Monday, January 1, 2007

The End is the Beginning: Die to Live

John 12:20-29 (New International Version) ヨハネによる福音書 / 12章 20節- 29節

~Just a word of announcement, there will be a Prayer Meeting held this Saturday, January 6 at 7:00 PM at ICCS. Come and pray for Revival in Japan and in our own hearts. If you cannot come this Saturday, please pray where you are. We need a fresh moving of God's Spirit in our midst. Come ready to do the WORK of PRAYER!

That's 7:00~9:00PM, 1/6/07 @ International Community Chapel of Saitama (ICCS), 6-16 Enoki-Cho, Tokorozawa-Shi, Saitama-Ken, JAPAN 359-1104~

Jesus was on His way to Jerusalem to die. That is why He came. His death would allow mankind the only way to be forgiven for their sins as He would pay the price for their sin and their disobedience. This death would not be a suicide but a sacrifice. He would give Himself up willingly because of His great Love of His Father and for mankind, whom He had created.

On the first googled site for Suicide, there were over 5,300,000 hits to a site that encouraged people NOT to do it!

Suicide is the intentional killing of oneself. Ironically, in most countries and states suicide is a crime, but if successful there is no one to punish. However, attempted suicide can be a punishable crime (seldom charged against one surviving the attempt). "Assisted suicide" is usually treated as a crime, either specifically (as in the State of Michigan in the USA) or as a form of homicide (second degree murder or manslaughter), even when done as a kindness to a loved one who is terminally ill and in great pain.The frequency of attempted suicide is 20 times higher than actual suicide. Three times more women than men attempt suicide, and three times more men succeed. Men tend to use more violent methods like gunshot wounds to the head; women are more likely to take an overdose. Over 6,000 people in the USA use handguns to kill themselves each year. Knives, hangings or falling in front of trains are used in Japan. The highest suicide rate for both sexes is in the over-75. Suicide among people aged 18-24, although relatively infrequent, is the third leading cause of death, after accidents and homicides, in the UK.

Although considered a crime in most countries, some have considered it acceptable in the past, for example seppuku, or hara-kiri in Japan is a means of avoiding dishonor, and in India widows were thought to become deified or sacred by burning themselves on their husband's funeral pyre, a practice known as suttee.

Suicide rates vary considerably among countries. Estonia has the highest suicide rate (38% 1993), and Armenia the lowest (2.8% 1992). Rates are lower in Latin America than in North America, and lower in southern Europe than in other European countries. Suicide rates in Islamic countries are considerably lower than in Buddhist or Christian countries, and Roman Catholic countries tend to have lower rates than Protestant ones. Suicide rates in the European states of the former USSR are very high. There has been an increase in suicide among elderly men and adolescents since 1960. In the USA, for example, suicide rates for the elderly increased 226% for men and 110% for women 1960-92. The UK is the only European country with a clear decrease in old-age suicide among both men and women (60% and 55% respectively, 1992), although in 1985-95 the overall suicide rate in the UK increased by 71%.

China accounts for 40% of the world's suicides and it is the only country where female suicides outnumber male suicides…
Taken from:

On Line, you can find such topics as: Types of suicide; History and methodology; History of suicide; List of suicides; Suicide methods; Views on suicide; Resources for dealing with suicidal thoughts; Suicide prevention; Crisis hotlines by country, and many more…

To live, that is exciting. But to die, that is the next adventure. In truth, I find that life has so much to offer. We are on this earth for 70-90 years for a purpose; to bring glory to the Father and enjoy Him forever.

Anything short of that is-well-short of real life.Yet, as we look at the passage today, I can see that there is something to be said for death.

To die so that you can really live. That is hard to hear, isn't it? I want to live but the teaching of Jesus shows me that I must really die first before I can really live. Let's look at this passage today as we consider what our life might be in 2007.

Some Greeks came up to Jerusalem to take part in the Jewish Feast of the Passover. These were special outsiders. These men wanted to become part of what God was doing in the Hebrew nation. They wanted to take part in the memorial feast and identify themselves not only with the Hebrew culture but also with the Hebrew God.

