Dear San Lo Community, an update for the week of June 24, 2012…
Thank you to Pastor Brian Tekawa for the message from Matthew 5:17-20, “Kingdom Living.” Through our sermon series in Matthew, “The Greatest Sermon Ever Told,” we will explore Jesus’ sermon to help us realize what it means to live as citizens of His kingdom. As we exam verses 17-20 of Matthew chapter 5, living as a citizen of the kingdom of heaven means, you are to live obediently and righteously before God. Matthew 22:36-40,“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and you shall love neighbor as yourself.” Because of false teaching from others, Jesus emphasizes (vv.17-18) that He did not come to abolish the Law or the Prophets but He came to fulfill it and bring the Law to completion. Jesus was saying He had arrived, and in doing so, He confirms Himself as the Messiah, the ultimate authority, THE KING of Israel, THE KING of God’s people, THE KING of heaven. Any person who believes in and trusts their life to Jesus become citizens of the kingdom of heaven. How are citizens of the kingdom of heaven to live?
1) Citizens of the kingdom of heaven are to live obediently. As a member of God’s realm, living in obedience to His Word is what Jesus instructs His followers to do. To live under the authority of God, is what He desires for citizens of His kingdom. The depth of commitment of keeping the Law is emphasized by the statement that not even the smallest letter or stroke of the alphabet shall pass from the law until all is accomplished. Jesus further says that, “Whoever annuls the least of these commandments shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven.” It is very important to understand that this is not about salvation, but how you live, affects your relationship with God. Obedience to God’s commandments is what He desires but also benefits you. We are to keep or accomplish, commit to, to do, execute (poieo) His commandments (v.19). When we choose obedience to God, amazing things happen and we are drawn nearer to Him. He desires the best for us in life and knows that if we commit to living in obedience to His commandments, our lives will be full, abundant, and complete. Besides keeping the commandments, you are to teach (didasko – preaches, instructs). To know God, is to live as His Word teaches, although no one can keep all the commandments of God. Only Jesus can fulfill the Law and the Prophets. Only Jesus qualifies you as a citizen of the kingdom of heaven, but this should not stop you from being obedient. God desires us to keep and teach His commandments. We should live in obedience to His commandments because we are His citizens.
2) Citizens of the kingdom of heaven are to live righteously. Kingdom living means its members are to do the right things, act the right way, and make the right choices that would please God. (v.20) Jesus says, “Unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.” Jesus makes it very clear not to live as a scribe or a Pharisee. He admonishes them for their self-serving pious ways, teaching the way into God’s kingdom is through their own legalistic rules. Matthew 23:27, “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which on the outside appear beautiful, but inside they are full of dead men’s bones and all.” In their strict adherence to the Law and the Prophets the Pharisees and Scribes missed the message of Jesus. They did not accept that only through Jesus’ death and resurrection can God’s requirements to enter His kingdom be fulfilled. Jesus taught kingdom living is a righteous life nurtured from the inside-out not as the Pharisees and Scribes lived, looking good on the outside, but having nothing on the inside. Not that the good things they did were necessarily wrong, but no amount of kind acts will completely purify a person’s heart. This inside-out transformation to righteous living is the message of the gospel. It is counter to the religious teaching of the time and even today. There is nothing you can do to cause God to love you any more other than having Jesus in our lives. Kingdom living is living righteously, doing the right thing, thinking the right thoughts, and making the right choices even if no one else knows but yourself.
Living as citizens of His kingdom is not speaking about salvation, it is about living for God in obedience to Him and living rightly for Him. Jesus later in Matthew summarizes all of God’s commandments with two statements. Matthew 22:36-40, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and you shall love neighbor as yourself.” There have been numerous examples of fulfilling God’s commandment to love a neighbor by members of SANLO over the years. Those who have visited the sick, made food for those in need, wrote cards or letters of encouragement, prayed, and even helped financially are loving their neighbors. Maybe you are sensing God leading you to love a neighbor. Take the risk and do the right thing! Live for the king. Live obediently and do the right thing, because you have trusted your life to Jesus, and because you are a citizen of His kingdom.
Thank you to Greg Yata for the Children’s message. With school out for summer, it is a time to enjoy sports. There are rules to playing games like soccer or baseball that we follow to play responsibly. The same with driving a car, there are rules of the road to follow to avoid accidents or penalties. The bible teaches about God’s laws. Ask God to help us to obey Him.
Please pray for all those serving at JEMS Mt.Hermon and Special Camp July 1-7. Serving at Special Camp: Bruce and Val Satow (Directors); Koko Yee (Bible Teacher); Eiko Kanzaki (Health Supervisor); Kimi Utsumi Yee, Emily Devey and Lawrence Yano (Aide staff); with Pastor Rod Yee, Kevin, Judy Sugiyama and family (staff supporters). Senior High Camp: Chris Wu (Core Staff for Media); Richard Shinoda (Core Staff for Sound-Resource); Josh Scott (Cabin Leader).
Please pray for the Chiba 2012 missions team: Todd Fong (SLZJCC team co-leader), Jayne, Jeremy, Ayumi Fong (already in Japan), Dennis Yata, Gloria Kama, Ashley Hu, and Hajime Kanzaki from SLZJCC. Also, Mike Rodriguez (FACC team leader) and Elena Woo from FACC, June 26 – July 10. Praise God for supplying all their support needs and more!
Have a blessed week in the Lord,
Stan, for SLZJCC