Volunteer For The Holidays And Help The Homeless Right In The Heart Of Toronto

Volunteers, (individuals or groups), are needed to help at the BLCF Cafe Community Dinner, a weekly dinner that feeds over 150 homeless and marginalized people, every Wednesday Evening. Relying on fundraisers and private donations, BLCF Cafe receives neither government grants nor corporate sponsorship. BLCF Cafe does rely on the dedication of volunteers to serve over 7,500 dinners, annually.
Volunteers serve each guest a wholesome dinner, with dignity and respect. If you are able, why not  contribute a couple of hours of your time for a great cause? You will be glad you did, when you see the smiles on the faces of the people we serve.
 
For more information: Contact Sophie Mickelson at blcfcafe@yahoo.ca 416-535-9578 see us on facebook under BLCF Cafe: BLCF Cafe Facebook Link or our BLOG: BLCF Cafe BLOG. BLCF Cafe Community Dinner was established in January 2008 by, and is operated under, the auspices of,  Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church: BLCF Church Web Page
Last year Christmas Day and New Year’s Day both came on Wednesday, so we served lunch at the café from 1PM until 3PM. This year Christmas Eve and New Years Eve fall on Wednesday, so we plan to serve luncheon on those days as well.Prior to and after Christmas Eve and New Years Eve, the BLCF Cafe will serve dinner at the usual time of 6-8PM.

We would be happy to have you or your group help as a volunteer at the BLCF Cafe. Our volunteers help at various times of the day between 12PM and 8:30PM and help in all aspects of running the dinner, from food preparation, serving, setting up tables and chairs, and clean up.

To find out how you or your group may help the cause of feeding the homeless and marginalized right in the heart of Toronto, please contact us at BLCF on any Wednesday anytime after 12:00PM and before 5:00PM. Or call and leave a message.Please use the side door, as we do not open the front doors until after 6PM and we need our volunteers to arrive by 5:30PM to be briefed before we serve dinner.

Sophie Mickelson

Director/Coordinator BLCF Cafe Community Dinner

416-535-9578

Charity Village Link for Info: Volunteer Detail

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Preparing a Dwelling Place for God

 BLCF: Christ

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:            

Preparing a Dwelling Place for God’

© November 23, 2014 by Steve Mickelson

BLCF: Bulletin November 23, 2014

BLCF: Ephesians_2_19-22

Announcements and Call to Worship:

Responsive Reading #620 (The Church – from Matthew 16, Ephesians 5 and 2, 1 Corinthians 12, Colossians 1); Prayer                                    

Opening Hymn #199: Brethren, We Have Met to Worship http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fbs9PhxeOCs; Choruses                                                   

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

Scripture Verses: 1 Corinthians 12:12-31, Ephesians 2:19-22

 BLCF: Christs-church-jax-fl

 1 Corinthians 12:12-31 (ESV) One Body with Many Members

12 For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves[a] or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit.

14 For the body does not consist of one member but of many. 15 If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? 18 But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. 19 If all were a single member, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts,[b] yet one body.

21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” 22 On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and on those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty, 24 which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, 25 that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. 26 If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.

27 Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. 28 And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, helping, administrating, and various kinds of tongues. 29 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? 30 Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret? 31 But earnestly desire the higher gifts.

And I will show you a still more excellent way.

Footnotes: a. 1 Corinthians 12:13 Or servants; Greek bondservants b. 1 Corinthians 12:20 Or members; also verse 22

BLCF: Christ_chief_cornerstone

Ephesians 2:19-22 (ESV)

19 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens,[a] but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, 21 in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. 22 In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by[b] the Spirit.

Footnotes: a. Ephesians 2:19 Or sojourners   b. Ephesians 2:22 Or in

Let us pray…

Welcome to Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship. And though most of you know your neighbors, I would like to invite each of you to take a moment to participate in the old tradition of shaking hands and saying hello to your neighbor, and become reacquainted with God’s Church in the heart of Toronto. His local church is composed of the body of believers, not the wood, brick and mortar that make up the building at 1307 Bloor Street West.

Now that we have reacquainted ourselves with the local church, let us begin today’s lesson, which is about God’s church. Let us first look at the word church, its definition and origins. For this, we shall look at Strong’s Concordance and find the following:

The English word “church” comes from the Greek word kyriakos, “belonging to the Lord” (kyrios). 1577 /ekklēsía (“church”) is the root of the terms “ecclesiology” and “ecclesiastical.”]

ekklésia: an assembly, a (religious) congregation

Original Word: ἐκκλησία, ας, ἡ Part of Speech: Noun, Feminine Transliteration: ekklésia Phonetic Spelling: (ek-klay-see’-ah) Short Definition: an assembly, congregation, church Definition: an assembly, congregation, church; the Church, the whole body of Christian believers.

1577 ekklēsía(from 1537 /ek, “out from and to” and 2564 /kaléō, “to call”) – properly, people called out from the world and to God, the outcome being the Church (the mystical body of Christ) – i.e. the universal (total) body of believers whom God calls out from the world and into His eternal kingdom.

http://biblehub.com/greek/1577.htm

This body of Christian believers is an assembly or congregation of believers, who when combined together comprise God’s church. The two Scripture verses read just before the message today describe the body of the church being composed of parts or members, which are of equal importance, with even those parts which seem to be weaker are indispensable to God’s purpose. And that the body needs all of its parts working in harmony, fulfilling His plan as one unified body.

This Scripture passage is summarized by the verses found at beginning and end 1 Corinthians 12:12-13, 27-32 (ESV): 

BLCF: Christ Church

12 For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit.

27 Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. 28 And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, helping, administrating, and various kinds of tongues. 29 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? 30 Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret? 31 But earnestly desire the higher gifts.

And I will show you a still more excellent way.

Together, as a body of believers, we are baptized into one body by God’s Holy Spirit. Remember no part of function of the church body that to God, no individual position is of greater importance than the others.  Remember the Lord stressed the importance of humility, when he washed the feet of his disciples, which applies to the work of the apostles in the church. If we were to read the next chapter of Ephesians, we would see that the “more excellent way” is love, 1 Corinthians 13  (ESV):

BLCF: heart-of-Jesus

 The Way of Love

13 If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned,[a] but have not love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;[b] it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. 11 When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. 12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.

13 So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

Footnotes: a. 1 Corinthians 13:3 Some manuscripts deliver up my body [to death] that I may boast b. 1 Corinthians 13:5 Greek irritable and does not count up wrongdoing

The body of believers, which is God’s church, is unified, functions and is expressed by love, which is the love of Christ.

