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

On March 15, 2020, due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, BLCF Cafe Community Dinner has suspended operations as we are not equipped for take-out service and are unable to provide Personal Protection Equipment to our vulnerable volunteers and guests as a sit-down dinner. Please follow our social media channels for postings of when BLCF Cafe would open after health officials post the all clear for reduced social-distancing guidelines which are currently in place. Be safe.

Sophie Mickelson

Director-Coordinator BLCF Cafe Community Dinner BLCF Cafe Community Dinner

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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Anticipating the Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love in Christ: First Advent Sunday 2021: Hope

Dear BLCF Friends,

Effective October 17, 2021, Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church is now opened by reservation only for Sunday worship under the limitations and guidelines set by Public Health and the Board of BLCF. 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 safely reopen 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:

Anticipating the Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love in Christ:

‘First Advent Sunday: Hope’

© November 28, 2021, by Steve Mickelson

Based on Messages Shared at BLCF on November 29, 2020,December 2, 2018, and November 22, 2015 

BLCF Bulletin December 2, 2018

BLCF Bulletin November 22, 2015

Announcements and Call to Worship; Prayer

Opening Music Special:

My Hope Is Built On Nothing Less by Buller, Balzer and Aichele https://youtu.be/3n5w_2IXvuA

Tithing and Prayer; Prayers; Praise God:

Lauren Daigle – “To God Be All Glory” (Lyric Video)

Responsive Reading #610: Christ in Prophecy (Isaiah 11 and 42, Jeremiah 23, Malachi 4)

Lighting of First Advent Candle (Hope):

Light of The World – Lauren Daigle (Christmas story) https://youtu.be/Z4nvVw8z6K8

Let us pray…

Good morning and welcome to Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship, where on this glorious Sunday morning, we mark the beginning of Advent. We signify Advent’s arrival by lighting the first of four Advent candles. For our lesson today, entitled: Anticipating the Hope, Peace, Joy and Love in Christ – First Advent Sunday: Hope’, we begin by understanding the significance of the events described in the Bible, which combine to cover the arrival of people, things, and events that comprise what we refer today as Advent.

Classic Christmas Caroling Songbook - Hendrickson Publishers

To add to today’s celebration, BLCF Church would like to give each member of the congregation apersonal copy of A Classic Christmas Caroling Songbook (Hendrickson Publishers). We will be using  this songbook for today’s Advent Service and for the following four Sunday Services. So please remember to bring your Songbook back for the the remainder of the year.

Let us give the songbook a trial. At this time the Congregation is invited to make selections from their personal copy of A Classic Christmas Caroling Songbook (Hendrickson Publishers), selections will be accompanied with the corresponding music track from the companion CD: Classic Christmas Carols – 30 Sing Along Favorites.

Let us continue with today’s Advent message:

Let us look at some definition of terms regarding Advent. For this we shall check our Wikibits:

ad·vent ˈadˌvent/noun

noun: advent; plural noun: advents

  1. the arrival of a notable person, thing, or event.

E.g. “the advent of television”

synonyms: arrival, appearance, emergence, materialization, occurrence, dawn, birth, rise, development; More

 

approach, coming

“the advent of a new school year”

antonyms: disappearance
       
  • the first season of the Christian church year, leading up to Christmas and including the four preceding Sundays.

noun: Advent

  • Christian Theology; the coming or second coming of Christ.

noun: Advent

https://www.google.ca/search?q=advent+definition&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&gws_rd=cr&ei=_gRbVobdA8O9eZb4tNgF

The Advent season marks the beginning of the Christian year in western Christianity. Its length varies from 22 to 28 days, beginning on the Sunday nearest St Andrew’s Day and encompassing the next three Sundays, ending on Christmas Day. St Andrew was born in Bethesda on the shores of the Sea of Galilee and was the younger brother of St Peter. Both he and his brother became disciples of Jesus. He is said to have died bound to an “X” shaped cross at Patras in Achea in Greece. This shape is now reflected in the Scottish flag, known as the Saltire. St Andrew has been recognized as the patron saint of Scotland since at least the ninth century. St Andrew’s Day falls on November 30, according to many Christian churches. St Andrew’s Day is a bank holiday in Scotland. However, the bank holiday falls on Monday, December 1 or 2 if November 30 is a Saturday or Sunday.

The church year begins in September 1 in many eastern Christian churches, so Advent starts at a different time to when it starts in the western churches. The eastern equivalent of Advent is called the Nativity Fast, which runs for 40 days.

Background

It is uncertain as to when exactly the celebration of Advent was first introduced in the Christian church. Some sources say that Advent began on November 11 (St Martin’s Day) at some time in the fifth century in the form of a six-week fast leading to Christmas. Advent was reduced to its current length at some stage in the sixth century and the fasting was later no longer observed. Advent is originally a time to reflect and prepare for Christmas similarly to how Lent is in preparation for Easter. Advent has sometimes been referred to as the Winter Lent. In recent times the restrictions that Advent brings to Christians have become more relaxed.

Symbols

Purple is historically the main color used for Advent because it reflects penitence, fasting, and the color of royalty to welcome the Advent of the king (Jesus Christ). The focus of the entire season is the celebration of the birth of Jesus the Christ in his first Advent, and the anticipation of the return of Christ the King in his Second Advent. Some churches use other colors in recent times. For example, some churches mark the third Sunday of Advent with pink or rose, colors that represent joy. Many Protestant churches use blue to distinguish the Season of Advent from Lent.

Advent wreaths are symbolic of Advent in some countries. They are usually made of fir and decorated with gold and silver ribbons or scarlet woolen threads. Lit wreaths may be displayed on the table where family and friends sit while singing carols and preparing handmade gifts.

http://www.timeanddate.com/holidays/canada/first-day-advent

In our first Scripture Verse, Isaiah 11:1-10 (ESV), we find a prophecy of the Advent of the arrival of the “shoot from the stump of Jesse”, a descendant of Jesse, the father of King David;

The Righteous Reign of the Branch

11 There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse,
and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit.
2 And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him,
the Spirit of wisdom and understanding,
the Spirit of counsel and might,
the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord.
3 And his delight shall be in the fear of the Lord.
He shall not judge by what his eyes see,
or decide disputes by what his ears hear,
4 but with righteousness he shall judge the poor,
and decide with equity for the meek of the earth;
and he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth,
and with the breath of his lips he shall kill the wicked.
5 Righteousness shall be the belt of his waist,
and faithfulness the belt of his loins.

6 The wolf shall dwell with the lamb,
and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat,
and the calf and the lion and the fattened calf together;
and a little child shall lead them.
7 The cow and the bear shall graze;
their young shall lie down together;
and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.
8 The nursing child shall play over the hole of the cobra,
and the weaned child shall put his hand on the adder’s den.
9 They shall not hurt or destroy
in all my holy mountain;
for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord
as the waters cover the sea.

10 In that day the root of Jesse, who shall stand as a signal for the peoples—of him shall the nations inquire, and his resting place shall be glorious.

Our second Scripture Verse, Jeremiah 33:14-16 (ESV), where the Lord describes the prophecy in terms of the Advent of a fulfillment of His Eternal Covenant:

The Lord’s Eternal Covenant with David

14 “Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will fulfill the promise I made to the house of Israel and the house of Judah. 15 In those days and at that time I will cause a righteous Branch to spring up for David, and he shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. 16 In those days Judah will be saved, and Jerusalem will dwell securely. And this is the name by which it will be called: ‘The Lord is our righteousness.’

In our third Scripture, Romans 15:12 (ESV), the Apostle Paul, indicates the significance for believers today, and for all generations, of the Advent of Christ:

12 And again Isaiah says,

“The root of Jesse will come,
even he who arises to rule the Gentiles;
in him will the Gentiles hope.”

We find that in Advent, not just the anticipation of the birth of Christ, and the “Good News” that our Lord brought to humanity: salvation by way of the cross, sanctification through the Holy Spirit, and the hope in the promise of eternal life.

Advent describes the events of the arrival of travelers: a nation of Chosen People, to a Chosen Land, to receive a Chosen or Anointed Saviour. In their travels, the people travel in and out of bondage, to Egypt, the wilderness, and to land that was promised.

We also see the arrival of the Magi or Wise Men, who reveal that Christ’s arrival was also significant to the Gentiles, as well as to the people of Israel.

We see the arrival of shepherds, who come to see the arrival of Jesus, to signify that Christ arrived for the benefit of both, the high and meek, alike.

We see the advent of angels, who are sent to inform Mary and Joseph of the arrival of a child, who is both son of man and Son of God. Angels had arrived to announce to the shepherds the arrival of the Christ child. We observe the advent of angels who warned both the Magi and Joseph and Mary of King Herod’s plot to kill the child, Jesus. And by lighting a candle today, we mark the advent of a star over a manger in Bethlehem, to signify the arrival of the “Light of the World,” that is the advent of our Lord and Saviour Jesus, the living Christ.

Classic Christmas Caroling Songbook - Hendrickson Publishers

At this time the Congregation is invited to make selections from their personal copy of A Classic Christmas Caroling Songbook (Hendrickson Publishers), selections will be accompanied with the corresponding music track from the companion CD: Classic Christmas Carols – 30 Sing Along Favorites.

Let us pray…

Closing Music Special:

Lauren Daigle – O Come O Come Emmanuel (with Lyrics) https://youtu.be/LOBcuHaKQiU

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.

Romans 15 -13

Staying on the Path to Salvation: Through Humility and Forgiveness

Dear BLCF Friends,

Effective October 17, 2021, Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church is now opened by reservation only for Sunday worship under the limitations and guidelines set by Public Health and the Board of BLCF. 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 safely reopen 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:

‘Staying on the Path to Salvation through Humility and Forgiveness’ 

© November 21, 2021, by Steve Mickelson

Based on lessons shared with BLCF on January 21, 2018, July 20, 2014 and February 28, 2010

BLCF Bulletin January 21, 2018

BLCF: Bulletin July 20, 2014

BLCF Bulletin February 28, 2010

Announcements and Call to Worship:     

Opening Music Selections:

Cochren and Co. Church (Take me Back) https://youtu.be/3eTOcrWu8mQ

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

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

Responsive Reading 667: Humility and Exaltation (Philippians 2 and Matthew 23); Prayer

 

Let Us Pray…

Welcome to Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church’s Sunday Morning Praise and Worship Service for Sunday November 21, 2021. Next Sunday marks the first Sunday of Advent, where we celebrate and remember the arrival of Christ the Messiah, the Word made Flesh. For the next four Sundays, we have planned to celebrate the arrival of Advent in a special way, stay tuned to find out how.

Recently, the Board of BLCF had to pay for some needed repairs to the church furnaces. And the Board is in the process of getting bids to effect repairs to the roof area above the Prayer Room and the adjacent office. The Board ask for your prayers and patience, during the repair process. Now, let us begin today’s lesson.

I would like to begin this lesson with a quote from Mahatma Gandhi:

Things that will destroy man: Politics without principle; pleasure without conscience; wealth without work; knowledge without character; business without morality; science without humanity; worship without sacrifice. 

If you picked up a newspaper recently, you may have read the following headline and news story:

Accused Florida school shooter pleads guilty in 2018 Parkland massacre

Oct 20, 2021 (Reuters) – Accused shooter Nikolas Cruz pleaded guilty on Wednesday to 17 counts of murder and 17 counts of attempted murder in the 2018 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, the deadliest ever at a U.S. high school.

At a hearing, Cruz, 23, stood hunched over and entered one guilty plea at a time as the judge read off the charges. His lawyer, David Wheeler, Broward County’s chief assistant public defender, said last week Cruz intended to plead guilty in the Valentine’s Day attack.

Cruz was a 19-year-old expelled student with a history of mental health and behavioral issues at the time of the “cold, calculated and premeditated” killings, Broward County’s State’s Attorney Office said in court documents.

After the pleas were entered, Cruz removed his COVID-19 mask and apologized to his victims.

“I am very sorry for what I did and I have to live with it every day,” he said. “And that if I were to get a second chance I will do everything in my power to try to help others … I have to live with this every day, and it brings me nightmares that I can’t live with myself sometimes.”

Cruz wore a dark blue sweater vest above a blue shirt. He was thin and had on large glasses. His hands clutched the wooden podium he stood at while the judge spoke to him.

As a prosecutor read a detailed account of the incident, relatives and friends of the victims sat in the courtroom gallery, wiping tears from their eyes and holding each other.

