be of Christ more than of me, so that in Your timing they would seek You and find You, for their salvation and Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!




ルカ 8:17 隠れているもので、あらわにならぬものはなく、秘密にされているもので、知られず、また現われないものはありません。

This verse, taken seriously, is terrifying to some people. A lot of people act like it isn't true, or was never said in the first place. However, you can't change God's word like that! The impulse to hide goes all the way back to the Garden of Eden, when Adam and Eve tried to hide from God because they knew they had disobeyed Him. The same reaction can be seen in children today! However, denial never brings resolution and absolution. Many people realize that keeping secrets wears you out, but many others haven't come to that point yet. There are numerous benefits to a policy of absolute honesty! That doesn't mean we are to be letting everything hang out. That can cause needless hurt. However, the fear of being found out can be absolutely paralyzing, and the best defense is being up front about it in the first place. God of course knows everything, so trying to hide something from Him is totally futile, but hiding things from one another is, in the final analysis, futile and damaging as well. That's not to say that there is anything wrong with surprise presents and the like, because the intent there is specifically temporary. What Jesus is addressing, and what we must acknowledge, is the impulse to appear as something other than what we are, to avoid taking responsibility for our actions.


This is an important consideration in every person's life, and I am no exception. I've only had a few experiences at trying to keep dark secrets about myself, but those were enough to teach me that it is poisonous. We are created for intimacy with God, and on a lesser level with one another, and that requires openness. I need to stay open and frank with God, of course, but also with the people close to me. I am not to nurse hidden wounds, for example, but bring them first to God, choose to forgive, and then approach the person who wounded me, if that is called for to prevent further problems. I have hurt others unintentionally, and when they have let me know it, I have done my best to mend my ways. However, when they have nursed their wounds in secret, they and our relationship have been poisoned. This is a major issue in pastoral ministry. It isn't very easy to deal with even when I am not involved in the original incident, but it is difficult indeed when I am one of the primary parties. I need to do all I can, by the help of the Holy Spirit, to foster an attitude of openness in this church, so that the inevitable hurts may be dealt with promptly and not allowed to fester, and people may have practical training in forgiveness, for the health and blessing of everyone.


Father, thank You for my father and His policy of absolute honesty. I am greatly blessed to have been raised in such an environment. I ask for wisdom and grace in ministering to people who were raised to be closed about their feelings and many other things. May Your light shine in all our hearts, so that when areas needing repentance or forgiveness are exposed, we may be quick in our obedience, allowing Your love to flow over, among, and through us, building the Body of Christ for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!



ルカ 2:21 八日が満ちて幼子に割礼を施す日となり、幼子はイエスという名で呼ばれることになった。胎内に宿 る前に御使いがつけた名である。

When I saw a series of video testimonies of Messianic Jews the other day, a common thread for many of them was their utter amazement at the Jewishness of the New Testament. Frankly, this is something most Gentile readers don't even notice! Even though Luke was perhaps the only Gentile writer included in the NT canon, he too is completely matter-of-fact in talking about such an inherently Jewish thing as circumcision on the 8th day. Christians lose a great deal when they forget their Jewish roots, and I'm not just talking about the OT. That of course is included, but there is much more to it. Whereas it is true that to this point the majority of the physical descendants of Abraham have not recognized Jesus as the promised Messiah, Paul is very clear that the Church is not complete without them, writing about it extensively in Romans 11 and also bring the matter up in Ephesians 2. It is a mystery to me how so many otherwise great men of God could have missed that fact throughout the history of the Church. Perhaps the most logical explanation is that in the first few centuries the Jews persecuted the Church. That was doubly painful to the Christians because they shared the same OT and thus the same God. However, reacting to that by persecuting Jews, once the Christians got the upper hand, was entirely unconscionable.


I don't remember receiving teaching about this one way or the other as I was growing up, except that we read the whole Bible and not just parts, but it was actually a bit of a shock when a Messianic Jew for whom I was interpreting here in Japan explained “replacement theology” to me. “Replacement theology” says that the Church has supplanted the Jews in God's plan, so the Jews are now excluded. I had trouble believing my ears that some seminaries, even, actually taught that, but now I know it to be sadly true. It was a blessing and a privilege to be included, rather amazingly, in the Messianic fellowship when I was in seminary myself. I have no idea how many of my Gentile classmates subscribed to replacement theology, but at that point I didn't even know it existed! As a pastor, I need to teach the believers what a rich heritage they have in the Jewish roots of the Church, and that as Paul said in Romans 11:17-24, we are grafted onto Jewish stock, and we need to be grateful and pray for the salvation of the descendants of Jacob.


Father, thank You for Your amazing plan of salvation. Even people who are saved misunderstand it so often! Help us walk in full humility and gratefulness, never sinking to exclude someone on the basis of ethnicity but recognizing that if You love us, You must love everyone! Help me communicate Your love and grace in all its fullness more and more effectively, so that more and more people of all sorts may receive and be saved, for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!



マタイ 24:35 この天地は滅び去り ます。しかし、わたしのことばは決して滅びることがありません。

In many countries there is quite a push to discredit the words of the Bible, but here Jesus speaks the final word on that issue. There are things that are true for a time, and things that are true in some situations, but God's Word is Truth, and that doesn't change. The difficulty is that some of the things recorded in the Bible were indeed for specific times and places rather than for all eternity, but when we start looking for such things, it shows that our hearts aren't committed to obey God in the first place. The thing about the Bible is that, as it says in Hebrews 4:12, what God says is perfectly sharp and penetrating, and often we don't like that. Many treat the Bible like a collection of aphorisms, picking and choosing verses that suit them at the moment, but in the Last Day they will find themselves judged by the very words they took so lightly.