The Bible gives us another description of the Lord’s unconditional love in Ephesians 5:28-32 (ESV):

28 In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, 30 because we are members of his body. 31 “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” 32 This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.

Christ functions as the cornerstone of his church which has as its foundation  Peter and the other disciples, held together by the mortar of the Holy Spirit,  infused with Christian love, as we read in Matthew 16:16-18 (ESV):

BLCF: the-church-of-the-lord-jesus-christ-2-638

16 Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” 17 And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. 18 And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock[a] I will build my church, and the gates of hell[b] shall not prevail against it.                                                                                                                   

Footnotes: a. Matthew 16:18 The Greek words for Peter and rock sound similar b. Matthew 16:18 Greek the gates of Hades

With Peter as the foundation for God’s church, you may recall that Jesus is its cornerstone, from today’s second Scripture passage from Ephesians 2:19-22 (ESV):

19 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, 21 in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. 22 In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.

The Apostle Paul, in his letters to the various churches, being Christ’s followers, acknowledges the expressions of unconditional love demonstrated by various individuals who worked together for the betterment of the church, as we read in his personal Greetings expressed in Romans 16:1-15 (ESV):

 Personal Greetings

BLCF: 1_Corinthians_12_27

16 I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a servant[a] of the church at Cenchreae, that you may welcome her in the Lord in a way worthy of the saints, and help her in whatever she may need from you, for she has been a patron of many and of myself as well.

Greet Prisca and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus, who risked their necks for my life, to whom not only I give thanks but all the churches of the Gentiles give thanks as well. Greet also the church in their house. Greet my beloved Epaenetus, who was the first convert[b] to Christ in Asia. Greet Mary, who has worked hard for you. Greet Andronicus and Junia,[c] my kinsmen and my fellow prisoners. They are well known to the apostles,[d] and they were in Christ before me. Greet Ampliatus, my beloved in the Lord. Greet Urbanus, our fellow worker in Christ, and my beloved Stachys. 10 Greet Apelles, who is approved in Christ. Greet those who belong to the family of Aristobulus. 11 Greet my kinsman Herodion. Greet those in the Lord who belong to the family of Narcissus. 12 Greet those workers in the Lord, Tryphaena and Tryphosa. Greet the beloved Persis, who has worked hard in the Lord. 13 Greet Rufus, chosen in the Lord; also his mother, who has been a mother to me as well. 14 Greet Asyncritus, Phlegon, Hermes, Patrobas, Hermas, and the brothers[e] who are with them. 15 Greet Philologus, Julia, Nereus and his sister, and Olympas, and all the saints who are with them.                                                                                

Footnotes: a. Romans 16:1 Or deaconess b. Romans 16:5 Greek firstfruit c. Romans 16:7 Or Junias d. Romans 16:7 Or messengers e. Romans 16:14 Or brothers and sisters; also verse 17

But how do we as members of Christ’s Church discern and understand God’s purpose for the church? It is by way of the Holy Spirit that we may be enlightened in the knowledge of why we are called and how we may best fulfill God’s purpose to prepare the church as a dwelling place for God, to His glory, as we see in Ephesians 1:

BLCF: the_church_is

Ephesians 1:15-23 (ESV) Thanksgiving and Prayer

15 For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love[a] toward all the saints, 16 I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, 17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, 18 having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might 20 that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. 22 And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.

Footnotes: a. Ephesians 1:15 Some manuscripts omit your love

We, at Bloor Lansdowne Christ Fellowship, receive as Christ’s Church a New Covenant, which is: the gift of salvation, the promise of the resurrection, and the guidance of the Holy Spirit – all through Christ Jesus, who fulfilled God’s plan, as an expression of His Way, the Way of God’s love.

Let us pray…

Closing Hymn #208: There’s a Church within Us, O Lord 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QktIufwCC9A                                                                   

Benediction – (Colossians 3:15): And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.

BLCF: Christ-head-of-church-body

Stewards of God’s Treasure

BLCF: Luke-12-34

 Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

Stewards of God’s Treasure’ 

© November 16, 2014 by Steve Mickelson

Updated Message Originally Shared at BLCF Sunday September 6, 2009

BLCF: Bulletin November 16, 2014

BLCF: who_do_you_serve

Announcements and Call to Worship: Responsive Reading #600 (Christian Stewardship – from Psalms 24 and 50, Haggai 2, Leviticus 27, Proverbs 3, Malachi 3, Matthew 22, 2 Corinthians 9, 1 Peter4); Prayer                             

Opening Hymn #512 Lord, Whose Love Through Humble Service; Choruses                                                                                                                             

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

Scripture Verses: Luke 16:1-13, 1 Corinthians 2:14 , Acts 20:28-32

BLCF: integrity

 Let us pray…

Welcome to Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship on this, the third Sunday of November, 2014.

Before we begin today’s lesson, I would like to make a brief comment about a testimony shared just after Margaret’s message last Wednesday at our weekly community dinner which we serve here, in the heart of Toronto. One of our diners asked to share a testimony with everyone. This woman, whose name I leave anonymous, a single mother and her son were both regular attendees to the BLCF Café for at least six years. Her son, now about eight years of age, virtually grew up with us at the dinner; often playing rhythm with Terry as he played the guitar during the meal. Her testimony was to thank all the volunteers who provided meals, bread, clothing, care, and fellowship for both her and son in the safe and friendly space of the café.

Not being in her circumstance, we would never know how important the café became for her, as she found normalcy and joy at a time in life where she faced protracted financial and social challenges. She arrived at to the café at the time when we share the testimony and message with guests and volunteers, and shared the good news, that after years of unemployment, part time jobs and temporary employment, she had just landed a good job, with normal hours, so that she would have the means and time to prepare regular dinners for herself and her son at home.

Unless we have experienced the challenges of the homeless or working poor, we will never fully appreciate how important the financial security that comes from a regular job and paycheque, especially when raising a child.

BLCF_Cafe.

There are times when cynics ask why does the church instead of “wasting” funds on a community dinner, instead, spend those funds on new carpeting, updating the sanctuary with new lighting fixtures, and hire professional musicians? Or why not use café funds to make and serve smoothies and cappuccinos to the congregation after our service?

If you could see the joy and appreciation expressed on both the face and by the words of this woman Wednesday, you would know where the Lord expects us, as a church to place as our priority, which is to honour Christ by taking care of the least of our brothers and sisters. This woman could not afford to buy a loaf of bread for her son, let alone an ice cream treat from the local parlour.

I do not know which is sadder; someone who walks the streets of Toronto and is oblivious that such a need exists, or worse, does know and chooses to do nothing about it!

