Sunday, June 23, 2013

Worship Always

Worship Always is not only the title of this blog of sermons--it is also the call of our Lord Jesus to enter into a living relationship with Him.  It has been said: "The Whole Duty of Man is to Love God and to Enjoy Him Forever." I could not agree more!

Knowing God through His only Son, Jesus, is THE most exciting life experiences a human can make!  His Spirit will enter your life to direct you and to give you understanding and to place His Peace in your hearts.  This world needs Peace.  Nations look for peace in Generals or in some laws of the land.  Few find it there.  The Bible teaches us that His Peace is offered to everyone who seeks Him.  To call on the Name of the Lord is what is needed.

Friend, call to Him today and start your day to day worship.  His Grace will fill you  and you will know that His Word is truth.  He will never disappoint you nor will He leave you.  Ask Him to forgive you of the things you have done that are wrong.  (We all have done wrong things and we need to receive forgiveness.)  Ask Him to be your Savior.  Thank Him for His New Life in you.  Find a Church where Jesus is taught, where His Word is held up and join in with others in this Walk of Faith.  Go to Church on Sunday!   And...

Worship Always!

Sunday, June 9, 2013

One More Time もう一度

God did not bring you into this world to live without a purpose, to exist without a reason, or function without meaning.  Let me assure you once again that you are here, not by chance, but because you are a unique creation of God.  He loves you, cares about you and wants you to know Him as He knows you, with deep intimacy.  God desires to use you, according to His Will, to make His great plan known to this generation through you as you give your heart to Him in obedience.
Once more, there is nothing you can do to make Him love you more.  That is why this is called Grace and that we walk by Faith in that Grace.
Today is my last time to talk to you as your Pastor.  I have never been voted in as Pastor.  No one appointed me to this role.  It kinda fell into my lap as the co-leader and his family left Japan and I took over as THE man who would be Pastor.  I have never regretted it.  I have always looked with great joy to most Sundays as the Lord had shown me years ago what kind of a joy it is to preach the Gospel week after week.  The pay was not the best but then that was not my motivation.  My motivation was to be the pastor I wanted in my life.  Not a control freak, someone who is there, a pastor who has a sense of humor, and one who loves Jesus with all his heart. 
And as I was packing and sorting through literally PILES of old sermons and notes, I came to see that there was a thread that flowed through them all.  One was the topic of OBEDIENCE トピック 従順and the other was from my favorite Book in the Bible聖書の中でお気に入りの本.  I was pretty shocked to see so many references in so many sermons from that book… Let’s turn to it right now and begin, what will be, the end of our time here at ICCS—not the end of ICCS—just my personal leadership here.
2 Peter 1:1-11.  Are you surprised?
1 Simon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ,
To those who through the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ have received a faith as precious as ours:
2 Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.
3 His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. 4 Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.
5 For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; 6 and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. 8 For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 But whoever does not have them is nearsighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins.
10 Therefore, my brothers and sisters, make every effort to confirm your calling and election. For if you do these things, you will never stumble, 11 and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
From verses 3-on, the topic of this letter is to Confirm One’s Calling and Election.  I truly can’t think of anything more important that having your life be confirmed by God’s clear calling.
There is something very RICH about what Peter and these people had in common with those of us whose experience with God is as life changing.  It was all given through the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ.  His straight dealing with us and such a timely intervention of Jesus in our lives shows us of His Grace and Peace.  What a Faithful God have I! なんと真実な神を私は知っているでしょうか
There are three “items” I want to leave with you as we look once again at these verses in Peter.  The first is that this—what we have here at ICCS—is a ministry not a business これを宣教でありビジネスではありません.  We can’t move ahead into the new season if we look at this organism, we call Church, as work as usual.  When you come up to a wall or a question or even hard to understand people, you must not think of the bottom line. The Will of God is important.  Peter—as it appears—seems to understand that as he draws our attention to verse 3.  Our RELATIONSHIP with the Divine directs us神との関係が私たちを導く.  His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness.  The Power is there because the Knowing is there知ることに力がある.  IF we know Him and the Power of His resurrection, we have all we need for living a Godly life.  His Divine Power has given us everything.  Our needs are satisfied in Himわたしたちの必要は主によって満たされるnot in the items we get.  Not in the money or power we can display.  Our life needs to be centered on His Own Glory and Goodness.  Can’t go wrong there!
