1 Corinthians 13: 1-13


Why and how should we love?
Reading: 1 Corinthians 13: 1-13
Blanks: love, patient, trusts, fully
(After a spy game)

Have you all played a game of mafia?
Was it easy to find the mafia?
Sometimes, you thought someone was a mafia.
But it turned out he or she was not.
Your guessing was not always right, right?

But there is a bigger world out there.
In that world, sometimes, we may not be able to see things clearly.
We may even misunderstand something.
We may have a wrong conviction.
Or, we may be confused or understand only small part of it.

There was a farmer who realized this kind of things.
So he always said: “I don’t know.”
Let me tell you his story.
(1) This farmer owned one horse.
He depended on the horse for everything.
The horse pulled his plow and his wagon.

But one day a bee stung the horse.
Then in fright the horse ran away into the mountains.
The farmer went out to search for him but couldn't find him.
Then his neighbors said:
"We are really sorry about your bad luck in losing your horse."
But the old farmer said:
"Bad luck, good luck, I don’t know that."

(1) A week later his horse came back, accompanied by twelve wild horses, which he had obviously encountered.
Now the old farmer was able to have all these fine animals.
Then his neighbors came and said:
You are the lucky guy."
But the old man once again said:
"I don’t know about that."

(2) This farmer had only one son.
This son decided to make the most of this good fortune.
So he started to train the wild horses so that he could sell them or put them to work in the fields.
But then, he got thrown from one of the horses, and got hurt.
Then the neighbors came and said:
"We are so sorry about the bad luck of your son getting hurt."
The old man said:
"Bad luck, good luck, I don’t know that."

Two weeks later, a neighboring nation invaded them.
So, their army came to their town gathering every man under fifty.
But because the son was injured, he did not have to go.
Then it turned out to save his life.
The end.

Sometimes in our life, something that we don’t expect may happen.
Our life may take a different set of turns.
But, we may not be able to say whether it is good or bad.
Sometimes, we cannot say which life is better than the other.
Because what looks good may turns out to be bad.
What looks bad may turns out to be good.
Some events may look like harmful to us.
But then it may turn out to be our remedy.

But for now, it may be good that we don’t understand.
Then, we may not trust too much on our understanding.
(2) Instead, we may become humble and learn to trust God more.
We may start to seek God’s will.

And when we realize that we may not see things clearly, we may not trust too much on our opinions about people, either.
We may not trust too much about what we hear about people, either.
Instead, we may give people the benefit of the doubt.
We may try to believe something good about people, instead, because Jesus asks to love in this way.

It also has been said that sometimes, we may not get what we pray for.
We may not have everything that we had hoped for.
Sometimes, God may have to lead us to somewhere where we may not want to go.
Sometimes, God has to do this because God loves us and God understands something about us.
Then later when we realize what God has done, we may be really, truly thankful.

So, someone said something like this based on his experience:
I asked God for strength, so that I might achieve something great.
But I was made weak, so that I might learn to humbly obey.
I asked for health, that I might do great things.
But I was given infirmity, that I might do better things.
I asked for riches, that I might be happy.
But I was given poverty, that I might be wise.
I asked for power, that I might have all the praise.
But I was given weakness, so that I might feel the need of God and praise only God.
I asked for all things, that I might enjoy life.
But God gave me life that I might enjoy all things.
Then, I confessed that I am truly blessed.
I would say despite myself, God has truly blessed me, answering my unspoken prayers.
The end.

(2)Sometimes we don’t see clearly.
Sometimes, we are like people who pray looking through the fog or the mist.
We pray without knowing what God knows already.
But then later, when the weather became clear and the sun started to shine, we may be able to see what God sees.
We may be able to know what God knows.

But here is the thing.
Because God knows that we don’t see clearly, God asks us to love.
God asks us to always love God and love people beyond reasonable bounds.
Then when we see things clearly, we will be glad that we have done so.
Because we will understand why God wants us to love like Jesus loves.

