Happy New Year!
Today I’d like to share with you my vision for this year. By ‘vision’, I mean the growth and the
means of achieving this growth that I would like to see for us as individuals and as a church
body. 2013 was a wonderful year for our church. I hope and pray that 2014 will be such a big
year for growth in our church that it will make last year’s growth seem like baby steps.
When I talk about growth, I’m talking about growth in numbers . That’s important. We want
to see more and more people coming to Christ and being committed to His body here in the
church. But I’m also talking about growth in maturity , we want to see growth in knowledge ,
growth in faith , growth in purity , growth in unity , growth in prayer habits .
3 Areas for growth 成長の３つの分野
1. Personal Devotionals 個人のディボーション
Here’s where it starts.
Jude 20 “Build yourselves up in your most holy faith and pray in the Holy Spirit”. This is our
duty and our joy.
Many other verses give similar exhortations:
Matthew 6:33 “Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given
to you as well.” This is a command with a blessing!
Colossians 3:16 “Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and
admonish one another with all wisdom.”
Make time every day to “go into your room and close the door and pray to your Father in
heaven” (Mat 6:6) , to seek God with all your heart, to listen to Him as He speaks through His
Word, to rejoice in Him as He imparts His Holy Spirit to you.
This is the difference between religion and faith.
Christian author Andrew Murray:
Little of the word with little prayer is death to the spiritual life.
Much of the word with little prayer gives a sickly life.
Much prayer with little of the word gives more life, but without steadfastness.
A full measure of the word and prayer each day gives a healthy and powerful life.
2. Small groups 小グループ
One of the best things about our church growth last year was the springing up of small groups.
Rick Warren says that if you’re not in a small group, then you’re not protected. When you are
committed to a small group, you have the protection of extra prayer covering (“where 2 or 3
are gathered”) and the support of people who really care.
This year, I want to see everybody participating [should participate] in at least one small
group. That’s where a lot of the growth happens. That’s where a lot of ministry takes place.
And that’s where a lot of the joy is.
3. Sunday sermons 日曜日の説教
I’d like to give a quick overview of some of the things I’d like to cover in sermons for this year:
i. Continue with our ‘Walk through the Bible’聖書を読み通す – overview of one book a month.
ii. A new series based on Proverbs 6:16-19 and Galatians 5:19-21 looking at what is
commonly known as “The 7 Deadly Sins” .７つの大罪 The reason for this is firstly so that we
can more easily identify core sinful aspects of our own lives and turn from them. The second –
more importantly – is that each of these sins has a blessing counterpart (that is, each of these
sins is a perversion of something good) and focussing on the blessings and exercising them in
our lives brings the growth that I was speaking about earlier.
iii. The third sermon series is one based on Rick Warren’s series “How to get through what
you’re going through”.今のつらい経験をどうやって乗り切るか
One of the saddest things for me is Christians who are unprepared for hardship (mainly
because of a lack of personal devotion time and time in small groups). Whether through
persecution, or financial hardship, or confusion or doubt or sickness or loss or death, we will
certainly at some point in our lives be confronted with hardship and we need to be ready for it
so that when it comes we can stand strong because we have “built ourselves up in our most
holy faith and been praying in the Holy Spirit”. (Jude 20)
We need to be already wearing the armor of God. If you don’t start to put on the armor of
God until after the attack begins, you’re going to get hurt! We need to be ready. I hope this
sermon series will help us to be ready.
There are many more means of growth – worship and prayer, for example – but this morning I
will limit things to these three (personal devotions, small groups and sermons).
That is what I would like us to be working on this year.
Now, this morning, I would like to share with you 2 short but very exciting passages of
scripture – one that is of a corporate nature, related to our vision/what lies ahead for our
church this year, – the other of a more personal nature.
The first text, of a more personal/individual nature, is from Philippians 4:4-8
4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be evident to
all. The Lord is near. 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and
petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which
transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever
is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—
think about such things. 9 Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen
in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.
This is really a list of 7 exhortations and encouragements about how we are to live our lives
and I thought this was really excellent to share at the start of the year. I’m going to refer to
this passage from time to time throughout the year so that we can retain a focus on it.
i. Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! In (but not for) all circumstances.
ii. Let your gentleness be evident to all. A fruit of the Spirit. Not to be confused with timidity.
iii. The Lord is near. Based on faith, not feeling. A truth to cling to.
iv. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with
thanksgiving, present your requests to God. Anxiety and prayer are opposing forces.
Thanksgiving is the antidote to anxiety.
v. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your
minds in Christ Jesus.
vi. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right,
whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or
praiseworthy—think about such things. We should train our minds toward these things and
away from those things which are ungodly.
vii. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into
practice. And the God of peace will be with you. For us, this means putting into practice what
we read in the Word.
The second ‘corporate text might appear at first to be a rather obscure one but it is wonderful
and I really want to share it with you.
This passage talks about a river that flows out from the temple , out from the presence of God.
It begins as a trickle, then becomes a creek “ankle deep”, then a stream “knee deep”, then a
torrent “waist deep” and finally a river so deep and mighty that no-one can cross it.
This water from the temple is the living water of the Holy Spirit. It begins to flow in a land
that is so dry and so salty that it was never thought that it could ever contain or sustain life.
Yet as it flows it brings life to all the living creatures of the sea, to all the plant life and trees
along the banks. It becomes the source of all life in an area that was once dead.
In the same way, the living water of the Holy Spirit is beginning to flow and I believe will
continue to flow in our church and in our area in Minoh and in the nation of Japan. Last year
we enjoyed some of this living water – the Holy Spirit flowing from God – and we saw salvation,
and devotion and growth. 同じように、聖霊の生ける水は私たちの教会に、箕面の地域に、
But this was just a trickle. This year, let’s pray and seek for a creek to flow ‘ankle deep’ so
that we can’t walk anywhere without feeling the presence of the Holy Spirit and seeing the new
life that Jesus brings.
And the following year, we will pray for and seek for the Holy Spirit to gush like a stream, then
in the years beyond that, to see the Holy Spirit flow as a torrent and then a mighty river
bringing new life beyond our immediate spheres of influence, beyond our wildest dreams.
How can we ask and seek for such a mighty thing?
Jesus said, “Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from
within them.” John 7:38
The promise has already been given. Last year, we began to see this. I believe this year, if we
are faithful in “Seeking first his kingdom and his righteousness, then all these things will be
given to us as well.” 私たちが“神の国とその義とをまず第一に求めることに忠実であるなら、