Saturday, December 18, 2010

ICCS クリスマス行事/Christmas @ ICCS

祈りの道のり 12月20日(月)


Prayer Walk: December 20 (Monday)

Meet at ICCS at 10:30 for a prayer walk around Kotesashi and Tokorozawa.

シンガポール料理教室 12月22日(水)午後3:30~5:30


Singapore Cooking Class: December 22 (Wednesday), 3:30-5:30 PM

Come enjoy a demonstration of delicious Singapore cuisine. Please try to sign up in groups of 2-3. Each group should bring a gas cooking stove, utensils, and obento boxes to take your dinner home. Ingredients will be provided. Cost is ¥500/person. Babysitting provided. For details and to sign up, contact Ann Endo,

子供会 12月23日(木、祝日)午後3時から5時まで


Children’s Party--December 23 (Thursday, National Holiday), 3-5 PM

Please bring your children and their friends to this fun event led by the visiting mission team from Singapore.

キャンドルライト礼拝とキャロリング 12月24日(金、クリスマスイブ、午後7時より)礼拝、軽食、榎町の人たちと喜びを分かち合います。

Candlelight Service and Caroling--December 24 (Friday, Christmas Eve, 7 PM~)

Worship, light refreshments, sharing our joy with Enoki-cho.

シンガポールのみなさんとのクリスマス会 12月25日(土、クリスマス、午後零時から3時まで)


Singapore Community Christmas Party--December 25 (Saturday, Christmas Day), 12-3 PM)

Share the real Christmas spirit at ICCS with guests from our community, and enjoy delicious food from Singapore.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Week 3. God’s Protection and Delight

Zephaniah paints a picture of love

Big Idea: Let nothing keep you from having joy in the Risen Christ today.

If you are looking for a book in the Bible that few read, look no further than today’s passage. Zephaniah may not be one of your favorite books—and many may not have even read it before, but the last part of Chapter Three contains a wonderfully moving description on God’s love.

According to a French philosopher, Simone Weil (died in 43) there were only two things that could crack open the human heart: suffering and beauty. This picture in Zephaniah’s writings is designed to crack our hearts open with its beauty. This is not what we deserve. It isn’t what we have coming to us, but this is the Love God offers us.

Let’s read the passage first and then let’s pray together.

Zephaniah 3:14-20 (niv)

Sing, Daughter Zion; shout aloud, Israel! Be glad and rejoice with all your heart, Daughter Jerusalem! The LORD has taken away your punishment, He has turned back your enemy. The LORD, the King of Israel, is with you; never again will you fear any harm. On that day they will say to Jerusalem, “Do not fear, Zion; do not let your hands hang limp. The LORD your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in His love He will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.”

“I will remove from you all who mourn over the loss of your appointed festivals, which is a burden and reproach for you. At that time I will deal with all who oppressed you. I will rescue the lame; I will gather the exiles. I will give them praise and honor in every land where they have suffered shame. At that time I will gather you; at that time I will bring you home. I will give you honor and praise among all the peoples of the earth when I restore your fortunes before your very eyes,” says the LORD.

Lord God, may the words spoken today give encouragement to those who need it and light to those who are in darkness. May our spiritual ears hear Your songs of love sung into our hearts. Thank You that these are words of comfort and words to restore us. Thank You that we are to be built up in Your sight. In Jesus' Name, amen.

Who is this Zephaniah? And what is his story? From the opening verses, we learn that he is a man who God spoke through. In a little bit, we are going to see that his message was as right for then as it is for us today. Wait and see.

He lived in Jerusalem during a very critical time in Israel’s history. Verse one says he lived during the reign of King Josiah. For about 57 years before this king, Israel had two very bad and evil kings: Manasseh and Amon. They did not follow the teachings of the Lord and truly drove Israel away from God. Two bad kings and then one of them fathered this young man who started to clean Israel’s house in a big way.

The reforms has just really started under King Josiah. The prophet was not happy with the slow response of the Israelite people. Listen to this very strong statement: “‘I will sweep away both men and animals … I will destroy every remnant of Baal worship … (and) those who turn back from following the LORD.”

In other words, God is ready to really clean house.

Why would God be so upset? Well, the list was pretty short. The people did not know which God (gods) to serve. There was the Creator God who loved them and provided all good things for them and had a promise of even better things to come. OR the destructive, empty, angry goods called Baal and Moleck—who required child sacrifice and who’s priest were full time male and female prostitutes which were connected to a worship of sexual orgies. (1:4-6).

Another factor was that whenever God’s people turned away from God, they also forgot about the poor and the uncared for in the society. Their ‘care-level’ ran really short on care. The rich devoured the poor and the powerless (3:3-4). Those in power could care less for those in need. They wallowed in apathy and walked around with deep arrogance. They also did not like to listen to correction from anyone. (3:2). This lead to …


Because God cared deeply for the People of Israel, He and His prophet could not just put their head’s into the sand. They were going to act and the way they were going to act is call: “The Day Of The Lord.” That phrase was used at least 25 times in 53 verses. It’s meaning? God will not stand by and tolerate all this ‘stuff’ in the world. God will set things right. It is something like a Shake Up, this THE DAY OF THE LORD.

Back to football for an illustration: Notice I will not brag on the New England Patriots, but I will pick on the Minnesota Vikings. For a while, the team could not win a game yet the fans were celebrating with wild and uncontrolled parties. In short, something like a riot. To combat this bad behavior of the fans and of the team, the front office fired the coach and trading the quarterback. If you are familiar with AA and other addiction treatments, you might see this as an intervention. When a family member or someone you love sinks into an addition and can’t see his way out of it, someone needs to step in with an intervention. Someone needs to get in his face and say, “Look, you’re killing yourself and you’re hurting everyone around you. We won’t let you do this anymore!”

