A Sanctuary to Preserve the Good and the Holy: Designed by God; Built by Man; on Christ’s Foundation

 

BLCF: FAITH

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

A Sanctuary to Preserve the Good and the Holy: Designed by God; Built by Man; on Christ’s Foundation’        

 © March 23 2014 by Steve Mickelson

BLCF: Bulletin March 23, 2014

 

Announcements and Call to Worship: Responsive Reading #592

(God, The Creator – Genesis 1 and 2, Psalm 33); r of Prayer)) Prayer

Opening Hymn #313: My Hope Is Built on Nothing Less;Choruses                                                                                                                                    

Scripture Verses: Genesis 6:1-3, 2 Peter 2:4-10,1 Corinthians 6:19-20

 

Genesis 6:1-3 (ESV) Increasing Corruption on Earth

BLCF: Genesis6_5

 

6 When man began to multiply on the face of the land and daughters were born to them, the sons of God saw that the daughters of man were attractive. And they took as their wives any they chose. Then the Lord said, “My Spirit shall not abide in[a] man forever, for he is flesh: his days shall be 120 years.”

Footnotes: a. Genesis 6:3 Or My Spirit shall not contend with

 

2 Peter 2:4-10 (ESV)

BLCF: fallen-angels

 

For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell[a] and committed them to chains[b] of gloomy darkness to be kept until the judgment; if he did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a herald of righteousness, with seven others, when he brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly; if by turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to ashes he condemned them to extinction, making them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly;[c] and if he rescued righteous Lot, greatly distressed by the sensual conduct of the wicked (for as that righteous man lived among them day after day, he was tormenting his righteous soul over their lawless deeds that he saw and heard); then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials,[d] and to keep the unrighteous under punishment until the day of judgment, 10 and especially those who indulge[e] in the lust of defiling passion and despise authority.

 

1 Corinthians 6:19-20 (ESV)

BLCF" body is a temple for the Spirit

 

19 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, 20 for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.                                                                                

Footnotes: a. 2 Peter 2:4 Greek Tartarus b. 2 Peter 2:4 Some manuscripts pits c. 2 Peter 2:6 Some manuscripts an example to those who were to be ungodly d. 2 Peter 2:9 Or temptations e. 2 Peter 2:10 Greek who go after the flesh

 

BLCF: flood-sign

 

Let us pray…

For the Call to Worship this morning, we read a Responsive Reading, which is an abstract of Genesis, Chapters 1 and 2, as well as Psalm 33. This reading gives us an account of God’s creation, where we read that God saw His creation as being “good”.

BLCF: Adm and Eve

 

We fast forward to the Scripture verses, which describe a world where God’s creation becomes progressively corrupt. As the timeline is after Adam and Eve’s fall from Grace in the Garden of Eden, we may conclude that the root of the corruption of the human race is sin.

Because of the corruption and sin, God comments that His Spirit will not abide or contend with man forever and limits the span of human life to 120 years. In fact, God is grieved so much by the sin that He contemplates the destruction of all life, (of all flesh), upon the face of the earth. However, there remained one good man named Noah, who God judged walked a righteous path. Therefore, Noah was blameless of sin and did not deserve the judgement of death that was due to rest of sinful humanity.

 

BLCF: Noah

Our first Scripture verse comes from Genesis, Chapter 6, where the Lord instructed Noah to build an ark to preserve the remnants of good from what He had created. That good remnant consisted of Noah, Noah’s family, and the animals that God had created.

We all know the story of the Great Flood, where God rendered His judgment upon the world by a massive flood, as we see that He instructed Noah to construct an ark in Genesis 6, verses 9-22:

 

Genesis 6:9-22 (ESV) Noah and the Flood

BLCF: Genesis6_8

 

These are the generations of Noah. Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his generation. Noah walked with God. 10 And Noah had three sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth.

11 Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight, and the earth was filled with violence. 12 And God saw the earth, and behold, it was corrupt, for all flesh had corrupted their way on the earth. 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

 

BLCF: Flash Flood Watch

 

A flood can be an extremely frightening and deadly experience. Now I am not talking about the Hollywood portrayal with Russell Crowe, as Master and Commander of the ark. If you have witnessed a flash flood, as periodically occurs in the southwestern United States, you have some idea of the deadly ferocity unleashed by a sudden deluge.

I recall when I was a young boy in Texas, my younger sister, Rhona, had at the age of 3 years, had suffered a traumatic spinal injury leaving her paralyzed from the waist down. At the time, San Antonio had no rehabilitation center for young children and so Rhona was sent to Gonzales Warm Springs, a rehabilitation center was built for polio victims, who were taught ways to cope with their disabilities that included: how to use  a wheelchair, how to walk with crutches and physical recovery by way of physiotherapy.

 

BLCF: Gonzales Warm Springs

Gonzales Warm Springs, Texas

 

Because Warm Springs was over two hour round trip drive from San Antonio and my dad was working two jobs, six days a week, to help pay the medical bills, our family were only able to visit with Rhona one day a week, Sunday.

