Peace; September 11, 2021

John 16:33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

I thought I would be able to write on a different verse from this section, but this verse is too powerful a magnet for my soul! I have quoted it countless times, in messages, counseling, and conversations with both believers and nonbelievers. It is still apropos today! The world is more than full of things that steal our peace, and it has been that way ever since Adam and Eve sinned in the garden. Most people spend their lives searching for peace, and many never find it at all. We try to anesthetize ourselves with various things, creating a temporary, false “peace,” but true inner peace comes only through Jesus Christ. There is a worship song, He Is Our Peace, (that is actually better in the Japanese translation) based on Ephesians 2:14, that sings about this. Paul also famously wrote to the Philippians, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7) As Jesus says so clearly in the second half of this verse, trouble, which triggers anxiety, is part of the human condition. However, if we are anchored in Him, who has already won the victory, we can have peace and boldness regardless of our circumstances.

Any more, a “news feed” is more like an “anxiety feed.” Today is the 20th anniversary of the largest terrorist attack in history, and the events of the past few months have certainly not engendered any sort of peace, either. I find that I skim over much of the news that comes in, because if I dwell on it it’s too depressing. The saddest thing is that it’s people doing things to people, totally blinded and deceived by the devil. And the minute someone points that out, someone else will say, “What makes you so certain you’re right?” There is an all-out assault on truth itself, to the point that even basic biology is denied, and that makes for lots of “trouble.” I am not to ignore the junk, but neither am I to focus on it. My focus must be on Jesus Christ my Lord, because only in Him can I have the peace, and the victory, that I desire. I have no idea what all I will have to go through in this world, but that is ultimately of no consequence. As again Paul wrote, “For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.” (2 Corinthians 4:17)

Father, thank You for this very timely reminder. Even passages that are deeply ingrained in me can bring fresh blessing! I do pray for the many who are commemorating the World Trade Center attack, and I pray that Your kingdom, that is, Your rule and reign, would be established on this earth as Your will is done, by Your children first and by all of creation, for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!

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In Jesus’ Name; September 10, 2021

John 16:24 “Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.”

This verse (along with a few others) is the theological foundation for the almost universal practice of tacking “In Jesus’ name, amen” onto just about any prayer. However, in the majority of cases it has become strictly rote, with no thought or understanding to it, and as such becomes essentially meaningless. It’s kind of like typing a complex computer password and forgetting to capitalize some of the letters. It’s all there, but it doesn’t work. Asking in Jesus’ name isn’t complex, but it isn’t automatic and it isn’t necessarily easy, even. A good example is when Peter and John encountered the man begging at the Beautiful Gate of the temple in Jerusalem. Peter famously healed him by saying, “In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.” (Acts 3:6) He was able to do that because he was operating in the Spirit of Jesus. There have been many examples just as dramatic as that down through the centuries, and they haven’t always included the specific words, “In Jesus’ name.” Using the words as window dressing doesn’t cut it. There are countless prayers that use those words but essentially have nothing to do with Jesus! We need to line our hearts and our words up with the heart and Spirit of Jesus to use His name effectively.

I of course was raised with the practice of adding “In Jesus’ name, amen,” to my prayers, and despite my parents’ generally excellent faith and understanding of the Bible, didn’t receive particularly good teaching on the subject. As I have commented before, prayer was as natural as breathing in our house, but I wasn’t taught about it. In the many years since, I have learned a lot about prayer both from various teachers and especially from doing it. I’m personally a fan of what is called “conversational prayer,” that sounds to an observer like you’re simply talking to someone who doesn’t happen to be in eyesight. In such cases, “In Jesus’ name” rarely enters the picture. When I am praying out loud in a group setting I often say, “In the name of our Lord, Jesus Christ.” Praying in Jesus’ name definitely requires submission to His Lordship! I find that is the key thing I need to be careful about in my praying, so I don’t go tacking His name onto a casual or fleshly wish-list. That said, Jesus explicitly told us to ask so that our joy would be complete. It is indeed a gloriously joyful thing to experience answered prayer! As I am trying to teach the believers here, growth in prayer comes most of all through praying, not through “dotting the ‘i’s and crossing the ‘t’s. It is very appropriate that we combine two Scriptures in one song we sing frequently: “Seek ye first the kingdom of God” and “Ask and it shall be given unto you.” Asking doesn’t do a whole lot of good if we aren’t seeking God’s kingdom and His righteousness.

