Walking on Water: An Act of Religion or Faith?

BLCF: Jesus walks on the water

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday

Walking on Water: An Act of Religion or Faith?

©October 27, 2013 by Steve Mickelson

BLCF Bulletin October 27, 2013

 Based on a Message Shared at BLCF on April 18, 2010

BLCF: Apr 18_2010 Bulletin

BLCF Call to Worship:

Responsive Reading ##669 (The Lord’s Servant – 2Timothy2 & 3r of Prayer);r of Prayer Prayer                                              

 Opening Hymn #287: My Faith Has Found A Resting Place

Let us pray…

The title for today’s lesson is entitled: ‘Walking on Water: An Act of Religion or Faith,’ poses the question as whether our response to the calling of the Holy Spirit is an act of religion or of faith.  But before we explore this question, let us talk about the terms religion and faith, as defined by the Wiki bits database, better known as Wikipedia.

 Religion and Faith (From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia):

 The word religion is sometimes used interchangeably with faith, belief system or sometimes set of duties;[1] however, in the words of Émile Durkheim, religion differs from private belief in that it is “something eminently social”.[2]                                                                                                                       

Faith is confidence or trust in a person, thing, deity, or in the doctrines or teachings of a religion or view (e.g. having strong political faith). The word faith is often used as a synonym for hope, trust or belief.

In religion, faith often involves accepting claims about the character of a deity, nature, or the universe. While some have argued that faith is opposed to reason, proponents of faith argue that the proper domain of faith concerns questions which cannot be settled by evidence.    

Footnotes/References:  1.Kant, Immanuel (2001). Religion and Rational Theology. Cambridge University Press. p. 177. ISBN 9780521799980  2. Émile Durkheim|Durkheim, E. (1915) The Elementary Forms of the Religious Life. London: George Allen & Unwin, p.10.    

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

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Faith#Faith_in_world_religions

I differentiate the two, by viewing religion as being an overt expression of rituals and expressions of an individual’s faith. And faith is part of the spiritual component of any religion. While it is possible to study and practice the Christian religion, such practices absent of faith or belief in Christ are futile and meaningless. It is interesting that faith gives substance to our religion. Or as expressed so eloquently in the book of Hebrews 11:1 (ESV) with the subheading, By Faith:

11 Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.

 And we have two perfect examples of the power of faith to overcome water as a danger was told in the two Bible accounts read today. From the Old testament, we read in Genesis, Chapter 6, how the Lord gave specific instructions to Noah, with respect to the construction of the ark, including the materials gopher wood covered in pitch, as well as the dimensions, how many decks and its cargo, both animals and food stuffs.                                    

Genesis 6:13-22 (ESV)      

13 And God said to Noah, “I have determined to make an end of all flesh,[a] for the earth is filled with violence through them. Behold, I will destroy them with the earth. 14 Make yourself an ark of gopher wood.[b] Make rooms in the ark, and cover it inside and out with pitch. 15 This is how you are to make it: the length of the ark 300 cubits,[c] its breadth 50 cubits, and its height 30 cubits.     16 Make a roof[d] for the ark, and finish it to a cubit above, and set the door of the ark in its side. Make it with lower, second, and third decks. 17 For behold, I will bring a flood of waters upon the earth to destroy all flesh in which is the breath of life under heaven. Everything that is on the earth shall die. 18 But I will establish my covenant with you, and you shall come into the ark, you, your sons, your wife, and your sons’ wives with you. 19 And of every living thing of all flesh, you shall bring two of every sort into the ark to keep them alive with you. They shall be male and female. 20 Of the birds according to their kinds, and of the animals according to their kinds, of every creeping thing of the ground, according to its kind, two of every sort shall come in to you to keep them alive. 21 Also take with you every sort of food that is eaten, and store it up. It shall serve as food for you and for them.”

22 Noah did this; he did all that God commanded him.                                                                                                               

Footnotes: a. Genesis 6:13 Hebrew The end of all flesh has come before me b. Genesis 6:14 An unknown kind of tree; transliterated from Hebrew c. Genesis 6:15 A cubit was about 18 inches or 45 centimeters d. Genesis 6:16 Or skylight      

And in Matthew, Chapter 14, we have the New Testament account of the apostle Peter, asking by Jesus command, to allow him to join the Lord on a walk upon the stormy Sea of Galilee. The Lord identifies himself and assures those in the boat to take heart and not to be afraid, where Peter replies: “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.”

Peter then joins the Lord on the water. All is well until Peter realizes where he is standing, gets distracted by thinking about the nature of his actions rather than how is able to do such a miraculous act. In other words, Peter loses faith and sinks into the water, and to which the Lord comments: “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”

This portion of Scripture gives an account of the power of faith and the consequences of an absence of faith.

  Matthew 14:22-32 (ESV):  Jesus Walks on the Water   

 22 Immediately he made the disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. 23And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, 24but the boat by this time was a long way from the land, beaten by the waves, for the wind was against them. 25And in the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea. 26But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, “It is a ghost!” and they cried out in fear. 27But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.”

28And Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” 29He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus.

30But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.”

31Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” 32And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased.

Another example of a faithful response to a command from the Lord is recorded in Exodus 7:1-13 (ESV) entitled:

Moses and Aaron Before Pharaoh 

   

7 And the Lord said to Moses, “See, I have made you like God to Pharaoh, and your brother Aaron shall be your prophet. 2 You shall speak all that I command you, and your brother Aaron shall tell Pharaoh to let the people of Israel go out of his land. 3 But I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and though I multiply my signs and wonders in the land of Egypt, 4 Pharaoh will not listen to you. Then I will lay my hand on Egypt and bring my hosts, my people the children of Israel, out of the land of Egypt by great acts of judgment. 5 The Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord, when I stretch out my hand against Egypt and bring out the people of Israel from among them.”

 6 Moses and Aaron did so; they did just as the Lord commanded them. 7 Now Moses was eighty years old, and Aaron eighty-three years old, when they spoke to Pharaoh.