Mom and Dad tried to make our Sunday visits an enjoyable a reunion for Rhona, my other sister Penny and me possible, by planning family picnic outings to the nearby local Pimento State Park. Pimento Park, adjacent to the Warm Springs Rehabilitation Centre, had flora and fauna that was unique to the Texas region. The volcanic hot springs and sulphur pools raised the ambient temperatures from a semi-tropical to a tropical range, allowing the park to host a variety tropical plant and animal species typically found in Central America.

 

BLCF: Palmetto-SPr_U8E4159-opti

Palmetto State Park Texas Refectory

Palmetto State Park, Texas

 

Much of the park was located  well below grade, along the banks of the San Marcos River, a tributary of the Guadalupe River. Both waters merged some two miles south of the park. According to plaques and signs, most of the park’s buildings, outdoor bar-b-queue fireplaces and even park benches, which blended well with the natural park setting, were constructed from local fieldstone, by crews of the Civilian Conservation Corps, or CCC in the 1930’s. The CCC was a federal work project started by President Franklin Roosevelt to generate much needed jobs during the Great Depression. The work of the CCC included creating buildings, bridges, dams, roads, and other structures to improve the infrastructure across the United States.

 

BLCF: psp_san_marcos_luling_gonzales

Photos of Palmetto State Park, Texas:

https://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/state-parks/palmetto

However, Palmetto Park’s rustic charm and natural beauty gave way to a scene of life-threatening danger, when one Sunday, following heavy thunderstorms further north in the Texas Hill Country had generated massive flash floods on the San Marcos River. That Sunday, as our car came over a rise or hill just before the entrance to the park, instead of driving down a steep incline of some thirty feet or ten meters, dad suddenly stopped the car, with the front bumper of the vehicle located just a meter or a few feet from a raging torrent of water.

 

BLCF: flash flood

 

The San Marcos, normally a gentle stream in the park had swollen to become a fast-flowing, massive rushing river that carried large picnic tables, tree trunks and other debris across our field of view and quickly downstream.

 

BLCF: PSP Wamr Springs

 

Dad’s car was a Blue 1955 Chevy Nomad Station Wagon, equipped with a column mounted standard transmission. Even though I was six, I was well aware, from watching dad drive the Chevy, that in a matter of seconds, he needed to take his right foot off the brake pedal and move it to the gas pedal. Then with his left foot on the clutch, dad needed to shift the car into reverse gear, all simultaneously, in order to keep us from heading into the raging river, now over 60 feet deep, in front of us. A slow shift or possible engine stall would likely mean certain death. Fortunately, dad did reverse the Nomad. Otherwise, I would not be sharing this story with you.

Link to video of recent flash flood at Palmetto State Park:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GAfbF-eU2vI

BLCF: climb to safety

The quickly rising flood waters of the San Marcos River does give us some idea of the horror of the flood in Noah’s times. However, in Noah’s time, it was not just a flash flood and there was no higher ground where one could escape a watery demise. The only sanctuary or place of safety for Noah and his family was that afforded by the ark. Without the ark, all life would have been lost. As I mentioned in a previous Sunday message, the flood that God had leashed upon the earth, had reset God’s creation back to day number three, where the land was eventually parted from the waters, and the animals were created.

After the floods had receded, God promised Noah and humanity to never bring such a massive flood on a global scale, making the rainbow as a sign of His covenant or promise.

 

BLCF: noahs ark

 

The next Scripture I would like to share is 2 Pete 2, verses 4-10, which speaks of God’s casting those who have sinned against Him, including Satan and his followers, who will be cast into hell, enchained in the darkness until the time of their judgment. The passage tells of those who sinned in Noah’s time and suffered death from the flood, as well as the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. But we must take hope in those who did not follow an ungodly path and were saved from destruction, including Noah and Lot, as well as the majority of the heavenly hosts or angels who did not rebel against God.

If you look on the back of today’s bulletin, let us now read the account where God instructed Moses to build another kind of an ark, The Ark of the Covenant:

 

Exodus 25:1-16 (ESV) Contributions for the Sanctuary

BLCF: ark-of-the-covenant

 

25 The Lord said to Moses, “Speak to the people of Israel, that they take for me a contribution. From every man whose heart moves him you shall receive the contribution for me. And this is the contribution that you shall receive from them: gold, silver, and bronze, blue and purple and scarlet yarns and fine twined linen, goats’ hair, tanned rams’ skins, goatskins,[a] acacia wood, oil for the lamps, spices for the anointing oil and for the fragrant incense, onyx stones, and stones for setting, for the ephod and for the breastpiece. And let them make me a sanctuary, that I may dwell in their midst. Exactly as I show you concerning the pattern of the tabernacle, and of all its furniture, so you shall make it.

 

The Ark of the Covenant

BLCF: Exodus_25_8

1

“They shall make an ark of acacia wood. Two cubits[b] and a half shall be its length, a cubit and a half its breadth, and a cubit and a half its height. 11 You shall overlay it with pure gold, inside and outside shall you overlay it, and you shall make on it a molding of gold around it. 12 You shall cast four rings of gold for it and put them on its four feet, two rings on the one side of it, and two rings on the other side of it. 13 You shall make poles of acacia wood and overlay them with gold. 14 And you shall put the poles into the rings on the sides of the ark to carry the ark by them. 15 The poles shall remain in the rings of the ark; they shall not be taken from it. 16 And you shall put into the ark the testimony that I shall give you.

