Standing on God’s Promises: The Rainbow Covenant – 2022

Dear BLCF Friends,

Effective April 10, 2022, Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church will reopen by reservation only for Sunday worship under the limitations and guidelines set by Public Health and the Board of BLCF. In order to protect those who are vulnerable at Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship from COVID-19 Virus infection, the BLCF Board mandates that the church will be open by reservation, with the following rules:

  • attendees must wear a mask while on the premises
  • attendees give their contact information upon arrival
  • attendees observe two meters social distance while seated
  • attendees use hand sanitizer as needed
  • attendees follow any additional directions given by members of the board, while inside the church

Please be advised that both the BLCF Café Community Dinner and the BLCF Wednesday Prayer Service will continue to remain closed effective March 16, 2020, and until further notice. We pray with the administration of sufficient COVID-19 vaccinations, and following the determination of Health Canada and other Health Authorities, that the danger of the Pandemic will have subsided sufficiently, to allow BLCF to reopen safely more of our worship and outreach activities without any concern of infection to the vulnerable within our community.

– Pastor Steve

BLCF: Matthew 26_26-28

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

‘Standing on God’s Promises: The Rainbow Covenant’

© June 12, 2022, by Steve Mickelson

Based on Messages Shared with BLCF on February 21, 2021, September 29, 2019, August 10, 2014,

and June 13, 2010 

BLCF Bulletin September 29, 2019

BLCF: Bulletin August 10, 2014

June 20_2010 BLCF Bulletin

BLCF: Double-rainbow

Opening Music Special:

Days of Elijah with Robin Mark – (Official Lyric Video)https://youtu.be/ca9LnzJnpjQ

In Christ Alone (small choir a capella with lyrics) – Keith Getty / Stuart Townend –

https://youtu.be/-INp_ylhJkY 

Announcements and Call to Worship; Prayer                                                                                     

Prayers and Tithing – Hymn #572: Praise God; Prayer Requests

Doxology (Praise God From Whom All Blessings Flow) Instrumental – https://youtu.be/Mk4p3rihONU

Great Is Thy Faithfulness | Maranatha! Music (Lyric Video) – https://youtu.be/ErwiBz1QA4o

Responsive Reading #668 (The New Life of Prayer – Colossians 3)

Message by Steve Mickelson:  Standing on God’s Promises: The Rainbow Covenant’

Let us pray…

The story of Noah, God’s judgment, the ark full of animals, the great flood, and the rainbow found in the Book of Genesis is one of the best known to believers and non-believers, alike. The story has been retold in recent movies, where God’s truth is sometimes replaced by science or the imagination of Hollywood Screen Writers.

For this morning’s lesson at BLCF, we will focus our study on “The Rainbow Covenant”. You may ask the question: “What is meant by the term covenant?” Webster’s Online gives us a couple of definitions which may help us understand. Webster’s definition is as follows:

Cov´e`nant   Pronunciation: k?v´?-n?nt noun

  (Theology) The promises of God as revealed in the Scriptures, conditioned on certain terms on the part of man, as obedience, repentance, faith, etc.I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee.- Genenesis xvii. 7.
  A solemn compact between members of a church to maintain its faith, discipline, etc.
  (Law) An undertaking, on sufficient consideration, in writing and under seal, to do or to refrain from some act or thing; a contract; a stipulation; also, the document or writing containing the terms of agreement.

http://www.webster-dictionary.org/definition/Covenant

The Biblical use of covenant describes an agreement between God and either an individual or people. Scholars generally agree that the Scriptures contain about ten covenants. These ten can be divided into one of two types: either unilaterally coming from God or bilaterally between God and the individuals or people.

Looking at the chart inside the bulletin, near the bottom left (shown here, above), you can get a brief overview of God’s Covenants found in the Holy Scriptures. Six of the Unilateral Covenants are concerned with obedience, sin, the Flood, the descendants of Abraham, and the Ten Commandments. The three Bilateral Covenants are referred to as Blood Covenants, involving the patriarchs, Israel, and all believers’ salvation. The final covenant is unilateral, which we refer to as the New Covenant between God and believers in the Gospel of Christ.

Let us continue with the story of Noah and God’s Rainbow Covenant, which begins in Genesis 6:1, and ends in Genesis 9:17.

Noah’s Ark and the Flood – Story Summary (from about.com):

God saw how great wickedness had become and decided to wipe mankind from the face of the earth. However, one righteous man among all the people of that time, Noah, found favor in God’s eyes. With very specific instructions, God told Noah to build an ark for him and his family in preparation for a catastrophic flood that would destroy every living thing on earth.

God also instructed Noah to bring into the ark two of all living creatures, male and female, along with every kind of food to be stored as food for the animals and his family while on the ark. Noah obeyed everything God commanded him to do.

After they entered the ark, rain fell on the earth for a period of forty days and nights. The waters flooded the earth for a hundred and fifty days, and every living thing on the face of the earth was wiped out. As the waters receded, the ark came to rest on the mountains of Ararat. Noah and his family continued to wait for almost eight more months while the surface of the earth dried out.

Finally after an entire year, God invited Noah to come out of the ark. Immediately, he built an altar and worshiped the Lord with burnt offerings from some of the clean animals. God was pleased with the offerings and promised never again to destroy all the living creatures as he had just done. Later God established a covenant with Noah: “Never again will there be a flood to destroy the earth.” As a sign of this everlasting covenant God set a rainbow in the clouds.

Points of Interest from the Story:

  • God’s purpose in the flood was not to destroy people, but to destroy wickedness and sin. • With more detail, God instructed Noah to take seven of every kind of clean animal, and two of every kind of unclean animal. Bible scholars have calculated that approximately 45,000 animals might have fit on the ark. • Genesis 7:16 interestingly points out that God shut them in the ark, or “closed the door,” so to speak.
  • The ark was exactly six times longer than it was wide. According to the Life Application Bible study notes, this is the same ratio used by modern ship builders. • In modern times researchers continue to look for evidence of Noah’s Ark.
  • Noah was righteous and blameless, but he was not sinless (see Genesis 9:20). Noah pleased God and found favor because he loved and obeyed God with his whole heart. As a result, Noah’s life was an example to his entire generation. Although everyone around him followed the evil in their hearts, Noah followed God.

 http://christianity.about.com/od/biblestorysummaries/p/noahsarkflood.htm

Noah’s Ark was huge! Genesis 6:15 in the Bible tells us the Ark’s dimensions were at least 135 meters long (300 cubits), 22.5 meters wide (50 cubits), and 13.5 meters high (30 cubits). That’s 450 feet long, 75 feet wide and 45 feet high! It could have been larger, because several larger-sized cubits were used. But the 45-centimeter (18-inch) cubit is long enough to show the enormous size of the Ark. A cubit was the length of a man’s arm from fingertips to elbow.

Noah’s Ark was three stories high (Genesis 6:16). Its total deck area was equivalent to the area of about 20 standard college basketball courts or 36 lawn tennis courts. The world had to wait until AD 1884 before the Ark’s size was exceeded, when the Italian liner Eturia was built.

The rectangular dimensions of the Ark show an advanced design in ship-building. Its length of six times its width and 10 times its height would have made it amazingly stable on the ocean. Remember it was made more for floating than sailing because it wasn’t headed anywhere. The Ark was made to withstand a turbulent ocean voyage, not to be at a certain place at a certain time.

Recent thought on the Ark’s design is that it could have had a slightly tapered top at the front and back, instead of being squared off. But the famous rock formation near Mount Ararat with pointed ends, which some think is Noah’s Ark, is definitely not!

Interestingly, British civil and mechanical engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel built a steamship (the Great Britain) in 1843 that had almost the same proportions as the Ark, although it was smaller. This was regarded as a remarkable feat of Victorian and maritime engineering. The Great Britain was the first large vessel to be propelled by a screw propeller.

In summary, Noah’s Ark was taller than a 3-story building and had a deck area the size of 36 lawn tennis courts. Its length was 300 cubits (450 feet, or 135 meters); its width was 50 cubits (75 feet, or 22.5 meters); it had three stories and its height was 30 cubits (45 feet, or 13.5 meters).

http://www.creationtips.com/arksize.html

Questions and Answers, from: biblia.com

Question: “How long did it take Noah to build the ark? How long was Noah on the ark?”

Answer:  The Bible does not specifically say how long it took Noah to build the ark. When Noah is first mentioned in Genesis 5:32, he was 500 years old. When Noah entered the ark, he was 600 years old. The time it took to build the ark would depend on how much time had passed between Genesis 5:32 and the time that God commanded Noah to build the ark (Genesis 6:14-21). At the absolute most, it took 100 years.

Question: How long was Noah on the ark?

Answer:  Noah entered the ark in the 600th year of his life, on the 17th day of the 2nd month (Genesis 7:11-13). Noah left the ark on the 27th day of the 2nd month of the following year (Genesis 8:14-15). Therefore, assuming a lunar calendar of 360 days, Noah was on the ark for approximately 370 days, the flood lasting for 150 days. Genesis 7:11-13 (ESV):

11 In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, on the seventeenth day of the month, on that day all the fountains of the great deep burst forth, and the windows of the heavens were opened. 12 And rain fell upon the earth forty days and forty nights. 13 On the very same day Noah and his sons, Shem and Ham and Japheth, and Noah’s wife and the three wives of his sons with them entered the ark…

BLCF" Noah's Ark

Genesis 8:14-15 (ESV):

14 In the second month, on the twenty-seventh day of the month, the earth had dried out. 15 Then God said to Noah…

Question: How many of each type of animal did Noah take on the ark? Seven pairs of each kind of clean animal and two pairs of each kind of other animals were taken on the ark (Genesis 6:19-20; 7:2-3). By “clean” the Bible means animals that were “acceptable for sacrifice.” That is why seven pairs of the clean animals were taken – so some of them could be sacrificed after the Flood was over without endangering the species. Genesis 6:19-20 (ESV):

19 And of every living thing of all flesh, you shall bring two of every sort into the ark to keep them alive with you. They shall be male and female. 20 Of the birds according to their kinds, and of the animals according to their kinds, of every creeping thing of the ground, according to its kind, two of every sort shall come in to you to keep them alive.

Genesis 7:2-3 (ESV):

Take with you seven pairs of all clean animals,[a] the male and his mate, and a pair of the animals that are not clean, the male and his mate, and seven pairs[b] of the birds of the heavens also, male and female, to keep their offspring alive on the face of all the earth.

Footnotes: a. Genesis 7:2 Or seven of each kind of clean animal b. Genesis 7:3 Or seven of each kind

Regarding the Bible’s account of Noah, the Ark, and the Flood, let me point out the following liberties taken in the movie, Noah which featured Russell Crowe in the title role:

BLCF: Noah_the_truth

Question: How many people were on Noah’s ark? 

Answer: According to Genesis 7:13, Noah, his wife, Noah’s three sons (Shem, Ham, and Japheth), and their wives were on the ark. Therefore, there were eight people on the ark.

13 On the very same day Noah and his sons, Shem and Ham and Japheth, and Noah’s wife and the three wives of his sons with them entered the ark,

Question: Who was Noah’s wife?

Answer: The Bible nowhere specifically gives us the name or identity of Noah’s wife. There is a tradition that she was Naamah (Genesis 4:22). While possible, this is not explicitly taught in the Bible, Genesis 4:11 (ESV):

22 Zillah also bore Tubal-cain; he was the forger of all instruments of bronze and iron. The sister of Tubal-cain was Naamah.

http://biblia.com

It must have been quite a curiosity to others seeing Noah, spending decades building the ark. The dedication of Noah to the task is undeniable. Others continued to offend God and ultimately their fate was sealed by the waters of the Great Flood.

Now let me make a few observations about both God’s judgment and His covenant. Actually, there are two covenants from God; the first was the judgment by God, the penalty of death. We observe that God decides to do a reset and bring the earth back to Day two of creation as told in Genesis 1:6-8, where there are only the waters, with no land. The land came on the third day of creation.

While the judgment may seem harsh, God did not destroy all life by the flood, but He had in the ark, a means to preserve animal life and the human race, both precious to Him. The waters cleansed the world of evil.

It is interesting that Noah sent a dove to determine whether the world was safe in Genesis 8:6-12 (ESV) we read:

6At the end of forty days Noah opened the window of the ark that he had made 7and sent forth a raven. It went to and fro until the waters were dried up from the earth. 8Then he sent forth a dove from him, to see if the waters had subsided from the face of the ground. 9But the dove found no place to set her foot, and she returned to him to the ark, for the waters were still on the face of the whole earth. So he put out his hand and took her and brought her into the ark with him. 10He waited another seven days, and again he sent forth the dove out of the ark. 11And the dove came back to him in the evening, and behold, in her mouth was a freshly plucked olive leaf. So Noah knew that the waters had subsided from the earth. 12Then he waited another seven days and sent forth the dove and she did not return to him anymore.

The dove is an interesting choice. Though it is mentioned over fifty times in the scriptures, that the dove is significant in appearance and what it represents in two passages:

Immediately after Jesus was baptized in water by John, we read the Holy Spirit descended upon Christ: Mark’s Gospel 1:10 (ESV): 10And when he came up out of the water, immediately he saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove.

So as Jesus was baptized and reborn with the Spirit, the earth is cleansed by water and a dove descends with an olive leaf. I would like to point out that the olive branch has been used as a universal symbol of peace and reconciliation. The city-states of ancient Greece sought to end wars between its states, replacing competition and conflict with the Olympic Games. Wars and battles were suspended for the duration of the competition. The winner of a specific event was rewarded not with the medallions of the modern Olympics, but instead a garland of olive branches woven into a crown, the Olympian being crowned as a king of that event. That crown of olive branches brings to mind the crown of thorns Christ wore, as he suffered and died to atone for our sins. In the times of Christ, the oil from olives was used to fuel the lamps of the empire. And the dove carrying the olive leaf to Noah after the flood could be viewed to symbolize the Spirit bringing life, hope, and light to the world.

God made a promise never to destroy human or animal life by flood, again.

Genesis 9:8-17 (ESV)

8Then God said to Noah and to his sons with him, 9“Behold, I establish my covenant with you and your offspring after you, 10and with every living creature that is with you, the birds, the livestock, and every beast of the earth with you, as many as came out of the ark; it is for every beast of the earth. 11I establish my covenant with you, that never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of the flood, and never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth.” 12And God said, “This is the sign of the covenant that I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all future generations: 13I have set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth. 14When I bring clouds over the earth and the bow is seen in the clouds, 15I will remember my covenant that is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh. And the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh. 16When the bow is in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.” 17God said to Noah, “This is the sign of the covenant that I have established between me and all flesh that is on the earth.”   

The rainbow is significant in several ways. Like a prism, water mist can diffract or break a beam of light into a spectrum or rainbow of component colours. But you need the presence of water vapour and sunlight, under the right conditions, invisible light becomes visible as a rainbow of colours. Not only does the rainbow symbolize God’s covenant not to kill man or beast by flood, but the rainbow is also an example of the world of the invisible becoming visible. For many people God does not exist, he is invisible. Through faith, as with Noah’s obedience by building the ark and gathering the animals and his family, he was rewarded by being saved from the flood and given the rainbow as a symbol never to bring this judgment upon the people or beasts again.

A few years ago, Sophie and I took a trip to Niagara Falls. Every time we go to the falls, I am always humbled by the beauty and splendor of God’s natural creation. Looking at the millions of liters of water cascading over the waterfall creating the sound of thunder and clouds of mist, you cannot but marvel at the site. I remember as I was walking ahead towards the more spectacular Horseshoe Falls, I saw many in the crowd turning their backs on this natural wonder, looking across to the relatively less spectacular American Falls. Some were taking pictures. As I approached these people, I looked in the same direction and saw nothing. I could not figure out why they were taking pictures of the ordinary downstream gorge when the full power and beauty of the falls were just behind them?

