Sunday, April 21, 2013


First week: In the Apostle’s teaching/Breaking Bread/Prayer was central.
Second week: Spending time together / Active in their society / worship was REAL
Third week: The CALL / The STABILITY / & The PLAN: Work for the Harvest - GO / Evangelism
The Third Awareness: Consciousness, Alertness, or Responsiveness Of Church Life.
When it comes to a directive from God, there are so many that really stand out.  Of course, the Ten Commandments, “Love your neighbor as you love yourself.” Acts 16:31 They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.”
As a Church—a Fellowship of Believers, what is the CORE factor?  What is Number one?  Let me suggest, for the purposes of this series, that it is found in Acts 1:8.  Understanding the background of this passage, we can see that the Church is about to grow. In truth, it will explode!  And it will go global.  Not in the sense of YouTube coverage but in the sense of God sending this message of God’s Love and Forgiveness to the World of People.  Here is the CALL!
Acts 1:8  THE CALL 召命  But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. 使徒の働き1:8 しかし、聖霊があなたがたの上に臨まれるとき、あなたがたは力を受けます。そして、エルサレム、ユダヤとサマリヤの全土、および地の果てにまで、わたしの証人となります。」 Acts 1:7~8 The Message: 7-8 He told them, You don’t get to know the time. Timing is the Father’s business. What you’ll get is the Holy Spirit. And when the Holy Spirit comes on you, you will be able to be my witnesses in Jerusalem, all over Judea and Samaria, even to the ends of the world.”
Understanding the background of this passage, we can see that the Church is about to grow.  In truth, it will explode!  And it will go global!  Ni tin the sense of a YouTube coverage but in the sense of God sending this message of God’s Love and Forgiveness to the world of people.  Here is the call!  And it starts here at the local level. 
What new is there to talk about?  Nothing really, just that we are to remember that THAT CALL was for the Church then…and for the Church NOW.  We need His Power to do that task.  We need His Power to do that task. We need to be witnesses for Him.  And we need to go.  Starting in our Jerusalem and move that influence out to the very edge of the world—so that ALL will know. 
THE CALL is simple: we just need to respond.
But how can we?  We got things to do here!  We are busy with keeping the Home Fires burning.  Keeping our families in touch with the Divine with our prayers and with our witness.  Exactly.  Nothing will change from this CALL.  That is what we are to be doing as we stay at home…but the effect will be that others who hear this call and see our obedience will indeed go.
For example, over the years here at ICCS, Kazuko Hayashi left Tokorozawa and lived and ministered in Peru.  She learnt the language of the Quechua and she taught the mountain people to read the Bible in their own language.
Later, Hiroko Yamashita left Japan and with her ability in speaking Russian, she moved into the closed countries of the Middle East and effected the Work of the Gospel among many—who would otherwise NOT hear the Gospel. 
We were part of that sending team.  Both have returned to Japan but BOTH are very much involved with keeping the Main thing of the Gospel still the main thing.
Vidar Aronsen was part of us for a season.  Under his direction a number of us went into a closed country to carry much needed Bibles to the Underground Church.  In one trip, the team hand carried well over five tons of Bibles to contacts.  We helped with a Bible School that trained many young people to carry on the Work of spreading the Good News among their own people.  Now, that school is closed but some of you are still giving aid to keep the Bibles going in!
Chieko Teshima spent some time here serving the Lord as one of our translators.  She was called to help groups carry Bibles into a closed country. She lived 'in country' for a while—learning the language.  She got stopped a number of times yet she keep going in. 
JoJo Loh will be taking The Message into Nepal later this Spring.  She is one of us.  We will be/and have been helping her with support and our prayers.
HiBA summer teams, Tsunami Teams, Prayer quilts, hospital visitations, ALPHA, Neighborhood Bible Studies, SS, Ladies Bible Classes, Black Gospel, Christmas Eve, SonRise Service…all have been part of our Church DNA.  Some have stayed-others have gone.  Some have been very proactive like Ken Nishiono who was baptized here and now works in the Fukushima area.    Lee, and Dan –both helping in their corner of the world.
Others, like many of you, are keeping the Gospel clear here at home.  Praying for your children, your spouse, your parents and your friends. 
The CALL is for us!