Footnotes: a. Exodus 25:5 Uncertain; possibly dolphin skins, or dugong skins; compare 26:14 b. Exodus 25:10 A cubit was about 18 inches or 45 centimeters

While Noah’s Ark provided for Noah, Noah’s family and the animals a sanctuary from a deadly worldwide flood, the Ark built by Moses served a different purpose. God had desired to have Moses construct a suitable sanctuary so that He might dwell in the midst of the people of Israel. And God instructed to place within the ark, the tablets upon which God wrote His Ten Laws or Commandments. The Ark of the Covenant would be a sanctuary for both God’s Laws and His Holy Spirit.

 

BLCF: 10_2_Commandments

 

But what is the definition of a sanctuary? Do we not call this very place of worship at Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship, a sanctuary, as well? Let us see what we mean by this term from an online dictionary:

Sanctuary sanc·tu·ar·y /ˈsæŋktʃuˌɛri/ Show Spelled [sangk-choo-er-ee] Show IPA

noun, plural sanc·tu·ar·ies.

 1. a sacred or holy place.

 2. Judaism.

a. the Biblical tabernacle or the Temple in Jerusalem.

b. the holy of holies of these places of worship.

3. an especially holy place in a temple or church.

4. the part of a church around the altar; the chancel.

5. a church or other sacred place where fugitives were formerly entitled to immunity from arrest.

Remember, just before the flood in Noah’s time, God had distanced Himself from humanity, as we read in Genesis 6, verse 3, which is printed on the bottom inside left page of your bulletin:

 

Genesis 6:1-3 (ESV)

BLCF: sin_seperates_us_from_God

 

 

Then the Lord said, “My Spirit shall not abide in[a] man forever, for he is flesh: his days shall be 120 years.”

Footnotes: a. Genesis 6:3 Or My Spirit shall not contend with

 

After the flood, we read that God sought to draw closer to His creation see in Exodus 25, verse 8:

And let them make me a sanctuary, that I may dwell in their midst.

Eventually, after the Great Flood, sin returned, driving humanity from their Creator. And even God’s presence in the Ark of the Covenant could not assure a sinless humanity. So God revealed His plan for reconciliation from sin, by dwelling in the hearts of the faithful, as we see in 1 Corinthians, Chapter 6, verses 19-20:

 

1 Corinthians 6:19-20 (ESV)

BLCF: Gods_Temple

 

19 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, 20 for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.                                                                                

Footnotes: a. 2 Peter 2:4 Greek Tartarus b. 2 Peter 2:4 Some manuscripts pits c. 2 Peter 2:6 Some manuscripts an example to those who were to be ungodly d. 2 Peter 2:9 Or temptations e. 2 Peter 2:10 Greek who go after the flesh

To conclude this morning’s message, I would like to read again from 1 Corinthians, but this time from Chapter 3, verses 10-17, which the Apostle Paul describes a new blueprint for a new temple, a new sanctuary, demonstrates God’s New Covenant through Jesus Christ. This new sanctuary, like Noah’s ark, provides life and freedom from God’s judgment of death. And like Moses’ Ark of the Covenant, all believers may keep both God’s Laws and the presence of His Holy Spirit:

 

1 Corinthians 3:10-17 (ESV)

BLCF:Cchurch_Foundation

10 According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and someone else is building upon it. Let each one take care how he builds upon it. 11 For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw— 13 each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. 14 If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. 15 If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.

16 Do you not know that you[a] are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? 17 If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.

Footnotes: a. 1 Corinthians 3:16 The Greek for you is plural in verses 16 and 17

 

BLCF: 1Corinthians_3_16

 

We read in this passage of Scripture, that the Apostle Paul explains that God has planned a way to reconcile humanity in spite of our sins. That through Christ, by our faith in his sacrifice, we may construct a Holy Temple within ourselves, suitable as a sanctuary for God’s Holy Spirit and His Law. And by way of our trust and obedience, through Jesus, we have become sanctified, living sanctuaries, within which the Holy Spirit may reside, with God’s Covenant of eternal life. Through Christ, God may no longer be absent from us as described in Genesis 6. We see now that God has returned to us, by way of His Son, Jesus Christ.

Let us pray…

Closing Hymn #40: To God Be the Glory

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

 

BLCF: Hebrews-13-5

 

 

 

 BLCF: the-Lord-your-God

 

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

BLCF: dove-holy-spirit

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

‘Grace and Assurance through the Testimony of the Blood, Water and the

Holy Spirit’

© March 16 2014 by Steve Mickelson

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 Hymn #200:The Church’s One Foundation; Choruses                                                                                                                                   

Scripture Verses: Leviticus 12:6-8; Luke 2:21-24 and John 2:13-20 

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

 

Let us pray…

For today’s lesson, 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 first two Scripture verses found in today’s bulletin, 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

BLCF: dove_ark_olive_branch

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

BLCF: Genesis1_2

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)

BLCF: CHRIST_SPIRIT

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 the) Beloved 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

BLCF: 3 testaments

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

blcf: baptism blood

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)

BLCF: JESUS_NICODEMUS

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 baptised 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 baptised in the water is meaningless and affords no assurance of eternal life in the kingdom of God. You must believe that you have been baptised 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!