Because prosecutors have vowed to seek the death penalty, his change of plea from not guilty opens the penalty phase. A jury would decide whether he should be sentenced to life in prison or death. In Florida, juries determine whether to impose a death sentence. If prosecutors are not willing to drop the potential death penalty as part of any plea deal that may be struck with Cruz, then a jury would decide.

https://www.reuters.com/world/us/accused-florida-school-shooter-set-plead-guilty-2018-parkland-massacre-2021-10-20/

Much of today’s news media contains a litany of stories describing the sadness of when innocent lives are lost or to quote a well-known book:

When Bad Things Happen To Good People

When Harold Kushner’s three-year-old son was diagnosed with a degenerative disease and that he would only live until his early teens, he was faced with one of life’s most difficult questions: Why, God? Years later, Rabbi Kushner wrote this straightforward, elegant contemplation of the doubts and fears that arise when tragedy strikes. Kushner shares his wisdom as a rabbi, a parent, a reader, and a human being. Often imitated but never superseded, When Bad Things Happen to Good People is a classic that offers clear thinking and consolation in times of sorrow. Since its original publication in 1981, When Bad Things Happen to Good People has brought solace and hope to millions of readers and its author has become a nationally known spiritual leader.

When my younger sister, Rhona, died from blood poisoning related to an abscess bedsore, it was very difficult for my dad. No one wants to outlive his or her child. Rhona’s last words to dad were: “I am not ready to die.” I believe that the whole family was surprised by her untimely death at age 42, as she successfully represented the disabled and elderly segments of Toronto through her Star Tracks Talent Agency (Star Tracks © 1998 Estate and Heirs of Rhona Winifred Mickelson – All Rights Reserved) having won numerous awards for her work for the rights of the disabled:

RHONA MICKELSON (From Hansard Transcripts – Legislative Assembly of Ontario) 36th Parliament, 1st session, October 29, 1996:

RHONA MICKELSON

Mr. Alvin Curling (Scarborough North): On October 22 the disabled community lost a very special friend. Rhona Mickelson, founder of Star Tracks Performing Arts Centre and Talent Agency for the Disabled, passed away from heart failure..

At the age of three, Miss Mickelson was playing with her dolls when an improperly constructed patio roof gave way at the family home at San Antonio, Texas, caving in on her. The resulting spinal injury left her a paraplegic and required the use of a wheelchair.

In university, she noticed during film studies that able-bodied actors were used to play the roles of people with disabilities; thus the idea for a talent agency for the disabled was born. Her efforts opened doors for people with disabilities in the world of film, advertising and employment. She found work for people with disabilities as models, in magazines, films and commercials. Rhona Mickelson lived on a disability pension and supported Star Tracks out of her own pocket.

Rhona was a personal friend who was always there for me, with a smile, with a laugh, with optimism abounding.

Whatever damage was caused from the accident, the spirit of a remarkable woman survived. There are examples of courage everywhere, from the tenacious desire of Terry Fox to the determined perseverance and courage of Rick Hansen. Rhona Mickelson personified all that and more. Her unfailing spirit and selfless concern for others is a remarkable legacy that will never be forgotten.

Rhona, you are among the leaves, the trees — you will always be among us.

Our deepest sympathies go out to her sister, Penny, brother, Stephen, and father, Harry.

https://www.ola.org/en/legislative-business/house-documents/parliament-36/session-1/1996-10-29/hansard#P28_4668

14 Feb 1997, 102 - National Post at Newspapers_com Rhona Winifred Mickelson 1997 King Clancey Award

14 Feb 1997, 102 – National Post at Newspapers.com Rhona Winifred Mickelson winner of 1996 King Clancy Award

When a child dies, the surviving parents and family are not only struck by their own mortality, but are distinctly aware of the loss of someone close to them with whom there will be no more conversations, no more laughter nor jokes. For a parent they sense a loss of someone who was to carry on with the family name. Lost, are the hopes, dreams, and aspirations that the parent had for the child.  Such a loss can be very difficult to accept, the causes are often hard to reconcile, and for those outside the family, such loss may be hard to understand.

Such was the case in Nickels Belt, Pennsylvania, when Charles Roberts, a 32-year-old milk truck driver, burst into an Amish schoolhouse in rural Pennsylvania on Monday, October 2, 2006 and killed five schoolgirls execution-style and then shot and then killed himself. Initially, the public viewed the tragedy as another case of a disturbed individual acting out his psychosis by killing innocent victims. It was just another school shooting by a man who was described by neighbors as a soccer dad, a seemingly good husband, and hard worker who just snapped. A rambling letter written by Roberts prior to his death blamed his emotional state upon a personal loss, some years previous.

The scope and scale of the tragic loss of life at the Amish schoolhouse paled in comparison to the reaction given by the families of the five victims towards the killer Roberts and the Roberts family. Though the act of violence against the children in the Amish schoolhouse by this outsider had shaken the community to its core and in spite of Amish community’s feelings of shock, disbelief and then grief, the reaction of the Amish community to the deaths was not what others had expected. Members of the Amish community sought to support all of the families who had suffered a tremendous loss; both Amish as well as Roberts’ family. Within a day of the shootings, members of the Amish community, friends and family of the slain girls called upon the parents, widow and children of Charles Roberts to embrace the shooters family, to show forgiveness towards the killer and to support the Roberts in their time of personal loss and grief.  This reaction of forgiveness stunned both the public and the media.

Dr. Donald Kraybill co-authored: Amish Grace: How Forgiveness Transcended Tragedy, and wrote the following:

One of the fathers who lost a daughter in the schoolhouse and had another one seriously injured said, “Our forgiveness was not in our words, it was in what we did.” What did they do? How did the Amish enact forgiveness?

Two days after the shooting the Amish formed the Nickel Mines Accountability Committee to disperse, with fiscal integrity, the financial gifts of goodwill that were suddenly coming from people around the world to help the suffering families. Composed of seven Amish leaders and two outside businessmen, the Nickel Mines Accountability Committee decided to give a proportion of the funds they received to the widow and children of Charles Roberts. In time, the committee received about $4.2 million from generous donors around the world.  

One of the most striking expressions of forgiveness occurred at Charles Roberts’s burial on the Saturday after the shooting. Roberts was buried in the Georgetown cemetery, about a mile from the school, beside his firstborn daughter whose premature death nine years earlier he blamed on God and gave as the reason for his murderous acts. Over half of the people in attendance were Amish. They spontaneously decided to attend. Some had just buried their own daughters the day before. After the burial they hugged the widow and the parents of Charles Roberts. It was a remarkable act of grace. The funeral director supervising the burial said, “I realized that I was witnessing a miracle!” The Amish families bestowed other gracious acts of kindness on the family of Charles Roberts. Some sent meals and flowers to his widow. At Christmastime children from a nearby Amish school went to the Roberts home to sing carols.  

Another remarkable facet of the Amish response was the absence of anger and rage. One Amish woman said, “When I saw the bodies of one of the little girls at the viewing it just made me mad, mad at the evil, not at the shooter.” In my interviews, I probed for anger toward Charles Roberts but I detected only deep sorrow, not anger. When I asked about Roberts’s eternal destiny, one Amish minister said, “I can only hope for him what I hope for myself, that God will be a merciful and loving judge.” Deep pain and sorrow seared the hearts of the Amish parents. Even months after the tragedy, the memory of the event brought tears to the eyes of many Amish people. “I couldn’t preach in church for several weeks because when I tried, I just cried and cried,” said one grandfather, a minister who lost a granddaughter in the schoolhouse. The Amish are not stoic people; they experience the emotions of pain and suffering like the rest of us.

For all the Amish, as well as for fellow Christians at Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship– BLCF Church, the strength to forgive is found through humility and by God’s grace.

Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, well known for his Christian walk, once said: “Forgiving is one of the most difficult things for a human being to do, but I think it means looking at some slight you feel, putting yourself in the position of the other person, and wiping away any sort of resentment and antagonism you feel toward them. Then let that other person know that everything is perfectly friendly and normal between you…One of the most basic principles for making and keeping peace within and between nations. . . is that in political, military, moral, and spiritual confrontations, there should be an honest attempt at the reconciliation of differences before resorting to combat”

C. Ryle on the subject of humility and love said: “Humility and love are precisely the graces which the men of the world can understand, if they do not comprehend doctrines. They are the graces about which there is no mystery, and they are within reach of all classes… [The poorest] Christian can every day find occasion for practicing love and humility. “

To understand the reaction, we must understand the Amish. There are about 200,000 Amish who live in 27 states and 350 geographical settlements. They came from Europe in the 17th and 18th centuries and have lived lives largely separate from mainstream American society ever since.  They have a Biblically-based understanding of their way of life, and they seek to apply their unique ways in terms of their selective use of technology, the way in which they interact with the outside world. Because the Amish are pacifists, they see the school rampage as a test of faith. Part of their faith practices includes not only reciting daily The Lord’s Prayer, but actually incorporating the message of the prayer in their everyday life. As one member of the Amish community stated, “There’s strength and forgiveness and not having the kind of bitterness that we think possibly caused this terrible tragedy.”

In order to achieve forgiveness, the Amish live a life of humility. Their manner of dress is simple and unassuming. They shun modern technology, preferring to travel by horse drawn carriage than by automobile. They live off the power grid; do not have any gas lines, phones, radios or televisions,  computers or internet. They have no commercial insurance policies; say for life or property insurance, no credit cards, no loans. If an Amish suffers a loss, his support network is comprised of the community of fellow believers, who draw close to the person to provide care and support. The Amish learn the Way of humility from the Scriptures, 2 Chronicles 7:14 (ESV):

14 if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.

Philippians 2:1-11 (ESV) Christ’s Example of Humility

2 So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus,[a] who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant,[b] being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.         

Footnotes: a. Philippians 2:5 Or which was also in Christ Jesus b. Philippians 2:7 Greek bondservant

But you may ask: “Does God really command or require us to be humble”? We find the answer to this question in Micah 6:8 (ESV):

He has told you, O man, what is good;

and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love

kindness,[a]     

and to walk humbly with your God?             

Footnotes: a. Micah 6:8 Or steadfast love

Just as our weakness and imperfections are made strong and perfect through the power of the Holy Spirit; a humble believer will become the greatest proponent of the faith in the Lord:

Matthew 18:3-4 (ESV)

And he said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

Steve Marshall in an article on overcoming depression entitled: How forgiveness has healing power over depression states the following:

Healing through forgiveness and growing through humility. Accepting your depression and finding that it is no more than a curtain on the stage of life, your life. What is the real spiritual connection between depression and forgiveness? Is there a causal connection? Can depression be alleviated from a “heartfelt connectingly” deep forgiveness of myself and of others made by myself? Forgiveness always helps because to forgive is to embrace the loving option. Love heals depression by allowing it’s healing “of the opening up of yourself to yourself and of the opening up of yourself to others” to take place. For essentially depression is a sign of your closing down to yourself and to life. The way to allow growth through and past your depression is to start forgiving yourself for having allowed this degree of closing down of yourself to yourself and to life to have taken place. Depression is a really deep, painful and lonely place to be, but it’s very deepness is what allows you to grow. It is true in life that you grow most from the deepest pain and the deepest feelings and that your most penetratingly painful experiences will often teach you the most. And so depression as I have just said allows you to feel feelings more deeply and this then will open the other side of depression in you and which is forgiveness. When you are feeling any feeling other than happiness or experiencing any state other than love, it is time to think about forgiveness. Forgive yourself first by just accepting yourself, for acceptance is the always the first step of forgiveness. The second step is to acknowledge that depression is a part of life and of your life and to look for the hidden jewels hiding within the darkness of depression. Forgiveness is the candle or the light in this darkness that will allow you to see the jewel and which is your soul sparkling and shining with a glimmering hope. That hope is that real hope that you will at last contact your real self as soul and that this contact will now begin to turn you around, and then after that the next step is humility. It takes true humility to forgive, and true forgiveness makes you humble. It goes on from there, and you will find that when you can touch yourself as soul, and feel a little of your true value, and accept that you have indeed a unique purpose and unique gifts and that you are a part of God’s overall plan for all of life, you will maybe realize then that your part in it all is just simply to be you.

And you may ask what Christ said we may expect if we do not forgive those who have wronged us? Let us read from Matthew 25, verses 31-46 for the answer let us look to Matthew 25:31-45 (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.’

In other words, we will be judged according to how we have treated others. We cannot expect forgiveness and salvation if we do not forgive others. And we cannot forgive others if we have not humbled ourselves in the eyes of the Lord. Or to put it a little more clearly:

Matthew 6:14-15 (ESV)

14 For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, 15 but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

And if we must remember Christ words, while nailed to the cross, through His anguish and pain the words He spoke were of suffering but forgiveness:

Luke 23:34 (ESV)

34 And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”[a] And they cast lots to divide his garments.                                                                          

Footnotes: a. Luke 23:34 Some manuscripts omit the sentence And Jesus… what they do

So, we can see that one of the requisites for our Salvation is humility and in order to be forgiven, we must first forgive. These are not guidelines but a path which we may walk as do the Amish, it is a way of life. The Scriptures become alive for you and me only after we chose not just to speak the cripture, but to live the scripture. To demonstrate by our actions humility before the Lord and forgiveness to others who have wronged us.