It wasn’t until I continued 20 or 30 meters upstream, along the walkway, towards the falls did I have a glimpse of the object of the crowd’s attention. As I walked toward the falls, the mist of the falls mingled with the sunlight to reveal a beautiful rainbow. A few meters down, away from the falls, the rainbow disappeared from view.

It was then that I reflected that this rainbow is truly like God’s presence. For those who believe, who pray, and honour Him, we are rewarded by the rainbow of His presence. But for those unfortunate who reject Him and do not accept Him, there is no rainbow. And like those who cannot see the rainbow, because they lack faith or refuse to accept His gift of love and salvation, the unbelievers believe God does not exist. While they may look at the light, they do not see the hidden beauty of the rainbow that signifies God’s presence. Belief in God is like seeing the beauty hidden within. Faith is rewarded through confessing our sins, reading the scriptures, praying to God, and practicing brotherly love to our neighbors, as well as helping the least of our brothers and sisters. Only then are the conditions correct to see God’s rainbow of faith.

As followers of Christ, we are admonished by Him, to use our intelligence and integrity of faith to meet the challenges and persecution that we face in our Christian walk.

Matthew 10:16 (ESV) tells us that persecution will come:

16 “Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.”

The Holy Spirit helps us to preserve what is Godly in ourselves. We must maintain the innocence of the dove and bring the good news to others as the dove had to Noah, in spite of being persecuted for our faith.

My brother-in-law, Chuck is an avid flier, having obtained his pilot’s license before his license for a car. He spent several years building his open cockpit airplane. My sister Penny told me of the occasion on one of their trips, they passed through a deck of clouds, only to witness what is called a flier’s or pilot’s rainbow, which tradition has to indicate good fortune, as they are leaving turbulent weather. The pilot’s rainbow is distinctive in that instead of being an arch of colour, the rainbow is a perfect circle surrounding the entire aircraft. I like to think that this might be the heavenly view of the rainbow. The rainbow God sees is a perfect circle, like a wedding band, the circle is continuous, unending, and just like God’s love for us is perfect and without end.

BLCF: Flier's_rainbow

God made another covenant; this one is bilateral but just as perfect, as beautiful, and as unending as the rainbow. Instead of the rainbow, God gave us Jesus Christ, to fulfill His promise, which states that we shall not perish or be destroyed. As Noah had shown by building the ark, filling it with the animals, and his family, we are expected to confess our sins and follow His directions by accepting that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for our sins, this sacrifice is God’s gift to us. If we accept the gift of Christ, the lamb, we are saved and we are given the Holy Spirit as a comforter, plus the promise that as Christ overcame death and was resurrected, we too have the promise of overcoming death and eternal life. Jesus Christ is both our ark and rainbow. He provides for us the only way to forgiveness and the promise of life eternal.

BLCF: Jesus-Christ-Cross-Rainbow

In conclusion, anytime you want to witness to others who have yet to accept the sacrifice of Christ, or at times when you find that your own faith falters, remember the Rainbow, it is always there waiting to be revealed to us, when we provide the right conditions by our reading the scriptures, praying for others and ourselves, by showing the love of Christ in all that we think, all that we say, all that we do to all whom we encounter. And remember, it took Noah nearly a century of practicing faith before he saw the fulfillment of God’s promises. But Noah’s legacy was not only a covenant to Noah and his descendants and to us as well. The rainbow is a reminder to Noah, to us, and to God, that our God is just and faithful, and that our faith will be rewarded so long as we allow him to pilot us through life’s troubled waters.

Let us pray…

BLCF: covenant-of-grace

Closing Hymn #225 – Standing on the Promises – with Neil & Lisa Rondina (with lyrics) – https://youtu.be/QvBlrooUszQ

Benediction – (Romans 15:13): 

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.

BLCF: dove_ark_hope_olive_branch

BLCF Cafe Community Dinner Reports Feeding A Record Number of Homeless and Marginalized in the Heart of Toronto

Dear BLCF Friends, Effective April 10, 2022, Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church will reopen by reservation only for Sunday worship under the limitations and guidelines set by Public Health and the Board of BLCF. In order to protect those who are vulnerable at Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship from COVID-19 Virus infection, the BLCF Board mandates that the church will be open by reservation, with the following rules:
  • attendees must wear a mask while on the premises
  • attendees give their contact information upon arrival
  • attendees observe two meters social distance while seated
  • attendees use hand sanitizer as needed
  • attendees follow any additional directions given by members of the board, while inside the church
Please be advised that both the BLCF Café Community Dinner and the BLCF Wednesday Prayer Service will continue to remain closed effective March 16, 2020, and until further notice. We pray with the administration of sufficient COVID-19 vaccinations, and following the determination of Health Canada and other Health Authorities, that the danger of the Pandemic will have subsided sufficiently, to allow BLCF to reopen safely more of our worship and outreach activities without any concern of infection to the vulnerable within our community. – Pastor Steve
BLCF: Love God Love others Q: When is a church more than just brick and mortar? A: When the people of the church decide to provide for those who are homeless and disadvantaged in the heart of Toronto with a warm meal in an environment that is safe and friendly: BLCF Cafe Community Dinner, Est. 2008.

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BLCF Cafe Community Dinner 3 (1)

BLCF Cafe Community Dinner Est. 2008

BLCF Cafe Community Dinner, operated under the auspices of Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church, serves dinner to upwards of 150 homeless and marginalized guests weekly, (that’s over 7,500 annually). Located right in the heart of Toronto, BLCF Cafe reported serving a record 250 guests Thanksgiving Turkey Dinner 2013 and served meals on both Christmas Dinner (2013) and New Years Day (2014). BLCF Cafe receives neither government funding nor corporate sponsorship.  BLCF Café depends solely on a core of dedicated volunteers to get the job done and private donations and fund-raising to finance the community dinners. Volunteers (individuals and groups) are welcome, contact Sophie at 416-535-9578 or blcfcafe@yahoo.ca.

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BLCF Cafe Community Dinner BLCF Cafe Community Dinner Reports Feeding A Record Number of Homeless and Marginalized in the heart of Toronto If you or your group are interested in volunteering to help feed the homeless and marginalized in the heart of Toronto, please contact Sophie at BLCF Cafe: Phone 416-535-9578 or email blcfcafe@yahoo.ca. You can make a difference in the life of Toronto’s disenfranchised as a BLCF Cafe volunteer!

BLCF: Jesus_next

Note: All photographic images, documents, web-designs, and graphic images may be subject to (c) copyright and are the property of Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship or the author, and may not be duplicated or reproduced by any means without written permission from Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship. Violators of said (c) copyright may be subject to penalties and legal remedies under Canadian and International Copyright Laws. 

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Standing Firmly, In the Eye of the Storm, Safe from All Harm – 2022

Dear BLCF Friends,

Effective April 10, 2022, Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church will reopen by reservation only for Sunday worship under the limitations and guidelines set by Public Health and the Board of BLCF. In order to protect those who are vulnerable at Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship from COVID-19 Virus infection, the BLCF Board mandates that the church will be open by reservation, with the following rules:

  • attendees must wear a mask while on the premises
  • attendees give their contact information upon arrival
  • attendees observe two meters social distance while seated
  • attendees use hand sanitizer as needed
  • attendees follow any additional directions given by members of the board, while inside the church

Please be advised that both the BLCF Café Community Dinner and the BLCF Wednesday Prayer Service will continue to remain closed effective March 16, 2020, and until further notice. We pray with the administration of sufficient COVID-19 vaccinations, and following the determination of Health Canada and other Health Authorities, that the danger of the Pandemic will have subsided sufficiently, to allow BLCF to reopen safely more of our worship and outreach activities without any concern of infection to the vulnerable within our community.

– Pastor Steve

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

Standing Firmly, In the Eye of the Storm, Safe from All Harm’

© August 7, 2022, by Steve Mickelson

Based on Messages Shared at BLCF on June 27, 2021, and August 13, 2017

BLCF Bulletin August 13, 2017

Announcements and Call to Worship; Prayer                       

Tithing and Prayer Requests: Hymn #572: Praise God; Prayers

Doxology (Praise God From Whom All Blessings Flow) Instrumental – https://youtu.be/Mk4p3rihONU

Responsive Reading #646 (Spiritual Warfare – Ephesians 6, 2 Corinthians 10, 2 Timothy 4)

Music Special – O’ Lord w/ Lyrics (Lauren Daigle) – https://youtu.be/K42bvpgimTg

 Whom Shall I Fear [The God of Angel Armies] By Chris Tomlin with Lyrics – https://youtu.be/R0gu0nOaFsI

 Message by Steve Mickelson:

‘Standing Firmly, In the Eye of the Storm, Safe from All Harm’

 

Let us pray…

Welcome to BLCF’s Sunday Praise and Worship Service. Today being the first Sunday of August, makes it a Communion Sunday at BLCF.

In our lesson, today, entitled: ‘Standing Firmly, In the Eye of the Storm, Safe from All Harm’, we will examine what the Apostle Paul referred to as The Whole Armor of God in his letter addressed to the Church, composed of God’s holy people in Ephesus, found in Ephesians 6:10-20 (ESV):

 The Whole Armor of God

10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. 14 Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. 16 In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; 17 and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, 18 praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, 19 and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak.

At first blush, we might mistake Paul’s Epistle as describing instructions, telling the members of the Church of Ephesus to don a soldier’s armor for battle. Such misinterpretation of the scriptures happens when the reader has difficulty differentiating between when a Scripture passage is read literally and when read as a metaphor.

Clearly, in Ephesians 6:10-20, Paul intends the Armor of God to be a metaphor for the aspects of what the church needs to prepare for the spiritual battle that occurs when the devil unleashes an onslaught of spiritual forces of evil against the Church of Christ, Jesus.

I recall as a youth in San Antonio, Texas, Hurricane Carla brought heavy rain and wind for hours and suddenly, as the eye or centre of the storm passed overhead, the rain abruptly stopped, the sun came out, and a quiet calm arrived. It was eerie, that while the eye of the storm appeared as a pleasant reprieve from the violent storm front, there were still signs of impending danger. The birds reinforced this sense of dread by the conspicuous silence; no singing or calls. Dogs in the neighborhood were strangely silent as well. Looking west, in the distance, I could see the storm wall which is the boundary of the eye. It was at the boundary of the hurricane’s eye, that I could make out two distinct funnel clouds indicating a pair of sister tornadoes showing why the eye wall is considered to be a hurricane’s most devastating region. But before I had a chance to fully appreciate the beauty and danger of Carla’s eye, the trailing edge of the storm arrived in its full fury!

Tornado generated at the eyewall of a hurricane

The devil continuously attacks the Church in many ways, because through Christ Jesus, the members are saved and the devil wants to separate us from the grace of the Lord that we receive. Satan will try to lull Christ’s Church by drawing attention to the calm of the eye of the storm while ignoring the dangers.

But Christ does not bring us a temporary calm from life’s storms but promises us  to save us from the fury of the storm waves, launched upon us by the devil, We are saved by His amazing grace, Ephesians 2:4-7 (ESV):

And God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.

We find a good description of the meaning of the Armor of God protects us from a storm of evil in a commentary authored by Susan Hylen, Associate Professor of New Testament at Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia:

 Commentary on Ephesians 6:10-20

Susan Hylen, Associate Professor of New Testament
Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia

The active role of the church is not altogether surprising, given the writer’s previous indication that God has “raised us up with [Christ] and seated us with him in the heavenly places” (2:6). This exaltation is a unique expression of the church’s identity among New Testament writings. However, it is interesting to note that, while Christians are already seated with Christ in the heavenly places, this position does not eliminate the need for struggle. The wrestling “against the spiritual forces of evil” also takes place “in the heavenly places” (6:12).

While modern Christians are likely to have a view of heaven as a paradise in which no evil dwells, the writer of Ephesians is drawing on a different set of cultural assumptions, one in which a struggle between cosmic forces occurs within the heavenly realm. Christians, who already reign with Christ in some sense, are obligated to participate in this struggle.

The armor of God that the church takes up relates to the message that the author has already laid out. The theological message of Ephesians 1-3 is now depicted metaphorically as preparation for a spiritual battle in which believers engage through their actions. By girding themselves with the “belt of truth” (6:14), readers metaphorically prepare themselves for the work to which they have already been called: they are to “speak the truth in love” to one another (cf. 4:15, 25). Similarly the “breastplate of righteousness” relates to the “new self” with which they are to clothe themselves, as beings “created according to the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness” (4:24).

The author has earlier explained the “gospel of peace” (6:15), for which readers should ready themselves by putting on shoes. In reconciling Jews and Gentiles into one body, Christ “is our peace” (2:14). The elimination of hostility through Jesus’ death on the cross is central to the letter’s understanding of the heart of the gospel message. It is this message of reconciliation that should lead the church to the behavior indicated here and in the rest of Ephesians 4-6.

In addition to these, the reader is exhorted to take up “the shield of faith” (6:16). According to Ephesians, faith activates the power of God (cf. 1:19; 2:8). Salvation is God’s gift, yet it also comes through the believer’s faith (3:12). It is “through faith” that Christ dwells in the believer’s heart (3:17). Metaphorically, taking up the shield of faith communicates the protection that faith activates. The salvation that comes as God’s gift through faith is depicted as the ability “to quench all the flaming arrows of the evil one” (6:16).

Prayer (6:18) is an activity that is connected to the taking up of God’s armor. The author also prays on behalf of the church for their strength and understanding (cf. 3:13-19). The church is instructed to pray for all of the saints and for the author as well. The cosmic adversaries of 6:12 carry an eschatological tinge, because the imagery of God taking up God’s armor to seek justice was related in first century culture to the notion of the day of the Lord. Yet in Ephesians’ reworking of the imagery, the battle with cosmic forces is not simply a battle delayed for a future day of God’s judgment, but is a present battle believers must engage on a regular basis.

The church’s struggle is a heavenly one against spiritual powers, but it is acted out on a more mundane level in the types of behavior to which the reader is called. The “chains” of the writer’s imprisonment (6:20) are another reminder of the ways that the “cosmic powers of this present darkness” impinge on the lives that believers live in this world. The armor of God does not mean that the church will not encounter difficulties, then, but enables Christians to encounter such difficulties. Through perseverance and prayer, the church may boldly proclaim the gospel even in the midst of persecution and hardship.

http://www.workingpreacher.org/preaching.aspx?commentary_id=379

The Armor of God described by Paul in Ephesians 6 is composed of elements, some of which are provided by the Lord, such as truth, righteousness, salvation, and the Spirit.

John 14:6 (ESV) Jesus – The way, the truth, and the life

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

 

2 Corinthians 5:21 (ESV) – The righteousness of God

21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

 

Hebrews 7:25 (ESV) – Salvation through Christ

25 Consequently, he is able to save completely those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.

 

 

  2 Timothy 1:7 (ESV) – Spirit given by God

for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.

The remaining elements of the Armor of God, come from the church or body of believers, they are peace, faith, prayer, and fasting.

Hebrews 12:14 (ESV) – Peace with Everyone

14 Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.

 1 John 5:5 (ESV) – Faith in Christ

Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?

 1 Corinthians 7:5 (ESV) – Prayer and Fasting

Do not deprive one another, except perhaps by agreement for a limited time, that you may devote yourselves to prayer; but then come together again, so that Satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.

In conclusion, when we don the Armor of God, we dwell with confidence in a place of refuge which is a fortress from all the spiritual forces of evil that come forth as schemes of the devil, an assurance described in Psalm 91:1-6 (ESV):

My Refuge and My Fortress

 

91 He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say[a] to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.”

For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler
and from the deadly pestilence.
He will cover you with his pinions,
and under his wings you will find refuge;
his faithfulness is a shield and buckler.
You will not fear the terror of the night,
nor the arrow that flies by day,
nor the pestilence that stalks in darkness,
nor the destruction that wastes at noonday.

