Monthly Archives: May 2014

by -

Many of us have had this most famous Bible verse of all memorized since our Sunday School days as a child. After coming to Japan as a missionary in 1978, this was one of the first verses I memorized in Japanese. It’s still powerful, no matter what language one speaks.

There is a verse in the Bible that has been translated into more than 1100 languages. It tells of One who loved us with an everlasting love. The verse here is recorded in 27 languages of the world which are understood by more than three quarters of the earth’s population. The verse is John 3:16. (From a Gideon’s International Bible). Click here to view John3:16 in 27 languages.

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” 

I have various copies of Bible translations in my library. One of the most unusual is a copy of the Japan Bible Society’s 1897 AINU New Testament translated by missionary  John Batchelor as he worked among the AINU of northern Japan. Even though I don’t understand the language, I take it out every once in a while and read just to hear the beauty of the language that is spoken by only a very few these days. It will be “all Greek” (I mean) “all Ainu” to you, but nevertheless, give it a try.

“Inambe, gusu ne yakun, Kamui anak ne koro shinen ne Poho koropare pakno moshiri omap ruwe ne, nen ne yakka nei Poho eishokoro guru obitta aisamka shomoki no nei pakno ne yakka ishu ramat koro kuni ne kore nisa ruwe ne.”

I recently celebrated my birthday and received a wonderful present from a friend — a reprinted copy of the 1837 Gutzlaff Japanese Translation of the Gospel of John. In the back jacket of the book there is as CD of six chapters being read in very old, old Japanese. There were 1,690 copies printed in Singapore in 1837, but there are now only 16 copies left in the whole world, two of which are held by the Japan Bible Society. I would like to share John Chapter 3 here with you.

Click here to listen to the reading the 3rd Chapter of Gutzlaff’s Gospel of John. 

 

by -

Please, please do all you can to lead your family into a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ. You might ask, “Why?” Because life, death and eternity are very, very real.

LIFE 命—

This character shows people gathered on bended knee with faces nearly to the ground  listening to a man of God speaking words vital to living. 

Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life. And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God. John 6:68

DEATH 死—

This character shows a bare-boned skeleton of a fallen person.

For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God. Romans 3:23

For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. Romans 6:23

ETERNITY 永遠—

The first character in this calligraphic picture shows a small river, tributary, or creek flowing into a main river. The second shows a clothed person going forward in a journey.

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. John 3:16-17

God created each one of us in our mother’s womb with the purpose of living eternally. He said, And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our (eternal) likeness — So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. Genesis 1:26-27

When Adam and Eve disobeyed and ate of the fruit, they sealed their own fate; they chose death over life. Their spirit-man died the moment they took the fruit in their hands and ate it. They were guilty. They felt the guilt in their shame of disobeying, and tried to cover it up immediately, just like we do. Yes, we are all children of Adam. Adam’s physical-man died when he was 930 years old. That’s a long, long time, but nevertheless, he died, just like God said he would if he took the fruit and ate it. 

Our bodies are clothing for our spirits. When death comes, we lay down our clothes and sleep. It is our spirit-man that lives eternally. We must decide during  our physical-man’s lifetime where we will spend that eternity: Heaven, or hell. Jesus said in John 3:16 that the one who believes in (trusts in, has confidence in, entrusts their life to) Jesus, will not perish (be lost, ruined, or destroyed), but have everlasting life. 

The word “everlasting” is fascinating and shows that it WAS God’s purpose and plan that all human beings created in His image and likeness should live eternally. αἰώνιος (ī-ō’-nē-os) has three uses of its meaning: 1. without beginning and end, that which always has been and always will be; 2. without beginning, and 3. without end, never to cease, everlasting.

This shows that the everlasting life God breathed into Adam was interrupted by SIN, killing his spirit-man. But Jesus died, was buried, rose again from the eternal punishment of death, and showed Himself ALIVE to numerous people, thus fulfilling His promise of eternal life to our spirit-man, to those who choose to believe in Him. 

For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve: After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep. After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles. And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time . . . For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. 1 Corinthians 15:3-8, 21.

Adam was caught butt-naked in sin. So are we — caught butt-naked, ashamed, until we confess Jesus as the Lord of our heart according to Romans 10:9-11, 13 — That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed . . . For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. 

THEN we get a new set of clothes! They won’t dry out and get all crinkly and crackly like the fig leaves Adam and Eve used to cover-up their shame. The new set of clothes will outlast anything that Yves Saint Laurent, Pierre Cardin, Tom Ford, Christian Dior, Ralph Loren, Donatella Versace, Calvin Klein, Giorgio Armani, Donna Karan or Coco Chanel could ever possibly design, create or produce. 

Your new set of clothing is original and will last forever. It’s World Designer, first class, with this label appearing on each piece — In The Beginning — Original GOD-Created.

I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorneth herself with her jewels. Isaiah 61:10

by -

According to God’s Word, there is a great importance in loving one’s neighbor. Let’s consider that for a few moments here. Matthew 22:34-40 says,

But when the Pharisees had heard that he had put the Sadducees to silence, they were gathered together. Then one of them, which was a lawyer, asked him a question, tempting him, and saying, Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

The Hebrew word here for “neighbor” is ray-ah. It comes from a root meaning to tend a flock, pasture — like a pastor does in a church. He feeds and watches for each member. The word’s meanings include: brother, companion, fellow, friend, husband, lover and neighbor. The Greek meaning defines this word as neighbor, man, countryman, friend. 