Let us pray…

Closing Hymn #581: There’s a Sweet, Sweet Spirit

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.

BLCF: HOLY_TRINITY

Bluegrass Music to Feed the Homeless in the Heart of Toronto at BLCF Cafe Community Dinner

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 at:

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship- BLCF Church, 1307 Bloor Street West, Toronto, Saturday, April 26, 2014 at 7PM BLCF is located just 1 block west of the Lansdowne Station, on the south side of Bloor Street.

BLCF: 416-535-9578.

BLCF: Cup of Cold Water at BLCF Church

BLCF: A Cup of Cold WaterCofCW

BLCF: A Cup of Cold Water 2

https://www.flickr.com/search/?q=blcf+café

BLCF: COCW3@BLCF

Finding the Perfection of God’s Purpose by Way of Faith and Action

Bible Joshua Rahab River

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

‘Finding the Perfection of God’s Purpose by Way of Faith and Action’

© March 9 2014 by Steve Mickelson

BLCF: Bulletin March 9, 2014

 

BLCF:trusting_God's_will

 

Announcements and Call to Worship: Call to Worship: Responsive Reading #642

(Call to Consecration – Romans 12); Prayer

Opening Hymn #84: Come and Praise the Lord Our King (Tune of Michael Row the Boat Ashore); Choruses                                                                                                                                   

Scripture Verses: Joshua 6:2-20 and James 2:14-26

Joshua 6:2-20 (ESV)

BLCF:Joshua_Martin

And the Lord said to Joshua, “See, I have given Jericho into your hand, with its king and mighty men of valor. You shall march around the city, all the men of war going around the city once. Thus shall you do for six days. Seven priests shall bear seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark. On the seventh day you shall march around the city seven times, and the priests shall blow the trumpets. And when they make a long blast with the ram’s horn, when you hear the sound of the trumpet, then all the people shall shout with a great shout, and the wall of the city will fall down flat,[a] and the people shall go up, everyone straight before him.” So Joshua the son of Nun called the priests and said to them, “Take up the ark of the covenant and let seven priests bear seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark of the Lord.” And he said to the people, “Go forward. March around the city and let the armed men pass on before the ark of the Lord.”

BLCF:battle_of_Jericho

And just as Joshua had commanded the people, the seven priests bearing the seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the Lord went forward, blowing the trumpets, with the ark of the covenant of the Lord following them. The armed men were walking before the priests who were blowing the trumpets, and the rear guard was walking after the ark, while the trumpets blew continually. 10 But Joshua commanded the people, “You shall not shout or make your voice heard, neither shall any word go out of your mouth, until the day I tell you to shout. Then you shall shout.” 11 So he caused the ark of the Lord to circle the city, going about it once. And they came into the camp and spent the night in the camp.

12 Then Joshua rose early in the morning, and the priests took up the ark of the Lord. 13 And the seven priests bearing the seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark of the Lord walked on, and they blew the trumpets continually. And the armed men were walking before them, and the rear guard was walking after the ark of the Lord, while the trumpets blew continually. 14 And the second day they marched around the city once, and returned into the camp. So they did for six days.

JerichoWalls7Priests

15 On the seventh day they rose early, at the dawn of day, and marched around the city in the same manner seven times. It was only on that day that they marched around the city seven times. 16 And at the seventh time, when the priests had blown the trumpets, Joshua said to the people, “Shout, for the Lord has given you the city. 17 And the city and all that is within it shall be devoted to the Lord for destruction.[b] Only Rahab the prostitute and all who are with her in her house shall live, because she hid the messengers whom we sent. 18 But you, keep yourselves from the things devoted to destruction, lest when you have devoted them you take any of the devoted things and make the camp of Israel a thing for destruction and bring trouble upon it. 19 But all silver and gold, and every vessel of bronze and iron, are holy to the Lord; they shall go into the treasury of the Lord.” 20 So the people shouted, and the trumpets were blown. As soon as the people heard the sound of the trumpet, the people shouted a great shout, and the wall fell down flat, so that the people went up into the city, every man straight before him, and they captured the city.

Footnotes: a. Joshua 6:5 Hebrew under itself; also verse 20 b. Joshua 6:17 That is, set apart (devoted) as an offering to the Lord (for destruction); also verses 18, 21

 

BLCF: Women-of-Valor-Rahab          

                                                     

Let us pray…

 

A short while ago, Sophie and I watched a television broadcast of the 2010 of the Karate Kid movie.  This remake had some script changes from the earlier version of the movie starring Jadan Smith, as the student, and Jackie Chan playing the teacher.

BLCF: wax on, wax off

Instead of the teacher waxing a car, remember the “Wax on, wax off” routine of the original film, the Jack Chan character has the Jaden Smith, repeatedly, doing a routine of:   “throwing the jacket to the ground, then picking the jacket up, next hanging the jacket up on a peg mounted on a pole, and ending with taking the jacket off the peg to put on the jacket”.

