Thursday, June 29, 2017


ACTS 2, 4-5, 7                                                                    

Pastor Rick Jackson

Before December 4, 2002 Shoko (a young Japanese lady) thought Jesus was only a hero in some long-ago folk tale. As a young adult, she had lived a messed-up life, being crushed as she went from one problem to the next. During one emotional moment, she grabbed a New Testament and hastily looked for comfort and "stumbled" upon 1 Cor. 10:13:
“No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.”
She reasoned that the problems she had were lessons from God. Surely He would prepare a way out. From then on she remembered this verse, whenever going through difficult times.

Because she didn’t believe in Jesus and didn’t really understand the Bible, she quickly turned back to the gods of the temples and the shrines of her ancestors. At her lowest point, she was involved in many distressing situations and had been lied to so many times that she was emotionally exhausted. She used antidepressants and sleeping pills to get by. She said, "I had no dreams, no hope, and no light in my life. I couldn’t trust anyone and couldn’t even laugh anymore. One day I cried out, 'I don’t want this struggle anymore! I don’t want the pain!'” With that she decided there was no better time than on her birthday, July 15, to commit suicide.

Not long after making this decision, Mr. and Mrs. Aida came to her real estate office. They told her that through ABWE missionary Natalie Beck they had heard about her office and were seeking an apartment for a Mr. Tago. Shoko had first met Natalie when showing her a house. Later there was an unusual outbreak of cockroaches and a host of them raided Natalie’s home. Shoko hired an exterminator and went to her home to check up on the progress, and while there Shoko and Natalie became friends.

She had been turning away new customers because of her planned suicide. But since Natalie referred Mr. Aida to her, she agreed to help. Mr. Tago would not arrive until August, so she decided to postpone her suicide. August came and she found an apartment for Mr. Tago. The day his contract was complete was to be the last day of her life. She canceled her cell phone and prepared her suicide letter.

The day came, and with everything all set she sat in the middle of her room, quieted her heart, and closed her eyes. Then, suddenly, the doorbell rang, and a boy’s familiar voice cried out, “Sister!” She opened the door to her friend’s son. “What’s wrong?” she asked. “Mom had to leave for the day, and she told me to buy something to eat, so I also bought something for you.”

Hastily, he handed her a package of sushi, then ran away. Shoko was overjoyed that he would do something like this for her, but then thought, “What if I die leaving this behind? He would think I didn’t want it.” She realized she was running away from reality. She remembered 1 Cor. 10:13 and was overwhelmed with all that she had prepared to do. She cried as she ate the sushi—the best she'd ever tasted. Without the love of a little boy and I Corinthians 10:13 seared in her memory she surely would have been dead.

Natalie invited her to a singles meeting. She was nervous about meeting Christians, but their love and welcome made a big impression upon her. She was amazed when the missionary lady quoted 1 Corinthians 10:13 and said, “We all experience troubles and tribulations in our lives. But this Bible is for us when we have troubles and we don’t know what to do. If we read it, God can lead us in the right direction.” Later, Natalie asked her if she wanted to be part of a Bible study. Shoko cringed at first, but since she was constantly looking for new insights to her problems, she thought a Bible study might actually be a positive thing.

Shoko said, "Throughout the study, Natalie explained that I am a sinner and that Jesus gave His life for me. She asked me if I wanted to believe. It took awhile, but I finally answered, ‘Yes, I believe,’ and an unusual peace swept over me and made my heart at rest. I prayed to God with Natalie, and He forgave my sins and made me His child.”
As I thought about all my sins being forgiven, I was overjoyed! I felt like a puppet whose strings were finally cut. I kept asking Natalie, “Are you sure my sins are forgiven?” She would answer, “All of your sins are forgiven and today is your new birthday.”
Even when I chose death, God was working through my friends to save me. Had Mr. and Mrs. Aida not come to my office, had they not mentioned Natalie’s name, had Mr. Tago come a day later—if even one of these events had happened differently—I believe I would be dead today. Had Natalie’s house been free of cockroaches, we would have not become friends. And I would not have studied the Bible or been introduced to Christ. From the bottom of my heart, I’m thankful that He provided my way of escape.
(Adapted from

Shoko's story illustrates some truths for us that the Bible expounds over and over. Let's look in the book of Acts for some Biblical examples of three great truths.


1. God uses the Willing [v. 14-22]

2. God uses the Wicked [v. 23]

3. God uses the Word [v. 24-31]

4. God uses the Witnesses [v. 32-37]


1. Not everyone is delighted when you do God's work [v. 1-17]

2. Not everyone is dedicated enough to do God's work [v. 18-20]

3. No One can do God's work without God's help! [v. 29-33]


1. The will of God mainly involves obedience [5:25-29]

2. The will of God may involve suffering [5:40-42]

3. The will of God might involve death [7:54-60]

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