[ec23] Pureppu Devotion ② Bread is needed for the traveler.

Last time, I shared a message from the Book of Jonah, “God, too, has concerned.”

Just as Jonah regretted and lamented when the gourd withered, we too, when we lose something, realize how precious it was and mourn. However, the purpose of that experience was for us to understand that God also regrets for the people of Nineveh and the souls of the Japanese, to the point that God is distressed by the reality that those returning to Japan may drift away from the church. God wants us to stand in that gap.

That was the message from the last time. Indeed, God is inviting us to serve for the sake of those departing for Japan. Now that we understand this, the question arises: What can we do?

…What can we do? …Many believers who have encountered the Gospel, known Jesus, and received faith in the love of the cross, which is not present in Japan. They, as travelers, encounter various gaps upon returning and end up drifting away from the church. God regrets such events, and we have come to understand that feeling. But what can we do? What are we capable of doing?

In today’s reading, there is a portrayal of someone unable to provide the necessary bread for a traveler. Although this person cannot do anything for the traveler who needs bread, they go to seek help from a certain person. That person is a reliable friend, probably affluent and possessing abundant wealth.

He asks this friend to lend him three loaves of bread. He clings to the idea that if it’s that friend, he will give it to him. He thought, “I cannot do anything for the travelers, but I can ask that friend to provide the bread needed for the travelers.”

Think about it, everyone. How many friends can you ring the doorbell at midnight? Such a thing is possible only with the closest and most intimate friend.

This parable is told after the disciples asked Jesus to teach them about prayer, following the teaching of the Lord’s Prayer. In this parable, Jesus is teaching us that He is the rich, reliable, only friend we can always seek help from.

In today’s scripture, it is mentioned to ask that friend for the bread necessary for the traveler.

Such prayers are called “intercessory prayers.” It is a prayer offered by someone who knows their own powerlessness.

And this scripture also teaches that such prayers should be offered fervently. Be persistent in prayer.

Why does Jesus ask for persistent prayer? The Greek word translated as “persistence” is ἀν•αιδεια (anaideia). Interestingly, the first part of the word, “ἀν” (an), conveys a sense of negation. For example, the English word “unbelievable” means “not believable.” The word ἀν•αιδεια (anaideia) translated as “persistence” means “not being shameless.”

Because it’s just three loaves of bread. It’s ringing the doorbell loudly at midnight. Jesus is teaching us to be bold in prayer and become skilled at asking. If you are interested in what skillful asking in prayer looks like, please learn from the prayers of Abraham and Moses in Genesis 18 and Exodus 33.

Surprisingly, this friend initially refuses, saying, “I want to sleep, so don’t bother me.” This is a parable, and we know that Jesus does not have such a character. So, what does He want to teach with this initial refusal?

I think Jesus wants to convey that He delights in our attitude of not giving up, continuing to believe, and waiting for the answer to prayer. Why? Because the relationship where we ask and the Lord gives is the bond between us and God.

For the men here, when a woman asks for something, when a favor is requested, when you’re begged for something, you’ve probably answered like this: “Hmm, what should I do?” Any experiences like that? No, there must be. (LOL)

It’s not a feeling of wanting to be mean; it comes from the desire to deepen the relationship between the two. Yes, Jesus is inviting us to become more fervent in prayer to deepen our faith and trust in Him.

So, what happens? What did this reliable friend give? Three loaves of bread? No, far beyond what we desire and think, this friend gives “anything needed.” This illustrates the need for us to realize our powerlessness when we cannot do anything for the travelers. When we realize that, we can be transformed into those who rely on this friend, who can provide everything needed, through prayer.

Now, let’s serve as intercessors for the returee ministry.

[ec23] Pureppu Devotion① God, too, has concerned.

Hello, everyone! In the EC Preparation Prayer Meeting at PUREPPU, Nobukazu Otake, a seminary student, gives a short message every time, and it’s always great!

So, I’d like to share it on the blog from time to time.