In the first part of this chapter (verses 1-10) Jesus answered a group of legalistic and religious leaders by speaking a parable. In essence, the meaning of the parable was that God was inviting the Jews to a big wedding. He sent his servants (the prophets of the Old Testament) to invite them, but they wouldn’t RSVP. They even ended up killing some of those messengers God had sent. Their response enraged and exasperated God to the point that in 70 A.D. Jerusalem was completely burned up and destroyed. 

In turn he said to the remaining servants, “Go therefore into the highways, and as many as you shall find, invite them to come.” They obeyed, and they found a whole bunch of people, both bad and good, to come to the wedding. The last words of Jesus himself before returning to Heaven said to his servants were, “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel (that everyone is invited).” God has something big planned and He wants everyone to be a part of it, but we have to get out there and do the inviting.

Yes, there are lots of bad and good neighbors out there waiting for a friend. Love, joy, support, understanding and help are just a few of the things a relationship with Jesus offers a person by you extending your hand and heart to a neighbor.

YOU can offer the same to a neighbor today, too.

by -

Psalm 68:4 says, “Sing unto God, sing praises to his name: extol him that rideth upon the heavens by his name JAH, and rejoice before him.”

The original Hebrew word(s) for “sing unto God” here is an expression that says to the congregants, “celebrate God in song.” While “sing praises to His name” urges the people to “make music, sing, play a musical instrument, DANCE!

The Japanese translation of “extol Him that rideth upon the heavens” is read “furnish, provide for, equip, install, prepare the way of him who comes riding on the clouds.” Cf. Japanese [sonaeru] 備える.

540952_397631096961836_2139203443_nIn Japan, gospel groups have sprung up all over the nation. I believe these groups are, in reality, furnishing, providing for, equipping and installing, in essence preparing the way for a great visitation of God’s power. Almost all of these gospel groups have in them unsaved, non-Christian participants that are unknowingly singing their hearts out to God, freely letting loose and singing to God in harmony, melody and rhythm at the top of their lungs. 

For years Christians have been too timid at going out and spreading the Gospel. Other words for “timid” in Roget’s Thesaurus are: apprehensive, fearful, easily frightened, faint-hearted, nervous and scared. These are relatively polite ways of saying what follows in Roget’s rather shocking list of adjectives: wimpish, yellow, chicken, mousy, gutless, sissy, lily-livered and weak-kneed.

Some people may think that unsaved, non-Christian people should not be singing such sacred hymns as “What A Friend We Have In Jesus.” Some people may think it a violation or misuse of what is regarded as sacred, but I would like to counter that with something Jesus said:

“And when he was come nigh, even now at the descent of the mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen; Saying, Blessed be the King that cometh in the name of the Lord: peace in heaven, and glory in the highest. And some of the Pharisees from among the multitude said unto him, Master, rebuke thy disciples. And he answered and said unto them, I tell you that, if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out. Luke 19:37-40

Jesus began descending the mount of Olives more than 2000 years ago into Jerusalem. The multitude of His disciples were preparing His way into the city with a great and splendid celebration of praise. Today in Japan (and around the world) the Holy Spirit is descending into the lives of Japanese people and churches. Silence and “timidness” has been like spiritual Pharisees telling the Holy Spirit to rebuke the celebration of praise. The Holy Spirit would say exactly the same thing Jesus said way back then: “I tell you that, if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out.

The Gospel groups around Japan who sing their hearts out are none other than “stones” rejoicing and crying out praise to God as His Holy Spirit enters the nation of Japan. Plus . . . they are being fashioned into diamonds as they are being dug out of the traditions, customs and culture of a nation held in darkness for centuries upon centuries. 

We’ve all sung it before, so let’s sing it again, okay? It’s called the “Doxology,” or a liturgical formula of praise to God. It’s powerful, it will rock the place when sung from your heart.

Praise God from whom all blessings flow. Praise Him all creatures here below. Praise Him above ye heavenly host. Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost. A-men.

Look at what else the Bible says about praising God:

Psalm 59:16. But I will sing of thy power; yea, I will sing aloud of thy mercy in the morning: for thou hast been my defence and refuge in the day of my trouble

Psalm 149:5. Let the saints be joyful in glory: let them sing aloud upon their beds.

Isaiah 12:5-6. Sing unto the LORD; for he hath done excellent things: this is known in all the earth. Cry out and shout, thou inhabitant of Zion: for great is the Holy One of Israel in the midst of thee.

Isaiah 24:14. They shall lift up their voice, they shall sing for the majesty of the LORD, they shall cry aloud from the sea.

Isaiah 49: 13. Sing, O heavens; and be joyful, O earth; and break forth into singing, O mountains: for the LORD hath comforted his people, and will have mercy upon his afflicted.

Zephaniah 3:14. Sing, O daughter of Zion; shout, O Israel; be glad and rejoice with all the heart, O daughter of Jerusalem.

Zechariah 2:10. Sing and rejoice, O daughter of Zion: for, lo, I come, and I will dwell in the midst of thee, saith the LORD.

You wanna bless and thrill God?  Make up your own melody and try singing this acappella!  Psalm 150:1-6

 Praise ye the LORD. Praise God in his sanctuary: praise him in the firmament of his power. Praise him for his mighty acts: praise him according to his excellent greatness. Praise him with the sound of the trumpet: praise him with the psaltery and harp. Praise him with the timbrel and dance: praise him with stringed instruments and organs. Praise him upon the loud cymbals: praise him upon the high sounding cymbals. Let every thing that hath breath praise the LORD. Praise ye the LORD.

—photo from New Wings Gospel Choir Facebook photos