Well, Father, the message You’ve given me for Sunday isn’t on prayer, but here You’ve given me another one that is! Thank You. I do pray that I would be effective in raising up a body of believers who truly know You and talk with You and praise You and serve You as You desire, for the sake of Your kingdom and for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!

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Legacy; September 9, 2021

John 15:5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”

It struck me as I read this morning that the Upper Room Discourse was all about Jesus’ legacy. He knew that He was about to be crucified and buried, and He wanted to do all He could to establish His closest disciples so they could carry on in His absence. In that urgency He almost talks in circles, coming back to the same themes again and again. It gives us insight into Jesus and what He considered important, because you could call it a condensation of all He had tried to teach them for three and a half years. It seems to me His themes were love and fruit and endurance, all empowered by the Holy Spirit. This verse relates most directly to fruit and endurance, but it also hints at love, and is of course impossible without the work of the Spirit. I find I quote the last part of this verse fairly often, either in talking with people or simply to myself. I have certainly found that I can do nothing of any real value apart from Christ! Fruit and legacy are in a sense two words for the same thing. That’s why in verse 16 He talks about “lasting fruit.” Frankly, material things don’t last. It is our investment in people, drawing them into eternal life, that lasts. Only the spiritual is eternal. Materially speaking we like to “leave an inheritance” for our descendants, but material things are ultimately ephemeral, and only the values of love, honesty, and discipleship to our Lord remain. When we manage to pass those on, we have a legacy indeed.

I go through periodic bouts of being concerned about my legacy, so it is in a way comforting to see that Jesus was concerned for His. Whether my name is remembered is ultimately of no importance, but whether people are inspired to walk in fellowship with their Creator is everything. I have long felt that one of the most interesting things about heaven will be discovering what my influence has been over the course of my life. There is literally no way we can understand it all before then. Several years ago I was at the funeral of a close family friend, and the pastor conducting it thanked me for something I had said to him years previous that had made a massive difference in his life and ministry. I frankly didn’t remember even talking to him before! Little things like that are a big comfort to me when I start thinking about my legacy. A missionary friend, now retired and in his late 80s, is currently working on a project that I’m sure he sees as his legacy. It would be nice if that works out, but at the same time I work regularly with someone he nurtured and discipled, and that legacy is strong and secure. My focus needs to be on fellowship with and obedience to my Lord, because if I will do that, I will indeed bear lasting fruit.

Father, thank You for this reminder. Coupled with the message You’ve given me for Sunday, it makes me wonder if my time here is shorter than I think! However, that’s not a matter for any concern whatsoever. As You’ve had me saying for many years, I’m to plan to live to a hundred, at least, but live so that any day is OK. Help me indeed abide in Christ so that I will bear the fruit that You desire, on Your schedule and for Your glory alone. Thank You. Hallelujah!

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Greater Things; September 8, 2021

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.”

The Upper Room Discourse (John 13-17) is so rich you could spend a lifetime meditating on it. There is so much content that we tend to tune it out, because we can’t absorb it all. This verse is one that has challenged countless people for the past 2000 years and it still challenges us today. The “variable,” if you will, in this verse would seem to be our faith. When we look at what we have done and look at what Jesus did, we are forced to concede that our faith is pretty small. It comes down to our definition of “greater.” The Japanese says “bigger,” and from that standpoint we can think of various people throughout Church history who have had bigger numbers at some things than Jesus did in His earthly ministry. Billy Graham, for example, spoke to bigger crowds than Jesus did and brought more people to repentance and faith for salvation. That is in no way to suggest that he was greater than Jesus, just that his numbers were bigger. At the same time, if we get hung up on numbers we miss out on a great deal of what Jesus was all about. I think the point is to trust Jesus more and more and be available for Him to do through us whatever He wants to do. A few years ago the idea of “What would Jesus do,” abbreviated as WWJD, was quite the fad. Such fads, with bracelets, hats, and things like that are of minor lasting impact, but the concept of being God’s agent in the same way Jesus was is something we need to work into our spirits. There will never be, nor could there ever be, another Savior; we must never be deceived about that. But if we look at ourselves instead of at Jesus, we limit our activities to what we think we can do, instead of trusting Him to do whatever He wants to do through us. I think that’s what having faith in Jesus is all about.