The Message says it this way: Everything that goes into a life of pleasing God has been miraculously given to us by getting to know, personally and intimately, the One who invited us to God.
Jesus is calling us!  He is inviting us all to know His Father.  And with the knowing, there is the Power of His Divine Nature.  What is His Divine Nature?  This is huge—massive!  His Holiness. His Eternal Power.  His Grandeur.  His Character.  Everything that makes Him … Divine…and He is willing to share that with His Church.  What do you do to get it?  Accept it.  There is nothing you can do to gain more favor with Him.  He wants to come into your life and change you into the person He planned you to be.  A reflection of Him! 主を思い返す
And through this knowledge of Him who called us, He has given us His very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature.
His Divine Power is ours!  His Divine Nature is ours!  This is all very wonderful…but there are times we may not feel His Power or His Nature in us.  What happened? 
This is where that fourth leg to the chair comes in again—from Acts 2:42.   
1) The Apostles Teaching使徒の教え,  
2) Fellowship交わり,  
3) Communion聖餐と and…  
4) PRAYER祈り!  
 Reality does change like our situations do.  Our blood sugar might change the way we look at certain things.  A low-pressure system might be causing us to feel pain in our joints but His Faithfulness never changes!  He is there.  He is ALWAYS there.  Even when He is not seen. 
He does that so that we can participate with Him.  Such a deal!  Us…you and I…able to take part in what God is doing in the World.  There is no one to small.  We can live our lives is such a way that we are working alongside His plans.  These are promises He has already given us—so that through them, His Glory can be seen in this world.  And we are part of that!
Because there are things going around that we may not be aware of—fighting in the heavenly areas—but we can escape the corruption that is caused by evil desires because we have joined with His Nature.  We can choose to remain pure.  Our hearts and minds will be flooded with His Divine Glory and that will cause us to flee evil.  His Divine Power at work in us.
Another factor we need to consider this day is that we are not leadership lacking.  His Divine Nature is at work in our Fellowship.  The Worship here at ICCS will continue and there will be men of Faith sharing from this lectern.  ICCS will have The Leadership Team—made up of five men—リーダーシップチーム 5人の男性from our very number—here to aid the ICCS Family to move along.  You need to know who they are and you need to be praying for them starting right now!  These men are going to help with the flow of the Fellowship.  Here they are: Please stand and come forward.
Josh Tsuchiya, Don Ekstrand, Hiroyuki Kimura, Ichiro Sato and Daniel Beck.  Come up now and pray for these men who will lead you.
Peter then says, in affect, to our community:  For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness まさにことのことのために、あなたの信仰の善良さに付け加えるあらゆる努力をする   There is some growth going on.  We can no longer just sit here week after week.  Each of us NEEDS to be growing—making EVERY effort to add to your Faith.  It will not come by casual attendance.  It will not come with a critical heart or a biting tongue.  It will come when we ALL put in our time to help this Fellowship be all that God has intended it to be: a living, thriving Christian community of alive Believers who love God and desire to enjoy Him forever神を愛し永遠に喜びをともにしたいという願望もって生きている信者のクリスチャンの集まり.
And as you add これらを追加 to your Faith or complementing your basic faith, add goodness (or good characterよい性格), and to goodness, knowledge (or spiritual understanding霊的理解).  And to that knowledge add self-control (or alert discipline緊張感ある規律).  And to Self-Control-Perseverance or (passionate patience熱い忍耐).  And to Perseverance add godliness (which means Spiritual wonder霊的な不可思議) and to that add brotherly kindness (which means warm friendliness暖かな友愛) and to that add love (which is generous寛大さ).  The end goal is to fit into and develop the other qualities or drives.
And lastly: The Future将来.  He knows---so look to Him.  Don’t give up.  Come and be ready to worship.  Don’t be late to the service.  In fact, be early if at all possible.  Sing with the Worship Team—read the passage found in the handout.  Already have your offerings ready (from your time at home). Be prayed up.  Pray for the messenger and the message.  Pray for your family members, asking the Lord to make Himself known to them.  Be ready to speak to the visitor who might become a great friend.  Offer help to the family with small children.  Get them some paper and crayons.  Offer to sit in another place so that the new family can sit together.
And know that I will be watching my watch while in NC and know when the Worship Team will be starting singing.  When the sermon should be starting…when the tables are brought out for Covered Dish.  Make no mistake about it, I too will be praying for you all so that our Father God can bless you with all His Glory and goodness.  One of the most sought after ingredients of daily life is a sense of peace.  At times in the midst of our need and pressures upon us, our sense of peace seems to disappear.
During this next week as you walk through all of your responsibilities, we will be praying that you will be open to give and be the recipient of not only peace but the rest of the fruits of the Holy Spirit as stated in Galatians 5:22love, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control. ガラテヤ人への手紙522...愛、忍耐、親切、善良、誠実、柔和、自己制御