They sought out Philip. Why? Your guess is as good as mine but realize that sometimes outsiders may understand the mystery of God's love better than ones who are close to it all the time.

These guys were called proselytes-not fully into Judaism but close. They were Godly men who were attracted to Judaism. They had come to worship God with an open heart yet they could not take part in some of the activities. Their interest in the things of God leads them to approach Jesus.

Some had suggested that they came to Philip because they heard his name called and his name was Greek or that he might have had Greek style clothing on. They came to Philip because that is the kind of man he was. Remember back in John 1:46, it was Philip who told Nathaniel to come and see Jesus. That became a way of life/ministry for Philip. And these Greek men wished the best for themselves. “Sir” they said, “We want to see Jesus.”

This means they wanted to do more than look at Him. They wanted to give their attention to Him. They had the right attitude of a disciple. IS that your desire as well? Are you seeking to see Him in His fullness? Are you really ready for the 'stuff' He is going to send your way as you follow Him? Are you thirsty for Him? Are you hungry to be near Him and to learn from Him? Are you willing to seek Him above all else? If so, than go ahead and seek Him with all your heart! Take others with you!

Philip does not bring these men right to Jesus. He takes the request to Andrew who in turn speaks to Jesus. (Sometimes you may need some help in bringing your request before the Lord.) No need to be afraid but this was the beginning of a new face for Jesus' ministry. The doors are going to be opened for the Non-Jews. The Doors of Evangelization to the World has begun to swing open. But, the fact remains, the passage does not ever speak of their meeting at all. It goes right into a response of giving the go ahead comment of the reason He had come. (23 Jesus replied, "The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.”) He does not speak to the Greeks directly but His words do open up the reality of allowing ALL men everywhere to come to Him.

He is going to be glorified. When that happens, all men everywhere will be able to see Him!

He spoke of their place in the Community of God's Family. He reveals that the time has come for His Death to take place. By this death of His, He will produce many seeds-allowing the non-Jew a place in His Kingdom. He will DRAW all men to Himself (later in v32). In a way, Jesus does answer them and gave them an audience for through His Death on the Cross, He will have opened the door to become accessible for them to the Living Lord.

What does Jesus mean by verse 23?

We know that God is love. We know that love is the key in laying down of one's life. 1 John 4:8, it reads: Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. Before that, in 1 John 3:16 a says: This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down His life for us.

The Heart of God is seen most clearly in the Cross. It was once said: “Selfishness is the destruction of life while sacrifice, self-surrender, death, is the condition of the highest life.” So in that the Cross is not only a one time event to erase the stain of sin from our lives, though it certainly is that, it also becomes the pattern of how He wants us to love each other as well.

Now, here is the part that drives some people away from the Cross of Jesus. I can understand that, but I feel that most of you have the drive or desire to know Him better; to know Him better in the coming year than you ever known Him before. Here Jesus speaks of death and dying. The mystery of life comes through death. Jesus uses the common illustration of seeds to help us understand the meaning.

When a seed dies it can then live. The seed MUST fall into the ground and die in order for there to be any fruit at all. See the idea? One seed dies resulting in MANY seeds. That is the fruit of evangelism. Through the death and the resurrection of Jesus, the fruit that is produced will be evident in the lives of His followers. Their quality of life-now based on God's resources-is now filled with Divine Life.

He fills the life with forgiveness. Those things that we were doing before we met Jesus and before we invited Him into our lives have now becoming dead to us. They have no place in our thinking. No place in our actions. Those 'things' kept us in the dark to the Things of God. They were at war with the Truth. Now, it is time to come out from that covering of darkness and walk in the wonderful Light of the Gospel. The Gospel of sins forgiven.

Now, this is not easy to do nor is it easy to understand. To start out, we need to understand that He has and will give us EVERYthing we need for a godly life. All that we need is only found in Him. He calls us to a radical discipleship. The person who loves their life will lose it, while the person who hates their life in this world will live.