This certainly applies to me! I have come back to this verse many times over the years, and it always impresses me with how much room I have to grow. I have been blessed with more abilities than many, but in a way that’s dangerous, because I am more tempted to depend on myself. I learned a long time back that I can’t save anyone, even myself, but God can and does save people through me. The more I depend on myself, the poorer the results. That should never be an excuse to be irresponsible or lazy; faithfulness is always called for. As Paul said, “But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them – yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me.” (1 Corinthians 15:10) When I turn 73 next week, I have a lot of examples in my own life to look back on. I am amazed at some of the things God has done through me, and I am also saddened at some of the ways I have failed to follow through on what He was saying to me. I have no idea how much longer He will keep me here, but I do know that it is never too late to be used by Him. I must not demand to be used, but I must also not draw back from anything He leads me into.

Father, thank You for this reminder. Thank You for the richness of Your Word. Help me indeed let it dwell in me richly, (Colossians 3:16) producing the fruit that You desire and intend, for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!

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Death; September 7, 2021

John 11:25-26 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?”

I have used this passage at every funeral of a believer I have ever conducted, and I think rightly so. The question that Jesus asks here is of vital importance. If you believe what Jesus said, then death loses its power over you. As it says so clearly in Hebrews, Jesus came to “free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.” (Hebrews 2:15) Many young people fail to grasp emotionally that their bodies aren’t eternal, and so are foolhardy and irresponsible, but even the most brash can fall into complete panic when it looks like they are done for. Jesus’ words express something we often fail to recognize: we aren’t physical beings who happen to have spirits, we are spiritual beings who inhabit bodies. We are accountable for what we do with our bodies in all areas, both in activity and maintenance. As they say with cars, “mileage may vary.” One striking thing about the current pandemic is that the prime “comorbidity” leading to a bad outcome is obesity, which is our personal responsibility. All sorts of things can contribute, but it boils down to the activity of the individual. That aside, every one of us has a “limited shelf life,” and the sooner and better we grasp that, the more productive, and really happier, we will be. Our bodies wearing out is ultimately of no more concern than our shoes wearing out, and they are subject to “recall by the manufacturer” at any time. When we are secure in our faith, in our relationship with our Creator, then death has no hold over us. The process might be scary, or even highly unpleasant, but death itself is a non-issue.

Raised in a home that was steeped in faith, this has been my understanding for about as long as I can remember. That doesn’t mean I’ve always been the best steward of my body! In college on one occasion I was actively seeking to leave my body behind, when the Lord told me clearly, “Don’t do that.” The odd thing is, even after that experience I didn’t immediately shift into a lifestyle of actively seeking and following the Lord. At this point, my only concern about my physical death is those I will leave behind. As though I could save them by my own strength anyway! God can be trusted with me, and He can be trusted with everyone else. I’m certainly not to slough off my responsibilities toward those around me, nor my responsibility to maintain this body, but when God says, “That’s enough,” then I have nothing to complain about. The thing is, very few people around me have that level of peace, and I have the opportunity to share God’s truth with them. I must not let that opportunity slip by! I have already outlived both of my parents, and I want to make the best use of this body while I have it, even while I look forward eagerly to the “new improved model” I will be receiving.

Father, thank You for this reminder. You keep reminding me of the depth and breadth of Your grace toward me. Thank You! Help me be a good son, a faithful servant indeed, so that all of Your purposes for me may be fulfilled on Your schedule for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!

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The Humanity of Jesus; September 6, 2021

Luke 22:43-44 An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.