Danish philosopher, theologian, and psychologist Soren Kierkegaard once said: Christ did not appoint professors, but followers. If Christianity… is not reduplicated in the life of the person expounding it, then he does not expound Christianity, for Christianity is a message about living and can only be expounded by being realized in men’s lives.

Humility and forgiveness are the sacrifices we must make to be worthy in God’s eyes so as to receive Christ’s gift of salvation. His sacrifice for our forgiveness was great. What we must sacrifice is relatively small, we must be humble, forgiven and receive the gift of salvation.

With respect to forgiveness and the Christian walk, author CS Lewis observed: To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you.

Over the last century alone, history bears witness to a host of inexcusable circumstances, a World War meant to end all wars” that failed in this purpose, a Spanish Flu Pandemic, a Great Depression, another World War which included a Holocaust that epitomised man’s inhumanity to man, the Atomic Bomb that drove Superpowers to a protracted cold war that nearly ended with a Missile Crises in Cuba, more wars, police actions, interventions, racial riots, mass shootings, terrorist attracts, and our current COVID-19 Pandemic. All of these have put people’s faith and trust in God to the test, as some deny war and Holocaust,  deny pandemics and vaccines, deny sin in general, preferring to hide the lies of their sins under a veil of fig leaves, oblivions to the truth. The human reaction to such horrific events is the adrenalin driven “flight or fight” syndrome, whereby they run away and hide from the horrors, pretending that it does not exist and if they deny it, and it will just disappear and go away. On the other hand, they could decide to put on the armour that God has provided for just such events and fight their own fears and frustrations, avoiding any denial of the truth, being confident that the Lord will bring them through the storm, safely to the other side.

Let us conclude this morning’s lesson with the same quote from Mahatma Gandhi that used at the beginning:

Things that will destroy man: Politics without principle; pleasure without conscience; wealth without work; knowledge without character; business without morality; science without humanity; worship without sacrifice.

Let us pray…

Closing Music Special:

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

Benediction (Romans 15:5-6): May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

God Saved This Sinner

Dear BLCF Friends,

Effective October 17, 2021, Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church is now open by reservation only for Sunday worship under the limitations and guidelines set by Public Health and the Board of BLCF. 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 safely reopen 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 Saved This Sinner’

© November 14, 2021, by Steve Mickelson

Based on a Message shared at BLCF on July 2, 2017

BLCF Bulletin July 2, 2017

Announcements and Call to Worship; Prayer

Opening Music Specials:                                                           

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

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

Prayer and Tithing 

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 as to how to use a wheel chair, 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 in 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, the family embarked for 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 to car away from the danger.

Years later, I remember dad saying to  me that, “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 top of the lighthouse. On one occasion, great-grandfather Knudsen recalled using semaphore, that is signaling by flag, 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 home town 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.

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 grandfather’s car, causing both cars to spin on the narrow roadway. Grandfather’s car ended up spinning over the edge of the mountain, 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 travelling 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 Thursday, on November 11, I watched watched 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 refered 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 had 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.

By 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, the faith in God remains.

Neither the plea to God to preserve the life of a monarch, nor the apparent intervention to preserve my ancestors seem 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 are 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 that Jesus will intercede upon God’s judgement for our sins, thanks to the grace given us by the sacrifice 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).

Remembrance: By Means of the Poppy and the Cross

Dear BLCF Friends,

Effective October 17, 2021, Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church is now open by reservation only for Sunday worship under the limitations and guidelines set by Public Health and the Board of BLCF. 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 safely reopen more of our worship and outreach activities without any concern of infection to the vulnerable within our community.

– Pastor Steve

BLCF: Always & Forever - Lest We Forget

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

‘Remembrance: By Means of the Poppy and the Cross’

© November 7, 2021, by Steve Mickelson

Based On Messages Shared at BLCF on November 8, 2015, and November 11, 2012

BLCF Bulletin November 8, 2015

BLCF: In_Remembrance

Call to Worship: Responsive Reading #671: God’s Love and Ours (1 John 4); Prayer

Opening Music Specials: 

Andrea Bocelli W/Jennifer Hudson – Amazing Grace https://youtu.be/ztWJcDuf30w

DEFENDER led by Mandy Harvey https://youtu.be/TyoaHZmMULc

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

BLCF: In Flander's Fields

Let us pray…

Welcome to Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship -BLCF Church’s Sunday Praise and Worship Service.Today, we celebrate the fourth Sunday since we reopened the church after our closing due to COVID-19 in March, 2020. Being the first Sunday, it is also Communion Sunday, where we observe the Lord’s sacrifice paid for our sins, and His gift of Salvation. And as Remembrance Day falls on Thursday this week, we will examine in today’s lesson  how the poppy and the cross are two symbols of remembrance of sacrifice on our behalf.

I stand before you wearing one of these symbols, the poppy, pinned above my heart, while illuminated behind me is the other, which is the cross.

This Thursday, we will have an opportunity to observe, with the aid of the poppy, the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, signifying the anniversary of the Armistice that was signed in 1918 to end World War I, ironically called “the war to end all wars”.

Today, the date is called Remembrance Day in Canada and Britain and Veterans Day in the United States. For us, Remembrance Day is a day where we remember all who died not only in this war but in all other conflicts, to both preserve and protect our democratic freedom and way of life in Canada.

We, in the Christian Church, also have a symbol no less important. It’s the Cross of Jesus. One of His great sayings is:

‘Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends’- John 15:13  (ESV).

And that is what Christ did for us.

BLCF: No Jesus No Peace

Two great symbols of sacrifice are the Poppy and the Cross.

What is so special about a poppy on Remembrance Day? Why not use a pansy? Scarlet poppies grow naturally in conditions of the disturbed earth throughout Western Europe. The destruction brought by the Napoleonic wars of the early 19th Century, transformed the bare land into fields of blood red poppies, growing around the bodies of the fallen soldiers.

In late 1914, the fields of Northern France and Flanders were once again ripped open as the First World War raged through Europe’s heart.

The significance of the poppy as a lasting memorial symbol to the fallen was realized by the Canadian surgeon John McCrae in his poem ‘In Flanders Fields’. The poppy came to represent the immeasurable sacrifice made by his comrades and quickly became a lasting memorial to those who died in the First World War and later conflicts. Here are McCrae’s words:

In Flanders Fields – John McCrae

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

When fighting ceased in 1918 the mud of the battlefields was allowed to rest. Nature began to restore the landscape. Before long, the wildflowers grew and bloomed, including the poppy. The colour of red reminds people of bloodshed and the sacrifice by millions of brave soldiers of their lives. And so the poppy became the symbol of sacrifice.

It is a known fact that people are creatures with the capacity to forget personal pain and suffering. Otherwise, women, for example, would be less likely to have more than one child, after having experienced the labour of the first and all of us would be unable to cope with the loss of loved ones. With the passage of time, the memory of the harsh reality of death diminishes and fades with each successive generation, becoming little more than the image of faded photographs or hollow words to a nearly forgotten poem.

That is why it is important to take a minute of silence to reflect and pray for those men and women who sacrificed their lives both in a distant place and time and in times current so that we may enjoy a relatively free and safe life today in Canada. We read the poem ’In Flanders Fields’, where see that even in the deadly field of battle, God transforms the trenches of death with a tapestry of red flowers and the song of meadowlarks, providing the promise of hope reminiscent of that given by His rainbow and dove with the olive branch after the great flood.

On this Remembrance Day, let us also remember the fallen innocents in past conflicts as well: the civilians who were killed in wars and conflicts, as well as the persecuted victims of purges and holocausts. And, we should remember the families of the fallen, for the pain of the loss of a loved one. Finally, we honour those who returned from battle and war, with the memory of death and destruction etched in their memories.

Some of you may still remember a member of our congregation, our friend Leo, a kindly brother in Christ, who sought to share the love of Christ with his brothers and sisters. I remember, when I had applied to work as an operator at the TTC, Leo commented to me, that after the World War II, he was hired by the TTC and trained to drive a street car. He remarked that as a result of the war, the stress of driving was too great for him, and he left the TTC to work as a carrier with Canada Post.

At Leo’s funeral, the chapel was almost evenly divided between sad, grieving uniformed postal carriers, members of the military and police officers on one side of the chapel; with happy Christian believers on the other. While the former mourned the death of a friend, the latter celebrated the fact that another Christian has gone home to be with Jesus at the Lord’s Resurrection.

While Leo did not give his life in war for his country, he did give his life as a living sacrifice unto his Lord. We see that the poppy represents the mourning for those who sacrificed themselves in battles, police actions and conflicts, which continue to this day. By contrast, Jesus gave his life as the final sacrifice for our judgment for sin, which we celebrate and observe continuously, by means prayer, song, Scripture and with the regular observance of Communion.

The poppy reminds us of the sacrificed lives in battles over the years past, present, and future. By contrast, the cross reminds us of the Lord’s single act of sacrifice and love for all generations, past, present, and future, John 15:10-13 (ESV):

10 If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. 11 These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.

12 “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.

BLCF: Love-God_Love-People

The cross symbolizes not only how Jesus sanctifies us from sin, but it is also a symbol of God’s New Covenant of eternal life and is an emblem of His love for us. We are implored to take heart and find joy in the Lord’s gift to us, which are the rewards for our faith, John 16:23-33 (ESV):

23 In that day you will ask nothing of me. Truly, truly, I say to you, whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you. 24 Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.

I Have Overcome the World

25 “I have said these things to you in figures of speech. The hour is coming when I will no longer speak to you in figures of speech but will tell you plainly about the Father. 26 In that day you will ask in my name, and I do not say to you that I will ask the Father on your behalf; 27 for the Father himself loves you, because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God.[a] 28 I came from the Father and have come into the world, and now I am leaving the world and going to the Father.”

29 His disciples said, “Ah, now you are speaking plainly and not using figurative speech! 30 Now we know that you know all things and do not need anyone to question you; this is why we believe that you came from God.” 31 Jesus answered them, “Do you now believe? 32 Behold, the hour is coming, indeed it has come, when you will be scattered, each to his own home, and will leave me alone. Yet I am not alone, for the Father is with me. 33 I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

Footnotes: a. John 16:27 Some manuscripts from the Father

In addition to the cross, we are instructed by the scriptures to remember the sacrifice of Jesus through the act of communion, until Jesus returns. This points to the main difference between the soldier’s sacrifice to give us freedom as Canadians and Jesus’ sacrifice to give us freedom from sin, as well as the gift of the Holy Spirit and the promise of the resurrection. It is our responsibility as members of Canadian society to honour the soldier’s sacrifice for a peace from a war that is temporary, as long sin exists, we will continue to have war. As believers in the resurrected Christ, our trust and faith in our Savior’s sacrifice which does not end sin, but the consequences of sin: judgment and death, Ephesians 2:13-18 (ESV):

13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 14 For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility 15 by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, 16 and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. 17 And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. 18 For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father.

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,[a] 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[b] you. Do this in remembrance of me.”[c] 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.[d] 31 But if we judged[e] ourselves truly, we would not be judged. 32 But when we are judged by the Lord, we are disciplined[f] so that we may not be condemned along with the world.

33 So then, my brothers,[g] when you come together to eat, wait for[h] 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…

BLCF: may-the-God-of-hope-fill-you-withl-joy-peace

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

Benediction – (Hebrews 13:20-21):
Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in you that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.

BLCF: Peace through Jesus

Time to set your clocks back tonight…

Compulsive Late Church goers Daylight Saving Time Ends Fall Back

Dear BLCF Friends,

Effective October 17, 2021, Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church is now open by reservation only for Sunday worship under the limitations and guidelines set by Public Health and the Board of BLCF. 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 safely reopen more of our worship and outreach activities without any concern of infection to the vulnerable within our community.

