Author Archives: bkshiroma

About bkshiroma

I'm from Hawaii, but have been in Japan as a missionary/English teacher since 1995. I'm currently going to a church called Crossroad Nishinomiya, an international church in Nishinomiya, a city right between Kobe and Osaka. Check out their website: crossroad-web.com 私がハワイから来ましたけど1995年に宣教師と英会話の教師として日本に引っ越しました。 今西宮にあるクロスロード西宮という国際の教会に行っています。どうぞ、そのホムページを見てください: crossroad-web.com

What’s in your temple? (2 Chronicles 33)

Sometimes people wonder why we need both Chronicles and Kings in our Bible, considering the fact that they cover much of the same material in Israel’s history. Just as the putting the gospels together gives us a fuller picture of … Continue reading

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Why evil people succeed (II Kings 19)

Why do evil people succeed? Certainly, the Assyrians were evil people. And yet we find that God allowed them to succeed. That in fact, it was a part of his plan (probably to judge other evil nations). How could that … Continue reading

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Satan’s oft-repeated lie (2 Kings 18)

In Assyria’s attack on Judah, we see Satan speaking his oft-repeated lie through the Assyrian Rabshakeh (the king’s official). What was the lie? “Don’t trust God. He’s trying to rob you of life. (27, 30). Come to me. I will … Continue reading

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Seeking the Lord (2 Chronicles 20)

As we read about the imminent attack on Judah, it’s hard to miss what Jehoshaphat’s response was. Jehoshaphat was afraid, and he resolved to seek the Lord. Then he proclaimed a fast for all Judah, who gathered to seek the … Continue reading

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Unequally yoked (2 Chronicles 18-19)

The apostle Paul wrote, Don’t become partners with those who do not believe. For what partnership is there between righteousness and lawlessness? Or what fellowship does light have with darkness? What agreement does Christ have with Belial? Or what does … Continue reading

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When we fail to believe. When we fail to share. (2 Kings 7)

This passage starts and ends with the story of the king’s captain. He failed to believe in the salvation God promised to provide, and as a result he perished. The same is true for people today. If they fail to … Continue reading

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Thankfulness and worship (2 Kings 4; Psalm 145-146)

Today, I was reading 2 Kings 4 as part of my Bible reading plan, but I was also reading Psalm 145-146. And I could just imagine all the people God helped in 2 Kings 4 worshiping him with those two … Continue reading

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Two questions (I Kings 20-21, Psalm 141)

Very short and sweet today. Read I Kings 20:42-43, 21:20, 25-29. Then take a look at Psalm 141 and ask yourself these two questions. 1. Who has influence in my life? 2. How do I respond when I am rebuked? … Continue reading

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Though we may not see (I Kings 19)

I’ve read this story dozens, if not hundreds of times. Today I saw something new. Here is Elijah, fresh off an incredible victory in which God answered his prayer with literal fire, and people are proclaiming, “The Lord, he is … Continue reading

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Praying for our nation (I Kings 18)

As I read this passage today, I thought about Japan, where I live. Like Israel, the Japanese worship gods with no voice, gods that do not answer, gods that do not pay attention. And so I pray for Japan, and … Continue reading

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Trusting the Lord and heeding his voice. (Hebrews 1-13)

The danger of reading the Bible one chapter at a time is that you can lose the overall message of what is being said. And the overall message of Hebrews  is to put your trust in the Lord, paying heed … Continue reading

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Commended (Hebrews 11-12)

As I read this passage, the word “approved” or in some translations “commended” strikes me. You see it in 11:2, 4, 5, and 38. The word also has the idea of someone testifying to something. The question is, “who is … Continue reading

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Better (Hebrews 7-10)

It’s worth noting that the letter to the Hebrews were written to Jews who because of persecution by their own people, were being tempted to turn their backs on Jesus and return to Judaism. And so the whole theme throughout … Continue reading

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The reason for our hope (Hebrews 5-6)

Sometimes, because of our weakness, we wonder if God can truly accept us as his children. We look at all our sins and failures, and as a result, our faith starts to shake. But thankfully, our salvation is not based … Continue reading

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A time for everything (Ecclesiastes 3:1-14)

There is a time for everything in life. The question is, during the hard times, will we rage against God? Or will we keep trusting God? Will we keep trusting that there is a plan? That this life is not … Continue reading

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Receiving our King (Matthew 2)

Today is the “Feast of Epiphany,” the day when many Christians remember the visit of the three wise men. (Though honestly, I have never been in a church that has celebrated this feast or thought about its significance). But reading … Continue reading