I have lived all my life in a very close relationship with the Bible, but that doesn't mean I've never taken it lightly. As came up a few days ago, familiarity can breed contempt, and I have a tendency to say “yes, yes, I know that,” to any Scripture, when that very reaction proves I don't really know the Truth behind the words well enough. I need to keep pressing in, all the more so because so many things in the world today are changing so fast. I need to receive my stability from God and His Word, and share that with those to whom I minister. Just last night a Christian came by to talk because they were anxious about something, but their anxiety was hardly surprising, because they have drifted pretty far from daily feeding on the Word. As I told them, Jesus' words in Matthew 6 are true in every detail, when He tells us that if we get our priorities straight, our needs will be met. My own financial picture at the moment is testing and stretching my faith, but I know that God is faithful whether I trust Him or not.


Father, thank You for this reminder. Thank You for pointing out to me that I have no high horse from which to talk down to people who are having trouble trusting You. Help me receive Your Word not just into my head but especially into my heart, both to meditate on it and to do it. In this rapidly changing world, help me be firmly anchored in Christ and Your Word, not just so that I may stand firm in the storms myself but also so that I may draw many to You, for their salvation and Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!



マタイ 17:4 すると、ペテロが口出ししてイエスに言った。「先生。私たちがここにいるのは、すばらしいことです。もし、およろしければ、私が、ここに三つの幕屋を造ります。あなたのために一つ、モーセのために一つ、エリヤのために一つ。」

Even with a long track record of saying the wrong thing at the wrong time, this has got to be one of Peter's gems. The turns of phrase in the Japanese translation make that even clearer than in the English. We have a tendency to feel superior to Peter in this situation, but actually, we do no better. We are forever wanting to “do the right thing,” and jump in where God hasn't directed us. I feel the major lesson from this is that we are constantly to be available to God for whatever He wants us to do, but we aren't to go around trying to figure out how we can help Him. God uses people, but that's not the same thing as His needing our help. He gives us the privilege of participating in what He is doing, but if He finds no one willing to serve, He simply does the job by Himself. (Isaiah 59:16, 63:5) Our job is to be available as channels of His power and ability, not to contribute anything He hasn't placed in us in the first place.

ペテロは、変なときに変な発言をするのに、かなりの実績を積み重ねましたが、これはその頂点の一つに違いありません。日本語のほうは、英語よりも、それが明らかです。この場合、私たちは自分がペテロより優れている、と思いがちですが、実は、私たちは優れていません。私たちはいつも「良いことをする」と思って、神様の支持なしに行動してしまいがちです。この箇所から学ぶべきことは、私たちはいつも神様に用いられる用意をしながら、「どういうふうに神様を助けられるか」を考えないことです。神様が人を用いますが、私たちの助けを必要としているわけではありません。神様の行動に参加する特権を私たちに与えますが、使える者を見つけなければ、自分で成し遂げます。(イザヤ59:16;63:5) 私たちの役割は、神様の力と能力の管になることです。私たちにあるものはすべて神様からいただいていますから。

This is something I need to be very careful to keep in focus, particularly when the Lord has just spoken through me as effectively as He has done the past two Sundays. Human nature tends to think, I can do something for God, when we should be overwhelmed with gratitude that God would choose to use us. In 1 Corinthians 1 Paul goes to some length to make it clear that no human being has any boasting room before God. The minute I start thinking that God uses me because I'm really something, I've fallen into a terrible trap. The history of the Church has countless examples of people who have been caught in that trap, and I must not add to their number!


Father, I do thank You for Your great grace in speaking through me. Yesterday's message, if we follow through in obedience, will make a massive difference, not just in this church but in the Body of Christ throughout Japan. We need lots of guidance and revelation in how we are to follow through, so that is what I ask for. Thank You for the resources You have already provided. I ask for wisdom in how to implement discipleship training as You intend, rather than as someone has figured out, so that Your purposes for us, as individuals and as a body, may be fulfilled on Your schedule for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!




マタイ 6:22-23 「からだのあかりは目です。それで、もしあなたの目は健全なら、あなたの全身が明るいが、もし、目 が悪ければ、あなたの全身が暗いでしょう。それなら、もしあなたのうちの光が暗ければ、その暗さはどんなでしょう。」

This is actually one of the few places in this whole chapter that I had not underlined previously in the Bible I am currently using, so I asked the Lord for revelation on it. Blindness was rather more common in those days than it is now, because of a lack of understanding of medical factors involved in visual health, so this was a word picture Jesus' hearers could relate to. The zinger in this is obviously His statement about “if the light in you is dark.” Here He is applying the physical metaphor to spiritual reality. In English, “light” is often used as a figure of speech for “understanding,” and that usage may well come from this very passage. Everyone operates according to a particular world view. That is, we have a mental framework of how we think the world is put together and operates, and our behavior is remarkably consistent with that world view, whatever it might be. This is actually one of the major sources of conflict around the world today, as it has always been. What Jesus is saying is that when our world view is formed by the prince of darkness, that is, the devil, then we are in the dark indeed. Often we don't realize what our world view is, because it is formed unconsciously and is unquestioned. When God's truth comes in, it is light indeed, but sometimes we resist it and run from it, just as Jesus said in John 3:19-21. Any failure to see God as both loving and holy clouds the light that we have.