8 Then the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, 9 “When Pharaoh says to you, ‘Prove yourselves by working a miracle,’ then you shall say to Aaron, ‘Take your staff and cast it down before Pharaoh, that it may become a serpent.’” 10 So Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and did just as the Lord commanded. Aaron cast down his staff before Pharaoh and his servants, and it became a serpent. 11 Then Pharaoh summoned the wise men and the sorcerers, and they, the magicians of Egypt, also did the same by their secret arts. 12 For each man cast down his staff, and they became serpents. But Aaron’s staff swallowed up their staffs. 13 Still Pharaoh’s heart was hardened, and he would not listen to them, as the Lord had said.      

Our other Bible verses in today’s bulletin are accounts of water as well but as a source of life and means of sustaining life.

You may recall last week’s message, how in Exodus, Chapter 17 the people of Israel, having seen and benefited by the power of God to bring water from a stone,  as witnessed through the actions of  Moses and Aaron, acts of faith and obedience to His instructions to free them, still complain of their thirst to Moses. Exodus 17:1-7 (ESV):

Water from the Rock

17 All the congregation of the people of Israel moved on from the wilderness of Sin by stages, according to the commandment of the Lord, and camped at Rephidim, but there was no water for the people to drink. 2 Therefore the people quarreled with Moses and said, “Give us water to drink.”

And Moses said to them, “Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you test the Lord?” 3 But the people thirsted there for water, and the people grumbled against Moses and said, “Why did you bring us up out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and our livestock with thirst?”

 4 So Moses cried to the Lord, “What shall I do with this people? They are almost ready to stone me.”

 5 And the Lord said to Moses, “Pass on before the people, taking with you some of the elders of Israel, and take in your hand the staff with which you struck the Nile, and go. 6 Behold, I will stand before you there on the rock at Horeb, and you shall strike the rock, and water shall come out of it, and the people will drink.”

And Moses did so, in the sight of the elders of Israel. 7 And he called the name of the place Massah[a] and Meribah,[b] because of the quarreling of the people of Israel, and because they tested the Lord by saying, “Is the Lord among us or not?”                                                                                                                             

Footnotes: a. Exodus 17:7  Massah means testing b. Exodus 17:7  Meribah means quarreling

So in spite of the complaints from the congregation of Israel, Moses faithfully follows Gods directions to extract water from a stone, though he names the place Massah and Meribah, which means testing and quarreling.

And in spite of this and all the previous acts of faith which were answered by the providence of God, the people again complain and quarrel to Moses as we read in, Numbers 20:1-12 (ESV):

The Death of Miriam  

20 And the people of Israel, the whole congregation, came into the wilderness of Zin in the first month, and the people stayed in Kadesh. And Miriam died there and was buried there.

 The Waters of Meribah        

2 Now there was no water for the congregation. And they assembled themselves together against Moses and against Aaron. 3 And the people quarreled with Moses and said, “Would that we had perished when our brothers perished before the Lord! 4 Why have you brought the assembly of the Lord into this wilderness, that we should die here, both we and our cattle? 5 And why have you made us come up out of Egypt to bring us to this evil place? It is no place for grain or figs or vines or pomegranates, and there is no water to drink.”

6 Then Moses and Aaron went from the presence of the assembly to the entrance of the tent of meeting and fell on their faces.

And the glory of the Lord appeared to them, 7 and the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 8 “Take the staff, and assemble the congregation, you and Aaron your brother, and tell the rock before their eyes to yield its water. So you shall bring water out of the rock for them and give drink to the congregation and their cattle.”

9 And Moses took the staff from before the Lord, as he commanded him.

 Moses Strikes the Rock       

10 Then Moses and Aaron gathered the assembly together before the rock, and he said to them, “Hear now, you rebels: shall we bring water for you out of this rock?” 11 And Moses lifted up his hand and struck the rock with his staff twice, and water came out abundantly, and the congregation drank, and their livestock.

12 And the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “Because you did not believe in me, to uphold me as holy in the eyes of the people of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land that I have given them.”

So why did Moses and Aaron, faithful and trusting servants of God, appear to receive such a severe punishment as not being allowed to enter into the land the Lord promised?   

Let us review the acts of faith we have seen so far in response to directions from God:

Genesis 6:22 22 Noah did this; he did all that God commanded him. 

Exodus 7:6  6 Moses and Aaron did so; they did just as the Lord commanded them. 

Matthew 14:22-32  28And Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” 29He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus.

We see in Genesis 6, Exodus 7 and Matthew 14, the Lord giving a command and the faithful response resulting in a miracle.

And in Numbers 20, Moses initially does what the Lord commands:

Numbers 20:9  9 And Moses took the staff from before the Lord, as he commanded him.

But then Moses deviates from God’s instructions by adding his own personal words and opinions to an act of Providence, and instead of speaking to the rock he chastises those assembled: 10 Then Moses and Aaron gathered the assembly together before the rock, and he said to them, “Hear now, you rebels: shall we bring water for you out of this rock?”  And Moses deviates further from God’s directions by striking the rock twice instead of speaking to the rock:

11 And Moses lifted up his hand and struck the rock with his staff twice, and water came out abundantly, and the congregation drank, and their livestock.

Moses was a man with a temper, as he threw down the tablets of God’s commandments when he descended from the mountain and found the people of Israel had returned to the pagan life of worshiping the golden calf and other idols.

Even though God provided the water requested, the Lord was not pleased that Moses had changed His instructions in order to taint an act of Divine Providence. Moses was upset over the return of the people’s bickering and quarreling. God had not told Moses to address this aspect of their behavior. Moses had placed his personal desires above faithful obedience and had abused the power and authority entrusted to him by the Lord, as we see in Numbers 20:12:

12 And the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “Because you did not believe in me, to uphold me as holy in the eyes of the people of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land that I have given them.”

We know from the account of Jesus’ Transfiguration in Matthew 17 that Moses was allowed into heaven with Elijah, because of how Moses did not follow the directions of the Lord, he was not permitted to finish what he had first started: leading the people of Israel into their promised land. Matthew 17:1-7 (ESV):

The Transfiguration

17 And after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James, and John his brother, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. 2 And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became white as light. 3 And behold, there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him. 4 And Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good that we are here. If you wish, I will make three tents here, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah.” 5 He was still speaking when, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my beloved Son,[a] with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.” 6 When the disciples heard this, they fell on their faces and were terrified. 7 But Jesus came and touched them, saying, “Rise, and have no fear.” Footnotes: a. Matthew 17:5 Or my Son, my (or the) Beloved

As Christians, we must focus on the Lord’s commission, which is to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ unto the ends of the earth. We are not to use such opportunity to lecture others with our personal opinions or allow such emotions, which are not of the Spirit, to taint God’s message of love and reconciliation, as Moses had when he did not follow the Lord’s instructions.

