February 25 - Message Update

SanLo Community, an update for the week of February 25, 2018

Thank you Pastor Brian for the message from Ephesians 5:1-21, “Living Out God’s Grace.” God has paid our sin debt.  Though we continue to fail, we have been given a blank check signed by God to pay for our sins.  This undeserved gift, this blank check from God is called grace.  From this morning’s scripture, Christians are called to be imitators of God by living out the grace of God. How is God’s grace lived out?    

1) God’s grace is live out through our LOVE. (vv.1-2) God’s grace is lived out in us when we walk in the same manner as Jesus walked.  When we love others as Jesus loves us, God’s grace is lived out.  Jesus is the prime example of grace lived out through His sacrificial love.  It is this sacrificial love of Jesus that we are to imitate, “Christ loved you and gave Himself up for you as an offering and sacrifice to God a fragrant aroma.” (v.2). You who know Jesus as your Lord and Savior exist to live out God’s grace through your love.  You become a fragrant aroma to God when you show and love upon others.  For the Christ-follower, love is a lifestyle. At the same time you realize that living for God is not easy.  None of us are perfect.  We are selfish, self-centered, and self-reliant.  We want life to happen our way, according to our time.  It is sin that keeps us living for ourselves rather than for God. We become a fragrant aroma to God when consideration for a person’s well-being is more important than winning an argument.  We smell good to God when we willingly sacrifice our time, energy and resources to care for one another. Practical and tangible expressions of care for members of God’s family are an indication of the spiritual health of a church. We live out God’s grace through our LOVE. 

2) God’s grace is lived out through our PURITY. (vv.3-14)  Living in purity is conducting ourselves honestly, with integrity and morally.  Followers of Christ are called to be people of righteous character who seek to do the right thing.  We desire to honor God because of His grace and to live out a life of high moral standards and purity. Paul taught believers that living out the grace of God has a higher goal, a higher standard of moral living.  Purity is not sexual immorality, impurity, and covetousness (v.3). It is not filthy or silly, foolish talk, coarse crude joking (v.4).  This verse is not just about swearing it’s about speaking in ways that makes a person feel bad about themselves. Words or attitudes that hurt a person’s character and self-esteem are not living out the grace of God through purity. We see from (vv.6-11) purity is living out God’s grace, our purity sheds light on darkness. Living out the grace of God through our purity means we are not only accountable to a higher moral standard but we are to expose deeds of darkness (v.11).  Deeds of darkness is when someone follows the path of impurity to destroy others. Shining light on darkness is very difficult and takes great courage but to expose wrongs is living out God’s grace. God is calling you to live out God’s grace in purity by being a light in a dark place.

3) God’s grace is lived out through our WISDOM. (vv.15-20) To be wise is to apply all of your experience and knowledge towards making good decisions and judgments.  When you put into practice what you have learned in God’s Word, wisdom will guide you throughout life. What does it mean to live wisely according to this text? Living wisely is being filled with the Spirit v. 17-18.  Being filled with the Spirit is how we begin to grasp God’s will.  The life of wisdom is characterized by the influence or filling of the Holy Spirit.  There are three indicators of being filled with Spirit. 1) Being filled with the Spirit leads us to communicate with one another and the Lord Jesus in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs (v.19). We communicate with one another when together we praise our Lord through songs.  2) Being filled with the Spirit leads us to be give continual thanks to God in all things (v.20) 1 Thessalonians 5:18 reinforces this attitude of gratitude, “Give thanks in everything because this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”  3) Being filled with the Spirit leads us to a willingness to submit and serve one another in reverence to Christ Jesus. (v.21) Wisdom tells us that to live in the grace of God is a willingness to live sacrificially for the benefit of others. To live out God’s grace by our wisdom is to be filled with the Spirit.  We would be wise to seek God’s will through communicating with the Lord and each other at church, learn to give thanks in everything, and willingly serve a fellow member of the body of Christ. 

The truth of the Gospel of Jesus extends grace to everyone. God’s love is amazing! He offers grace to every repentant soul regardless of wrongs committed.  It is this grace that should move us to live out LOVE, PURITY, and WISDOM.

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Thank you Jessica Pham for the Children’s Message also from Ephesians 5:1-2. We are to be imitators of God. What does it mean to imitate? Copy someone. If we are to copy or imitate Jesus, we need to know Him. How do we do that? Through the Bible, prayer, being around other followers of Christ at church. We can love others like Jesus because He first loved us.

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Thank you to those who stayed for the “Important Church Meeting.” Our Elder Board Chair, Frank Nakasone, shared a video presentation (thank you Jondy) identifying our potential new church location as Faith Fellowship only 0.7 miles from our current location. There are still many steps to take before any kind of negotiation can even begin, mainly our church membership’s prayer, discussion, and approval. There is currently an interested party to purchase our church (another local church) so please pray for the Lord’s discernment, wisdom and unity as the next steps are explored. Please remember this is not a done-deal, it is in the early stages of development, no offer has even been expressed. 

Elder, Kenneth Yu, gave an estimated financial summary and forecast for what it might take to get from where we are now to where we’d need to be to take such a step.

Pastor Rod gave a historical snapshot of our beginnings 88 years ago to where we now have outgrown our current facility and shared this message:

This is an exciting, challenging, and faith-stretching time for us at San Lorenzo Japanese Christian Church. As we seek ways to address our needs as “a gospel community of growth for all generations,” we must be sure we are seeking God’s will and way for our future.

I am blessed, as I am sure many here feel, to have witnessed and participated in this pivotal time in our history. Personally speaking, this church has been home for Koko and me for more than half our lives; chosen as bi-vocational lead pastor in 2003, then full-time four years later, was unanticipated but we definitely saw God’s hand in the situation.

I have always been a proponent of succession planning, whether in secular or ministry service, and for nine years have been intentional in that purpose.

This has been a unified process, involving families, pastoral staff, and church leadership. With prayer, discussion, and God’s discernment, I am announcing my retirement effective December 31 of this year, and am pleased to share that the Board of Elders has interviewed and selected Pastor Eric Yata as Lead Pastor Designate. The future of this church and its continuing growth is, and has always been, in God’s hands and He has chosen Pastor Eric to serve Him in this calling.

Pastor Eric called up the Elders and staff to pray for Pastor Rod and Koko, sharing much appreciation for the many years of ministry, mentoring, helping through a very challenging time as a church, assisting many individuals going through difficult situations and giving and sacrificing much behind the scenes care and nurturing of this congregation.

Please continue to pray for and support GROW SANLO!

 

Have a blessed week living out God’s grace,

Stan,  for SLZJCC