I had the extreme blessing of being raised by parents who both had a clearly Biblical world view. The unspoken assumptions in our home lined up with God's truth. That's not to say that I didn't stray, but it did mean that when I did stray, I knew how to come back. As great a blessing as this is, however, it has made it difficult sometimes for me to empathize with or even understand people with a different world view. That has made my evangelism less than effective at times, and it has also impacted my pastoral ministry. I need to learn better how to relate to those who are stumbling around in the dark to one degree or another, not with any attitude of superiority but with full grace and mercy, so that as many as possible may be brought from darkness into the light.


Father, I really need the help of Your Holy Spirit in this (as I do in everything, actually). People get very resentful when someone else claims enlightenment, and all sorts of emotions come into play. This certainly applies to the baptism in the Holy Spirit, which You had me administer last week. I pray that I would not fear people's reactions, but also that I would not offend needlessly. May I be fully available and useful to You so that as many as will may walk in Your light indeed, for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!



マラキ 1:6 「子は父を敬い、しもべはその主人を敬う。もし、わたしが父であるなら、どこに、わたしへの尊敬 があるのか。もし、わたしが主人であるなら、どこに、わたしへの恐れがあるのか。-万軍の主は、あなたがたに仰せられるーわたしの名をさげすむ祭司たち。

It is proverbial that familiarity breeds contempt, and nowhere is that more dangerous than in worship. This whole book deals with that problem, and as this verse states, it often starts from the top. If a minister approaches the mechanics of worship as a job or a routine, that attitude can be deadly for the whole church. We tend to forget what an essential privilege worship is, and woe to us when that happens! When religion is reduced to formulas, then there is no difference from one religion to the next, because there is no awareness of the living God. It is sadly obvious when this happens in churches, because they ordain ministers who are living in open sin, and treat church structure as simply a means to social clout. That breaks God's heart, and He will not tolerate it forever. True religion must start with an awareness of who God is, or it will descend into this sort of moral swamp. Some ministers are threatened by the practical application of “the priesthood of the believer,” even though that is a pillar of doctrine in churches with a congregational style of government. However, a true minister of God will rejoice at every believer who delights to relate to and serve God directly.


Since I am a pastor, this is very pertinent for me. I do have many routines connected with my service to God. That's not necessarily bad, but I must be very careful not to let them become just routines. I cannot say that I have not been guilty at times of being cavalier toward the things of God, and that is a serious matter. God is my Father and I am His child, but I must not act like a spoiled brat! Just because He is so faithful to speak through me gives me no right to take that for granted or otherwise treat it lightly. If a presidential press secretary were less than respectful of the president, then they would lose their job. The One for whom I am a spokesman is far greater than any president! I am to give Him my best at all times in every way, not drawing back or begrudging things in any way. He is more than worthy of everything I could possibly do in service to Him, and far more.


Father, forgive me for being resentful of things You call me to do. I have resented translating my blog, putting it off even when I had time. I have resented trying to keep my work areas clean and organized, when they are places I meet with and serve You. I have taken worship services lightly, going through the motions to get them over with rather than being in awe of the privilege of coming before You to offer worship and praise. Forgive me. Thank You for showing me this morning that I have far more in common with the priests Malachi was addressing than I wanted to believe. Help me give You the best that You have placed in me, at all times and in all ways, for the sake of the Body of Christ and for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!




ゼカリヤ 14:9 主は地のすべての王となります。その日には、主はただひとり、御名もただ一つとなる。

As Paul points out in 1 Corinthians 8:5, at this point there are many “gods” and many “lords,” but that situation is not going to continue. Recently it seems like dictators have been dropping like flies, but “people power” isn't the ultimate answer either. Actually, the Islamic fundamentalists have the right idea, they just have the wrong god. God really is in control, and the sooner and the more completely we recognize that, the better. Theocracies down through the centuries have been horrible, because men have dressed up their lust and greed in the name of whatever god they supposedly served. Sadly, this is seen in Christian churches even today. When a leader starts defending his extravagant lifestyle with “lay no hand on God's anointed,” there is a real problem! As far as political systems go, I have a strong preference for democracy, but ultimately, even democracy works well only when a majority of the populace is honestly seeking to follow God. For the believer, it is a real comfort to know that ultimately all the falsehoods are going to be cast down, and there will be no question who is God, King, and Lord.


It is easy to feel somewhat superior on this issue, since I know Who the true Lord is, but I have no room for conceit, because I'm not 100% consistent in submitting to His Lordship. Over time I have grown, but I still have my rebellious moments. Since I am in a position of spiritual authority, I must be especially careful not to cloak my personal, fleshly desires in spiritual language. I must be actively humble and submitted to the Holy Spirit, and let Him show me the traps the devil sets for me through my flesh, so that I may avoid them. I am not to draw back from exercising the authority that has been entrusted to me, because that would be poor stewardship and would benefit no one. However, it must always be exercised in love, even when the actions called for are forceful.


Father, as You know well, I have always been somewhat uncomfortable with authority. On one hand I want it, but on the other hand I run from it, because of the responsibility it always entails. Help me be fully submitted to Your authority and Lordship, so that Your authority may operate through me according to Your will to accomplish Your purposes on Your schedule for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!