THE DAY OF THE LORD refers to a God-Size, global, earth-shaking, all time life-altering shake-up intervention. The Mother of all interventions happens. It starts with us (personal) and grows to governments and nations (social). This books looks at THE DAY OF THE LORD as something intense: “I have destroyed nations; … strongholds are demolished…they were still eager to act corruptly…pour out My wrath on them…all my fierce anger, the whole world will be consumed with the fire of My jealous Love.” (3:6 and 8) Not much like a love letter, is it?


You might be thinking, “I thought God was all love! I thought He was Love! Would His Love just crack my heart open with love’s beauty?” If you feel that way, you are not alone. So there are a few things about God’s Love we all need to know and understand. God’s Love is beautiful but it is not mushy. His Love is comforting but it is not cushy. His love can be strong and even fierce. Vs 17 The LORD your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in His love He will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.”

When it all comes down to it, our God IS a warrior. Looking back in the OT, we find such evidence when the Hebrew Children were leaving Egypt-through the Red Sea, they said in Exodus 15:3 “The Lord is a Warrior” they cried, “the Lord is His Name”.. Jesus is a Warrior for His People. He will fight for our freedom and for our deep joy.

See how He fights for us? Sometimes He fights AGAINST things in our lives that would destroy us. He sometimes has to fight through our sin to get us back. Like the intervention the football front office did, they took it all away and forced them to face the problem face first. You take the bottles away from the drunk, the credit cards from the over spender, the drugs from the addict and you sit down with him and offer him a better way. You give him a chance to wake up.

How does the friend respond? He might be confused and even angry. He might feel like you are against him; you’re taking his life and the source of his joy away. You’re stripping him of real happiness. But, in truth, you and I both know that you’re fighting for your friend’s life. You had become a warrior on his behalf.

If we don’t get to feel and see the fierce, warrior-like love of God for us, we may often feel confused about Him. We all need intervention from time to time. Our addictions will kill us. In Zep. 3:6, God says that He will demolish our strongholds. He will take away the lesser things that can never give us joy. God is really fighting to give us real joy.


He is not always hard on us. He is also filled with delight for us. Verse 17? “He will take great delight in you.” Here’s a question: Do you believe God likes you? Does He have anger toward you? Disappointment? Contempt? Try and remember that He is not your earthy Dad.

Repeat this please: God takes delight in me. Believe it today! When you take communion, hear that sentence and feel the joy.

Read with me: Zephaniah 3:20 At that time I will gather you; at that time I will bring you home. I will give you honor and praise among all the peoples of the earth when I restore your fortunes before your very eyes,” says the LORD.

This honor can go both ways. You and your life honor Him and He honors you with new life. He has better days for you!


One of the biggest problems we all face in our fractured world today is that we are all restless. We are anxious and uptight almost all the time. We can’t relax; we live with constant sense of being anxious and hurried. Am I right? Answer quickly!

The people 2,500 years ago in Zephaniah’s day were the same. They had placed all their hopes in Assyria and now Assyria was fading and Babylon was in the wings ready to strike. The Prophet said the fall and the exile was only 20 years away. When that happened, everything becomes unglued. Nothing is the same.

Everything around us changes. You can’t control it. People change. Health changes. Jobs change. Children grow up and leave. Children who have grown up return. Nations change, taxes change, Church changes. You look around and there are some people here you just don’t know. Nothing seems to be stable. Our hearts and lives are restless and anxious. Time for some good news!

One thing that will never change: God’s Love for you. Stable, rock solid. Permanent. He says to us: Turn to Me and be quiet with Me and My love. Make it a practice during this season and beyond: Rest in His love. Let Him quiet your anxious hearts.


There is not time today to cover this in detail, but look at the end of 3:17: “He will rejoice over you with singing.” A while ago, there was a C&W song about a Dad and his little girl. Every time I hear it I’d cry. Told my girls that I will cry at their wedding esp. if they play that song. God, too, has a love song He sings over you all during your life. Birth, school, hurts, joyful times, marriage, birth of your first-your seventh, your parent’s death, your dying moment-He is singing over you with songs of His Love for you.


At this time in our talk, I do hope that God’s love is starting to crack open your hearts. As that happens, know that the end result of all of that cracking…is JOY. 3:14 Sing, Daughter Zion; shout aloud, Israel! Be glad and rejoice with all your heart, Daughter Jerusalem! This is life! I’chayim To LIFE!!

No matter who you are this morning, God gives you joy. That is His gift to you. You might be saying “I can’t rejoice in God, I am such a mess!” Verse 15 Says: “The Lord has taken away your punishment.” Jesus took it on the Cross and it is gone. Let nothing keep you from having joy in the Risen Christ today. Mother Teresa once said that “Let nothing so sadden your heart that it takes away the joy of the Risen Christ.” That is just what Zephaniah is saying to all of us today. There are better days coming and the Joy of the Lord will be ours. But to make it your joy, you need to be in Christ. Sitting next to a Believer won’t get this joy in you. Being born in a Christian home won’t do it. Taking communion won’t give you His Joy. It is only found in the Person of Jesus, the Christ.

CONCLUSION: Three questions for you as we close:

1. Have you experienced the truth of Verse 15? When Jesus died on the Cross, He took our punishment and set us free. Are you trusting in that this morning?

2. Is there anything that is robbing you of joy today?

3. How would your life change if you could believe, receive and rest in all the wonderful promises of Zephaniah 3:17? “He will rejoice over you with singing.”

Thanks to Matt Woodley for most of the material today.

Week 4: The Peace Jesus Brings. Micah 5:1-5

He Predicts the Coming Messiah. He brings SHALOM and call us to join him.