Let us pray…

Closing Hymn #313: My Hope Is Built On Nothing Less

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    

 

Advertisements

Finding What Is Lost: The Sheep – (Luke 15:1-7); The Coin (Luke 15:8-10); The Son (Luke 15:11-22)

23 Psalm

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

‘‘Finding What Is  Lost: 

The Sheep (Luke 15:1-7); The Coin (Luke 15:8-10); The Son (Luke 15:11-22)”

©October 20, 2013 by Steve Mickelson

BLCF Bulletin October 20, 2013 

BLCF Call to Worship:

Responsive Reading #598 (The Shepherd Psalm – Psalm 23r of Prayer); Prayer                       

Opening Hymn #288: Amazing Grace! How Sweet the Sound

Let us pray…

Amazing Grace was our opening hymn this morning is a testimony in song authored by John Newton whose faith conversion was as dramatic a change as the apostle Paul, formerly Saul of Tarsus on the road to Damascus. Here are the Wiki bits of John Newton:

“Amazing Grace” is a Christian hymn with words written by the English poet and clergyman John Newton (1725–1807), published in 1779. With the message that forgiveness and redemption are possible regardless of sins committed and that the soul can be delivered from despair through the mercy of God, “Amazing Grace” is one of the most recognizable songs in the English-speaking world.

Newton wrote the words from personal experience. He grew up without any particular religious conviction, but his life’s path was formed by a variety of twists and coincidences that were often put into motion by his recalcitrant insubordination. He was pressed (forced into service involuntarily) into the Royal Navy, and after leaving the service became involved in the Atlantic slave trade. In 1748, a violent storm battered his vessel so severely that he called out to God for mercy, a moment that marked his spiritual conversion. However, he continued his slave trading career until 1754 or 1755, when he ended his seafaring altogether and began studying Christian theology.

Ordained in the Church of England in 1764, Newton became curate of Olney, Buckinghamshire, where he began to write hymns with poet William Cowper. “Amazing Grace” was written to illustrate a sermon on New Year’s Day of 1773. It is unknown if there was any music accompanying the verses; it may have simply been chanted by the congregation. It debuted in print in 1779 in Newton and Cowper’s Olney Hymns, but settled into relative obscurity in England. In the United States however, “Amazing Grace” was used extensively during the Second Great Awakening in the early 19th century. It has been associated with more than 20 melodies, but in 1835 it was joined to a tune named “New Britain” to which it is most frequently sung today.

Author Gilbert Chase writes that “Amazing Grace” is “without a doubt the most famous of all the folk hymns,” and Jonathan Aitken, a Newton biographer, estimates that it is performed about 10 million times annually.  It has had particular influence in folk music, and has become an emblematic African American spiritual. Its universal message has been a significant factor in its crossover into secular music. “Amazing Grace” saw a resurgence in popularity in the U.S. during the 1960s and has been recorded thousands of times during and since the 20th century, occasionally appearing on popular music charts.

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

For the Trekkers out there, Amazing Grace was piped by Commander Scott at the funeral of First Officer Spock in the movie The Wrath of Kahn.  If you are not a follower of Star Trek, the point is that Amazing Grace has become synonymous with the life testimony of Christians, often sung at a believer’s funeral to praise and express gratitude in the promise of the resurrection through our Lord Jesus Christ.

But John Newton, not to be confused with contemporary singer Olivia Newton John, before his conversion, lived the life of a lost sheep described in Ezekiel 34, without love for God or fellow man. He became wealthy at the expense of the lives and freedom of others. But like Saul of Tarsus, the Lord had a plan for Newton: a plan of conviction and conversion of faith that led John Newton to become a minister of God, spreading the gospel of Jesus.

But more than gathering together His lost sheep, the Lord will send the lost sinners a new Shepherd and reclaim from a life of sin and destruction His beloved human sheep. Ezekiel 34 (ESV):

   Prophecy Against the Shepherds of Israel

34 The word of the Lord came to me: 2 “Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel; prophesy, and say to them, even to the shepherds, Thus says the Lord God: Ah, shepherds of Israel who have been feeding yourselves! Should not shepherds feed the sheep? 3 You eat the fat, you clothe yourselves with the wool, you slaughter the fat ones, but you do not feed the sheep. 4 The weak you have not strengthened, the sick you have not healed, the injured you have not bound up, the strayed you have not brought back, the lost you have not sought, and with force and harshness you have ruled them. 5 So they were scattered, because there was no shepherd, and they became food for all the wild beasts. 6 My sheep were scattered; they wandered over all the mountains and on every high hill. My sheep were scattered over all the face of the earth, with none to search or seek for them.

7 “Therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the Lord: 8 As I live, declares the Lord God, surely because my sheep have become a prey, and my sheep have become food for all the wild beasts, since there was no shepherd, and because my shepherds have not searched for my sheep, but the shepherds have fed themselves, and have not fed my sheep, 9 therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the Lord: 10 Thus says the Lord God, Behold, I am against the shepherds, and I will require my sheep at their hand and put a stop to their feeding the sheep. No longer shall the shepherds feed themselves. I will rescue my sheep from their mouths, that they may not be food for them.

The Lord God Will Seek Them Out

11 “For thus says the Lord God: Behold, I, I myself will search for my sheep and will seek them out. 12 As a shepherd seeks out his flock when he is among his sheep that have been scattered, so will I seek out my sheep, and I will rescue them from all places where they have been scattered on a day of clouds and thick darkness. 13 And I will bring them out from the peoples and gather them from the countries, and will bring them into their own land. And I will feed them on the mountains of Israel, by the ravines, and in all the inhabited places of the country. 14 I will feed them with good pasture, and on the mountain heights of Israel shall be their grazing land. There they shall lie down in good grazing land, and on rich pasture they shall feed on the mountains of Israel. 15 I myself will be the shepherd of my sheep, and I myself will make them lie down, declares the Lord God. 16 I will seek the lost, and I will bring back the strayed, and I will bind up the injured, and I will strengthen the weak, and the fat and the strong I will destroy.[a] I will feed them in justice.