Thank you very much and God bless you richly.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Communion 聖餐

From the Latin word meaning “sharing in common”.  The cross over word in Greek means “fellowship”.  So, a sharing fellowship that is in common.
Found in over 40 verses in the New Testament.
Shared or fellowshipping with or in:
The Divine Nature: 神の性質
2 Peter 1:4 Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.  2ペテロ14 その栄光と徳によって、尊い、すばらしい約束が私たちに与えられました。それは、あなたがたが、その約束のゆえに、世にある欲のもたらす滅びを免れ、神のご性質にあずかる者となるためです。
Jesus, Son of God: イエス、神の子1 Cor 1:9 God is faithful, who has called you into fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.  1コリント19 神は真実であり、その方のお召しによって、あなたがたは神の御子、私たちの主イエス・キリストとの交わりに入れられました。
The Blood and Body of Christ: キリストの血および肉
1 Corinthians 10:16 Is not the cup of thanksgiving for which we give thanks a participation in the blood of Christ? And is not the bread that we break a participation in the body of Christ? 1コリント1016 私たちが祝福する杯は、キリストの血にあずかることではありませんか。私たちの裂くパンは、キリストのからだにあずかることではありませんか。
Fellow Believers Sufferings and The Faith They Share: 信者の苦しみと共有する信仰  they share:
Acts 2:42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.  使徒242 そして、彼らは使徒たちの教えを堅く守り、交わりをし、パンを裂き、祈りをしていた。
Hebrews 10:33 Sometimes you were publicly exposed to insult and persecution; at other times you stood side by side with those who were so treated.  ヘブル1033 人々の目の前で、そしりと苦しみとを受けた者もあれば、このようなめにあった人々の仲間になった者もありました。
Others' Sufferings and Consolation: 受難と慰め
2 Corinthians 1:7 And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort.  2コリント107 私たちがあなたがたについて抱いている望みは、動くことがありません。なぜなら、あなたがたが私たちと苦しみをともにしているように、慰めをもともにしていることを、私たちは知っているからです。
Their privileges:  特権  
Romans 15:27 They were pleased to do it, and indeed they owe it to them. For if the Gentiles have shared in the Jews’ spiritual blessings, they owe it to the Jews to share with them their material blessings.  ローマ人への手紙1527 彼らは確かに喜んでそれをしたのですが、同時にまた、その人々に対してはその義務があるのです。異邦人は霊的なことでは、その人々からもらいものをしたのですが、物質的な物をもって彼らに奉仕すべきです。
Their material needs, to remedy assistance: 物質的な必要、癒しの助け
Romans 12:13 Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.  ローマ1213 聖徒の入用に協力し、旅人をもてなしなさい。
1 Timothy 6:18 Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. 1テモテ618 また、人の益を計り、良い行いに富み、惜しまずに施し、喜んで分け与えるように。
Hebrews 13:16 And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased. ヘブル1316 善を行うことと、持ち物を人に分けることとを怠ってはいけません。神はこのようないけにえを喜ばれるからです
A Ministry-Work Partnership: の牧会的働きのパートナーシップ
Luke 5:10 and so were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, Simon’s partners. Then Jesus said to Simon, “Don’t be afraid; from now on you will fish for people.” ルカ510 シモンの仲間であったゼベダイの子ヤコブやヨハネも同じであった。イエスはシモンにこう言われた。「こわがらなくてよい。これから後、あなたは人間をとるようになるのです。」
There are only two ordinances found in the Bible for the Local Church: Communion and Baptism. 洗礼と聖餐
It is my understanding that Communion was one of the first activities of the Early Church---right after Baptism.  Once a person found new Life in Jesus—opening their heart to the Savior who died for them—the person is taken to a place of water (tub, river, tank, pool) and enter the water to be covered with water—as the covering of God’s Grace has been done at the time of believing.  The person is brought low into the water and raised up out of the water as a symbol of dying and being resurrected into Jesus.
Communion is the celebration Baptized Believers share when present are to the two elements: juice and bread.  Some churches use wine, some use grape juice.  Some use wafer, Matzah, a loaf of bread, cut pieces of bread or cracker. 
This was set within the commonly known and understood Passover Meal of egg, celery, parsley, greens (bitter herbs-horseradish), Roasted Lamb and Matzah-a unleavened bread.
History of the Passover (過越の祭り)Remembered:  It is recorded in Leviticus 23:5~ as to keep the Passover and was first used in Exodus 12:23. It is to remember three events:
Deut 16:12 Remember that you were slaves in Egypt, and follow carefully these decrees.  申命記1612 あなたがエジプトで奴隷であったことを覚え、これらのおきてを守り行いなさい。