Oh, it gets harder… Matt 16:24~26

Then Jesus said to His disciples, "If anyone would come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for Me will find it. What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange or his soul?”

Luke 17:33 Whoever tries to keep his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it.

This word LIFE does not just mean physical life but the whole self of a person. We were created not to have ME be the center of my life but to be in union with the Creator God and to receive His LOVE from Him.

If the love of self is central to my life than that is the same heart of all sin and rebellion that was found in the Garden of Eden. That kind of choice-centered on myself-brought death then and it will continue to bring death today. UNLESS! When Jesus says the one who loves self will lose it, He does not mean 'misplace' it but rather have it 'destroyed.'

In the Bible there are lot of strange saying like: Unless you hate your Mother…you will have no part in Me… (Luke 14:26) He is speaking in terms of choices and attachments not in the meaning of to look down on, deny, reject or loathe the parents. We are to love our parents. That is one of the 10 commandments that are not just 10 suggestions! Jesus is speaking about this devotion and obedience to Himself must be so complete that nothing else can be distracted by it. Remember what He said about two masters?

Matt 6:24 "No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.”

What Jesus IS saying is that you can't have the cake and eat it too. We cannot have control of our lives or of our dreams AND forget His way with us. It must be in His Hands. At the heart of discipleship is love, and at the heart of love is sacrifice. And that is just what He did for us on the Cross.

If we are to serve Him, than we need to follow Him. Not just when things are going nice and sweet for us but also in the hard times. The times when it is the darkest. When we feel all alone. It is at those time MOST of all that He is the closest. We need to see with His eyes at that time. We need to encourage our own hearts as David did in Ziklag in 1 Samuel 30:6b But David found strength in the LORD his God. In the King James: but David encouraged himself in the LORD his God.

How did he do that? Did he go to a seminar on cooping or read a book on how to improve his attitude? Did he depend on his small group? No, his group wanted to kill him! He rehearsed what he knew of his God and THAT encouraged him! And that is where we need to be as well. We would honor the Lord by being where we need to be in following Him. For where I am, My servant also will be. That is where I'd love to be. Close to Him with His strong Hand of comfort on my shoulder. That is a very good beginning of the end of selfish rule.

Psalm 91:1-2 He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, "He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust."

And that all happened in one day. Turn with me to Zechariah 3:9 for a little looked at verse of Christmas.

Zechariah 3:9 See, the stone I have set in front of Joshua!
There are seven eyes on that one stone, and I will engrave an inscription on it,' says the LORD Almighty, 'and I will remove the sin of this land in a single day

On the Cross, that happened!

This group of Greeks and fellow Jews all heard a Voice or sound. Some felt it was thunder while others felt it was angels. In truth, the sound was the Voice of God His Father. Those with ears to hear listen to the Spirit of God and join in the task of bringing Him Glory by our sweet surrender. Die to yourself and live for His Good and for His Glory. Lose yourself in His Love and find your rest. You can do it now-willingly-or later-being forced to bow to His Will.

Philippians 2:9-11 Therefore God exalted Him to the highest place and gave Him the Name that is above every name, that at the Name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

And how do we serve Him? By doing what He did. He prayed to the Father for workers of the harvest. We can be those workers. He spoke out the Gospel. We can spread the Good News. He healed people with prayers to His Father. We can pray for those who are sick. He said in John 14:12 I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in Me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.

I want to surrender. I want to experience His life thru ME dying to myself.

Begin today by allowing yourself to give some serious thought and prayerful consideration to what God is saying to us as the old year ends and the new year begins. Don't be afraid that God might stretch you! That is exactly His will for your life. Our biggest challenge is to agree with God's purpose and let Him take us wherever He wants us to be. The key is for us to emphasize heart-readiness. Heart-readiness maintains us as fertile ground for God to bring increase in fruitfulness.

Let's spend a few min to consider WHAT the Spirit is telling us. Bow your heads and listen to Him. Let His Spirit speak to you. Don't start with lots of talking…let Him speak to you. Let His Spirit show you what to do with this message.

All Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION ®.