17 “As for you, my flock, thus says the Lord God: Behold, I judge between sheep and sheep, between rams and male goats. 18 Is it not enough for you to feed on the good pasture, that you must tread down with your feet the rest of your pasture; and to drink of clear water, that you must muddy the rest of the water with your feet? 19 And must my sheep eat what you have trodden with your feet, and drink what you have muddied with your feet?

20 “Therefore, thus says the Lord God to them: Behold, I, I myself will judge between the fat sheep and the lean sheep. 21 Because you push with side and shoulder, and thrust at all the weak with your horns, till you have scattered them abroad, 22 I will rescue[b] my flock; they shall no longer be a prey. And I will judge between sheep and sheep. 23 And I will set up over them one shepherd, my servant David, and he shall feed them: he shall feed them and be their shepherd. 24 And I, the Lord, will be their God, and my servant David shall be prince among them. I am the Lord; I have spoken.

The Lord’s Covenant of Peace

25 “I will make with them a covenant of peace and banish wild beasts from the land, so that they may dwell securely in the wilderness and sleep in the woods. 26 And I will make them and the places all around my hill a blessing, and I will send down the showers in their season; they shall be showers of blessing. 27 And the trees of the field shall yield their fruit, and the earth shall yield its increase, and they shall be secure in their land. And they shall know that I am the Lord, when I break the bars of their yoke, and deliver them from the hand of those who enslaved them. 28 They shall no more be a prey to the nations, nor shall the beasts of the land devour them. They shall dwell securely, and none shall make them afraid. 29 And I will provide for them renowned plantations so that they shall no more be consumed with hunger in the land, and no longer suffer the reproach of the nations. 30 And they shall know that I am the Lord their God with them, and that they, the house of Israel, are my people, declares the Lord God. 31 And you are my sheep, human sheep of my pasture, and I am your God, declares the Lord God.”

Footnotes: a. Ezekiel 34:16 Septuagint, Syriac, Vulgate I will watch over b. Ezekiel 34:22 Or save

This love that our Lord for us is so great that He rejoices every time a lost human sheep returns to His flock, as is expressed in the three parables we have printed in today’s bulletin. The first is found in Luke 15:1-7 (ESV):

The Parable of the Lost Sheep                            

15 Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear him. 2 And the Pharisees and the scribes grumbled, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.”

3 So he told them this parable: 4 “What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country, and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it? 5 And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. 6 And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.’ 7 Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.    

The Lord is my Shepherd

The Lord is my Shepherd

 

We all have experienced the loss of something valuable. We worry and fret over what is lost. But like the lesson from Ezekiel, the Lord will go out and seek the lost sheep, bring it back to the fold and celebrate its return. For every lost soul or sinner that is saved, there is a celebration in heaven.

For those who may not identify with the sheep in the first parable, we have the parable of a son that is lost in Luke 15:11-22 (ESV):

The Parable of the Prodigal Son     

 11 And he said, “There was a man who had two sons. 12 And the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of property that is coming to me.’ And he divided his property between them. 13 Not many days later, the younger son gathered all he had and took a journey into a far country, and there he squandered his property in reckless living. 14 And when he had spent everything, a severe famine arose in that country, and he began to be in need. 15 So he went and hired himself out to[a] one of the citizens of that country, who sent him into his fields to feed pigs. 16 And he was longing to be fed with the pods that the pigs ate, and no one gave him anything.

17 “But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have more than enough bread, but I perish here with hunger! 18 I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants.”’ 20 And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. 21 And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’[b] 22 But the father said to his servants,[c] ‘Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet.

Footnotes: a. Luke 15:15 Greek joined himself to b. Luke 15:21 Some manuscripts add treat me as one of your hired servants c. Luke 15:22 Greek bondservants

The Parable of the Prodigal Son, not only teaches how the Lord desires us to return to Him, but how He has compassion for us and is willing to forgive us all of our transgressions.

And just in case we still do not understand what the Lord has told us, he teaches us the lesson again, in Luke 15:8-10 (ESV):

                                        The Parable of the Lost Coin

8 “Or what woman, having ten silver coins,[a] if she loses one coin, does not light a lamp and sweep the house and seek diligently until she finds it? 9 And when she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin that I had lost.’ 10 Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”

Footnotes: a. Luke 15:8 Greek ten drachmas; a drachma was a Greek coin approximately equal in value to a Roman denarius, worth about a day’s wage for a laborer

By teaching the same lesson three times in three different parables, the Lord indicates how much He cares for His lost sheep and the priority He places returning sinners back to a righteous place.

I remember some years ago, how Sophie had lost her engagement ring at a church function. Sophie looked everywhere in her pockets for the ring. She had retraced her steps through the evening. Eventually, Sophie received a call from a friend that the young daughter of one of the ladies had found her ring. How relieved and happy she was when it was returned.

And when a sinner returns to the flock, he has the confidence and peace of mind as well, that he is safe at home with the shepherd, as we see in Psalm 23 (ESV):

The Lord Is My Shepherd – A Psalm of David.

23 The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
2 He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.[a]
3 He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness[b]
for his name’s sake.

4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,[c]
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.

5 You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
6 Surely[
d] goodness and mercy[e] shall follow me
all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell[
f] in the house of the Lord
forever.[
g]    

  Footnotes: a. Psalm 23:2 Hebrew beside waters of rest b.Psalm 23:3 Or in right paths c. Psalm 23:4 Or the valley of deep darkness d. Psalm 23:6 Or Only e. Psalm 23:6 Or steadfast love f. Psalm 23:6 Or shall return to dwell g. Psalm 23:6 Hebrew for length of days

And to reaffirm how Jesus fits in the picture let us again review Jeremiah 23:1-8 (ESV):

 The Righteous Branch

23 “Woe to the shepherds who destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture!” declares the Lord. 2 Therefore thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, concerning the shepherds who care for my people: “You have scattered my flock and have driven them away, and you have not attended to them. Behold, I will attend to you for your evil deeds, declares the Lord. 3 Then I will gather the remnant of my flock out of all the countries where I have driven them, and I will bring them back to their fold, and they shall be fruitful and multiply. 4 I will set shepherds over them who will care for them, and they shall fear no more, nor be dismayed, neither shall any be missing, declares the Lord.