Exodus 12:14 “This is a day you are to commemorate; for the generations to come you shall celebrate it as a festival to the Lord—a lasting ordinance. 出エジプト記1214 この日は、あなたがたにとって記念すべき日となる。あなたがたはこれを主への祭りとして祝い、代々守るべき永遠のおきてとしてこれを祝わなければならない。
Exodus 13:3 Then Moses said to the people, “Commemorate this day, the day you came out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery, because the Lord brought you out of it with a mighty hand. Eat nothing containing yeast. 出エジプト133 モーセは民に言った。「奴隷の家であるエジプトから出て来たこの日を覚えていなさい。主が力強い御手で、あなたがたをそこから連れ出されたからである。種を入れたパンを食べてはならない。
God’s Spirit passed over the homes of the Hebrew people when He saw the blood on the doorpost.  The Angel of Death would ‘float’ over Egypt’s homes and enter all the homes where the blood was not applied.  As a family unit, the Hebrews would eat the meal at midnight while standing with their shoes on—ready to leave.  (No leaven is allowed in their homes and was a sign of corruption and spoiling.)  The MAIN item at the meal was the Passover Lamb.  A male, one year old without blemish.  Each family had one.  The neck of the lamb was slit and the blood was caught in a rounded bowl and was handed to the next priest who would hand it on the next.  At last, the last priest would sprinkle the blood on the altar.  In the home, the headman—or if no man was found, an older woman—would lead the service.  For a Jewish service to be performed, 10 males need to be in attendance.  Within the Church in Jerusalem, the practice was followed as it has since the Days of Moses…but Jesus gave the Passover a still deeper meaning:
Killing the lamb truly became a sacrifice. The price that had to be paid foreshadowed the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.  The scriptures refer to Jesus as the Lamb of God over 40 times.  Just as Israel was saved by the blood of the paschal lamb, we are saved by the Blood of Jesus Christ, our Passover [who was] sacrificed for us (1 Corinthians 5:7).  It is important to point out the following parallels between the paschal lamb and the life of Christ:
1. Both were the firstborn, without blemish (see Exodus 12:5).
2. Both were to have no broken bones; the paschal lamb was to be prepared whole (see Exodus 12:46).
3. Both the paschal lamb’s and Christ’s Blood were to be used as a token and sign of redemption (see Exodus 12: 13).
4. Both the paschal lamb’s and Christ’s Blood was spilled; the blood of the paschal lamb flowed into the basin (see Exodus 12:22).
Luke 22:14~20.  Stand for the reading.   ルカ22:14-20
14-16 When it was time, He sat down, all the apostles with Him, and said, “You’ve no idea how much I have looked forward to eating this Passover meal with you before I enter My time of suffering. It’s the last one I’ll eat until we all eat it together in the kingdom of God.”
17-18 Taking the cup, He blessed it, then said, “Take this and pass it among you. As for Me, I’ll not drink wine again until the kingdom of God arrives.”
19 Taking bread, He blessed it, broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is My Body, given for you. Eat it in My memory.
20 He did the same with the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant written in My Blood, Blood poured out for you.
The Message (MSG)
Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson
Why is this important to this Fellowship? なぜこれがこのフェローシップに重要ですか?
The answer is universal.  Not just for this group here today, but for ALL Believers in the Lord Jesus.  The Communion is indeed a reminder of what He did for us on the Cross.  He said: “Remember Me…as often as you eat this bread and drink of the cup…”  Not only in a service like this but as often as you get together.  As common as a friendly cup of coffee---during that time, Remember Him.  Let your conversations be seasoned with the Gospel.
And what do we remember?  The time when…  you fill in the blank.  Tell us this morning; what do you remember Him for?  What has He done for you?  Give a witness this morning.  If I were to call on any one of you, you should be able to put into words something Jesus has done in your life.  In fact, I will be asking you that!  What do you remember Him doing for you or doing in you?  Give a witness. 証人を与えます

