God's Word

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Continuing a thought from our previous post, Psalm 46:10 says, Be still, and know that I am God. The Japanese translation for the word “be still” here is “yameyo.” It is the command form of speech to STOP.

Let’s ask a question: What is one of the things YOU feel most every day? Is it not that you feel tired?

Tiredness is rampant in Japan. There are TV ads for drinks that give instant and renewed energy. The expression “O tsukare sama desu” has become a national way of greeting by praising and thanking an individual for their undying initiative to work. No matter how tired one might be, he feels obligated to keep on going, and going because of being praised and thanked for his determination to work. We live in a society that will not allow us to stop! We live in a FAST FORWARD society. We need to learn how to PAUSE.

Remember the Coca Cola commercial from years ago that said, “the PAUSE that REFRESHES.” If we don’t pause and be still, how then can we know God anymore intimately?

One of the main causes of tiredness is worry and stress. Worry and stress affect our breathing, appetite, physical strength and even blood pressure. Yes, it constricts our blood vessels and stops the normal flow of oxygen to our entire body, causing it to become tired. Tired bodies NEED more oxygen.

Japanese Pastor Yoko Izumi told me years ago when he was asked by a Kita Kyushu City mental hospital to come and counsel patients, that he noticed something peculiar about some of the more severe patients. He noticed they would not breathe through their noses. Instead they were breathing through their open mouths. Genesis 2:7 says, “And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.” Izumi-sensei thought this breathing pattern was unnatural. Their mouths and lips were dried out, causing some of them to cough. He immediately began teaching them to breath through their noses, just as God had ordained in the beginning and noticed a change begin to take place.

If you happen to swallow something and it goes “down the wrong pipe,” do not gasp for air through your mouth. This will only cause you more stress and panic. Try breathing through your nose and you know, you’ll sense the gasping, fear and stress of the situation naturally begin to dissipate. This is God’s ordained way of breathing. Slowly inhale, exhale. Inhale, exhale.

Let’s look at the Japanese “kanji” for “breath.”

息The top half of this character expresses the concept of “my own.” The bottom half shows a “heart.” Thus the character the ancient Chinese used to express “breath” was the concept of God breathing His very own heart into the nostrils of man, and as a result “man became a living soul.” Breath, or oxygen is the very life God — and it makes our ticker tick. (God) “giveth to all life, and breath, and all things . . . For in Him we live, and move, and have our being.” Acts 17:25, 28.

Let’s consider here for a moment God’s presence as His breath. Luke 1:19 says, “And the angel answering said unto him, I am Gabriel, that stand in the presence of God; and am sent to speak unto thee, and to shew thee these glad tidings.” This word “presence” is pronounced eno-pion (ἐνώπιον) in Greek and simply means the place that is before you, the FACE. When God knelt down and breathed into Adam His breath, His very own heart, it was a face-to-face encounter. God made husbands-wives, brothers-sisters, aunts-uncles, cousins, friends — all of us human beings to look at each other when communicating.

More than anything I want in this life of living as a Christian, I would not want money, possessions or even new friends. What I want most of all is the presence of God. However, I must take time to meet God, inhale the presence of the Holy Spirit,  and learn to STOP and LISTEN in order to KNOW Him more intimately.

Let’s consider God’s Holy Spirit as being the oxygen we breathe. He is everywhere and brings life to those who breathe deeply. Breathe in deeply and exhale. Worry, stress and tiredness will be relieved. You’ll become a healthier, happier person, AND your church will become a healthier, happier church.

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Psalm 46:1-3, 10

1 To the chief Musician for the sons of Korah, A Song upon Alamoth. God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. 2 Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; 3 Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof. Selah.

10 Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth. 

Verse 1 says, “God is our refuge, our strength.” This is very personal. Paul said to the Philippians “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” The verse goes on to say, “A very present help in trouble.” Notice that it is spoken in the PRESENT tense, not past or future tense. God is the God of NOW. Troubles: we all have them from time to time, do we not?