Footnotes: a. Psalm 91:2 Septuagint He will say

In times of distress and spiritual disaster, with the help of Satan, we find that our faith is tested, especially with the advent of such natural disasters, be it floods, wildfires, pandemics, or any other human-made crisis such as riots, shootings, or any of a number of conditions which may generate fear and doubt in ourselves, in each other and even in God. It is such times we must equip ourselves with the armor of God described by Paul in Ephesians 6 to meet and defeat these challenges, with the help of His Holy Spirit. A Spirit of power, love, and a sound mind. This is the true power of faith.

 

Communion Special – Lauren Daigle – “We Will Not Forget” (Lyric Video) – https://youtu.be/izeZa9wx8wA

Communion: 1 Corinthians 11:17-34 (ESV): The Lord’s Supper

17 But in the following instructions I do not commend you, because when you come together it is not for the better but for the worse. 18 For, in the first place, when you come together as a church, I hear that there are divisions among you. And I believe it in part, 19 for there must be factions among you in order that those who are genuine among you may be recognized. 20 When you come together, it is not the Lord’s supper that you eat. 21 For in eating, each one goes ahead with his own meal. One goes hungry, another gets drunk. 22 What! Do you not have houses to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God and humiliate those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I commend you in this? No, I will not.

23 For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body, which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” 25 In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” 26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.

27 Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty concerning the body and blood of the Lord. 28 Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. 29 For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself. 30 That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died. 31 But if we judged ourselves truly, we would not be judged. 32 But when we are judged by the Lord, we are disciplined so that we may not be condemned along with the world.

33 So then, my brothers, when you come together to eat, wait for one another— 34 if anyone is hungry, let him eat at home—so that when you come together it will not be for judgment. About the other things I will give directions when I come.

Let us pray…

Music Special: In Jesus’ Name (God of Possible) – Katy Nichole – Lyric Video –  https://youtu.be/R84PqRdZ7_Y

Benediction – (2 Corinthians 13:14):                                           

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.  

Zacchaeus and Saul – A Tale of Two Callings – 2022

Dear BLCF Friends,

Effective April 10, 2022, Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church will reopen by reservation only for Sunday worship under the limitations and guidelines set by Public Health and the Board of BLCF. In order to protect those who are vulnerable at Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship from COVID-19 Virus infection, the BLCF Board mandates that the church will be open by reservation, with the following rules:

  • attendees must wear a mask while on the premises
  • attendees give their contact information upon arrival
  • attendees observe two meters social distance while seated
  • attendees use hand sanitizer as needed
  • attendees follow any additional directions given by members of the board, while inside the church

Please be advised that both the BLCF Café Community Dinner and the BLCF Wednesday Prayer Service will continue to remain closed effective March 16, 2020, and until further notice. We pray with the administration of sufficient COVID-19 vaccinations, and following the determination of Health Canada and other Health Authorities, that the danger of the Pandemic will have subsided sufficiently, to allow BLCF to reopen safely more of our worship and outreach activities without any concern of infection to the vulnerable within our community.

-Pastor Steve

Zacchaeus and Saul – A Tale of Two Callings

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

‘Zacchaeus and Saul – A Tale of Two Callings’

© July 31, 2022, by Steve Mickelson

Based on Messages Shared at BLCF on January 26, 2020, and August 21, 2016

BLCF Bulletin August 21, 2016

BLCF: exercise your faith

Music Special –Tim Hughes – Here I Am to Worship (Official Lyric Video) – https://youtu.be/b_KNvkk2G-Y

Lauren Daigle ~ Love Like This (Lyrics) – https://youtu.be/U7eyU9EPGWo

Announcements and Call to Worship of Prayer; Prayer

Opening Hymn #553: Morning Has Broken

Tithing and Prayer Requests: Hymn #572: Praise God; Prayers

  Doxology (Praise God From Whom All Blessings Flow) Instrumental – https://youtu.be/Mk4p3rihONU

Responsive Reading #662: (Freedom from Sin – Romans 5 and 6) 

Music Special – Light of the World – Lauren Daigle – https://youtu.be/WR5iwssnTn4

                                               

Message by Steve Mickelson: ‘Zacchaeus and Saul – A Tale of Two Callings’ 

BLCF: footprints-in-sand-following-Jesus                                                        

Let us pray…

For today’s lesson, I would like to examine the similarities and differences between the accounts in the Scriptures of two individuals, Zacchaeus and Saul, who were called by the Lord.

Our first account, about the conversion of a tax collector named Zacchaeus, is found in Luke 19:1-10.

Luke 19:1-10 (ESV): Jesus and Zacchaeus

Zacchaeus_and_Jesus

19 He entered Jericho and was passing through. And behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus. He was a chief tax collector and was rich.And he was seeking to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was small in stature. So he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him, for he was about to pass that way. And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today.” So he hurried and came down and received him joyfully. And when they saw it, they all grumbled, “He has gone in to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.” And Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, “Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor. And if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold.” And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”

In the above passage, Zacchaeus finds salvation through Jesus, and Christ acknowledges that he came to seek and save sinners, whom he calls “the lost.” Another example of Christ seeking to save a sinner is the account of Saul of Tarsus, later known as the Apostle Paul, which we see described in Acts 22:6-21.

 Acts 22:6-21 (ESV): Paul’s Testimony

Paul on the Road to Damascus

 6 “As I was on my way and drew near to Damascus, about noon a great light from heaven suddenly shone around me. And I fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to me, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?’ And I answered, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ And he said to me, ‘I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom you are persecuting.’ Now those who were with me saw the light but did not understand[a] the voice of the one who was speaking to me. 10 And I said, ‘What shall I do, Lord?’ And the Lord said to me, ‘Rise, and go into Damascus, and there you will be told all that is appointed for you to do.’ 11 And since I could not see because of the brightness of that light, I was led by the hand by those who were with me, and came into Damascus.

12 “And one Ananias, a devout man according to the law, well spoken of by all the Jews who lived there, 13 came to me, and standing by me said to me, ‘Brother Saul, receive your sight.’ And at that very hour I received my sight and saw him. 14 And he said, ‘The God of our fathers appointed you to know his will, to see the Righteous One and to hear a voice from his mouth; 15 for you will be a witness for him to everyone of what you have seen and heard. 16 And now why do you wait? Rise and be baptized and wash away your sins, calling on his name.’

17 “When I had returned to Jerusalem and was praying in the temple, I fell into a trance 18 and saw him saying to me, ‘Make haste and get out of Jerusalem quickly, because they will not accept your testimony about me.’ 19 And I said, ‘Lord, they themselves know that in one synagogue after another I imprisoned and beat those who believed in you. 20 And when the blood of Stephen your witness was being shed, I myself was standing by and approving and watching over the garments of those who killed him.’ 21 And he said to me, ‘Go, for I will send you far away to the Gentiles.’”

Footnotes: a. Acts 22:9 Or hear with understanding

Zacchaeus worked as a tax collector, and Saul as a persecutor of Christians, respectively. Zacchaeus was called by Jesus before the Lord was crucified on the cross.

By contrast, Saul was called by the Lord, after Jesus had ascended to heaven, following the Lord’s resurrection and the arrival of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. And Saul, now known as Paul, not only received salvation from the Lord, he was baptized in the Spirit of God.

It is interesting to observe, before being called by Jesus, though both Zacchaeus and Saul had occupations where they had a commission or contract with the government of Rome, there was a difference in how each lived his faith while doing what was considered by many to do a despicable job.

Though working to collect taxes for the state, Zacchaeus continued to practice his faith in his work by giving half of his salary to the poor. That is five times the traditional 10% prescribed in the Scriptures in Numbers18:25-28.

As a restoration, Zacchaeus indicated that he would pay fourfold the amount of any monies he has cheated from others.  This is greater than the penalties prescribed in the Roman Law as lex talionis, a principle or law of retaliation that a punishment inflicted should correspond in degree and kind to the offense of the wrongdoer, as an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth; retributive justice.

Zacchaeus chose to follow Biblical principles again over traditional equivalent amounts described in Exodus 22:1, 4, 9,  Proverbs 6:30-31, and  Luke 19:8. If remorseful, the thief must restore what is stolen plus a fifth more. If the thief is caught with the goods on him, he must restore double. If he has already disposed of the goods or tried to conceal the offence, he must restore four or fivefold.

Jesus saw that Zacchaeus sought to follow God in his dealings with others. Because he was short in stature, Zacchaeus had climbed a tree to get a better vantage point to glimpse the Lord. It was from this perch that Jesus had invited Zacchaeus to join him.

In contrast to Zacchaeus, Saul of Tarsus, had letters of authority to seek out and arrest those whom he identified as practitioners of the Christian faith or the Way of Christ. Those arrested were subject to beatings, imprisonment, and as in the case of Stephen, death. By his own testimony, Paul had his wicked and cruel activities intervened by Jesus on the road to Damascus, in which the Lord had struck Saul blind, forcing him to face his sins against God and against believers in the Lord. Jesus indicated that Saul would be healed, but that Saul needed to confess his sins and seek the baptism of purification, as Jesus had a new appointment for him as an apostle or messenger of the gospel of Christ. And having been baptized, Saul was to adopt a new Christian name, Paul.

We also find a contrast between the meanings of the names of Zacchaeus and Saul.

Zacchaeus – From Ζακχαιος (Zakchaios), the Greek form of ZACCAI. In the New Testament he is a tax collector in Jericho who gives half his possessions to charity and became a disciples of Jesus.

https://www.behindthename.com/glossary/view/new_testament

The name Zacchaeus can be considered either an Aramaic or a Hebrew name. In Aramaic, the meaning of the name Zacchaeus is: Pure. In Hebrew, the meaning of the name Zacchaeus is: Clean; pure.

https://www.sheknows.com/baby-names/aramaic-baby-names/

Like his namesake, Zacchaeus’ faith practices were pure in the eyes of the Lord. Jesus had no qualms in offering Zacchaeus salvation. Saul, on the other hand, had to be humbled by blindness, being forced to confront his offenses against God and his sins against his fellow brothers and sisters. It is interesting to note that

The name Saul is a Hebrew baby name. In Hebrew, the meaning of the name Saul is: Asked for; inquired of God. The first king of Israel was named Saul, and the Hebrew name of the Apostle Paul.

Saul – From the Hebrew name שָׁאוּל (Sha’ul) meaning “asked for, prayed for”. This was the name of the first king of Israel, as told in the Old Testament. Before the end of his reign, he lost favour with God, and after a defeat by the Philistines, he was succeeded by David as king. In the New Testament, Saul was the original Hebrew name of the apostle Paul.

From the Roman family name Paulus, this meant “small” or “humble” in Latin. Paul was an important leader of the early Christian church. According to Acts in the New Testament, he was a Jewish Roman citizen who converted to Christianity after the resurrected Jesus appeared to him.

Following his conversion, Saul of Tarsus, who bore the same name as the first king of Israel would adopt the moniker Paul, which means “small” or “humble”, which is exactly the manner in which we are to share the gospel of the Lord, not as lordly kings, but as humble servants of God.

The Holy Spirit provided Paul, and other believers baptized in the Spirit, with the means of sharing the Gospel of Christ and defending the faith from those who oppose or reject the Word of God.

In his letter to Timothy, (1 Timothy 1:12-20), Paul explains why God chose to demonstrate the power and perfection of His love grace at work in his own life, as proof and testimony to other sinners.

1 Timothy 1:12-20 (ESV): Christ Jesus Came to Save Sinners

BLCF: devil_says_Jesus_says

12 I thank him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he judged me faithful, appointing me to his service, 13 though formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, 14 and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. 15 The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. 16 But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life. 17 To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever.[a] Amen.

18 This charge I entrust to you, Timothy, my child, in accordance with the prophecies previously made about you, that by them you may wage the good warfare, 19 holding faith and a good conscience. By rejecting this, some and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan that they may learn not to blaspheme.

Footnotes: a. 1 Timothy 1:17 Greek to the ages of ages

Paul’s conversion, from a life of sin to an Apostle of Christ, is significant because it impacts an individual, but how the Spirit empowers a believer to minister to an Empire and plant seeds of faith that impact the world. Here is a Wikibits biopic of the Apostle Paul, courtesy of about.com.

Apostle Paul

Get to Know the Apostle Paul, Once Saul of Tarsus

(From: christianity.about.com – Updated August 08, 2016)

BLCF: San_Paolo_St_Paul

The Apostle Paul, who started as one of Christianity’s most zealous enemies, was hand-picked by Jesus Christ to become the gospel’s most ardent messenger. Paul traveled tirelessly through the ancient world, taking the message of salvation to the Gentiles. Paul towers as one of the all-time giants of Christianity.

Apostle Paul’s Accomplishments

When Saul of Tarsus, who was later renamed Paul, saw the resurrected Jesus Christ on the Damascus Road, Saul converted to Christianity. He made three long missionary journeys throughout the Roman Empire, planting churches, preaching the gospel, and giving strength and encouragement to early Christians.

Of the 27 books in the New Testament, Paul is credited as the author of 13 of them. While he was proud of his Jewish heritage, Paul saw that the gospel was for the Gentiles as well. Paul was martyred for his faith in Christ by the Romans, about 64 or 65 A.D.

 http://christianity.about.com/od/newtestamentpeople/a/Apostle-Paul.htm

Let us pray…

Closing Hymn #484: Pass it On

Pass It On | Piano | Lyrics | Accompaniment – https://youtu.be/IUzcDJmzC8c

Benediction – (2 Peter 1:2-3):

May grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.  His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence.

BLCF: kNOw Jesus kNOw Peace animated

Ananias – A Disciple at Damascus – 2022

Dear BLCF Friends,

Effective April 10, 2022, Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church will reopen by reservation only for Sunday worship under the limitations and guidelines set by Public Health and the Board of BLCF. In order to protect those who are vulnerable at Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship from COVID-19 Virus infection, the BLCF Board mandates that the church will be open by reservation, with the following rules:

  • attendees must wear a mask while on the premises
  • attendees give their contact information upon arrival
  • attendees observe two meters social distance while seated
  • attendees use hand sanitizer as needed
  • attendees follow any additional directions given by members of the board, while inside the church

Please be advised that both the BLCF Café Community Dinner and the BLCF Wednesday Prayer Service will continue to remain closed effective March 16, 2020, and until further notice. We pray with the administration of sufficient COVID-19 vaccinations, and following the determination of Health Canada and other Health Authorities, that the danger of the Pandemic will have subsided sufficiently, to allow BLCF to reopen safely more of our worship and outreach activities without any concern of infection to the vulnerable within our community.

– Pastor Steve

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is ananias-restoring-sight_the_sight_of_st_paul-pietro-da-cortona-1631-9x12.jpg

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

‘Ananias – A Disciple at Damascus’

© July 24, 2022, by Steve Mickelson

Based on Messages Shared with BLCF on May 16, 2021, and May 14, 2017

BLCF Bulletin May 14, 2017

Announcements and Opening Prayer

Prayers and Tithing Hymn #572: Praise God from Whom All Blessings

Doxology (Praise God From Whom All Blessings Flow) Instrumental – https://youtu.be/Mk4p3rihONU

Opening Hymn #411: Happiness Is to Know the Savior (Happiness is the Lord – Lyrcs) – Only For Hymn – https://youtu.be/-U1prPe4TWU

Majesty Piano with Lyrics – Only for Hymn – https://youtu.be/g_dLArDufD4

Responsive Reading #629: The Good Samaritan (Luke 10)                      

Message by Steve Mickelson: ‘Ananias – A Disciple at Damascus’  

Let us pray…

Welcome to Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship’s Praise and Worship Service. We would ask for the Lord’s Blessings for all those who are reading our lesson online today.

Today’s lesson is entitled ‘Ananias – A Disciple at Damascus’, and involves the lone disciple of the Lord who was called upon by Jesus to heal and baptize Saul of Tarsus, in order that he may serve as an instrument of Christ, baptized as Paul..