ゼカリヤ 4:10 だれが、その日を小さな事としてさげすんだのか。

Verse 6 is probably the most famous passage in the whole book of Zechariah, but this verse, too, is important. We are very prone to judge things by size. For example, tall people are assumed to have more leadership ability than shorter people, and in general, we tend to think that bigger is better. That's not to say that big things can't be good, or that tall people can't be good leaders, but it is to say that our perspective tends to be very focused on external, material things. We do not see the end from the beginning the way God does, so we evaluate on the basis of right now. We tend to overlook small things, yet sometimes in God's plan they can be very important. We discount our own efforts at times, not knowing what mighty harvest God is going to bring from them down the road. This passage is a call to let God be the judge of things, and to expect great things of Him.


This is certainly applicable to me, since this church has seemed very small to me from the start. However, as I was reminded yesterday, many people have received the Word of the Lord here and then gone on to other locations, so I don't know what fruit they are bearing. I am not to dismiss the thought of this congregation numbering in the thousands, but neither am I to look down on who and what we are right now. God indeed desires great numbers of people to come into His kingdom, but He is interested on the basis of each individual, and not on the numbers themselves. I am to be faithful in my interaction with each individual He brings here, showing them the love and grace of God and encouraging them to become channels of that same love and grace. It is when I do that, that multiplication takes place. As long as I am trying to add people, progress will be slow. It is when I reproduce the Christ in me in someone else, and they in turn do the same with others, that the growth God desires will be evident.


Father, this is something I've known in theory for a very long time, yet I have been very slow in implementing it. Thank You for the deposits You have allowed me to make in those who have gone on from here, but I ask You now to enable me to invest myself fully in those who are planted here. Thank You for those who fit that description. Help me not overlook those who will move on, but give me wisdom and anointing to disciple those who are planted. May each member of this church become a multiplier indeed. I ask for a fresh vision for each believer of what You can do, want to do, and will do through them, if they will yield themselves to You, so that we may stop looking at where we are and what we are right now, but look to You and rejoice, for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!



ミカ 7:7 しかし、私は主を仰ぎ見、私の救いの神を待ち望む。私の神は私の願いを聞いてくださる。

Sometimes the “buts” in Scripture are very significant, and this is certainly one of them. This whole chapter is a beautiful statement of faith. The first six verses are a heartbreaking description of moral and ethical desolation, but then comes this verse. In spite of everything, Micah chooses to trust God, to wait expectantly for Him. Everyone encounters difficulties in life, just as Jesus promised in John 16:33, but our trust in God makes all the difference. If we are looking at God, as Micah says in this verse, then we can rejoice even in the middle of the difficulties, just as Jesus said. It's all a matter of focus. We tend to wallow in pity parties, wailing that our trials are too difficult to bear, but the the Scriptural advice in that case would be, “Cut it out! Stop focusing on yourself and your problems and take a look at Jesus, who endured far worse for Your sake and who now is seated at the right hand of the Father, calling you to Himself!”


I have needed such an admonition several times in my life. Sometimes there was someone to give it, and sometimes it has just slowly dawned on me. I find myself desiring to give this admonition to others frequently. Sometimes they have ears to receive it, and sometimes they don't. In my observation, a major part of human misery comes not from the circumstances themselves, but from our failure to look to God in those circumstances. I am not to go around hitting people over the head to get them to pay attention (though I am tempted!), but I am to be persistent in speaking the truth in love, however it is received. I have had people be offended at this message, and even leave the church, because they didn't want to stop their pity party. I am to pray for such people, but I am not to chase them down, either. I cannot change their hearts; only the Holy Spirit can do that.


Father, I need Your wisdom and anointing in order to present this message without coming across as uncaring. That has been a major problem in the past. Help me hear people out, but still not leave them wallowing in self-centered misery. Show me how to express the “but” that Micah did, and lead and encourage others to do the same, so that we may escape the traps of the devil and walk in the peace and joy and victory that You intend, for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!




アモス 5:18 ああ。主の日を待ち望む者。主の日はあなたがたにとっていったい何になる。それはやみであって、光ではない。

I doubt that this is anyone's favorite Scripture! At first glance, it seems in contradiction to much of the rest of the Bible, but there are actually quite a few passages that say much the same thing. The key is to whom they are addressed. Amos was not talking to people who were “acting justly, loving mercy, and walking humbly with their God.” (Micah 6:8) Rather, Amos was talking to people who were going through the motions of Yahweh worship, but their hearts were actually committed to various idols. Today we might not have specific idols we pray to, but if our hearts are committed to anything other than our Creator, our worship is a sham, and God has no interest in it. That's why John the Baptist, and then Jesus, proclaimed, “Repent, and believe the good news.” Without repentance, there can be no true acceptance of the Gospel. The good news of Jesus isn't something we can tack onto everything else in our lives, it has to be at the core of our being and govern everything else. For the hypocrite, the Day of the Lord is indeed one of terrible judgment, but for the repentant one who is trusting in Christ alone, it is a day of vindication, reward, and great joy.


I don't deal with too many sham Christians, but I do deal with a few. Personally, my concerns need to be that I myself don't fall into hypocrisy, and that those I lead to faith repent indeed, and not just go through some formula. That doesn't mean I need to be a witch hunter, always doubting people's sincerity, but it does mean that I've got to be very clear that you can't tack Jesus onto anything; He must be Lord. That immediately brings me to the situation that I and every Christian faces, of having lapses in our allegiance. There, too, the answer is repentance, not covering up. We have such trouble believing that God's forgiveness is real, and that becomes a major hindrance to repentance. We don't want to confess something if it's going to be held against us. I've got to be careful that I don't hold things against people myself, but rather extend to them the grace that has been poured out on me.