5 “Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, and he shall reign as king and deal wisely, and shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. 6 In his days Judah will be saved, and Israel will dwell securely. And this is the name by which he will be called: ‘The Lord is our righteousness.’

7 “Therefore, behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when they shall no longer say, ‘As the Lord lives who brought up the people of Israel out of the land of Egypt,’ 8 but ‘As the Lord lives who brought up and led the offspring of the house of Israel out of the north country and out of all the countries where hehad driven them.’ Then they shall dwell in their own land.”                                                     

Let us pray…

Closing Hymn #49: A Pilgrim Was I and A-wandering

 

BLCF: Be the church

Benediction Hebrews 13:20-21(ESV):

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 us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.

Bluegrass Concert to Help the Homeless in the Heart of Toronto October 19

Bluegrass Concert
on Saturday, October 19, 2013 at 7PM, featuring the talents of
‘A Cup of
Cold Water’
in an encore performance.

Suggested Admission $15. All proceeds go to BLCF Cafe
Community Dinner
. BLCF Cafe operates every
Wednesday evening from 6-8 PM and feeds over 150 homeless and marginalized
guests weekly, without any government funding or corporate sponsorship.

 













Enjoy ‘A Cup of Cold Water’ perform
Traditional Bluegrass and Bluegrass Gospel in
the heart
of Toronto
at:


Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church, 1307
Bloor Street West, Toronto, Saturday, October 19, 2013 at 7PM BLCF is located
just 1 block west of the Lansdowne Station, on the south side of Bloor Street.

BLCF: 416-535-9578  blcfcafe.blogspot.com

Can you imagine catering a dinner for 200 every week for almost 6 years? That is what Sophie Mickelson has done since January 2008. And that includes shopping for food, plates, cups and utensils; food prep; setting up tables and chairs;setting up the sound system;setting up the tables for 200 guests;preparing beverages urns of juice,coffee and tea for 200; preparing deserts;training volunteers; welcoming guests; and when its over cleaning the eating area, kitchen and bathrooms;taking down tables, chairs and sound system, closing and locking up the church. Sometimes there are volunteers to help, but when there are none, Sophie sees that the job is done. And the next Wednesday at BLCF CAFE Community Dinnerr Sophie starts all over again. The 200 dinner guests are not the social elite and high rollers, but the homeless and marginalized men, women and children in the heart of Toronto. Sophie does not seek praise or glory, but needs help feeding the vulnerable. You can help the cause by attending the Bluegrass Concert Fundraiser Saturday October 19 at 7PM. You CAN make a difference!








Water from a Rock, Blood from a Stone

Doing what Jesus would do!

Doing what Jesus would do!

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

Water from a Rock, Blood from a Stone’                                             

©October 13, 2013 by Steve Mickelson

BLCF Bulletin October 13, 2013

 

BLCF Call to Worship:

Responsive Reading #606 (Blessings from God – Psalm 103); Prayer 

Opening Hymn #37: Great is Thy Faithfulness

Let us pray…

Welcome to Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship’s Thanksgiving Sunday Service. Now how do we reconcile this morning’s service with a Holiday many view as a strictly secular when compared to Christmas or Easter, both which are acknowledged as faith holidays. Does the Bible mention Thanksgiving?  The following scripture is taken from the 12th Book of the New Testament, Colossians 3:15-17 (ESV):

And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

The above scripture is attributed to have been authored by Paul, formerly known as Saul of Tarsus, to the church in Colossians, so named for being located within Colossae. Colossae is in the region of the seven churches of Revelation 1-3. In Colossians 4:13 there is mention of local brethren in Colosse, Laodicea, and Hierapolis. Colosse was approximately 12 miles from Laodicea and 14 miles from Hierapolis. Members of the congregation at Colosse had incorporated pagan elements into their practice, including worship of elemental spirits. The Epistle to the Colossians declares Christ’s supremacy over the entire created universe and exhorts Christians to lead godly lives. The letter consists of two parts: first a doctrinal section, then a second regarding our conduct. In both sections, false teachers who have been spreading error in the congregation are opposed. But just we find in Biblical times, as today, some people conduct their worship or faith practices incorporating pagan beliefs. In time the worship ignores and forsakes our Lord. And what is the Lord’s view of such pagan observances?  We read in Nehemiah 9:1-3; 15-17: (ESV):

The People of Israel Confess Their Sin

Now on the twenty-fourth day of this month the people of Israel were assembled with fasting and in sackcloth, and with earth on their heads.  And the Israelites separated themselves from all foreigners and stood and confessed their sins and the iniquities of their fathers.  And they stood up in their place and read from the Book of the Law of the LORD their God for a quarter of the day

 You gave them bread from heaven for their hunger and brought water for them out of the rock for their thirst, and you told them to go in to possess the land that you had sworn to give them.

“But they and our fathers acted presumptuously and stiffened their neck and did not obey your commandments. 17They refused to obey and were not mindful of the wonders that you performed among them, but they stiffened their neck and appointed a leader to return to their slavery in Egypt. But you are a God ready to forgive, gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and did not forsake them.

The key part about this scripture is that in spite of their sins, that some refused to obey God’s Laws or even to acknowledge what the Lord had provided for his people, God’s love remained steadfast. That He is a God ready to forgive, gracious and merciful, slow to anger, in spite of our sinful, ungrateful tendencies.

BLCF: Thanksgiving

 

You may have read the cartoon on the back of today’s bulletin, where the child at the table comments “We have so much to be thankful for. One day a year hardly seems adequate” in other words, we should give thanks daily, we read in Colossians 3:17:

 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

OK, but what about Canadian Thanksgiving, where is the connection to God in this holiday? For the answer we must look into the origins of this national holiday:

Canadian Thanksgiving from kidzworld.com updated on October 7, 2013:

               Thanksgiving Day

     Harvest Season and the 49th Parallel

The secular view for Canadian Thanksgiving arriving earlier than its American counterpart is that Canada is geographically further north than the United States, causing the Canadian harvest season to arrive earlier than the American harvest season. And since Thanksgiving for Canadians is more about giving thanks for the harvest season than the arrival of pilgrims, it makes sense to celebrate the holiday in October. So what are the differences between Canadian and American Thanksgiving, other than the date? Not much! Both Canadians and Americans celebrate Thanksgiving with parades, family gatherings, pumpkin pie and a whole lot of turkey!

