Dear SanLo Community, an update for the week of December 10, 2017…
Thank you Pastor Eric for the message from Matthew 1:18-25, “Let’s Celebrate!” There is so much going on this time of year with so many great things taking place and it is really easy to get lost in all the hustle and bustle of the season. However, this is all the more reason for us focus our on attention firmly on Christ, for He is truly the reason for the season. Why do we celebrate Christmas? Matthew gives us three great reasons…
We celebrate Christmas because God came to save us. (vv.18–21) 18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When His mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. 19 And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. 20 But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will bear a son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.” Joseph has a tremendous dilemma on his hands. Mary, the one he loves and is betrothed to, is pregnant, yet they haven’t been intimate. According to the Law, she had committed adultery, which was punishable by stoning. Joseph’s character is amazing as he’s holding onto the Word of God, yet he has compassion for Mary. He concludes to divorce her privately in order that he might not shame her, but show her mercy. With all this drama in the background, Joseph is met by an angel with a great resolution to his problem. God has caused this virgin birth. The Holy Spirit has come to bear the God-man, Jesus. Matthew emphasizes the work of the Holy Spirit here to signify something extraordinary, something Holy, and something supernatural has taken place. In verse 20, the angel says, “Do not fear. Your wife is going to continue the line of kings from David to Solomon and now Jesus.” The long awaited Messiah has come. She will bear the Son of God, the Savior of the World. In order for God to save us, He had to represent us. He had to become fully human yet be fully God. The only way to save us was through the Immaculate Conception, the virgin birth. God had to become man in order to save man. It was the only way! Only God Himself could satisfy His own perfect standard. Only God could make the full payment for sin and death. Only God could love us in becoming human flesh to save us from our sin debt. God did just that! This is why we celebrate Christmas. This is why we cherish and treasure the baby Jesus. This is why His birthday is so important because He was born to die in order we might have life in Him. Have you come to faith in Jesus Christ? If so, Christmas becomes something really special for you to celebrate, your spiritual birthday in Christ. Christmas becomes your salvation from death to life. We celebrate Christmas, because Jesus came to save us.
We celebrate Christmas because God came to be with us. (vv.22-23) 22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: 23 “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call His name Immanuel” (which means, God with us). Matthew quotes the prophet (Isaiah 7:14) writing to a Jewish audience. When this verse was first written, it came at a tough time in the history of Judah, the southern kingdom. There was the threat of war and the end of Judah. An evil ruler is threatening to drop the bomb, but God reassures His people that God is still king and He is going to reign forever. Matthew uses Isaiah to signify that a future Messiah and King would come to reign, and now His time has come in the person of Jesus Christ. His name is Immanuel - God with us. God was present in Israel and in Judah. God was present in the midst of Joseph and Mary’s turmoil. God continues to be present in the midst of our world’s troubles and heartaches too. Immanuel provides such meaning to think that God came down from Heaven’s glories to sit with us. God came out of His Heavenly home to live in a broken and fallen world in order to know how we feel, to live in our shoes. There isn’t ever a time when the Lord has strayed from you, He is your Immanuel, He has always stuck by your side and never let you go. He’s holding onto you so hold onto Him. We can celebrate that fact this Christmas. We can know our God hangs in there with us. We can praise God that He’s there through thick and thin.
We celebrate Christmas because God came to change us. (vv.24–25) 24 When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, 25 but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called His name Jesus. Joseph had a real life crisis. He had a real life mess on his hands. He had a legit dilemma. His wife was pregnant and he doesn’t know what to do. But God shows up and God was doing a work in him. God was not just shaping the world, but He was shaping Joseph too, and God will do the same for us. Now even after that drama is over, he continues to stay obedient to God by staying pure, in accordance with the Jewish culture. Abstinence was a sign of purity during pregnancy and before marriage. What a great lesson for us all in this day and age. The bigger reason for his abstinence is NOT just to keep the sanctity of marriage, but the sanctity of the virgin birth, the miracle of God. Joseph didn’t want to risk the testimony of the Holy Spirit and the work of God. He kept the purity of the moment intact for the world to truly know God had come. There is something powerful and extraordinary about Joseph’s faith and obedience, where God wanted to not only transform the world but this humble man. God wants to do the same thing for all of us. God doesn’t want us to settle for where we are in life but wants to change and to transform us into His image. We are never alone and God is never done with us. The birth of Christ teaches us that He is ever present, Immanuel - God with us. His love is never stopping, never ending, always giving, right there with us so that we might be changed people, transformed people into the image of our Savior and our God. Just like Joseph, just like Mary, and just like you and me.
Let’s celebrate salvation in Christ. Let’s celebrate God is with us. Let’s celebrate our transformation in Christ.
12/13 9:30am Women’s Bible Study – Movie Day
12/15 5:00pm Youth Group Semi Formal Christmas Dinner Party (see Pastor Scott for details)
12/16 11am-1:30pm ICC Annual Christmas Outreach (see Pastor Scott for details)
12/24 5:00pm Evening Praise and Worship – Candlelight Service
12/31 Joint Fellowship Hour
1/1/2018 11:00am Bilingual New Year Service (Pastor Sunao Shimada)
1/12-15 Winter Vision
1/14 both services Mission Moment – Munetaka and Sandy Mori
1/21 Childrens’ Dedications
1/28 9:00am Small Groups Kickoff Breakfast
Have a wonderful week, celebrating Jesus Christ,
Stan, for slzjcc