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A new start? (2 Corinthians 5:17-18)

Happy New Year all! With the new year, often comes New Year resolutions for a lot of people. The idea is, “Let’s have a new start, a fresh start.” But the truth is, we don’t need a new start. We … Continue reading

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Walking in truth and love (2 John)

I’m not sure, but this may be my last blog article of the year. And as we end this year, and look into the next, it’s good to remember the truths John sets forth here. Namely. each day we are … Continue reading

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Losing that which we cannot possibly keep (Judges 14)

A missionary named Jim Elliot once wrote, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.” Sadly, Samson was a man who gave up what God had intended for him to gain … Continue reading

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Imperfect savior. Perfect Savior (Judges 13)

As I read the story of Samson at Christmas time, I can’t help but notice the similarities in the announcements of Samson’s birth, and Jesus’. You will conceive and give birth to a son…he will begin to save Israel from … Continue reading

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Recognizing our Owner and Master (Isaiah 1)

The ox knows its owner, and the donkey its master’s feeding trough, but Israel does not know; my people do not understand. (Isaiah 1:3) Here at Christmas time, we often see Nativity scenes, with Jesus in the manger. But how … Continue reading

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Why Jesus came (Matthew 19:16-30)

As I was reading this passage today, I saw it in a slightly different way. This man comes to Jesus and says, “What good must I do to have eternal life?” Jesus answered, “Why do you ask me about what … Continue reading

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Our true king (Judges 9)

We often think of Saul as the first “king” in Israel’s history. But actually, Abimelech was. The problem was, he was not appointed by God, who was Israel’s true King. Rather certain Israelites appointed him as king on their own. … Continue reading

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The Lord is peace (Judges 6)

I’ve been preparing a message on Luke 2 for my church, so I couldn’t help but notice some parallels between this story and the story of the shepherds. As with Gideon, the shepherds must have been wondering why God had … Continue reading

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For you (Isaiah 9:6; Luke 2:11)

I was reading the prophet Isaiah yesterday, where he proclaims, For a child will be born for us, a son will be given to us, and the government will be on his shoulders. He will be named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty … Continue reading

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What your faith is leaning on (Judges 4)

What is your faith leaning on? On your pastor’s faith? On your spouse’s? On your friends’? Or do you yourself truly trust in God? For Barak, his faith rested on Deborah’s. He was confident God was with Deborah. He wasn’t … Continue reading

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Failing to drive out evil in our lives (Judges 1)

One of the things God commanded the Israelites to do as to completely drive out the Canaanites from the land, and make no compromise with them. Why? Because of all their evil. And if they did not drive them out, … Continue reading

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Glorifying God and showing him gratitude (Romans 1:18-22)

It is Thanksgiving Day in the United States. Here in Japan where I live, we don’t have such a day, unfortunately. But even in the States, it seems many people have lost sight of what Thanksgiving is about. Namely, who … Continue reading

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Living by grace (2 Corinthians 12:7-10)

I was thinking on a passage I was reading with my small group yesterday. It’s a pretty famous passage in which Paul talks about his “thorn in the flesh.” Three times Paul asked that it be taken from him, and … Continue reading

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Following God, seeking his will. (Joshua 5)

As I was reading today’s passage, I thought about prayer. In this passage, the commander of the army of the Lord appears to Joshua. Most likely, that was Jesus himself, hundreds of years before he came to this earth as … Continue reading

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Crossing the river (Joshua 3)

Short and sweet today. As I was reading Joshua 3 today, I couldn’t help but remember the words of Isaiah. Now this is what the Lord says— the one who created you, Jacob, and the one who formed you, Israel— … Continue reading

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In a world where wrong is called right (Psalm 119:1-16)

We live in a world now where wrong is called right. Where people think the greatest happiness is in living as they desire. Where things that were once called sinful are now celebrated. The scary thing is that many in … Continue reading

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Beloved and righteous in his sight (Deuteronomy 32-33)

I suppose I’ve known for some time that the name Jeshurun was another name for the nation of Israel. But until today, I never thought to actually look up what it means. It basically means “upright” or “righteous.” But when … Continue reading

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Empty words? (Deuteronomy 32)

After singing a song warning the Israelites not to turn against God, Moses said them, Take to heart all these words I am giving as a warning to you today, so that you may command your children to follow all … Continue reading

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A bitter root (Deuteronomy 29)

