Saturday, October 16, 2010

God, Thanks For Being Faithful! 20 years of God’s Leading

“Back in 1980, the first year Rick Warren started Saddleback Church, a reporter asked him, “How big do you thing this church is going to get?" He said, "20,000 people by 2020." The reporter looked at him and said, "Who do you think you are?" Rick told him, "The question isn't who do I think I am, the question is 'Who do I think God is?'"

“The size of your God determines the size of your goal. And godly goal-setting always starts with a promise of God. Don't look at your limitations; look at the promises of God.”

After reading this statement, I remembered my own feelings about ICCS back in 1990 when we started. I had a feeling that such a church would really work in this area. While we were not in the downtown area of Tokyo, I felt that there were a lot of expats in this area who would appreciate a worship service in English. AND I felt that they would come and build on that desire. My idea was to plant another international church in, say, Nagano, and the two of us would plant a church in another country, in another city in that country. THEN the three of us would plant a church in their area and help those two new plants to plant one in another country. If city centers of countries are reached, that is where most of the people live. And so to reach the world.

That was not what the Lord lead us to do. In fact, people from our worship hall here went to the corners of the world. Many of them serve the Lord there now. What we are going to do this morning is not talk so much about ICCS but to thank God for His Faithfulness. That is His Character. God is Faithful. He loves His People. He is faithful!

We are also going to consider our response to this Faithful God. I am going to ask us to sign a document of intent. This paper is not a legal paper. It is a strong suggestion to keep our hearts in tune with the Lord God who has called us here. The plan is to reopen the letter in five years and see what the Lord has done. I will speak of this again, but 1st..

We have seen something here at ICCS over the years. In these past 20 years, well over 890 people have come to worship our Living God here. We are Enoki-Cho’s first church and with an international outreach. Funny thing, our target audiences were people from outside Japan and who spoke English, yet the first people to come were local Japanese who spoke English or were non-English speakers. Among them were people like K.-San, his wife and two children, who had attended our very first service and who speaks English very well. Others came. I. S., T-San, I-San, H-San, then S-San and others. A family from CA came who worked for a Golf Mag brought their landlord: S-San. A Canadian blue-collared worker, Joel, brought a Chinese co-worker who found salvation during his last months in Japan. Joel also bought a High School piano player who later was Baptized here. Now is married and working with his wife to bring others to Christ through their music: H and M. We had American workers from the Honda Plant and Air Force personal from Yokota Air Base-even one officer from Yokusuka Naval Yard. Teachers from CAJ, JET workers, Finance workers, English teachers, day laborers, doctors, lawyers, street dwellers, and a few undocumented individuals as well.

People were from over 30 different countries-during the Bubble Days. The most people we had in this room were 97 people. People were sitting everywhere on every chair this building had! We have had weddings, two funerals, baby dedications, Baptisms, two ordinations, prayer times and four missionary commissioning services. Concerts, lectures from Phillip Yancey. 4 ALPHA classes. Many, many Covered Dishes!

We looked at the photos and records of past Baptism and found that more than half were Japanese—and our target audience was the expats!

Some who left us related to us later that they could not find a place like ICCS in their home area. Asking why, they gave a number of answers. The video clips you will now watch express some of those feelings. Some, you will not remember because it has been that long since they were here. All experienced ICCS like you and now they will speak out for us:


All this to say, God Is faithful. He is Faithful. What can be added?

What can be added is not about ICCS but about our Lord. This Fellowship has been blessed-no question-but the ONE who blesses this place and this people is the One we want to look at this morning—and to look at Him as we look at the next 20 years.

In the ending chapter of Joshua, Joshua was finishing his term of office as leader of Israel. He put a question to the People of Israel: Whom will you serve? Let’s look at that story as we finish out this today.

Read Joshua 24: 15-31 But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD."

16 Then the people answered, "Far be it from us to forsake the LORD to serve other gods! 17 It was the LORD our God himself who brought us and our fathers up out of Egypt, from that land of slavery, and performed those great signs before our eyes. He protected us on our entire journey and among all the nations through which we traveled. 18 And the LORD drove out before us all the nations, including the Amorites, who lived in the land. We too will serve the LORD, because He is our God."

19 Joshua said to the people, "You are not able to serve the LORD. He is a holy God; He is a jealous God. He will not forgive your rebellion and your sins. 20 If you forsake the LORD and serve foreign gods, He will turn and bring disaster on you and make an end of you, after He has been good to you."