This was not the first testimony shared by a café guest at BLCF, who has given testimony of a restoration of dignity and spirit by the unconditional love of Christ shared every Wednesday at the BLCF Café. This January will mark the BLCF Cafe’s seventh anniversary. At an average of 150 per week, I calculate that some 7,500 guests pass through our doors annually. And with 15-20 volunteers, that is another 750. That is over 8,000 ministered to in a year! Obviously, this is where the Lord expects the church, which after all is the people of Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship, to invest their time and money.

By the way, Christmas Eve and New Years Eve both happen to fall on a Wednesday this year and we plan to serve Holiday Lunch instead of Dinner at the café, as we had done last Christmas Day and New Years Day, (which were also on a Wednesday). So if you are interested and available to volunteer to help at the café on either Christmas Eve or New Years Eve, please give Sophie a call at 416-535-9578 or at blcfcafe@yahoo.ca.

As far as the cynics are concerned, the Good Book says in 1 Corinthians 2:14 (ESV):

14 The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.

BLCF: 1Corinthians_2_14-NonChristiansCantUnderstand

Now back to today’s lesson.

A wise man once said: “It takes a lot of hard work to make a dream reality. It’s a lot easier to make a dream a delusion.” This is quite a profound statement. But what is meant by the statement: “It takes a lot of hard work to make a dream reality. It’s a lot easier to make a dream a delusion”, especially with respect our faith, our walk with Jesus?

To begin today’s lesson, let me share with you a World War II story.  There was wine steward who was responsible for caring for the finest collection of wine in all of Europe, the wine cellar at the Prince’s Palace of Monaco.  At that time in history, the palace was well known for its vintage, rare wines.  But the Nazis had overrun the city and now lived and dined in the palace, expecting and wanting to drink the world’s finest vintage wines.  The wine steward resented the invading soldiers, so he cleverly and carefully hid all the rarest wines deep in the cellar   choosing to serve his enemy only the cheapest and youngest wines, while pretending that those wines were the best.

Though the steward acted with the best of intentions by deceiving his “guests” in order to preserve that what he was entrusted with, he committed the sin of bearing false witness, albeit to his enemies.

The Prince's Palace in 1890

The Prince’s Palace of Monaco

But do the ends justify the means, and what is meant by the term “steward”?

Let us answer the latter first. From merriam-webster.com, we have the following definitions of a steward:

1stew·ard – noun \ˈstü-ərd, ˈstyü-; ˈst(y)u̇rd\

1:  one employed in a large household or estate to manage domestic concerns (as the supervision of servants, collection of rents, and keeping of accounts)

2:  shop steward

3:  a fiscal agent

4a :  an employee on a ship, airplane, bus, or train who manages the provisioning of food and attends passengers

b :  one appointed to supervise the provision and distribution of food and drink in an institution

5:  one who actively directs affairs :  manager

                      http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/steward

BLCF: Stewardship_at_BLCF_Cafe

As Sophie is Director and Manager of the BLCF Café Community Dinner, and by definition is a Steward of the community dinner, a job which she does faithfully and with great integrity. Here is another definition for a steward:

 Stewards are people who care for precious people and property that is not their own, often preserving it from disaster.

This brings us to The Parable of the Dishonest Manager, from the sixteenth chapter of Luke’s Gospel, Luke 16:1-13 (ESV):

The Parable of the Dishonest Manager

BLCF: stewardship-account

1He also said to the disciples, “There was a rich man who had a manager, and charges were brought to him that this man was wasting his possessions. 2And he called him and said to him, ‘What is this that I hear about you? Turn in the account of your management, for you can no longer be manager.’ 3And the manager said to himself, ‘What shall I do, since my master is taking the management away from me? I am not strong enough to dig, and I am ashamed to beg. 4I have decided what to do, so that when I am removed from management, people may receive me into their houses.’ 5So, summoning his master’s debtors one by one, he said to the first, ‘How much do you owe my master?’ 6He said, ‘A hundred measures of oil.’ He said to him, ‘Take your bill, and sit down quickly and write fifty.’ 7Then he said to another, ‘And how much do you owe?’ He said, ‘A hundred measures of wheat.’ He said to him, ‘Take your bill, and write eighty.’ 8The master commended the dishonest manager for his shrewdness. For the sons of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own generation than the sons of light. 9And I tell you, make friends for yourselves by means of unrighteous wealth, so that when it fails they may receive you into the eternal dwellings.

 10 “One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much. 11If then you have not been faithful in the unrighteous wealth, who will entrust to you the true riches? 12And if you have not been faithful in that which is another’s, who will give you that which is your own? 13 No servant can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.”

Footnotes: a. Luke 16:6 About 875 gallons b.Luke 16:7 Between 1,000 and 1,200 bushels c.Luke 16:8 Greek age d.Luke 16:9 Greek mammon, a Semitic word for money or possessions; also verse 11; rendered money in verse 13

Cross references: A.Luke 16:1 : Luke 12:42 B.Luke 16:2 : 1 Cor 9:17 C.Luke 16:8 : Matt 25:2 D.Luke 16:8 : Luke 20:34; Luke 10:6 E.Luke 16:8 : John 12:36; 1 Thess 5:5; Eph 5:8  F.Luke 16:9 : Luke 12:33; Matt 6:20; 19:21; 1 Tim 6:10, 17-19 G.Luke 16:9 : Luke 16:11, 13; Matt 6:24 H.Luke 16:10 : Matt 25:21, 23 I.Luke 16:10 : Luke 19:17 J.Luke 16:12 : 1 Chr 29:14, 16 K.Luke 16:13 : Luke 16:9

BLCF: Luke-1610

What is the message given to us here? It is a message of stewardship. In this parable, the manager was likely overcharging those who were indebted to his master, by charging them interest which he pocketed for himself.

The manager’s deception, has been discovered by his master, and facing being fired and dishonoured by the master for his bad business practices, he tries to mitigate the circumstances by returning what was overcharged back to the debtors. The manager reasoned that if he were to lose his job, he would generate some good will with the debtors.

Not only was the manager guilty of deceiving both his master and those in debt to the master, but by charging interest to the debtors, he was in violation of Mosaic Law. It is interesting to note that although the master had chastised his manager for being dishonest, he commended him for his business savvy.

The people of Israel were forbidden by law from charging interest to others on credit extended, as we read in Deuteronomy 23:19 (ESV):

 19 “You shall not charge interest on loans to your brother, interest on money, interest on food, interest on anything that is lent for interest.

