A Glimpse Of The Present (Revelation 11:7-9)

I was watching the gala opening ceremony of the Tokyo Olympics. As expected, the pageantry and splendor of the world’s greatest athletes entering the stadium, mated with a spectacular technical and musical production, was breathtaking. I was thankful for the time we lived in, marveling at our ability to watch an event, broadcast live, even though I was geographically separated by over five thousand miles. How would the world be different if this technology existed a hundred years ago, or even a thousand?

When they complete their testimony, the beast that comes up out of the bottomless pit will declare war against them, and he will conquer them and kill them. And their bodies will lie in the main street of Jerusalem, the city that is figuratively called “Sodom” and “Egypt,” the city where their Lord was crucified. And for three and a half days, all peoples, tribes, languages, and nations will stare at their bodies. No one will be allowed to bury them.

Revelation 11:7-9 (NLT)

The Book of Revelation was written nearly two thousand years ago. The only means of communication at that time was the written word and speech. What is being described in these verses would have been physically and technologically impossible in those days. Yet, the Bible explicitly states that all the people of the world will witness the death of these two prophets. How can this happen? This is a glimpse of the present. Watching the Olympics live from Tokyo, over five thousands miles away is easily accomplished with our modern technology. When these future events occur, it is clear that the technology now exists to allow such a viewing to happen. 

What does this mean for us?

The Bible prophesied this event would occur during the last days, a period known as the Tribulation. While no one knows when the Tribulation will occur, it is very clear that these end times are rapidly approaching. The technology exists to allow some, if not all, of the events to occur. It will be a time of devastating world wide destruction, famine, and war. Millions of people will be killed and entire cities will be decimated. What hope is there for mankind?

As sure as the prophecy of technology is the promise of hope and salvation. Jesus Christ stands at the door of our hearts and knocks. He does not force His will upon us but offers His free gift of salvation and eternal life to all who confess and repent of their sins and accept Him as their Lord and Savior. If we give our lives to Jesus Christ, He will save us from the Tribulation.

This is something that can happen at this very moment. It is a glimpse of the present. I pray that all will seize the opportunity. 


Love and trust the Lord; seek His will in your life.

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“What Is Your Last Name?” (Revelation 3:12)

Below the hill.

That is what my Japanese last name means in English. My name is unusual, even for Japanese, so out of curiosity, I am often asked the meaning. After I translate it, I joke with the questioner that my ancestors were probably ditch diggers, undoubtedly serving their families. In truth, my last name does not evoke noble themes and reveals nothing about myself or my family. However, no one is ever offended by it. My naivete about names changed several years ago when I met a colleague who had an unusual last name-Sharobiem.

I did not know much about his ethnic origins nor did I know about the county from where his family had emigrated. Thankfully, he filled in the blanks. “In my home country, people would often ask me, ‘What is your last name?’ It is their way to identify what area or religion I am.”

“And what does your last name mean?”

“It is our language’s version of the same word in English. It means seraphim.”

Seraphim! The Hebrew word is found many times in the Old Testament. They are generally depicted as heavenly winged beings, usually in attendance with God, the Father, as illustrated in this passage from Isaiah. 

…I saw the Lord seated on a high and lofty throne, and the hem of his robe filled the temple. Seraphim were standing above him; they each had six wings: with two they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they flew. And one called to another: Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of Armies; his glory fills the whole earth.

Isaiah 6:1-3 (CSB)

I learned that my colleague was a Christian from the Arab world. Although he belonged to a minority in a region dominated by Muslims, he was proud of his name and Christian heritage. However, his fellow countrymen did not share his joy. The question, “What is your last name?” was intended to expose and isolate Christians. The persecution he faced led him to gather his family, leave his country, and come to America. 

The one who conquers I will make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he will never go out again. I will write on him the name of my God and the name of the city of my God—the new Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from my God—and my new name.

Revelation 3:12 (CSB)

Unlike my colleague, my last name gives no clue to my spiritual identity. I admired the courage and faith that he has to boldly represent Jesus Christ. Someday, in Heaven, God will reward him and all believers in Christ for their faithfulness and we will be given a new name. Until then, all believers in Jesus Christ should proclaim their faith in the only Name under Heaven and Earth by which we may find salvation.

