Sunday, April 15, 2018

This Week's Schedule

◆Bible Studay and Prayer Meeting May 23rd (Wed)
  Morning Session (10:30 ~ 12:00), Evening Session (19:30~21:00)
  We are reding from the Gospel of John and have a time of prayer.
◆Friday Family Fellowship (FFF) 19:00-   May 25th
   FFF is an international fellowship gathering for sing, doing fun games, discussion on faith by English. Everyone is welcome!
                   
 Next Week's Schedule
◆Sunday Worship Service  May 27th (Sun)


Joint Service 10:50 ~ 12:15
 Message "If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer" from Gospel of Mattheww 21:18~22  Pastor Tomohiro SAKAI


*Sunday School 10:00 ~ 10:40 (4th Sunday is each group's meeting)
  Youth Class, International Youth Class, Elementary and Junior High Class,
  Adult Class, and Beginners Class are open. Let's read and learn the Bible together!

May 20th, 2018 Pentecost Worship Service Sermon
John 16:4b-15
"The Spirit of Truth’s Guidance"

4b I did not tell you this from the beginning because I was with you,
5 but now I am going to him who sent me. None of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’ 6 Rather, you are filled with grief because I have said these things. 7 But very truly I tell you, it is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. 8 When he comes, he will prove the world to be in the wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment: 9 about sin, because people do not believe in me; 10 about righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer; 11 and about judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned.
12 “I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. 13 But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. 14 He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you. 15 All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will receive from me what he will make known to you.”


Today we celebrate Pentecost, which is an event that happened 50 days after Jesus’ resurrection and described in Acts 2.
Jesus died on the Cross, was resurrected 3 days later and then, he showed the resurrected himself to the disciples and many other people.
Before this resurrected Jesus was taken up to heaven, he said “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)
The disciples who received power of the Holy Spirit will be Christ’ witnesses in all Judea, Samaria and to the ends of the earth. These words from Jesus shows the following hope:
Through the Holy Spirit, God gives strength to those who are in sorrow and sadness, and through faith we will be strengthened.
We can change. This is the hope for all Christians, that everyone who received His power will be used for His work.
50 days after Jesus Christ’ resurrection, the following event happened when people gathered.
It was the same time as a Jewish festival, called “Pentecost” in Greek, which means the “50th” because this happens on the 50th day after Passover feast.
2 Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. 4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues[a] as the Spirit enabled them.
Acts 2 described how people who witnessed this were surprised, and after that, through Peter’s sermon 3,000 people were baptized and became believers.
Why our church regards Pentecost as a special occasion? Why do we keep celebrating it every year at our worship service?
For us, do we come to worship service at church out of our own willingness and thought?
Of course we can say that we choose which church we want to go to. However, we are called by God even before we think about it. It’s only because we are led by the invisible spirit of God, which is the Holy Spirit, we can come to worship at church every week.
It is said that church, a gathering of people who believe in Christ, started from this event of Pentecost. As the “beginning of the church”, Pentecost is a very special event.
That’s why we are celebrating Pentecost, when people were first filled by the Holy Spirit, and a Christian church wer started, as a special event every year.
And actually before Jesus was crucified on the Cross, He left a promise “after I go away I will send the Holy Spirit to the disciples” which is mentioned in John 16 and our today’s bible passage.
Today, let’s listen to God’s words for us through Jesus’ words “sending the Holy Spirit” to the disciples in John 16.
4b I did not tell you this from the beginning because I was with you, 5 but now I am going to him who sent me. None of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’ 6 Rather, you are filled with grief because I have said these things.
I think the words “these things” refer to what Jesus previously said to the disciples as follows:
‘I am going away and I am coming back to you.’
 “I am going away” – this is the prediction of Jesus’ own death.