The writer to the Hebrews wrote this: Pursue…holiness—without it no one will see the Lord. Make sure that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no root of bitterness springs up, causing trouble and defiling many. … Continue reading

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To truly know God (Job 42:5)

I had heard rumors about You, but now my eyes have seen You. I’ve been thinking about these words of Job recently, as I’ve been reflecting on what it means to truly know God. Paul prayed in Colossians 1:10 that … Continue reading

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Muzzling oxes? What does this have to do with me? (Deuteronomy 25)

One thing I have tried to do as we go through Deuteronomy is show the relevance of these laws to us. And again, an important principle to keep in mind is what Jesus and the apostles say about it. In … Continue reading

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Remembering the mercy we have received (Deuteronomy 24:17-22)

When life is good, it’s easy to forget the times it wasn’t, and our struggles become a distant memory. Of course, it’s great when we see God’s work in our lives and how he has delivered us. But we should … Continue reading

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Applying the Old Testament to ourselves (Deuteronomy 19)

I mentioned a couple of days ago that when we apply the Old Testament to ourselves, we should see how Jesus and the apostles did  so. We see a perfect example here. In the context of judicial law, where God … Continue reading

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Applying the Old Testament to ourselves (Deuteronomy 17)

All of the Bible is relevant to us. All of it was meant to to teach us something (2 Timothy 3:16-17). But not everything in the Bible is equally applicable. We see that in this passage. We see how the … Continue reading

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Remember and rejoice (Deuteronomy 15-16)

If you’ve been paying attention, the theme of “rejoice” has been popping up a lot in these blogs lately. I’ve never thought of Deuteronomy being a book that teaches “rejoicing,” but not only does it teach about rejoicing, it commands … Continue reading

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Rejoice! (Deuteronomy 12)

Whenever you read the Bible, it’s always good to look for words and ideas that are repeated. Of course, even if God says something only once, we should pay attention. But when he repeats something, we know it’s something really … Continue reading

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Our calling (Deuteronomy 10)

The calling of the Levites as described in verse 8 really strikes me. Moses said, At that time the Lord set apart the tribe of Levi to carry the ark of the Lord’s covenant, to stand before the Lord to … Continue reading

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Our motive for holiness (Deuteronomy 7)

God’s words here seem very harsh. “Devote the nations in Canaan to complete destruction. Make no covenant with them and show no mercy to them.” Why so harsh? Because they hated God and were in rebellion against him, their Creator … Continue reading

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Our testimony to the next generation (Deuteronomy 6)

There is so much in this passage that is worth talking about. God warned the people, “Don’t take me and what I’ve done for you for granted. Don’t forget, especially when things are good in your life.” (10-13) And “Don’t … Continue reading

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Resting to remember (Deuteronomy 5)

I talked last week about the danger of taking God for granted. It is a danger that the Israelites definitely fell into time and again. It was for that reason that God instituted the Sabbath. In recounting the Ten Commandments, … Continue reading

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Taking God for granted (Deuteronomy 1-2)

One of the main themes we see in these two chapters is the rebellion of the Israelites, refusing to enter the land God had promised them. As a result, they wandered around in the wilderness until the generation who had … Continue reading

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When we rejoice (Philippians 4)

I wrote last week about how we are commanded to rejoice. We see it again in this passage. And as I read it, it made me think, “What happens when we rejoice?” First and foremost, it gets our eyes on … Continue reading

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Because Christ took hold of me. (Philippians 3)

As I read this passage, it made me think about a wrong way of thinking that many Christians have. What is that way of thinking? “I need to get God to accept me. I’m not worthy of his love, so … Continue reading

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Kingdom people (Philippians 1)

Recently, I’ve been thinking about discipleship and what it means. What kind of people are we trying to raise? When Jesus raised his disciples, what kind of people was he trying to raise? The best words I could put to … Continue reading

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Making the most of our time (Ephesians 5)

Pay careful attention, then, to how you live—not as unwise people but as wise—making the most of the time, because the days are evil. So don’t be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. (15-17) As I read Paul’s … Continue reading

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Commanded to rejoice (Psalm 81)

At my church yesterday, we were looking at the story of Jehoshaphat and how in the face of an unwinnable battle, he placed the worshipers out in front of the army. What did those worshipers sing? Give thanks to the … Continue reading

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What God has done for us (Ephesians 1-2)

As I look at these two chapters, I can’t help but think how God-centered they are. They’re all about not what we have done, but about what God has done and will do. Think about it. He has blessed us … Continue reading