So, the first century church leader, Apostle Paul after learning this lesson, decided to love no matter what.
As for him, it was even better to be cheated than to be unloving.
Then he said something like this:
(1) I am nothing, if I do not love.
I am nothing, if I don’t have patience, and kindness.
I am nothing, if I am bragging about things and proud.
I am nothing, if I don’t honor all people.
I am nothing, if I am selfish, seeking only my own interests.
I am nothing, if get upset very easily.
I am nothing, if I keep record of wrongs in my thoughts.
I am nothing, if I accuse anyone.
I am nothing, if I delight in evil.

If I love like Jesus loves, I will not rejoice with the truth.
If I love like Jesus loves, I will always protect.
If I love like him, I will always trust.
If I love, I will always hope.

If Jesus is with me, I will continually love even in the face of difficulty or discouragement; or even with little, or no indication of success.
Still I will choose to love knowing love is a choice and it is an act of will.

Let’s pray:
God, thank you for giving us this life.
Thank you for giving us the life of Jesus.
May we understand why you gave us Jesus.
May we understand the meaning of the life of Jesus.
We pray this in Jesus name.


Luke 13:31-35

Reading: Luke 13:31-35
Prop: various animal dolls: e.g., elephant, monkey, and frog

Let me ask you something.
Do you have a pet at home?
What are they: cat or dog?

When you call them saying:
“Come here.
Come here.”
Do they come to you?
Why do they come to you?

If they come, they come to you because they know you, right?

Do you know these animals?
What are they?
Yeah, it is a monkey.
This one is an elephant.
This one is a frog.
(Make these dolls stand in one corner.
Then you stand in other corner.)

Let’s say that these are all alive.
These are real elephant, real monkey or real frog.
Now if you call them saying:
“Come over here!
Come here.”
Will they come to you?
Why not?
One of the reasons is because they don’t know you, right?

This is like our relationship with God.
If we know God, we may feel comfortable with God.
Then we will come to God, knowing that God loves us.
Then we may say to God:
“God, can you come and play with me?”
Or “Can you help me with this?”
Then God will do that.

If God is comfortable with us, God may also say to us:
"May I come in?
May I play with you?”
Then we can welcome God.

We may also invite God to come with us everywhere.
When we go to play with our friends, we may ask God to be with us.
Then in a mysterious way, God will come and be with us.
We may even feel the presence of God.

The more you get to know God like this, the more you may feel comfortable with God.
God will also be comfortable with you.
Then God may want to listen to you.
God may even speak to you.
Then you may get to know God more.
You may feel comfortable with God more and more.
You may get to love God more and more.

So, let’s welcome God into our hearts.
Let’s welcome God in this place.

Let’s pray.
Jesus, we welcome you into our hearts.
Help us to get to know you.
Show us who you are in our life so that we may follow you more closely.
In your name we pray. Amen.


Romans 5:1-11

Reading: Romans 5:1-11

Have you seen this book: Manga Messiah?
This cartoon book shows the story of Jesus.

A Japanese Christian, Kelly Kozumi Shinozawa drew this book.
Drawing this book, she felt that it was God's will for her to draw this book.
She felt all of her past experiences empowered her to draw this.
She felt she was supposed to draw this.
When we find our calling, we often feel like her.
We feel like we are supposed to do that.

Anyway, she said that she was fortunate to draw this book.
It was her calling.
Drawing this, she also became very familiar with the story of Jesus.
Especially, she said that she was so moved, drawing the crucifixion.
It was also a difficult experience.
She said that she could not stop crying, as if she saw a real crucifixion.
For several hours she cried and prayed thinking about Jesus.
She also prayed saying:
"I am so sorry Jesus.
You suffered for all my sin.
I am sorry.”

She was able to feel how much Jesus suffered on the cross, because her father had died about this time.
In the pain of Jesus, she saw also her father.
In the paint of her father, she saw Jesus.

