Tuesday, May 30, 2017


                
Schedule

 

June 21st Bible Study and Prayer Meeting

10:3012:00&19:3021:00

Reading from the Gospel of John and having a prayer time together.

Next time:Read from John 4:1~15

 

Next Sunday Worship Service June 25th(Sun)

Joint Service 10:5012:15

Sermon “The Salt of the Earth and the Light of the World”

Matthew 5:13~16

Pastor. Tomohiro Sakai

 

Each Groups’ Meetings 10001040

Group divided by ages. Everyone, please join!

 (Kids, Junior&High School, Youth, Women, Men

*International Youth Class is held as a usual Church School.

 

Friday Family Fellowship(FFF) June 30th (Fri.)

Friday Family Fellowship is an international Christian and cultural

fellowship held every Friday at our church. We enjoy sings, games and

discuss our faith. Everyone, please feel free to join!





                                                          Genesis 1:15
 [The Light of God that Shines in Darkness]

 

In the beginning, God "created" the heavens and the earth.

If this passage is told to a child as it is, like for instance to an elementary school lower grader, what situation would that child probably visualize from those words?  

 そうぞう”(SouZou)

Whether it's a child or even a grown-up, if that person is unfamiliar of bible story, wouldn't it be possible for that person to understand the word "souzou (創造)creation" with the other meaning of "souzou" in Japanese?

God "souzou(想像:imagined)" heavens and earth.

Actually, this is not my own idea. It's what I've heard from a Jewish rabbi named Jonathan Magonet. Professor Magonet yearly comes to Japan as a visiting professor of Seinan Gakuin University's Dept. of Theology, and gives lecture and discourse about the Old Testament to the students of the Theological Dept.  

By the way, Professor Magonet seems to have also appeared with Richard Gere in the movie entitled [King David]I haven't seen that movie yet but he said that he just had a quick appearance as the liturgist role in David's wedding ceremony that was played by Richard Gere. And he said that in that movie, he also played the role as an adviser about knowledge of the bible.Professor Magonet was born in a British Jewish family, he recognizes himself as " a British", however, from the age of 20 he re-studied Hebrew, officially got the eligibility of a Jewish Rabbi and also worked as the Principal of the Jewish School of Theology called Leo Baeck College in London.   

The professor also learns Japanese and he knows that the Japanese word "souzou"has its meaning both as "creation" and "imagination". And he said that if the first part of Genesis is read as [God imagined the heavens and the earth], that will have another interesting meaning.

 Certainly, it is an interesting "imagination" however, God did not just "imagine" this world. The God, Jesus Christ made this world. God "created" the world. The Hebrew verb [bala] that means [to create] is a verb that is used solely for God. It is not used when human makes something.The bible conveys even from this matter that the creation of the world is a work that is merely done by God. We human beings can make something out of an already existing matter.

However, it is only God who can create something from nothing, gives life to them and makes them live. It is only God who can create this world from naught. The world was made by God. Such faith is defined in Genesis 1:1, the opening words of the bible.

And I think that the passage [In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth] may also be words that ask us the fundamental of way of life as a person, "What do you believe and live?" It is a call on whether we can live or not by accepting the fact that this world was made by God, believing that we living beings depend on God for the foundation of life to live.

There is also a way of life wherein how the world began doesn't matter at all. There may also be one that says, I don't believe God or in the first place I don't think of something that I don't understand since I surely don't understand no matter how much I think of it.Or the life that says [this world is just like a dream after all, wouldn't it be well to live with even just a little pleasure?] The way of life that doesn't seriously consider the beginning of the world or the purpose of life, not even to that momentary extent. 

It is not that sort of living but it's recognizing the Creator who made this world and our life, and that Creator should have made this world and even us with a purpose. And it is the first line of Genesis that urges us to decide whether we can live or not in believing that matter.

It's already a conclusion from the very beginning, however, the bible calls "Remember your Creator", God created this world and our life, know that Creator that you may live.

It is found in Ecclesiastes 12:1[So remember your Creator while you are still young]

Even so, Genesis chap. 1 is a story of wonder. Non-Christians probably think highly strange that Christians believe such an unscientific matter.

Why do they understand such a thing when they haven't even seen it? Right, no one had ever seen the beginning of this world. Even the writer of Genesis was not present and had not seen the condition that God made the world in this manner. However, the writer of Genesis [probably was not alone. Genesis is a story that was gradually completed not by one person but was conveyed through many believers for long years.]

Through the eye of faith that was given them (saw), they wrote the creation of the world they've understood. The absolute thing for the believer, though unseen, is that this world was made by God. What we Christians should do, though the story of this creation is difficult to confirm with scientific evidence, the fact that we are made to live in faith that "the world was made by God", and that we live knowing who that God is, is to demonstrate through our own way of life that man is made to live as a true human being.   

 In verse 2 is written [the earth was formless and empty. The raging ocean that covered everything was engulfed in total darkness, and the Spirit of God was moving over the water]The earth was in chaos, formless and empty. Isn't there a time when we think that the world around us, and our own heart as well is formless as this, uncertain, purposeless and in vain? This is a condition without God. Also, these are words that express how we feel about the world if we don't accept God.

We are uncertain because of no foundation. There is no confidence where we stand. We are empty for being purposeless for all things. When I lived not knowing Jesus Christ, I was unsure of what was the foundation that was supporting me and I believe that I had an uncertain way of life. Or rather, probably I wasn't even aware that I was uncertain. I think I was trying to lean on something else consciously or unconsciously. That is, my own capability, experience, the plan or dream for the future that I 've planned by myself, money? Or my own self? Such things I guess.

