Sunday, April 15, 2018

This Week's Schedule
◆August 21st(Wed.) Bible Study & Prayer Meeting,
  Morning Session(10:30~12:00)、Evening Session(19:30~21:00)
  We are reading from the Book of Samuel and pray together.

Next Week's Schedule
◆Worship Service, August 25th (Sun) 
  Joint Service: 10:50 ~ 12:15 
   Message "We have the mind of Christ"
                           1 Corinthians 2:6~16   Messenger: Tomohiro Sakai
◆Sunday school  10:00~10:40 (4th Sunday: Each group meetings)
  Elementary/Middle School Class, High-School/Youth Class, International  
  Youth Class, Adult Class, Begineers Class

August 18, 2019 Sermon

Gospel of Mark 4:21~25
What do you bring in a lamp for?


In the Bible passage we have been given today there is a parable about a lamp and a measure.
In the time of Jesus Christ in Israel (about 2000 years ago), they used lamps that burned olive oil for fuel.  The lamp described in the parable was one such lamp.
Today all we have to do is flip a switch to turn on the electronic lights and fill our homes with light.  If we need to, we can even light the inside or even outside of our homes for 24 hours.  Due to this, I think it’s a little difficult for us to imagine a time when the only way to create light was from a lamp.
However, let’s use our imaginations and listen to what Jesus has to say in this parable.
 Jesus says, “Do you bring in a lamp to put it under a bowl or a bed?” The bowl he talks about here would have been one used to measure grain that was about 9 liters in size.
If you blow out a flame to extinguish it, it causes soot and smoke to spread.  Therefore, if you don’t want the soot and smoke to spread, you can use something to cover the flame to extinguish it instead.
Jesus is asking “Is there anyone who lights a flame just so that they can extinguish it under a bowl? Or does anyone light a lamp just to put it under a bed?”
Surely no one does that.  Olive oil was valuable, so to use it to light a lamp would have been for the purpose of lighting up a room (or sometimes outside).
  
I believe for believers in Christ, olive oil can equate to the Word of the Bible, and the lamp equates to our attitude in faith when we live in the Word.
We do not hide the lamp of faith given to us through the Word of the Bible under a bowl or a bed.  We use it to be the light of the world.
Perhaps there may be some of us who think, “I can’t be a light of the world!”  In some respects, you are correct.  This is because the light comes from Jesus Christ, not from us.
The light of Jesus Christ shines and illuminates the world through we believers and the church.  We ourselves are not the source of that light.  Jesus Christ is the source.
Because we have received the light of the Word of Jesus Christ, we can be confident that that light will shine from inside us to illuminate our surroundings.
In today’s worship, a sister shared her testimony   Now we are having someone share their testimony during service every 1-2 months.  I am truly thankful for this.
Sharing how God has blessed us and guided us through the words of our testimony is one specific way to let Christ’s light shine through us.
 Christ’s light shines through people’s testimonies.  Testimonies of faith have the ability to encourage others because Christ is at their core.
Let’s continue to shine the light of our faith and the light of Christ through the words of our testimonies and through the way we live our daily lives.
I would like to focus today on verse 23, “If anyone has ears to hear, let them hear,” as well as verse 24, “Consider carefully what you hear.”
Today it’s easy for everyone to own their own bible, and some of us may even have more than one.  We can buy bibles in different languages and styles.  We can get lots of information (perhaps too much!) about the bible on the internet.  If we have time, we can read the bible whenever and wherever we want.
 However, in Jesus’ time and before the printing press, the bible (and other books as well) could only be written by hand to make copies.  Books were extremely valuable.
The bible was carefully stored in the church, and the people who were permitted to look at it were limited to certain clergymen.  To begin with the number of people who could actually read and were educated was also few.
As such, the only way for normal people to come in contact with the words of the bible was to listen to the clergy preach at the church.  Compared to that it’s very easy for us to read the bible.  That’s a wonderful thing.
However, the flipside of that is that we may be losing the sense of urgency that the people who could only receive the word through listening had.
You only have one chance to listen to a spoken word.  Once it has be spoken, it is finished.
If you write down spoken words, it is possible to read them again later.  However, isn’t it true that written words lose something compared to spoken words?  I’d like for us to remember that printed words don’t hold the same power as spoken words.
Because we only have one chance to hear them and God’s words resonate through human voices, our gathering and worship at church is special.  Let’s be thankful that through the service’s sermon we are able to hear God’s word in a way that we can only do at this time.
Also, as a pastor, please pray for me that I can preach the words of God that our church needs to hear in my sermons.
  