Father, this is a very practical reality for all of us. Help me be fully clear about the necessity of repentance and the reality of forgiveness. We all need the revelation of Your Spirit on those issues. Help me be firm in my own grasp and application of them, and help me communicate them effectively to everyone, believers and non-believers alike, for their salvation and Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!



ホセア 6:3 「私たちは、知ろう。主を知ることを切に追い求めよう。主は暁の光のように、確かに現われ、大雨 のように、私たちのところに来、後の雨のように、地を潤される。」

There is a Japanese song taken directly from this verse that I have liked ever since I first heard it. I embellished it a bit in my English translation, because saying it in Japanese takes more syllables and I needed to match the music, but in either language it makes an excellent song of exhortation. (I just realized that the content is neither praise nor worship, since it is addressed to people rather than to God. Maybe we need another category in Church music!) The problem with this verse in context is that apparently the people of Hosea's day weren't sincere in saying things like this. Words are well and good, and they are important, but throughout the Bible the point is made that words by themselves can be completely empty. When our hearts and wills are behind them, then we will follow through. Otherwise, they are just noise. Deciding to know God and trusting that He will come to us and fulfill our needs are essential parts of the life of faith, but saying pious words without putting them into action is meaningless.


As a man of words, this is a matter of urgency for me. I can generally say the right thing at the right time, but if my actions don't match my words I am a sham, and the deception will soon be exposed. I've got to be careful to live out the truth I speak, and I also need insight from the Holy Spirit to recognize deception in others. Sometimes, such deception simply calls for intercession. Sometime, it calls for confrontation. I don't like that idea! However, I need to be willing to risk rejection for the sake of people's spiritual well being. Jesus said that the good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. He of course was talking about His own sacrifice on the cross, but that applies to His under-shepherds as well. As one of those, I am not to value my own life above the life of the flock.


Father, this is a serious Word. Help me not take it lightly. Help me be willing to confront wayward sheep, loving them enough to risk the conflict that I dislike so much. Thank You for Your faithfulness to speak through me. Help me be faithful in living out every word, so that all of Your purposes may be fulfilled, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!



ダニエル 2:23 「私の先祖の神。私はあなたに感謝し、あなたを賛美します。あなたは私に知恵と力とを賜い、今、私たちがあなたにこいねがったことを私に知らせ、王のことを私たちに知らせてくださいました。」

There is a difference between conceit and knowing that God has given you something. Daniel's life, and the lives of several other people, depended on God giving him revelation, and when he received it, he didn't doubt it. The devil always tries to get us to doubt what God has done, not to mention what He is going to do. Any Christian is going to have times of wondering, am I really saved? We can rest assured, that's not the Holy Spirit talking! Assurance is a very important gift that we should not let the devil steal from us. If we are worried about whether we are saved, that's a pretty strong indicator that we are saved! Another word for assurance would be boldness. The devil is afraid of bold believers, and that's why he tries to steal our assurance. When we have the rock solid assurance that God is for us, we aren't going to be moved by whoever might be lined up against us. (Romans 8:31) The devil tries to tell us that we are being vain and conceited, but assurance of their father's love is a fundamental need of every child, and our Heavenly Father certainly loves us. We need to believe, welcome, and trust that love and everything it brings to us.

うぬぼれと神があなたに賜物をお与えになったということを知っているということは違います。ダニエルの人生と、そして他の数名の人達の人生は、神が彼に啓示を与え、そして彼がそれを受け取った時、彼は何の疑いも持たなかったということにかかっていました。悪魔はいつも私達を、神がこれからなさろうとすることはもちろん、神がなさったことについて疑いを抱かせます。クリスチャンは誰でも「自分は本当に救われているのか?」と疑いを抱く時があります。私達は安心していられます、そんな疑問は聖霊の言葉ではないのですから!安心とは悪魔から盗まれてはならないとても大切な賜物です。もし私達が救われているのかどうか心配しているとしたら、それは私達は救われているというかなり強力な印なのです!安心は別の言葉で言い換えると大胆さと言えます。悪魔は大胆な信者達を恐れています、だから悪魔は私達から安心を盗もうとするのです。私達が神は私達のために居てくださるという巌のような確信を抱いているとき、誰が私達に敵対しようとも私達は揺るぐことはありません(ローマ人への手紙 8:31)。悪魔は私達が虚栄心が強く思い上がっていると信じ込ませようとします、しかし父親の愛を確信することは全ての子供の根本的な欲求であり、私達の天なるお父様は確かに私達を愛しておられるのです。私達は愛とすべてのものは私達にもたらされていると信じ、歓迎し、信頼する必要があります。

I really have had problems with being proud of things God has given me, but that's not to say He hasn't given them to me! Like Daniel, I need to be constantly aware of where every gift and ability comes from, and give God the glory. Failing to do that is poor stewardship, whether it is taking personal pride in things or denying that I have them. As a pastor, one of my many tasks is helping believers recognize the things God has done for and given them. The hymn, Count Your Blessings, is a good illustration of that. The devil tries to get us to focus on the negatives in our circumstances, and the way to counter that is to focus of the positives. And every believer has lots of those, if they will lift their eyes in faith to see them. I should be careful not to harangue people on this issue, because that would be counterproductive, but I do need to be consistent and persistent. I need to be an instrument of assurance, not doubt.


Father, thank You for this word this morning. I encounter doubt and mistrust of You all the time, in myself and others. Help me be fully open toward and trusting of You myself, to gently lead those around me in the same direction. When we have full assurance of what You have done in and for us in Christ Jesus, then we will be a bold army that will indeed storm the gates of hell and release the captives, for their salvation and Your glory. Let it be so, Father, in Jesus' name. Hallelujah!