– Pastor Steve

Steadfast in Faith and Sanctified in Times of Distress 

Dear BLCF Friends,

Effective October 17, 2021, Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church is now open by reservation only for Sunday worship under the limitations and guidelines set by Public Health and the Board of BLCF. 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 safely reopen 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: 

‘Steadfast in Faith and Sanctified in Times of Distress’

© October 31, 2021, by Steve Mickelson

Based on Messages Shared with BLCF Church on February 25, 2018 and October 30, 2011

BLCF Bulletin February 25, 2018

BLCF Bulletin October_30,_2011

Opening Music Selections:

Chris McClarney Speak to the Mountains https://youtu.be/r5zP14_8meo

Mandy Harvey  It Is Well https://youtu.be/BHTgqVIVZGk

Announcements & Call to Worship; Prayer

Responsive Reading #612: (The Lamb of God from Isaiah 53)                

Message by Stephen Mickelson: ‘Steadfast in Faith and Sanctified in Times of Distress’ 

Let us pray…

The lyrics of Mandy Harvey’s It Is Well remind us that God’s Holy Spirit can lift us through the poignant challenges of life, such as the current Pandemic, and help us keep both our faith and soul intact. Thank you, Mandy!

Good morning and God’s Blessings on this the last Sunday Praise and Worship Service for the month of October. Next Sunday, November 7, 2021 will mark a number of milestones:

  • It will mark the fourth Sunday BLCF has been opened since we were closed due to the COVID-19 Pandemic last March 2020.
  • As Next Sunday marks the first Sunday of the month, it is communion Sunday. For the protection of all who partake, we will continue to serve the communion elements in a pre-packaged, factory sealed cup with contains both the bread wafer and the juice.
  • An important reminder that Nover 7 also marks the end of Daylight Saving Time, where we all get an extra hour of sleep. Don’t forget to set your clocks and alarms ahead Saturday evening or you are liable to arrive anhour early for the 11AM Sunday Service!

Now for today’s llesson. ‘Do not forsake me, o my darling’ is the opening lyrics for the Western Classic movie High Noon, starring Gary Cooper who portrayed lawman Will Kane. On the day he gets married and hangs up his badge, Will Kane is told that a man he sent to prison years before, Frank Miller, is returning on the noon train to exact his revenge. Having initially decided to leave with his new spouse, Will decides he must go back and face Miller. However, when he seeks the help of the townspeople he had protected for so long, they turn their backs on him. It seems Kane may have to face Miller alone, as well as the rest of Miller’s gang, who are waiting for him at the train station. This is the story of a good lawman unwilling to violate his oath to uphold the law, even though the chances of his surviving his ordeal seem slim.

The movie deals with the universal question as why a person who seems to live his life as an upright and law-abiding citizen, seems to be rewarded for his efforts by being abandoned by the people he took an oath to protect, a moral issue found frequently in the works of Shakespeare and reprised by Sean Connery in the futuristic Science Fiction movie Outland. As we often see, art and literature imitate real life, which brings us to the plight of Job and Jesus when they were tested by the devil.

The Book of Job is considered by most Biblical scholars to be the oldest of the Scriptures and Job, the wealthiest man in his time. It documents the story of this faithful servant of God, who was tested to the point of death by Satan, as we see in Job 1:1-12:

Job 1:1-12 (ESV)

There was a man in the land of Uz whose name was Job, and that man was blameless and upright, one who feared God and turned away from evil. There were born to him seven sons and three daughters. He possessed 7,000 sheep, 3,000 camels, 500 yoke of oxen, and 500 female donkeys, and very many servants, so that this man was the greatest of all the people of the east. His sons used to go and hold a feast in the house of each one on his day, and they would send and invite their three sisters to eat and drink with them. And when the days of the feast had run their course, Job would send and consecrate them, and he would rise early in the morning and offer burnt offerings according to the number of them all. For Job said, “It may be that my children have sinned, and cursed God in their hearts.” Thus Job did continually.

Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came among them. The LORD said to Satan, “From where have you come?” Satan answered the LORD and said, “From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking up and down on it.” And the LORD said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil?” Then Satan answered the LORD and said, “Does Job fear God for no reason? Have you not put a hedge around him and his house and all that he has, on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. But stretch out your hand and touch all that he has, and he will curse you to your face.” And the LORD said to Satan, “Behold, all that he has is in your hand. Only against him do not stretch out your hand.” So Satan went out from the presence of the LORD.

You may recall that Job lost wealth, family and suffered personal afflictions. His friends told Job that the Lord was punishing him for some sin or transgression committed either by Job or a member of Job’s family. Even Job’s wife told her husband to forsake his trust in God, as Job’s wife suffered almost as much as Job did. Except for her health, she too lost everything: home, family, and possessions. Her attitude and response exactly matched the one Satan had set out to evoke from Job: to curse God and to blame Him for their misery. How ironic that Satan achieved his goal in Job’s sole surviving companion but not in Job himself.

Did Job’s wife realize that she had surrendered to Satan’s manipulative scheme? Did she feel her loss so great that she didn’t care that she was wrong? Or did she respond to her calamity merely in a fit of emotion, which later passed, taking her bitterness with it? We don’t know the answers to any of those questions. All we know is that she responded just as most people would have under the circumstances: she got angry at God and insisted that Job do the same.

We know that Job’s story ended in his being restored to health, wealth and in the family. But these questions arise: “for what reason did God have to allow Satan to test his obedient and faithful servant? Were the Lord and Satan involved in some idle chess game with Job as a pawn?  I believe that the Lord had several reasons for allowing Job to be tested by Satan.

Satan challenged God, indicating that Job’s faith was merely the result of the hedge the Lord has built around Job. The Lord allowed Satan to take away Job’s wealth and family, in short, to remove the so-called hedge that Satan had claimed was the reason for Job’s faith. The toughest part for Job was the fact that he had sensed to some degree that the Lord had distanced himself from a person who had demonstrated steadfast trust and faith in his God, (Job 23:3):

Oh, that I knew where I might find him, that I might come even to his seat! 

David, too, had undergone a period of similar testing, and asked God, (Psalm 22:1):

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?

Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning?

And even though Satan, may have his way at times, the key to making it through the snares and traps Satan sets is to maintain our trust in the Lord, that He will rescue us from our predicament, (1 John 5:19):

We know that we are from God, and the whole world lies in the power of the evil one.

And in Psalm 31:14-15, David maintains rediscovers his faith:

But I trust in you, O LORD; I say, “You are my God.”
My times are in your hand; rescue me from the hand of my enemies and from my persecutors!

Not only, did Job and David go through tests, where at some point they had experienced a separation from God, Jesus too was left alone in his suffering on the cross at Calvary, (Matthew 27:46):

And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? 

In order to feel the full weight of the punishment for our sins, Jesus had to be abandoned by God. Was this really necessary? We find the answer in Isaiah 53:4-6:

Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted.

 But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed.

 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

The lesson taught by Job’s test by Satan was meant not only for our benefit, but a lesson to the other heavenly hosts (angels) present at the time Satan challenged the reason for God’s faithfulness. It taught both the angels and us, that faith does not come from having worldly wealth, but a wealth of the Spirit. Remember, too, in John, that as soon as Jesus had received the Holy Spirit, he was tested by Satan in the desert. The reason why Jesus suffered, unlike Job, was to atone for our sins and to show us an example of obedience and faith to the Father in Heaven, ( 1 Peter 2:21-24):

For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.

While we demonstrate our faith and trust in the Lord, he offers in return, His Promise of Salvation and Sanctification by way of the suffering of Jesus on our behalf.

We see that Job was allowed to suffer, to teach us and the heavenly host where faith should be based, and how much faith is rewarded for our faith, by bringing us salvation and sanctification from the Lord. We are also given through Jesus, the promise of eternal life and receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

But what about suffering today, particularly amongst the innocent? Does God have a plan in that?

Paul Paraskevopoulos

Paul Paraskevopoulos

I have shared with some of you about my brother-in-law, Sophie’s brother, Paul, who passed away several ago after a short, unexpected illness. Paul was brain-injured, having been run over by a truck in childhood. His injury left Paul with the intellectual capacity of an 8-year-old. Even though mentally and physically challenged and being confined to a wheelchair in the last decade of his life, Paul was generally a happy soul, enjoying many of the simpler things in life.

I recall a few years before Paul’s passing, both Sophie and I were called into the hospital in Oakville, as Paul had suffered from a combination of kidney and blood infection. The prognosis was poor, as Paul was not expected to survive the night. At this grim time, I had a concern about Paul’s faith walk: whether or not my brother-in-law had made a decision to accept Jesus Christ as his personal Saviour? I knew Paul had attended church with his siblings and later some of the staff from West Park Hospital, as well as with staff from the group home in Oakville. My fears about Paul were dispelled when upon our arrival at Paul’s hospital room, as before either Sophie or I had a chance to say hello, Paul opened his eyes and spoke: “You know that Jesus is in my heart. I love Jesus.” I knew then that Paul was right with the Lord.

Paul Paraskevopoulos between Steve and Sophie Mickelson

Paul eventually recovered from that illness in 2008 but passed away in 2011 from a separate ailment a bacterial blood infection. Although he was not able to speak when we arrived in the hospital, we had assurance from Paul’s earlier testimony that he was still right with the Lord.

It was not until Paul’s funeral, that I had the opportunity to fully understand why Paul was allowed to suffer so much.  Our family was moved to see that some forty or so staff attended the services. It was obvious that Paul had an impact upon this extended family, as staff members said Paul would love to sing, often reprising the hymn, ‘My God is able’ in acapella. Paul was loved and appreciated by his caregivers as much as by his family.

At Paul’s memorial, I shared some of the happier times we had with Paul, but also shared the story of Paul’s faith and testimony. At the cemetery, a staff member who had returned from her vacation to attend Paul’s funeral shared a story about how Paul was at get together which was recorded on video, where he had burst into a chorus of ’Onward Christian Soldiers’ for the camera. It was then I realized that members of the staff of the group home were aware of Paul’s faith, which he openly shared with them through song. Paul’s faith had also shone through his personality, and that many staff members had listened and learned from Paul’s testimony.  God had a plan and a purpose for Paul, as many members of the family and staff had learned through the simple childlike faith, of this child in a man’s body, how both the faith and the Holy Spirit enabled a believer to keep a happy, positive outlook in spite of a life of injury, suffering, and pain. The common lesson we may take from both Paul and from Job is: in spite of any sufferings endured in life, the Holy Spirit brings joy when faith in the Lord is maintained.  That faith provides the believer with an opportunity to give a testimony of his or her faith may explain why ‘bad things happen to good people’, (Isaiah 54:10):

For the mountains may depart and the hills be removed,
but my steadfast love shall not depart from you,
and my covenant of peace shall not be removed,”
says the LORD, who has compassion on you.

Let us pray…

Closing Music Selection:

Lauren Daigle – Hold On To Me ~ (Lyrics) https://youtu.be/FQbt9ADhCJc

Benediction (James 1:12):  Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him. – Amen

Grace and Assurance through the Testimony of the Blood, the Water, and the Holy Spirit

Dear BLCF Friends,

Effective October 17, 2021, Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church is now opened by reservation only for Sunday worship under the limitations and guidelines set by Public Health and the Board of BLCF. 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 safely reopen more of our worship and outreach activities without any concern of infection to the vulnerable within our community.

– Pastor Steve

BLCF: dove-holy-spirit

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

‘Grace and Assurance through the Testimony of the Blood,  the Water, and the Holy Spirit’

© October 24, 2021, by Steve Mickelson

Based on a Message Shared at BLCF on March 16 2014

BLCF: Bulletin March 16, 2014

BLCF: dove-olive

 

Announcements and Call to Worship: Responsive Reading #616 (Christian Baptism – Matthew 2 and 28, Acts2, Romans 6); Prayer

Opening Worship Specials:

Cochren and Co. Church (Take me Back)  https://youtu.be/Z8AQQKwjNYY

Mandy Harvey  It Is Well https://youtu.be/BHTgqVIVZGk

Let us pray…

Welcome back to Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church’s Sunday Praise and Worship Service. Today we celebrate a long awaited opportunity to gather together and celebrate in word, in music, and in prayer our second live service in this place in 19 months! Though we are not the first followers of God to have to wait upon the Lord, you may recall that the Hebrews had to wait generations for God to send a deliver, the prophet Moses, to bring them out of bondage in Egypt and more generations they wandered in the desert to be led to the Promised Land. Then more generations for God to send His Son, Jesus the Messiah, again they waited in the upper room praying, before the Holy Spirit raised the Saviour from the grave, only to return for a short time on the earth before His Ascension to be with the Father in Heaven. And just when who think they have waited enough, they waited some more for the Son to send His Holy Spirit to the believers in the Upper Room and later to all who confess Jesus as their Lord and Saviour,

That is a whole lot of waiting for a result that was prayed for, in some cases for hundreds of years and scores of generations. So when you look at how long the saints in the Bible trusted and waited on the Lord, waiting for over a year and a half for the COVID-19 Pandemic to subside may seem, by comparison, almost trivial. But, from my perspective, what we all have had endured since March 16 of last year, some 19 months ago, has been a challenge to Christian believers, who are admonished both in the Scriptures and by fellow believers to gather together to worship God, celebrate His sacrifice through the observance of Communion, to show our love and support to one-another by a handshake, an embrace, or a Holy kiss of affection. But the Pandemic has caused believers to put social gatherings as a body of believers on hold. For the protection of those we love and ourselves we have had to isolate ourselves at home, don masks, wash our hands, keep a social distance apart, avoid indoor gatherings.

