Archive for the ‘My Devotionals’ Category

If You, LORD, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand? Psalm 130:3 (NASB)

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Walk in wisdom towards outsiders, making the best use of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt so that you may know how you ought to answer each person. Colossians 4:5,6

Questions are there to be answered. People expect an answer when they ask something especially when they hear what some of them call it “nonsense”. As a Christian people such as atheists, or folks professing different beliefs, or even those in my circle, and sometimes myself have always questions. So, these verse make it clear that questions will arise I just have be prepared to give it a thought by trying to answer.

So, what do I need to succeed?

I) Wisdom (from above): God’s wisdom surpass any tactics from Satan or even tricks from outsiders:

Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. Matthew 10:16 (ESV)

The devil wants us to fail and betray our Master so, wisdom is extremely important to discern his tactics; wisdom is essential to answer those asking and sometimes trying to rebuke what we believe. Our wisdom comes above all from the LORD…we’re called to act as serpents seeking for wisdom though prayers just as Daniel and his friends in Babylon:

Then Daniel went to his house and made the matter known to Hannah, Mishael, and Azariah, his companions, and told them to seek for mercy from the God of heavens concerning his mystery, so that Daniel and his companions might not be destroyed with the rest of the wise men of Babylon. Daniel 2:17,18  (ESV)

Through prayer we show how dependent on God we are and want desire ardently His partnership. We’re called to be as serpents through the study of the Scriptures just as Ezra did:

For Ezra had set his heart to study the Law of the LORD and to do it and to teach his statutes and rules in Israel. Ezra 7:10 (ESV)

More than a simple recitation but deep knowledge of the Scriptures helps to understand and know what I believe and the reason why I believe what  I believe. Just as Ezra knowing the Word of God  without practice has no value at all; this man studied the Law of the LORD to: i) do it (make it practical in his life), and ii) teach it (evangelism, to tell the truth to those who don’t know).

Thus, it’s essential to talk about my beliefs. How?! As doves; II) being innocent is a sign of being humble and not arrogant yet explain the Gospel with confidence, in a simple way, in love and being always gracious even in the middle of an apparently unproductive discussion I’ve to keep in mind how powerful being salt can make a huge difference. I’m there to represent my LORD, yet I’ve to do it with gentleness and respect, 1 Peter 3:15 (ESV).

You can love people without approving their decisions.- Jarrid Wilson

Through Christ in me I can love and talk graciously.

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…lest I be full and deny you and say. “Who is the LORD?” or lest I be poor and steal and profane the name of my God.” Proverbs 30:7-9

It’s rare nowadays to say or hear a prayer like this. We live in times where more and having always more is the great desire of the heart. But, this is not a new issue at all we read how Satan deceived Adam and Eve “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.””, Genesis 3:4,5  The idea of getting more, the desire of becoming great is visible in Satan’s statement “you will be like God” and the following verses show how our ancestors were misled because of the desire to be more than what God gave and told them.

Some of the lessons I learned from Agur’s prayer are:

Honesty – he opened his heart before God describing what his heart desires; he recognises how he’s desperate for certain kind of things and how these things can mislead him if they are being used in wrong way or a false purpose. “Oh, Lord I just want to be in the middle, I don’t want to disappoint you”. He’s making clear that the desire for more is in his heart, but he choose to please God; “do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.Philippians 4:6;

Humbly – “remove far from me falsehood and lying” (verse 8) he knows how deceitful is his heart and acknowledges God’s power to overcome those seeds. He invites God to come and lead his heart, “The heart is deceitful above all things,… I the LORD search the heart and test the mind…“, Jeremiah 17:9,10. He knows without letting God to take control of his heart, being the Lord of his life the seed of sin within him “…when it is fully grown brings forth death.” (cf. James 1:14,15).

Food – he knows it is important to be fed and well-fed, but he want make it in holiness.  “Feed me with the food that is needful for me” (verse 9). He desires to keep his life in holiness in order to please God, “or lest I be poor and steal and profane the name of my God“. Once again brings out his strong desire to maintain his communion with God, “lest I be full and deny you and say, “Who is the LORD?” That brings the Lord’s prayer in mind, “Give us this day our daily breadMatthew 6:11.