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A reason to rejoice (Matthew 28:18-20)

Last Sunday, my pastor gave a message on Acts 16, in which Paul and Silas were worshiping in prison. That’s a pretty remarkable thing to do when you think about it. Most people would be throwing a pity party.  “God, … Continue reading

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How will they remember me? (Matthew 26)

In verses 6-16, we see two people that Christians remember. We remember Mary for the great love she had for Jesus. In fact Jesus said of her, Truly I tell you, wherever this gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, … Continue reading

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Loving our brothers and sisters (Matthew 25)

A lot of times, people use the end of this chapter to talk about how we are to be kind to all the hurting people in the world: the sick, the poor, the hungry, and those in prison. Of course, … Continue reading

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Living by grace (Matthew 19-20)

To understand the parable at the beginning of Matthew 20, you really need to look at the end of chapter 19. Peter had just seen a man walk away from the Lord because that man couldn’t let go of his … Continue reading

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The standard we follow (Matthew 19)

We live in a world now where things that were once common sense are now openly questioned. More, you are condemned if you dare to question what the world now believes. For example, according to the world’s standard, the ideas … Continue reading

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Listen to him! (Matthew 17)

It wasn’t long ago that I wrote on the parallel passage from Mark concerning Jesus’ transfiguration. But the Father’s words, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased. Listen to him!” still ring in my heart. The writer … Continue reading

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A hindrance to Christ (Matthew 16)

Jesus’ harsh words to Peter really made me think. Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me because you’re not thinking about God’s concerns but human concerns. (23) Just a few minutes earlier, he had told Peter, I … Continue reading

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God’s grace and truth (Psalm 57-61)

For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. (John 1:17) Grace and truth. These two words are the Greek equivalent to two words often found in the Old Testament. In the CSB, they are … Continue reading

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A life of rest (Matthew 11)

Come to me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take up my yoke and learn from me, because I am lowly and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your … Continue reading

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Say the word (Matthew 7-8)

“Say the word.” Those words ring in my heart. They are words that recognize the authority of Jesus. An authority that the people marveled at, and even his own disciples marveled at. (7:28-29; 8:27.) It’s an authority that instantly brought … Continue reading

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This I know (Psalm 56)

In a time when the Philistines had seized David in Gath, David’s words ring with faith. This I know: God is for me. (9) Do we have this confidence? When things are falling apart around us, and everyone seems against … Continue reading

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Where our eyes are focused (Matthew 6)

Here in Japan, we often talk about how 99% of the population don’t know Jesus. And in that environment, Jesus’ instructions on how we should pray becomes all the more urgent. Your kingdom come. (10) But as I looked at … Continue reading

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Living by the Word of God (Matthew 4)

Man must not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of God. (4) Jesus’ words strike me on two levels. We live in a world where the world is trying to impress its values … Continue reading

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Living as Jesus did (Matthew 3)

I can’t help but notice in this passage that Jesus sets us an example for how we should live as Christians. In getting baptized, though he had no sin to repent of, Jesus showed that he was submitting himself to … Continue reading

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The one who saves his people (Matthew 1)

I heard news today of a well-known former pastor who has now renounced his faith and is now going down a different path. And the question that is often asked at this kind of time is, “What happened? How could … Continue reading

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Running around? Or trusting in God? (Acts 27)

The contrast between Paul and the sailors couldn’t be more drastic in this story. The sailors were panicking, running all around trying everything possible to save themselves. The result? Despair. Paul, on the other hand, heard God’s words of encouragement … Continue reading

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Handpicked (Acts 22)

I find Ananias’ words to Paul very interesting. The God of our ancestors has appointed you to know his will, to see the Righteous One, and to hear the words from his mouth, since you will be a witness for … Continue reading

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The message of God’s grace (Acts 20)

Often times, we think of the message of God’s grace, namely the Gospel, as merely something that leads to our salvation. But while that’s true, it’s something more. Paul told the Ephesians this: And now I commit you to God … Continue reading

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Angry at evil? (Acts 17)

This past week, in Japan (where I live), a terrible incident happened in which 34 were people were killed due to an arsonist who set fire to an anime studio called Kyoto Animation. A friend of mine, who is an … Continue reading

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How people respond to the gospel (Acts 17)

The response of the Atheniens to Paul’s message on Mars Hill is interesting to me. Paul gave a marvelous presentation on who God is and was starting to give the message of the gospel when he was forced to stop. … Continue reading