While the Scriptures contain accounts of three individuals bearing the name Ananias:

Three different people in the New Testament are named Ananias          

 (from enterthebible.org):

  • One Ananias was a member of the church in Jerusalem in the days when the believers had all things in common. Along with his wife, Sapphira, he sold a piece of property, secretly kept some of the money, and misreported the sale price when he gave the rest of the money to the church. When Peter confronted him, Ananias fell down and died (Acts 4:32-5:11).
  • Another Ananias was a follower of Jesus in Damascus. Instructed by a vision, he sought out Paul (then still known as Saul) and helped to restore his sight (Acts 9:10-19).
  • A third Ananias was the high priest in Jerusalem who convened a meeting of the Jewish ruling council to examine Paul after his arrest in the temple (Acts 23:1-5).

https://www.enterthebible.org/resourcelink.aspx?rid=1177

Our lesson will focus upon the second of the three accounts of individuals named Ananias, the disciple of Jesus who lived in Damascus and was involved in the restoration of the vision to Saul of Tarsus.

We do know a little more about Ananias involved in the conversion of Saul of Tarsus:

Ananias – (bible study tools.com)

In late tradition, he is placed in the list of the seventy disciples of Jesus, and represented as Bishop of Damascus, and as having died a martyr’s death.

http://www.biblestudytools.com/dictionary/ananias/

The first account that involved the Bishop of Damascus is found in Acts 9:1-22 (ESV) is told in the third person:

The Conversion of Saul

9 But Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priestand asked him for letters to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem.Now as he went on his way, he approached Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven shone around him.And falling to the ground, he heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecutingme?”And he said, “Who are you, Lord?” And he said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.But rise and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do.”The men who were traveling with him stood speechless, hearing the voice but seeing no one.Saul rose from the ground, and although his eyes were opened, he saw nothing. So they led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus.And for three days he was without sight, and neither ate nor drank.

10 Now there was a disciple at Damascus named Ananias. The Lord said to him in a vision, “Ananias. ”And he said, “Here I am, Lord.”11 And the Lord said to him, “Rise and go to the street called Straight, and at the house of Judas look for a man of Tarsus named Saul, for behold, he is praying,12 and he has seen in a vision a man named Ananias come in and lay his hands on him so that he might regain his sight.”13 But Ananias answered, “Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much evil he has done to your saints at Jerusalem.14 And here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on your name.”15 But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel.16 For I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name.”17 So Ananias departed and entered the house. And laying his hands on him he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus who appeared to you on the road by which you came has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.”18 And immediately something like scales fell from his eyes, and he regained his sight. Then he rose and was baptized;19 and taking food, he was strengthened.

Saul Proclaims Jesus in Synagogues

For some days he was with the disciples at Damascus.20 And immediately he proclaimed Jesus in the synagogues, saying, “He is the Son of God.”21 And all who heard him were amazed and said, “Is not this the man who made havoc in Jerusalem of those who called upon this name? And has he not come here for this purpose, to bring them bound before the chief priests?”22 But Saul increased all the more in strength, and confounded the Jews who lived in Damascus by proving that Jesus was the Christ.

The passage from Acts 9:1-22 contains two narratives of two protagonists, Saul of Tarsus and Ananias of Damascus, both of whom receive visions from Jesus. Our Lord has ascended to be with the Father in heaven, sending God’s Holy Spirit to all believers in the Resurrected Christ.

This conversion, healing and baptism of Saul resulted in a zealous persecutor of Christians becoming one of the greatest evangelists of the Gospel of Christ.

We see as a result of the two visions from the Lord, a sinner is struck blind, left helpless, weak from three days of hunger and thirst, in need of being healed and nourished by a believer who must overcome a reluctance to deal with a notoriously evil persecutor of believers in the Way of Christ.

The second account that included the disciple Ananias is found in Acts 22:1-16 (ESV):

22 “Brothers and fathers, hear the defense that I now make before you.”

And when they heard that he was addressing them in the Hebrew language,[a] they became even more quiet. And he said:

“I am a Jew, born in Tarsus in Cilicia, but brought up in this city, educated at the feet of Gamaliel[b] according to the strict manner of the law of our fathers, being zealous for God as all of you are this day. I persecuted this Way to the death, binding and delivering to prison both men and women, as the high priest and the whole council of elders can bear me witness. From them I received letters to the brothers, and I journeyed toward Damascus to take those also who were there and bring them in bonds to Jerusalem to be punished.

“As I was on my way and drew near to Damascus, about noon a great light from heaven suddenly shone around me. And I fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to me, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?’ And I answered, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ And he said to me, ‘I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom you are persecuting.’ Now those who were with me saw the light but did not understand[c] the voice of the one who was speaking to me. 10 And I said, ‘What shall I do, Lord?’ And the Lord said to me, ‘Rise, and go into Damascus, and there you will be told all that is appointed for you to do.’ 11 And since I could not see because of the brightness of that light, I was led by the hand by those who were with me, and came into Damascus.

12 “And one Ananias, a devout man according to the law, well spoken of by all the Jews who lived there, 13 came to me, and standing by me said to me, ‘Brother Saul, receive your sight.’ And at that very hour I received my sight and saw him. 14 And he said, ‘The God of our fathers appointed you to know his will, to see the Righteous One and to hear a voice from his mouth; 15 for you will be a witness for him to everyone of what you have seen and heard. 16 And now why do you wait? Rise and be baptized and wash away your sins, calling on his name.’

Footnotes: a. Acts 22:2 Or the Hebrew dialect (probably Aramaic) b. Acts 22:3 Or city at the feet of Gamaliel, educated c. Acts 22:9 Or hear with understanding

From the two accounts of Ananias’ healing and baptism of Saul of Tarsus, we see that the Lord sent his good and faithful disciple to minister to Saul by restoring his sight and baptizing him in Spirit, by calling on the name of the Lord.

In ministering to Saul of Tarsus, Ananias was instructed to visit, heal and baptize a stranger who was imprisoned by his blindness; weak, hungry, and thirsty from fasting for three days. The sins of Saul would be washed away after he followed Ananias’ instructions to call on the name of Jesus. By his conversion to the Way of Jesus, Saul of Tarsus would later be known as the Apostle Paul, one of the greatest proponents of the Christian faith to both Jews and Gentiles, alike.

The ministering of Ananias of Damascus to Saul of Tarsus sounds very familiar, as it is described in the Scripture passage which we have adopted as a Mission statement for our BLCF Café Community Dinner, Matthew 25:31-46 (ESV):

The Final Judgment

31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. 34 Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’37 Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38 And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you?39 And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ 40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you did it to me.’

41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ 44 Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ 45 Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ 46 And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

While the world may view ministering to the least of our brothers and sisters as strictly taking care of their physical needs, if we were to substitute the name of “Saul of Tarsus” in place of “least of my brother and sisters” or replace “the least of these”, in the above Matthew 25 passage, we have a description of how Ananias ministered to the spiritual needs of a brother in need, who was blinded, starving, and condemned to the death sentence of his sins. The first example would read:

 40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to Saul of Tarsus, you did it to me.’

And the second example would read:                                                                                        ‘Truly, I say to you,

as you did not do it to Saul of Tarsus,

 you did not do it to me.’ 

In other words, on that Final Judgement Day, our salvation and eternal life depend upon how well we “ministered” to sinners the gospel of Christ, feeding them with the Good News of the Lord and sharing as living witnesses our testimony of faith.

Let us pray…

Music Special – In Christ Alone cover by Lauren Daigle with Lyrics https://youtu.be/7WS1JupSHKo

Benediction – (John 13:35): By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.

Jonah’s Prayer and Testimony – 2022

Dear BLCF Friends,

Effective April 10, 2022, Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church will reopen by reservation only for Sunday worship under the limitations and guidelines set by Public Health and the Board of BLCF. In order to protect those who are vulnerable at Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship from COVID-19 Virus infection, the BLCF Board mandates that the church will be open by reservation, with the following rules:

  • attendees must wear a mask while on the premises
  • attendees give their contact information upon arrival
  • attendees observe two meters social distance while seated
  • attendees use hand sanitizer as needed
  • attendees follow any additional directions given by members of the board, while inside the church

Please be advised that both the BLCF Café Community Dinner and the BLCF Wednesday Prayer Service will continue to remain closed effective March 16, 2020, and until further notice. We pray with the administration of sufficient COVID-19 vaccinations, and following the determination of Health Canada and other Health Authorities, that the danger of the Pandemic will have subsided sufficiently, to allow BLCF to reopen safely more of our worship and outreach activities without any concern of infection to the vulnerable within our community.

– Pastor Steve

BLCF: Jonah_and_Whale

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church, 1307 Bloor Street West, Toronto, ON.

Message for Sunday:

‘Jonah’s Prayer and Testimony’ 

© July 17, 2022, by Steve Mickelson

Based on Messages Shared at BLCF on August 29, 2021, and April 17, 2016

BLCF Bulletin April 17, 2016

BLCF: Jonah&Whale

Music Special: Cochren & Co. – Church (Take Me Back) [Official Lyric Video] – https://youtu.be/3eTOcrWu8mQ

Announcements and Call to Worship; 

Tithing and Prayer Requests: Hymn #572: Praise God; Prayers

Doxology (Praise God From Whom All Blessings Flow) Instrumental – https://youtu.be/Mk4p3rihONU

Mandy Harvey – It Is Well – (Lyrics) – Bethel Music Cover – https://youtu.be/BkTaVYhOFbw

Scriptures: Luke 11:29-36; Romans 6:1-14; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 

               

Jonah

Let us pray.

Welcome to our Sunday morning praise and worship service at BLCF Church. For our lesson today, we will examine the Scripture’s account of the Prophet Jonah and the Whale or more precisely, a large fish. While a large fish plays a part in the lesson narrative, Jonah’s account is, by no means, a fish story or fishy tale.

Rather than read through the three chapters of the Book of Jonah, let us check what I like to refer to as our Wikibits on the subject, which presents an interpretation that agrees with most Biblical scholars:

Book of Jonah (From Christianity.about.com):

BLCF: Jonah-and-the-Whale

The book of Jonah is different from the other prophetic books of the Bible. Typically, prophets issued warnings or gave instructions to the people of Israel. Instead, God told Jonah to evangelize in the city of Nineveh, home of Israel’s cruelest enemy. Jonah didn’t want those idolaters to be saved, so he ran away.

When Jonah ran from the call of God, one of the oddest events in the Bible occurred—the story of Jonah and the Whale.

The book of Jonah highlights God’s patience and lovingkindness, and his willingness to give those who disobey him a second chance.

Author of the Book of Jonah: The Prophet Jonah, son of Amittai. Date Written: 785-760 B.C.

Jonah and the Whale – Story Summary:

BLCF: jonah_1

The story of Jonah and the Whale, one of the oddest accounts in the Bible, opens with God speaking to Jonah, son of Amittai, commanding him to preach repentance to the city of Nineveh.

Jonah found this order unbearable. Not only was Nineveh known for its wickedness, but it was also the capital of the Assyrian empire, one of Israel’s fiercest enemies. Jonah, a stubborn fellow, did just the opposite of what he was told. He went down to the seaport of Joppa and booked passage on a ship to Tarshish, heading directly away from Nineveh. The Bible tells us Jonah “ran away from the Lord.”

In response, God sent a violent storm, which threatened to break the ship to pieces. The terrified crew cast lots, determining that Jonah was responsible for the storm. Jonah told them to throw him overboard. First they tried rowing to shore, but the waves got even higher.

Afraid of God, the sailors finally tossed Jonah into the sea, and the water immediately grew calm. The crew made a sacrifice to God, swearing vows to him.

Instead of drowning, Jonah was swallowed by a great fish, which God provided. In the belly of the whale, Jonah repented and cried out to God in prayer. He praised God, ending with the eerily prophetic statement, “Salvation comes from the Lord.” (Jonah 2:9, NIV)

Jonah was in the giant fish three days. God commanded the whale, and it vomited the reluctant prophet onto dry land. This time Jonah obeyed God. He walked through Nineveh proclaiming that in forty days the city would be destroyed. Surprisingly, the Ninevites believed Jonah’s message and repented, wearing sackcloth and covering themselves in ashes. God had compassion on them and did not destroy them.

Again Jonah questioned God, because Jonah was angry that Israel’s enemies had been spared. When Jonah stopped outside the city to rest, God provided a vine to shelter him from the hot sun. Jonah was happy with the vine, but the next day God provided a worm that ate the vine, making it wither. Growing faint in the sun, Jonah complained again.

God scolded Jonah for being concerned about a vine, but not about Nineveh, which had 120,000 lost people. The story ends with God expressing concern even about the wicked.

Points of Interest from Jonah and the Whale:

  • God commands everything in his Creation, from the weather to a whale, to carry out his plan. God is in control.
  • Jonah spent the same amount of time—three days—inside the whale as Jesus Christ did in the tomb. Christ also preached salvation to the lost.
  • It’s not important whether it was a great fish or a whale that swallowed Jonah. The point of the story is that God can provide a supernatural means of rescue when his people are in trouble.
  • Some scholars believe the Ninevites paid attention to Jonah because of his bizarre appearance. They speculate that the whale’s stomach acid bleached Jonah’s hair, skin, and clothing a ghostly white.
  • Jesus did not consider the book of Jonah to be a fable or myth. While modern skeptics may find it impossible that a man could survive inside a great fish for three days, Jesus compared himself to Jonah, showing that this prophet existed and that the story was historically accurate.

http://christianity.about.com/od/biblestorysummaries/a/Jonah-And-The-Whale.htm

BLCF: jonah7

I would like to suggest to those who have studied animal classification, who might have objections to referring to a whale, a mammal, as being a fish, we should not allow the author some slack, as the inventor of modern scientific classification, Swedish botanist, Carolus Linnaeus (1707-1778), had not been born.

While the interchangeable use of whale and fish can be overlooked, the conclusion that the Jonah account parallels the story of Jesus is not completely accurate.

Both Jonah and Jesus came to evangelize the message of God’s plan of forgiveness and salvation, Jonah was God’s Prophet, with Jesus being the Word made flesh. In other words, while Jonah preached God’s plan for saving humanity from the judgment of sin, Jesus’ sacrifice provided humanity with the means to become saved and forgiven, by faith.

The parallel between Jonah and Jesus ends, when we see that Jonah rebelled against God and ran away in the opposite direction.

Jonah’s willingness to sacrifice his own life to appease God’s anger, in order to save the crew of the boat, has drawn comparisons with the Lord’s self-sacrifice for humanity. The comparison fails when we consider that Jonah had committed the sin of offending God and Jesus was innocent of any sin.

Then, we have the comparison between Jonah and Jesus with regards to the three days that Jesus’ body was kept in the tomb until his resurrection, being akin to the same number of days Jonah stayed inside the fish. It must be noted that Jonah’s being kept alive by God inside the fish for three days is not the same as Jesus being dead in the tomb for three days, before being resurrected.

This raises the question as to what did the Lord mean when he described his own resurrection in Luke 11:29-36 (ESV), as being compared to The Sign of Jonah:

The Sign of Jonah

BLCF: sign_of_Jonah2

29 When the crowds were increasing, he began to say, “This generation is an evil generation. It seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah. 30 For as Jonah became a sign to the people of Nineveh, so will the Son of Man be to this generation. 31 The queen of the South will rise up at the judgment with the men of this generation and condemn them, for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and behold, something greater than Solomon is here. 32 The men of Nineveh will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and behold, something greater than Jonah is here.

While both Jonah and Jesus ministered to a sinful world, offering God’s forgiveness, we see the Lord pointed out in verse 32 that his sign or miracle would be not only greater than Jonah’s given to the people of Nineveh, and the Lord’s wisdom is greater than that of King Solomon. For after the Lord’s death, resurrection and ascension, comes the light of God’s Holy Spirit to all who are forgiven by faith, Christ warns us not to hide or extinguish the light of the Spirit and fall back into the darkness of sin, as we continue to read from Luke 11:

The Light in You

BLCF: Jonah4

33 “No one after lighting a lamp puts it in a cellar or under a basket, but on a stand, so that those who enter may see the light. 34 Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eye is healthy, your whole body is full of light, but when it is bad, your body is full of darkness. 35 Therefore be careful lest the light in you be darkness. 36 If then your whole body is full of light, having no part dark, it will be wholly bright, as when a lamp with its rays gives you light.”