Even with a vaccination, we continue with precautions to protect those who we love and care for, which for Christian believers means everyone.  We prepared for today’s service by sanitizing the pulpit and pews, erecting plexiglass  barriers, screening all worshippers, not distribute Bulletins, Bibles or Hymnals, suspending choruses and songs during the service, setting up social distance between worshipers, cancelling coffee hour after the service, and providing communion in pre-packaged sealed cup that contains both the bread and juice. These rules and restrictions which apply whether we are vaccinated or not, and I believe all who are here today are vaccinated, sure beats sitting at home and perhaps watching a stream or broadcast of a service form a remote location or previously recorded at some church! There is something about hearing Scriptures, prayers, and praise in person that restores our faith, renews our spirit, and heals the soul, And, sadly, there are some who believe that the church will never reopen, having fallen victim to the Pandemic. To those who believe that God’s Church is no more having fallen victim to enemy of the COVID-19 virus, I say look around you here at BLCF and see that your fears are unfounded. Perhaps it is the faith of some that has fallen victim to another enemy who wants you separated from you brothers and sisters in the Lord! Today’s lesson is entitled, Grace and Assurance through the Testimony of the Blood,  the Water, and the Holy Spirit.

You may notice that we are smaller in number today that our usual small size. In time, this too should improve. During the Pandemic some of our members cannot attend because they have committed to visiting loved ones in nursing homes, while others have been called away by work, health issues, and other reasons. Some have felt safe being at home for so long, that going out to church or elsewhere is a scary proposition, even though Public Health assures us that it is safe if the recommended precautions are taken. So let us begin with today’s lesson:

Today, we will examine the significance of the dove in the scriptures. Initially, the Old Testament describes the dove being used as an object of sacrifice, both to atone for sin and to honour God. We also have the account of Noah sending a dove, to determine whether it was safe to leave the ark, after the Great Flood.

In the New Testament, we have a dove indicating the presence of God’s Holy Spirit.  And we have the Spirit, together with water and blood, acting to form a “Trinity of God’s Assurance” given in reward for our faith.

Let us begin by looking at some Scripture verses that include the dove, used as a sacrifice to God:                                    

Leviticus 12:6-8 (ESV): Purification After Childbirth

BLCF: offerings

“And when the days of her purifying are completed, whether for a son or for a daughter, she shall bring to the priest at the entrance of the tent of meeting a lamb a year old for a burnt offering, and a pigeon or a turtledove for a sin offering, and he shall offer it before the Lord and make atonement for her. Then she shall be clean from the flow of her blood. This is the law for her who bears a child, either male or female. And if she cannot afford a lamb, then she shall take two turtledoves or two pigeons,[a] one for a burnt offering and the other for a sin offering. And the priest shall make atonement for her, and she shall be clean.”                                                                                                                       

   Footnotes: a. Leviticus 12:8 Septuagint two young pigeons

Luke 2:21-24 (ESV)

BLCF: Presentation of the Child Jesus

21 And at the end of eight days, when he was circumcised, he was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb.

Jesus Presented at the Temple

22 And when the time came for their purification according to the Law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord 23 (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “Every male who first opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord”) 24 and to offer a sacrifice according to what is said in the Law of the Lord, “a pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons.”

 

John 2:13-20 (ESV):  Jesus Cleanses the Temple

BLCF: jesus-scourages-money-changers

13 The Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 14 In the temple he found those who were selling oxen and sheep and pigeons, and the money-changers sitting there. 15 And making a whip of cords, he drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and oxen. And he poured out the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables. 16 And he told those who sold the pigeons, “Take these things away; do not make my Father’s house a house of trade.” 17 His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for your house will consume me.”

18 So the Jews said to him, “What sign do you show us for doing these things?” 19 Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” 20 The Jews then said, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple,[a] and will you raise it up in three days?”                                                             

  Footnotes: a. John 2:20 Or This temple was built forty-six years ago

BLCF: Christ Spirit

 

We continue to find additional references of the dove in the Bible, namely in Leviticus 12:6-8 and Luke 2:21-24:

In the Leviticus 12, we read a portion of the law that God gave to Moses instructing that after a prescribed period following childbirth, a woman was to bring an offering of animals, usually a lamb and dove, to the priest. The priest would sacrifice the lamb, as an offering to God, and the dove as an offering for sin. Remember, all men and women inherited sin as part of their birthright from Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.

If the woman was unable to afford a lamb, then she would give a second dove for the burnt offering.

This brings us to today’s second Scripture, from Luke 2, gives an account of how Joseph and Mary went to the temple to bring offerings to be sacrificed in accordance to the Mosaic Laws. We note that Mary and Joseph had very modest means, as they did not offer a lamb for the burnt offering, but a second dove, instead.

Our third Scripture, from John 2:13-20, describes how Jesus chased the money changers from the temple in Jerusalem. These events occurred after the wedding in Cana, where the Lord performed his first miracle of turning water into wine.

So why was the dove selected as an animal for sacrifice? Let us look at our Wikibits for some reasons why the dove was selected:

Wikibits on Doves:

BLCF: flying_dove

Doves mate for life, are incredibly loyal to each other and work together to build their nest and raise their young. Because they tend to nest in areas that humans can watch, people picked up quickly on the idea that doves were dedicated, honorable and peaceful. While hawks and other birds of prey would violently attack their neighbors, the dove was a bird of peace, eating seeds, easily trained to eat out of the hand or to become domesticated. Beginning with the Egyptians, the dove was as symbol of quiet innocence. The Chinese felt the dove was a symbol of peace and long life. To early Greeks and Romans, doves represented love and devotion, and care for a family. The dove was the sacred animal of Aphrodite and Venus, the goddesses of love and friendship. The dove also symbolized the peaceful soul for many cultures.

Peace symbol

BLCF: dove olive branch

Doves, usually meaning domesticated Rock Pigeons, are a traditional Christian symbol of love and peace, see Peace dove and is of white colour.

 

 

Noah’s Ark

BLCF: Genesis-Chapter-8-A-Dove-Is-Sent-Forth-from-the-Ark

According to the biblical story (Genesis 8:11), a dove was released by Noah after the flood in order to find land; it came back carrying an olive leaf in its beak, telling Noah that, somewhere, there was land. Christians used Noah’s dove as a peace symbol.

The Holy Spirit

BLCF: holy_spirit_clip_art

In Christian Iconography, a dove also symbolizes the Holy Spirit, in reference to Matthew 3:16 and Luke 3:22 where the Holy Spirit is compared to a dove at the Baptism of Jesus. The early Christians in Rome incorporated into their funerary art the image of a dove carrying an olive branch, often accompanied by the word “Peace”. It seems that they derived this image from the simile in the Gospels, combining it with the symbol of the olive branch, which had been used to represent peace by the Greeks and Romans. The dove and olive branch also appeared in Christian images of Noah’s ark. The fourth century Vulgate translated the Hebrew alay zayit (leaf of olive) in Genesis 8:11 as ramum olivae (branch of olive). By the fifth century, Augustine of Hippo wrote in On Christian Doctrine that, “perpetual peace is indicated by the olive branch (oleae ramusculo) which the dove brought with it when it returned to the ark.”

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

Following the crucifixion of Jesus, it became unnecessary to sacrifice the dove or any other animal, as we see in Hebrews 10:8-25:

Hebrews 10:8-25 (ESV)

blcf: Jesus_lamb

When he said above, “You have neither desired nor taken pleasure in sacrifices and offerings and burnt offerings and sin offerings” (these are offered according to the law), then he added, “Behold, I have come to do your will.” He does away with the first in order to establish the second. 10 And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

11 And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. 12 But when Christ[a] had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, 13 waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. 14 For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.

15 And the Holy Spirit also bears witness to us; for after saying,

16 “This is the covenant that I will make with them
after those days, declares the Lord:
I will put my laws on their hearts,
and write them on their minds,”

17 then he adds,

“I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more.”

18 Where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer any offering for sin.       

               

The Full Assurance of Faith

BLCF: Dove

19 Therefore, brothers,[b] since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, 20 by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. Footnotes: a. Hebrews 10:12 Greek this one b. Hebrews 10:19 Or brothers and sisters

As I mentioned earlier, the Old Testament describes the dove being used by Noah to see whether the waters of the Great Flood had subsided in Genesis 8:6-12:

Genesis 8:6-12 (ESV): The Flood Subsides

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At the end of forty days Noah opened the window of the ark that he had made and sent forth a raven. It went to and fro until the waters were dried up from the earth. Then he sent forth a dove from him, to see if the waters had subsided from the face of the ground. But 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. 10 He waited another seven days, and again he sent forth the dove out of the ark. 11 And 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. 12 Then he waited another seven days and sent forth the dove, and she did not return to him anymore.                                                              .   

We see that the dove brought an indication by way of a leaf from an olive tree, that God’s judgment for sin was completed and when the dove did not return, that it was safe to leave the ark.

God had performed a reset of life in the world, retuning all except the living creatures and people in the ark back to the third day of Creation, just after He had parted the waters from the land and before He made the plants and animals.

We find that it was until after the second of two trips, did the dove return with any indication of life, the olive leaf. The dove must have hovered over the waters in the first trip finding them lifeless as the Spirit had in Genesis 1:1-2:     

Genesis 1:1-2 (ESV): The Creation of the World

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1 In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.    

The use of the dove, to describe characteristics of the Holy Spirit is more overt in the account of Jesus’s baptism in the River Jordan, in Luke 3:21-22:

Luke 3:21-22 (ESV)

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21 Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, the heavens were opened, 22 and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form, like a dove; and a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son;[a] with you I am well pleased.”[b]                                                   

 Footnotes: a. Luke 3:22 Or my Son, my (or theBeloved b. Luke 3:22 Some manuscripts beloved Son; today I have begotten you                                                                                                     .              

Our next verse, taken from 1 John 5:1-8, describes how like Jesus, and because of Jesus, we can by faith in Christ overcome the world. That is to say through Jesus, we overcome sin and its judgment:                           

1 John 5:1-8 (ESV): Overcoming the World

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5 Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father loves whoever has been born of him. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome. For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?                                                                                 .                     

Testimony Concerning the Son of God

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This is he who came by water and blood—Jesus Christ; not by the water only but by the water and the blood. And the Spirit is the one who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth. For there are three that testify: the Spirit and the water and the blood; and these three agree.

3witnesses_blood_water_Holy_Spirit

 

This “Trinity of Faith” consisting of the testimony of water, blood and the Spirit, regarding the sacrifice that Jesus made to pay the price for everyone’s sins. We know that Jesus shed his blood as the final sacrifice to atone for our sins. But what is meant by the water? Being born of the water is to be born of the Spirit, as the Lord explained to Nicodemus in John 3:3-5:            

John 3:3-5 (ESV)

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Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again[a] he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.                                                    

   Footnotes: a. John 3:3 Or from above; the Greek is purposely ambiguous and can mean both again and from above; also verse 7

You may recall that the Holy Spirit came upon Jesus, after he was baptized in the water of the River Jordan. And Jesus surrendered the same Spirit when he died on the cross, where he shed his blood on our behalf.

Unless you believe that Jesus shed his blood to wash away the judgment for our sins and confess your sins, then being baptized in the water is meaningless and affords no assurance of eternal life in the kingdom of God. You must believe that you have been baptized by the blood of Jesus, for water baptism to mean anything to us or to God!

And though Jesus was resurrected from death by the Holy Spirit, we would not be able to receive God’s Holy Spirit, unless we were first cleansed by the blood of Christ. Remember Christ had to ascend to be with his Father in heaven in order to send us the comforter of God’s Holy Spirit, which occurred at the Day of Pentecost. This is what gives us the assurance and our faith!

18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. 19 For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. 23 And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.

26 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. 27 And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because[a] the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. 28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good,[b] for those who are called according to his purpose. 29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.

Footnotes: 1. Romans 8:27 Or that 2. Romans 8:28 Some manuscripts God works all things together for good, or God works in all things for the good

Let us pray…

Closing Music Special: 

Lauren Daigle – You Say (Lyrics) https://youtu.be/HqpNGYbcy3U

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.