エレミヤ 13:15 耳を傾けて聞け。高ぶるな。主が語られたからだ。

Mankind has an incredible capacity for despising God. As God pointed out to Jeremiah in chapters 18 and 19, that's like a clay pot despising the potter! It is not that we are of no value, because God loves us enough that He gave His Son as a ransom for us, but it's the simple matter of who is the Creator and who are the created, who is the Father and who are the children. Many children today are not brought up to respect their fathers, whom they can see, and that strongly affects their attitude toward their Heavenly Father, whom they cannot see. Human fathers are of course imperfect, but failure to respect them is very damaging for the children. The safest attitude for any person is, “God said it, and that settles it.” There are of course problems of interpretation with the Bible sometimes, and any extra-Biblical pronouncement must be weighed very carefully, but for anyone whose desire is to hear and obey God, He will confirm His Word in our hearts by the Holy Spirit.


As a pastor, charged with speaking the words of God, this is a matter of daily concern for me. I of course need to be very careful that I don't claim something is from God when it isn't, but I think I have been fairly secure in that area for quite a while. It is very interesting to see how people respond to what God says through me. At times there is rejoicing, at times there is repentance, but at times there is an almost visible hardening, of rejection. That is dangerous indeed! I certainly don't claim to be perfect, and I invite people to examine what I say in relation to the Bible, so that they may evaluate it accurately, but that's not what I'm talking about here. Sometimes, if what is said is not what they want to hear, people turn it off, or even deliberately do the opposite. That's like a small child, rebelling for the sake of being rebellious! I am not to write such people off, but neither am I to allow myself to be dragged down by them. I am to love them and pray for them, continuing to speak the truth in love whether it is received or not, so that the Holy Spirit may have every opportunity to bring them to repentance.


Father, thank You for Your grace toward me. Help me extend that same grace to others. May my heart be sensitive and obedient to You at all times, and may I not take people's rejection of You as rejection of me. I ask You to love them through me, so that together we may be brought into the relationship You desire, with You and with each other, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!



イザヤ 60:22 時が来れば、わたし、主が、すみやかにそれをする。

For once I really like the turn of phrase in the NIV: “I am the Lord.” It is amazing how often we need to be reminded of that. God tells us things, and we doubt them, as though He were unreliable or even unable to do what He says. How absurd! God is the Creator, the One who spoke the universe into being, the one who loved us enough to send His Son to die in our place to save us from our sins. With our very limited frame of reference and intellect we sometimes fail to hear Him correctly, and as Peter pointed out, God's viewpoint of time is not at all the same as ours, (2 Peter 3:8) but God Himself is utterly reliable. We waste huge quantities of emotional energy being anxious about things, when God tells us not to be anxious about anything. (Philippians 4:6-7) This passage is about trusting God for time and timing. The Bible records many instances of God doing things in an “impossibly” short time. There are other instances where things took much longer than the people involved desired, but God knew the various things that needed to fall into place to make it all right. We must not be impatient, but at the same time we need to be ready to move quickly when God does, to flow with Him on His schedule.

今回に限り、私はNIVの「私は主である」の言い方が本当に好きです。私たちがそのことを思い出す必要があることがいかに頻繁であるか驚くほどです。神様は様々なことを私たちに話しますが、まるで彼に信頼できないとか、彼が言うことをするのが不可能であるかのように、話された事について私たちは疑ってしまいます。何てばかげたことなんでしょう!神様は世界をご自分の言葉で創られた創造主、私たちを罪から救うために、彼の息子を私たちの代わりに死なせる目的でこの地に送りになったほど私たちを愛してくださった方です。私たちのとても限られた基準や知力で、時々私たちは彼の言うことを正しく聞くことにしくじります。そしてペテロが指摘したように、神様の時は私たちと全て同じではありません(ペテロの手紙 第一3:8)。しかし神様こそが最も信頼できる方です。神様は私たちに何も思い煩わないように言っていますが(ピリピ人への手紙4:6-7)、私たちは物事に関して心配しとても大きな感情的エネルギーを無駄にしています。この節は時間とタイミングにおいて神様を信頼することについて書かれています。聖書は神様は不可能であるような短い時間内に事をされる多くの例を聖書は記録しています。人が願っている以上に時間がかかる例もありますが、神様はその物事が上手く行くよう様々な事柄が整えられる必要があるということをご存知でした。私たちはせっかちになってはいけません。しかし同時に、神様の時に全く彼によって事を起こされるとき、私たちは素早く対応できる準備が必要です。

Time is a big issue with me. I probably get stressed out about time as much or more than I do about anything else, and that benefits no one, and least of all me. It is not wrong to be punctual, but it is wrong to be obsessive about it and thus make problems for those around me. I have grown somewhat in this area, but I have a l-o-o-o-n-g way yet to go to reach full maturity! I tend to look at others and put them down for their anxieties, yet I can be just as un-trusting in other areas. Part of the problem is that I often fail to recognize that timing is a matter of trusting God. I have had training from God in trusting Him for finances and various other things, but as often as I have experienced God's perfect timing, I still have trouble trusting Him for it. I need to be conscious and purposeful in my trust, even when the “right” time for something passes, knowing that everything yielded to God will be used by Him for good. (Romans 8:28)


Father, thank You for Your timing for the day yesterday. Thank You for the speed with which You gave me the translation for the song we are to use Sunday. Thank You for today's schedule, even though I only know parts of it. I pray that I would be fully relaxed about where we are when, doing what, so that I won't miss any of the blessings You have for me, or cause others to miss blessings either. May I rest, relax, and rejoice in You moment by moment today, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!