Like Jonah, believers in the resurrected Christ are commissioned to evangelize the Gospel of Christ unto the ends of the world.

I feel that the lesson to be learned from Jonah’s account does present an example to us of God’s forgiveness and preserving a life for His plan to evangelize to the sinners of the world. However, instead of comparing Jonah’s salvation to Christ’s, we need to view it in the context of the rebirth of Christian believers, who must evangelize, as apostles or messengers to the world of the salvation message contained in the Gospel of Jesus Christ, as we see in Romans 6:1-14 (ESV);

Dead to Sin, Alive to God

BLCF: dead2sin

What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.

For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self[a] was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free[b] from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. 10 For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. 11 So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.

12 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. 13 Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. 14 For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.

Footnotes: a. Romans 6:6 Greek man b. Romans 6:7 Greek has been justified

While we are instructed by the Lord to evangelize the Gospel message, not as Jonah had to a single people, but the Good News of Jesus unto the ends of the world. We should never lose our hope and faith in Christ’s resurrection and encourage one another in this hope, 1Thessalonians 4:13-18 (ESV):

The Coming of the Lord

BLCF: 2nd-coming-dramatic

13 But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. 14 For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. 15 For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord,[a] that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore encourage one another with these words.

Footnotes: a. 1 Thessalonians 4:15 Or by the word of the Lord

Finally, as believers in the Resurrected Lord, we should take comfort that Jonah, in spite of being confined in the belly of a giant fish, facing his own uncertain fate, did not allow the surrounding darkness to extinguish the light of his own faith in God, as we see in Jonah’s testimony that is also his prayer, Jonah 2 (ESV), which I would like to read as a closing prayer for today’s lesson.

Let us pray:

Jonah’s Prayer

BLCF: Jonah3

Then Jonah prayed to the Lord his God from the belly of the fish, saying,

“I called out to the Lord, out of my distress,
and he answered me;
out of the belly of Sheol I cried,
and you heard my voice.
For you cast me into the deep,
into the heart of the seas,
and the flood surrounded me;
all your waves and your billows
passed over me.
Then I said, ‘I am driven away
from your sight;
yet I shall again look
upon your holy temple.’
The waters closed in over me to take my life;
the deep surrounded me;
weeds were wrapped about my head
    at the roots of the mountains.
I went down to the land
whose bars closed upon me forever;
yet you brought up my life from the pit,
O Lord my God.
When my life was fainting away,
I remembered the Lord,
and my prayer came to you,
into your holy temple.
Those who pay regard to vain idols
forsake their hope of steadfast love.
But I with the voice of thanksgiving
will sacrifice to you;
what I have vowed I will pay.
Salvation belongs to the Lord!” (AMEN)

10 And the Lord spoke to the fish, and it vomited Jonah out upon the dry land.

blcf: Christian fish symbol

Music Special: Jonah’s Prayer (Lyric Video) – Emu Youth – https://youtu.be/bLuY-XSEfrc

Music Special: Ship Ahoy (Old Ship of Zion) – Open Door Bible Baptist Church – Sagay – Lyricshttps://youtu.be/9McwLkMjqbw

Benediction – (2Corinthians 13:14):

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.

BLCF: Jonah-Woodcut

God Saved This Sinner – 2022

Dear BLCF Friends,

Effective April 10, 2022, Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church will reopen by reservation only for Sunday worship under the limitations and guidelines set by Public Health and the Board of BLCF. In order to protect those who are vulnerable at Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship from COVID-19 Virus infection, the BLCF Board mandates that the church will be open by reservation, with the following rules:

  • attendees must wear a mask while on the premises
  • attendees give their contact information upon arrival
  • attendees observe two meters social distance while seated
  • attendees use hand sanitizer as needed
  • attendees follow any additional directions given by members of the board, while inside the church

Please be advised that both the BLCF Café Community Dinner and the BLCF Wednesday Prayer Service will continue to remain closed effective March 16, 2020, and until further notice. We pray with the administration of sufficient COVID-19 vaccinations, and following the determination of Health Canada and other Health Authorities, that the danger of the Pandemic will have subsided sufficiently, to allow BLCF to reopen safely more of our worship and outreach activities without any concern of infection to the vulnerable within our community.

– Pastor Steve

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church, 1307 Bloor Street West, Toronto, ON.

Message for Sunday:

‘God Saved This Sinner’

© July 10, 2022,, by Steve Mickelson

Based on Messages shared at BLCF on November 14, 2021, and July 2, 2017

BLCF Bulletin July 2, 2017

Announcements and Call to Worship; Tithing and Prayer Requests: Hymn #572: Praise God; Prayers 

Doxology (Praise God From Whom All Blessings Flow) Instrumental – https://youtu.be/Mk4p3rihONU

Music Specials:                                                           

Mighty To Save – Laura Story (w/lyrics) – https://youtu.be/6nrmb1WOkO0

Amazing Grace – Judy Collins (with lyrics) https://youtu.be/CDdvReNKKuk

 Responsive Reading #640: Redemption in Christ (Romans 5)                        

Message by Steve Mickelson: ‘God Saved This Sinner’

Saved

Let us pray…

Good morning and welcome to our Sunday worship and Praise Service, here at BLCF, where we celebrate the gift of salvation from sin, given us by our Lord and Savior, Christ Jesus.

Today’s lesson is entitled: ‘God Saved This Sinner’. But what does it mean when someone says that: “God has saved me”?

Let us look at some examples of circumstances where people believe that God had interceded in a life or death challenge, and where the survivors describe their being saved as an example of Divine providence. As it happens, these testimonials came from my father, grandfather, and great-grandfather.

San Marcos River flash flood in Palmetto State Park, Texas

Many years ago, while a child living in Texas, I recall our family visited my three-year-old sister, Rhona, at Gonzales Warm Springs Rehabilitation Center. Rhona had suffered a traumatic spinal cord injury and had to be taught how to use a wheelchair, walk with crutches, and others skills to overcome her disabilities. Warm Springs, built-in 1937 during the polio epidemics and closed in 2001, was one of the few facilities equipped to address the needs of civilian paraplegics and quadriplegics in Texas at that time.

The distance from San Antonio to Gonzales was 74 miles, over an hour’s drive,  and dad worked six days a week to help pay medical expenses, causing the family to be limited to visiting Rhona on Sundays.  We often would pick up Rhona from Warm Springs and go for a picnic at the Palmetto State Park which was situated adjacent to the Rehab Center.

The park had volcanic warm springs, having many ponds with a high Sulphur content, there were a number of picnic areas located along the banks of the San Marcos River which ran through the park.

Texas Hill Country

The park itself was set in the Texas Hill Country, a region which, following thunderstorms and heavy rains, would be subject to flash floods. On occasions of severe floods, most of the park was below grade and would end up some 15-20 feet underwater.

1955 Chevy Nomad

1955 Chevy Nomad

It was on one such Sunday, following heavy rainfalls, that the family embarked on a picnic in the park. The entrance to the picnic areas required driving over a fairly steep hill, which had a crown or crest that prevented dad from seeing that the San Marcos on the other side of the hill crest had flooded well above its banks. As we drove over the crest of the hill, dad stopped the car just above the raging river waters, where I recall seeing picnic tables being swept away, along with tree trunks and other debris. If dad had stopped a few seconds later or if he did not successfully engage the ’55 Chevy Nomad station wagon into reverse gear, both the car and our family would have been lost to the flooding waters. Fortunately, dad backed the car away from the danger.

Years later, I remember dad saying to  me, “God had saved us.” He then recalled two other life-or-death incidents where members of the family indicated that God have saved them from an untimely death.

Lighthouse Skagen, Denmark

The first involved his grandfather Knudsen, who was the lighthouse keeper near Skagen, Denmark. Located at the northernmost tip of both Denmark and continental Europe, the Skagen Grey Lighthouse was built on a peninsula that jutted well into the North Sea.

Denmark Map

Dad said that his grandfather remembered exactly how many steps he needed to climb, carrying barrels of lamp oil, up to the top of the lighthouse. On one occasion, great-grandfather Knudsen recalled using semaphore, that is signaling by using flags, to a ship that carried Britain’s Queen Victoria. In those days ships and lighthouses had no radios for communication.

Semaphore – Flag Signal Chart

Great-grandfather Knudsen’s other vocation was a fisherman. If the weather was threatening, he would have to man the lighthouse in deference to fishing. It was on one such occasion, that many of the fishermen of Skagen were lost to a severe storm, while great-grandfather Knudsen had to operate the lighthouse. My dad said that great-grandfather Knudsen remarked on that occasion, “God had saved me.”

Pikes Peak, Colorado ( in the Background)

Dad indicated that his father, my grandfather, Niels Mickelson, and his whole family, were saved, while on a family outing, where he drove a car to the top of Pikes Peak in Colorado.

Pikes Peak, Colorado

The mountain’s elevation is some 14,115 feet or 4,302.31 meters, above sea level, which is well above the altitude of grandfather Mickelsons’s mile-high hometown of Denver. A mile is 5,280 feet or 1609.3 meters. In those days, the route up to the summit of Pikes Peak was unpaved and lacked any guardrails or barriers. It was a challenge both to the skill of the driver and the soundness of the vehicle to make the trip to the summit and back safely.

The road up on Pikes Peak, Colorado

It was on one occasion while driving up the mountain, that a careless driver speeding down the mountain had the bumper of his car catch the bumper of his grandfather’s car, causing both cars to spin on the narrow roadway. Grandfather’s car ended up spinning over the edge of the mountain, and the fall was stopped by a small pine tree. My grandfather told my dad that that was the day that, “God had saved both me and my family.”

It is not uncommon for Christians to pray for traveling mercies and protection by God for those whose journeys may bring them into harm’s way.

 

God Save The Queen (Bilingual) – Remembrance Day Canada 2021

God Save the Queen

Last November 11, I recall watching the Remembrance Day Ceremonies, broadcast from Ottawa, which included the Ottawa Children’s Choir singing of the British National Anthem, known in Canada as the Royal Anthem of Canada entitled God Save the Queen, or often referred to as The Queen. The performance led me to think about the topic for today’s lesson: ‘God Saved This Sinner’.

Both the title and the lyrics seem to plea to God to save the Queen, I was curious about the criteria required for the use of the anthem In Canada. This led me to the following Wikibits: 

God save the Queen in Canada

Royal Anthem of Canada

The sovereign and her or his spouse are saluted with the entire anthem, while other members of the Royal Family who are entitled to royal salute (such as the Prince of Wales) receive just the first six bars. The first six bars also form all or part of the Vice Regal Salute in some Commonwealth realms outside the UK (e.g., in Canada, governors general and lieutenant governors at official events are saluted with the first six bars of “God Save the Queen” followed by the first four and last four bars of “O Canada“), as well as the salute given to governors of British overseas territories.

 “God Save the Queen” (alternatively “God Save the King”, depending on the gender of the reigning monarch) is the national or royal anthem in a number of Commonwealth realms, their territories, and the British Crown Dependencies.[1][2]The author of the tune is unknown and it may originate in plainchant, but a 1619 attribution to John Bull is sometimes made.

The phrase “God Save the King” is much older than the song, appearing, for instance, several times in the King James Bible.[17] A text based on the 1st Book of Kings Chapter 1: verses 38–40, “…And all the people rejoic’d, and said: God save the King! Long live the King! May the King live for ever, Amen”, has been sung at every coronation since that of King Edgar in 973.[18] Scholes says that as early as 1545 “God Save the King” was a watchword of the Royal Navy, with the response being “Long to reign over us”.[19][20] He also notes that the prayer read in churches on anniversaries of the Gunpowder Plot includes words which might have formed part of the basis for the second verse “Scatter our enemies…assuage their malice and confound their devices”.

Further information: Canadian royal symbols § Verbal and musical symbols, and Anthems and nationalistic songs of Canada

By convention,[64] “God Save the Queen” is the Royal Anthem of Canada.[65][66][67][68][69] It is sometimes played or sung together with the national anthem, “O Canada“, at private and public events organised by groups such as the Government of Canada, the Royal Canadian Legion, police services, and loyal groups.[70][71][72][73][74] The governor general and provincial lieutenant governors are accorded the “Viceregal Salute”, comprising the first three lines of “God Save the Queen”, followed by the first and last lines of “O Canada”.[75]

“God Save the Queen” has been sung in Canada since the late 1700s and by the mid 20th century was, along with “O Canada”, one of the country’s two de factonational anthems, the first and last verses of the standard British version being used.[76] By-laws and practices governing the use of either song during public events in municipalities varied; in Toronto, “God Save the Queen” was employed, while in Montreal it was “O Canada”. Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson in 1964 said one song would have to be chosen as the country’s national anthem and, three years later, he advised Governor General Georges Vanier to appoint the Special Joint Committee of the Senate and House of Commons on the National and Royal Anthems. Within two months, on 12 April 1967, the committee presented its conclusion that “God Save the Queen”, whose music and lyrics were found to be in the public domain,[77] should be designated as the Royal Anthem of Canada and “O Canada” as the national anthem, one verse from each, in both official languages, to be adopted by parliament. The group was then charged with establishing official lyrics for each song; for “God Save the Queen”, the English words were those inherited from the United Kingdom and the French words were taken from those that had been adopted in 1952 for the coronation of Elizabeth II.[66] When the bill pronouncing “O Canada” as the national anthem was put through parliament, the joint committee’s earlier recommendations regarding “God Save the Queen” were not included.[77]

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/God_Save_the_Queen

It seems that my father, grandfather, and great-grandfather all believed that they were delivered from certain death by God’s Grace. However, the Royal Anthem has roots in a sentiment that is somewhat different, being rooted in the expression “Long live the King”, which is believed to have been taken from the Scripture passage from 1 Kings 1:38-40 (ESV):

King Solomon

38 So Zadok the priest, Nathan the prophet, and Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, and the Cherethites and the Pelethites went down and had Solomon ride on King David’s mule and brought him to Gihon. 39 There Zadok the priest took the horn of oil from the tent and anointed Solomon. Then they blew the trumpet, and all the people said, “Long live King Solomon!” 40 And all the people went up after him, playing on pipes, and rejoicing with great joy, so that the earth was split by their noise.

In contrast to the salvation described in the Royal Anthem, the accounts of four generations of the Mickelson family members being saved on three occasions, seem to be examples of God’s intervention to deliver them from death. My parents and sister, Rhona, are today with the Lord. For many in the family, faith in God remains.

Neither the plea to God to preserve the life of a monarch nor the apparent intervention to preserve my ancestors seems to describe the salvation described in Micah 7:7 (ESV):

But as for me, I will look to the Lord;
I will wait for the God of my salvation;
my God will hear me.

Neither the King, nor Queen, nor any of my ancestors seem to be waiting on God for deliverance. The type of deliverance or salvation the Scriptures describe being waited for by the author is of the spirit, not of the body, as we see in Romans 10:5-13 (ESV):

The Message of Salvation to All

 For Moses writes about the righteousness that is based on the law, that the person who does the commandments shall live by them. But the righteousness based on faith says, “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’” (that is, to bring Christ down) “or ‘Who will descend into the abyss?’” (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead).But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. 11 For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” 12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. 13 For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

It seems that people consider salvation as God saving their bodies from death when we know the Bible says that our bodies will wither and die. We are born again in the Spirit and Jesus will intercede upon God’s judgment for our sins, thanks to the grace given us by the sacrifice of our Lord, Christ Jesus.

The fact that Jesus has been resurrected forever means that Jesus is the eternal High Priest for all of humanity who have faith in the Lord for all time, Hebrews 7:22-25 (ESV):

22 This makes Jesus the guarantor of a better covenant.

23 The former priests were many in number, because they were prevented by death from continuing in office, 24 but he holds his priesthood permanently because he continues forever. 25 Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost[a] those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.