Direct – Agur makes it clear “Two things I ask of you; deny them not to me before I die“(verse 7). I live in a country for almost six years and one of the hardest things I’ve been struggling with among the many culture barriers is how people here are so indirect when comes to communicate something. Jesus said we don’t need to rely ourselves on using many words when comes to pray as someone who want to convince someone, Matthew 6:7,8; we don’t need to be turning around for God knows everything even before we think on praying; so, how could I convince  Him with many words or good words. God’s more interested with my heart, He want to lead it; Agur knew that so he submited his heart to the lordship of God.

 Keeping my intimacy with untouched is key in life for I was created for GOD.

さて、四人のシャラトに冒された人が、町の門お入り口にいた。彼らは互いに言った。「私たちはどうして死ぬまでここにすわっていなければならないのだろうか。」たとい、私たちが町に入ろうと言っても、町はききんなので、私たちはそこで死なければならない。ここにすわっていても死んでしょう。さあ今、アラムの陣営に入り込もう。もし彼が私たちを生かしておいてくれなら、私たちは生きのびられる。もし殺すなら、その時に死ぬまでのことだ。」こうして、彼らはアラムの陣営に行こうと、夕暮れになって立ち上がり、アラムの陣営の端まで来た。見ると、なんと、そこにはだれもいなかった。

このシャラアトに冒された人たちは、陣営の端にきて、一つの天幕に入り、食べたり飲んだりして、そこから、銀や金や衣服を持ち出し、それを隠しに行った。また、戻ってきては、ほかの天幕に入り、そこから持ち出し、それを隠しに行った。彼らは話し合っていった。「私たちのしていることは正しくない。きょうは、良い知らせの日なのに、私たちはためらっている。もし明け方まで行っていたら、私たちは罰を受けるだろう。さあ、行って、王の家にしたせよう。」彼らは町に行って、門衛を呼び、彼らに告げて行った。「私たちがアラムの陣営に入っててみると、もう、そこにはだれもあらず、ひとのこえもありませんでした。ただ、うまやろばかつながれたままで、天幕もそっくりそのままでした。」礼王紀第二7章3−5、8−10節

今日の聖書箇所ではいくつかの場面で見受けられる、3つの強調点があります。

すなわち、すべての章で出てくる深刻な食糧不足、3節の病い、6節の戦いです。翻訳の違いはありますが、聖書にはシャラートという言葉が40回以上は登場しています。レビ紀13章では、シャラートへの対処の仕方がれていると考えられていました。シャラートにかかった人々は、肉体的も、霊的もけがていると考えられていました。家族と同じ家に住む事も許されなかったのです。

イスラエル人に命じて、しゃらアトの者、漏出を病む者、死体二よって身を汚している者をすて宿営から追い出す。民数紀5章2節

彼らの生活は希望がなく、本当に惨めな生活だったと思います。しかし、そんなかれらが、イスラエル民族の中で一番幸せになり、歴史さえも変えてしまったのは興味深いことだと思いませんか。彼らの幸せは食物や経済的な裕福さによって与えられたものではありませんでした。聖書をみると、9節で彼らが口に出したことを10節を見ればわかるように、実際に行動に起こしてじっせんしたことによってはじめてもたらされたのです。

この聖書箇所について考える時、私は自分自身の内側を見せられた本当に恥ずかしい思いをしました。どうしてでしょうか。ここにいるほとんどの皆さんは、わたしも含めて第二列起き7章に出てくる男たちとは全く対照的だからです。救いに至る福音を信じているのにです。またイエス様だけが真実と人生のただのただ一つの道であることを知っているはずなのに、です。私たちは、この素晴らし主を自分たちの中にだけ大事に閉じ込めてしまって、人々に分かち合っていないのです。

イエス様が私たちを救ってくださったのに、どうして、知り合いや、友達、お隣の方、同僚にこの素晴らしい救いを分かち合わないのですか。「ライフスタイルとして、すべての人にイエス様をを紹介しませんか。」