お父様、昨日のあなたの時に感謝します。日曜日に使う歌の訳を私に瞬時にお与えになられたことに感謝します。私は今日のスケジュールについてほんの少ししか分かりませんが、その今日のスケジュールについて感謝します。あなたが私のためにご計画されている恵みを逃すことがないように、場所、時、すべきことについて、私たちが完全にリラックスできるように祈ります。あなたの御栄光のために、どうぞ私が今日あなたの時に 休息、リラックス、また喜ぶことができますように。感謝します。神様を讃えます!


イザヤ 60:1 起きよ。光を放て。あなたの光が来て、主の栄光があなたの上に輝いているからだ。

This is another pre-statement of our Scripture passage for the year, where Jesus tells us that we are the light of the world, and we are to let our lights shine. Jesus is indeed the Light of the World, but He has come to us and lives in us by His Spirit, and He is our light on an individual level as well. Paul tells us not to quench the Holy Spirit (1 Thessalonians 5:19), which could be paraphrased, “don't put out the light.” God tells us through Isaiah that God's glory is shining over us. Refusing to shine is denying God the glory He deserves! For many people, what I have just written is no more than words, because they cannot grasp and/or accept that the Holy Spirit is truly resident in them and they are instruments of God's glory. The devil uses every­thing he can to hide that truth from us, because he wants glory for himself, and his method is to try to deny God His glory. When believers wake up to the reality of Christ in them, that is glorious indeed (Colossians 1:27).


I keep coming back to what the Lord showed me a few years ago, that when the believers of Japan wake up to who and what they are in Christ, it will change not only the Church or even the nation of Japan, but the whole world. Japanese culture is strongly disapproving of conceit and bragging, and the devil has used that to convince the Christians that they can't do anything. I need to be active in helping believers understand that they aren't the issue, it's God in them. Paul was very clear that “We have this treasure in jars of clay,” but in the same sentence he refers to “all-surpassing power” (2 Corinthians 4:7). It boils down to getting our eyes off of ourselves and onto God. Nothing is impossible for God! (Luke 1:37) As long as we are focused on ourselves, we aren't going to let God's light shine through us as He desires and intends. I've got to remember this for myself and get it through to the believers. I don't have the wisdom or ability to do that, but God does, and He can use me!

私は数年前に主が私に見せてくださったことにいつも立ち返ろうとしています、それは、日本の信徒たちがキリストのうちにある自分達とは何者であるかに目覚めた時、教会や日本国家だけでなく、世界全体が変わるだろうということです。日本の文化は自慢やうぬぼれというものを強く非難します、そして悪魔はそのことを利用して、クリスチャン達に何もできないということを信じ込ませようとしてきました。そのことが問題ではなく、彼らの内に神がおられることを信徒達が信じられるよう、私は積極的に手助けしていく必要があります。パウロは「私たちは、この宝を、土の器の中に入れているのです」とはっきり明言しています、しかし同じ節で「測り知れない力」とも言っているのです(コリント人への手紙第二 4:7)。それは私達の目を自分自身からそらし神へと向けるよう煮詰めていくのです。神に不可能なことはありません!(ルカによる福音書1:37) 私達が自分自身にばかり関心を向けている限り、神が望み、意図しているように神の光を私達の内から輝かせることはないでしょう。私は自分自身のためにもこのことを心に留め、そして信徒達へも浸透させていかなくてはなりません。そうするための知恵も能力も私にはありません、しかし神はすべてご存知であり、神が私を用いることができるのです!

Father, once again I'm back to needing to pay attention to the Word that comes through me. Keep me from failing to obey Your Word after I have proclaimed it! I am freer from self-limiting than many people are, but that doesn't mean I don't do it. Help me trust You not only to supply the power but also to manage the consequences of exercising it. Help me be a fully open channel for You to pour through, today and each day, so that the believers may be led and encouraged to do the same, and all Your plans for us may be fulfilled, on Your schedule for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!




イザヤ 58:9 そのとき、あなたが呼ぶと、主は答え、あなたが呼ぶと、「わたしはここにいる」と仰せられる。

This whole passage (6-14) is filled with many wonderful promises that are often claimed by Christians. However, much of the time those same Christians fail to recognize that every one of these promises is conditional. Essentially, God is saying, “If you will act like my children, you will discover what a good Father I am.” We can't go lifting promises out of context and claiming them, demanding that God be “true to His Word.” God is absolutely true to His Word, but we fail to accept the hard parts. God desires to bless us more than we can imagine, but He is no Santa Claus, going “Ho, ho, ho” and ignoring our rebellion. Parents who spoil their children and fail to discipline them are training them to rebel against God, because they are not laying a foundation of understanding that actions have consequences. The other side of the issue is a lack of understanding of grace. God treats us much better than we deserve, and we come to take that for granted, instead of being grateful, or we live in fear of everything coming crashing down on us because of all we have done against God. Neither attitude is what God is looking for! Conditions are real and sin must be atoned for, but when there is repentance and faith, we discover that God is gracious and abounding in mercy. Because of the atoning work of Christ on the cross, forgiveness is very real.


This is not only something I've got to apply in my own life, it's what I'm charged with communicating to others. For that, I need the help of the Holy Spirit, because human minds don't readily wrap themselves around something so huge and magnificent. It takes the Holy Spirit to reveal both our sinfulness and God's grace to our hearts. However, that's what He loves to do, so I just need to get in step with Him!