Jesus Christ. 


Love and trust the Lord; seek His will in your life.

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Last Goodbye (Acts 20:36-38)

I cradled her arm in mine as I wiped her skin with the alcohol pad. As I gently prepared the site for the injection, I trembled as I grasped her loose skin and felt the underlying bone. There was barely any muscle or fat left. Quickly injecting her medication, I hugged her and held her longer than I usually did. “I love you, Mom.”

She smiled. “I love you too, son. Thank you for coming to see me. I love you and I really appreciate you. I’m not afraid to share that with you or anyone anymore.” 

My eyes welled up in tears. “Why are you telling me this now?”

“I was always brought up to not share my feelings. But now, I feel free to share these feelings and I want you to know that I have been telling everyone that.”

“I’m so happy you did.” I kissed her and departed Honolulu, returning to Los Angeles. Two days later, my sister called me and shared the expected news: our mother had passed away, succumbing to her stomach cancer. 

I was fortunate to have spent the last week with my mother before she passed away. Not everyone is given this privilege. When she first learned of her diagnosis, she told me she was stunned, but then quickly realized that she would now see her Lord sooner than she thought, and this brought her peace and comfort. She was not afraid of what lay ahead. She was secure in her faith and trust in Jesus Christ. 

After he said this, he knelt down and prayed with all of them. There were many tears shed by everyone. They embraced Paul and kissed him, grieving most of all over his statement that they would never see his face again. And they accompanied him to the ship.

Acts 20:36-38 (CSB)

The Apostle Paul was resolute in his desire to obey the Holy Spirit’s leading and return to Jerusalem. He and all of his supporters knew that imprisonment and execution were likely when he arrived there. In fact, the Holy Spirit had informed him in every city along the way that chains and afflictions were awaiting him (Acts 20:23). This only made Paul more determined to complete his mission. He was unafraid of what lay ahead.

The faith of the Apostle Paul and my mother continue to inspire me. Although there was sadness during both of these last goodbyes, they both were confident in the hope and promise that the world cannot give. It is a hope based upon the power of the Resurrection. Jesus Christ conquered death and was resurrected by God. This same power, this same hope, is available to all who confess and repent of their sins and accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.

A last goodbye is not a farewell, it is a welcome home from God. 


Love and trust the Lord; seek His will in your life.

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“It Went Bad Again?” (Romans 12:2)

“It went bad again? That’s the second time!”

For two weeks in a row, our gallon of milk went bad, a week before the printed expiration date. As I poured out the clumped globs of milk reeking with the familiar pungent odor, my mind raced through several possibilities. Perhaps the market from which I purchased it was not storing it properly or perhaps it was a bad batch? Nothing on the news or social media suggested this possibility nor was there any notification of a recall. Was there something else I was missing?

On a hunch, I placed a thermometer in our refrigerator. I soon had my answer. The temperature was too warm. The condenser was caked with dust from years of accumulation and neglect. After cleaning it, the temperature returned to an acceptably cold range, safe enough for perishable items such as milk. 

Microscopic dust particles. A single particle has an insignificant effect but when it accumulates over years, it can lead to devastating consequences. I didn’t notice since the temperature rise occurred slowly over time, and then, it was too late. Sin is like this. How often do I ignore sinister incremental minute changes in my spiritual life? Too often. The resentment when someone insults me. The driver who flips me off because I am driving too slowly. Perhaps I don’t immediately react, but I let the bad feelings foment and accumulate. Like the dust particles, over time, they block and damage my spiritual life. What can I do? What can anyone do?

Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.

Romans 12:2 (NLT)

Thanks be to God that His Holy Spirit continues to transform and conform me into the image of His Son, Jesus Christ. The dust of my life, the sins that accumulate, are wiped clean by the power of the Resurrection. This is sanctification. I can choose to ignore God and remain an embittered and resentful old person or allow God to transform me into a new person, changing my attitude and the way I think. It is not easy and I know I cannot do it alone. 

How desperately I need Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. 

Love and trust the Lord; seek His will in your life.