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The hand of the Lord (Acts 12)

Yesterday, we saw the hand of the Lord reaching out to lead and empower his people. Today, we see it in three other ways. We see his hand reaching out to save, rescuing Peter from prison. We see his hand … Continue reading

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The hand of the Lord (Acts 11)

Verse 21 really struck me today. The Lord’s hand was with them, and a large number who believed turned to the Lord. It’s really easy to look at this chapter and see how the hand of the Lord was with … Continue reading

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A chosen instrument (Acts 9)

It’s easy, sometimes, to read something God has said in scripture, and think, “This could never apply to me.” I think that’s definitely true for verse 15 in this chapter. Here, God says to Ananias, “This man (Saul) is my … Continue reading

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Filled (Acts 6)

As I was reading this passage and thinking about Stephen and the other people chosen by the apostles, these words struck me: They were “full of the Spirit and of wisdom,” and “full of grace and power.” As I read … Continue reading

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Taking God lightly (Acts 5:1-11)

This passage is not a comfortable one. But I don’t think we should be avoiding uncomfortable passages. God put them there for a reason. Here you have God striking down Ananias and Sapphira for their sin. Why? Not only did … Continue reading

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Our hope (Acts 4)

I’ll be honest. When I look at the social landscape, it can get pretty depressing. Morals are collapsing. The concept of family is collapsing. And my guess is that it will only get harder and harder to be a Christian … Continue reading

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In order for our souls to be refreshed (Acts 3)

Last Sunday, I gave a message at church, and I talked about the phrase from Psalm 23:3: “He renews my life.” “Renews” is a word that can translated many ways: “restore” (ESV), “refresh” (NIV), but most often is translated “bring … Continue reading

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United in prayer (Acts 1)

Recently, I’ve been thinking of the importance of God’s people praying together. And so verse 14 really struck me today. They all (the Christians) were continually united in prayer. How often are we, God’s people, united in prayer? How often … Continue reading

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Our hope (Luke 21)

In this passage, Jesus predicts a dark time in Jerusalem’s history when the city would fall to the Romans, many Jews would be killed, and many Christians would be persecuted. Jesus’ words would be fulfilled in 70 A.D. But he … Continue reading

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Is God good? (Luke 18)

God is good. You would think this would be a basic truth. But how often do we doubt it? When we go through trials in life, when we face injustice, we often cry out, “Why God? Why don’t you do … Continue reading

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A small thing (Luke 16)

I saw a couple of new things today as I read this passage, but I’ll focus on one today. Jesus said, Whoever is faithful in very little, is also faithful in much, and whoever is unrighteous in very little is … Continue reading

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Losing our flavor (Luke 14-15)

In the last part of Luke 14, Jesus said, Now, salt is good, but if salt should lose its taste, how will it be made salty? It isn’t fit for the soil or for the manure pile; they throw it … Continue reading

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My prayer (Luke 11:1-4)

Father. When others see me today, let them see you. Don’t let your name be blasphemed because of me and my actions. May your name be honored as holy in my life today. Father, give me your perspective. Don’t let … Continue reading

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The most important thing (Luke 10:38-42)

I have read the story of Mary and Martha many a time, and it never fails to make me stop and think. Think about what Luke says. “Martha welcomed him into her home.” (38) And yet when he entered, she … Continue reading

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How a true “5” thinks (Luke 7)

Recently at my church, we’ve been talking about how God sees us as “5”s. (In Japan, a perfect grade in a report card is a “5,” similar to an “A” in western culture.) In other words, God looks at your … Continue reading

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Though we were unclean (Luke 5)

Throughout this passage, we see Jesus cleansing those who were “unclean.” He of course cleansed the leper of his disease, but more importantly he also cleansed Peter, the paralytic, and Matthew of their sins. But it’s Peter that I want … Continue reading

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If you want to live the Christian life (Luke 4)

Living the Christian life is not always easy. If fact, most times it is not. We face all sorts of trials, temptations, and hard choices every day. People sometimes reject us because we are Christians. And sometimes, they place all … Continue reading

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Our foundation (Luke 3)

I’ve talked about Jesus’ baptism before in a previous blog, talking about how when the Father looked upon Jesus, he said,”You are my Son. I love you. I am well pleased with you.” And one of my points was that … Continue reading

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A God who does not doubt our love (John 21)

This is a very famous passage in which three times Jesus asks Peter, “Do you love me?” Why did Jesus ask this? Because he doubted Peter’s love? That would have been a reasonable response by Jesus. After all, Peter had … Continue reading