Verses 2 and 3 are descriptive of the kinds of trouble we have:

. . . though the earth be removed, though the mountains be carried into the sea, though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof . . . we will not fear . . . Selah.

Now what in the world could this Hebrew word of exclamation, Selah, mean, anyway? Gesenius’ Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon defines the word thus: rest, silence! 

The Lexicon goes on to say, “Such seems to be the probable import of this musical note, so often found in the Psalms which has been so much discussed and tortured by the conjectures and blunders of interpreters. It seems to have been used to mark a short pause in singing of words of the psalm, so that the singer would be silent, while the instrumental music continued.”

This pause-rest of vocal silence allowing the instruments to continue in what we refer to as the background music, would provide a perfect atmosphere to pause, rest and think deeply, or ponder the words of what has just been sung. Imagine pushing the “pause button” of our busy lives, resting a tad bit and ponder the Word God has spoken here. It would certainly calm us down. God is in control.

Let’s read Psalm 46:1-3 once again.

1 To the chief Musician for the sons of Korah, A Song upon Alamoth. God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. 2 Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; 3 Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof. Selah.

No one knows what may happen tomorrow! Good and bad things will certainly happen. If good things, then we all rejoice. But what if something bad happens? How should we respond? One thing for sure is that we should not create a campsite and build a fire around that BAD thing that happened. When God created Adam He gave him two feet wisely designed to move FORWARD, not backward. It’s unwise to build a campsite around bad experiences. We should ask God to help us put out the fire, pick ourselves up, gather our thoughts and continue moving forward. He will, you know, because His name is Emmanuel. When, and if, bad things happen to us, we should . . .

10 Be still, and know that I am God:

BE STILL — Are you ready for the meaning of this word in the Hebrew? It means to sink, relax, let go, let alone and be quiet. A little difficult to do when something devastatingly bad happens don’t you think? But, nonetheless, the Word tells us to BE STILL.

I remember once when I was home all alone. There wasn’t a soul anywhere to be heard. No sound of wind blowing, no sound of a blaring TV, no sound of a percolating coffee pot, nor any background music. I sat down in the chair, took a deep breath, exhaled and listened to the quiet. It was an awesome experience. Every now and then I do it again . . . STOP and listen to the quiet.

KNOW — This word means to learn to know, that is learning how to know; to find out, to know by or from experience, know as a friend, become skillful in knowing.

We learn from our experiences, both good and bad. So whatever happens today, or even tomorrow, let’s make it a point to learn from the experience. Let’s plan on learning a lesson from our experiences. Notice that He speaks this here as a command, “know that I am God,” not you. No arguing.

I AM GOD — Aren’t you glad you’re not God? We should be, yet there are countless people who would give anything to be God for a day. Remember Bruce Almighty? He thought it would be fun, but soon found out that he wasn’t created to be God. He learned from his experiences of trying to be the Almighty that it was God’s purpose and plan for him to simply put his trust in God.

The Bible teaches that we should trust in the LORD with everything we’ve got, and not try to figure things out ourselves. If we just give Him the credit and chance, He’ll straighten things out (Proverbs 3:5-6). We used to say, “Let go and let God.”

Don’t you think He knows how to be God? After all, He made the heavens, earth and all that is in them. Surely He knows how to handle our situations. When we worry and get stressed, it’s a sign we aren’t allowing God into our situation. You know, if we simply “let go and let God,” He’ll worry for us! That would make life a lot, lot easier for sure.

Mark 4:35-39 — Jesus Calms The Storm

beSTILL35 And the same day, when the even was come, he saith unto them, Let us pass over unto the other side. 36 And when they had sent away the multitude, they took him even as he was in the ship. And there were also with him other little ships. 37 And there arose a great storm of wind, and the waves beat into the ship, so that it was now full. 38 And he was in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on a pillow: and they awake him, and say unto him, Master, carest thou not that we perish? 39 And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.