I would like to show a video.
Here she shared her testimony of making this book.
So, let watch this:

She embraced the God of hope, as she became a Christian.
Then before her father died, she was able to explain to him about the God of hope who would not disappoint her father.
Her father also embraced the God of hope that would not disappoint him.
Then, they both felt that God’s love was pouring out into their hearts through the Holy Spirit. (Romans 5:5)
It was irony that she was able to share the gospel to her father who encouraged her to draw this Manga Messiah at the first place, when she was young.

Hearing her testimony we also see that how important to choose what we see and create.
What we see influence our imagination.

Our imagination can influence our mind.
Imagination is like a channel.
We can use it for God.
Then through imagination we can even meet God.
Based on her experience, when we think about the life of Jesus, we may be able to imagine something beautiful for ourselves and for others.

Some good imagination can strengthen us.
Good imagination can bring a good life.
Good imaginations bring a happy life.
Good thoughts and prayer brings a good life.
Good thoughts and prayer brings a happy life.
It is like you reap what you sow.
You may reap what you imagine.

Let’s pray:
Jesus, bless Kelly Kozumi Shinozawa and her family and ministry.
Help us also to share your story.
And help us to see you in the face of the poor, knowing that taking care of the poor, we are in fact taking care of you.
Help us to live according to your teachings.
We pray in your name.


(You may need to wait a bit for it to be downloaded.)
You may read her interview at http://bibleillustration.blogspot.com/2009/12/guest-bible-artist-interview-6.html


Mark 9: 38-42


Reward for Kindness
Reading: Mark 9: 38-42
Preparation: Print out the words, “Reward" and "Kindness" on a paper. Cup.

(1) What does the word, Reward, mean?
When do people get rewarded?

Now what does the word, Kindness, mean?
How can we show kindness?

(1) Jesus says:
“If anyone gives you a cup of water, because you belong to Christ, they will receive reward.”
What does that mean?
Why do you think Jesus says this?

Let me explain.
Let's say that Jesus asks you to go and tell people that God loves them.
So you go and tell people that God loves them.
Now because you obey what Jesus asks you to do, Jesus will reward you for your obedience, right?

But then, some people saw you obeying God.
So, they come and give you a cup of water to drink.
(Another teacher brings an empty cup and gives to you.
You pretend to drink that water)
This person wants to be kind to you and help you.
So, this person will also receive reward from Jesus.
This person will get rewarded, because this person is kind to those who share God’s love.

You can do the same.
You can be kind to the missionaries and those who are doing God’s works.

Now let’s think about that.
What are the ways that you can be kind to them?
Of course, we can give them something to drink.
You can welcome them.
You can make them feel home.
You can make them feel loved.
Or you can pray for them, saying:
“God, please keep them safe.”

In that way you can be kind to those who do God’s works, right?
Think about how you can be kind to others, ok?
You can be kind to them in various ways.
Be creative about it.

Jesus is kind to us.
Jesus wants people to be kind to each other.
Kindness is very important for Jesus.
So Jesus even asks us to be kind to strangers as well.

Let’s pray:
Jesus, thank you for being kind to us.
Thank you for helping us to be kind to people.
In your name, we pray.


Luke 12:35-40, Isaiah 11:6-10


Peace Everlasting
Reading: Luke 12:35-40, Isaiah 11:6-10
Additional reading: Isaiah 65:25, Eph 2:14–18, Rev 21:4, 24–27
Blanks: ready, knocks, expect

(1) Do you know that Jesus said that he would return back to the earth?
Yes, Jesus talked about his coming back.
Jesus promised that he would be back.
He would be back because he needed to finish his work.

So, Jesus said something like this:
“I will return.
But you cannot guess the date of my return.
I can come on Monday.
I cam come on Tuesday.
I can come on Wednesday.
I can come whenever.
It can be in the morning.
It can be in the afternoon.
It can be at night.
So no one can guess the time.
But you can be prepared!
You can prepare your heart for me.
You can do that by listening to my words.