How It All Began

The origins of Canadian Thanksgiving are more closely connected to the traditions of Europe than of the United States. Long before Europeans settled in North America, festivals of thanks and celebrations of harvest took place in Europe in the month of October. The very first Thanksgiving celebration in North America took place in Canada when Martin Frobisher, an explorer from England, arrived in Newfoundland in 1578. He wanted to give thanks for his safe arrival to the New World. That means the first Thanksgiving in Canada was celebrated 43 years before the pilgrims landed in Plymouth, Massachusetts!

BLCF: Early Thanksgiving in Canada

 Official 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 31, 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.

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

So in a legal sense, thanks to the Canadian Parliament, the current observation of Canadian Thanksgiving is a day in which we give thanks to almighty God for the blessings of the bountiful harvest. The wording of Parliamentary legislation not only acknowledges God, our Lord’s authority as almighty or omnipotent!

Many in today’s society seems to have found themselves wondering in the wilderness, stiffening their necks to their Lord as had happened in the time of Moses, in Exodus 17:1-7 (ESV):                          

 Water from the Rock                       

 All the congregation of the people of Israel moved on from the wilderness of Sin by stages, according to the commandment of the LORD, and camped at Rephidim, but there was no water for the people to drink.  Therefore the people quarrelled with Moses and said, “Give us water to drink.” And Moses said to them, “Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you test the LORD?” But the people thirsted there for water, and the people grumbled against Moses and said, “Why did you bring us up out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and our livestock with thirst?”

So Moses cried to the LORD, “What shall I do with this people? They are almost ready to stone me.” And the LORD said to Moses, “Pass on before the people, taking with you some of the elders of Israel, and take in your hand the staff with which you struck the Nile, and go. Behold, I will stand before you there on the rock at Horeb, and you shall strike the rock, and water shall come out of it, and the people will drink.”

And Moses did so, in the sight of the elders of Israel. And he called the name of the place Massah[a] and Meribah, [b] because of the quarrelling of the people of Israel, and because they tested the LORD by saying, “Is the LORD among us or not?”

BLCF: Massah and Meribah

It is sad to see that as a reminder of the people’s ungrateful attitude, Moses saw fit to name this spring created by the Lord as Massah and Meribah, which as you see in the footnotes translates as  [a] Exodus 17:7 Massah means testing [b] Exodus 17:7 Meribah means quarrelling.

We often find ourselves in a place where instead of counting our blessings, creating a litany of complaints and criticisms.

I remember some years, as a young man, new to the faith, attending a church meeting. The associate Church Pastor had taken great pains to prepare coffee for those in attendance. When offered a cup, I not only said no thank you, saying that “I am all ‘coffeed-out’ and that I should not be drinking so much coffee”, to which several others in attendance acknowledged the same. By adding those remarks, I had made the Pastor’s efforts appear to be something worthy of complaint, instead of just an act of love and kindness to others.

It was only some years later, when I had the opportunity to really understand how we can harm others with our casual comments.

For several years, as President of a local computer club, I also edited the clubs newsletter which consisted of 20 pages, ten months a year. In those days, in the early 1980’s, computer technology lacked high resolution scanners and word recognition software. Since many of the articles we printed came from  printed articles from other clubs with whom we exchanged newsletters, and the newsletters were not in electronic form, we either had to transcribe articles, a difficult task for this two finger typist or photocopy, cut and paste masters copies for the local photocopy shop. Needless to say I chose the latter. Still, the process of producing 20 pages of newsletter, which included a page or two outlining the clubs activities in my own bi-line translated into 8-10 hours of labour effort every month.

You can imagine my feelings when I proudly presented the new issue of the newsletter, which one or two members, instead of acknowledging my hour’s efforts, seemed to take delight in obvious typos or spelling errors. Needless to say, after four years of what seemed to be a thankless job, I decided to step down as president and newsletter editor. But I have a good idea of how that Associate Pastor felt, as after my remarks, he stopped making coffee for our church meetings. Yet, in spite of all our bickering and complaints, God still loves us. He has not given up on us. Now that is something for which we may be thankful.

With a little faith, Moses produced water from a rock, and to be grateful for God’s work, which is for some people, like getting blood from a stone. That is why we all should obey God’s law as described in Matthew 22:36-40(ESV):

“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?”

And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbour as yourself.  On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”

So let us demonstrate our gratitude to both our Lord, as well as our neighbours as found both in 1 Chronicles 16:8-12, as well as was legislated by our Parliament:

1 Chronicles 16:8-12 (ESV) David’s Song of Thanks

 Oh give thanks to the LORD; call upon his name; make known his deeds among the peoples!  

 Sing to him; sing praises to him; tell of all his wondrous works!   

Glory in his holy name; et the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice! 

Seek the LORD and his strength; seek his presence continually! 

Remember the wondrous works that he has done, his miracles and the judgments he uttered

And finally, as God through Moses provided life by giving water from a stone, Jesus, the rock of our salvation provided spiritual life by his blood. Blood from a stone:

1 Peter 2:4-5 (ESV):  4 As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, 5 you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

 

BLCF: 1Peter 2_4-5

Let us pray…

Closing Hymn #569: When upon Life’s Billows

Benediction (Colossians 3:15-17):        

“And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”

Perseverance through Troubled Times

BLCF: Seeking Healing through Christ

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

‘Perseverance through Troubled Times’

©October 6, 2013 by Steve Mickelson

BLCF Bulletin October 6, 2013

 

Announcements and Call to Worship:

Responsive Reading #648 (A Challenge to Faith from Hebrews 11 and 12); Prayer                                              

Opening Hymn: #43: Praise to the Lord, Almighty

Let us pray…

Welcome to our Sunday morning Prayer and Worship Service here at Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship.

Today’s lesson is entitled Perseverance through Troubled Times. I would like to share my experience of a time of trouble and personal challenge.