兄弟姉妹、神様は私たちに伝道を命じられたのです。

 2の分はこちらです。

Small in number, big in commitment

Acts 2:42-47

 Some highlights on the book of Acts of the Apostles

  • Its writer: Luke the same who also wrote the third Gospel. In Acts, he told how the good news about Jesus Christ spread. It spread to the world beyond Jerusalem. Luke was a gentile and he was a doctor (Colossians 4:14). He worked with Paul and he travelled with Paul (Philemon 1:24).
  • The purpose of the book: the good news about Jesus had travelled from Jerusalem to Rome. Luke wanted to record how that happened. Rome was the most important city in the world. Luke showed that the gospel was for all people in every nation. It was for Jews and it was also for Gentiles.
  • Divided into 6 parts: each part ends with a report that more people were joining the church.
  1. Acts 1:1-6:7 In the first part, Luke describes how the *church grew in Jerusalem. This part ends like this: ‘So, God’s message spread. The disciples in Jerusalem continued to increase quickly in number. And very many priests obeyed the faith.’
  2. Acts 6:8-9:31 This part ends like this: ‘Meanwhile, the church all over Judea, Galilee and Samaria enjoyed a peaceful period. The Holy Spirit made the church strong and he encouraged the Christians. They respected the Lord and more people joined the church.’
  3. Acts 9:32-12:24 This part ends like this: ‘God’s message continued to grow and it continued to spread.’
  4. Acts 12:25-16:5 It ends like this: ‘So, the Christians became stronger in the faith and more people joined the churches daily.’
  5. Acts 16:6-19:20 This part ends like this: ‘In this way, the Lord’s message continued to increase in power and it spread widely.’
  6. Acts 19:21-28:31 In the last part, Luke tells us that Paul reached Rome. When it ends, Paul is in prison. There, ‘he preached boldly about God’s *kingdom. He taught the facts about the Lord Jesus Christ and nobody tried to stop him.’
  • Main author: the Holy Spirit. The presence of the Holy Spirit is so clear from the beginning to the end. I often call it as “the book of Acts of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 1:8).
  • This book introduces the early Christian: who are they?
  • They were people convicted that they were a ‘colony of heaven’ and had to obey God and not man.
  • They were God-intoxicated.
  • They were small in number, but big in commitment… a small number of Christians whose life affected other people’s lives and, undoubtedly, we also are a result of their commitment to the Lord.

What is commitment?

It is the state or quality of being dedicated to a cause or policy; an engagement or obligation that restricts freedom of action (Concise Oxford English Dictionary, 2002).

They were committed:

 To God in everything: they used to live for God. Galatians 2:20

  • To Heaven principles:
  1. ‘A colony of heaven on earth’. Sojourners on earth; 1 Peter 2:11
  2. Citizens of Heaven. Philippians 3:20
  • To the Word of God (they were hungry for the Word of God): they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teachingand day by day…” Verse 42;
  • In prayer: “they devoted themselves…prayers.” Verse 42
  • In the fear of the Lord: “And awe came upon every soul…” Verse 43
  • In love and unity (a family!!!): “… all were together…things in commonattending the temple together…” Verses 44-46
  • With glad and generous hearts: “… they received their food with glad and generous hearts.” Verse 46
  • In praising and worshiping God despite the persecution: praising God…Verse 47

These are lessons for the modern church everywhere: what a big difference and shame!!

It  a meassage of encouragement to the Church in Japan, which is also small in number and has to work in terms of commitment to the Lord.

  • Number is not a problem to God. In fact, He always starts small, but being committed to Him is a big deal.
  • Being committed to the Lord means being a Christian everywhere we go; is living according to God’s principles no matter the price to pay for.

So, let’s love the Lord and each other, let’s persist on knowing and obeying the Lord.