For those who are blessed and want to pray together for EC at Prep, the next session is on November 25th (Saturday) at 8 am (EST), 7 am (CST), 6 am (MST), 5 am (PST), 10 pm (JPN)!

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Have you ever experienced the feeling of regret when you lost something? I believe everyone has had the bitter experience of realizing how precious something was only after losing it. It may come with pain, but if possible, take a moment now to recall those feelings.

Because that experience is a pain well known to God, and it can even become a clue to deeply understand God’s love. To elaborate, God becomes our Savior because He is a God who cannot help but regret the lost existence. If we know the pain of losing something, we can understand the heart of God.

And those who deeply understand that pain carry the motivation to serve for the work that God desires.

I apologize for the delayed introduction. I am Nobukazu Otake, a seminary student, and I have recently been recruited as the Assistant Director for EC’s Prayer Team.

To be honest, I knew nothing about EC before and was in a completely new situation. I was invited to serve through my friend Hiyori Nishimura. Moreover, I ended up being responsible for delivering messages on the Word only at PUREPPU. Honestly, not knowing what to say, I spent the preparation period.

However, three days ago, I had a dream and woke up in the middle of the night. It was a dream that reminded me of a recent painful loss. Jumping out of bed, in the dark room, I recalled the experience of loss and, while lamenting the pain, whispered the prayer that had become a habit since losing something valuable: “Why, Lord?”

At that moment, a divine voice echoed in my head, asking, “Are you lamenting?” I immediately opened the Book of Jonah. There, a withered gourd, which God had caused to grow to improve Jonah’s mood, was depicted as withered and Jonah was once again angry.

I could understand Jonah’s feelings very well. There was the anger and suspicion that came from the sadness of loss, asking, “What is God doing? What is the purpose of making me experience this?”

Then, the Lord spoke to Jonah.

Jonah 4:10–11
“The Lord said, ‘You have been concerned about this plant, though you did not tend it or make it grow. It sprang up overnight and died overnight. And should I not have concern for the great city of Nineveh, in which there are more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left—and also many animals?'”

Jonah experienced the sadness of losing the gourd and lamenting it because God wanted him to become someone who understands God’s concern for the people of Nineveh.

On the night I wondered why I had such a dream, I learned that God deeply regrets the souls of the Japanese people. Despite experiencing the Gospel overseas, knowing Jesus, and embracing faith in the love of the cross, many souls returning to Japan tend to drift away from the church due to the gap. God is deeply saddened by this reality and cannot help but lament it, calling out, “Why?” with deep regret.

God wanted me to understand that pain because I will be involved in ministry related to returnees at the end of this year. The Lord is passionate about the work of overseas Japanese missions. There is a purpose in Equipper Conference, and it is the fervent desire of God, who loves the souls of Japanese people so much that He cannot bear to lose them.

EC Reunion is coming!

Hello hello, my name is Kristine Reddington and I’m an associate staff for JCFN 🙂

Last year, I had the privilege of serving as the EC20 Beyond director.

It is crazy to think that it has already been a year since then.

How has God been speaking to you these days? Have you enjoyed LISTENing to Him :)👂?

So! Because we didn’t know how things were going to be with COVID, we are NOT having our usual EC this year😢 But!

We are having an EC Reunion online🥳🎉👏

 

1/21(Fri) 6pm~9pm (Pacific time) + optional hang out

1/22(Sat)11am~2pm (Japan time)

 

We will have EC / post EC testimonies, short sermons from last year’s EC speakers, sharing time in breakout rooms etc. so it should be a great time✨

I’m hoping we will get to reflect on the past year as we remember what God has done at EC and beyond.

Recently, I’ve been feeling so distracted – I’m realizing that I haven’t been stopping to really LISTEN. Although I am not always faithful, I am so thankful that God continues to speak to me and never gives up on me.😭💖 So! wherever you are in your life/ your spiritual journey, I hope you’ll get to join us! (Those who’ve never been to EC are also welcomed👌)

 

Thanks be to God who is constantly speaking, who is always reaching out to us..💓

I’m so excited to see you all!

EC Reunion Registration: English Registration Page

 

 

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