Also, through the parable of the lamp we can see that we need to constantly be fueled by the word so that our faith can continue to shine.
If we continuously listen to God’s word and the words of Jesus Christ, we can keep the faith and continue to shine.
There may be some of us who drive motorcycles and cars who have experienced running out of gas.
From my experience, when I drove a scooter as a student, there were several times when I was riding and I ran out of gas, so I had to push my scooter to the nearest gas station.
 (This happened when I was trying to save money so I would try to wait until I was almost completely out of gas to fill the tank.)
One time, I was driving on a highway where there were very few gas stations when I heard a strange noise.
Luckily, I was able to make it to the next parking area.  I stopped there and the car’s engine completely stopped working.  (There was a gas station at that parking area, so I only had to push my car a little bit.)
It has been 22 years since I first started going to church.  It’s been 20 years since I was baptized.  In that time, I think it has been a great blessing that I’ve been able to remain connected to Jesus (although it was really Him not letting me go) and the church.
I think there were also times when I attended worship out of habit and my worship and serving lacked joy, but I just continued to do church.
However, despite this I have been able to continue attending and remain connected to the church.  That is not my own ability, but the guiding grace of the Lord.
When I look back at the times when I remember being tired in my faith, I realize that those were times when my faith was being trained.  I believe now that the Lord was growing my faith.
I believe it was because I was connected to the church, and at the church I could continually hear the word of the bible preached that I was able to continue without the flame of my faith being extinguished.  I’m thankful for my connection to the church with provided the Word as fuel for my faith so it would not be extinguished.
Let’s continue to value our worship at church where we can hear the Word preached and receive the fuel of the Word so that we can keep the faith and continue to shine the light of our faith.
Let’s look once again at verses 24-25.
“Consider carefully what you hear,” he continued. “With the measure you use, it will be measured to you—and even more. Whoever has will be given more; whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them.”
 
  “Consider carefully what you hear” – We must carefully focus on whether we are listening to what Jesus Christ says in the Word.
Even if we hear the words of the bible, if we listen with our own measure, in other words by our own standard, we will not listen correctly, and the Word can possibly be warped into something different.
Let’s not use our own measure (our own thoughts or common sense) when we hear the words of the bible, but let’s listen using the measure of Jesus Christ.  Let’s listen to the words of the bible through Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit.
 There is greater power in the Word than any thoughts of man.  If we try to receive from the greatness of the Word through our own measure (standard), then the blessing we receive will be limited to the same degree of that measure.
Let’s not try to measure the miracles that Christ performed or His death on the cross and resurrection by human measures (standards), but let’s measure (receive) them through Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit.  When we do that, through the work of God’s great love and mercy, we can be transformed into people who believe.
Let’s look at verse 25.
“Whoever has will be given more; whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them.”
This parable is talking about the words of Jesus Christ and faith in the Word.  Therefore, this is saying that those who have faith will be given abundantly more.
This is a promise of blessing that God will continuously give faith abundantly to His believers.
On the other hand, “whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them,” means that those who do nothing with the faith they have been given will have even that faith taken from them.  This is a terrifying thought, isn’t it?
It might sound terrible; however, this is the reality of faith in Christ.  You can either hear the words of the bible and be led to live in faith or not.  There are only these two ways we can live our lives.  There is no middle ground.
From today’s passage we can confirm the importance of living in a way that shines the light of Christ and testifies our faith.  We can truly meet Jesus Christ when we hear the words of the bible.
If we have truly met Jesus Christ, we must choose whether or not we will live in obedience to Him.  Let’s reconfirm our decision to obey Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior.
 Faith will be given abundantly to those who seek it in the Word.  Let’s continue to listen, be nourished and guided by Jesus Christ and His Word.