Both routines, though different, show how repeating seemingly mundane routine actions, gave each respective student a muscle memory routine, that taught attention to detail, obedience to the teacher, self-discipline, focus and trust, while he learned a skill- set beyond actions.

BLCF: Jaden_Smith_Jackie_Chan_Karate_Kid

The first of today’s two Scripture verses could have us, initially, questioning: why did the Lord have Joshua, along with seven priests and all of his men, repeat the routine of marching around the city of Jericho seven times, on seven days. On each of the first six days, all were silent, save for the blowing of their horn trumpets as they marched. And on the seventh and final day, the routine was repeated again, not once but seven times and on the completion of the seventh and final circuit, those assembled would “shout for the Lord.” And after they shouted, the city walls of Jericho were destroyed.

The only people of Jericho to survive were those in the household of Rahab, a prostitute who gave shelter and safety to messengers that were sent by the Lord.

BLCF:Rahab

Some of you may recall a message that I shared here at BLCF a few years ago about the healing of Naaman, a Gentile, who was Commander of the army of the King of Syria. Naaman was afflicted with Leprosy, is described in the fifth chapter of 2 Kings. A servant girl who was captured from the people of Israel and served in commander’s household told the Commander’s wife that she believed that the God of Israel could heal Naaman of Leprosy.

BLCF: servant_speaks_to_Naaman's_Wife

Elisha, a prophet of Israel, refused to touch, anoint, touch or even speak to Naaman, instead sending a servant to deliver a letter, instructing the Syrian Commander to wash himself in the Jordan River seven times.

Initially, Naaman was infuriated that Elisha had refused an audience with him and that he was told to bathe in the Jordan River instead of a river in Syria, so he stormed away. But Naaman was convinced by his servants that Elisha was a  mighty prophet of God, reminding their master that he was promised to be healed, if he followed Elisha’s directions. Eventually, Naaman did follow the instructions and was completely healed of his affliction.

BLCF: 2Kings5

 

We see with both actions, one which destroyed Jericho and the other, being the healing of an affliction, are examples of how God rewards obedience and faith. It is interesting to note that Joshua and Naaman, each, were instructed to repeat an action seven times.  Fortunately, both Joshua and Naaman did not quit after completing only six repetitions, electing instead to faithfully follow their instructions to the end. In both accounts, we see how the repetition of seemingly insignificant actions such as marching in circles or bathing in a river, can have miraculous consequences when God is involved. And also interesting is how God’s Glory is revealed through the faith demonstrated by a servant girl and a prostitute. How marvelous that a leper, who does not have the birthright of the people of Israel, may receive God’s blessing for actions that demonstrate a faith and trust in the Lord!

But why were Joshua and Naaman instructed to repeat their action seven times? After all, would doing such action one time be enough to satisfy God? Is there any significance to seven repetitions asked of Naaman and Joshua? To understand the significance of the number 7 in the Holy Scriptures, let us look to an excerpt from biblestudy.org:

 

What does the word for 7 mean in Hebrew? (From: biblestudy.org)

BLCF: Seven in the Bible

But now turning to the number 7, we must first consider the meaning of the word.

In the Hebrew, 7 is shevah. It is from the root savah, to be full or satisfied, have enough of. Hence the meaning of the word “seven” is dominated by this root, for on the seventh day God rested from the work of Creation. It was full and complete, and good and perfect. Nothing could be added to it or taken from it without marring it. Hence the word Shavath, to cease, desist, rest, and Shabbath, Sabbath, or day of rest.

It is 7, therefore, that stamp with perfection and completeness that in connection with which it is used. Of time, it tells of the Sabbath, and marks off the week of seven days, which, artificial as it may seem to be, is universal and immemorial in its observance amongst all nations and in all times. It tells of that eternal Sabbath-keeping which remains for the people of God in all its everlasting perfection.

In the creative works of God, seven completes the colors of the spectrum and rainbow, and satisfies in music the notes of the scale. In each of these the eighth is only a repetition of the first.

Another meaning of the root Shavagh is to swear, or make an oath.

  God gave a seven-fold blessing to Abraham:          

                    Seven-fold blessing Abraham received from God

BLCF: God's Promises to Abraham

Abraham’s seven-fold blessing in Genesis 12:2, 3: –

“I will make of thee a great nation,
And I will bless thee,
And make thy name great;
And thou shalt be a blessing;
And I will bless them that bless thee,
And curse him that curseth thee:
And in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.”

And aside from those accounts we have just read, courtesy of boblestudy.com,  we see the Psalmist describing the Lord’s words being pure as silver that has been refined in a furnace seven times. When God speaks, it is often not just words, but by His promises:

Psalm 12:6 (ESV)

BLCF: Covenant_through_Christ

The words of the Lord are pure words, like silver refined in a furnace on the ground, purified seven times.

While the ESV translation talks of the “words” of God, the CEV translates Psalm 12:6 it more powerfully as “promises” of God:

Psalm 12:6 (CEV)

Our Lord, you are true to your promises, and your word is like silver
heated seven times in a fiery furnace.[a]

Footnotes: a. 12.6 in a fiery furnace: The Hebrew text has “in a furnace to the ground,” which may describe part of a process for refining silver in Old Testament times

BLCF: God's_Promises_New_Covenant

God’s promises include His Covenant, which He made with Israel:

What was God’s 7 part Covenant with Israel?

