March 5 - Message Update

Dear San Lo Community, an update for the week of March 5, 2017…

Thank you to Pastor Rod for the message from Exodus 15:22-27, “Bittersweet Blessing.” The definition of bittersweet can mean sweet with a bitter aftertaste or having both bitter and sweet taste at the same time, but here as we look at God’s hand upon the Israelites, the bitter becomes sweet. The Exodus demonstrates God caring for His people, from slavery to the promised land. Moses is the key figure, who is in direct communication with God. This passage is three stories tied together – water, bread, meat (quail).  We see the grumbling due to lack of essentials for survival and there is nothing more crucial than water. Thus they begin 40 years of wandering in desert. How should we view life’s struggles?

God’s Quest. (vv.22-25) 22 Then Moses led Israel from the Red Sea, and they went out into the wilderness of Shur; and they went three days in the wilderness and found no water. Most know about the parting of the Red Sea, and can understand they would have been glad to not see another drop of water but they are in search of more for survival. They are in the Northern part of the Sinai Peninsula, an area of white, glaring sand turning into hilly country of sand dunes, and are three days in the wilderness, as they either brought none or have just run out.  23 When they came to Marah, they could not drink the waters of Marah, for they were bitter; therefore it was named Marah. 24 So the people grumbled at Moses, saying, “What shall we drink?” grumbled  - the people complained for good reason, it was a matter of life or death. Just three days before, they sang a song of worship, triumph, and their deliverance, saved from the Egyptians but found themselves thirsty, in a serious, urgent situation for their families, livestock, and selves. They directed their anger at Moses. Their initial grumblings were due to need which were later directed towards God in creating the wrongful object of the golden calf showing their spiritual failure. The bitter water created bitter people. We all go through difficulties. Do hard experiences make us bitter or better? 25 Then he (Moses) cried out to the Lord, and the Lord showed him a tree; and he threw it into the waters, and the waters became sweet. Moses knows who to go to and cried out to the Lord - God is responsible as demonstrated through His control over the untamable waters of the Nile River and Red Sea. A command is not used but the Lord showed him a tree, to teach and instruct. …threw it into the waters, and the waters became sweet - was this a natural fix or a miracle of purification? Had they forgotten all the miracles they had just seen earlier in Egypt and at the Red Sea? Israel’s short term memory is not about forgetting what happened but who is behind those blessings, behind all things, behind all life.

God’s Test. (vv.25b-26) There He made for them a statute and regulation, and there He tested them. Tested them – “to subject to difficulty in order to prove the quality of someone or something.” When we are tested, it shows our true beliefs, our understanding and our perspective.  It is not how loudly we praise God, but how deeply we trust Him in the dark times. 26 And He said, “If you will give earnest heed to the voice of the Lord your God, and do what is right in His sight, and give ear to His commandments, and keep all His statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you which I have put on the Egyptians;  (diseases = plagues). Is this a threat or a warning from God? A threat implies to bring a hostile action where a warning cautions of impending danger. Here, God is warning if they do not obey, and is not threatening them. He wants the best for us. God tests us to make us better, not bitter. We are to worship God forever, not just here on earth. God desires to bring us to spiritual healing for eternity, not just our physical life for now.

God’s Rest.  (v.27) 27 Then they came to Elim where there were twelve springs of water and seventy date palms, and they camped there beside the waters. Elim was a few miles south of Marah which had 12 springs perhaps for the 12 tribes. This is a reversal of desert environment, bitter water, to the sweet water of Elim, a picture of what is to come, the Promised Land. We will have seasons of prosperity and positive encouragement, however, prosperity is not necessarily a sign of God’s approval. We each have our own journey of life which will include testing, but we can look forward to our time of rest in eternity. There is much research going on to extend longevity of life through technology, but living eternally comes from God. Obeying and following God’s way will lead us to His eternal life. We need to view life beyond the here and now and not be so earthly focused, so circumstance focused, so self-focused that we miss out on the Good Life now in Jesus Christ… and rest in it as God’s rest is forever. Understand true rest is only found in Him, not in what we achieve, gain or possess.


Missions Sharing:

Thank you to the Satows for sharing about the opportunities available to serve at Special Camp this coming July 2-8. There will be an information meeting at our church this Saturday from 10am until noon where you can find out more about this ministry opportunity and/or go to:

Praise God! Julie Nitao has been accepted into a new mission/ministry opportunity in Japan. Please see the attached Mission Prayer Guide for more details and how you can join her support team!

Praises and Prayer Requests:

Praise – the Young Life Homestay Program has 7 host families for the 7 students coming this March 14-21. They enjoyed a week in Southern CA and are currently in Phoenix, AZ. Request - please pray that the love of Jesus Christ will be demonstrated in all of their interactions and experiences during their stay in the US and for Daisuke and Cheryl Ikegami, for their leadership for this month-long trip. (see the homestay matchups and more details in the attached MPG)

Praise – there was an encouraging turnout at this year’s NAOMI House information meeting. Request - please pray as the team will be forming as the applications are due this Sunday, March 12. There are some logistical concerns and coordination of team members as a family from JCCWC will join our team and 2 or 3 first-timers from West Covina Christian Church will also join us as they have a hands-on experience to possibly form their own team for 2018!

Remember to Spring Forward this weekend! Set your clocks ahead an hour for Daylight Saving Time!

Calendar Items:

3/10        5:30pm            Little House – Potluck and Fellowship

3/11    10am-12pm         Special Camp Information Meeting

3/14-21                          Young Life Homestay Program (Daisuke and Cheryl Ikegami)

3/19   both services       Missions Moment – Nick Wong – Thailand, Colorado, next steps

3/26        9:00am           Missions Team meet with Joey and Jasmine Tell  (

3/26        9:00am           CE Teacher’s Brunch & Training meeting

3/26      10:45am            Missions Moment – Joey and Jasmine Tell

4/1          8:30am           Missions Prayer

4/2        12:45pm            NAOMI planning meeting (room 8-9-10)

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)

5/14                                Mother’s Day Potluck

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

6/4        12:45pm            NAOMI Team planning meeting 

6/4        2pm-4pm           Koko Yee’s Piano Studio Recital

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

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


Have a sweet week in the love of Christ,

Stan, for SLZJCC