Monday, January 30, 2017

My Intractable Disease Is a Blessing For Me

On Jan.29 2017, we invited Brother Hiroki Yasuda who was born with an incurable disease called “Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy”.  His message was so poweful that we decided to share his massege on our homepage.

“My Intractable Disease Is a Blessing For Me”
Bible Text: John 15:15-16
Brother Hiroki Yasuda


My name is Hiroki Yasuda. I was born with an incurable disease called Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. This disease is caused by a genetic abnormality and it gradually degenerates the body’s muscles. As the muscles deteriorate, we start losing our ability to move, breathe, and eat.
  
Right now, I am unable to breathe on my own, and so I am living with a ventilator (artificial breathing machine) 24/7. Because I can only move my thumbs, I cannot eat, use the toilet, change my clothes or do anything self-related on my own, so, in due time, I will be a bedridden person.

Right now I am 25 years old. I was diagnosed with the disease at the age of 4, and at that time was told that I would live until 20 years old. However, I was brought up without knowing that I had an incurable sickness.
  
When I was young, I could not run or climb the stairs unless I grasped the railings firmly, but I just supposed that I did not have good motor nerves. I continued to think so even when, at age 9, I became wheelchair bound. When I became an adult and asked my parents why they had not told me that I had an incurable disease, they answered, “We couldn’t bring ourselves to believe that you would die at 20 years old…”

And my parents were Christians so since I was born I attended church. When I was 13, I professed my belief in God through the Resolution of Confession of Faith. On spring of my 18th year, when I was keenly studying for the universities’ entrance exams, I started to understand the reality of incurable diseases. Neither I nor my doctor knew that the disease was getting worse, and in one year I was hospitalized 5 times.   

I would have visceral pains all day, vomiting would not stop, my breathing was heavy, and I had severe headaches, which made it hard to sleep. Everyday my consciousness would become disoriented, and I would spend my days wondering rather I was really going to die. In the meantime, I was still working hard for the entrance exams, but with the headaches and difficult breathing, I was forgetting quickly what I had studied, and since the exam scores were gradually getting lower, it was painful to see my efforts going to waste. 

In this way, as I was suffering, I continued praying that God would help me. After 1 year of continuous suffering, I was able to learn about a hospital in Shikoku, thanks to God’s guidance and my mom’s efforts, where there were doctors that were really good. In that hospital, the ventilator was introduced to me, and I was saved from the dying state that I was in. As I look back, I think God rescued me, because I was really in danger of life.

However, in order to live with a ventilator, you are required to get medical examinations every month for the doctor to manage the situation. At the local hospital that I was admitted to in Fukuoka for the examinations, I received the doctor’s statement of life expectancy: “You will soon become bedridden; even if you undergo life-prolonging treatments, you will pass away at 35”. It was a heart-tearing statement. At that moment, I understood the reality of incurable diseases.  

Afterwards, I was able to get into a university; however, because of my bad physical condition, I had to drop out after only half a year. After that, every day was about looking after myself. Because I had received a life-expectancy declaration, and my body had to use a ventilator and was in intense pain, my life was now spent in bed. But this brought a lot of stress and my feelings became very dark.  

As I was praying my everyday prayer, I started to cry out to God my true emotions. Why did I turn out to be someone who has this incurable illness that kills you at 35?! I don’t want to suffer to then die! God, I am asking you, please cure me from this incurable sickness, there is no meaning in living in this painful condition! Does my life consist only of waiting for death?! I continued to exclaim these things in prayer.  