One day Jesus says, “Hey, guys, let’s pass over to the other side.” So, they all got in the boat and headed on over. Jesus had a plan, He had a reason for heading to the other side. The gang was all excited to head on over and be a part of the plan. I mean, hey, this was Jesus heading up the party! He knew how to heal the sick and cast out demons, walk on water and what not, and, yes, they wanted to be a part of it all.

A great, violent, mighty, strong storm arose and the boat began rocking. Has your boat ever been rocked when you had everything planned so perfectly? When, and if that happens, always remember that it was Jesus who said, “Let’s pass over to the other side.” He said it with purpose and He had a plan! He was so sure of it that he fell fast asleep to take a rest. The storm didn’t bother Him at all. It was the disciples’ noise and screams that disturbed His sleep, not the storm. He stood up and took the control that the disciples had lost because of fear, unbelief and lack of trust in their Captain’s Word, “Let’s pass over to the other side.”

We don’t know what we may today or tomorrow. One thing we can know for sure is that God is in control. Through this experience the disciples relaxed, let go of the fear and came to know the great I AM.

In closing, let’s take a quick look at what Jesus said to the wind and waves of the storm, and apply these principles to whatever may happen to us.

PEACE — hold your tongue, shut your mouth. The original Greek says, “to close the mouth with a muzzle, reduce to silence.”

BE STILL — be quiet, be calm.

The wind ceased, and there was great calm. The Captain and His disciples passed over completely to the other side and experienced perhaps one of the greatest miracles of all Jesus’ ministry.

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A very well know scripture found in Matthew 19:24 KJV  says, “And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.”

Have you ever thought about what’s on the other side of the eye of a needle? Man, it could be mind-boggling and very adventurous, only if one could get through it.

When a person looks through that “eye of the needle,” it seems impossible to get through. The only place it’s really narrow and impossible-looking is the side from which one peers. On the other side of that “eye” is the realm of eternity. It goes on forever and ever. There are no limitations, boundaries, fences, barriers, railings, blockades, roadblocks, bars or obstructions in that realm. Wow, an eternity of freedom.

The things that keep one from this eternal place are pre-conceived ideas, traditions, cultures, customs and even religions of human beings around the world that oppose and refuse to believe in the Almighty God, Creator of all things in heaven and earth, Creator of human beings, the first of whom were Adam & Eve. That’s why this side of that “eye of a needle” is so narrow.

The other side of that needle is referred to in the above scripture as “the Kingdom of God,” the realm of eternity.

Did you know that God put His very thoughts of eternity in our hearts when He began creating us in our mothers’ wombs? That’s right! It says so right here in Ecclesiastes 3:11—

“He has made everything to suit its time; moreover He has given men a sense of time past the future . . . ” NEB

“He has made everything beautiful in its time; He has also planted eternity in men’s hearts and mind [a divinely implanted sense of a purpose working through the ages which nothing under the sun, but only God, can satisfy] . . . ” AMP

No person can say they have not thought about what happens, or where they will go after they die. You see that is when eternity begins. Where we spend eternity is up to us to decide before we die. That decision is what will either get us through the eye into eternity (Heaven), or cause us to remain on the narrow side throughout all eternity (Hell).

The only way to possibly get through the seemingly narrow “eye of the needle” into the Kingdom of God (eternity) is to humble oneself — lay aside all preconceived ideas about Jesus Christ. As mentioned above, many cultures, customs, traditions and even religions around the world are what keep one from getting through the narrow passage. But once those are laid aside long enough to hear a word about Jesus Christ, then it’s as if a special oil is applied to a new way of thinking about the One we so long opposed, and we can slip through that narrow passage into the realm of eternity. 