We sometimes forget Jesus’ humanity. He was fully God, but He was also fully man, and leaving either side of that out gives us a distorted understanding of Him. He had just prayed his famous prayer of total submission to the Father, which we not unreasonably feel we could never do, thus demonstrating His divinity, but His humanity was stressed to the extreme. Why would the Son of God need an angel to strengthen Him? After all, He created the angels! We are back to the incredible truth that on this earth, Jesus operated only in what is available to all believers. His power, in healing and deliverance and knowledge and everything else, was that of the Holy Spirit, who had rested on and in Him from the point of His baptism. (John 1:32) At this point of extreme stress, He needed help just like we would. A physical expression of this was the rare medical phenomenon of capillaries in His skin rupturing from the stress, causing blood to mix with His sweat. As a doctor, Luke was particularly interested in this, since it has only been documented a few times. We tend to think of Jesus’ suffering for us as being on the cross, but it started well before that, simply culminating on the cross. We think we’re under a lot of stress, but it certainly doesn’t beat what Jesus went through for us! And again, He went through it as fully human, not blocking it out because He was God. The better we understand this, the more we are aware of the magnitude of His love for us that would motivate Him to go through it all. That in turn should inspire us to love Him more, operating in full devotion and obedience.

I need to remember this as much as anyone does. Like everyone, I think, I get hung up on my own humanity and consider it an excuse for all sorts of things. It may be a reason, but it’s not an excuse! I need to remember at all times that though I can’t get through stuff on my own, by my own wisdom, willpower or whatever, I can indeed “do everything through him who gives me strength.” (Philippians 4:13) The miracle of Jesus’ incarnation, being conceived as a very real, very human baby in Mary’s womb, is something I too need to meditate on more. God, who loved me so much as to do that, is free to do whatever He likes with me, because nothing I could do could ever repay that debt to Him. It’s exactly as the little chorus says: “All that I have, all that I am, all I will ever be cannot repay this love-debt I owe. I surrender to Thee.”

Father, thank You for this reminder. Thank You for all You did yesterday. I was really blown out of the water to get a phone call from a friend in the US who had just watched the Facebook Live broadcast of our service. As I wrote him later, it truly blesses me to be an instrument of blessing to others. Help me be so yielded to You at all times that I am fully available for however You want to use me, for the sake of the Body of Christ and for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!

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Authority; September 5, 2021

Luke 22:25-26 Jesus said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who exercise authority over them call themselves Benefactors. But you are not to be like that. Instead, the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves.”

Human nature hasn’t changed since creation, so despite all the external, technological and social changes, the Bible is still perfectly relevant to us today. The first half of this sounds exactly like the politicians we see in the news every day. America, being the first country explicitly founded on Biblical principles, refers to those in authority as “public servants,” but those who genuinely think of themselves that way seem to be a pretty rare breed. The current pandemic has really brought that out, with so many of the “elite” promulgating rules simply for the sake of exercising authority and displaying their motives by the way they ignore the very rules they make. They demand we “follow the science,” all the while ignoring or actively squashing genuine science, punishing those who question the experimental “vaccines” and denying or actively forbidding inexpensive treatments that have been shown to be remarkably effective. We can’t change other people, but we can watch our own heart and stand up for the truth. In current society, particularly in tech circles, youth rules, so Jesus’ words about “act like the youngest” might not click, but in those days, the younger you were the less authority you had, period. All other things being equal, seniority always came out on top. Jesus isn’t telling us to abdicate authority we have been given, but He is telling us not to stand on our authority and wave it around. It is easy to see that society around us is very “Gentile,” even if those in it happen to be Jewish! The Japanese term for “Gentile,” which actually captures the original meaning, is “people without the Law,” in other words, outside of God’s covenant. That’s why the first verse of this passage is so accurately descriptive of society as we experience it. The thing is, those who are God’s children by faith are not to be that way. We are always to take Jesus as our role model and live to serve, serving both God and our neighbor in love.