Footnotes: a. Hebrews 7:25 That is, completely; or at all times

Let us pray…

Closing  Music Special: Lauren Daigle – In Christ Alone (Lyric Video) https://youtu.be/sr-3ExXX0VM

Benediction – (2 John 3):            

Grace, mercy, and peace will be with us, from God the Father and from Jesus Christ the Father’s Son, in truth and love.

Star Tracks Talent Agency (Star Tracks © 1998 Estate and Heirs of Rhona Winifred Mickelson - All Rights Reserved).

Star Tracks Talent Agency (Star Tracks © 1998 Estate and Heirs of Rhona Winifred Mickelson – All Rights Reserved).

Standing by Faith on Heaven’s Table Land – 2022

Dear BLCF Friends,

Effective April 10, 2022, Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church will reopen by reservation only for Sunday worship under the limitations and guidelines set by Public Health and the Board of BLCF. In order to protect those who are vulnerable at Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship from COVID-19 Virus infection, the BLCF Board mandates that the church will be open by reservation, with the following rules:

  • attendees must wear a mask while on the premises
  • attendees give their contact information upon arrival
  • attendees observe two meters social distance while seated
  • attendees use hand sanitizer as needed
  • attendees follow any additional directions given by members of the board, while inside the church

Please be advised that both the BLCF Café Community Dinner and the BLCF Wednesday Prayer Service will continue to remain closed effective March 16, 2020, and until further notice. We pray with the administration of sufficient COVID-19 vaccinations, and following the determination of Health Canada and other Health Authorities, that the danger of the Pandemic will have subsided sufficiently, to allow BLCF to reopen safely more of our worship and outreach activities without any concern of infection to the vulnerable within our community.

– Pastor Steve

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

Standing by Faith on Heaven’s Table Land

© July 3, 2022, by Steve Mickelson

Based on Messages Shared at BLCF on March 14, 2021, February 2, 2020, and November 17, 2013

BLCF Bulletin February 2, 2020

BLCF Bulletin November 17, 2013

 

Music Special – Church (Take Me Back) Cochren & Co. Worship Video with lyrics – https://youtu.be/ns8lIG6cLc8

Announcements and Call to Worship; Prayer

Prayer and Tithing: Hymn #572: Praise God from Whom All Blessings; Prayer Requests

Tithing and Prayer Requests: Hymn #572: Praise God; Prayers 

Doxology (Praise God From Whom All Blessings Flow) Instrumental – https://youtu.be/Mk4p3rihONU

Music Special – Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee with Lyrics by Collin Raye – https://youtu.be/HxEUIJuDQfA

 

Responsive Reading #611 (Comfort from God – Isaiah 40)

Message by Steve Mickelson:                                                                                                                      

Standing by Faith on Heaven’s Table Land and Call to Worship; Prayer

Let us pray…

Welcome to Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church on this Canada Day Weekend Sunday Praise and Worship Service. As today happens to be the first Sunday of July, means it is also Communion Sunday at BLCF, which you will be invited to participate in later in the service.

Our lesson today comes from Jeremiah, Chapters 41 and 42 tell the story of the assassination of Gedaliah, the ruling governor, by Ishmael while dining together at Mizpah. In Jeremiah, Chapter 40, we read that Gedaliah was forewarned by Johanan the son of Kareah, who had learned that the Amorites had approached Ishmael the son of Nethaniah to kill the governor. Not only did Gedaliah refuse to heed Johanan’s warning, but he accused him of telling lies. Gedaliah’s misplaced trust in Ismael was a fatal decision.

Jeremiah 40:1-6 (ESV): Jeremiah Remains in Judah

40 The word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord after Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard had let him go from Ramah, when he took him bound in chains along with all the captives of Jerusalem and Judah who were being exiled to Babylon. 2 The captain of the guard took Jeremiah and said to him, “The Lord your God pronounced this disaster against this place. 3 The Lord has brought it about and has done as he said. Because you sinned against the Lord and did not obey his voice, this thing has come upon you. 4 Now, behold, I release you today from the chains on your hands. If it seems good to you to come with me to Babylon, come, and I will look after you well, but if it seems wrong to you to come with me to Babylon, do not come. See, the whole land is before you; go wherever you think it good and right to go.    5 If you remain,[a] then return to Gedaliah the son of Ahikam, son of Shaphan, whom the king of Babylon appointed governor of the cities of Judah, and dwell with him among the people. Or go wherever you think it right to go.” So the captain of the guard gave him an allowance of food and a present, and let him go. 6 Then Jeremiah went to Gedaliah the son of Ahikam, at Mizpah, and lived with him among the people who were left in the land.

         Jeremiah 41:1-18 (ESV): Gedaliah Murdered

41 In the seventh month, Ishmael the son of Nethaniah, son of Elishama, of the royal family, one of the chief officers of the king, came with ten men to Gedaliah the son of Ahikam, at Mizpah. As they ate bread together there at Mizpah, 2 Ishmael the son of Nethaniah and the ten men with him rose up and struck down Gedaliah the son of Ahikam, son of Shaphan, with the sword, and killed him, whom the king of Babylon had appointed governor in the land. 3 Ishmael also struck down all the Judeans who were with Gedaliah at Mizpah, and the Chaldean soldiers who happened to be there.

4 On the day after the murder of Gedaliah, before anyone knew of it, 5 eighty men arrived from Shechem and Shiloh and Samaria, with their beards shaved and their clothes torn, and their bodies gashed, bringing grain offerings and incense to present at the temple of the Lord. 6 And Ishmael the son of Nethaniah came out from Mizpah to meet them, weeping as he came. As he met them, he said to them, “Come in to Gedaliah the son of Ahikam.” 7 When they came into the city, Ishmael the son of Nethaniah and the men with him slaughtered them and cast them into a cistern. 8 But there were ten men among them who said to Ishmael, “Do not put us to death, for we have stores of wheat, barley, oil, and honey hidden in the fields.” So he refrained and did not put them to death with their companions.

9 Now the cistern into which Ishmael had thrown all the bodies of the men whom he had struck down along with[a] Gedaliah was the large cistern that King Asa had made for defense against Baasha king of Israel; Ishmael the son of Nethaniah filled it with the slain. 10 Then Ishmael took captive all the rest of the people who were in Mizpah, the king’s daughters and all the people who were left at Mizpah, whom Nebuzaradan, the captain of the guard, had committed to Gedaliah the son of Ahikam. Ishmael the son of Nethaniah took them captive and set out to cross over to the Ammonites.

11 But when Johanan the son of Kareah and all the leaders of the forces with him heard of all the evil that Ishmael the son of Nethaniah had done, 12 they took all their men and went to fight against Ishmael the son of Nethaniah. They came upon him at the great pool that is in Gibeon. 13 And when all the people who were with Ishmael saw Johanan the son of Kareah and all the leaders of the forces with him, they rejoiced. 14 So all the people whom Ishmael had carried away captive from Mizpah turned around and came back, and went to Johanan the son of Kareah. 15 But Ishmael the son of Nethaniah escaped from Johanan with eight men, and went to the Ammonites. 16 Then Johanan the son of Kareah and all the leaders of the forces with him took from Mizpah all the rest of the people whom he had recovered from Ishmael the son of Nethaniah, after he had struck down Gedaliah the son of Ahikam—soldiers, women, children, and eunuchs, whom Johanan brought back from Gibeon. 17 And they went and stayed at Geruth Chimham near Bethlehem, intending to go to Egypt 18 because of the Chaldeans. For they were afraid of them, because Ishmael the son of Nethaniah had struck down Gedaliah the son of Ahikam, whom the king of Babylon had made governor over the land.                                                                                                                 

Footnotes: a. Jeremiah 41:9 Hebrew by the hand of

Jeremiah 42:1-17 (ESV): Warning Against Going to Egypt

42 Then all the commanders of the forces, and Johanan the son of Kareah and Jezaniah the son of Hoshaiah, and all the people from the least to the greatest, came near 2 and said to Jeremiah the prophet, “Let our plea for mercy come before you, and pray to the Lord your God for us, for all this remnant—because we are left with but a few, as your eyes see us— 3 that the Lord your God may show us the way we should go, and the thing that we should do.” 4 Jeremiah the prophet said to them, “I have heard you. Behold, I will pray to the Lord your God according to your request, and whatever the Lord answers you I will tell you. I will keep nothing back from you.” 5 Then they said to Jeremiah, “May the Lord be a true and faithful witness against us if we do not act according to all the word with which the Lord your God sends you to us. 6 Whether it is good or bad, we will obey the voice of the Lord our God to whom we are sending you, that it may be well with us when we obey the voice of the Lord our God.”

7 At the end of ten days the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah. 8 Then he summoned Johanan the son of Kareah and all the commanders of the forces who were with him, and all the people from the least to the greatest, 9 and said to them, “Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, to whom you sent me to present your plea for mercy before him: 10 If you will remain in this land, then I will build you up and not pull you down; I will plant you, and not pluck you up; for I relent of the disaster that I did to you. 11 Do not fear the king of Babylon, of whom you are afraid. Do not fear him, declares the Lord, for I am with you, to save you and to deliver you from his hand. 12 I will grant you mercy, that he may have mercy on you and let you remain in your own land. 13 But if you say, ‘We will not remain in this land,’ disobeying the voice of the Lord your God 14 and saying, ‘No, we will go to the land of Egypt, where we shall not see war or hear the sound of the trumpet or be hungry for bread, and we will dwell there,’ 15 then hear the word of the Lord, O remnant of Judah. Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: If you set your faces to enter Egypt and go to live there, 16 then the sword that you fear shall overtake you there in the land of Egypt, and the famine of which you are afraid shall follow close after you to Egypt, and there you shall die. 17 All the men who set their faces to go to Egypt to live there shall die by the sword, by famine, and by pestilence. They shall have no remnant or survivor from the disaster that I will bring upon them.

So who were the Amorites who arranged the assassination of Gedaliah and why?

Let’s check our Wikibits for a historical backdrop to Gedaliah’s death:

Amorites

The term Amorites is used in the Bible to refer to certain highland mountaineers who inhabited the land of Canaan, described in Genesis 10:16 as descendants of Canaan, son of Ham. They are described as a powerful people of great stature “like the height of the cedars,” (Amos 2:9) who had occupied the land east and west of the Jordan. The height and strength mentioned in Amos 2:9 has led some Christian scholars, including Orville J. Nave, who wrote the classic Nave’s Topical Bible to refer to the Amorites as “giants.”[7]

The Amorite king, Og, was described as the last “of the remnant of the Rephaim” (Deut. 3:11). The terms Amorite and Canaanite seem to be used more or less interchangeably, Canaan being more general and Amorite a specific component among the Canaanites who inhabited the land.

The Biblical Amorites seem to have originally occupied the region stretching from the heights west of the Dead Sea (Gen. 14:7) to Hebron (13:8; Deut. 3:8; 4:46-48), embracing “all Gilead and all Bashan” (Deut. 3:10), with the Jordan valley on the east of the river (4:49), the land of the “two kings of the Amorites,” Sihon and Og (Deut. 31:4; Josh. 2:10; 9:10). Both Sihon and Og were independent kings. These Amorites seem to have been linked to the Jerusalem region, and the Jebusites may have been a subgroup of them. The southern slopes of the mountains of Judea are called the “mount of the Amorites” (Deut. 1:7, 19, 20).

Five kings of the Amorites were first defeated with great slaughter by Joshua (10:10). Then more Amorite kings were defeated at the waters of Merom by Joshua (Josh. 11:8). It is mentioned that in the days of Samuel, there was peace between them and the Israelites (1 Sam. 7:14). The Gibeonites were said to be their descendants, being an offshoot of the Amorites that made a covenant with the Hebrews; when Saul would break that vow and kill some of the Gibeonites, God sent a famine to Israel.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amorite

It seems that the Amorites were embittered by how the people of Israel were treated by the king of Babylon. Some were released from captivity, including Jeremiah, with others left in the care of Gedaliah at Mizpah. Johanan the son of Kareah brought a force to free those captured by Ismael and to avenger the murder of Gedaliah. But Ismael had managed to escape and Johanan and other leaders now feared their own deaths at the hands of Ismael and decided to flee to Egypt. They sought out Jeremiah, God’s prophet, for approval of their plan:

 “Let our plea for mercy come before you, and pray to the Lord your God for us, for all this remnant—because we are left with but a few, as your eyes see us— 3 that the Lord your God may show us the way we should go, and the thing that we should do.”      – Jeremiah 42:2-3 (ESV)

In Verse 4 of Jeremiah 42, we read Jeremiah’s response:

“I have heard you. Behold, I will pray to the Lord your God according to your request, and whatever the Lord answers you I will tell you. I will keep nothing back from you.”   – Jeremiah 42:4 (ESV)  

                  

And then they said to Jeremiah, “May the Lord be a true and faithful witness against us if we do not act according to all the word with which the Lord your God sends you to us. 6 Whether it is good or bad, we will obey the voice of the Lord our God to whom we are sending you, that it may be well with us when we obey the voice of the Lord our God.” – Jeremiah 42:5-6 (ESV).

It sounds like Johanan and the others had already decided on a plan of action, without first seeking God’s approval, and now seek God’s approval after the fact. We get the impression that rather than seeking the Lord’s direction; they wanted God’s rubber-stamp approval of their plan. Funny how some of the so-called faithful seem to behave that God is subject to their beck and call, rather than the other way around!  Lack of trust and faith in the Lord can result in fear and distrust.

When reading the account of an assassination in Jeremiah, I am reminded of another assassination on a fateful day, November 22, 1963. I recall clearly after lunch going to my locker at Sam Rayburn Jr. High in San Antonio and my friend John approached me and said that the President had been shot in the head. I told him that he should be doing something better than going around the halls of the school telling sick jokes. After all President Kennedy was popular with many of the youth. Ironically, my dad, Harry L. Mickelson, was a television news editor for KENS-TV, a CBS Network outlet in San Antonio, Texas had a sound-on-film interview with President Kennedy the day before he was killed in Dallas. Among other things, Kennedy indicated that he planned to pull the US troops out of Viet Nam by the middle of 1964. This interview was filed away in the tombs of KENS and was never broadcast because of the events that happened the next day. Regretfully, I learned later that KENS had disposed of their old library of news stories. Like Gedaliah in Jeremiah’s time, Kennedy was a leader who showed compassion, particularly to the disenfranchised, as we see in Jeremiah 40:7-12 (ESV):

7 When all the captains of the forces in the open country and their men heard that the king of Babylon had appointed Gedaliah the son of Ahikam governor in the land and had committed to him men, women, and children, those of the poorest of the land who had not been taken into exile to Babylon, 8 they went to Gedaliah at Mizpah—Ishmael the son of Nethaniah, Johanan the son of Kareah, Seraiah the son of Tanhumeth, the sons of Ephai the Netophathite, Jezaniah the son of the Maacathite, they and their men. 9 Gedaliah the son of Ahikam, son of Shaphan, swore to them and their men, saying, “Do not be afraid to serve the Chaldeans. Dwell in the land and serve the king of Babylon, and it shall be well with you. 10 As for me, I will dwell at Mizpah, to represent you before the Chaldeans who will come to us. But as for you, gather wine and summer fruits and oil, and store them in your vessels, and dwell in your cities that you have taken.” 11 Likewise, when all the Judeans who were in Moab and among the Ammonites and in Edom and in other lands heard that the king of Babylon had left a remnant in Judah and had appointed Gedaliah the son of Ahikam, son of Shaphan, as governor over them, 12 then all the Judeans returned from all the places to which they had been driven and came to the land of Judah, to Gedaliah at Mizpah. And they gathered wine and summer fruits in great abundance. 