Four years ago, this month, indeed from this Sunday, I faced one of my most difficult challenges to my personal health, as well as a test of faith. For it was in the middle of October right here in this church sanctuary, following the Sunday morning service that I started to see what appeared to be flashes of light in the corner of my eye. It looked as if I perceived, in my peripheral vision, flares of light as if someone were taking flash photos nearby. Then, just as suddenly as the flashes had begun, they stopped, not to return until the next Sunday, accompanied by dark spots of jet black floating in my field of vision. By alternately closing each of my eyes, I determined that the flashes and spots were only viewed by my right eye. My brain had somehow merged the images so I thought I was seeing them by both eyes.

I recalled reading an article some years ago that described visions similar to what I was experiencing as symptoms of when the retina of the eye had become detached. The next day, I arranged to get an emergency appointment to see (no pun intended) my Ophthalmologist. After a careful examination and some tests, the doctor told me that he could see no evidence of a detachment or in his words a hole or tear of the retina and that my symptoms are likely caused when the fluid in the eye thickens with age and slides down in front of the retina. I was sent home. However, over the next few days, my symptoms progressed and worsened. Now I could see the shadow in my field of vision that bothered me so much that I resorted to covering my right eye with a tissue. The next morning, I returned to the Eye Doctor and was informed that not only did I have a retinal tear, but one so severe that I needed emergency surgery as soon as possible in order to save the vision in my eye! The Doctor apologized that he did not see the tear at my previous visit.

Of the two hospitals in Toronto that could perform the procedure, only St. Michaels Health Care could take me in on such short notice and an appointment was made for the next day. That night, with all the lights out and even my eyes closed, the hole made it appear as if I were viewing some strange green moonscape, its illumination indirect, much like a full moon. My worry and concern about losing vision to the eye were high. I had done all the right things: recognizing the significance of my symptoms and by promptly seeking out a specialist. Still, I faced the prospect of losing the vision in the eye, unless I underwent surgery in the same hospital that both my sister and father had died. I was stressed and overwhelmed beyond belief until my phone rang.

On the phone was Diane, a sister in Christ who attended Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship, who had called to find out how my visit with the doctor went. It was interesting as Diane was blind from untreated Diabetes in her youth. When I told her that I was to undergo surgery the next day on my eye, Diane offered to say a prayer with me. As we prayed, I felt the peace and presence of God’s Holy Spirit fall upon me. The peace continued at the Hospital and throughout the three and half hour emergency eye surgery,  during which I was not totally under the anesthetic, so I was able to hear, throughout the procedure, the dialog between Dr. Louis Giavedoni, one of Canada’s top ophthalmologists and his student Dr. Casey (not Ben).

Later, after the procedure, a couple from our church dropped by the hospital to visit,  to whom remarked that for the week before the operation, I felt like a person without a vision, (pun intended). But a year later and two more procedures, one for a new lens and another to clear the sheath by laser, the eye is like it was before the tear. Actually, my visual acuity improved by the new lens.

 

From this experience, the Spirit had taught me patience, trust, and the importance of prayer when facing adversity. I find that the Lord has made me more empathetic than before. I recall tears welling up in my eyes as those Chilean miners who were trapped for month’s deep underground were rescued. With restored vision, the Spirit gave me an extra dose of compassion to others who suffer.

The Bible has a wealth of verses that tell believes how to persevere in times of trouble. The following verses found on the inside of today’s bulletin cover many aspects of how we may cope with adversity and by the grace and power of the Holy Spirit, in the process becoming  both stronger and more confident in our faith in God:

  1. Perseverance: Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.  –  James 1:12 (ESV)                                                     
  2. Have Fun: A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.   – Proverbs 17:22 (ESV)                                                                                            
  3. Preparation: Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” –  1 Peter 1:13-16 (ESV)                                                                                              
  4. Forget Yesterday: Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old.  Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. – Isaiah 43:18-19 (ESV)                                                                                                               
  5. Confidence: Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.”  – Joshua 1:9 (ESV)                                                                     
  6. Be Humble: Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”  – 1 Peter 5:5 (ESV)                             
  7.  Don’t Forget: But the  Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. – John 14:26 (ESV)                                                                      
  8.  Finally, Follow Jesus’ Example:

Jesus, Founder and Perfecter of Our Faith

12 Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

Do Not Grow Weary        

 3 Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.                                                                      – Hebrews 12:1-3

Let us pray…

Our Closing Hymn is #126: Amen! Amen!

Communion: Luke 22:7-20 (See back page of the bulletin)

The Passover with the Disciples

7 Then came the day of Unleavened Bread, on which the Passover lamb had to be sacrificed. 8 So Jesus[a] sent Peter and John, saying, “Go and prepare the Passover for us, that we may eat it.” 9 They said to him, “Where will you have us prepare it?” 10 He said to them, “Behold, when you have entered the city, a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him into the house that he enters 11 and tell the master of the house, ‘The Teacher says to you, Where is the guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?’ 12 And he will show you a large upper room furnished; prepare it there.” 13 And they went and found it just as he had told them, and they prepared the Passover.

BLCF Communion

The institution of the Lord’s Supper

14 And when the hour came, he reclined at table, and the apostles with him. 15 And he said to them, “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. 16 For I tell you I will not eat it[b] until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.” 17 And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he said, “Take this, and divide it among yourselves. 18 For I tell you that from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” 19 And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” 20 And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.[c]

Footnotes: 1. Luke 22:8 Greek he 2. Luke 22:16 Some manuscripts never eat it again 3. Luke 22:20 Some manuscripts omit, in whole or in part, verses 19b-20 (which is given… in my blood)

Benediction (1 Peter 5:10): And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. -Amen

Remember don’t go to church. Be the church!

BLCF: Be the church

Freed From the Shackles of Sin by a Single Act of Righteousness

BLCF Church: sinner saved

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

‘Freed From the Shackles of Sin by a Single Act of Righteousness’

© September 29, 2013, by Steve Mickelson

BLCF Bulletin September 29, 2013

BLCF Church: Freed from sin

 

BLCF Call to Worship:

Responsive Reading 605: Prayer of Penitence (Psalm 51); Prayer

Opening Hymn: #32: How Great Thou Art

Let us pray…

As believers in the Resurrected Christ, we profess our faith that while we were still sinners, Christ died for our sins, Romans 5:8 (ESV): 8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

But ask Christians what is meant by sin and you may get any of variety definitions: a sin is an act, it is state of grace or lack of, it is the legacy or birthright we carry as descendants of Adam and Eve; it is in our nature; it a manifestation of a defiant attitude towards our Maker; and so on. No wonder there is some confusion among both believers and non-believers alike! It is very difficult to have a meaningful dialog or to witness about sin and salvation unless we have a mutual understanding and agreement of the terms that we discuss. The definition of salvation is fairly clear, but what about sin?