BLCF: stewardship-gifts-from-and-to-God

As Christian stewards, what treasures has God entrusted us with? We may find the answer to this question in John 3:16 and Luke 10:27, which focus on unconditional love:

John 3:16 (ESV) For God So Loved the World

 16“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life”

Luke 10:27 (ESV) Love God and Love Your Neighbour

 27And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbour as yourself.”

BLCF: real-riches

Each of us has been made stewards of God’s treasure. We are entrusted with God’s love. God only asks that we confess our sins, accept his gift and then return love back to both God and to our neighbour. In order to make any such gift acceptable, God sacrificed Jesus for our sins and make our faith acceptable in God’s eyes.

As Pulpit Preacher and Pastor here at BLCF, I have a responsibility to minister to the needs of the congregation through preaching, teaching, leadership and personal interaction with others in a manner that is both glorifies God and which nurtures the spiritual growth of the congregation in a Christ-like manner.

Our church trustees have been entrusted by our congregation of the Bloor Lansdowne  to oversee  and to protect the church property from those who may seek to use the Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship Church property for their own glorification and not for the glorification of God.

It is the responsibility of the Church Board at Bloor Lansdowne to see that the money spent is spent wisely and in a manner that glorifies God’s by building or edifying the faith and spirit of those who believe or seek God in the BLCF community. The Board must ensure that God’s funds are not for the glorification of any person or group of people. Over the last few years, by God’s grace and provision, our church has faced and endured facing hard financial challenges, which frequently required hard financial decisions, in order to ensure that our church continues to exist, let alone be relevant to the Bloor Lansdowne community.

Your Church Elders are responsible to ensure that whatever is said, planned, and acted in the name of BLCF, is said, planned and acted in a manner that glorifies God as well as showing love and respect to others within the church. For like that manager in the parable if any of what is said, planned, or acted upon by anyone of the church, is determined to associated with an intention to deceive God, Who is our Master, cannot be tolerated and must be acted upon by the Elders. And so in the same manner, anything said, planned or done with the deliberate intention to deceive others in the church is viewed with the same contempt by our Father in Heaven.

As a congregation of believers, we are all stewards of our faith in God. We are managers of His gifts to us. Being His stewards, we need to acknowledge the Lord’s love by returning the same unconditional love to both Him and to our neighbours, as we had read earlier in John 3:16 and Luke 10:27.

BLCF: serving-others

The stewardship of God’s gifts comes with the Lord’s expectation that each of us undertake the responsibility to grow in faith to God, by trusting Him, sharing God’s love in the manner of how we treat one another and how we support our church, spiritually and financially.

But you may ask: why do the Pastor, the Trustees, the Board, the Elders, and the Congregation of BLCF just have faith and pray to God to provide for the means to take care of the church? My answer is; while it is true that as Christian believers we must practice our faith through prayer, in understanding His Word, and by trusting God; still we must not put the Lord to the test. We are tasked with the mission of sharing the Gospel of Jesus, without putting our Lord to the test. You may recall from last week’s lesson, what happened to Jesus just after he was convicted by the Holy Spirit, Luke 4:4 (ESV):

4 And Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness for forty days, being tempted by the devil.

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 Just as Jesus was tempted by the devil right after he was baptized by the Holy Spirit at the beginning of his earthly ministry, and tempted again on the cross, by the exhortations of one of the thieves being crucified beside him he resisted putting God to the test. God did not bring His son on earth as a show, to entertain the Pharisees and other cynics of Christ, but to fulfill His new covenant with true believers. And as followers of Christ, we may anticipate that the devil try to tempt our faith and drive us away from the Lord. This is the warning brought to do the same, as described in this warning from the Apostle Paul in Acts 20:28-32 (ESV):

28 Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God,[a] which he obtained with his own blood.[b] 29 I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; 30 and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them. 31 Therefore be alert, remembering that for three years I did not cease night or day to admonish every one with tears. 32 And now I commend you to God and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified.

Footnotes: a. Acts 20:28 Some manuscripts of the Lord b. Acts 20:28 Or with the blood of his Own

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The lesson from this passage from Luke is; that no matter what our position and line of responsibility as stewards of Gods church here at Bloor Lansdowne, we cannot allow ourselves to be deceived by Satan into putting the Lord our God to the test in matters that God has entrusted us to take care of. Each of us should think, speak and act as faithful and trustworthy stewards providing for the church in a manner that is honourable and glorifying to God and loving and respectful to one another. Just as Christ had a mission to be the Word Made Flesh, we have a mission to be good and faithful stewards of the faith.

Stewards are people who care for precious people and property that is not their own, often preserving it from disaster.

Let us pray…

Closing Hymn # 476: O Christian, Haste, Your Mission High          

Benediction – (Romans 8:38-39):

For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers,  nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

BLCF: Christian-stewardship

The Sign of the Poppy and of the Cross

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Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

The Sign of the Poppy and of the Cross’

© November 9, 2014 by Steve Mickelson

BLCF Bulletin Nov 9, 2014

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Announcements and Call to Worship – Reading of – In Flanders Fields; Prayer

Reading of ‘In Flanders Fields’ – By Lt. Colonel John McCrae, Canadian Army

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Opening Hymn #1: Holy, Holy, Holy! Lord God Almighty; Choruses

Scriptures: John 8:1-11, Luke 4:1-13, Luke 23:32-43 

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

Brief Message by Steve Mickelson: The Sign of the Poppy and of the Cross

Let us pray…

Good morning and welcome to BLCF, for our annual meeting, where we will review the year in activities in BLCF. But, first as Remembrance Day will occur the day after tomorrow, I would like to begin today’s lesson by sharing with a few observations about the sacrifice of our Lord and that of soldiers in the Great War and subsequent conflicts.

It was just a few short weeks ago, in an act of domestic terrorism, an unarmed Canadian army reservist Corporal Nathan Cirillo was shot dead  as he stood guard at the National War Memorial. This brought a flood of reaction, mostly patriotic and supportive, specifically to Corporal Cirillo and his family and to Canadian soldiers, in general.

 

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The National War Memorial

Perhaps more disturbing were other comments by some ranging from “what do you expect when Canada makes war on Isis or Muslims” to “Cirillo was only a reservist who was not in a combat zone and therefore did not deserve a hero’s funeral.”

Really!