The 1960s were quite a turbulent time in the history of the United States. The first Roman Catholic was elected President and was assassinated. The same fate happened to his brother, Robert Kennedy, as he ran for the same office as his brother, as well as Civil Rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. Racial riots and anti-war protests all were part of a turbulent period in US history not unlike the recent Arab Spring Revolution. Echoes of the same sentiments may be heard by radical political groups today.

January 27, 2021, marked the 76th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz Concentration Camp by soldiers of the 1st Ukrainian Front of the Red Army. Historians estimate more than 1 million Jews, Gypsies, Soviet prisoners of war, and Poles were murdered at the camp.

Sadly, wars continue, with the killing of soldiers and innocents in violation of God’s laws. God sanctioned the death of only one man, his son Jesus, who died to atone for our sins, for our transgressions. And as Jesus had been resurrected by the power of the Spirit, believers who confess to having sinned and accept the sacrifice of Jesus, are given the assurance of forgiveness, the covenant of the resurrection from death, and the gift of the Comforter, the Holy Spirit. As believers in the Resurrected Christ, the expectation from God is to follow His direction and to honour and glorify Him as Lord in our lives.

This is not what happened with Johanan and the others who dishonored God. They demonstrated a lack of faith in God’s power and protection by desiring to flee to Egypt from the threat of Ismael. Even though they said that they would abide by God’s reply, their decision to flee show an absence of trust in their God. As we see in the passage Jeremiah 42:7-17 (ESV):

7 At the end of ten days the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah. 8 Then he summoned Johanan the son of Kareah and all the commanders of the forces who were with him, and all the people from the least to the greatest, 9 and said to them, “Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, to whom you sent me to present your plea for mercy before him: 10 If you will remain in this land, then I will build you up and not pull you down; I will plant you, and not pluck you up; for I relent of the disaster that I did to you. 11 Do not fear the king of Babylon, of whom you are afraid. Do not fear him, declares the Lord, for I am with you, to save you and to deliver you from his hand. 12 I will grant you mercy, that he may have mercy on you and let you remain in your own land. 13 But if you say, ‘We will not remain in this land,’ disobeying the voice of the Lord your God 14 and saying, ‘No, we will go to the land of Egypt, where we shall not see war or hear the sound of the trumpet or be hungry for bread, and we will dwell there,’ 15 then hear the word of the Lord, O remnant of Judah. Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: If you set your faces to enter Egypt and go to live there, 16 then the sword that you fear shall overtake you there in the land of Egypt, and the famine of which you are afraid shall follow close after you to Egypt, and there you shall die. 17 All the men who set their faces to go to Egypt to live there shall die by the sword, by famine, and by pestilence. They shall have no remnant or survivor from the disaster that I will bring upon them. 

God expects us to demonstrate faith and trust, particularly in times of adversity. He does not want us to revert back to our old life, as Johanan and the others had sought when they decided to ask Jeremiah to get God’s approval to flee into Egypt, a nation of idols, false gods, and a lack of faith in the one true God. And God made it clear that a such action is an act of disobedience and breach of a covenant with the Lord, resulting in death, which they fear.

As believers in the resurrected Christ, Jesus, we are held to a similar standard of faith and trust in the Lord. Jesus has promised us his kingdom and in return, we must demonstrate to God worship that is acceptable, with reverence and awe.

BLCF: Worship through Communion

Communion Special – Lauren Daigle – “We Will Not Forget” (Lyric Video) – https://youtu.be/izeZa9wx8wA

Communion: 1 Corinthians 11:17-34 (ESV): The Lord’s Supper

17 But in the following instructions I do not commend you, because when you come together it is not for the better but for the worse. 18 For, in the first place, when you come together as a church, I hear that there are divisions among you. And I believe it in part, 19 for there must be factions among you in order that those who are genuine among you may be recognized. 20 When you come together, it is not the Lord’s supper that you eat. 21 For in eating, each one goes ahead with his own meal. One goes hungry, another gets drunk. 22 What! Do you not have houses to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God and humiliate those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I commend you in this? No, I will not.

23 For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body, which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” 25 In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” 26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.

27 Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty concerning the body and blood of the Lord. 28 Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. 29 For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself. 30 That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died. 31 But if we judged ourselves truly, we would not be judged. 32 But when we are judged by the Lord, we are disciplined so that we may not be condemned along with the world.

33 So then, my brothers, when you come together to eat, wait for one another— 34 if anyone is hungry, let him eat at home—so that when you come together it will not be for judgment. About the other things I will give directions when I come.

Let us pray…

Closing Hymn #355: I’m Pressing on the Upward Way

Higher Ground (Hymn) (I’m pressing on the upward way) Piano Praise by Sangah Noona – https://youtu.be/WlQ_54aooiI

Benediction – (Hebrews 12:28-29):

Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe,  for our God is a consuming fire.

BLCF trinity footer

God’s Power and Comfort through the Holy Spirit – 2022

Dear BLCF Friends,

Effective April 10, 2022, Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church will reopen by reservation only for Sunday worship under the limitations and guidelines set by Public Health and the Board of BLCF. In order to protect those who are vulnerable at Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship from COVID-19 Virus infection, the BLCF Board mandates that the church will be open by reservation, with the following rules:

  • attendees must wear a mask while on the premises
  • attendees give their contact information upon arrival
  • attendees observe two meters social distance while seated
  • attendees use hand sanitizer as needed
  • attendees follow any additional directions given by members of the board, while inside the church

Please be advised that both the BLCF Café Community Dinner and the BLCF Wednesday Prayer Service will continue to remain closed effective March 16, 2020, and until further notice. We pray with the administration of sufficient COVID-19 vaccinations, and following the determination of Health Canada and other Health Authorities, that the danger of the Pandemic will have subsided sufficiently, to allow BLCF to reopen safely more of our worship and outreach activities without any concern of infection to the vulnerable within our community.

– Pastor Steve

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

God’s Power and Comfort through the Holy Spirit

June 26, 2022, by Steve Mickelson

Based on Messages shared with BLCF on February 18, 2018, and April 14, 2013

BLCF Bulletin February 18, 2018 

BLCF Bulletin April 14, 2013

Announcements & Call to Worship; Prayer                                                             

Music Special: There’s a Quiet Understanding – Christian Music Artists – (Lyrics) – https://youtu.be/BJTj8CGjJbg

Spirit of the Living God (Silo Sessions) // Sounds Like Reign – https://youtu.be/En44FTqOifs?t=20

Tithing and Prayer Requests: Hymn #572: Praise God; Prayers

Doxology (Praise God From Whom All Blessings Flow) Instrumental – https://youtu.be/Mk4p3rihONU

Responsive Reading #624 of Prayer: (The Great Commission – from Matthew 28, Luke 24, Acts 1, and Mark 16)                                                                                                        

Message by Steve Mickelson: God’s Power and Comfort through the Holy Spirit

Let us pray…

Welcome to Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church, where we observe our first Sunday  Praise and Worship Service for the Summer of 2022.

Much of today’s lesson is taken from the Book of Acts of the Apostles. We embark on a new chapter of the God’s Plan, where our Lord makes available a part of God or the Holy Trinity, which is the Holy Spirit, to all of humanity who call upon the name of the Lord; confess their sins; and decide to follow the Way of the Lord, being baptized in Holy Spirit.

You may recall from recent lessons here, that the church is the body of believers. The body is unified where each member is a living vessel of God’s Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit first came upon the believers, sequestered in the Upper Room awaiting the arrival of the Holy Spirit, Who arrived on the Day of Pentecost. And the Day of Pentecost was the culmination of a series of events that began with the Resurrection of Jesus at Easter Sunday, an event which Christians consider to be the basis of our faith and a proof of the Power of God, as we read in 1 Corinthians 15:13-19 (ESV):

13 But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. 14 And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. 15 We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. 16 For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. 17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. 19 If in Christ we have hope[a] in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.                                                                                     

Footnotes: a. 1 Corinthians 15:19 Or we have hoped

This passage points out that not only is the Resurrection of the Lord important critical proof that Jesus is Lord and the truth of the Gospel and allows us to be confident in God’s promises to forgive our sins, trust in the promise of our own resurrection from death as well judgment and validates the truth of our sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ, as a foundation of our faith and trust in the Lord.

God’s Plan for our Salvation is through Jesus Christ. Those elements are how Jesus rode a young donkey into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday; Jesus’ washing of the feet of the 12 Disciples; the Last Supper of the Lord on the Passover; the Lord’s Crucifixion on Good Friday; the Resurrection on Easter Sunday; The Lord’s Ascension into Heaven and the Gift of the Spirit at Pentecost. Each element of Holy Week was foretold by God to the prophets and recorded in Scripture and is a necessary step in a ladder of events to fulfill God’s Salvation Plan.  We even talked about the two prophets on the Emmaus Road, who encountered the resurrected Christ and brought the good news back to the remaining 11 disciples in the Upper Room in Jerusalem. What was this Upper Room referred to in the Scriptures?

The Last Room

It is funny how we will often refer to the name of a place, not knowing where it is located or what its purpose was. I recall when I first dated Sophie and visited her house, which was often filled with the extended family: brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews, and of course the notorious “last room.” If a visitor came and was offered a ginger ale or coke, the duty of retrieving the pop usually fell upon a young niece or nephew. Pop was usually kept in a place referred to as “The Last Room.” If something was needed or missing, such as an umbrella, a slipper, a shoe, a hat, a coat, or a broom, the searcher would usually be directed to look in “The Last Room.” It was only after a month or so that I figured out that this “Last Room” was an enclosed porch at the back, north side of the house. The Last Room served as a combination cold room, cloakroom, and broom closet. This porch was not insulated and had windows that opened to allow access to a clothesline that ran from the back wall of the house to an ancient large pear tree in the backyard. If someone in the household was looking for a lost or missing item, the first and last place to look for it was usually the “Last Room”. Sadly, an addition to the house of a family room and washroom eliminated the notorious “last room” from the floor plan of the house, relegating the location to just a fond memory of the past. The photo, (below), is a stock photo intended to represent the enclosed back porch at my mother-in-law’s house, which the family would refer to as “The Last Room.

The Last Room

This brings today’s lesson to a place of similar notoriety in the Scriptures, which is called the “Upper Room.”

Most Bible scholars seem to agree that this Upper Room was the place where Jesus washed the feet of the 12 Disciples; where the Last Supper of Passover served by Jesus took place; where, later, the remaining 11 Disciples received the good news that the Lord had arose from the grave; where Thomas examined Jesus’ wounds from the crucifixion; where the Holy Spirit came upon the 120 believers after Jesus ascended; and where Christ’s Church began..

But where and what was this place called the Upper Room or sometimes called the Upper Chamber? The Cenacle (from Latin cenaculum), also known as the Upper Room, is the site of The Last Supper. The word is a derivative of the Latin word cena, which means dinner. In Christian tradition, based on Acts 1:13, the “Upper Room” was not only the site of the Last Supper (i.e. the Cenacle), but the usual place where the Apostles stayed in Jerusalem, and following the arrival of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost and the arrival of”the first Christian Church”.

Catholic Encyclopedia: Jerusalem (A.D. 71–1099): “During the first Christian centuries the church at this place was the centre of Christianity in Jerusalem, “Holy and glorious Sion, mother of all churches” (Intercession in “St. James’ Liturgy”, ed. Brightman, p. 54). Certainly, no spot in Christendom can be more venerable than the place of the Last Supper, which became the first Christian church.”

The early history of the Cenacle site is uncertain; scholars have made attempts at establishing a chronology based on archaeological evidence and historical sources.

Biblical archaeologist Bargil Pixner offers these significant dates and events in the building’s history:

The original building was a synagogue later probably used by Jewish Christians. According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, the building was spared during the destruction of Jerusalem under Titus (AD 70), though Pixner thinks it was likely rebuilt right after the war, and claims three walls of that structure are still extant: the North, East, and South walls of the present King David’s Tomb. Roman emperor Theodosius I built an octagonal church (the “Theodosian Church” or “Holy Zion Church”) aside the synagogue (that was named “Church of the Apostles”). The Theodosian Church, probably started on 382 AD, was consecrated by John II, Bishop of Jerusalem on 394 AD. Some years later, c. 415 AD, Bishop John II enlarged the Holy Zion Church transforming it in a large rectangular basilica with five naves, always aside the Church of the Apostles. This building was later destroyed by Persian invaders in 614 AD and shortly after partially rebuilt by patriarch Modestus. In 1009 AD the church was razed to the ground by the Muslim caliph Al-Hakim and shortly after replaced by the Crusaders with a five aisled basilica named for “Saint Mary”, today the site of Dormition Abbey. It is thought that the Cenacle occupied a portion of two aisles on the right side of the altar.

While the church was destroyed sometime after 1219, the Cenacle was spared. In the 1340s, it passed into the custody of the Franciscan Order of Friars, who maintained the structure until 1552, when the Ottoman Empire took possession of it. After the Franciscan friars’ eviction, this room was transformed into a mosque, as evidenced by the mihrab in the direction of Mecca and an Arabic inscription prohibiting public prayer at the site. Christians were not officially allowed to return until the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948.

When they returned to the Upper Room after Christ’s Ascension, the disciples numbered some 120, did not sit idly by, but began selecting a replacement for Judas and continued in fervent prayer to prepare for the arrival of God’s gift, Acts 1:1-11 (ESV):

The Promise of the Holy Spirit

1 In the first book, O Theophilus, I have dealt with all that Jesus began to do and teach, 2 until the day when he was taken up, after he had given commands through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom he had chosen. 3 He presented himself alive to them after his suffering by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God.

4 And while staying[a] with them he ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, “you heard from me; 5 for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with[b] the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”

The Ascension

6 So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” 7 He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” 9 And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. 10 And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, 11 and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.”

Jesus instructed the disciples to wait upon the Lord, as we read in Acts 1:4 (ESV):

And while staying[a] with them he ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, “you heard from me; Footnotes: a. Acts 1:4 Or eating

Note in verse 11 that Jesus was described as being taken up to heaven. Five times New Testament writers employ the Greek term analambano (to take up) of the Lord’s ascension (Mark 16:19; Acts 1:2,11,22; 1 Timothy 3:16). Each time the verb is in the passive voice, he “was taken up.” The passive voice represents the subject of the verb as being acted upon, thus, in this instance, indicating that the “taking up” was empowered from above, namely by God.

This is almost comical as the disciples were asked, “Hey why are you looking up to heaven? Did Jesus not just tell you he would return in the same manner that he just left? Perhaps, it was the vision of our Lord’s ascension that had them transfixed. But remember that two had witnessed Jesus ascend on the day of the transfiguration. But that is another topic for another message.

But it is important to note in verse 8, that teacher now passes upon the student, the disciples, the torch of teaching God’s Grace, with the power and help of the Holy Spirit.

Before ascending to heaven, Jesus gave his blessing, Luke 24:51 (ESV):

51 While he blessed them, he parted from them and was carried up into heaven.

The blessing that Jesus gave, Luke 24:51, is often interpreted as a priestly act where Jesus leaves his disciples in the care of God the Father. The return to Jerusalem after the Ascension ends the Gospel of Luke where it began, in Jerusalem. And where in Jerusalem did the disciples go? The Upper Room! The meeting is described in Acts 1:12-26 (ESV):

Matthias Chosen to Replace Judas

12 Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a Sabbath day’s journey away. 13 And when they had entered, they went up to the upper room, where they were staying, Peter and John and James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot and Judas the son of James. 14 All these with one accord were devoting themselves to prayer, together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers. [c]

15 In those days Peter stood up among the brothers (the company of persons was in all about 120) and said, 16 “Brothers, the Scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit spoke beforehand by the mouth of David concerning Judas, who became a guide to those who arrested Jesus. 17 For he was numbered among us and was allotted his share in this ministry.” 18 (Now this man acquired a field with the reward of his wickedness, and falling headlong[d] he burst open in the middle and all his bowels gushed out. 19 And it became known to all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, so that the field was called in their own language Akeldama, that is, Field of Blood.) 20 “For it is written in the Book of Psalms,

“‘May his camp become desolate, and let there be no one to dwell in it; and “‘Let another take his office.’