Now, come to the Table 食卓に来るthat is ready for you. Remember that He provided all that was necessary for you to be able to take this meal with Him.  He came to die for you.  He suffered on the Cross for you.  He went to the Grave for you!  He rose from the Dead for you.  He promised to return for you.  He gave His all for us so that His Father could even look on us.  His Holy Righteousness on us—not that we deserve it at all!  In fact, we do not.  But His righteousness is on us.  We are to wear His Robe of Righteousness so that when His Father looks on us, He sees His Son’s Blood covering us.
That is why I like this!  That is why I will miss breaking bread with you.  Until we meet again.  Come.

2 Thessalonians 3:3
But the Lord is faithful, and He will strengthen you and protect you from the evil one.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

New Beginnings 新しいよあけ

All things have a beginning.  Let's run through the Old Testament and see how God moves in New Beginnings.
The Garden  ガーデン -sin entered -cast out--new beginnings.
Noah  ノア-sin was rampant-Flood -new beginnings.
One language- つの言語-sin entered-many tongues -new beginnings.
Abraham  アブラハム -chosen-traveled/goal-uncertain -new beginnings.
Egypt  エジプト-a place to grow- a place of unrest  -new beginnings.
Moses  モーセ-given the Commands -new beginnings.
Israel’s sin イスラエルの罪-broke the Ten-Law brought order -new beginnings.
Canaan  カナン-10 spies said NO-one generation in desert-new beginnings.
Joshua  ヨシュア-Jericho-new way to do war-new beginnings.
Samuel  サムエル-Israel wanted a king- Saul-new beginnings.
Saul’s fall  サウルの失脚God choice—David - new beginnings.
Israel united  イスラエル連合-One King/One Lord/One People-new beginnings.
Solomon  ソロモンIsrael’s sin  -bad beginnings.
Divided Kingdom王国分割North went away from God’s Teaching-South-for God’s Way
North taken away into captivity -北部の捕囚 -lost
South warned  南に警告but unheard, unchanged -taken captive  -different beginnings.
70 yr-one generation後に新たな始まりのreturned to Jerusalem-new beginnings.
YEARS OF SILENCE  沈黙の年をChrist Born-キリストが生まれ - new beginnings.
12 followers -12人が従い-God’s Spirit given -new beginnings.
Gospel spread all over the known world-福音を広げ-newer beginnings.
You heard the Gospel Message-change of heart-new spirit -new beginnings.
ICCS on the corner of some changes -do not loose heart-look for---new beginnings.
Same Promises  Same God   He is Faithful   新しい始まり同じ約束-同じ神 主は誠実である