Welcome Back: Listen When God Whispers and Have Your Faith Renewed

Dear BLCF Friends,

Effective October 17, 2021, Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church is now opened by reservation only for Sunday worship under the limitations and guidelines set by Public Health and the Board of BLCF. 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 safely reopen more of our worship and outreach activities without any concern of infection to the vulnerable within our community.

– Pastor Steve

what_are_you_dong_here_Elijah

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

‘Listen When God Whispers and Have Your Faith Renewed’

© October 17, 2021, by Steve Mickelson

Based on Messages shared at BLCF on March 3, 2019, February 28, 2016, and on February 23, 2014

BLCF Bulletin March 3, 2019

 BLCF Bulletin February 28, 2016

BLCF Bulletin February 23, 2014

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Announcements and Call to Worship; Prayer

Opening Worship Special:

Cochren and Co. Church (Take me Back)  https://youtu.be/Z8AQQKwjNYY

Prayer and TithingPrayers

Worship Song by the Newsboys:  Something Beautiful:  https://youtu.be/EGes0O84VbA

Message by Steve Mickelson:

‘Listen When God Whispers and Have Your Faith Renewed’    

BLCF:Whispers-of-God-Emerson             

Let us pray…

Welcome back to Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church’s Sunday Praise and Worship Service. Today we celebrate a long-awaited opportunity to gather together and celebrate in word, in music, and in prayer our first live service in this place in 19 months! Though we are not the first followers of God to have to wait upon the Lord, you may recall that the Hebrews had to wait for generations for God to send a deliver, the prophet Moses, to bring them out of bondage in Egypt and more generations they wandered in the desert to be led to the Promised Land. Then more generations for God to send His Son, Jesus the Messiah, again they waited in the upper room praying, before the Holy Spirit raised the Saviour from the grave, only to return for a short time on the earth before His Ascension to be with the Father in Heaven. And just when who think they have waited enough, they waited some more for the Son to send His Holy Spirit to the believers in the Upper Room and later to all who confess Jesus as their Lord and Saviour,

That is a whole lot of waiting for a result that was prayed for, in some cases for hundreds of years and scores of generations. So when you look at how long the saints in the Bible trusted and waited on the Lord, waiting for over a year and a half for the COVID-19 Pandemic to subside may seem, by comparison, almost trivial. But, from my perspective, what we all have had endured since March 16 of last year, some 19 months ago, has been a challenge to Christian believers, who are admonished both in the Scriptures and by fellow believers to gather together to worship God, celebrate His sacrifice through the observance of Communion, to show our love and support to one another by a handshake, an embrace, or a Holy kiss of affection. But the Pandemic has caused believers to put social gatherings as a body of believers on hold. For the protection of those we love and ourselves, we have had to isolate ourselves at home, don masks, wash our hands, keep a social distance apart, avoid indoor gatherings.

Even with vaccination, we continue with precautions to protect those who we love and care for, which for Christian believers means everyone.  We prepared for today’s service by sanitizing the pulpit and pews, erecting plexiglass barriers, screening all worshippers, not distributing Bulletins, Bibles, or Hymnals, suspending choruses and songs during the service, setting up the social distance between worshipers, canceling coffee hour after the service, and providing communion in a pre-packaged sealed cup that contains both the bread and juice. These rules and restrictions apply whether we are vaccinated or not, and I believe all who are here today are vaccinated, sure beats sitting at home and perhaps watching a stream or broadcast of a service from a remote location or previously recorded at some church! There is something about hearing Scriptures, prayers, and praise in person that restores our faith, renews our spirit and heals the soul, And, sadly, there are some who believe that the church will never reopen, having fallen victim to the Pandemic. To those who believe that God’s Church is no more having fallen victim to the enemy of the COVID-19 virus, I say look around you here at BLCF and see that your fears are unfounded. Perhaps it is your faith that has fallen victim to another enemy who wants you separated from your brothers and sisters in the Lord! But do not be discouraged by this fear that all is lost to an enemy, for such fear is not new to believers, as it has happened before, even to great leaders, including the prophet Elijah, who we see is the subject of today’s lesson, Listen When God Whispers and Have Your Faith Renewed.

You may notice that we are smaller in number today than our usual small size. In time, this too should improve. During the Pandemic some of our members cannot attend because they have committed to visiting loved ones in nursing homes, while others have been called away by work, health issues, and other reasons. Some have felt safe being at home for so long, that going out to church or elsewhere is a scary proposition, even though Public Health assures us that it is safe if the recommended precautions are taken. So let us begin with today’s lesson.

When I was 6 years of age, I found that it was good to have parents of strength around, on those occasions where fear overcame the joys of childhood innocence. I recall well when my younger sister Rhona suffered a traumatic spinal injury at the age of 3 years and was not expected to survive the night. Because of her dismal prognosis, dad was allowed to bring me to my sister’s hospital room, for what was possibly a final visit. Though dad did not mention how critical her condition was, seeing a Rhona connected to tubes and monitors was a frightening specter, which she must have sensed, as upon seeing me, she told me to “Go Away”.

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Our family prayed to God and Rhona pulled through, though, for the next 39 years of her life, she would face a lifetime of many or death surgeries and health challenges. At those times, we would often pray to God with the hope that he would give the family, especially Rhona, the courage to face these challenges.

This brings us to today’s lesson, from 1 Kings 19. Some of you may recall reading from 1 Kings 18, where the prophet Elijah, a devout servant of God, was concerned about the waning faith of the people of Israel towards the one true God where some had begun to worship the pagan god Baal.

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This was where Elijah had proposed a challenge to the 450 priests of Baal, where both he and the priests would set up sacrificial altars to their respective god, asking him to light the altar. Elijah gave the priests of Baal a handicap by ordering a dozen urns of water to be poured on the altar he had built. The priests of Baal were unsuccessful, while Elijah prayed to God, acknowledging His authority and asking God to start the altar fires to help restore and renew the faith of His chosen people. God responded with a fire so fierce that it not only burned the wood and water but destroyed the very rocks upon which the altar sat. After the victory, Elijah had all of the priests of Baal put to death.

BLCF: Elijah_map

You would think, after this decided victory, Elijah would use the victory as an opportunity to promote God to those who had may still harbor any doubts about Who was the real God, and who wasn’t. Instead, Elijah fled upon learning that Jezebel had sought to give Elijah the same fate that was given to the priests of Baal. As we see in 1 Kings 19:

1 Kings 19 (ESV): Elijah Flees Jezebel

19 Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done, and how he had killed all the prophets with the sword. Then Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah, saying, “So may the gods do to me and more also, if I do not make your life as the life of one of them by this time tomorrow.” Then he was afraid, and he arose and ran for his life and came to Beersheba, which belongs to Judah, and left his servant there.

BLCF:Elijahunder_a_broom_tree

Elijah was so overcome with self-fear and loathing because he felt that by not convincing Jezebel of the one true God, that he had failed Him.

But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness and came and sat down under a broom tree. And he asked that he might die, saying, “It is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life, for I am no better than my fathers.” And he lay down and slept under a broom tree. And behold, an angel touched him and said to him, “Arise and eat.” And he looked, and behold, there was at his head a cake baked on hot stones and a jar of water. And he ate and drank and lay down again. And the angel of the Lord came again a second time and touched him and said, “Arise and eat, for the journey is too great for you.” And he arose and ate and drank, and went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights to Horeb, the mount of God.

BLCF:elijah-and-the-angel

God had seen the faith of his servant Elijah, and in this case, denied Elijah’s request to be put to death. We see that God twice sent angels to attend to Elijah by giving him food and water. The first meal to restore Elijah’s strength, while the second to fortify Elijah for a forty-day journey to Mount Horeb, also known as Mount Sinai, the sacred place of God.  God had planned to not only converse with Elijah but to give His prophet a lesson in what matters most in restoring faith to those who have strayed from God. Let us continue in 1 Kings 19, at verse 9:

The Lord Speaks to Elijah

There he came to a cave and lodged in it. And behold, the word of the Lord came to him, and he said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” 10 He said, “I have been very jealous for the Lord, the God of hosts. For the people of Israel have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword, and I, even I only, am left, and they seek my life, to take it away.” 11 And he said, “Go out and stand on the mount before the Lord.” And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore the mountains and broke in pieces the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. And after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. 12 And after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire the sound of a low whisper.[a] 13 And when Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave.

Footnotes: a. 1 Kings 19:12 Or a sound, a thin silence

BLCF:god-speaks-to-elijah

We see that God asks Elijah, “What are you doing here?” In other words, why have you fled to the wilderness? Elijah confesses that following God’s demonstration where He had started the sacrificial fire on the altar made in His honor, the people of Israel had destroyed God’s altar and killed all His prophets, save for Elijah And because he had failed to convince the people to keep their covenant with God, Elijah had failed God. To Elijah, it seems that the glass is not just half empty, but totally so.

BLCF:1kings19-12

God’s answer to Elijah, is quite interesting. The Lord instructs Elijah to go out of the cave and to stand on the mount before the Lord. Perhaps, Elijah expected God to cast him off the mount, as punishment for his perceived failure. It is also interesting to note, that God does not speak to Elijah in a voice that is great and thunderous as one might imagine. Thanks to the likes of Cecil B. Deville, we have God speaking to Moses in a mighty, booming voice and coming from a pillar of fire. There is no reason to believe that God spoke any differently to Moses than the way He conversed with Elijah, in a quiet whisper, like a Father to a beloved child.

BLCF:Cecil_B_DeMille_Ten_Commandments

We see that as the Lord passes by, three great natural events occur: first strong wind, then an earthquake, and finally a fire. In each of these events, God was not present. Then Elijah hears God speaking in a low whisper, which prompts Elijah to cover his face, as he recognized God’s presence. We see that, though extreme natural events such as earth-shattering winds, earthquakes, and fire or even four blood moons and eclipses of the sun may occur after God passes, they do not indicate the presence of God. Only when we hear God speak, even though in a whisper, can we know for certain that God is present. Otherwise, we may mistakenly believe any and all such extreme events are a sign from God. God is quite clear and explicit that He communicates to us by his word, not through natural events or disasters. God was not in the wind.

The destruction of the altars set by the priests of Baal, by wind, earthquake, and fire are just as meaningless signs if the Devine presence unless God whispers. And what did God whisper? Continuing at 1 Kings 19, verse 13:

And behold, there came a voice to him and said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” 14 He said, “I have been very jealous for the Lord, the God of hosts. For the people of Israel have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword, and I, even I only, am left, and they seek my life, to take it away.” 15 And the Lord said to him, “Go, return on your way to the wilderness of Damascus. And when you arrive, you shall anoint Hazael to be king over Syria. 16 And Jehu the son of Nimshi you shall anoint to be king over Israel, and Elisha the son of Shaphat of Abel-meholah you shall anoint to be prophet in your place. 17 And the one who escapes from the sword of Hazael shall Jehu put to death, and the one who escapes from the sword of Jehu shall Elisha put to death. 18 Yet I will leave seven thousand in Israel, all the knees that have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth that has not kissed him.”

First, Elijah gives the same refrain as an answer that we read beginning back in verse 9. This time God instructs Elijah to do what is likely what he should have done after the altar was lit instead of fleeing into the wilderness, which was: to anoint Hazael as king of Syria, anoint Jehu the son of Nimshi as king of Israel, and to anoint Elisha, the son of Shaphat of Abel-meholah in place of himself.  In other words, God tells Elijah to appoint new rulers and names Elisha to be His new prophet. God not only names a successor but informs Elijah that seven thousand people of Israel have not broken their covenant to God. So the glass is not as empty as Elijah had thought.

BLCF:1-Kings-19-19-Elijah-casting-his-mantle-on-Elisha

Elijah then departs to do as the Lord commanded, 1Kings 19, verse 19:

The Call of Elisha

19 So he departed from there and found Elisha the son of Shaphat, who was plowing with twelve yoke of oxen in front of him, and he was with the twelfth. Elijah passed by him and cast his cloak upon him. 20 And he left the oxen and ran after Elijah and said, “Let me kiss my father and my mother, and then I will follow you.” And he said to him, “Go back again, for what have I done to you?” 21 And he returned from following him and took the yoke of oxen and sacrificed them and boiled their flesh with the yokes of the oxen and gave it to the people, and they ate. Then he arose and went after Elijah and assisted him.

Just as God had provided food to restore Elijah, before whispering to and restoring his prophet, Elisha celebrates his calling, first by honoring and showing affection to his parents; then by making a sacrifice of the twelve oxen, which he shares as a feast with the people; and finally, Elisha leaves to follow Elijah.

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God had not only restored Elijah’s confidence and faith, but He raised Elijah to a more prominent place than before. And God had anointed those who kept His covenant. When we are afraid, God is our refuge and shelter, as we read in Psalm 91:

Psalm 91 (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.