This applies as much to me as it does to anyone, and I must never forget it. Japanese society still has a lot of respect for age, and the fact that I turn 73 in a week and a half gives me a fair amount of clout. I must never misuse that, just as Jesus instructs us here, but act as though I were the youngest on the team. The Lord has indeed taught me a lot over the years, but I have ignored more than I have absorbed, and I must always be ready to learn from any source. The Lord has given me a message on “Listening Prayer” for this morning, and I had better practice it myself! I have always had a very ambivalent relationship with authority, particularly my own. At times I have acted like a petty tyrant, and at times I have been bad to the congregation by failing to exercise the authority with which I have been entrusted. I’ve still got a lot to learn! That awareness should help me “act like the youngest,” as Jesus instructs us.

Father, thank You for this reminder. It’s easy to get all incensed over the behavior of others and fail to recognize how much I am like them. Help me walk in both humility and assurance, acting as Your agent as You intend, but never thinking I’m anything on my own, so that Your will may be accomplished in Your way for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!

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Last Days; September 4, 2021

Luke 21:36 “Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man.”

The world is unquestionably a mess, so the question becomes, as Francis Schaeffer wrote in 1976, “How should we then live?” Jesus gives us the answer here, but it is the responsibility of each believer to seek the Lord for the details in their own life. Ever since Jesus spoke these words almost 2000 years ago, each generation has faced their own challenges, leading believers to feel that indeed they were in the Last Days. Obviously the end hasn’t come yet, but some of the things Jesus specified, such as the Gospel of the kingdom being preached in the whole world, (Matthew 24:14) seem much closer to being fulfilled today than they have ever been. Some of the things look like they were fulfilled with the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans in AD 70, but John probably hadn’t even written his Gospel at that point. Timelines are always problematical, and getting obsessed with them distracts from what Jesus tells us to do in this verse. Each of us needs to remember that our own personal “appointment with destiny” isn’t very far off. We are to be on our guard against the many devious and diabolically clever tricks of the enemy, but at the same time not rely on our own strength but on God. Jesus’ kid brother Jude put it beautifully: “To him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy – to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen.” (Jude 1:24-25) Jude was obviously writing in a time of considerable turmoil and trouble, but he knew his brother who had become his Lord, and that was enough. We need to be the same way, on our guard but at peace at the same time.

The subject of “Last Days” and how so many people seem oblivious to the “signs of the times” came up last night at dinner with missionary friends. They have lots of young children at home still, so their emotional perspective is different from Cathy’s and mine, but they were in agreement that nothing can stop God’s clock. As I commented to a missionary friend from Hong Kong two days ago, I’ve learned the hard way that human effort on its own accomplishes nothing good, but God does use such weak, flawed instruments as we are to accomplish His will. My task isn’t to be great, it’s to be obedient. I personally would like to see such things as the moon and Mars colonies that are being discussed and looking increasingly possible, but that sort of thing is totally unimportant compared to the eternal destiny of human souls. I am to seek God’s kingdom and His righteousness, drawing as many people along with me as will come, so that whatever happens, and whenever it happens, we may indeed be able to stand before the Son of Man with great joy, when that moment comes.

Father, thank You for this reminder. Such reminders seem to be increasingly frequent! Help me be anxious for nothing but trust You in everything, allowing You to use me however You choose, for Your glory alone. Thank You. Praise God!

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Childlike Faith; September 3, 2021

Luke 18:17 “I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.”

This is a famous statement by Jesus, but the question arises, how does a child receive things? The thing that stands out to me is that there is no pretension, and there is no thought of “worthiness.” If they want it, they receive it, and their delight can be a wonder to see. We “adults” put on so many airs! We want to earn things, to be able to say we got them by our own effort, when the kingdom of God cannot be attained that way. In some ways we rebel against Paul’s famous statement that salvation occurs by grace through faith. (Ephesians 2:18) Where’s the pride in that? As Paul explicitly says in the very next verse, there can be no “pride of achievement” in salvation. A little child has no real “pride of achievement.” Actually, they have no pride at all! If they are secure in their parents’ love, and they should be, then if they want something, they want it, period. We should be that way about God’s kingdom and His righteousness, as Jesus so famously told us. (Matthew 6:33) We aren’t to be passive and self-centered about it all, as Paul went on to explain. (Ephesians 2:20) We should apply all that God gives us, to do that for which He gave it to us, but worries about whether we can do that shouldn’t keep us from receiving in the first place. That’s another thing about a little child: they don’t worry. As they grow they do have to learn that things don’t always turn out the way they want them to, but unless they have been abused, anxiety is far from the heart of a little child. Anxiety is directly counter to faith, Our attitude should be, “If Daddy wants to give it to me, then it’s good, and I want it.” We need to remember another thing Jesus said: “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom.” (Luke 12:32)