The STABILITY 安定 is the on going process of the Local Church.  The need to keep in the Teaching of the Apostles as we look at in out first week is still on the list of important activates.   Let’s look at Ephesians 4:14-16 for some details:
Ephesians 4:14-16  The STABILITY  14 Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. 15 Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of Him who is the head, that is, Christ. 16 From Him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.  エペソ人への手紙 4:14-16 それは、私たちがもはや、子どもではなくて、人の悪巧みや、人を欺く悪賢い策略により、教えの風に吹き回されたり、波にもてあそばれたりすることがなく、15 むしろ、愛をもって真理を語り、あらゆる点において成長し、かしらなるキリストに達することができるためなのです。16 キリストによって、からだ全体は、一つ一つの部分がその力量にふさわしく働く力により、また、備えられたあらゆる結び目によって、しっかりと組み合わされ、結び合わされ, 成長して、愛のうちに建てられるのです。
When we grow in Him, there is STABILITY.
So, as a Fellowship, we continue to strive to be mature in our Faith.  The development of groups within the Church to carry this on is being worked on.  Support those in charge and see your Faith blossom.  Be active in the day-to-day running of ICCS as you pray daily for the Work of Christ among us.  Don’t wait for others to start praying—start yourself and ask others in the Family to join you in prayer.  STABILITY of the Body is found in the position of our hearts in prayer.  We need to pray for this work here.  It can’t be looked upon as a business, as a workstation.  ICCS is not a company with a board of directors and stockholders to please.  ICCS is a fellowship of Believers who are called to worship the Living God in a systematic dependency on the Power of the Holy Spirit.  We HAVE to depend on Him.  This will not hold up under the attacks of the evil one.  We need a stability that is based on PRAYER. 
Get to it!  Be ready for the growth by being ready in prayer.
And now, The PLAN : 計画
Acts 6:7  The PLAN   So the Word of God spread. The number of disciples in Jerusalem increased rapidly, and a large number of priests became obedient to the faith. 使徒の働き 6:7 こうして神のことばは、ますます広まって行き、エルサレムで、弟子の数が非常にふえて行った。そして、多くの祭司たちが次々に信仰に入った。
Acts 8:35 Then Philip began with that very passage of Scripture and told him the good news about Jesus. 使徒の働き 8:35 ピリポは口を開き、この聖句から初めて、イエスのことを彼に宣べ伝えた。
There is a PLAN for ICCS.  Again, we have decided that we want to continue the English emphasis of the Chapel—the Internationalism.  Along with that—keeping the main thing of the Gospel the main Thing.  But the PLAN is to see the Gospel spread.  For the Body to increase rapidly with all of us becoming obedient to the Faith.  That we would be about the task of telling others the Good News about Jesus.  That the plan would be a contagious moving of God’s Spirit among us—so that:
Acts 11:22-24  22 News of this reached the church in Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to Antioch. 23 When he arrived and saw what the grace of God had done, he was glad and encouraged them all to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts. 24 He was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and faith, and a great number of people were brought to the Lord. 
Acts 13:38, 41  38 Therefore, my friends, I want you to know that through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you.  41 “‘Look, you scoffers, wonder and perish, for I am going to do something in your days that you would never believe, even if someone told you.’” The Message of God’s Grace would be seen like it had never been seen before in Tokorozawa…in Saitama..—what about in our homes.  It is part of His Promises:
Acts 13:47-48  47 For this is what the Lord has commanded us:
“‘I have made you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.’”
48 When the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and honored the Word of the Lord; and all who were appointed for eternal life believed.
Again, this is not THE only way to grow.  Some grow under the harsh hands of persecution.  Some grow under fire from the Enemy. 
But also, some do not grow and they pass away.  The PLAN is to grow.  It might be in numbers but it must be in the Spirit.  Look at these verses of the Growth of the Early Church:
Acts 16:5  So the churches were strengthened in the faith and grew daily in numbers.
Acts 18:26  26 He began to speak boldly in the synagogue. When Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they invited him to their home and explained to him the Way of God more adequatelyDiscipleship
Acts 19:10  10 This went on for two years, so that all the Jews and Greeks who lived in the province of Asia heard the word of the Lord. Steady and always moving on!
Acts 20:28  28 Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which He bought with His own blood.  His Church/with His People—the way you and I I live now so that there is a tomorrow. 

Application: 適用: As we look at our future, I would like very much for you to break into small groups of NO MORE than four and pray along these lines I am going to present to you.  (I’d want you to feel comfortable so if you want to move to the other side of the room, please do so.)  We will be staying in these prayer groups when we pray for Pakistan.  Here is what I’d like you to pray for…
When can you get together during the week to pray for the Church?  By phone, FB, email, in person
What are some of the areas you are aware of that need special prayer care?
Who can you invite to –a Covered Dish, Bible Study, worship service, your home?