21 But the people said to Joshua, "No! We will serve the LORD."

22 Then Joshua said, "You are witnesses against yourselves that you have chosen to serve the LORD." "Yes, we are witnesses," they replied.

23 "Now then," said Joshua, "throw away the foreign gods that are among you and yield your hearts to the LORD, the God of Israel."

24 And the people said to Joshua, "We will serve the LORD our God and obey Him."

25 On that day Joshua made a covenant for the people, and there at Shechem he drew up for them decrees and laws. 26 And Joshua recorded these things in the Book of the Law of God. Then he took a large stone and set it up there under the oak near the holy place of the LORD.

27 "See!" he said to all the people. "This stone will be a witness against us. It has heard all the words the LORD has said to us. It will be a witness against you if you are untrue to your God."

28 Then Joshua sent the people away, each to his own inheritance. ...

31 Israel served the LORD throughout the lifetime of Joshua and of the elders who outlived him and who had experienced everything the LORD had done for Israel.

Neh 9:5-8 …"Stand up and praise the LORD your God, who is from everlasting to everlasting." "Blessed be Your glorious Name, and may it be exalted above all blessing and praise. 6 You alone are the LORD. You made the heavens, even the highest heavens, and all their starry host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them. You give life to everything, and the multitudes of heaven worship You.

7 "You are the LORD God, who chose Abram and brought him out of Ur of the Chaldeans and named him Abraham. 8 You found his heart faithful to You, and You made a covenant with him to give to his descendants the land of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Jebusites and Girgashites. You have kept Your promise because You are righteous.

This is the God we serve. He has not changed nor will He. He is the same, yesterday, today and forever. He is Creator God and we who believe in Him now will stand and repeat the Apostle’s Creed.

Acts 2:39 His promises are for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call."

Hear how the early Church responded to His WORD:

Acts 2:42-47 They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43 Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. 44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. 46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.

Is it this way with you and your house? Are you serving the Lord, your God with all your heart, with all your soul and all your strength and will all your mind? That was the first and biggest command the Lord has given to us.

So this is what we are going to do. We will not put up a stone up as Joshua had done. We will affix our family’s name to a document that proclaims our intent to live a life that honors the Lord Jesus. In light of the teaching of Joshua in chapter 25: 15 & 24 and in Acts 2:42-47, we will live our lives for Jesus. As far as it depend on me, I will lead my family in the worship of the Living God of the Bible.

Let me read the document: We, the undersigned, do, as much as it depends on me, support the teaching as Joshua proposed in Joshua 24: 15 and 24. “As for me and my house, we will worship the Lord.” “We will serve the Lord our God and obey Him” and shall devote ourselves to the teachings found in the Bible and shall endeavor to remain in the Fellowship of Believers.

In the year, 2015, it is to be known that this list will be read in the company of those assembled at the International Community Chapel of Saitama and the People there assembled shall praise the Living Lord God for His continued Faithfulness and Guidance.

In a state of solidarity, come to the front and sign. This can be an act of worship.

Song: As for me and my house…

Monday, October 11, 2010

He Calls Your Name... from Mark 3:1-19

Please read Mark 3:1~19.

Jesus called a man to the front of the service to heal him. He called other men to serve. He called fisher men to be fishers of men. He called you and myself to share His Love. Don’t think so? Read it again: Matthew 28: 18-20. “AS YOU GO.” Who is going? Who is the YOU? Can’t escape the call. You are to share. You are to tell. You are to live this Christian life out each and every day. And you are to be calling on Him for the power to do it.

He will give the Power. That Power is called His Holy Spirit. How does it work? You allow Him to come into your life. By saying “I want to trust You with my life” starts the new life. The Bible says that when a person becomes a Believer, they become all new.

ILLUSTRATION: Caterpillar becoming a butterfly.

We are called to follow.

There is a nice quite song about this calling…

I have a maker

He formed my heart

Before even time began

My life was in His hand

: He knows my name
He knows my every thought He sees each tear that falls And hears me when I call

I have a Father

He calls me His own
He'll never leave me
No matter where I go

Chorus: He knows my name He knows my every thought He sees each tear that falls And hears me when I call
Copyright ©1996 Doulos Publishing.

Jesus must have felt like He was in a fish bowl whenever He went out. He went to worship and there were people there looking for a fight. Looking for some reason to accuse Him. He might even heal on the Sabbath! My goodness, is that a bad thing? Sounds like those men would be against Him no matter what He did—or said. They hated Him that much.