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Behind The Scenes (Daniel 10:12-13)

It is inevitable. Any successful movie, television show, or media series will create a behind the scenes episode or segment to provide an intimate look at the actors and those involved in the creation and production of the show. I love to view these because it helps me to understand subtleties of the plots that I may have overlooked upon initial viewing. It also shows me the hidden meaning and symbolism behind the choices pertaining to clothing, color, and scenery. When I rewatch the same episodes, it is with a profoundly different viewpoint and knowledge. I know the intentions of the creator of the show. 

“Don’t be afraid, Daniel,” he said to me, “for from the first day that you purposed to understand and to humble yourself before your God, your prayers were heard. I have come because of your prayers. But the prince of the kingdom of Persia opposed me for twenty-one days. Then Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me after I had been left there with the kings of Persia.

Daniel 10:12-13 (CSB)

In one of the more dramatic unveilings of the Bible, the Angel Gabriel appears before the prophet Daniel as he is praying. He explained that he was unable to immediately answer his prayers because Satan and his demons opposed and delayed him. Only with the assistance of another angel, Michael, was he able to overcome the opposition and help Daniel. 

I often wonder why my prayers are not immediately answered. The answers are complex and as varied as the prayers. Yet, in this example, God gives us a behind the scenes view of the spiritual warfare that always surrounds us but we are not usually aware. Like a behind the scenes episode, God reveals some of His intentions. God is under no obligation to reveal His thoughts and plans to me but I am thankful that for the few times He has done this, it has expanded my understanding of Him and the spiritual warfare that is usually a hidden reality.


Love and trust the Lord; seek His will in your life.

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“I Had My Own Lab!” (Jeremiah 1:5)

“I had my own lab!”

It was the summer after my sophomore year in college and I was engaged in research in a medical laboratory. On my team was an exceptionally gifted man who just graduated from college and would soon begin his first year at medical school at a prestigious east coast university. He was an intriguing blend of an affable nature paired with a sardonic wit. I was always on my guard since he would often say things just to needle me and see my reaction. Not this time. In a rare candid admission near the end of the summer, he went on to describe in great detail the grants he obtained and research that he conducted. I was so naive at that time, I didn’t comprehend the significance of his statement. He was an undergraduate student but his research was so highly valued that the chair of the department gave him his own lab over other faculty members and graduate students. It was unprecedented! The confidence his undergraduate professors had in him was not misplaced. Today he is an oncologic surgeon and the head of the surgery department for a prestigious university teaching hospital. He is a thought leader in his field and his research has led to many advances in oncology. In retrospect, as a budding researcher, I could have learned so much more from him but it was my missed opportunity, distracted by his personality.

In my spiritual walk with God, how many times have I also disregarded the gifts that someone could have shared with me? Acquaintances, friends, teachers, co-workers-the list is endless. I could have learned so much from each of them. Instead, I was distracted by their personality quirks, coloring my perceptions of them and letting it obscure their true gifts, not understanding their significance.

I chose you before I formed you in the womb; I set you apart before you were born. I appointed you a prophet to the nations.

Jeremiah 1:5 (CSB)

Thanks be to God that He knows our full potential and gifts. God told Jeremiah the prophet that He had a special purpose for him, and set him apart even before he was conceived. How wonderful! God asked Jeremiah to do many unusual and difficult tasks to communicate His message. Would I have listened and learned from Jeremiah or would I have been distracted by his personality quirks and unorthodox methods? One of our purposes in this life is to honor God and treat every person as a true gift from God. When I do not immediately recognize someone’s special gifts, I need to look beyond the personality and honor the person. 

God is always speaking to me, but will I have ears to hear and listen?

Love and trust the Lord; seek His will in your life.

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Return It! (Proverbs 7:6-10)

I was on the phone with customer service for an online retailer. I received an email notification that the mobile smart device I ordered had been delivered to my home. However a search in my mailbox, porch, and front lawn could not locate it. The retailer agreed to send me a new device which arrived two days later. I was pleased by such prompt service. The next day, another box arrived on my porch. It was partially opened with a hand-written note scrawled upon the packaging. “Sorry, delivered to me by mistake and I opened it.” Of course the proper action was to notify the retailer the missing device had been found and I should return it. However, the thought crossed my mind that perhaps I should keep it? I could always pay for it, I reasoned with myself. I opened the rest of the packaging, retrieved the device, and attempted to personalize it with my account information. An unusual thing happened. Although I did the same process to activate my device that came the previous day, this time, the new device would not take my information. I attempted to do it several times, all to no avail. Finally, I called customer service with the retailer and requested a return authorization. 