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Behold the Man! Behold your King! (John 19)

Pilate’s words strike me. “Behold the man!” (5) What did the Jews see that day? They saw God incarnate, bloodied, beaten, a crown of thorns on his head, and in a purple robe. Amazing love! How can it be, That … Continue reading

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Truth (John 17-18)

Back in John 10:26-27, Jesus said to the Jews, But you don’t believe because you are not of my sheep. My sheep hear my voice, I know them, and they follow me. We see Jesus saying something similar to Pilate … Continue reading

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Changing yourself? (John 15)

When Christians struggle with sin in their lives, one thought often pops up in their minds. “I have to do better.” It is of course good to want to be victorious over sin. But that way of thinking can also … Continue reading

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Whose counsel are we taking? (Psalm 1-2)

Recently, I made the observation on Facebook that when the church’s message becomes so like the world’s that you can’t tell the difference between the two, you know the church is in trouble. As I said that, I was particularly … Continue reading

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Believing in yourself? Believing in Jesus? (John 13-14)

“You can do it! Believe in yourself!” How often do we say that to people? Peter certainly believed in himself. He said, “Even if I have to die, I will follow you. Even if everyone else runs away, I won’t.” … Continue reading

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Knowing who we are and where we’re going (John 13)

In this passage, we see Jesus doing the lowly job of washing his disciples’ feet. That included Peter, who Jesus knew would deny him. That included Judas, who Jesus knew would betray him. And that included the other ten disciples, … Continue reading

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To be where Jesus is (John 12)

There are a lot of things I could talk about from this passage, but verse 26 struck me, probably because I talked about it this past Sunday. Jesus said, If anyone serves me, he must follow me. Where I am, … Continue reading

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Ramping up our faith (John 11)

Martha’s faith was pretty remarkable when you think about it. Even though Jesus had delayed in coming when her brother was sick, and as a result her brother died, her faith in Jesus never wavered. So many people in her … Continue reading

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What are you seeking? (John 7)

I don’t mean for this to be a series or anything, but I keep seeing this question throughout John. (Maybe because I’m preaching on this question on Sunday). In verses 37-38, Jesus cries out, If anyone is thirsty, let him … Continue reading

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What are you seeking (John 6)

I asked the question last week, “What are you seeking?” We see this theme again in today’s passage. At the start of this passage, many people were seeking for Jesus. Why? For healing. (2) Then in verse 24, they went … Continue reading

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The water we’re drinking (John 4)

Jesus’ words to the Samaritan woman strike me here. If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water. (10) … Continue reading

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Only by the Spirit (John 3)

I live in a country, Japan, where less than one percent of the population is Christian. It’s been that way as long as I can remember. And it can be easy to despair. To wonder if things can ever change. … Continue reading

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What are you seeking? (John 1)

“What are you seeking?” That was the question Jesus asked two men who had just left John the Baptist, and were following Jesus from a distance. At this point, these two men knew almost nothing about Jesus. All they knew … Continue reading

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Valuing Jesus. Valued by Jesus. (Mark 14)

As I read this chapter, I marvel at Mary, sister of Lazarus and Martha. (See John 12:1-8.) She valued Jesus so much, she was willing to sacrifice some very costly perfume in order to honor Jesus. It makes me think: … Continue reading

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Be on your guard (Mark 13)

It’s hard to miss the repetition Jesus uses here when he talks about the last days. Three times, he says, “Be on your guard!” All three times, it’s different things we are to be on our guard about. The first … Continue reading

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A+? F? (Mark 12:13-17)

I wrote something very similar to this some time ago, and it probably gives a better explanation of  this passage’s context and what it is about. But today, I wanted to focus on something a bit different. Last Sunday, a … Continue reading

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Listen to him! (Mark 9)

I don’t find it much a coincidence that shortly after Peter had been arguing with Jesus over his mission, the Father said what he did. On that high mountain, for the first time, Peter, James, and John, caught a glimpse … Continue reading

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Who Jesus really is (Mark 8)

Who is Jesus, really? The disciples should have known. But somehow, they didn’t. It should have been clear to them after Jesus fed the 5000. But after Jesus calmed the storm, it’s clear that they still didn’t really know. (Mark … Continue reading

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The teaching we hold to (Mark7)

Jesus’ words strike me in this passage. Quoting from Isaiah, he says, This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. They worship me in vain, teaching as doctrines human commands. (6-7) And then he … Continue reading