 There is someone in the bible who was completely changed of his former way of life for Christ's sake. He has completely renounced before God's wondrous being the things he possessed that are considered good by human being.

That is Paul.

Philippians 3: 56

[I was circumcised when I was a week old. I am an Israelite by birth, of the tribe of Benjamin, a pure-blooded Hebrew. As far as keeping the Jewish Law is concerned, I was a Pharisee, and I was so zealous that I persecuted the church. As far as a person can be righteous by obeying the commands of the Law, I was without fault.]

 He was Paul who as a believer of Judaism, was perfect at birth, rearing, knowledge and education, and even in zealousness. Even Paul who was supposed to be a complete [winner] as considered in the modern age, writes in the following verse 7 [But all those things that I might count as profit I now reckon as loss for Christ's sake.] Paul could have thought that no matter how earnestly he studied the Law and observed it, he cannot gain true peace through them.

I think that he didn't feel something that would serve as a firm foundation for him. However, he encountered the resurrected Jesus Christ and it is said that in the end perhaps he became a martyr in Rome. But though he had many tribulations for the sake of Jesus Christ, he has lived a sure and happy life. 

The Light of God penetrates amidst a situation without God, a condition where there is no foundation and purpose. In verse 3 [Then God commanded, "Let there be light! And light appeared]  There was light amidst darkness through God's word. Even in an eerie condition called abyss, when illuminated with the light that was made by God, its figure is vividly revealed.The word of God that gave light in the darkness illumines a great light even within the darkness of our heart as well. 

Even in a condition of not knowing what lies ahead in darkness, light penetrates within through God's word.It is said that this Genesis was written during the Babylon exile period. It's the period when the Israelites were held captive as exiles by the powerful nation Babylon.Amid living as exiles in a foreign country that was distant away from their home country, the Jews lived severely and hopeless.

However, even within such a difficult circumstance, they've heard the voice of God that said "let there be light!" They heard that voice through their ear of faith. God uttered a word amidst darkness. How do we at present hear this God's powerful utterance that is filled with love? At this present age, God's word and His light is given to us through Jesus Christ.

 If we receive Jesus Christ who is God's Word and Light, the darkness within our heart or even conditions that we think are dark around us can never rule over us no matter how deep darkness  is. This is what the bible says. The gospel of John in the New Testament begins with [In the beginning was the Word] This passage [In the beginning was the Word] and God's word [Let there be Light] indicate one similar truth.

Jesus Christ, the God had existed since the beginning of the world, and by His word this world was created, the truth that it began. 

Genesis 1: 45

[God was pleased with what He saw. Then He separated the light from the darkness, and He named the light "Day" and the darkness "Night" Evening passed and morning came, that was the first day] The day of our true life begins from the day that the Light was shone through God's word. That is what [the first day] means.

Today is Sunday. The first day of the week. With each one's burden last week on his shoulder, there may also be someone who is downhearted at this time of worship service. However, by worshipping God and receiving His word, we are renewed of the thought to live amid the Light that God saw and said "Good". The Light that God considered "Good" is poured upon us. The Light, that is the Word.

The writer of Psalms says [Thy Word is the light unto my path] (Psalms 119:105)

 The Word of the bible shines upon darkness and lights up our onward path.   

It is found in today's last verse 5 [and He named the light "Day" and the darkness "Night" Evening passed and morning came, that was the first day] In Jewish time, the first day begins from sundown. Like for instance, Christmas Eve means Christmas evening. Because it is considered that at the point in time of Dec. 24's sundown, December 25 already begins. Evening passed and morning came. That was the first day. God has predestined the order of one day in this manner. Does everyone like the evening time? What time do you like best within the day?

It might be different depending on season but after the day's work, it's the time of relief. The time to go back home. We still might have work even at night but isn't it that the time between day and night is a time of momentary rest?
And man rests at night. Night is a time for us to rest and sleep. Such an order of living time was predestined by God.

Does the book of Genesis convey that God's work of creation was completed in 6 days? No.It is written on the first part of Genesis chap.2 [And so the whole universe was completed. By the seventh day God finished what He had been doing and stopped working] The [whole universe was completed] including the 7th day that God has rested. Even us human beings, it's not just being active for it is necessary for us to hold our work, rest and feel relaxed. That is also a part of our purpose to live.

 I believe that there is someone who is real busy and has no time for himself, also one who has no time to spare within the whole week of living. Even so, I would like us to firmly keep in mind that the Lord has made even our time to live, and that we can always rest in the Lord's bosom.  

We offer a worship service on Sunday, and start a new week from this worship service. And from this worship service, we are used to each one's place of living. And the week's living ends up, we go back to church again next week to worship God.That is not merely a repetition and meaningless. Even if we see it as a repetition of a similar thing and seems to be an invariable way of life, the living wherein we are made to live with God's word, worship service centered life turns out to be a meaningful way of life of sturdy foundation.

Lastly, let me read Genesis 1:31.

[God looked at everything He had made, and He was very pleased].

God looked at everything He had made as "extremely good". And we live in that world. As we acknowledge God who had made this world, let us again spend each day of this week within the order that God has made remembering His will and love. Though it seems to be a chaotic world, though we are driven to anxiety of not knowing what lies ahead, I would like us to live entrusting to the supreme power and profound love of God that created this world and had shone Light in the darkness.  (Tomohiro SAKAI)



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!