God’s seven-fold covenant with Israel in Exodus 6:6-8. 7 times does the expression, “I will” occur in these few verses, stamping the whole with spiritual perfection. These are preceded by “I have” three times repeated (verses 4,5), giving the Divine basis on which the blessing was based.

I have established My covenant with them, etc.
I have also heard their groaning, etc.
I have remembered My covenant.

Then follows the seven-fold blessing: –

I will bring you out from Egypt.
I will rid you of their bondage.
I will redeem you.
I will take you to Me for a people.
I will be to you a God.
I will bring you in unto the land.
I will give it you.

BLCF: MiraclesofJesusChrist

 

And the number seven has relevance found in the seven miracles described in John’s gospel of the New Testament:

What are the 7 miracles written about in the gospel of John?

  • The      water turned into wine. (John 2:9)
  • Healing      of the nobleman’s son. (John 4:47)
  • Healing      of crippled man at the pool of Bethesda. (John 5:4-9)
  • The      feeding of 5,000 people from only five loaves of bread and two fishes.      (John 6:10)
  • Healing      of the man born blind. (John 9:1)
  • The      raising of Lazarus from the dead. (John 11:43)
  • The      catching of 153 fishes by some of the disciples. (John 21:6)

These formed the spiritual perfection of the “signs” that Jesus was the Christ.

BLCF:Jesus'_miracles

And then there are the seven miracles performed by Jesus on the SABBATH:

What were the 7 miracles Jesus performed on the SABBATH?

Seven miracles wrought by Christ on the Sabbath day: –

  1. 1.     The withered hand, Matthew 12:9.
  2. 2.     The unclean spirit, Mark 1:21.
  3. 3.     Peter’s wife’s mother, Mark 1:29.
  4. 4.     The woman, Luke 13:11.
  5. 5.     The man with dropsy, Luke 14:2.
  6. 6.     The impotent man, John 5:8,9.
  7. 7.     The man born blind, John 9:14.

http://www.biblestudy.org/bibleref/meaning-of-numbers-in-bible/7.html

But even though the Scriptures indicate that the number seven is significant, it is the combination of faith and action that is important. So in the accounts of Joshua and  Naaman, which is more important, the action or the faith? James indicates that both are important:

James 2:14-26 (ESV) Faith Without Works Is Dead

BLCF: faith and work together

14 What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good[a] is that? 17 So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.

BLCF: unbalanced

18 But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. 19 You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder! 20 Do you want to be shown, you foolish person, that faith apart from works is useless? 21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar? 22 You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works; 23 and the Scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”—and he was called a friend of God. 24 You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone. 25 And in the same way was not also Rahab the prostitute justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way? 26 For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead.

Footnotes: a. James 2:16 Or benefit

BLCF: balanced

We see that James not only acknowledges the faith of the prostitute Rahab in James 2:25, but her actions to protect the messengers, as well. We are told that neither faith nor works may exist alone. Together, we have the two working in harmony as a complete expression of our belief and trust in God, and to fulfill Scripture. That faith without action is dead and action without faith is dead. Both are important to God, and either alone is meaningless to Him.

It is through actions performed by faith in God that we receive steadfastness by way of the Holy Spirit, which like God’s number seven, is perfect and complete, lacking nothing:

BLCF: trials

James 1:2-4 (ESV) Testing of Your Faith

Count it all joy, my brothers,[a] when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

Footnotes: a. James 1:2 Or brothers and sisters. The plural Greek word adelphoi (translated “brothers”) refers to siblings in a family. In New Testament usage, depending on the context, adelphoi may refer either to men or to both men and women who are siblings (brothers and sisters) in God’s family, the church; also verses 16, 19

And in our faith walk, may we look to Christ, as a perfect example for us to follow in order to receive hope,  endurance and encouragement, to preach the gospel of Christ and glorify all that God provides:

Romans 15:1-7 (ESV) The Example of Christ

BLCF: Jesus-example

15 We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. For Christ did not please himself, but as it is written, “The reproaches of those who reproached you fell on me.” For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. 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. Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.

BLCF Christ_among_people_e_wang

Let us pray…

Closing Hymn #225: Standing on the Promises

Benediction – (Romans 15:4): For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.

BLCF: HOPE

Christ’s Church: It Speaks Boldly and Believes with Unity of Heart and Soul

jesusimage

 

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

Christ’s Church: It Speaks Boldly and Believes with Unity of Heart and Soul’

©March 2 2014 by Steve Mickelson

BLCF: Bulletin March 2, 2014

 

Announcements and Call to Worship: Call to Worship: Responsive Reading #634

(Christian Unity – John 10 and 17, 1 Corinthians 12, Ephesians 4); r of Prayer); Prayer

Opening Hymn #171: Thine Is the Glory, Risen, Conquering Son; Choruses

Scripture Verses: Exodus 32:21-24 and Acts 4:23-33   

    BLCF:1_Corinthians_12_13        

                                                           

Let us pray…

“The devil made me do it.” Any of us who lived through the 1970’s may recall the comedian Flip Wilson, who coined this popular catch phrase used whereby any mistake would be blamed upon the devil.