“By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”John 13:35 (ESV);

“Let us know; let us press on to know the LORD; his going out is sure as the dawn; he will come to us as the showers, as the spring rains that water the earth.”Hosea 6:23 (ESV)

Preached @Misaki Evangelical Church on 2015年10月25日

El Predicador-R3

Tentmaking Projects

References

[1] El Predicador, Speak Lord, I’m listening… Quiet times with my Master in El Kabod, Minoh, 2015.

[2] Marion Adams, Good News for Everyone – An EasyEnglish Bible Version and Commentary (2800 word vocabulary) on the Book of Acts, Wycliffe Associates (UK), 2005. Retrieved online here on 18/10/15.

[3] Concise Oxford English Dictionary, 2002

[4] Jonathan Rieder, Gospel of Freedom – Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Letter from Birmingham Jail and the Struggle that Changed a Nation, Bloomsbury Press, New York, 2013.

Yet it was the will of the LORD to crush him; he has put him to grief; when his soul makes an offering for guilt, he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days; the will of the LORD shall prosper in his hand.

Isaiah 53:10 (ESV)

For one will scarcely die for a righteous person-though perhaps for  a good person one would dare even to die- but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God.

Romans 5:7-9 (ESV)

As we study the Scriptures we learn about God creating a single human being and through this one man He filled the earth: one being with millions, billions and more human beings inside of him. But, God did that? Because He loves mankind. Any decision or action from this single man would affect all humanity. Why? Because all humanity was inside of him. Thus, we also read “for all have sinned and short of the glory of God ” Romans 3:23 (ESV), that is, this single creature sinned and consequently all of us sinned for we were in him.

Christ’s death on the Cross was not a surprise to Him. Why? Because He knew at the very beginning He’ll die; in other words, He came to die; allow me to make this more clear: He was born to die. Do you know or ever heard about a person with a similar purpose in life?

… It was the will of the LORD to crush him; he has put him to grief…

Yes, it was the will of the Lord to kill His own son. Why? Because He loves us. Wow!! My God is good!!!

So when we met Jesus Christ and accept him as our Lord and Savior, He makes us new creatures, everything becomes new, old stuffs receive a big sayounara!  (Japanese word for “Good bye”, it’s written as “さようなら!”)

Warning: there is a problem!! It seems that even after becoming Christians, those old habits (envy, immorality, jealousy, hate, etc.) still working within us? It is like in one day/week we are Christians, but, in another one we are not.

So why is that? Do we really love the Lord or are we really saved?

Paul states the problem in this way:

15For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.  17 So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. 18 For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. 19For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. 21 So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. 22 For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, 23 but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. 24 Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? 25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin. Romans 7:15,17-25 (ESV)

Who do you feed more, your flesh or your spirit?

But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. Galatians 5:16 (ESV)

And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filed (being filed) with the Spirit.

Ephesians 5:18 (ESV)

The point I want to make here is really simple and states from the Scriptures: without Christ, I do nothing (John 15:5) and I can do all through him (Christ) who strengthens me (Philippians 4:13);

Summing up:

  • Ask the companionship (fellowship) of the Holy Spirit to be a fact in your daily life and don’t give up on this;
  • Take time to talk to God (prayer); listen to Him in your prayer time and through His Word.
  • Renew your relationship with God today.In Christ,
    El Predicador

Today a good friend of mine living abroad was stolen on her way home coming from Univ. Now guess what the thieves (actually a couple of teens) took: her backpack! Yes, you’re right all her school stuffs and some other things have a new owner.

I was wondering about these kids, maybe they’re also student like her just for what they got, books, stuffs like Chemistry and Physics notes which constitute a wealth package for someone majoring in these fields. So, why would things be like that? Yes, I know you’ll say obviously they aren’t interested in (all) that is in the backpack; ok! let me give you 50% of reason and keep my own, but read it in this way: they were a couple. Oh! yeah, they’re now organised, just like “let’s work together”; cooperation you know! Even thieves are building societies. So can’t we, normal folks (well, thieves are also normal people, right?!) learn something from this? But don’t do this one : stealing! (yes, you read it well!)

“Thou shalt not steal” Exodus 20:15 (KJV).