This is a struggle even I have. I get all wrapped up in “adulting” and fail to receive from my Father in childlike wonder. I have had problems with pride most of my life, and as I’ve said, pride has no part in receiving the kingdom of God. By His grace He has shown me that I am in no way “worthy,” but that He has provided eternal salvation for me anyway. There is every reason for gratitude to be the overwhelming theme of my life. I am grateful, but I still allow myself to be sidetracked by all sorts of things that are ultimately of no significance at all. As Paul so beautifully said, “For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.” (2 Corinthians 4:17) Rather than get wrapped up in the frustration of the moment, I need to be looking forward in childlike anticipation of the next good thing my Daddy has for me.

Father, thank You for this reminder. Thank You for the beautiful dream You gave me this morning of a congregation singing I Surrender All in acapella harmony. May I indeed surrender all to You, knowing that what You have for me is far greater and more wonderful than anything I can imagine. Thank You. Hallelujah!

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Those in Authority; September 2, 2021

Luke 18:2 He said: “In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared about men.”

This verse is a minor detail in this story, but my sermon on August 15th was based on verse 1, so that part is in a sense a little too fresh in my awareness. This verse, with which Jesus starts out his parable, expresses a sad reality that is as true today as it was back then: not all judges are worthy of the trust and authority they are given. Legally speaking, a judge needs to be very familiar with the law and well able to apply it to the cases that come before him (or her), but sadly, the character traits that we would desire in such people are all too often overlooked. Appointments to the bench are very often political. If you agree with those politics you might not even notice, but you certainly notice when the one doing the appointing is your political enemy. I’m sure this happens in every country, but I’m only familiar with Japan and America, and the issue has been far more publicized in the US. Jesus is here specifying the character of this judge, and the way the Japanese expresses it is striking: “He didn’t think of people as people.” There are certainly people in all sorts of positions of authority who are that way, and it is sad indeed. A judge needs to be objective, not swayed by emotion, but there is the temptation for those in “superior” positions to look down on everyone else, eventually denying their humanity. That is tragic, and it is being demonstrated right now in the attitudes and actions of some US politicians and military brass in relation to the situation in Afghanistan. I won’t go into some of the details I have heard, but it is tragic indeed. In other countries it might be different, but in America the politicians and the military work for the people, and not the other way around. The temptation to anger is very strong, but this parable explicitly points out that God is not corrupt, and He’s still on His throne. He looks at each person as a person, far better than we do. This is why we are to pray that His name would be acknowledged as holy and His reign be manifested in the earth, causing His will to be done as perfectly here as it is before His throne.

This is something I have run into in Japan as well, when the mayor of Omura, who happened to be a Christian, was framed for “accepting bribes” because he wouldn’t go along with the “swamp,” and the governor targeted him. I was only in the courtroom for the closing arguments, but I was absolutely floored when the guilty verdict came down. (It wasn’t a jury trial.) The sentence was suspended, but the mayor was removed from office. Interestingly, once the statute of limitations had passed, he was elected for two more terms, and died in office. Right now, the situation in the US has me torn between anger and grief. All I can do is pray, knowing that “The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.” (James 5:16) I know I have no power on my own, but I also know that I can talk with the One who has all power, and I need to do that with persistence, just as Jesus was teaching in this parable.

Father, thank You for this reminder, particularly after I watched that very upsetting video yesterday. I pray that all those in the “chain of command” would fear You, and “see people as people,” so that the unjust plans of the enemy may be thwarted and Your plans fulfilled, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!

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