Not shown in today’s bulletin are the last three verses from Psalm 91, which indicate that God not only provides refuge and protection to the faithful but abide by the faithful, giving honor and reward of salvation. Psalm 91, verse 14:

14 “Because he holds fast to me in love, I will deliver him;
I will protect him, because he knows my name.
15 When he calls to me, I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble;
I will rescue him and honor him.
16 With long life I will satisfy him
and show him my salvation.”

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

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What is faith and how does God value it? Hebrews 11:

Hebrews 11 (ESV): By Faith

11 Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the people of old received their commendation. By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.

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By faith Abel offered to God a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain, through which he was commended as righteous, God commending him by accepting his gifts. And through his faith, though he died, he still speaks. By faith Enoch was taken up so that he should not see death, and he was not found, because God had taken him. Now before he was taken he was commended as having pleased God. And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. By faith Noah, being warned by God concerning events as yet unseen, in reverent fear constructed an ark for the saving of his household. By this he condemned the world and became an heir of the righteousness that comes by faith.

By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he went to live in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise. 10 For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God. 11 By faith Sarah herself received power to conceive, even when she was past the age, since she considered him faithful who had promised. 12 Therefore from one man, and him as good as dead, were born descendants as many as the stars of heaven and as many as the innumerable grains of sand by the seashore.

13 These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. 14 For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. 15 If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city.

17 By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises was in the act of offering up his only son, 18 of whom it was said, “Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.” 19 He considered that God was able even to raise him from the dead, from which, figuratively speaking, he did receive him back. 20 By faith Isaac invoked future blessings on Jacob and Esau. 21 By faith Jacob, when dying, blessed each of the sons of Joseph, bowing in worship over the head of his staff. 22 By faith Joseph, at the end of his life, made mention of the exodus of the Israelites and gave directions concerning his bones.

23 By faith Moses, when he was born, was hidden for three months by his parents, because they saw that the child was beautiful, and they were not afraid of the king’s edict. 24 By faith Moses, when he was grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, 25 choosing rather to be mistreated with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. 26 He considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking to the reward. 27 By faith he left Egypt, not being afraid of the anger of the king, for he endured as seeing him who is invisible. 28 By faith he kept the Passover and sprinkled the blood, so that the Destroyer of the firstborn might not touch them.

BLCF: Exodus Numbers

29 By faith the people crossed the Red Sea as on dry land, but the Egyptians, when they attempted to do the same, were drowned. 30 By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they had been encircled for seven days. 31 By faith Rahab the prostitute did not perish with those who were disobedient, because she had given a friendly welcome to the spies.

32 And what more shall I say? For time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets— 33 who through faith conquered kingdoms, enforced justice, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, 34 quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, were made strong out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight. 35 Women received back their dead by resurrection. Some were tortured, refusing to accept release, so that they might rise again to a better life. 36 Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. 37 They were stoned, they were sawn in two,[a] they were killed with the sword. They went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, mistreated— 38 of whom the world was not worthy—wandering about in deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.

BLCF Church: sinner saved

39 And all these, though commended through their faith, did not receive what was promised, 40 since God had provided something better for us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect.

Footnotes: a. Hebrews 11:37 Some manuscripts add they were tempted

We see God has acknowledged and commended the faith of His prophets, though many suffered dearly, some even paying with their lives. In verse 38 we read:

They went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, mistreated— 38 of whom the world was not worthy—wandering about in deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.

I can think of one such prophet who was destitute, afflicted, mistreated; who wandered in the deserts and mountain wilderness, in dens and caves of the earth. Sound familiar?

BLCF:WhispersHearingTheVoiceOfGOD

A few years back, the Christian singing group, The Newsboys, gave a great lyrical expression of how the voice of God’s Holy Spirit whispers to us, in their song Something Beautiful, which begins with the lyrics:

I wanna start it over
I wanna start again
I want a new beginning
One without an end
I feel it inside
Calling out to me

It’s a voice that whispers my name

BLCF:When_I_wait

And God’s love is the underlying emotion expressed in His whisper:

I’ve heard it in the silence
Seen it on a face
I’ve felt it in a long hour
Like a sweet embrace
I know this is true
It’s calling out to me

It’s a voice that whispers my name

Song by the Newsboys:  Something Beautiful:  https://youtu.be/EGes0O84VbA

 )

BLCF:Sometimes_you_need_silence_for_God_whispers

But God provided something better for us, than just His commendation. We received, through Christ Jesus, salvation, forgiveness, and a new covenant. Through Jesus, sacrifice, we are lifted up and restored to God, not in a cave or upon a remote mount, but everywhere we walk. For as believers in Christ, we walk with the gift of God’s eternal presence through his Holy Spirit:

BLCF:Deuteronomy_33-27

Deuteronomy 33:27a (ESV):

27 The eternal God is your dwelling place,[aand underneath are the everlasting arms.[b]

Footnotes: a. 1 Kings 19:12 Or a sound, a thin silence b. Deuteronomy 33:27 Or a dwelling place   c. Deuteronomy 33:27 Revocalization of verse 27 yields He subdues the ancient gods, and shatters the forces of old

Know His presence, when you hear His voice whisper your name through His Holy Spirit.

Remember, all believers can take heart and comfort expressed in Psalm 27, verse 1, which begins with the assurance us that:

27 The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold[
a] of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?

BLCF:Psalm27_14

And Psalm 27, verse 14, closes by urging us to not lose our faith, but to:

14 Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!

Footnotes: a. Deuteronomy 33:27 Or a dwelling place b. Deuteronomy 33:27 Revocalization of verse 27 yields He subdues the ancient gods, and shatters the forces of old  

 Let us pray…

Communion:1 Corinthians 11:17-34 (ESV)

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,[a] 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[b] you. Do this in remembrance of me.”[c] 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.[d] 31 But if we judged[e] ourselves truly, we would not be judged. 32 But when we are judged by the Lord, we are disciplined[f] so that we may not be condemned along with the world.

33 So then, my brothers,[g] when you come together to eat, wait for[h] 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.

Worship Special Lauren Daigle – Rescue https://youtu.be/iItpBpdjfZA

 Benediction – (Psalm 27:14):  Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!   

BLCF:God-whispersyou-are-Mine

GOD’s Invitation: To Walk In the Light of HIS Glory and Grace – Thanksgiving 2021

Dear BLCF Friends,

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church and BLCF Café continue to remain closed effective March 16, 2020, and until further notice. Today we would like to share with you a Lesson in a virtual format. We pray after the advent of a COVID-19 vaccine and following the determination of Health Canada and other Health Authorities the danger of a pandemic has subsided, the Board of BLCF will be able to reopen worship and outreach activities without concern of infection to the vulnerable within our community. In the meantime, please enjoy the following lessons stay safe, and keep the faith.

– Pastor Steve

BLCF: IT COSTS TO FOLLOW JESUS

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Thanksgiving Sunday:

GOD’s Invitation: To Walk In the Light of HIS Glory and Grace’

© October 10, 2021,  by Steve Mickelson

Based on Messages Shared at BLCF on February 8, 2015, October 8, 2017, and October 7, 2018

BLCF Bulletin February 8, 2015

BLCF Bulletin October 8, 2017 

BLCF Bulletin October 7, 2018

BLCF: encouragement truth freedom lies hostage

 

Responsive Reading #613 (from – Isaiah 55); Prayer

Opening Hymn #451: I Have Decided to Follow Jesus; Choruses                          

 Prayer and Tithing: Hymn #572: Praise God from Whom All Blessings Handiwork I See 

Golgatha

Let us pray…

Welcome to Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship’s Sunday Praise and Worship Service.  Before we begin our lesson today, I would like to wish all of you a happy and joyous Thanksgiving Sunday, and briefly share the origins of North America’s first Thanksgiving Celebration, which was celebrated here in Canada:

We find a historical account of the origin of Thanksgiving in Canada on the site, thecanadianencyclopedia.ca:

Origins and History of Thanksgiving in Canada

Indigenous peoples in North America have a history of holding communal feasts in celebration of the fall harvest that predates the arrival of European settlers. The Smithsonian Institute has noted that some First Nations “sought to insure a good harvest with dances and rituals.” The European settlers brought with them a similar tradition of harvest celebrations (for which the symbol was the cornucopia or horn of plenty), which dates back to European peasant societies.

The first Thanksgiving by Europeans in North America was held by Sir Martin Frobisher and his crew in the Eastern Arctic in 1578. They ate a meal of salt beef, biscuits and mushy peas to celebrate and give thanks for their safe arrival in Newfoundland. They celebrated Communion and formally expressed their thanks through the ship’s Chaplain, Robert Wolfall, who, according to explorer Richard Collinson, “made unto them a godly sermon, exhorting them especially to be thankefull to God for theyr strange and miraculous deliverance in those so dangerous places [sic].”

 In 1606, in an attempt to prevent the kind of scurvy epidemic that had decimated the settlement at Île Ste. Croix in the winter of 1604–05, Samuel de Champlain founded a series of rotating feasts at Port Royal called the Ordre de Bon Temps (“Order of Good Cheer”). Local Mi’kmaq families were also invited. The first feast was held on 14 November 1606 to celebrate the return of Jean de Biencourt de Poutrincourt from an expedition. Having attended the festivities, Marc Lescarbot remarked that they consisted of “a feast, a discharge of musketry, and as much noise as could be made by some fifty men, joined by a few Indians, whose families served as spectators.”           

http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/thanksgiving-day/

It should be pointed out that in Canada, Thanksgiving was legislated not just a holiday day, as we see in this description of Thanksgiving, from kidsworld.com, that Parliament correctly applied the designation of Thanksgiving as a day when Canadians are encouraged to give thanks to God:

Official Canadian Thanksgiving Holiday

For a few hundred years, Thanksgiving was celebrated in either late October or early November, before it was declared a national holiday in 1879. It was then, that November 6th was set aside as the official Thanksgiving holiday. But then on January 31st, 1957, Canadian Parliament announced that on the second Monday in October, Thanksgiving would be “a day of general thanksgiving to almighty God for the bountiful harvest with which Canada has been blessed.” Thanksgiving was moved to the second Monday in October because, after the World Wars, Remembrance Day (November 11th) and Thanksgiving kept falling in the same week. This year Canadian Thanksgiving is October 9th!

http://www.kidzworld.com/article/2614-canadian-thanksgiving#ixzz2hXOhQaCi

Shopeasefoods.com  helps answer the question, “Did Canada invent Thanksgiving?” with the following:

Thanksgiving in Canada originated purely as a harvest festival. On Jan 31, 1957 Canadian parliament proclaimed a day of general thanksgiving to the almighty God for the bountiful harvest Canada has been blessed with and was to be observed on the 2nd Monday in October. English Explorer Martin Frobisher hosted the first Thanksgiving held in what is now Newfoundland in 1578 to mark their safe arrival to the new world.

The first American (US) Thanksgiving was celebrated 43 years later in 1621 at the site of Plymouth Plantation in Massachusetts. They thanked God and the Wampano for teaching them how to grow crops that enabled them to have a plentiful harvest in time for winter.

http://www.shopeasefoods.com/blog//did-canada-invent-thanksgiving

BLCF: Grace_And_Glory_Header

Now back to today’s lesson, GOD’s Invitation: To Walk In the Light of HIS Glory and Grace, which is the title of our message.

To better understand what it is like to walk in the light of GOD’s glory and grace, it might be better to understand when we are not walking in the “light of the Lord”.

In our lives, we have a choice between following two paths: the path of the world or the path of the Lord.

The path we follow is sometimes not directed by our hearts or our minds; but by our eyes. For those of you who drive a vehicle, you are likely aware that where the eyes stray, there is the tendency to steer the vehicle in the same direction. That is why traffic officers try to clear the scene of an accident as quickly as possible, before the so called “rubber neckers” steer their vehicles off the road, after being distracted by the scene of an accident. Until a traffic accident is cleared, the officers will slow the speed of vehicles down to a speed which allows passing drivers enough reaction time to avoid becoming part of another accident scene. Still, some drivers will let their vehicle follow their eyes, and another accident ensues.

Our first Scripture passage, which is: Genesis 3:1-7, describes how Eve and Adam were tempted by the appearance of the forbidden fruit in the garden, seeing the fruit was good for food and a delight to the eyes.

Genesis 3:1-7 (ESV): The Fall

BLCF: garden-of-eden-first-sin

3 Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made.

He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You[a] shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’” But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise,[b] she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths.