I suppose the victims of the World Trade Center’s attack on 9-11-2001 deserve to be ignored as well, since New York City is not a war zone and most of those who died were non-combatants! Perhaps the cynics are unaware that most of the soldiers who died in the Great War, (aka World War I), died not in battle but from the effects of the Spanish Flu Pandemic, including the author of the poem In Flanders Fields, Lt. Colonel John McCrae. And in his poem, McCrae did take some liberty in his prose, as the graves were marked not just with crosses, row on row, but headstones in that war and subsequent battles bear the inscriptions and the markings of soldiers bore markings indicating a variety of faiths and creeds, including Jewish, Chinese and Hindu.

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But this war, just like any other had moments of grace, such as occurred on Christmas 1914:

THE CHRISTMAS TRUCE

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Perhaps no term better captures the horror of World War I than that of No Man’s Land, the forbidden turf   between the opposing trenches.  In both myth and reality, it became a space in-between that was associated with the journeys from sanity to madness and from life to death.  A place of churning soil, singing bullets and suspended time, it exposed human vulnerability in the Machine Age.

On December 25, 1914, however, No Man’s Land was briefly transformed into a meeting-ground for erstwhile foes.  German troops, used to celebrating Christmas on the evening of the 24th, had smuggled Tannenbaum trees into the trenches and serenaded their British counterparts with “Stille Nacht.”  The next day, thousands of troops exchanged photographs and souvenirs; shared bully beef, cigarettes, jam, sausages, chocolate and alcohol; and engaged in other activities.  In a few places, soldiers who had been barbers in civilian life offered free haircuts to those on the other side.  A German juggler gave an impromptu performance.  There are accounts of soccer scrimmages, including one in which Saxons laughed uproariously when gusts of wind revealed that their Scottish opponents were clothed in their kilts alone, and one in which the ball deflated after catching on barbed wire.  There was even a joint memorial service with the bilingual saying of the 23rd Psalm as a prelude to the burial of those who had fallen earlier in No Man’s Land.

Accounts of the significance of the Christmas Truce differ.  British soldier and war cartoonist Bruce Bairnsfather described it as “just like the interval between rounds in a friendly boxing match.”  For Sherlock Holmes creator Arthur Conan Doyle, a father who lost his son to the fighting, the truce was “one human episode amid all the atrocities which have stained the memory of the war.”  For a particular Austrian soldier billeted near the front lines, it was an abomination that “should not be allowed.”  His name: Adolf Hitler.  In succeeding years, artillery bombardments were ordered by commanding officers on Christmas Eve.

http://www.misterdann.com/mildischristmastruce.htm

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The amazing aspect of this truce in 1914 was that the two opposing armies took time to celebrate the birth of our Saviour, Christ Jesus, to play together soccer and even to exchange gifts. It is too bad that those who see war as the only response to a disagreement cannot learn from this event. Ironically the commanders for both sides did not allow such an amicable truce to take place in subsequent Christmases.

Even though there will be a day of reckoning, our Lord came to the world to put an end to sin and judgment, rather than an end  to sinners, as we see in our first Scripture passage, John 8:1-11 (ESV):

but Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. Early in the morning he came again to the temple. All the people came to him, and he sat down and taught them.

The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery, and placing her in the midst they said to him, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery. Now in the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?” This they said to test him, that they might have some charge to bring against him.

Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” And once more he bent down and wrote on the ground. But when they heard it, they went away one by one, beginning with the older ones, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him.

10 Jesus stood up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” 11 She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.”

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Jesus was able to persuade this angry mob not to stone to death a women by pointing out that giving such a punishment should only be reserved whoever is “without sin”, who technically would be Jesus, alone. But them Jesus said: “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more”, which parallels the reason that the Lord came to the world, which is to provide a way for us to avoid the judgment of death for our sins, as long as we confess our sins and endeavor to not sin, and to follow the Way of the Lord. And as followers of Christ, we must endeavour to “go, and from now on sin no more.”

But as soon as the Holy Spirit fell upon him, Christ was also tempted by the devil to sin against the Father in Heaven , as we see in our next Scripture passage, Luke 4:1-13 (ESV):

The Temptation of Jesus

4 And Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness for forty days, being tempted by the devil. And he ate nothing during those days. And when they were ended, he was hungry. The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.” And Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone.’” And the devil took him up and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time, and said to him, “To you I will give all this authority and their glory, for it has been delivered to me, and I give it to whom I will. If you, then, will worship me, it will all be yours.” And Jesus answered him, “It is written,

“‘You shall worship the Lord your God,     and him only shall you serve.’”

And he took him to Jerusalem and set him on the pinnacle of the temple and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here, 10 for it is written,

“‘He will command his angels concerning you, 

to guard you,’

11 and

“‘On their hands they will bear you up,     

lest you strike your foot against a stone.’”

12 And Jesus answered him, “It is said, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’” 13 And when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from him until an opportune time.

 BLCF: temptation-of-Christ

We see that Jesus did not give in to temptation from the devil, but we see that Satan planned to tempt the Lord again at an “opportune  time,”  which I believe came while Christ was suffering his own crucifixion, as we see in Luke 23:32-43 (ESV):

32 Two others, who were criminals, were led away to be put to death with him. 33 And when they came to the place that is called The Skull, there they crucified him, and the criminals, one on his right and one on his left. 34 And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”[a] And they cast lots to divide his garments. 35 And the people stood by, watching, but the rulers scoffed at him, saying, “He saved others; let him save himself, if he is the Christ of God, his Chosen One!” 36 The soldiers also mocked him, coming up and offering him sour wine 37 and saying, “If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!” 38 There was also an inscription over him,[b] “This is the King of the Jews.”

39 One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him,[c] saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!” 40 But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? 41 And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” 42 And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” 43 And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”

Footnotes: a. Luke 23:34 Some manuscripts omit the sentence And Jesus… what they do b. Luke 23:38 Some manuscripts add in letters of Greek and Latin and Hebrew c. Luke 23:39 Or blasphemed him

BLCF: angeldevilonthehoulders1 

This brings to mind the old film portrayal, where a person has a little devil standing on one shoulder whispering temptation into one ear, while a small angel stands on the other shoulder whispering restraint in the other. In this Scripture verse, one of the criminals exhorted to Jesus to give into the temptation to save himself and the others crucified beside him gives a remark not too different to what Satan said on the precipice in Luke 4:9-11 (ESV):

And he took him to Jerusalem and set him on the pinnacle of the temple and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here, 10 for it is written,

“‘He will command his angels concerning you, to guard you,’

11 and

“‘On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.’

In Luke 23:39, we see another tempting exhortation, where the Lord is urged to save himself. Again the Lord resisted the temptation in order to take upon himself our collective punishment for our sins, so that we will not die from sin:

39 One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!”

Jesus_and_the_thieves_on_the_cross

One criminal wants the Lord to save him and the other criminal asks for forgiveness. By his death, Jesus brought both to those who confess and believe. No one else needed to suffer God’s judgement for their sins or fear death, for eternal life and the God’s Holy Spirit is given.