If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also.
They will put you out of the synagogue; in fact, the time is coming when anyone who kills you will think they are offering a service to God.
This means "By following Jesus several trials are awaiting you". The persecution of the disciples was foretold.
Until then, the disciples have believed, “If we follow Jesus, a rosy future will come to both ourselves and the whole country of Judea. It’s definitely the right thing to do to follow Him.” But when they heard what Jesus was saying at that time, it seems things are different from their expectations. So, the disciples started feeling anxious and they became sad.
To have faith does not mean that suffering and sadness disappear from our lives. Even though we believe in Jesus and have faith, unpleasant, unexpected and painful things still happen in our lives.
Rather, because we have faith, we may have sufferings and sorrows that we may not feel so if we don’t have faith in the first place.
Thoughts such as "If God exists, why does this happen?", or "Even though I do believe in God, why do painful things happen to me?"…
Jesus’ Words in verse 6 (“Rather, you are filled with grief because I have said these things”) shows how Jesus knows really well our feeling of being filled with grief.
 “You are filled with grief” is the word of Jesus who accepts humans’ sorrow as his own sorrow, empathizes with us, and mourns together with us.
But at the same time Jesus also said, “None of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’.” These are His words of encouragement: " Raise your eyes and turn your eyes forward because there is hope that your current sorrows will turn into joy”.
It’s important for us to face the reality of our sorrows earnestly. It’s also important to really feel the feeling of “sadness”.
But at the same time, we should not forget that we can leave our sorrows and pains to Jesus. We have hope that by our faith in Jesus Christ, our sorrows will be turned into joy.
John 16:33 says: 
33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
Based on the words of Jesus, that He has overcome troubles of this world, we can have certain hope despite our sufferings.
Now let’s read John 16 verse 7:
“But very truly I tell you, it is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you.“
 “I am going away” – This means His physical death, that His life on earth will end and He will be going away from the disciples.

The disciples might have thought “Jesus is going away from us.. We will never want it to happen”. But Jesus said this had to happen for the sake of the disciples.
Jesus said in verse 7, “Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you.” The Advocate here is the Holy Spirit. Jesus said that the Holy Spirit, also called the “Spirit of Truth” in verse 13, “will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come.”
Although Jesus left the disciples, He sent the Holy Spirit to guide them afterwards.
  
 We living today now are also be able to believe that the words of the Bible is the messages for us from God, and those are the words of truth through the Holy Spirit.
Although we have faith, there are still many things that we don’t know and understand. Regarding the importance of accepting that we know nothing, Paul says:
2 Those who think they know something do not yet know as they ought to know.” (1 Corinthians 8:2)
In our lives, there are a lot of things we do not understand, a lot of things we cannot answer. Rather, I think it is okay to say there’s so little that we know.
But Jesus has promised that by the help of The Holy Spirit that He sent to us, the meanings and significance of various things we don’t understand will be gradually revealed to us.
Today Jesus is not with us in a visible form, so we may sometimes feel anxious and unsure about our faith.
Even so, we should not worry because all of our anxieties and lack of confidence are covered by God and the invisible Holy Spirit is guiding us each day. The fact that we are gathering to worship at church today and receiving power from the Word of God is the evidence that we are led by the Holy Spirit.
Now, let’s read the last verses (John 16:14-15):
“He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you.  All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will receive from me what he will make known to you.”
 “All that belongs to the Father is mine” – this means all that belongs to God the Father also belongs to God the Son, Jesus Christ. God the Father and the Son Jesus Christ is completely one body.
Then, The Holy Spirit that Jesus sent to us enlightens us about various things, helping us to understand the meaning of God’s words in the Bible, and the Holy Spirit helps so that the words of the Bible will make our lives live. He is our helper. 
As we are guided by the Holy Spirit, the goal of our church life where we walk together with our family in Christ is to be united as one, the same as the Trinity (God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit completely as one). This is our ultimate goal. 
What is written in Ephesians 4:13 can be said as our goal as a community of believers.
13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.
 Today as we remember the Pentecost, let’s give thanks again to God for His presence as the Holy Spirit in our lives, and for His guidance to our church until this day.
Let’s ask God to help us so that we can keep striving to realize a fellowship of God’s love in this family of believers who have the same faith and led by the Holy Spirit.
Also, let’s pray and ask God to help us face our circumstances earnestly and to keep living by faith each day, having hope in Jesus Christ despite our sufferings and sorrows.
Let’s surrender ourselves to the guidance of The Holy Spirit and walk each day with Him as well this week.
Let’s pray.

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!