   Let us look into my favorite Book of the Bible and see how Paul deals with new beginnings.
Philippians 1:1-11  (NIV)
Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus,
To all God’s holy people in Christ Jesus at Philippi, together with the overseers and deacons:
2 Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
3 I thank my God every time I remember you. 4 In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy 5 because of your partnership in the Gospel from the first day until now, 6 being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the Day of Christ Jesus.
7 It is right for me to feel this way about all of you, since I have you in my heart and, whether I am in chains or defending and confirming the Gospel, all of you share in God’s Grace with me. 8 God can testify how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus.
9 And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, 10 so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the Day of Christ, 11 filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the Glory and Praise of God.
NEW BEGINNINGS HAVE A PAST.   すべての新しい始まりが過去を土台にしている
There is nothing new under the sun. Other events, incidents and circumstances come up later.  There has to be a foundation to be built upon.  One that is sure and tested.  One that can be believed in and that is dear to one’s heart.  Even from ashes, a new beginning can spring up. 
Josephヨセフwas the favorite son of his father— hated and detested by his brothers—was sold into slavery in Egypt.  Suffering once again from false claims, he was sent into prison only to be released to serve as the Number 2 man in all of Egypt.  His God was Faithful. 
   David’sダビデown Father-in-law had a desire to kill David.  Yet, the Hand of God was on David and out of that hard dark personal time, his Lord, the God of Israel, was able to lift him up. 
   Look at Israel, イスラエルbeaten and separated, brought low by invasion, taken away into a pagan land---from those ashes, a new nation was reestablished in 1948. 
What one factor was true with all of these examples?  The Faithfulness of Father God. 父なる神の真実 Even when the People of Israel rejected God’s claim on them, there were a few… a remnant of hard-core believers who give their love to the Holy One.  And the Faithfulness of God was seen.  God delivered them from all their enemies.  He delivered them from national calamities.  As we read this last week from 2 Chronicles 7:14  If My people, who are called by My name, will humble themselves and pray and seek My Face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land. 2歴代誌:14  わたしの名を呼び求めているわたしの民がみずからへりくだり、祈りをささげ、わたしの顔を慕い求め、その悪い道から立ち返るなら、わたしが親しく天から聞いて、彼らの罪を赦し、彼らの地をいやそう。
Again, in Psalms 81:13   “If My people would only listen to Me, if Israel would only follow My ways” 詩篇 81:13 ああ、ただ、わが民がわたしに聞き従い、イスラエルが、わたしの道を歩いたのだったら。
There is a promise here that can not be dismissed as ‘just from the Old Testament
Paul takes up that call in our passage this morning.  Listen again to his heart.  Paul writes: “I always pray with joy 5 because of your partnership in the Gospel from the first day until now .” 私はいつも喜びをもって祈り
Paul sees the work he had started as a partnership from the very first day of working with them.  Remember that beginning?  Paul and Silas was in jail and the Spirit of God moved in the earthquake while they were singing praises to the Lord and the jailer thought they all had escaped.  He was about to kill himself when he asked the all-important question: “How can I be saved?  He put his faith in the Lord Jesus and his whole household did the same—they were baptized and the start of the first church began at the kitchen table as the jailer bandaged up the very men he had beaten hours before.  A NEW BEGINNING.  There was fierce opposition to the Gospel by the city authorities but the Lady Lydia and the Jailer were the first to believe. They had partnered with Paul and Company and the first church in that area was established.  It grew fast and many came to know the Lord Jesus.
While there were neither beatings nor earthquakes when we started this Fellowship together back in 1990, the Hand of the Lord was upon us all and there was fast growth.  People came to know Jesus.  Lives were changed and challenged.  Folks followed the Lord’s commands and were baptized.  We sent out two missionaries over time to Peru and into Near Asia.  Mission trips were set out to China, short term to Peru, Hi-BA summer teams, Europe Summer work, China Bible School aid, Tohoku Relief, and we now are sending one of our own to Nepal this summer.  There was a partnership in the Gospel.  Some could not go, but they helped send.  Some helped with giving.  We prayed for the work.  We make Prayer Quilts for some who needed encouragement and prayer.  There is joy in knowing our past as we did these acts of Ministry TOGETHER.
From verses 7 & 8, Paul continues: “7It is right for me to feel this way about all of you, since I have you in my heart and, whether I am in chains or defending and confirming the Gospel, all of you share in God’s Grace with me私は神の恵みを皆とともに分かつ 8God can testify how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus.