I shouldn’t have attempted to use it. I should have kept it unopened in the package and immediately requested a return label. But no, I had to place myself squarely in the path of temptation. If it wasn’t for the inexplicable failure for the device to register under my name, I may have continued. A coincidence? I think not. 

At the window of my house I looked through my lattice. I saw among the inexperienced, I noticed among the youths, a young man lacking sense. Crossing the street near her corner, he strolled down the road to her house at twilight, in the evening, in the dark of the night. A woman came to meet him dressed like a prostitute, having a hidden agenda.

Proverbs 7:6-10 (CSB)

Did this young man have to stroll near the house of this woman? No. While this woman did tempt him, He squarely placed himself in the path of temptation. As the Bible later reveals, he fell victim to his own weakness. He was responsible for his own actions. 

God does not always directly intervene in my life when I place myself in the pathway of temptation. While this example may seem trivial, it vividly illustrates how vulnerable I am to succumbing to temptation. I know what God’s Word states and yet, I was willing to disobey. I, alone, am responsible for my own actions. Will God be there the next time for me? Only by God’s grace and mercy was I spared. How about you? Will God intervene in your life or will you fall victim to temptation and sin? Taking a questionable tax deduction, holding back on tithing to afford a new purchase-fill in the blanks with your life. We are all exposed to temptation but it is only when we act upon it that it becomes a sin. 

How desperately we need a Savior. How desperately I need Jesus Christ. 

There are no coincidences with God. His sovereign will always remind me of what I should know.

Love and trust the Lord; seek His will in your life.

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Bad Seed (Genesis 9:18-19)

It was a bad batch of seeds. No matter what I did, proper soil, fertilizer, water-it would not grow and flourish. I needed to start over. This time, I purchased a new batch from a reputable garden store, instead of an online discount distributor. Within a few weeks, my new plants were thriving.  Lesson learned. When one needs to start over, whether it is gardening or a business project, it is critical to start with good material or people. The Bible dramatically illustrates this with our sinful nature. Ever since sin entered mankind through the willful disobedience of Adam and Eve, evil and wickedness have flourished. God made the decision to wipe the earth of all mankind, except for Noah and his family.

Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight, and the earth was filled with wickedness. God saw how corrupt the earth was, for every creature had corrupted its way on the earth. Then God said to Noah, “I have decided to put an end to every creature, for the earth is filled with wickedness because of them; therefore I am going to destroy them along with the earth.”

Genesis 6:11-13 (CSB)

After the flood abated, mankind had an opportunity to start over. From Noah, his sons and their wives, the earth would be repopulated. God selected a faithful man and his family. It was a restart but would it work? 

Noah’s sons who came out of the ark were Shem, Ham, and Japheth. Ham was the father of Canaan. These three were Noah’s sons, and from them the whole earth was populated.

Genesis 9:18-19 (CSB)

Unfortunately, just a short time after Noah and his family left the ark, the ugly cycle of sin restarted. As faithful as Noah and his family were, they were still sinners. Man could not escape his sinful nature. What hope was there for mankind? If even a worldwide flood could not correct the plaque of sin, was it too late to begin again and be good seeds or, like bad seeds, are we doomed to multiply and propagate our sins?

…The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man; the field is the world; and the good seed—these are the children of the kingdom. The weeds are the children of the evil one,

Matthew 13:37-38 (CSB)

We are not doomed to be bad seeds. We can try to live a good life, do good deeds, and help others. But like the bad seeds I planted, nothing I can do will make a difference. By our own efforts, we will never change our nature. To rid ourselves of our sin needs a supernatural intervention. God has done this by sending His Son, Jesus Christ, to give us a new life as good seeds of His Kingdom. Through faith and belief in Jesus, we can break the plague of sin and abide in Him. Once we do, Jesus will transform our very nature, conforming us to be a fellow child of God and inheriting eternal life and salvation.

Praise God!

