April 2 - Message Update

Dear San Lo Community, an update for the week of April 2, 2017

Thank you Pastor Eric, for the message from Exodus 20:18-26, “Building a Heart of Worship.” We are continuing in our series called, A Great GOD for a Great Movement, in the book of Exodus. We’ll focus on a new section in the Book of the Covenant and the topic of worship. Romans 12:1, “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.” Christians want to follow God and worship Him…if so, How and why are we to worship Jesus Christ?

1) We are to worship God exclusively because He alone is God. We worship the God of the Bible because there are no other gods to worship. (vv.18-23) 18 Now when all the people saw the thunder and the flashes of lightning and the sound of the trumpet and the mountain smoking, the people were afraid and trembled, and they stood far off 19 and said to Moses, You speak to us, and we will listen; but do not let God speak to us, lest we die.” 20 Moses said to the people, Do not fear, for God has come to test you, that the fear of Him may be before you, that you may not sin.” 21 The people stood far off, while Moses drew near to the thick darkness where God was. 22 And the Lord said to Moses, Thus you shall say to the people of Israel: ‘You have seen for yourselves that I have talked with you from heaven. This is a huge transition point from the Ten Commandments to this miraculous event in the Book of the Covenant. There is thunder, flashes of lighting, sounds of the trumpet and smoke coming from the mountain. It causes the people to be afraid and fear the Lord. God wants their full and undivided attention because of what He has just said (Ten Commandments) and what He is about to say (Book of the Covenant).  God speaks to them loud and clear and shows HIS POWER AND MAJESTY.  He gives Israel this experience to bring about a healthy fear of God because He knows from that fear will come an obedience to follow Him. These terms define a biblical fear of God: respect and awe. God, who created the heavens and the earth, who controls the moon, stars, lightning and thunder,  who died and rose from the dead, who redeems and saves people from Hell and Satan, who is coming back again says, “Come see how BIG, POWERFUL, AWESOME, MIGHTY, AND GREAT I AM. Don’t be afraid of ME but be in awe of ME that you may not sin. Therefore, you will not have any other gods beside ME.”

2) We worship God sacrificially, because He is good. (vv.23-24) 23 You shall not make gods of silver to be with me, nor shall you make for yourselves gods of gold. 24 An altar of earth you shall make for me and sacrifice on it your burnt offerings and your peace offerings, your sheep and your oxen. In every place where I cause my name to be remembered I will come to you and bless you. After the Ten Commandments, God offers His people the Book of the Covenant which is the covenant between Moses and God and lays out the relationship between God and His people during this time. It is not just a contract, but a marriage commitment between God and His people. God wants and desires for His people to live with Him. You give to God accordingly to what you have been given. There is no longer a sacrificial system of offering. This is true because when Jesus Christ died on a cross for our sins, He became the ultimate sacrifice for us. Christ ended all offerings as the perfect offering, the Lamb of God for sin, for all time. So, then comes the question, why sacrifice then? Why tithe? Why bring an offering to God? We give because He’s given to us. Our offering is a thanksgiving to God. We give because there is a blessing and joy in the giving, not to pay God back, but we give wanting to see others worship Jesus Christ through the ministries of the church. Giving is a way to worship God tangibly.

3)  We worship God properly because He is worthy. (vv.25-26) 25 If you make me an altar of stone, you shall not build it of hewn stones, for if you wield your tool on it you profane it. 26 And you shall not go up by steps to my altar, that your nakedness be not exposed on it. This final couple of verses is part of the Book of the Covenant that has to do with proper worship of God. God spells it out very specifically how they are to worship Yahweh. They are to build an altar of stone. God’s instruction in verse 25, “You shall not build it of hewn stones, not dressed stones and with no steps.” So, why does God put so much detail into His instruction? God preferred earthen stones rather than perfectly cut stones, because the Canaanites, foreigners, built their altars to their gods with clean cut stones. So, for Israel to make an altar to God of simple earthly stones was making a statement that we’re different than their neighbors. They were set apart from the foreign gods, and they believed and lived only for the one true and exclusive God, Yahweh. The other reason for God’s building code is that the Canaanites used steps for their altars. God called for worship in both purity of belief and behavior in order that He might receive the glory not any man, woman, or act. So, if God is the exclusive God, then He demands our exclusive attention!  Never to be mocked or shown up by any priest, religion, or action. He must be worshipped in a proper manner and way, because He is holy, perfect, and worthy of praise.

God called His people to use earthen stones, dirty, not perfect, not all put together stones. If there is one altar or symbol that represents who God is then it is the cross of Christ.  It is not pretty, but dirty.  It is not perfect but brings perfection to those who believe. It reveals how loving and forgiving God really is. It is a picture and representation of God’s sacrifice and offering of His Son for our benefit. It represents a choice that we have to live with the world or not to, to live with God or not to live with Him. Which one would you pick?  Which one are you building in your life?  Which one do you desire yourself to be like? Choosing to follow Jesus is far more difficult and painstaking at times, but it really is the only choice if you want to worship the one true God. It is the only choice if you want to worship God who was good to Israel and is good to us. So much that we would offer up our life to Almighty God who loves us beyond our wildest imaginations and calls us to be a living sacrifice for Him.

Calendar Items:

4/4          9:30am           55+ Group to Kotobuki, Umenoki and J-sei Homes with music and Easter gifts.

4/7          7:11pm           B.A.M.

4/8       11am-3pm         Church Picnic at the CV Community Center (Vern Hu)

4/9                                Palm Sunday

4/14        7:00pm           Good Friday Services (English service & Japanese service)

4/16                              Easter

4/23   both services       Greetings/sharing from David and Sue Verwey (Japan Mission)

4/23      12:45pm           Mission Team meeting (room 8)

4/29     8am – 2pm        Love East Bay – Spring Serve (Pastor Eric)

4/29     9am – 1pm        Special Camp Aide Training (English sanctuary and kitchen use)

4/30      12:45pm           NAOMI team meeting to prepare prayer letters (room 8)

5/7     both services      Missions Moment – NAOMI House Team

5/14      12:15pm           Mother’s Day Potluck

6/3   10am – 12pm         Special Camp Team Building (English sanctuary)

6/4        12:45pm           NAOMI Team planning meeting 

6/7          9:30pm           Women’s Bible Study Praise Brunch – last meeting before summer.

6/18   both services       Missions Moment – Makoto & Amy

6/18      12:15pm           Father’s Day Potluck

6/24         (t.b.d.)           Fong’s ministry breakfast

6/25      10:45am            JEMS summer camp workers’ commissioning

7/4-7                             Shuyokai

7/2-8                             JEMS Mt. Hermon Summer Camp & Special Camp

7/13-15                         General Assembly at WCCC

7/17-21                         Vacation Bible School

7/21-25                         Brazilian Holy Arts Youth Choir (hosted by LAHC HYC) homebase & concerts at SanLo

7/22-28                         NAOMI House Mission

Have a blessed week in the Lord,

Stan,  for SLZJCC