We should note that at the very  beginning and the very end of the Lord’s ministry is framed by temptation by the devil. In both instances, Christ resisted temptation. As followers of Christ, we may anticipate that the devil will try to tempt us away from God’s grace, just as he had tempted the Lord. Let us remember the sacrifice of Christ and preserve his gift of salvation.

On this Remembrance Day, we acknowledge the sacrifice made on our behalf, by the soldiers whose death in that war may have saved us and others. But in time, history records other wars and conflicts which come, where others to give their lives for our freedom and way of life. Unfortunately no war, not even the Great War, is the final conflict; the war to end all wars. As long as hate and conflict exist, other wars and conflicts will come, and still the cause of these conflicts, which is sin, remains.

But take heart, the battle over sin is already won. Jesus is the victor and there no longer needs to be another sacrifice made for our sins. Jesus made the final sacrifice. All we need is to accept Christ’s sacrifice and accept him as our Lord and Saviour.

This Remembrance Day, may we honour the sacrifice made by others on our behalf by wearing a Poppy over our heats, being mindful that while the war ended, it did not put an end to wars in the future. At the same time, let us walk the righteous path of believers in Christ and honour the Lord’s sacrifice which put an end to the judgment from sin and gave us the final and complete  victory over death.

Let us pray…

Luncheon Served: Prayer (Grace):

Dear Lord, thank you for this food.                                                                                                                                                       

Bless the hands that prepared it.                                                                                                                                                        

Bless it to our use and to your service.                                                                                                                                              

And make us ever mindful of the needs of others.  

Through Christ our Lord we pray.                                                                                                                                 

 – Amen

Presentation of Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship’s Annual Report for 2013 by BLCF Board

Closing Prayer and Benediction

Let us pray…

Benediction – (Ephesians 6:24):

Grace be with all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with love incorruptible.

BLCF: Jesus-Picture-On-The-Cross-It-Is-Finished-Crucifixion

Sophie and Steve Mickelson at Cup of Cold Water’s November 1, 2014 Fundraiser for BLCF Cafe

BLCF: Sophie & Steve Mickelson at COCW Fundraiser for BLCF Cafe

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Thank you to the amazing Steve Tsai for capturing these gems during our CD Release bash this past Saturday! What a great turn out and support you all gave for BLCF CAFE Community Dinner. SWEET!!! Thank you to all who support us near or far away. – Terry

Faith’s Reward: Salvation and The Holy Spirit

BLCF: God_shows_no_partiality

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

‘Faith’s Reward: Salvation and The Holy Spirit

© November 2, 2014 by Steve Mickelson

BLCF: Bulletin November 2, 2014

BLCF: how_God_grows_our_faith

 

Announcements and Call to Worship:

Responsive Reading #601 (Faith and Confidence – from Psalm 27); Prayer

Opening Hymn #128: One Day When Heaven Was Filled; Choruses                                                                                        

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

Scripture Verses: Acts 10:1-48, Hebrews 11:6

 

BLCF: Gerbrand_van_den_Eeckhout_-_Vision_of_Cornelius_the_Centurion_-_Walters_372492

Acts 10:1-48 (ESV) Peter and Cornelius

10 At Caesarea there was a man named Cornelius, a centurion of what was known as the Italian Cohort, a devout man who feared God with all his household, gave alms generously to the people, and prayed continually to God. About the ninth hour of the day[a] he saw clearly in a vision an angel of God come in and say to him, “Cornelius.” And he stared at him in terror and said, “What is it, Lord?” And he said to him, “Your prayers and your alms have ascended as a memorial before God. And now send men to Joppa and bring one Simon who is called Peter. He is lodging with one Simon, a tanner, whose house is by the sea.” When the angel who spoke to him had departed, he called two of his servants and a devout soldier from among those who attended him, and having related everything to them, he sent them to Joppa.

ART-Acts10-Peters_Vision

Peter’s Vision

The next day, as they were on their journey and approaching the city, Peter went up on the housetop about the sixth hour[b] to pray. 10 And he became hungry and wanted something to eat, but while they were preparing it, he fell into a trance 11 and saw the heavens opened and something like a great sheet descending, being let down by its four corners upon the earth. 12 In it were all kinds of animals and reptiles and birds of the air. 13 And there came a voice to him: “Rise, Peter; kill and eat.” 14 But Peter said, “By no means, Lord; for I have never eaten anything that is common or unclean.” 15 And the voice came to him again a second time, “What God has made clean, do not call common.” 16 This happened three times, and the thing was taken up at once to heaven.

17 Now while Peter was inwardly perplexed as to what the vision that he had seen might mean, behold, the men who were sent by Cornelius, having made inquiry for Simon’s house, stood at the gate 18 and called out to ask whether Simon who was called Peter was lodging there. 19 And while Peter was pondering the vision, the Spirit said to him, “Behold, three men are looking for you. 20 Rise and go down and accompany them without hesitation,[c] for I have sent them.” 21 And Peter went down to the men and said, “I am the one you are looking for. What is the reason for your coming?” 22 And they said, “Cornelius, a centurion, an upright and God-fearing man, who is well spoken of by the whole Jewish nation, was directed by a holy angel to send for you to come to his house and to hear what you have to say.” 23 So he invited them in to be his guests.

The next day he rose and went away with them, and some of the brothers from Joppa accompanied him. 24 And on the following day they entered Caesarea. Cornelius was expecting them and had called together his relatives and close friends. 25 When Peter entered, Cornelius met him and fell down at his feet and worshiped him. 26 But Peter lifted him up, saying, “Stand up; I too am a man.” 27 And as he talked with him, he went in and found many persons gathered. 28 And he said to them, “You yourselves know how unlawful it is for a Jew to associate with or to visit anyone of another nation, but God has shown me that I should not call any person common or unclean. 29 So when I was sent for, I came without objection. I ask then why you sent for me.”

30 And Cornelius said, “Four days ago, about this hour, I was praying in my house at the ninth hour,[d] and behold, a man stood before me in bright clothing 31 and said, ‘Cornelius, your prayer has been heard and your alms have been remembered before God. 32 Send therefore to Joppa and ask for Simon who is called Peter. He is lodging in the house of Simon, a tanner, by the sea.’ 33 So I sent for you at once, and you have been kind enough to come. Now therefore we are all here in the presence of God to hear all that you have been commanded by the Lord.”