Love and trust the Lord; seek His will in your life.

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“Just Roll It Down!” (Isaiah 40:8)

“Son, I need to talk to the mechanic over there, I’ll just be a few minutes so just sit in the car and wait for me. It’s a little hot today, so just roll down the window.”

My son sat in his seat, unmoving. I was bewildered why he would not reply. “Son, just roll it down.” It was then that I realized he had never been in a car with a manual window. I was driving a rental car, one that did not have power windows. I chuckled as I demonstrated to him how to roll the window down. When I returned home, I wondered if my daughter, who was three years older than my son, knew what a manual window was. She told me that in the previous year, she rode in an older car that had this but prior to that, she had no experience. 

Like typewriters and analog rotary phones, there are many devices that may seem foreign to this generation, born in the 21st century. What about the Church? Many churches now have websites and apps that facilitate attendees to follow the sermon and attend remotely through internet streaming services. Many services allow texting to the Pastor and congregation members during the service. Although I find it a bit distracting, others embrace it. The end result is the Word of God is preached and disseminated to a much wider audience.

The grass withers, the flowers fade, but the word of our God remains forever.

Isaiah 40:8 (CSB)

Like the manual window, the means by which we roll a window down may change, but the end result is the same. Teaching and preaching the Word of God are no different. The means may change but God’s Word is unchanging. In this time of rapidly changing technological advances, I am grateful to God that His promises are constant and eternal.


Love and trust the Lord; seek His will in your life.

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“Why Is It So Popular?” (Matthew 11:28-30)

The line of cars extended around the city block. The buzz had been building for weeks. It was the first week of the grand opening of a new drive-through restaurant, one that was quite popular in other locations in California and other states. I was befuddled. Everyone I had spoken to who had tried it at other locations thought the food was not that great, overpriced, and overhyped. Yet, here was the incontrovertible proof that my opinion was definitely in the minority.

“Why is it so popular? I don’t know anyone who likes this place.” My colleagues nodded. Even three months later, the line of cars remained unabated. On social media, the reviews were polarizing. There was only one thing left to do, I had to try it for myself. The positive and negative comments swimming through my mind, I ordered some of the signature dishes. Yes, it was expensive. Yes, it was a bit salty. Yes, it was slow service. The taste? Not bad, but not good enough that I would want to return. I had my answer.

It is difficult to maintain objectivity when we have been influenced by so many others, including those whose opinions we trust. When I was in college, I encountered a similar situation with my own faith. Was Christianity true or false? Was it truly the path to God and salvation or was it a psychological crutch for the weak-willed?

The 17th century French philosopher, Blaine Pascal, eloquently stated the dilemma that confronts many seekers. “Either Christianity is true or it’s false. If you bet that it’s true, and you believe in God and submit to Him, then if it IS true, you’ve gained God, heaven, and everything else. If it’s false, you’ve lost nothing, but you’ve had a good life marked by peace and the illusion that ultimately, everything makes sense. If you bet that Christianity is not true, and it’s false, you’ve lost nothing. But if you bet that it’s false, and it turns out to be true, you’ve lost everything and you get to spend eternity in hell.”

Good words and I knew at some point, I would have to make a decision. Fortunately, Jesus Christ understood my hesitation and doubt. 

Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”

Matthew 11:28-30 (NLT)

Why would Jesus challenge us with this invitation? Some critics charge that faith is blind. I aver that faith is not blind. The Bible teacher Warren Wiersbe wrote, “Faith does not demand explanations; faith rests on promises.” We will never understand God’s faithfulness to us unless we allow Him into our lives. Once we see Him work in our life, we will know that His promises to us are true. We will see that true faith cannot be debated or reasoned, it must be experienced and lived. Like the indecision I had with visiting the new restaurant, only when I actually experienced it for myself, did I understand and know the truth. It was no different for my relationship with Jesus Christ. Only when I finally accepted the invitation of Jesus Christ to confess and repent of my sins and accept Him as Lord and Savior, did I finally understand God’s promise to give me rest for my soul. Only when I tasted the goodness of God’s blessing, did I have my answer.

Taste and see that the LORD is good. Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in him!

Psalms 34:8 (NLT)


Love and trust the Lord; seek His will in your life.

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