21 So one of the men who have accompanied us during all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, 22 beginning from the baptism of John until the day when he was taken up from us—one of these men must become with us a witness to his resurrection.” 23 And they put forward two, Joseph called Barsabbas, who was also called Justus, and Matthias. 24 And they prayed and said, “You, Lord, who know the hearts of all, show which one of these two you have chosen 25 to take the place in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas turned aside to go to his own place.” 26 And they cast lots for them, and the lot fell on Matthias, and he was numbered with the eleven apostles.                                                                                                                          

Footnotes: 1. Acts 1:4 Or eating 2. Acts 1:5 Or in 3. Acts 1:14 Or brothers and sisters. The plural Greek word adelphoi (translated “brothers”) refers to siblings in a family. In New Testament usage, depending on the context, adelphoi may refer either to men or to both men and women who are siblings (brothers and sisters) in God’s family, the church; also verse 15 4. Acts 1:18 Or swelling up

And in this Upper Room, the promised gift from God, the Holy Spirit was given to those who had gathered and prayed, Acts 2:1-4 (ESV):

1And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. 2 And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. 3 And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. 4 And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.

We have a good idea of what the Upper Room was and the significance of events that occurred there. But what about the Pentecost event that took place in the Upper Room?

Pentecost means Fifty. The Fiftieth is a prominent feast in the calendar of Ancient Israel celebrating the giving of the Law on Sinai, which coincides with the Christian liturgical year as the date commemorating the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the remaining eleven Apostles of Christ (Judas had hung himself), and over 100 others, a total of 120 Disciples in the Upper Room, after the Resurrection of Jesus. Thus, the day of Pentecost occurred some 50 days after Jesus was crucified and 10 days after our Lord’s Ascension into Heaven.

So let us back up a bit to Christ’s Ascension, an event most scholars believe took place above the Mount of Olives, near Bethany. Beth Anya, which translates as “house of misery/Poor house?” Bethany is recorded in the New Testament as the home of the siblings’ Mary, Martha, and Lazarus, as well as that of Simon the Leper. Jesus is reported to have lodged there after his entry into Jerusalem, and it could be from Bethany that he parted from his disciples at the Ascension.

In Luke, Jesus leads the eleven disciples to Bethany, not far from Jerusalem and Luke describes the Ascension in Luke 24:50-53 (ESV):

The Ascension

50 Then he led them out as far as Bethany, and lifting up his hands he blessed them. 51 While he blessed them, he parted from them and was carried up into heaven. 52 And they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy, 53 and were continually in the temple blessing God.

We know that the Holy Spirit had been at work previously. We see him working through different people throughout the Old Testament. We see Jesus’ close connection with the Spirit in the Gospels. Now, though, something different was happening.

According to what Jesus had told his disciples in Luke 24:49 (ESV), And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high” and what Peter said later in Acts 2:38 (ESV), “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit, the Spirit was working in a new manner, that is, in a way that he had not worked previously but in a way that had been promised or prophesied.

A thousand years before the Savior’s birth, David prophesied the ascension of Jesus when he announced the Lord’s enthronement at the Father’s right hand in Psalm 110:1 (ESV):

Sit at My Right Hand A Psalm of David:

110 The Lord says to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool.”

No other psalm is so frequently quoted in the New Testament, which acts as a good indicator of the importance of the event. And because the disciples had struggled with the concept of Jesus’ death, he told them plainly that he was going back to the Father, John 14:12 (ESV):  

12 “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father.

And, while on trial before the Jewish Sanhedrin, Jesus told the high priest that soon he would be “seated at the right hand of Power”, see Matthew 26:64 (ESV):

64 Jesus said to him, “You have said so. But I tell you, from now on you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power and coming on the clouds of heaven.”

So we conclude today’s lesson with a better understanding of the significance of the upper room as the location for the events of the teaching by our Lord by washing of the disciple’s feet, Jesus’ instruction to the disciples with regard to the elements of the Last Supper, the appearance of the Lord after the resurrection, the disciples’ selection of Matthias to replace the deceased Judas, the place where God’s gift of the Holy Spirit comes upon the men and women believers who prayed and waited there, and the location where Peter, having received the Spirit delivers the first sermon, and the place where 3,000 hear the Spirit-filled receive Christ as Lord and Saviour and are baptized in the Spirit. And with the Ascension of Jesus, we see the passing of the ministry of the Gospel of Christ to the body of believers, baptized with God’s power and comfort through the Holy Spirit.

Let us pray…

 

Closing Hymn #204: There’s a Quiet Understanding

Music Special: He Lives – I Serve a Risen Savior – Piano – Lyrics – Accompaniment – Hymnal – https://youtu.be/lmT8JLRUuJ8

Benediction (2 Corinthians 13:14): The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.

The Power of Patient, Persistent, and Purposeful Prayer – 2022

Dear BLCF Friends,

Effective April 10, 2022, Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church will reopen by reservation only for Sunday worship under the limitations and guidelines set by Public Health and the Board of BLCF. In order to protect those who are vulnerable at Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship from COVID-19 Virus infection, the BLCF Board mandates that the church will be open by reservation, with the following rules:

  • attendees must wear a mask while on the premises
  • attendees give their contact information upon arrival
  • attendees observe two meters social distance while seated
  • attendees use hand sanitizer as needed
  • attendees follow any additional directions given by members of the board, while inside the church

Please be advised that both the BLCF Café Community Dinner and the BLCF Wednesday Prayer Service will continue to remain closed effective March 16, 2020, and until further notice. We pray with the administration of sufficient COVID-19 vaccinations, and following the determination of Health Canada and other Health Authorities, that the danger of the Pandemic will have subsided sufficiently, to allow BLCF to reopen safely more of our worship and outreach activities without any concern of infection to the vulnerable within our community.

– Pastor Steve

BLCF: my Fathers day

Music Special: Church (Take Me Back) Cochren & Co. Worship Video with lyrics – https://youtu.be/ns8lIG6cLc8

BLCF: Luke_11_10-11e_animated

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church, 1307 Bloor Street West, Toronto, ON.

Message for Sunday:

‘The Power of Patient, Persistent, and Purposeful Prayer’

 © June 19, 2022, by Steve Mickelson

Based on Messages Shared at BLCF on August 15, 2021, January 19, 2020, and January 31, 2016 

BLCF Bulletin January 19, 2020

BLCF Bulletin January 31, 2016

BLCF: cross_praying_hands

Announcements and Call to Worship; Prayer

Tithing and Prayer Requests: Hymn #572: Praise God; Prayers 

Doxology (Praise God From Whom All Blessings Flow) Instrumental – https://youtu.be/Mk4p3rihONU

Music Special: Mandy Harvey // It Is Well // Bethel Music Cover (Lyrics) – https://youtu.be/BkTaVYhOFbw  

Opening Hymn #392: Take Time to Be Holy

Take Time to Be Holy (Lyrics) – Teri Elmore – Renee Naden – https://youtu.be/WblkcQYxdp8

Responsive Reading #630 (Christ Teaches Prayer – from Luke 11 and John 16)                         

Message by Steve Mickelson:                                                                                                               

‘The Power of Patient, Persistent, and Purposeful Prayer’

BLCF: hold on_

Let us pray…

Good morning and welcome to BLCF Church’s Sunday Morning Praise and Worship Service, on this last Sunday of Spring, which is Father’s Day. A day in which we remember, respect, and show love to our fathers and, appreciate all that our fathers have made to our own lives.

Yesterday, Sophie and I dropped by a church before going on to another church function, to pay our respects to a family who had lost a man who was a beloved husband and father of two daughters. We have known the family for many years. It was poignant to see how much the daughters cared for their dad demonstrating their grief and sorrow, knowing that their loss would be felt even more today as this would be their first Father’s Day without their dad.

I thought it appropriate today, before we show our appreciation to our fathers here on earth, let us reflect upon our Father and creator and the significance of His love in our lives. Our lesson, today, is entitled ‘The Power of Patient, Persistent, and Purposeful Prayer’, where we will explore the purpose and need for prayer in our Christian walk, as prayer is one of the best ways to draw closer to Him on a daily basis.

As Jesus ascended into heaven, our Lord instructed his Disciples to become Apostles or messengers of the Gospel. Jesus said to obediently share his Gospel unto the ends of the earth.

Our lesson today will focus on one of these aspects of the Christian Ministry, which is prayer. Prayer is found on the top spoke or the top of the cross in our wheel illustration.

Today’s lesson has the title, ‘The Power of Patient, Persistent, and Purposeful Prayer’. Besides the obvious use of alliteration, we see that prayer needs to be patient, persistent, and purposeful.

The Apostle Paul implores us to pray without ceasing, as we see in the Scripture passage, 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18:

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

But what did Paul mean when he said to “pray without ceasing”? We find an answer to the question posed on the site “gotquestions.org:

Question: “What does it mean to pray without ceasing?” (gotquestions.org)

For Christians, prayer should be like breathing. You do not have to think to breathe because the atmosphere exerts pressure on your lungs and essentially forces you to breathe. That is why it is more difficult to hold your breath than it is to breathe. Similarly, when we are born into the family of God, we enter into a spiritual atmosphere where God’s presence and grace exert pressure, or influence, on our lives. Prayer is the normal response to that pressure. As believers, we have all entered the divine atmosphere to breathe the air of prayer.

Unfortunately, many believers hold their “spiritual breath” for long periods, thinking brief moments with God are sufficient to allow them to survive. But such restricting of their spiritual intake is caused by sinful desires. The fact is that every believer must be continually in the presence of God, constantly breathing in His truths, to be fully functional.

It is easier for Christians to feel secure by presuming on—instead of depending on—God’s grace. Too many believers become satisfied with physical blessings and have little desire for spiritual ones. When programs, methods, and money produce impressive results, there is an inclination to confuse human success with divine blessing. When that happens, passionate longing for God and yearning for His help will be missing. Continual, persistent, incessant prayer is an essential part of Christian living and flows out of humility and dependence on God.

http://www.gotquestions.org/pray-without-ceasing.html

As followers of the resurrected Christ, we must pray as frequently as we breathe the air. Just as breathing sustains our physical life, prayer sustains our spiritual life.

There are a number of reasons for prayer, which we shall explore in today’s lesson. As we explore the variety of reasons and goals for prayer, we may find ourselves pausing as to what is the correct way to begin to pray or ask ourselves do we know how to pray? This is what happened when the Disciples asked Jesus to teach them how to pray, as we see in Luke 11:1-13 (ESV), where the Lord, who had just completed his prayer, answered how they should pray:

The Lord’s Prayer

BLCF: lord-teach-us-to-pray-Luke_11_1

11 Now Jesu was praying in a certain place, and when he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.” And he said to them, “When you pray, say:

“Father, hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come.
Give us each day our daily bread,

and forgive us our sins,
for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us.
And lead us not into temptation.”

Jesus followed his prayer with a Parable to help Disciples understand the motives and goals of prayer, as we continue in Luke, Chapter 11:

And he said to them, “Which of you who has a friend will go to him at midnight and say to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves, for a friend of mine has arrived on a journey, and I have nothing to set before him’; and he will answer from within, ‘Do not bother me; the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed. I cannot get up and give you anything’? I tell you, though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his impudence[c] he will rise and give him whatever he needs. And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 10 For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. 11 What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; 12 or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? 13 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”

BLCF: Pray_for_Others

You see that the persistent person asks not for himself, but for something for a friend. And what father could deny a request from a son whom he loves.

Jesus said we are to pray to God, the Father in Heaven, asking persistently and purposely, with the patient expectation, to be answered by His child. A “child of God” is loved by the Father, as well as being blessed with the Holy Spirit, by the grace of the Lord, Christ Jesus. We, as His children, only need to ask.

Jesus then tells another Parable of a persistent widow, whose persistent petitions are eventually answered by a judge, who has neither fear of God nor respect for others. We must understand that only the righteous prayer made by a believer, who has faith in God and respect for others, will be answered promptly, as we see in Luke 18:1-8 (ESV):

The Parable of the Persistent Widow

BLCF: Prayer-is-the-key-to-heaven-but-Faith-unlocks-the-door

18 And he told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart. He said, “In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor respected man. And there was a widow in that city who kept coming to him and saying, ‘Give me justice against my adversary.’ For a while he refused, but afterward he said to himself, ‘Though I neither fear God nor respect man, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will give her justice, so that she will not beat me down by her continual coming.’” And the Lord said, “Hear what the unrighteous judge says. And will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them? I tell you, he will give justice to them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”

We see that Jesus concluded the Parable by raising the question: “Will find faith on the day that he returns?” We must understand that only faith in the Son of Man can mitigate the certain judgment is given to those who have sinned and lack faith and prayer without faith is futile.

BLCF: Ephesians 1_13

The title of this Parable is The Parable of the Persistent Widow. From the perspective that Christ is the bridegroom and the believers, who comprise his Church, are his bride. When the members of the church, the bride, see the groom, Jesus dies and does not believe that he was resurrected, the bride becomes a widow in faith. Without faith, there is no sanctification, no savior, with no hope of a resurrection. It is only by faith in the groom’s resurrection may the bond of marriage be restored. Without faith in the resurrected Christ, there will be no response, no answer from God, and no hope in justice earned by way of the Lord’s sacrifice.

But Jesus did rise from the dead, walked on the earth for some 40 days, and was seen by several hundred witnesses before he ascended back to heaven.

Unlike the widow in the Parable, who pleas for justice from a judge who has no regard for God or others, we have an advocate who loves both His Father in Heaven, as well as others. Jesus, the Son of Man, gifts those who believe in him with salvation, sanctification, and an advocate in the Holy Spirit. Jesus demonstrates unconditional love for others and trusts in his Heavenly Father by surrendering himself to the judgment on the cross for the sins of humanity.

BLCF: Always_Pray

I would like to conclude our lesson today by examining the heartfelt prayer that Jesus made to His Father in the Garden of Gethsemane. this prayer is found in the Gospel of John 17, starting with Verse 1, which is actually a threefold prayer, as we read:

17 When Jesus had spoken these words, he lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you, since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do. And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.

John 17 (ESV) – The High Priestly Prayer – Jesus prays for His disciples (Verses 6-19): 

“I have manifested your name to the people whom you gave me out of the world. Yours they were, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. Now they know that everything that you have given me is from you. For I have given them the words that you gave me, and they have received them and have come to know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me. I am praying for them. I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours. 10 All mine are yours, and yours are mine, and I am glorified in them. 11 And I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one. 12 While I was with them, I kept them in your name, which you have given me. I have guarded them, and not one of them has been lost except the son of destruction, that the Scripture might be fulfilled.13 But now I am coming to you, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves.14 I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 15 I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 17 Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. 18 As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. 19 And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth.

John 17 (ESV) – The High Priestly Prayer – Jesus prays for all believers (Verses 20-26): 

20 “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, 21 that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, 23 I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me. 24 Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world. 25 O righteous Father, even though the world does not know you, I know you, and these know that you have sent me. 26 I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.”

So let us recap, there were three things that Jesus focused on within his prayer, namely: God to be glorified, His disciples, and all believers. Contrary to some popular interpretations which incorrectly indicate that Jesus was pleading for mercy on behalf of himself, instead as we read in John 17, the Lord prayed for Glory to God and the sanctification of both his disciples and all believers. It seems the Lord was just as selfless in prayer as he was on the cross!  
To simplify even further, the Lord prayed for God’s glory, his Disciples, and all believers. What more could you expect in a complete and perfect prayer, certainly nothing less!

Let us pray…

Closing Hymn #434: Sweet Hour of Prayer

Sweet Hour Of Prayer (Hymns with lyrics) – https://youtu.be/Yz5pD6C9h-w

Benediction – (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18): Rejoice always,  pray without ceasing,  give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

Pray for Peace

BLCF: happy fathers day