There are many people around today that feel the same way about Jesus and His Followers. We read that certain countries are the most persecutors of the Faith. Saudi Arabia, North Korean, Egypt, some parts of Latin America and Africa. Maybe even in your office or your school or neighborhood. Or members of your own family. People really hate Jesus! They would do anything within their power (or outside the law) to bring Him down.

Here was Jesus inside a Synagogue. Unlike the Temple, people with a shriveled hand could worship here. That man could not take his worship to Jerusalem but he could go here. And here he would find people—within the worshiping community—who would want him NOT to be well—they would want him not to be made well. It suited their anger well for him to stay handicapped.

But Jesus had another idea. He sought the man out and asked him to stand up in front to everyone. Read with me verse 4. 4 Then Jesus asked them, “Which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?” But they remained silent. He was reaching out to the people to find compassion in their hearts but could not find any. As evidence of that, look at verse 5. He looked around at them in anger and, deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts He was very angry NOT to find open hearts. All He could find were stubborn hearts. All there were unwilling to be open. They were hard hearted. Jesus was angry. Deeply distressed in His heart. Even in this angry state, His Authority broke through. He called the man to stretch out his hand. “He stretched it out, and his hand was completely restored.”

What was the response of the worshiping community? They responded in hate toward Jesus. They went out angry. Why angry? Because I believe they really knew their time of control was coming to a close. This Jesus had the authority to do this and more. And they did not like that! They did not want that! They wanted to say in darkness.

They were so angry, they sought ways to join the ‘other’ side. 6Then the Pharisees went out and began to plot with the Herodians how they might kill Jesus. Wanted to join up with Herod (Not a friend of the Jews) and his gang of henchmen.

So He called this man to be healed and to show He had the authority to heal him—even on a Holy Day.

Verses 7~12 deal with Jesus dealing with many people. Some had heard about Jesus and now they wanted to see Him for themselves. Some had been healed and now others wanted that healing as well. So they pushed and shoved and gathered around Jesus to see Him in action.

Jesus felt the crowds around Him and got into a boat so Him, “to keep the people from crowding Him. 10 For He had healed many, so that those with diseases were pushing forward to touch Him.

He would not accept the witness of those who were filled with demons. He wanted His witness to be one of righteousness.

Then, He called 12 men.

Jesus went up on a mountainside and called to Him those He wanted, and they came to Him. We look at the list and we find people from all walks of life. Some educated, like Matthew, others were fishermen like Peter, James and John. Another was of a political group who wanted the downfall of Rome: Simon, the Zealot (also known as the Canaanite). Later, one was voted in to replace Judas Iscariot who betrayed Jesus and still later, Paul stepped into the role as an apostle.

The Messiah's Apostles had Hebrew names and since there is no letter "J" in the Hebrew alphabet it is difficult to know what their real names were. In the book of Mark, the Messiah is called "Jesus" but His real name began with the letter "Y" as is found in the Manga Messiah.

And why did Jesus call these men? Makes a great ball team or football team with some replacements? No, He had some real plans for them and here we see some of them.

Reason #1:That they might be with Him. That they might see the things He did and hears the things He said and witness the change of a religion to a relationship.

The second reason He had them was so that He might send them out to preach. A few times in the Gospels, Jesus sent out His followers, 2X2, to do that very thing. Preach and give testimony of God’s Grace on Earth.

He also had a third reason: and to have authority to drive out demons. That is something you don’t hear very much about today. But it was one of the reasons Jesus called these men together. To be His Band. To go and tell and do and demonstrate the Power of His Word in the lives of those He sent them. To the Greeks, to the Romans, to the Asians, to those who lived beyond Rome’s control and into the outermost.

Three reason:

· To be with Him

· To be sent out

· To have authority to drive out demons.

Do we pick and choose which of these is our calling? Don’t believe that for a moment! To be with Him means to be IN HIM. To hear the things He says and to follow them. To be grafted into His vine of ministry.

To be sent out by Him means to go into other areas of the surrounding areas—some overseas—to take what we heard Him say and share that with others. To be witnesses. To your grandchildren, your wives, your husbands, your parents, your friends, those whom you do not know yet. We are the “sent out ones”. It is not a professional role. It is not only for the ordained. It is for everyone who calls Him Lord.

Great news today. He has the authority to call people into His Service. He calls those He wants. You are those people. Won’t you respond?

He has called you by name.