But, let’s just check it out again:

  • A couple working together: that sounds like cooperation, unity, etc. Yes, i know their actions is not acceptable and that the wrong side of their cooperation. But as human we are created to live in unity and keep our faith overtime stronger and stronger; helping each other. wouldn’t be great if we bring unit at home, schools, churches for good purposes?
  • They stole school stuffs: education opens (any) closed door. As I said to my sis “those kids might be your colleagues, but taking a night course!” Can you imagine if these kids take time to assimilate what they’ve in their hands ?! Wouldn’t be a great deal? Just as sometimes I used to think if someone steals “My Pretinha”( my Bible) I’d be glad just for the fact that he, probably, will read it and get to know the Lord  (btw “pretinha” is the Portuguese feminine diminutive for “black”- “preta”; I used to call my Portuguese Bible “Pretinha” simply for its cover’s colour. Now there’s this interesting text All hail the pibão by a The Economist journalist trying to understand how Portuguese diminutives and augmentatives works in English context).  So the point I’m trying to make here is that these folks can take time to get knowledge if they don’t lose away my sister’s stuffs and take time to study them. However, what its really struggling me is why they did this? The Scripture gives a clear answer for that:

for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Romans 3:23 (ESV)

Yes, they only acted according to their sinful nature which all of us inherited from our fallen fathers Adam and Eve. However, this isn’t an excuse to act in evil way.

Are they thieves because they still? or do they still because they’re thieves? Please, pay attention here and don’t get it wrong because it isn’t the same thing, at least I think so.

Yes, no one is good on the earth, but there’s a way to get out from this mess, indeed there’s a good news:

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:23 (ESV)

There’s the wages for the sin which is death BUT there’s also the free gift of God which is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. In Christ means that you start enjoying this free gift here on the earth because your eternity depends on the decision you take while living on time. To render yourself to Christ through repentance and inviting Him to be your personal senior and Lord is wise a decision. So, if you love yourself and those around you ask the Source of love to come and live in you, set your house in order.

 

El Predicador

 

 

42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. 43 And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. 44 And all who believed were together and had all things in common. 45 And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. 46 And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved. Acts 2:42-47 (ESV)

On April 16th, 1963 Martin Luther King Jr. in his “Letter from Birmingham Jail” presented the early Christians as people convicted to be “a colony of heaven” and had to obey God rather than man. They were small in number but big in commitment… a God-intoxicated people.

As I was listening to this great audiobook by Mission Audio and read by Dion Graham, I began thinking of the early Church. So, I just want to share here some few lessons I learned from my reflection on their commitment to the Lord.

The book of Acts introduces us the early Christians, a small number of Christians at the beginning whose life impacted other people’s lives and, undoubtedly, we’re also a result of their commitment to the Lord.

What exactly is commitment?

According to the Concise Oxford English Dictionary (2002), it is the state or quality of being dedicated to a cause or policy; an engagement or obligation that restricts freedom of action.

These Christians were committed:

  • To God in all: God deserved all the glory in their lives and through their lives. Galatians 2:20.
  • To heaven’s principles just as MLK defines them “a colony of heaven”; sojourners on earth, 1 Peter 2:11 and citizens of Heaven, Philippians 3:20.
  • To the Word of God (they were hungry for the Word of God): “they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching… and day by day, attending the temple together…” Acts 2:42,46
  • In prayer: “they devoted themselves… prayers.” Acts 2:42
  • In the fear of the Lord: “and awe came upon every soul…” Acts 2:43
  • In love and unity: “…all were together…things in common… attending the temple together…” Acts 2:44-46
  • With glad and generous hearts:… they received their food with glad and generous hearts.” Acts 2:46
  • In praising God despite the persecution: “praising God…” Acts 2:47

We’ve to be honest in recognizing the huge difference between these Christians and the modern church.

Small in number tells me about the country where I’m based, no more than 2% of Christians live here, we still have to strengthen the second part, big in commitment. However, this big in commitment is still a problem even for those countries with a large number of Christians specially nowadays when apostasy, heresies, atheism, etc. are increasing.

Let’s follow these brothers and commit ourselves to the Lord.