Psychologist use the term “projection” for a form of denial of the truth, by placing the blame or responsibility for an unacceptable attribute(s) upon others.

Here is our Wikibits explanation of the term:

Psychological projection was conceptualized by Sigmund Freud (6 May 1856 – 23 September 1939) in the 1900s as a defense mechanism in which a person unconsciously rejects his or her own unacceptable attributes by ascribing them to objects or persons in the outside world.[1] For example, a person who is rude may accuse other people of being rude.

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

 BLCF: Flip-Wilson-Superstar

As to what may have inspired Flip Wilson in blaming the devil for actions or words which might offend others, we see this phrase strikes a harmonic chord among those familiar with the Scriptures. There are numerous examples in the Bible, which describe an individual attributing sinful or evil behaviour as being the fault of others. I have listed a few of the more familiar one in today’s bulletin.

The first example comes from the Book of Genesis, Chapter 3, verses 11-13:

Genesis 3:11-13 (ESV)

garden-of-eden

11 He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” 12 The man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.” 13 Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this that you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”

BLCF:Masaccio_Adam_and_Eve

God finds Adam and Eve have covered their nakedness, and asks: “Who told you that you were naked?” Such awareness could only come from eating from the forbidden fruit of the “Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.”

Adam blames Eve, and even God for giving him Eve to be with him, by replying: “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate”, also implying innocence on his part. If you read Genesis, Chapter 3, you will see that Adam was present when the devil, disguised as a serpent, and tempted Eve with eating the forbidden fruit by saying in doing so she would become wise as God. Adam heard the whole conversation between Eve and the devil, and knew that the fruit that Eve had given was from the tree that God said was forbidden to eat.

And when God asks Eve, “What have you done?” we see that Eve responds, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” In other words, “The devil made me do it.” Both Adam and Eve gave responses which betrayed their sin, since they had acquired an awareness of right and wrong, by the clothes they now felt compelled to wear, and by the blaming others for their transgression.

Our second example comes from Genesis, Chapter 4, where Cain, jealous over his brother, Abel’s offerings to God, slays him:

Genesis 4:9-11 (ESV)

BLCF: cain-and-abell

Then the Lord said to Cain, “Where is Abel your brother?” He said, “I do not know; am I my brother’s keeper?” 10 And the Lord said, “What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood is crying to me from the ground. 11 And now you are cursed from the ground, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand.

Again, we see this sinful tendency in humanity demonstrated by the actions of Cain, who after killing his brother, hid from God and then falsely told God that he does not know where Abel is. He even makes the sarcastic rhetorical response to the Lord, “Am I my brother’s keeper?”

Our third example comes from Exodus, Chapter 32, verses 21-24, when Aaron tries to blame his actions of first blaming “the people”, indicating that “they are set on evil.”

Exodus 32:21-24 (ESV)

BLCF: chagall golden calf

21 And Moses said to Aaron, “What did this people do to you that you have brought such a great sin upon them?” 22 And Aaron said, “Let not the anger of my lord burn hot. You know the people, that they are set on evil. 23 For they said to me, ‘Make us gods who shall go before us. As for this Moses, the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.’ 24 So I said to them, ‘Let any who have gold take it off.’ So they gave it to me, and I threw it into the fire, and out came this calf.”

Aaron does not acknowledge the sin or his involvement, indicating that “evil people made me do it.” Sounds a little like: “The devil made me do it.”

What make matters worse after committing, is to blame sinful behaviour upon someone else. Now we have two sins to confess: the initial sin and then the bearing false witness by blaming the sin someone else, even as n the case of Adam and Eve, the devil did his best to induce them into sin.

God not only wants us to avoid sin, but when sin happens to confess and acknowledge our sins. Remember, God has already projected the guilt of our sins upon His Son, Jesus, who paid the penalty for those sins, with his life. In effect, we have no excuse to not confess our sins.

And as in the account of the golden calf, God wants us to acknowledge Him for what he provides, whether it is freedom from slavery under Pharaoh in Egypt or the gifts of the Spirit. By acknowledging the powers and gifts we receive from God, particularly through Jesus Christ: salvation, sanctification, the Holy Spirit, and the promise of eternal life, we are drawn closer to Him..

By accepting Jesus’ gift of the Holy Spirit, believers become united through the Spirit into a “body of believers.”

BLCF: the-body-of-Christ

An account that is in contrast the above accounts of sinners compounding their sinful behaviour by denying God’s authority and not confessing their sins,  is that involving  the apostles, Peter and John,   who used faith and the Spirit’s power to  heal a lame beggar, as described in Acts Chapter 3, verses 1-16:

Acts 3:1-16 (ESV) The Lame Beggar Healed

BLCF: Peter-heals-lame-beggar

3 Now Peter and John were going up to the temple at the hour of prayer, the ninth hour.[a] And a man lame from birth was being carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple that is called the Beautiful Gate to ask alms of those entering the temple. Seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple, he asked to receive alms. And Peter directed his gaze at him, as did John, and said, “Look at us.” And he fixed his attention on them, expecting to receive something from them. But Peter said, “I have no silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk!” And he took him by the right hand and raised him up, and immediately his feet and ankles were made strong. And leaping up he stood and began to walk, and entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God. And all the people saw him walking and praising God, 10 and recognized him as the one who sat at the Beautiful Gate of the temple, asking for alms. And they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.

