September 17 - Message Update

Dear San Lo Community, an update for the week of September 17, 2017

Thank you Pastor Eric for the message from 1 John 2:12-17, “Authentic Community.” The Oakland A’s have Authentic Fan Fridays at the Coliseum when you can get some free gear, food voucher, cheer card and much more. But just because you purchase a ticket, does that make you an authentic fan? Possibly, but more so, being an authentic and true fan comes from the heart and a commitment to cheer your team on in victory or defeat. But what about the church, the community of believers in Jesus Christ? The church is a team as well. We are in it together! Yet, the church is called to something far more significant and something everlasting. This is what the Apostle John was trying to impart to believers in 1 John 2. That having a community is necessary and important because the consequences are eternal and the opposition will try to take us out. How do we become an authentic community in Christ?

1) Remember we are all forgiven sinners in Christ. (vv.12-13) I am writing to you, little children, because your sins are forgiven for His name's sake. I write to you, children, because you know the Father. Every single believer has been justified by the cross of Christ no matter your ethnicity, lifestyle, present, or past, you have been forgiven. God has given each one His grace and love to take away sin. John’s use of the term, little children, is a sign of endearment and affection. He is addressing the entire church, not a single group. John continues to love this church and hit home this message of forgiveness. Here in verse 2, he talks about the propitiation for their sins. This is the atoning sacrifice of Christ for their sin debt. Jesus paid for all of their sins in full, and He continues to advocate (speak on their behalf) in Heaven. We can walk in fellowship because we are cleansed by the blood of Jesus (v.7). We can be in community as one body because we are all forgiven sinners by His blood. We can have this unique and special sisterhood and brotherhood together by the cleansing blood of Christ and share in the same confession of forgiveness (v.9). We proclaim the same thing, not that we’re  holy or perfect, actually the complete opposite. But Jesus is just and faithful to forgive us, imperfect and unholy people. That means as a community of forgiven sinners, we ought to and can FORGIVE each other.  Because God has forgiven YOU, so you can forgive others! (Ephesians 4:32) We can be a genuine and authentic community when we focus on Jesus Christ and we can be honest and open with each other about our weaknesses and our flaws. 

2) Appreciate the legacy of faithful believers. (vv.13-14) I am writing to you, fathers, because you know Him who is from the beginning. I write to you, fathers, because you know Him who is from the beginning. There is again repetition here just like the previous verses. However, this time John is writing about fathers. He is specifically addressing the older generation in the church. It is understood that he writes about men within the church who were elders or deacons. This line describes someone who has known God personally. They know the Father who is the Creator from the beginning of time. They know the ageless One and they’ve grown deeper in this abiding knowledge of Jesus. The word “know” comes from the Greek word “gnosis,” which I think John uses very strategically here. It’s the same word used by the Gnostics, the group trying to influence the church, for their special knowledge or understanding of salvation. This special knowledge was not in line with Scripture. It was a heresy. So John uses these men as a rebuttal to Gnosticism as a living testimony.

3) Remain steadfast in the Lord and His Word. (vv.13-14) I am writing to you, young men, because you have overcome the evil one. I write to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the evil one. There is growing in the depth of Scripture and Christ and an overcoming of sin, struggle, pain, sorrow, and life in order to glorify God. There is a surrendering of heart, mind, and soul to the allegiance of the Holy Spirit. John is writing to younger people in the church. John describes them as the warriors of the faith, who are maturing and growing in their relationship with Jesus Christ, and they have encountered spiritual warfare. Satan is trying to steal them away before their life and faith are fully established. John says their strength is a two-fold strength: One, their strength is in the work of Christ and the Holy Spirit in their lives. Two, their strength is in the abiding force, the Word of God. The Word will help them defend against Satan’s doubts of faith and temptations to sin. Christ and His forgiveness delivers us from doubt and faithlessness. The finished work of the cross brings us assurance that He has conquered the grave so He’ll help us conquer life. Secondly, when Satan tempts us to sin, the Word of God empowers us to turn from sin and to cling to Christ. The Word is the force in our lives to strengthen us against the temptations of the Devil. (Hebrews 10:24-26) Let us look to Him together. Let us cling and hold fast to the Word of God as a community. Let us never surrender to Satan and his lies. Let us be a community deep in the power of the Spirit and His Word.

4) Beware of worldly influence. (v.15-17) 15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. 17 And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever. John’s warning begins in verse 15 with, do not love!  It is in the imperative form so it is a strong and definite command. Do not love the world. If you love the world, then the love of God is not in you. The world is described here by having a worldview or perspective contrary to God, the desires of flesh, eyes, and pride of life. The desires of flesh appeal to our appetites and our cravings. This is the tendency to fulfill natural desires with something contrary to God’s will that might draw us away from Him. The second worldly perspective is the desire of eyes that appeal to our affections. This sinful interest refers toward what can be seen. The third part of loving the world is simply pride. Pride says, “Look at me, look what I have or what I’ve done.”  The world’s influence and attraction are only temporary satisfactions in life. They pale in comparison to the eternal satisfactions in Christ. There is nothing greater than Christ, Himself. He is what we must long for, He is what we need to love, and He only will satisfy us. 

We all are in this fight together and we can help each other fight against Satan and the world’s influence. Our fellowship in the Word and with each other will safeguard us from temptation and grow our affection for Jesus.  We need each other! Sometimes, the hardest places in our world are the closest and dearest places like family. Sometimes even church can be a rough place at times. However, if we remember that church is a family, we’re in it together, and we’re all forgiven sinners, then God can do amazing things. Here at SANLO, we’re a gospel community of growth for every generation. God calls us to continue to grow by praying for each, loving one another, being honest, and living in forgiveness. Let us remain steadfast in our Lord and to His Word so that we might continue to see the beauty of Christ in and among us all.

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Missions Moment:

Thank you, Pastor John Katagi, Director of Missions to Brazil with JEMS and Holly Yamagata who led a team of 4 this past June 28 through July 17 on a short term mission through JEMS. They both emphasized how God can use people who are willing to serve with the gifts God has given them and that it is not a requirement to have special skills to qualify. Please pray if the Lord is calling you to serve on a mission trip this coming year. Please pray for Holly as she is looking for work in the SF Bay Area, for her to get her resume finalized and sent out to various potential employers.

Calendar Items:

9/21      10:00am            First weekly Lamb’s Club

9/23    10am-12pm         Potluck Brunch for supporters of Andy Jeung / ERRC

9/29      12:00pm            55+ Potluck Lunch – Dancing Through Life – Dorothy Toy Story (Rick Quan)

10/1      12:45pm            Mission Team meeting (room 8-9)

10/7        8:45am           Missions Prayer

10/7   9:30am-1pm         Winter Vision Planning meeting (8-9-10)

10/7                              JCCWC 40th Anniversary

10/8        5:00pm           Evening Praise Service with Junko Nishiguchi Cheng

10/13                            40th Day of Prayer started September 4

10/14                            88th Anniversary (10/13/1929) and Fall Banquet

10/31                            Harvest Festival

Have a blessed week in the authentic community of Jesus Christ,

Stan, for slzjcc