Dear San Lo Community, an update for January 1, 2017…
Thank you Pastor Eric for the message from Exodus 1, “the Fear of Man vs. the Fear of GOD.” What do you fear? FOMO, the fear of missing out, is causing distress among thousands of people today. FOMO is a fear of man to miss out on what man is doing. It causes us to become envious, jealous, and sinful. We react by wanting more things of man than of God. Pharaoh had all of the power of the world in his hands yet his greatest fear was losing that power. So much so that it drove him to act out in sinful ways. The beginning of Exodus provides us with a deep and dividing contrast between the fear of man and the fear of God, having an unhealthy fear vs. a healthy one. What are you afraid of?
1) The fear of God anchors us in the sovereignty of God. (vv.1-7) The fear of God acknowledges God is in complete control over my life, my circumstances, and my situation in life. Exodus begins with the names of the sons of Israel. It is easy to gloss over the genealogy because it seems like just a list of names. However, there is a profound message and theological meaning here. There are the twelve tribes of Israel as well as the significant and important family tree and line of Moses and Aaron, King Saul, and then the line David to Christ. This is a continuation of God’s moving story throughout history, His sovereign plan of redemption and salvation through specific people. This is especially meaningful for an Israelite at this time as they have followed God’s order and commandments yet they are still in Egypt. Every Israelite may have been wondering if God had forgotten His covenant promise to them. Many times, we ask the same questions and feel the same way an Israelite might have. God, I’ve followed your plans and have done what you’ve asked of me but I am not seeing a way out of my problems. Lord, I feel hurt and discouraged and am overwhelmed with anxiety and fear. This might be your story and the story of Israel but as we read the words of Exodus, this is not God’s story, nor His plan. God is still moving, God is still working, and God is still delivering. God is sovereign and in control and there is hope. We don’t need to be afraid or distressed because we can put our hope and our trust in God. Let’s fear God and hold on tightly to Him.
2) The fear of man causes us to think and to do sinful things. (vv.8-16) The fear of man makes us act out in wicked ways. It drives a person to feel afraid, distressed, or uneasy. Years have gone on by in the land of Egypt and a Pharaoh unknown to the help of Joseph is in power. He becomes dreadfully afraid of Israel’s increased size and number. They have taken God’s command literally to go and multiply. This has caused great concern in the eyes of Pharaoh that one day, Israel by sheer number and force will overtake Egypt. Out of his fear of man, Pharaoh devises a scheme to oppress the people of Israel with slave labor and adds the threat of genocide. Out of Pharaoh’s fear, he goes after the future of Israel by the killing of the sons of Israel. When you think about what is happening here, it is horrifying and catastrophic. Pharaoh’s fear of losing power, control, and even his own life causes him to abort and kill all the boy babies of Israel, not just a few or by one’s choice, every single precious baby boy. This was mass genocide. Yet, here for Israel, there is a greater tension for a complete loss of God’s people, an entire nation, and God’s covenant promise. They are all put on the line because of one man’s fear, one man’s obsession, and one man’s power. If the fear of the Lord is the beginning of all wisdom, the fear of man is the beginning of all foolishness and failure. It is the snare of Satan to corner us into thinking and believing that we need to be in control. It is the enemy’s trap to cause man to sin and to step outside of the bounds of His commandments. The fear of man leads us to believe that God isn’t in control so we try to take control for ourselves.
3) The fear of God delivers us from the fear of man. (vv.17-22) Having a right and healthy respect for the sovereign Lord redeems us from ourselves both right now and for eternity. Being in continual awe and reverence of God will save us from our sinful ways. We see that there are just two Hebrew midwives for all the nation of Israel who helped mothers give birth on birth stools. These women have a significant job to do and they do a significant thing when they deny a direct order from Pharaoh, the king of Egypt, to kill the male children at birth. They stood up to him in defiance as they feared God, Yahweh, King of the Universe, far above the king of Egypt. God honored their respect for Him with great blessing in their own lives. Once again, we see the Mighty and Sovereign hand of God intervene with blessings for these women, and also to save the nation of Israel. They could have died by the hand of Pharaoh, yet through their faith in God they are blessed. Does that sound like God’s salvation plan? Both the Israelite then and the Christian now believe that God will redeem them. This is the biblical theme and thread throughout Scripture that God has and is working to save His people. Today, we know that God came down from Heaven in the form of a man, Jesus Christ, to save us from our sinful ways. If we put our faith in Christ, if we fear God above man and ourselves, if we trust in Him for our salvation, then God will redeem us from His wrath and eternity of torment, and He will bring great blessing to us. God’s love drives out fear. Out of that fear and love of GOD, Jesus removes our sense of fear over man. God strips us down to see our only need is GOD, HIMSELF!
Do you have FOMO, the fear of missing out on something this year? Do you feel like you’ve got to do this or that or have a wish list for 2017? Do you have a bucket list? The fear of God says, “Trust in the Lord will all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make straight your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil.” Let us come to the Lord today with a reverence before our God. Give Him your aspirations and hopes for 2017. Let us allow Christ to be at the center of our choices, our relationships, and our lives. Let us surrender ourselves under His mighty Hand and let Him reign in us. So that after this year is done, we can look back and see not what we have done, but what God has done in us so that all the praise goes to Him.
1/7 8:30am Missions Prayer
1/7 9:30am-noon Winter Vision Planning meeting
1/7 2:00pm Celebration of life service for Eleanor Mayeda
1/8 both services Sheldon Yee – Hong Kong Short Term Mission - invitation to attend 1/22 information meeting
1/8 12:15pm Church Information Meeting
1/13-16 Winter Vision Conference in Watsonville
1/14 10am-4pm NorCal 4-Church Nichigo New Year’s Meeting
1/15 6:00pm Evening Service special guest speaker – Pastor Tatsuya Shindo (former Yakuza member)
1/22 AADP – Bone Marrow Donor Drive
1/22 12:45pm Evangelism seminar, “Sharing the Gospel” (Jeff Kataoka)
1/27 5:30pm F3 Potluck Dinner and Fellowship Time (Pastor Scott & Michi Shimada)
1/29 9:00am Small Group Kickoff Breakfast (Pastor Eric)
1/29 12:15pm Baptisms & New Membership Transfers – Reception/Joint Fellowship Hour
1/30-2/2 OMS Pastor’s Retreat
2/5 9:00am Deacon’s Meeting in room 8-9
2/5 12:30pm Baby Shower – Wendy and Jeff Chun
2/12 12:15pm Gro San Lo – Capital Campaign Launch Meeting
2/12 12:45pm Missions Team Meeting in room 8-9
2/25 (t.b.d.) 55+ Senior Care – PACE, Laurie Shigekuni, Janet Ruehle
Praise and thanks to God for this New Year!
Stan, for SLZJCC