Peter Speaks in Solomon’s Portico

BLCF: Solomon's_porch

11 While he clung to Peter and John, all the people, utterly astounded, ran together to them in the portico called Solomon’s. 12 And when Peter saw it he addressed the people: “Men of Israel, why do you wonder at this, or why do you stare at us, as though by our own power or piety we have made him walk? 13 The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, the God of our fathers, glorified his servant[b] Jesus, whom you delivered over and denied in the presence of Pilate, when he had decided to release him. 14 But you denied the Holy and Righteous One, and asked for a murderer to be granted to you, 15 and you killed the Author of life, whom God raised from the dead. To this we are witnesses. 16 And his name—by faith in his name—has made this man strong whom you see and know, and the faith that is through Jesus[c] has given the man this perfect health in the presence of you all.

Footnotes: a. Acts 3:1 That is, 3 p.m. b. Acts 3:13 Or child; also verse 26 c. Acts 3:16 Greek him

BLCF:Holy-Spirit-as-power

Not only is the healing by faith and through the power of the Holy Spirit, but it allows the lame man to join with the body of worshippers inside the temple. You see, in those times anyone with a physical impairment was not permitted to enter the temple, as their impairment was considered God’s punishment for a sin by the individual or by his or her ancestors. The beggar, having been healed of his affliction, is for the first time in his life to enter the temple and join the body of the church or body of believers and to worship inside the temple. Christ intended for all people to worship together in a unified Spirit, regardless of  their physical condition. For through Christ, all who believe and confess become acceptable unto God and become a part of His church.

BLCF: Ephesians_4-6

This healing, as well as others, where the disciples acknowledged  the resurrected Christ as Lord, by whom they had been given the power of the Holy Spirit, had angered the leaders of the temple,  resulting in the arrests of Peter and John not once, but twice!  On one occasion, the two are freed by the words of Peter as he is guided by the Spirit. And the second occasion, John and Peter are freed from prison by an angel of God, who instructs them to continue sharing the Lord’s gospel.

BLCF: acts-4_20

After the two arrests, we see that the disciples pray not for their personal safety, but for the Spirit’s guidance and influence for courage to continue to praise and glorify God, and to acknowledge the gifts through his Son, Jesus. Acts, Chapter 4, verses 23-33:

Acts 4:23-33 (ESV) The Believers Pray for Boldness

BLCF: praying-hands

23 When they were released, they went to their friends and reported what the chief priests and the elders had said to them. 24 And when they heard it, they lifted their voices together to God and said, “Sovereign Lord, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and everything in them, 25 who through the mouth of our father David, your servant,[a] said by the Holy Spirit,

“‘Why did the Gentiles rage,
and the peoples plot in vain?
26 The kings of the earth set themselves,
and the rulers were gathered together,
against the Lord and against his Anointed’[
b]

27 for truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, 28 to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place. 29 And now, Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servants[c] to continue to speak your word with all boldness, 30 while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” 31 And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness.

BLCF: United by the Holy Spirit

They Had Everything in Common

BLCF: the-spirit-charles-hodge

32 Now the full number of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of the things that belonged to him was his own, but they had everything in common. 33 And with great power the apostles were giving their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all.

Footnotes: a. Acts 4:25 Or child; also verses 27, 30 b. Acts 4:26 Or Christ c. Acts 4:29 Greek bondservants

BLCF: Exodus-32

We see a choice between two contrasting paths that we may take.

One choice is to be like Adam, Eve, Cain and Aaron, is to drift away from God towards sin and then make matters worse by not confessing those sins, instead placing blame on others.

BLCF: Acts_3_19

The other choice is to draw closer to God, by confessing our sins and then accepting God’s path for forgiveness through Jesus Christ. Then, we may pray that the Spirit will give us the courage to boldly witness the gospel of Jesus unto the ends of the world, which is our Commission as believers in the Resurrected Christ. For just in the days of Adam and Eve, Cain and Aron, and the disciples of Christ, we see that those without faith exhibit a Godlessness in their behaviour, 2 Timothy, Chapter 3, verses 1-5:

2 Timothy 3:1-5 (ESV) Godlessness in the Last Days

BLCF: worldliness

3 But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.

BLCF: God's One Way

We should avoid the influence of Godlessness people, but we should be bold in our courage to witness the gospel of Jesus, for the sake of their salvation. Let us pray to God, as a body of the church of believers, united in Spirit, for a unity of purpose and boldness of Spirit, in the name of Christ Jesus, our Lord and Saviour.

Let us pray…

Closing Hymn #204: There’s a Quiet Understanding

BLCF:Communion_Remember_Me

Communion: Responsive Reading #626 (The Last Supper – Mark 14)

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.

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