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Making our Lord marvel (Mark 6)

Two verses strike me from this chapter. So they were offended at [Jesus]. (3) And, …he was amazed at their unbelief.” (6) To this day, people are offended at Jesus. At least when he makes claims of authority over our … Continue reading

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Responding to God’s Word (Mark 4)

In a lot of ways, this passage is connected to what I talked about yesterday: our reponse to Jesus’ authority.   Today, the question is, “How do we respond to His word?” You see this in the parable of the soils, … Continue reading

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Jesus’ authority (Mark 1-3)

As I’ve been reading Mark this week, one word has come to mind: Authority. Namely, Jesus’ authority. You see it first in his message. The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news! (Mark 1:15) You … Continue reading

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Walking in the truth (3 John)

It’s hard to escape the word “truth” in this letter. John uses it six times in this very short letter. What is he talking about when he says, “the truth”? Most likely, he’s talking about the truth of the gospel. … Continue reading

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Who we sound like (I John 4)

I wish I could give a whole message on John 4, because there’s a lot of good stuff here. But let me focus on one thing. John says, They (the false prophets) are from the world. Therefore what they say … Continue reading

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God’s love? Love for God? (1 John 2)

After a flood of insights last week, it’s been a quiet one for me this week. Not that I haven’t learned anything, but nothing stood out to me that I haven’t already written about. But today, verse 5 stood out … Continue reading

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Humility (I Peter 5)

All of you clothe yourselves with humility toward one another. (5) Here Peter addresses specifically the relationship between leaders in the church and their sheep. Leaders are to clothe themselves with humility to the people they are shepherding. Why? Because … Continue reading

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Saved with difficulty (I Peter 4)

Peter’s words in verses 17 and 18 really struck me, but particularly verse 18, where he says, And if the righteous person is saved with difficulty, what will become of the ungodly and sinner? The ESV puts it, “…the righteous … Continue reading

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Called to bless (I Peter 3)

There are many good things in this passage, but verse 9, struck me today. Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a … Continue reading

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What are we drinking? (2 Peter 1-2)

“You are what you eat.” Or so the saying goes. In this case, Peter might change that to, “You are what you drink.” I talked in my last blog about living by the gospel. But what kind of things do … Continue reading

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Living by the gospel (2 Timothy 3)

One thing that Paul wanted Timothy to remind the Christians is to live by the gospel. What does that mean? It means that we daily remember the goodness and loving kindness of God toward us. That when we were lost … Continue reading

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Being faithful in what God has called us to do (Acts 6:1-7)

I have been continuing for the past couple of years to translate my original blog posts into Japanese, and am now in Acts. As I translated what I originally wrote, another aspect of this passage struck me. Obviously, the apostles … Continue reading

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Confusing God’s grace with his approval (Numbers 20:2-13)

One thing that God has been reminding me recently is that just because my ministry is blessed, this doesn’t necessarily mean I have his approval. This passage is a perfect example of that. Through Moses, the people of Israel were … Continue reading

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Remember Jesus (2 Timothy 3)

I really love this passage, but two things really stand out to me. …be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. (1) Paul doesn’t say, “Man up. It’s all up to you! So do it!” He says, “Be … Continue reading

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Standing in awe of God (I Timothy 6)

You’ll have to forgive me if I seem to be beating the same drum at times. But this is one drum that I’ve been trying to keep in mind, because if I don’t, I’m likely to forget it. I was … Continue reading

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The God who has been my shepherd all my life (Genesis 48:15)

At our church, we are going through a series on God as our shepherd. I suppose you saw a glimpse of that in yesterday’s blog. Today, I’m meditating on Genesis 48:15. These were Jacob’s words to Joseph at the end … Continue reading

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The 23rd Psalm from the Lord’s perspective

Last Sunday, I heard a message touching on the 23rd Psalm, and it helped me to see the Psalm from God’s perspective. I AM your shepherd; you shall not want. I make you lie down in green pastures. I lead … Continue reading

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Words of grace, seasoned with salt (Colossians 4)

Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt. (6) I don’t know about you, but those words are hard for me to live out. “Always gracious.” When I’m annoyed, are my words still gracious? When I’m angry, are my … Continue reading

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How our awe of God affects our attitudes (Philippians 4)

I did want to write one last thing (for now about our awe of God). It should affect our attitudes. It strikes me that with Euodia and Syntyche that was one thing they were lacking in their spat with one … Continue reading

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Rejoicing in the Lord (Philippians 3)