At this time, I could not understand the purpose for living and I was in despair. Why can’t I become healthy? Will I die at 35? With this sickness I can’t work, I can’t get married, God, with this sickness I can’t do anything.

I would soon not be able to move, and the disease would bring a painful death; from now on how should I go on living? If I do not use the ventilator, life cannot go on, so I might die tomorrow. I was living everyday dominated by great anxiety.

It was important for me to know the meaning of life. But even though I continued praying, I did not understand the purpose for living, thus I suffered. Even so, I always read the Bible and prayed, I did not quit attending the church service every Sunday; but it was painful because it was the day I would feel the silence of God.

At this time, I read a book by an Austrian psychiatrist, Viktor Frankl, called “Man’s Search for Meaning”, from which I learned something:

Suffering without meaning is despair; if you cannot find meaning in suffering, you will become desperate; if you do find meaning in suffering, you will become hopeful. I learned that we should not simply be unhappy because of sufferings; on the contrary, by finding meaning in our sufferings, we transform our lives into hope.

So I began to believe that, no matter how painful life is, if I can find meaning in life, without losing hope, I can live. After that, I was convinced that God would give me the meaning for living, and so I kept waiting for God to speak.

Then, 10 months after the doctor’s life-expectancy pronouncement, the following Bible verse spoke to my heart:  

Ezekiel 2:8


“But you, son of man, listen to what I say to you. Do not rebel like that rebellious house; open your mouth and eat what I give you.”

Through this Word, I was able to start believing that, by always reading the Bible, which is the Word of God, and always praying to God, He will speak to my heart, He will change my heart, and He will save me from despair.
 

Then, a year and a half after the doctor had given me my life expectancy, my heart was changed through the following Bible verse:

John 15:15-16

“Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit-- fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name.”
I wish I had not been born with an incurable disease, but I felt that I was appointed by God and chosen to be born with this sickness. God created a sick me, I was appointed by God to live a life of infirmity, and so from the time I was born I have been challenging this life of sickness.


Through the previous Bible verses, I was able to accept myself as a person with an incurable disease. Before that, I was the foundation of my life. I was aiming to be a healthy person that could live by himself, a self with no weaknesses, a self that would be successful in society.

Therefore, this self that was incurable and sick was a useless human being. I myself had decided on my own value: a self that cannot do anything has no meaning for living. Thus, it was painful all the time.    

But, through the previous Bible words, I was able to really feel God’s love: God created me with an inborn intractable disease; I was born out of God's desire; I am also a work of God; my sickly self is not God’s failed work.

If I myself decided on my own value, it resulted only in bitterness. But, even when in the middle of hardships, through the Word of God, you embrace yourself, and are able to accept yourself as you are, you can feel the love that God is pouring on you, through the Bible and through prayer, and so the joy of living springs up, no matter what kind of life you are given.

My sick self-thought that I did not have anything, that I could not do anything. However, I was made aware of a different truth. I was made aware that God has given me also a life of importance. And not only life; the greatest gift God has given us is Jesus Christ’s love. Christ’s love, that caused Him to sacrifice His own life on a cross to rescue us sinful people, is the greatest gift.  

God’s only son, Jesus Christ, died for us on the cross, in order to save us from the sufferings of sin and death. Then, conquering death, He was resurrected on the third day.
 
esus, not dying for His own sin, was buried in a grave and raised to life on the third day, so that people who believe might be saved from the sting of sin and death. We are forgiven of our sins, and when we die we inherit eternal life with God.   

God does not think that we are small and insignificant. I understood that, to God, our existence is so important and He loves us to such an extent that He sent His only son, Jesus Christ, most important being of all, to die on the cross, to save us from the sufferings of sin and death. 

Despite us being sinners, we are forgiven by Jesus’ precious blood and drawn into the fullness of God' s love. This love of Jesus is given unconditionally to those who believe in Him, not according to their abilities and actions.