Father, thank You for Your grace toward each of us, and for the privilege of proclaiming that grace. Keep me from glossing over the conditions included in Your promises, either to myself or to others. Help me communicate that You will enable us to fulfill those conditions if we will set our wills to follow You. Father, Jesus said it all when He said that to do Your will is to believe in Him. May I believe and trust fully and teach others to do likewise, for their salvation and Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!



イザヤ 53:11 彼は、自分のいのちの激しい苦しみのあとを見て、満足する。わたしの正しいしもべは、その知識に よって多くの人を義とし、彼らの咎を彼がになう。

This chapter is one of the clearest expositions of the theology of the cross, resurrection, and salvation in the whole Bible, yet Isaiah lived hundreds of years before Jesus. This one verse has a phrase that perhaps made little sense to Isaiah himself, yet from our perspective we can understand its truth and importance. That phrase has been translated variously as “by his knowledge,” “by knowledge of him,” or “by that knowledge,” but the important thing is, that knowledge justifies many people. Whether he knew it or not, Isaiah was prophesying salvation by grace through faith. The “knowledge” in this verse is knowing Christ, and that He died to redeem us from our sin. In the Garden of Gethsemane and even on the cross, Jesus could look ahead to what would be the end result of His suffering and be satisfied, just as this verse says. This whole chapter bears reading, re-reading, meditating, and memorizing, because of its depth and the importance of the truth it conveys.


Isaiah 53:6 was one of the first verses I memorized as a child, but I can hardly say I had a deep appreciation of it at the time. I guess that goes to show that children don't have to have an immediate understanding to benefit from Scripture memorization. Frankly, I have disliked memorization, but I think it was a problem with presentation, because later, as a Drama major in college, I memorized long scripts without too much complaint. The point with Scripture isn't so much the words themselves as it is the truth involved. Using different translations isn't much of a problem from the standpoint of truth, but it makes consistency more difficult. Even writing that, I realize I'm making excuses for my not having memorized more Scripture! It really is helpful to be able to give chapter and verse for what we quote, and that's a real weakness for me. Frankly, much of my Scripture quoting is in Japanese, when I'm actually remembering it in English. That makes the reference all the more important, because the wording is variable. Internalizing Scripture isn't just for my benefit, (though it provides enormous benefits) but for those to whom I minister. I need to make the effort to learn chapter and verse references for their benefit.


Father, the longer I minister, and hopefully, the more I grow, the more I realize how lazy I have been through the years in relating to spiritual things. I thought it was really something when I finally got into a very strong habit of daily devotions, when that is just the tip of the iceberg. Help me apply myself fully as You desire, not in a legalistic way but out of love for You and for the people to whom I minister, for the blessing of many and for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!

お父様、牧する期間が長ければ長いほど、願わくは、私がもっと成長すれば、私は御言葉の事に関して如何に長年も怠惰であったかをさらに理解します 。日々のデボーションがとてもしっかりした習慣にやっとなった時、私にとってそれは意味するものでしたが、それは氷山の一角にすぎないと思いました。立法主義の方法ではなく、あなたや私が牧する人々への愛から、あなたが望まれるように私が完全に自分自身を適応できるよう助けてください。多くの人の祝福とあなたの御栄光のために。感謝します。神様を讃えます!


イザヤ 51:5 わたしの義は近い。わたしの救いはすでに出ている。わたしの腕は国々の民をさばく。島々はわたしを待ち望み、わたしの腕により頼む。

Having been born and raised in Japan, I've always loved Isaiah's many references to “the islands.” 450 years ago, the islands of Japan indeed received the Gospel with joy, but that was squashed with what was arguably the most successful persecution in the history of the Church. (That is, in terms of how thoroughly the Church was suppressed.) Over the past 150+ years, a fresh crop of missionaries has tried to reestablish the Church in this nation, but to this point the visible results have been meager indeed. The islands of Japan are still “waiting in hope” for the arm of the Lord to break down the lies that keep people from entering the kingdom of God. The point is, as it has always been and ever will be, that human beings cannot work God's salvation. We can be instruments, but the salvation isn't ours to begin with. God gives it to us and allows us to share its availability, but we can't save anyone in our own strength. We can't even save ourselves! That's why evangelistic work, in every country and especially in Japan, must be done in humble, faithful dependence on God. As Isaiah and others tell us, His arm is not too short to save. (Isaiah 59:1) God has His time for Japan, and we must stand ready as His instruments.


This is of course of vital importance to me. My parents before me also labored, but saw relatively little harvest. Frankly, the only way to be faithful is to keep the focus on God and not ourselves, because the minute we fail to do that, the temptations to give up are overwhelming. It is not that we need new methods, it's that we need a fresh vision of our Savior and a fresh openness and availability to Him. He hasn't changed! There are stirrings across this nation that do inspire hope, but that's not always helpful when those stirrings are somewhere else. I need to be fully available to be and do whatever the Lord directs right here, and not be distracted about what is going on in some population center elsewhere. God has given me a magnificent vision for Omura, unmatched by any I have heard from elsewhere in the country. I need to keep my hope and expectation on Him to fulfill that vision, in His way and His timing, for His glory.


Father, thank You for all You are doing in me in these days. Help me not draw back from any of it, but be fully available physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually, so that I may be a sharp tool in Your hands to cut through the lies of the enemy and set people free, in the Church and out of it, for their salvation and Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!