All of us shared in God’s Grace in many ways.  Some had medical needs: prayer was made and God healed.  Some had children with heart problems: those who knew about it prayed and the boy recovered.  A young girl was very sick in Norway: we prayed but she did not recover.  We shared both the joy of answered prayer and the sorrow that comes with a death.  But we all shared God’s Grace.  We ALL received His blessings.  We grew deeper in love with our God.  We were given His Great Grace to carry us through hard times.
Father God showed Himself to be Faithful.
And we returned to prayer.  Some—deeper than before while others forgot the promises He had to us and their faith went flat.  Unanswered prayers—lack of joy—resulting in darkness and empty hearts.
And He calls us once again for A New Beginning.  Again, in Psalms 81:13   “If My people would only listen to Me, if Israel would only follow My way”  He will answer when we look to Him.  When we remember His Grace and turn from our own ways…He will hear from Heaven and heal our land.
6 being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the Day of Christ Jesus. 6 あなたがたのうちに良い働きを始められた方は、キリスト・イエスの日が来るまでにそれを完成させてくださることを私は堅く信じているのです。  Paul’s confidence in the people at this church was not based on their character or skills.  His confidence was in the Lord Himself who called each one to follow Jesus.  Same with us today.  God will provide ALL that is needed which was planted in each heart when we believed.  His Good work in us will carry us through hard times as well as times of real joy.  His Good Work in us will keep us focused as we walk this Walk of Faith so that we could hear the Father say to us: Matthew 25:23 “…Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things.’
You do realize that I am not Paul.  I do not have the same call he was given on the Road to Damascus.  But I do share this with him:  Your hearts.
And his prayers: 9 And this is my prayerこれはあなたのための私の祈りです: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge知識において and depth of insight洞察力の深さにおいて, あなたの愛がもっともっとたくさん溢れるように 10 so that you may be able to discern what is bestそのことであなたが最高であることをわかるように。。。and may be pure and blameless for the Day of Christ, 11 filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the Glory and Praise of God.
This is like a prayer check-list:  My prayer for you is also that your love may abound more and more in the knowledge and depth of insight.  More and more of Jesus.  SO that your hearts will grow so deeply in love with Jesus that there is no longer any room for doubt.  No more room for doing life on your own.  Loving Him more today than you did yesterday.  Does that sound good to you?  Can I pray that for you?  Yes?  No?  Are you afraid?
Paul also prayed that his friends would be able to discern what is best.  That is a great prayer for us!  So that we will not settle for good when Best is around the corner.  Best and not just things being ok.  His Best for His Glory!
And, I will pray that your life would be pureそして純粋に.  There is something about that brings our attention to Matthew 5:3~10 from the Message:  マタイ3:3-10
3 “You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule.
4 “You’re blessed when you feel you’ve lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you.
5 “You’re blessed when you’re content with just who you are—no more, no less. That’s the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can’t be bought.
6 “You’re blessed when you’ve worked up a good appetite for God. He’s food and drink in the best meal you’ll ever eat.
7 “You’re blessed when you care. At the moment of being ‘care-full,’ you find yourselves cared for.
8 “You’re blessed when you get your inside world—your mind and heart—put right. Then you can see God in the outside world.
9 “You’re blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight. That’s when you discover who you really are, and your place in God’s family.
10 “You’re blessed when your commitment to God provokes persecution. The persecution drives you even deeper into God’s kingdom.
 This is on the handout you have now.  Read this and study this and pray this for you and your family.  Will you do that?  Yes?  No?  Afraid what that prayer will do in your family?
And to be blameless for the Day of Christ! キリストの日のために  That is by Faith.  We cannot be blameless now.  It is a goal we live for and that will be ours when we close our eyes in this world and open them in the next to hear Him say Matthew 25:21 Well done, good and faithful servant!... Come and share your master’s happiness!
And Paul ended this short POWERFUL pray with: 11 filled with the fruit of righteousness主の義の果実で満たし that comes through Jesus Christ—to the Glory and Praise of God.   Filled with His Purity and filled with the Fruit of Righteousness that only comes from the Lord Jesus.  It comes when we humble ourselves before Him.  All of us.  We need to do this as a community of believers.  Every one of us is needed to make this thing we call CCS really move forward.  It is only found coming from His heartto the Glory and Praise of God. 神の栄光と賛美する  Amen!
Are You Ready For New Beginnings? 新しいよあけですか