Footnotes: a. Genesis 3:1 In Hebrew you is plural in verses 1–5 b. Genesis 3:6 Or to give insight

The visual attraction of the forbidden fruit, gave way to a desire to eat the fruit and become wise. Having eaten of the forbidden fruit, both Adam and Eve had their eyes opened, and they saw their nakedness and became ashamed. We must give credit or discredit to crafty Satan, who tempted the pair by telling them that the fruit would open their eyes to good and evil, making them like GOD.  Satan was the distraction, appealing to a desire to be wise like GOD, led Eve and Adam, who was with her, away from the righteous path to disobey GOD’s commandment.

The temptation caused by vane desire to be like GOD, and to question HIS authority, led to their downfall. This fall from GOD’s grace, by desiring that which appeals to our vanity and ego, is repeated over and over again, as we see in our next Scripture passage, Matthew 19:16-22, tells of a wealthy young man, who approaches Jesus, and asks the Lord: what good deed must he do in order to obtain eternal life or righteousness with GOD?

Matthew 19:16-22 (ESV): The Rich Young Man

BLCF: Christ-rich-young-ruler-hoffmanl

16 And behold, a man came up to him, saying, “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?” 17 And he said to him, “Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only one who is good. If you would enter life, keep the commandments.” 18 He said to him, “Which ones?” And Jesus said, “You shall not murder, You shall not commit adultery, You shall not steal, You shall not bear false witness, 19 Honor your father and mother, and, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 20 The young man said to him, “All these I have kept. What do I still lack?” 21 Jesus said to him, “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” 22 When the young man heard this he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.

Jesus then tells the young man to be good he must follow the Ten Commandments given by God, delivered to the people of Israel by Moses. The young man replies to the Lord that he has obeyed all the commandments, asking what else must he do? Jesus tells the young man that in order to be perfect he should sell all his possessions, give the proceeds to the poor, and then follow the Lord. I believe the Lord discerned that there remained one stumbling block, which was his wealth and possessions, that he valued more than following the path of GOD. The man became sorrowful, as he could not part with his great worldly possessions in exchange for the promise of treasure in heaven.

This is the problem with desiring and then acquiring something that appeals to our vanity that we value above anything else, is the consequence that achieving the object of our desire usually results in shame, as was the case of Adam and Eve, or in sorrow, as happened to the rich young man who sought eternal life.

The Apostle John pointed out this dilemma in 1 John 2:15-17, by admonishing us not to place our love and affection upon things of the world:

1 John 2:15-17 (ESV): Do Not Love the World

BLCF: darkness_vs_light

15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life[a]—is not from the Father but is from the world. 17 And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.

Footnotes: a. 1 John 2:16 Or pride in possessions

We see how easy we, like Adam, Eve and the rich young man, can be tempted by the desire for things of the world, which draw us away from GOD’s grace and the promise of eternal life. For the path of the world, which is Satan’s road, leads to sin, our sin, which keeps all of us apart from the light of the Lord, HIS glory and HIS grace.

BLCF: worship-spirit-truth

How,  then, do we discover the way back from a life of sin, and come back to worship GOD in truth and spirit? GOD gave us HIS son, Jesus not just to remove from all of us the judgment of sin, but to be our advocate in heaven. If we decide to abide in Christ and follow the illuminated path, which is the “Way of the Lord”, as we see in 1 John 2:1-11 (ESV):

Christ Our Advocate

BLCF: Christ pleads as an advocate for his people_

2 My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world. And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments. Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.

The New Commandment

BLCF: new-commandment

Beloved, I am writing you no new commandment, but an old commandment that you had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word that you have heard. At the same time, it is a new commandment that I am writing to you, which is true in him and in you, because[a] the darkness is passing away and the true light is already shining. Whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness. 10 Whoever loves his brother abides in the light, and in him[b] there is no cause for stumbling. 11 But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes.

BLCF: The-Greatest-Commandment

The Apostle John reaffirms Christ’s New Commandment in 1 John 2:1-11: By loving GOD and by keeping HIS word or commandment of loving GOD and loving our brother, is the only way to keep us on the path of light, provide by our Lord, Jesus.

We know that desiring worldly things is to follow the path of darkness, which lead to  sin, shame, sorrow and ultimately to death. The Lord’s path of light is the only way to salvation and eternal life.

In order to discern, we have the gift of the Holy Spirit, sent by our Advocate, the Lord Jesus, to help us understand and value not worldly wealth and treasures, but that which is true treasure: His Word and  the path of the Spirit, as described in Paul’s epistle, Ephesians 1:16-21. For what Paul wrote to the church, which are the believers in Ephesus, applies to any body of Christian believers, who see to worship GOD in spirit and truth:

Ephesians 1:16-21 (ESV):

BLCF: Ephesians_1_18

16 I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, 17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, 18 having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might 20 that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come.

I would like to conclude our lesson today, by reading from Psalm 119, verses 33-40, as a prayer for our own faith and understanding. May we seek to turn away from treasures of the world, seeking, instead, to find our heavenly treasure, which is eternal life by way of our Lord Jesus:

Let us pray…

Psalm 119:33-40 (ESV){

BLCF: Psalm119_35

33 Teach me, O Lord, the way of your statutes;     

and I will keep it to the end.[a]

34 Give me understanding, that I may keep your law     

and observe it with my whole heart.

35 Lead me in the path of your commandments,    

 for I delight in it. 36 Incline my heart to your testimonies,     

and not to selfish gain!

37 Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things;     

and give me life in your ways.

38 Confirm to your servant your promise,     

that you may be feared.

39 Turn away the reproach that I dread,     

for your rules are good.

40 Behold, I long for your precepts;     

in your righteousness give me life!

AMEN.

Footnotes: a. Psalm 119:33 Or keep it as my reward

at_the_end

Closing Hymn #252: O Soul, Are You Weary and Troubled?                                    

Benediction – Ephesians 3:20-21:

Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us,  to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

 

BLCF: esa of Avila Blue

Not Casting the First Stone and Other Lessons of Love

Dear BLCF Friends,

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church and BLCF Café continue to remain closed effective March 16, 2020, and until further notice. Today we would like to share with you a Lesson in a virtual format. We pray after the advent of a COVID-19 vaccine and following the determination of Health Canada and other Health Authorities the danger of a pandemic has subsided, the Board of BLCF will be able to reopen worship and outreach activities without concern of infection to the vulnerable within our community. In the meantime, please enjoy the following lessons stay safe, and keep the faith.

– Pastor Steve

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

‘Not Casting the First Stone and Other Lessons of Love’ 

© October 3, 2021, by Steve Mickelson

Based on a Message Shared at BLCF on November 4, 2018

BLCF Bulletin November 4, 2018

Announcements and Call to Worship; Prayer                                                           

Opening Hymn #248: And Can It Be That I should Gain; Choruses                            

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

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

Message by Steve Mickelson:  

‘Not Casting the First Stone and Other Lessons of Love’  

                                

Let us pray…

Welcome to BLCF Church, on this, the first Sunday of October, 2021. Today, being the first Sunday of the month makes it a Communion Sunday. However, due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, our church remains closed to services and other group activities, with lessons continuing to be presented in virtual format. If we were open today, we would celebrate the first Sunday of the month by the giving of communion. There is no BLCF Church membership requirement to take Communion, only the conviction that Christ, Jesus is Lord and Saviour, who died for your sins, rose from the grave by the power of the Spirit, ascended to heaven, sending us the Holy Spirit to be our companion, forever.

When we talk about taking Communion, we remember the sacrifice of the Lord, whose death on the cross resulted in the forgiveness of all sin, allowed us, by way of faith, the means to avoid the judgment for sin. Jesus came not to fulfill the Law, but to fulfill the judgment mandated by the law, by surrendering his life as a payment for the death judgment awaiting us all.

In John 8, verses 1-11, we have an account how the scribes and Pharisees brought a woman, caught in the act of adultery, asking Jesus how they should deal with her crime, as the Law stipulated death by stoning. This was intended to be not only a test of Jesus’ knowledge of Hebrew Law and the consequences one may expect for violating it. Let us begin today’s lesson reading this passage from John’s Gospel:

John 8:1-11 (ESV)

but Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. Early in the morning he came again to the temple. All the people came to him, and he sat down and taught them. The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery, and placing her in the midst they said to him, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery. Now in the Law, Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?” This they said to test him, that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” And once more he bent down and wrote on the ground.But when they heard it, they went away one by one, beginning with the older ones, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. 10 Jesus stood up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” 11 She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.”

These eleven verses, from the eighth chapter of John’s Gospel, provide us with a wealth of knowledge and understanding how violation of the Law, in this case, the seventh of the ten itemized in Exodus 20. In this case Exodus 20:14, 14 “You shall not commit adultery.

The woman had broken the Law and the scribes, Pharisees, and others gathered expected a pronouncement of death to the woman. This was the same judgment that the people of Israel expected when Moses brought the Laws from God down from the mountain, Exodus 20:18-21 (ESV):

18 Now when all the people saw the thunder and the flashes of lightning and the sound of the trumpet and the mountain smoking, the people were afraid[a] and trembled, and they stood far off 19 and said to Moses, “You speak to us, and we will listen; but do not let God speak to us, lest we die.” 20 Moses said to the people, “Do not fear, for God has come to test you, that the fear of him may be before you, that you may not sin.”21 The people stood far off, while Moses drew near to the thick darkness where God was.                                                                     

Footnotes: a. Exodus 20:18 Samaritan, Septuagint, Syriac, Vulgate; Masoretic Text the people saw

These Laws came from God to instill a respect of God’s ordinances, and an avoidance of sin by the people, so as to not have Him render judgment upon them. But the people feared that if they heard God speak to them, that they will surely die. The Law was intended to guide the people on a righteous path of behaviour, to demonstrate their love for God and for others.

In the case of Jesus and the adulteress, Jesus indicated that no man or woman is innocent of sin, and therefore none are qualified to act as judge and executioner. That is God’s privy, and as such, He alone has the authority to render judgment or its consequences upon sinners. This does not mean that there won’t be any judgment for violation of the Law, which will be rendered by God, alone.

Did scribes and Pharisees take the words of our Lord to heart? Apparently not, as we see the actions taken against the Apostle Stephen, whom Christian scholars are considered to be the first Christian martyr, as we see in this account taken from Chapter 7 of the Acts of the Apostles:

Acts 7:54-60 (ESV): The Stoning of Stephen

54 Now when they heard these things they were enraged, and they ground their teeth at him. 55 But he, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. 56 And he said, “Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” 57 But they cried out with a loud voice and stopped their ears and rushed together[a] at him. 58 Then they cast him out of the city and stoned him. And the witnesses laid down their garments at the feet of a young man named Saul. 59 And as they were stoning Stephen, he called out, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” 60 And falling to his knees he cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep.

Footnotes:a. Acts 7:57 Or rushed with one mind

Though Jesus had been sent to pay the penalty for sin, we that human tendency to sin had not eliminated. Though Stephen was full of the Holy Spirit, in that he saw Jesus standing at the right-hand side of God, the Father, the lord did not intervene. Stephen’s last words before he died were a plea to the Lord not to hold the sin of murder against them. You may note that watching the garments of the murderous mob, was a young man named Saul, better known as Saul of Tarsus.

Saul’s testimony on the matter is recorded in Acts 22:1-21:

Acts 22:1-21 (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.’

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 22:2 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

We see that before his conversion Saul had busied himself by rounding up and persecuting Christians. And in the process of one of the first persecutions, Saul witnessed Stephen’s death by stoning while he stood by watching over the garments of the members of the crowd who killed the Apostle.

But why was there no judgment from God against Saul or the mob who had murdered Stephen?  God had no plans for members of the mob in general, he did have plans for Saul, whose name would be changed to Paul, after his conversion. We see the degree of conviction demonstrated in Paul’s testimony, expressed in the following epistle addressed by the Apostle to members of the Church in Rome, see Romans 10:9-10:

Romans 10:9-10 (ESV)

 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.

Paul said that salvation comes to those who confess that Jesus is Lord, whom God raised from the dead. This confession comes not from a fear of a judgment by God, but a belief in the heart that Jesus died and was raised from the dead. We know from last week’s lesson, that the heart is associated with the intangible aspect of our beliefs, such as love, faith, and hope. With this belief, comes the tangible response of confession of our belief that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for our sins. And from that expression of faith, God will respond to the tangible sacrifice made by His Son on the cross with the intangible actions of our own justification and salvation through Christ, which in turn leads to the tangible actions of our own resurrection and granted eternal life.

All of God’s actions come as an expression of God’s love for us for us and our love for Him. For only He is able to make manifest the tangible from the intangible, merely by His own Word.

Let us pray…

Jesus loves you BLCF

Closing Hymn #286: Years I Spent in Vanity and Pride

Benediction – (1 Timothy 1:17): 

To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen

BLCF: God is Love