BLCF: Baptism_of_Cornelius

Gentiles Hear the Good News

34 So Peter opened his mouth and said: “Truly I understand that God shows no partiality, 35 but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him. 36 As for the word that he sent to Israel, preaching good news of peace through Jesus Christ (he is Lord of all), 37 you yourselves know what happened throughout all Judea, beginning from Galilee after the baptism that John proclaimed: 38 how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power. He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him. 39 And we are witnesses of all that he did both in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They put him to death by hanging him on a tree, 40 but God raised him on the third day and made him to appear, 41 not to all the people but to us who had been chosen by God as witnesses, who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. 42 And he commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one appointed by God to be judge of the living and the dead. 43 To him all the prophets bear witness that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.”

Holy_Spirit_amongst_the_Gentiles

The Holy Spirit Falls on the Gentiles

44 While Peter was still saying these things, the Holy Spirit fell on all who heard the word. 45 And the believers from among the circumcised who had come with Peter were amazed, because the gift of the Holy Spirit was poured out even on the Gentiles. 46 For they were hearing them speaking in tongues and extolling God. Then Peter declared, 47 “Can anyone withhold water for baptizing these people, who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?” 48 And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked him to remain for some days.

Footnotes: a. Acts 10:3 That is, 3 p.m. b. Acts 10:9 That is, noon c. Acts 10:20 Or accompany them, making no distinction d. Acts 10:30 That is, 3 p.m.

BLCF: faith-and-the-will-of-God

Hebrews 11:6 (ESV)

And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.

Let us pray…

Good morning, for our lesson this morning, I would like to examine how the Lord intercedes and addresses the imperfections in his children which hinder them from achieving their full potential as ministers of Word of God. That is to say, how the Lord shaped the believer.

In the tenth chapter of the Book of Acts of the Apostles, Luke gives an account of how God is able help his children to break the social and cultural barriers which hinder them  from working together in love and harmony.

Through a visit by an angel to the Roman Centurion Cornelius and a Devine vision to the Apostle Peter, the Lord brings two of his servants together; bringing salvation to one and religious tolerance to the other.

We know that Peter was chosen by Jesus to be the rock of his church which was founded after the Day of Pentecost, where the Holy spirit of God came upon the disciples of Christ. But who was the Centurion named Cornelius, and what is the significance of his conversion to Way of Christ?

For the answer, let us examine a series of Wikibits, offered by a variety of online sources that will help us understand how God uses visions, angels and His Holy Spirit to reveal His desire for children to discard the restrictions under the Mosaic Law in order to facilitate the teaching and understanding of the Word of God. First, let us look at Cornelius, the Roman Centurion:

BLCF: Centurion_Boulogne_Luc_Viatour

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:

A centurion (Latin: centurio; Ancient Greek: κεντυρίων), also hekatontarch (ἑκατόνταρχος, hekatontarchos) in Greek sources, or, in middle Byzantine times, kentarch (κένταρχος, kentarchos),[1] was a professional officer of the Roman army after the Marian reforms of 107 B.C. Most centurions commanded 80 men but senior centurions commanded cohorts, or took senior staff roles in their legion. Centurions were also found in the Roman navy.

Comparisons between the centurion grades and modern officer ranks can lead to many incorrect assumptions. Centurions could be elected, appointed by the Senate, or promoted “from the ranks” for a variety of reasons.[5] Julius Caesar is said to have promoted his centurions for displays of valor. Other historians cite examples of them being the first over the enemy’s wall or through the breach.

Centurions had to be literate, have connections (letters of recommendation), be at least 30 years of age, and had already served a few years in the military. The centurion in the infantry is chosen for his size, strength and dexterity in throwing his missile weapons and for his skill in the use of his sword and shield; in short for his expertness in all the exercises. He is to be vigilant, temperate, active and readier to execute the orders he receives than to talk; Strict in exercising and keeping up proper discipline among his soldiers, in obliging them to appear clean and well-dressed and to have their arms constantly rubbed and bright. (Vegetius. De Re Militari,] II, 14 )

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

We understand the stature of the Centurion as a role model and leader, but how does being a Christian have any bearing career as a soldier of Rome? Bac to Wiki:

Soldiers, mostly drawn from polytheistic societies, enjoyed wide freedom of worship in the polytheistic Roman system. They revered their own native deities, Roman deities and the local deities of the provinces in which they served. Only a few religions were banned by the Roman authorities, as being incompatible with the official Roman religion and/or politically subversive, notably Druidism and Christianity.

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

We see that being both a Centurion and Cristian Cornelius would have kept his faith practice a secret to avoid being arrested as a subversive threat to Roman authority. Back to Wiki:

Cornelius (in Greek, Κορνήλιος) was a Roman centurion who is considered by Christians to be the first Gentile to convert to the faith, as related in Acts of the Apostles.

A centurion of the Italic cohort, Cornelius was stationed in Caesarea, the capital of Roman Iudaea province.[2] He is depicted in the New Testament as a God-fearing man who always prayed and was full of good works and deeds of alms. Cornelius receives a vision in which an angel of God tells him that his prayers have been heard. The angel then instructs Cornelius to send the men of his household to Joppa, where they will find Simon Peter, who is residing with a tanner by the name of Simon.

The conversion of Cornelius comes after a separate vision given to Simon Peter (Acts 10:10–16) himself. In the vision, Simon Peter sees all manner of beasts and fowl being lowered from Heaven in a sheet. A voice commands Simon Peter to eat. When he objects to eating those animals that are unclean according to Mosaic Law, the voice tells him not to call unclean that which God has cleansed.[3]

When Cornelius’ men arrive, Simon Peter understands that through this vision the Lord commanded the Apostle to preach the Word of God to the Gentiles. Peter accompanies Cornelius’ men back to Caesarea.[3] When Cornelius meets Simon Peter, he falls at Peter’s feet. Simon Peter raises the centurion and the two men share their visions. Simon Peter tells of Jesus’ ministry and the Resurrection, the Holy Spirit falls on everyone at the gathering. The Jews among the group (presumably they were all Jews if Cornelius was the first gentile convert, see Jewish Christians) are amazed that Cornelius and other uncircumcised should begin speaking in tongues, praising God. Thereupon Simon Peter commands that Cornelius and his followers be baptized.[4] The controversial aspect of Gentile conversion is taken up later at the Council of Jerusalem (Acts 15), but has its roots in the concept of “proselytes” in the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible) and Jewish Noahide Law.

Peter later chose not to eat with Gentiles in Antioch after some Jews criticized him. The apostle Paul publicly confronted Peter for being hypocritical as related in Galatians 2.