A word about Jesus Christ

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

Jesus Christ provides us with eternal life on the other side of the “eye of the needle.” On this side of the “eye of the needle” can only be found narrowness, bondage and squinting judgmental eyesight. The Rolling Stones sang a lyric in a famous song typical of this side of the “eye of the needle” —

I can’t get no satisfaction

I can’t get no satisfaction

‘Cause I try, and I try, and I try, and I try

I can’t get no

I can’t get no

Thanks be to God for the “thoughts of eternity” He breathed into us when He gave us life. An infusion of a Word about Jesus Christ will enable one to lay down preconceived ideas about God and begin a journey through the “eye of the needle.” Gaining entry is simple: b-e-l-i-e-v-e and r-e-c-e-i-v-e.

The vastness of God and His love waits to be explored. Why wait any longer?

—nils olson

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mbccI remember well something an Assembly of God missionary to Japan said once that I’ve never forgotten. He said, “Love your own church.” Don’t you just love short, simple and, in this case, powerful little one-liners like this?

The Greek word for the word “church” is ek-klā-sē’-ä and means “a gathering of citizens called out from their homes into some public place, an assembly.” In the Christian sense it means “an assembly of Christians gathered for worship in a religious meeting,” or “a company of Christian, or of those who, hoping for eternal salvation through Jesus Christ, observe their own religious rites, hold their own religious meetings, and manage their own affairs, according to regulations prescribed for the body for order’s sake.”

Having been a missionary in Japan for more than 36 years, I’ve come up with my own definition of the word “church.” I think it is a pretty good definition —

The “church”

—is the people;

—is the building;

—is the fellowshipping, laughing and eating;

—is the worshipping;

—is the practicing, rehearsing;

—is the cleaning;

—is the studying;

—is the praying;

—is pulling weeds in the church yard;

—is the going to bed at night wondering how others are doing;

—is praying for them to keep on keeping on, to grow in knowledge and grace;

—is going to visit them;

—is building relationships with others outside the church.

I would NEVER think about leaving this group of people without definite confirmation from God and at least two or three others. The main reason people leave churches is because of not agreeing with leadership, not wanting to follow the leader. Yes, there are mistaken leaders, but we must learn to let God deal with them.

Let’s take a look at Romans 12:1-12.

“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith. For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office: So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another. Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith; Or ministry, let us wait on our ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching; Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness.

Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good. Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another; Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord; Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer; Distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality.”

Church people belong to one another, just like our arm belongs to our physical body. Paul states here, “So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another.”

Each member has a special ability (gift, talent) given to them by God.

“Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith; Or ministry, let us wait on our ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching; Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation:he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness.”

We cannot choose which gift or talent we want from the list. We must discover the gift, talent God has given us. It may take some time, but it will be confirmed as we develop it. In the Proverbs it is noted that “a man’s gift makes room for him.” Proverbs 18:16 These gifts are for the edification, building up of other members of the body of believers, not for one’s self.

People in the church are to love one another, as God loved us, in spite of all our idiosyncrasies (modes of behavior). Our love is to be truthful, respectful and honorable. “Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good. Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another.”

How do you suppose people in the church should act and treat others? Paul gives clear guidelines. Read it here with me:

“Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord; Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer; Distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality.

Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not. Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep. Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits.

Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath:for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.”

What is the secret to real JOY in any Christian gathering called a church? Let’s spell the word together.

J — JESUS first

O — OTHERS second

Y — YOU last

Love does not seek to benefit itself. Love always considers the other person more important. It’s an attitude of the heart — and that is where God lives.

Let’s love our own church!

―nils olson

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I’ve been thinking recently about the things that are going on all over the world — earthquakes, pestilence, disease, wars, economic upheaval, distrust, self-centeredness, weird weather, political differences, murder, suicide, moral breakdown, exorbitant spending, debt, famine, unrest, lying, stealing, deception, pride . . . and on goes the list. They are like dark clouds on the horizon.