When I began to understand Jesus’ love anew, I prayed to God like this: “This sick and incurable me is nothing. I cannot do anything. I have nothing to offer to you but this life, God. I offer my life to you, Lord.”  

I thought that this sick me had nothing and could do nothing. But I learned that, since Jesus’ love was given unconditionally, to live for God and to offer our lives to God is also unconditional.

Even though you feel you do not have anything in yourself and cannot do anything by yourself, when you decide to surrender your life gladly to God, He will give you a mission only you can do, and will provide all the necessary things to do it.  

Since I decided to offer my life to God, I began to feel the mission of living as an incurable Christian, "to convey God through a life of incurable disease, and to convey the faith and hope that is developed through it."


From then on, my life changed little by little. First of all, with God's guidance, I was liberated from bedridden living after my disease was treated at the world's top hospitals. Then, thanks to God 's mysterious guidance, many churches in various places have been inviting me to their worship service and giving me opportunities to witness for God. I am truly thankful.



Right now I think that, human beings’ meaning for living is not to be decided by themselves or by others, but God who lives in us decides. Even I, with an incurable illness, have a meaning in life, because God has given me a mission. I have joy in living.
 
Looking back now, I think that all my frustrations, the trials of having this intractable illness, and the near-death experiences, were all God 's plan. I believe that God gifted me this incurable disease, so that I could believe in Jesus, be born again as a child of God, and fulfill my God-given mission. So, for me, this illness is a trial of grace. I have a purpose for living because I have this incurable disease.

In this way, even though I have this incurable illness, I was able to find a meaning for living. But, I was able to do so because of the hope of resurrection that Jesus gives. 

I was living in days of despair, and could not understand the purpose of life. But as I read the Bible and prayed, God revived me.

John 11:25-26 says,

“Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die.’”

Jesus is the one who was resurrected above the power of death. He was the one victorious over the power of death. Therefore, those who believe in the restoration that Jesus gives, no matter how much they are despairing in life, can have courage even in despair because God will surely provide restoration. Even if you are in despair, it’s okay. Because God will surely give you restoration.
  
Even if I die young, I will be able to live for eternity with God in Heaven, restored in a glorious body, so it's okay. Eternity of fellowship with God is the greatest joy for man.

No matter what trials come my way, from the time I believed in Jesus, my revival had already begun. My body is getting weaker and weaker as I start to face death, but I am also beginning to revive to eternal life. As children of God, we can be born to eternal life.


Since I have a mission to live as an incurable Christian, I will continue to share about the awesomeness of believing in God. I do not know how much can be done in this short remaining life expectancy of 9 years. However, I pray that God can use it according to His desire until the day I am called to heaven.
 
Lastly, I will read Mizuno Genzo’s Christian poem. Mizuno Genzo had severe cerebral palsy, and due to this, he was not able to move his arms and legs and could not speak. However, being able to move his eyes, he would compose many poems of faith through blinking.

I will close by reading Mizuno Genzo’s poem “If There Were No Sufferings”.

“If I had not suffered, I would not have known God’s love

If many brothers and sisters had not suffered, God’s love would not have been shared

If the Lord Jesus had not suffered, God’s love would not have been made visible”
 


 


 

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

【ANNOUNCEMENT】

Next Sunday (Jan.29), we will welcome Hiroki Yasuda as our guest messenger. Invite your friends/co-workers and please join us this Sunday!


Monday, December 19, 2016

Christams Events 2016

Children's Christmas
December 24, 2016 1PM-3PM

Candle Service
December 24, 2016 7:30PM-8:30PM

Christmas Worship Service
December 25, 2016 11AM-12PM

Christmas Launch
December 25, 2016 12PM-2PM


Christmas Partty for Children

Christmas Party for Children

On December 24, 2016 1PM-3PM
At Beppu International Baptist Church

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Snow!

Today, January 24, Sunday School has been canceled due to snow. We will worship from 11am today!