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The Soccer World Cup

24 June, 2018

Kids’ Message – The Soccer World Cup

Who’s been watching the soccer world cup?
What have you seen? Which teams have been winning? Who’s your favourite player?

You know, the Bible talks about the Soccer World Cup. Did you know that? And it says that the winner of the World Cup this time will be Belgium. – Not really, it doesn’t say that. But the Bible does talk about top level sports. Olympic level sports, World Cup level sports and it says that living the Christian life – living a life for God – is a bit like playing top level sport.

There are three ways that playing top level sport and living for God are similar.

  1. Training.

    If you want to do well at sport, if you want to be a good player and win games, then you need to train. Have you ever seen a fat person win a medal at the Olympic Games (maybe except for weightlifting)? No, because you have to train really hard to win and be in great shape.

    In the same way, if you want to live a good life as a Christian, then you need to train yourself. We do this by reading the Bible reading and praying every day (listening to God and talking with Him), meeting other Christians in church, and even sharing our faith with others.

  2. Persevering.

    If you want to do well in sport, you can’t give up. You have to keep trying. It’s the same with living for God. If you want a great life with God, you have to keep walking with Him, even when things get tough. Don’t give up. Never stop trying. Even if things get tough, don’t stop coming to church, don’t stop reading your Bible, don’t stop trusting God.

  3. Following the Rules.

    In sport, if you don’t follow the rules, you’re out. Did you see the clown in the Columbian team who stopped the ball going in the goal with his arm. You can’t do that! It’s against the rules. Red card! Get off! Penalty goal to Japan! Japan wins the game. Columbia loses.

    It’s the same living for God. Follow His rules: Love God, believe in Jesus, walk with the Holy Spirit. God has given us these rules to make our lives better, not worse. If you follow God’s rules, you win. If you break God’s rules, you lose. So live by God’s rules for a great life.

And do you know what happens when you train hard, and persevere/keep trying and follow the rules? You win the prize. When you train yourself to live for God, and you keep working at it, and follow the rules you win the best prize of all: the joy of a life with God.

I keep trying to reach the goal and get the prize. That prize is mine because God called me through Christ to the life above.
Philippians 3:14

ピリピ人への手紙 3:14


Adults’s Message – The Soccer World Cup

Many of us would have been watching the Soccer World Cup this week. I’m not much a of a soccer fan but I love watching the games in the world cup. Most of them are so exciting, and there’s so much passion from the crowd, too. I love watching it all.

As I watch the World Cup, as I watch the games and observe the athletes who compete in them, I’ve come to see them as a reflection of life itself – the life that we all live in one way or another. In the World Cup we see on the faces of the athletes the same emotions that we all experience throughout life: joy, dejection, amazement, disbelief, horror, disappointment, sadness, elation, rejection, suspense, thrill, shock, anguish, confusion and fun.

Now, amidst all the experiences in our lives and the emotions which comes from them, the big question is how can we be happy? How can we go through all the ups and downs of life and still live happy lives?

I was watching a TED talk the other day by Shawn Achor. Shawn is “an American happiness researcher, author, and speaker known for his advocacy of positive psychology. He authored The Happiness Advantage and founded GoodThink, Inc.” (Wikipedia)
私は、先日ショーン エイカーによるTEDトークをみていました。ショーンは 「アメリカの幸福研究者であり、著者、肯定的な心理学の支持、援護する講演者」と紹介されています。Wikipediaによると、彼は「The Happiness Advantage」という本を執筆し、GoodThink という会社を設立したとWikipediaには記載されています。

There were two extraordinary things I learned from listening to Shawn about happiness and living a happy life. The first is that after eight years of extensive research at Harvard and ongoing work after that, his research showed that only 10% of our happiness is the result of external circumstances, and 90% of our happiness is the result of our internal processing of those circumstances. Only 10% of our happiness is external; 90% is internal.
私は、ショーンの幸福と幸せな人生についての話の中で、2つの素晴らしいことを学びました。1つは、ハーバード大学での8年間にわたる広い範囲の研究と長い年月の研究の末、彼の研究の結果によると、幸福のわずか10%は外的状況の結果であり、幸福の大半、90%は内部処理の結果、つまり人間の心の中での感じ方であるというものでした。私たちの幸せのわずか10%は外部からの影響によるもので、 90%は自分の内部、心からくるものだということでした。

The second extraordinary thing I realised from this research is that it is exactly what the Bible has been saying for over 2000 years. The results of Shawn’s research are right. But they are also, to some degree, superficial. Shawn has taken these results and developed a school of positive psychology. And I think positive psychology will help many people cope, to a certain degree, with their environment and their emotions.

  • But it can’t come close to bringing people the true joy that only a relationship with God can bring.
  • It can’t come close to bringing people the true peace that only forgiveness from God can bring.
  • It can’t come close to bringing people the true love that only an intimate knowledge of God can bring.

The Bible has lots to say about happiness and circumstances.

Our faith is greater than anything the world can throw at us.

You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.
1 John 4:4

ヨハネの手紙Ⅰ 4:4

Our joy stands regardless of our circumstances not just because of a positive attitude but because we know God and we know His plan for our lives:.

Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, 9 for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
1 Peter 1:8,9

あなたがたは、イエス・キリストを見たことがないのに愛しており、いま見ていないのに信じています。そして、天からの、ことばに表せない栄光に満ちた喜びに浸っているのです。 9 これは信仰の結果である、たましいの救いを得ているからです。
ペテロの手紙Ⅰ 1:8-9

Happy are those who live pure lives, who follow the Lord’s teachings. Happy are those who keep his rules, who try to obey him with their whole heart. They don’t do what is wrong; they follow his ways.
Psalm 119:1-3

主のおきてを完全に守る人は幸いです。 主を探し求め、常にそのご意志に従う人は幸いです。 そのような人は、悪と妥協することなく、 主の道をひたすら歩みます。
詩篇 119:1-3

This has nothing to do with a positive spin on a bad (or even an ordinary) life. This is the joy that comes from living a godly life, regardless of what we have experienced in the past, regardless of our current struggles, and regardless of any uncertainties in the future. Those who follow God’s teachings live happy lives.

This is not to ignore or leave unaddressed the hardships in our lives. This week we experienced a terrible earthquake. We thank God that no-one in our church family was injured, although there was a lot damage and mess to clean up.

But we remain hopeful even in the face of a terrible earthquake and joyful even in the face of hardship because we know God and He HImself is with us. We know His love for us and we know His plan for our lives.

The reason for our joy goes deep. The Bible tells us about earthquakes. In the end times, we are taught, there will be earthquakes, famines, wars and so on – we see all this now. We are in the end times. So when we see and experience earthquakes, we should see them not merely as a terrible happening – it is a terrible happening – but as more than that. We are witnessing Biblical prophecy fulfilled. We are reminded that God told us well in advance of this. Everything comes under God’s Sovereign plan. We rejoice in knowing that even amidst terrible happenings, God is still in control. And we are God’s.

We’ve seen this countless times throughout history.

  • When the Israelites were trapped between the Red Sea and the pursuing Egyptian army, it looked hopeless. But God had a bigger plan than the circumstances would suggest.
  • When the Israelites fought the Philistines and a giant called Goliath, it looked hopeless. But God had a bigger plan than the circumstances would suggest.
  • When Jesus was hung on a cross and killed there, it looked hopeless. But God had a bigger plan than the circumstances would suggest.
  • When we experience an earthquake or sickness or financial hardship or relationship stress or loneliness or disappointment or moral failure, it can look hopeless. But God has a bigger plan than the circumstances would suggest.

This is not ‘positive thinking’. It’s a knowledge of the truth of Jesus Christ, and we rejoice in the truth because the truth sets us free! And that, is the crux of the matter: as Christians, we find ultimate happiness in the freedom that we find in Christ. Freedom from sin, and freedom to enjoy a relationship with God and the happiness that that brings.

The secret to our happiness is not in a building. It’s not in the college we enter, the vocation we find, or the success we achieve. It’s not in getting a raise at work. It’s not even in finding love (although that can be a big contributor and a wonderful gift of God that we delight in), and it’s not in simply having a positive outlook on life.

The secret to our happiness is knowing God, walking with Him every day, and delighting in His Word and His ways.

King David, who as king could have just about anything he wanted, wrote:

One thing I ask from the Lord, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple.
Psalm 27:4

私が神にお願いすることは、ただ一つです。 私の求めてやまないものとは、 主の宮で黙想にふけり、 いのちある限り主の前で暮らすこと、 比べようもない、主の麗しさと完全と栄光とを 喜ぶ特権です。

Now there’s a positive outlook on life!

The apostle Paul, who possibly suffered more than any other Christian in history, wrote:

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: “For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 8:35-39

では、いったいだれが、私たちをキリストの愛から引き離すことができるのでしょうか。災難や苦しみ、迫害ですか。飢えや貧乏、あるいは危険や剣ですか。 聖書にこう書いてあるとおりです。 「神のためには、いつでも死ねる心がまえでいなければならない。私たちは殺されるのを待つ羊のようだ。」(詩篇44・22)しかし、こうした中にあっても私たちは、いのちを投げ出してまで私たちを愛してくださったキリストによって、圧倒的な罪からの勝利を得るのです。 神の愛から私たちを引き離すことができるものは何一つない、と確信しています。死もいのちも、そんなことはできません。天使にもできません。地獄の全勢力が結集しても、神の愛から私たちを遠ざけることはできません。恐れも、不安も同様です。 あるいは、私たちが空高くのぼっても、海の底深くもぐっても、どこにいようと、神の愛から私たちを引き離すことはできません。
ローマ人への手紙 8:35-39

Let’s give thanks for the happiness that is available to us in Christ.


(If you are in Christ, and the joy that I’ve been talking about, for some reason, seems far from you, let’s talk and pray together after the service, you and I, and we’ll see the joy of Christ released in your life.
If you are not yet in Christ but would like to experience the joy of knowing God, let’s talk and pray together after the service, you and I, and we’ll see the joy of Christ released in your life.)