“Then God will help you.
God will help you live with me.
Then you can do some good works, having a good and right mind.
Then when I come, I will serve you and honor you.”

It is very obvious.
We can prepare to meet Jesus by trying to do what Jesus asks us to do.
Living according to his will is the best way to be ready to meet Jesus.
So, we come here to learn about his will for our lives.
We try to understand Jesus.
Because when that happens, Jesus can easily guide us.
Jesus can make our life very fruitful.

(1) There is another way that we can be ready to meet Jesus.
It is to love God more than anything.
It is to love God more than our nation.
It is to love God more than our parent or family.
It is to love God more than our job.
It is to love God more than our school.
It is to love God more than our way of life.

When we are like this, God can really get involved in our life.
God can do some good works for us.
God can give us a good health.
God can give us a good education and a good intellectual power.
God can take care of us.
God can take care of our life as well as our future life in heaven.

I think God knows better.
God can take good care of us better than we can do.
So, we can depend on God who helps us live a good life.

God loves us.
That is why God gave us Jesus, God’s only child.
Then when Jesus came, Jesus loved us.
He risked his life for us.
He offered his life to save us and provide what God wanted for us.
Then he called us to join him, offering our life to God.

God loves us more than anything.
But then God asks us to love God, as well.
Because then we will receive all God’s blessings and be able to live for the truth.
We will be able to do that because we will live being connected with God.

(1) The bible says that Jesus will come back.
When he comes, what kinds of things will he do?
What kind of world, will he make?
Will Jesus help us experience greater happiness?
Will Jesus introduce New Heaven and New Earth?
Will Jesus fulfill the ultimate hope of people?
Will Jesus give us rest?
Will Jesus help us worship God?
Will Jesus make us new people?
Will Jesus give us new jobs to do?
Will Jesus judge people?
Will Jesus make peace?
Will Jesus make people understand God and each other?

(1) In order to answer some of these questions, the bible says something like this:
“On that day, the wolf will live with the lamb.
The leopard will lie down with the goat.
The calf and the lion will eat together.
Then a little child will take care of them.
A little child will guide them.

(1) The cow will feed with the bear.
Their young will lie down together.
And the lion will eat straw like the ox.

The infant child will play near the cobra’s den.
The young child will stick his hand down the hole of a serpent.
But neither animal nor human will hurt or kill.

Then everyone will know God.
Everyone will know the value of the story of Jesus.
Then the nations will gather together to worship Jesus.
The place where Jesus dwells will be glorious.”

The bible wishes for peace.
The bible promises that people will live in peace.
Because they understand God.
Then they will be good to each other, as much as God is good to them.
They will live in peace because they sense God’s peace inside of them.
Then everyone will be changed for peace.

(1) But in order to create this kind of peace, Jesus had to suffer.
So, Jesus died on the cross.
It was painful events.
But in this way, Jesus took our sins away.
Then, Jesus could start to make the world purer and purer.
This process is still going on.
Then one day, there will be peace.

The bible says that even Jesus’ students suffered and died like him.
They worked to fulfill the story of Jesus.
They lived their life based on their knowledge of Jesus.
They helped people to understand the story of Jesus so that new people could also plan their life remembering Jesus.
Then these new people will have a good mind and a good life, because they are thinking about Jesus.

(1) Peace is coming.
One day the world will experience peace.

In the meantime, we are also called to make the world peaceful.
In this way, we can prepare for Jesus’ coming and his peace.
In this way, we can be ready to meet Jesus.
Waiting for his world of peace, we are asked to live loving our neighbors, welcoming the poor, and sharing our faith, until we meet him face to face.

Let’s pray:
Jesus, you open for us a new world of peace.
Help all of us to enter into that world of peace, by the power of Holy Spirit.
In Jesus name, amen.

The cave you fear to enter may hold the true freedom you seek.