Recently, I preached a message on standing in awe of God. And so as I have been reading through Philippians, I see that theme everywhere. It struck me as I read chapters 3 and 4, that in rejoicing in the … Continue reading

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The grace of ministry (Philippians 1:7)

When I was reading Philippians 1 this week, it struck me that Paul saw ministry as a grace he received. He said, “you are all partners with me in grace, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation … Continue reading

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Working out your own salvation (Philippians 2)

I was reading John 21 yesterday, and as I read this passage, I was reminded of it. Paul told the Philippians, Therefore, my dear friends, just as you have always obeyed, so now, not only in my presence but even … Continue reading

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Partakers of grace (Philippians 1:7)

I’ve been meditating this morning on Philippians 1, but especially on verse 7.  It is right for me to feel this way about you all, because I hold you in my heart, for you are all partakers with me of … Continue reading

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Spiritual amnesia (Ephesians 1)

It is so easy to forget as Christians. We forget how much God has blessed us. We forget how he chose us before the foundation of the world. We forget the riches of his grace that he has lavished on … Continue reading

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Take pleasure? (2 Corinthians 11-12)

2 Corinthians 12:9 is probably one of the most famous in the Bible. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is perfected in weakness.” I wonder, though, how often we notice Paul’ application … Continue reading

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A little perspective (Isaiah 43)

Isaiah 43 is definitely one of my favorite passages, especially verses 1-3. But today verses 7 and 21 stand out to me. God talks of Israel returning from Babylon, and in describing them, he says, everyone who bears my name … Continue reading

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Who we are pointing to (2 Corinthians 10)

It’s so easy to compare ourselves with others. I do it all the time. We say things like: “I read my Bible every day.” “I pray.” “I fast.” “I tithe.” “I sacrifice for the church.” And then we look at … Continue reading

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For you know… (2 Corinthians 8:9)

For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich. Take some time to meditate on those words. Memorize … Continue reading

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Faithful (Jeremiah 23:28)

I was reading through several chapters of Jeremiah today, but it was this verse that struck me. It’s in the middle of a passage in which God condemns his people’s leaders, particularly the priests and prophets, for not warning the … Continue reading

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My God. My Father. (2 Corinthians 6-7)

It’s been a fun week: I caught the flu on Saturday and only yesterday have started to get back into normal life. Anyway, whenever you look at this kind of passage, particularly 6:16-7:1, it’s easy to focus on the commands: … Continue reading

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A word to think on (2 Corinthians 1:12)

This verse struck me as I read this, and it’s one I’m trying to memorize. Let’s try to do this without looking. For our boast is this, the testimony of our conscience, that we have behaved in the world with … Continue reading

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Approved. Chosen. (Romans 16)

In Paul’s greetings, two things stood out to me today. He says of a man named Apelles: “he is ‘approved in Christ.’” And of a man named Rufus: “he is ‘chosen in the Lord.’” The truth is, both things can … Continue reading

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In honor of the Lord (Romans 14)

As I read this passage, today it was verses 5-9 that strike me. In telling the Romans not to quarrel about things that are not a matter of God’s word, but a matter of conscience, Paul says, One person judges … Continue reading

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Peace (Romans 13)

As we face the new year, Paul’s words strike me. Besides this, since you know the time, it is already the hour for you to wake up from sleep, because now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed. … Continue reading

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True worship (Romans 12)

What is worship? I used to think it was just singing songs. But to Paul, it was so much more. He says, Therefore, brothers and sisters, in view of the mercies of God, I urge you to present your bodies … Continue reading

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The grace on which we stand (Romans 11)

Happy New Year all! I realize I haven’t been blogging much the past couple of weeks because of the winter holidays, but God willing, I should be starting to get back into the swing of things again. It is so … Continue reading

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Under grace (Romans 6)

I was just thinking of Paul’s words in Romans 6:14 and what they mean. For sin will not rule over you, because you are not under the law but under grace. That is not the most easy sentence to understand. … Continue reading

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When Jesus comes again (Revelation 11)

This time of year, Handel’s Messiah is very popular, and of course one of the most famous songs is the Hallelujah Chorus. One of the lines comes directly from this chapter in verse 15. The kingdom of this world has … Continue reading

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To become like him (I Corinthians 15)

There are lots of good stuff in this chapter. I particularly like verses 9-10. But this being the Christmas season, it is verses 48-49 that strike me. In those verses Paul compares the first man Adam with the second man … Continue reading

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