Let us have a look of how the Online Farlex Free Dictionary defines sin:

sin 1 (s n) n.

1. A transgression of a religious or moral law, especially when deliberate.

2. Theology

a. Deliberate disobedience to the known will of God.

b. A condition of estrangement from God resulting from such disobedience.

3. Something regarded as being shameful, deplorable, or utterly wrong.

intr.v. sinned, sin·ning, sins

1. To violate a religious or moral law.

2. To commit an offense or violation.


[Middle English sinne, from Old English synn; see es- in Indo-European roots.]

sin 2 (s n, s n) n.

The 21st letter of the Hebrew alphabet. See Table at alphabet.


[Hebrew în, modeled on în, shin (the following letter).]

Sin (s n)

n. Mythology

The Babylonian god of the moon.


[Akkadian Sîn.]

http://www.thefreedictionary.com/Sin

 

 

We might have a better idea of what is a sin if we look at what Bible scholars commonly refer to as the original sin. In recent sermons, we looked at how Adam and Eve violated God’s singular rule: not to eat the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. Satan stepped in and rationalized that eating the forbidden fruit would elevate them to the same level as God. Let us look at what happened after Adam and Eve chose to ignore God’s rule. In Genesis 3:17-18; 22-23 (ESV), we read:

17 And to Adam he said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, ‘You shall not eat of it,’ cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life; 18 thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field. 19 By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.

22 Then the Lord God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of us in knowing good and evil. Now, lest he reach out his hand and take also of the tree of life and eat, and live forever—” 23 therefore the Lord God sent him out from the garden of Eden to work the ground from which he was taken.

I find it interesting to note that the tree of life was not forbidden to Adam and Eve, which implies that they were able to eat from this tree and live forever before they ate from the tree of knowledge.

Note in Verse 18: in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life; which indicates that Adam’s days are numbered and finite and eventually will end as indicated in Verse 19: 19 By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.

So the consequence of sin is death, but God has a plan, a solution, as we read in Paul’s Epistle of Romans 5:12-18 (ESV):

Death in Adam, Life in Christ

12 Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men[a] because all sinned— 13 for sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law. 14 Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sinning was not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come.

15 But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man’s trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many. 16 And the free gift is not like the result of that one man’s sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brought justification. 17 For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ.

18 Therefore, as one trespass[b] led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness[c] leads to justification and life for all men.

Footnotes: a. Romans 5:12 The Greek word anthropoi refers here to both men and women; also twice in verse 18 b. Romans 5:18 Or the trespass of one c. Romans 5:18 Or the act of righteousness of one

But was committing a sin the result of an act or the thought something else? Let us look at Romans 7:12-14 (ESV):

12 So the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good.13 Did that which is good, then, bring death to me? By no means! It was sin, producing death in me through what is good, in order that sin might be shown to be sin, and through the commandment might become sinful beyond measure. 14 For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold under sin.

Sold under sin sounds like slavery. This is confirmed in John 8:34 (ESV):

34 Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave[a] to sin. Footnotes: a. John 8:34 Greek bondservant

If by definition a sinner is a slave to sin, then what is the remedy? Galatians 5:1 (ESV):

Christ Has Set Us Free

5 For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.

We have seen the consequences of sin and God’s solution in Jesus Christ. But what does God expect from us in this equation? Lets next look at Colossians 3:5-6 (ESV):

5 Put to death therefore what is earthly in you:[a] sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. 6 On account of these the wrath of God is coming.[b]

Footnotes: a. Colossians 3:5 Greek therefore your members that are on the earth b. Colossians 3:6 Some manuscripts add upon the sons of disobedience

So from Colossians 3, we see some expressions of sin and understand that sin is earthly or worldly in contrast to being spiritual. And the solution the Lord provided to us for sin is unconditional, Romans 5:8 (ESV):

8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Still, God expects us not to surrender our commitment and drive, but that instead of allowing ourselves to be slaves to sin, which is associated with things that are of the world which is Satan’s realm, we must surrender ourselves to matters of spiritual reality which is the domain of God, Romans 6:16-22 (ESV):

16 Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves,[a] you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? 17 But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, 18 and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness. 19 I am speaking in human terms, because of your natural limitations. For just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness leading to sanctification. 20 For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. 21 But what fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. 22 But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life.

Footnotes: a.Romans 6:16 For the contextual rendering of the Greek word doulos, see Preface (twice in this verse and verse 19; also once in verses 17, 20)

In addition to commitment to follow the righteous path which leads to sanctification and the promise of eternal life, we must remain vigilant to avoid temptation from Satan to given in to the impulses of our own carnal or worldly desires, which will lead us down the path to sin, James 1:12-15 (ESV):

12 Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him. 13 Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. 14 But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. 15 Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.

God does not tempt us for He cannot be tempted. But knowing the law can lead to temptation. And temptation then leads to sin, Romans 3:20-25 (ESV):

20 For by works of the law no human being[a] will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.

The Righteousness of God Through Faith 21 But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— 22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins.

Footnotes: a.Romans 3:20 Greek flesh

 

BLCF Church: Redeemed from sin by Jesus

So the sin of humanity initiated by Adam was removed by the righteous act of Christ in the Death in Adam, resulted in Life in Christ verse we read earlier in Romans 5:12, requires faith on our part, as we read in Romans 3:22, which then leads to our redemption through Christ. This passage indicates that though all have sinned and fall short of God’s glory, all are entitled to redemption and grace to be received by faith. Faith or lack of faith is the key to sin. Adam and Eve sinned as a result of trusting Satan more than God. And the only way we can receive God’s redemption, grace and glory are to give up our faith in things of the world and return to having faith in God, by accepting the unconditional gift of Jesus Christ paid on the cross at Calvary.

Let us pray…

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

Benediction (2 Peter 1:2): May grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.

– Go in Peace of the Lord!