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

The full importance of the Lord bringing the Apostle Peter to the Centurion Cornelius is revealed in Commentary of Matthew Henry:

Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary:

Hitherto none had been baptized into the Christian church but Jews, Samaritans, and those converts who had been circumcised and observed the ceremonial law; but now the Gentiles were to be called to partake all the privileges of God’s people, without first becoming Jews. Pure and undefiled religion is sometimes found where we least expect it. Wherever the fear of God rules in the heart, it will appear both in works of charity and of piety, neither will excuse from the other. Doubtless Cornelius had true faith in God’s word, as far as he understood it, though not as yet clear faith in Christ. This was the work of the Spirit of God, through the mediation of Jesus, even before Cornelius knew him, as is the case with us all when we, who before were dead in sin, are made alive. Through Christ also his prayers and alms were accepted, which otherwise would have been rejected. Without dispute or delay Cornelius was obedient to the heavenly vision. In the affairs of our souls, let us not lose time.

The prejudices of Peter against the Gentiles, would have prevented his going to Cornelius, unless the Lord had prepared him for this service. To tell a Jew that God had directed those animals to be reckoned clean which were hitherto deemed unclean, was in effect saying, that the law of Moses was done away. Peter was soon made to know the meaning of it. God knows what services are before us, and how to prepare us; and we know the meaning of what he has taught us, when we find what occasion we have to make use of it.

http://www.christnotes.org/commentary.php?com=mhc&b=44&c=10

BLCF: Jopa-Caesarea

 

I would like to recap, with some of the important aspects or lessons revealed by our study of the tenth chapter of the Book of Acts:

  • Passage of Scripture describes two obedient servants of God following the Lord’s instructions; one delivered by way of an angel and the other by way of a Devine vision
  • Both Peter and Cornelius were directed by the Lord in a direction quite outside their respective comfort zones and contrary to their socio-political status; one a soldier and the other an evangelist, both sharing a love and respect to the same God
  • The distance from Caesarea to Joppa about 30 miles
  • Gentiles who were excluded from the Old Covenant of Abraham, are now included in the New Covenant of Christ
  • We must remember in that Acts 10, Luke gives us the account of the first Gentile conversion to the way of Christ
  • Jesus, following his resurrection from the grave and before he ascended to Heaven, instructed Peter and the rest of the Disciples to go forth and preach the Word of God unto the ends of the world, not just to the Jews but to the Gentiles as well, as was indicated by Peter’s vision of all the animals created by God are no longer unclean, indicating the end to the Old mosaic Law
  • Both Cornelius and Peter learned how Christ’s crucifixion made parts of the Mosaic law obsolete under Christ’s New Covenant
  • The significance of the vision of Peter and the visitation to Cornelius of the angelic messengers show us the different modes the Lord uses to communicates to his children
  • Cornelius’ conversion is significant in that it demonstrated Christ’s salvation is available to all: Greek and Roman, Jew and Gentile, man and woman, alike; all who seek God in obedience and by faith

BLCF: Acts_10

Perhaps the most important impact the conversion of Cornelius’ conversion, that is to say the conversion this man who was both a Centurion and a Gentile is that it was the beginning of a change first to the Roman Empire, and eventually to the world. This is the perfect example of how, over time and by the guidance of the Holy Spirit, faith which is small as a mustard seed was able to change not just an empire, but the whole world. Our Wiki bits again:

Constantine the Great (Latin: Flavius Valerius Aurelius Constantinus Augustus;[2] Greek: Κωνσταντῖνος ὁ Μέγας; 27 February c. 272[1] – 22 May 337), also known as Constantine I or Saint Constantine,[3] was Roman Emperor from 306 to 337. Constantine was the son of Flavius Valerius Constantius, a Roman army officer, and his consort Helena. His father became Caesar, the deputy emperor in the west in 293. Constantine was sent east, where he rose through the ranks to become a military tribune under the emperors Diocletian and Galerius. In 305, Constantius was raised to the rank of Augustus, senior western emperor, and Constantine was recalled west to campaign under his father in Britannia. Acclaimed as emperor by the army at Eburacum (York) after his father’s death in 306, Constantine emerged victorious in a series of civil wars against the emperors Maxentius and Licinius to become sole ruler of both west and east by 324.

BLCF: Constantine_I_Hagia_Sophia

As emperor, Constantine enacted many administrative, financial, social, and military reforms to strengthen the empire. The government was restructured and civil and military authority separated. A new gold coin, the solidus, was introduced to combat inflation. It would become the standard for Byzantine and European currencies for more than a thousand years. The first Roman emperor to claim conversion to Christianity,[notes 4] Constantine played an influential role in the proclamation of the Edict of Milan, which decreed tolerance for Christianity in the empire. He called the First Council of Nicaea in 325, at which the Nicene Creed was professed by Christians.

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

 

By his death in 337 Constantine had established Christianity as the favored religion of the Roman state. Other emperors had greater political, economic, or military impact, but when Constantine recognized that small religious sect, he eventually transformed the course of world history.

 

http://legvi.tripod.com/id27.html

 

To close today’s message, I think of the proverb set to rhyme, For Want of a Nail:

For want of a nail the shoe was lost.

For want of a shoe the horse was lost.

For want of a horse the rider was lost.

For want of a rider the message was lost.

For want of a message the battle was lost.

For want of a battle the kingdom was lost.

And all for the want of a horseshoe nail.

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

BLCF: assurance_of_salvation

 

In the case of our message, the nail becomes the Centurion which results in a victory instead of a lost. The Victory begins with

 For through the Gospel – by Steve Mickelson

For through the Gospel of Christ the centurion was won,

For through the Gospel of Christ the apostle was won,

For through the Gospel of Christ the message was won,

For through the Gospel of Christ the battle was won,

For through the Gospel of Christ the kingdom is won!

Sweet Victory won through the Gospel of  Christ Jesus!

 

BLCF: The_Great_Commission

 

 

Let us pray…

Communion: 1 Corinthians 11:23-26 (ESV)

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

Footnotes: a. 1 Corinthians 11:24 Some manuscripts broken for b. 1 Corinthians 11:24 Or as my memorial; also verse 25

 

BLCF: communion

In order to effect God’s will both the Apostle Peter and the Centurion had to surrender all to their Lord. Let is now sing together our closing hymn:

Closing Hymn #373: All to Jesus I Surrender

Benediction – (Ephesians 6:24):

Grace be with all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with love incorruptible.

 

BLCF: Gifts oof the Holy Spirit Prayer