Yes, folks, it getting darker out there. These unthinkable dark clouds on the horizons of nations and peoples around the whole world should not surprise us. A friend recently told me, “It shouldn’t surprise us at all, Nils. It’s written in the Word (of God, the Bible).”

“For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people.” KJV

“The whole earth is wrapped in darkness, all people sunk in deep darkness.” The Message Isaiah 60:2

I get the feeling that in those dark clouds on the horizon there is awful lightning, thunder and torrential rains. A fearful storm is brewing. What do you suppose has caused those clouds of darkness so full of these things to gather on the horizon? Looking at the laws of nature, we understand that what goes up, must come down. All of the self-centered things described in the list above have risen into the heavens as it were and the result is about to be poured out on the nations of the earth in disturbing, fearful destruction. When it rains, the rain falls on everybody — the good and the bad.

We’ve got to — 

stop

— and decide which way we’re going to go to avoid the fearful consequences of these things.

“There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.” KJV

“There’s a way that looks harmless enough; look again –– it leads straight to hell.” Message Proverbs 16:25

You might find yourself frantically asking, “Which way should I turn?” By all means, make a RIGHT TURN (a proper, good, moral, virtuous, ethical, honorable, honest, exact, precise turn) and get inside, before the clouds of the storm open up. Inside there will be light, warmth and most of all peace of mind.

The RIGHT WAY to turn is into a personal relationship with Jesus, the Christ. He is the answer to all chaos! Speak His name and a great calm will overwhelm the heart. Atheism, Shintoism, Buddhism, Mormonism, Judaism, the occult, the Moonies, the Jehovah’s Witnesses, the Christian Scientists, and even being a Christian in name only are not the RIGHT WAY. Owning jewels, club memberships, properties, stocks, bonds, or huge bank accounts are not the RIGHT WAY.

Again, the RIGHT WAY is the person, JESUS, the Christ. He is the answer for which the deepest part of you cries out. Here it is in black and white —

Jesus said, “I AM THE WAY, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” John 14:6 KJV

Here it is again, written three times so clearly that even a child can understand it —

Old King James says it this way: “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” Acts 4:12

Eugene Peterson says it this way in The Message: “Salvation comes no other way; no other name has been or will be given to us by which we can be saved, only this one.” Acts 4:12

The American Standard says it this way: “And in none other is there salvation: for neither is there any other name under heaven, that is given among men, wherein we must be saved.” Acts 4:12

Now, for something that may surprise you! Remember where I wrote above, “I get the feeling that in those dark clouds on the horizon around the world there is awful lightning, thunder and torrential downpour?”

We won’t end on a negative note today because AWFUL, AWFUL, AWFUL is an archaic English adjective that truthfully meant inspiring reverence or dread; it meant to be overcome with awe; reverential; solemnly impressive; inspiring awe. These days we hear young people say it this way: “Oh, man, was that ever AWESOME!” Another way to properly define this word AWFUL is FULL OF AWE. So, what originally was meant to mean an attribute of God being full of AWE, somehow has turned to mean something negative — “Oh, it tastes awful.” However, in its true meaning one could easily say, “Oh, man that dessert was FULL OF AWE.”

The dark clouds on the horizons of the nations described above are on the one hand full of fearful destruction for those who refuse to make a RIGHT turn. On the other hand, they are full of the rain, lightening and thunder of GOD’s Holy Spirit falling upon those who make a RIGHT turn to Jesus. Clouds, rain, thunder and lightning are descriptive of the work of God’s Holy Spirit in the days that are on the horizon.

Every one of us will come to a STOP in life and have to decide which WAY to turn. If you find yourself there, by all means make a RIGHT turn to the One who will direct your path. Allow Jesus to be your GPS (God’s Peaceful Solution) in life, and proceed straight ahead. It will be the most AWESOME decision you’ll ever make.

(Notice the lower right hand corner of the STOP photo above — there is VERY little light left in the day.)