Abiding in the Way of the Lord

“I marvel that whereas the ambitious dreams of myself, Caesar, and Alexander should have vanished into thin air, a Judean peasant – Jesus should be able to stretch his hands across the centuries and control the destinies of men and nations.”                                                                                                                                                Napoleon I Bonaparte (1809)     

BLCF: abiding in Christ

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

Abiding in the Way of the Lord’

© January 25, 2015 by Steve Mickelson

Based on a Message Originally Shared at BLCF on April 3, 2011 

BLCF Bulletin January 25, 2015

 BLCF: faith hope and love

Responsive Reading #597 (Gr of Prayerod’s Attributes- Psalm 19); Prayer

Hymn #204: There’s A Quiet

Understanding; Choruses

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

Scripture Verses:  Mark 9:2-8, Mark 12:18-33 and John 4:19-26

BLCF: to-love-is-to-receive-a-glimpse-of-heaven

Let us pray…

For our lesson today, Abiding in the Way of the Lord, we have three Scripture Passages, two from Mark’s Gospel (Mark 9:2-8) and (Mark 12:18-33) and the third Scripture Passage comes from the 12 Chapter of John’s Gospel (John 12:19-26).

BLCF: glimpse_of_heaven

The Scriptures from Mark give us a glimpse of what it like in Heaven, by giving an account of the Transfiguration of Jesus, as well what me may expect after our resurrection, as well as the most important of GOD’s Commandments, also known as HIS Great Commandment.

In today’s third Scripture passage, from John, the Lord instructs the Woman of Samaria on where and how to worship God.

The three Scriptures illustrate how easy it is to be misguided and confused when we attempt to seek GOD’s grace and presence, which is HIS spirit and truth, on an earthly plane, at some special sacred place, such as a Holy Mountain.

Such was the case where Jesus brought along three of his disciples, Peter, James and John, where the Lord’s appearance became transfigured into a radiant, intensely white figure as he spoke with the prophets, Elijah and Moses, as we read in Mark 9:2-8 (ESV):

The Transfiguration

BLCF: the transfiguration

And after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his clothes became radiant, intensely white, as no one[a] on earth could bleach them. And there appeared to them Elijah with Moses, and they were talking with Jesus. And Peter said to Jesus, “Rabbi,[b] it is good that we are here. Let us make three tents, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah.” For he did not know what to say, for they were terrified. And a cloud overshadowed them, and a voice came out of the cloud, “This is my beloved Son;[c] listen to him.” And suddenly, looking around, they no longer saw anyone with them but Jesus only.

Footnotes: a. Mark 9:3 Greek launderer (gnapheus) b. Mark 9:5 Rabbi means my teacher, or my master c. Mark 9:7 Or my Son, my (or the) Beloved

The disciples were initially terrified by what they had witnessed. Then Peter suggested building tents to be used as temples marking the place of this miracle; one each, for Jesus, Moses and Elijah. I do not think that is what the Lord had in mind when he brought his disciples up on the mountain. We read next that a cloud comes above them, and the disciples hear GOD’s voice speak: “This is my beloved Son; listen to him,” after which Moses and Elijah, who scholars view represent the Law and the Prophets, are no longer visible.

BLCF: Church-of-the-Transfiguration-Mount_of_transfiguration_is

Church of the Transfiguration

On Mount Tabor, we see that the Church of the Transfiguration has been erected to signify the place of the miracle, just as Peter had suggested to the Jesus. Peter, as well as those on who built the church, chose to venerate the sight of the transfiguration, rather than just focusing solely on the event. The Lord did not intend reveal the miracle of his transfiguration in order for people to plant a monument or a church on the mountain. Instead, Jesus’ miracle demonstrated the Devine nature of the Lord, giving us a glimpse of what heaven must be like. This interpretation of the vision is confirmed when the Heavenly Father identifies HIS son to the disciples and instructs them listen to him.

BLCF: God-Speaks

Our second verse, offers another glimpse of life after our resurrection when a group of Sadducees ask the Lord about a hypothetical situation and the resurrection.

Wikibits on the Sadducees

Sadducees_Pharisees

The Sadducees (/ˈsæəˌsz, ˈsædjə/; Hebrew: צְדוּקִים Ṣĕdûqîm) were a sect or group of Jews that were active in Judea during the Second Temple period, starting from the second century BCE through the destruction of the Temple in 70 CE.

The Pharisees and the Sadducees are historically seen as antitheses of one another. Josephus, the author of the most extensive historical account of the Second Temple Period, gives an extensive account of Jewish sectarianism in both Jewish War and Antiquities. In Antiquities, he describes “the Pharisees have delivered to the people a great many observances by succession from their father, which are not written in the law of Moses, and for that reason it is that the Sadducees reject them and say that we are to esteem those observance to be obligatory which are in the written word, but are not to observe what are derived from the tradition of our forefathers.”  The Sadducees rejected the Pharisaic use of the Oral Law to enforce their claims to power, citing the Written Torah as the sole manifestation of divinity.

The New Testament, specifically the books of Mark and Matthew, describe anecdotes that hint at hostility between the Jesus movement and the Sadduceean establishment. These disputes manifest themselves on both theological and social levels. Mark describes how the Sadducees challenged Jesus’ belief in the Resurrection of the Dead.

BLCF: Sadducees_vs_Pharisees

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

In short, the Sadducees focused on the letter of the law; in contrast to the Pharisees, who seemed to construct the law on the fly, with the temple being key to their worship. Both groups, while opposite in their respective focus of the Scriptures and the Temple, to the point that their worship seemed to exclude GOD. The Law and Temple became treated like idols. This faith practice not only to be self-serving, but tended to focus more upon their own authority over the authority of GOD.  Let us now look at, Mark 12:18-33 (ESV):

The Sadducees Ask About the Resurrection

18And Sadducees came to him, who say that there is no resurrection. And they asked him a question, saying, 19“Teacher, Moses wrote for us that if a man’s brother dies and leaves a wife, but leaves no child, the man[a] must take the widow and raise up offspring for his brother. 20There were seven brothers; the first took a wife, and when he died left no offspring. 21And the second took her, and died, leaving no offspring. And the third likewise. 22And the seven left no offspring. Last of all the woman also died. 23In the resurrection, when they rise again, whose wife will she be? For the seven had her as wife.”

  24Jesus said to them, “Is this not the reason you are wrong, because you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God? 25For when they rise from the dead, they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven. 26And as for the dead being raised, have you not read in the book of Moses, in the passage about the bush, how God spoke to him, saying, ‘I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? 27He is not God of the dead, but of the living. You are quite wrong.”      

In this glimpse of life after the Resurrection, we see that we are no longer in human form, but appear as the angels in heaven. No longer are we under the laws of this world. Like Jesus, Moses and Elijah on Mt. Tabor, we will be transfigured, being radiant and glowing bright as the sun.

Having answered the Sadducees’ challenge to the resurrection, by reminding them that God revealed himself to Moses from a burning bush, when he spoke in Mark 12:26-27, saying:

26And as for the dead being raised, have you not read in the book of Moses, in the passage about the bush, how God spoke to him, saying, ‘I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? 27He is not God of the dead, but of the living. You are quite wrong.”

Upon hearing the Lord answer the question of the resurrection in a satisfactory manner, one of the scribes or experts of the law asked the Lord a question with respect to the law, or the Law of Moses, part of some 613 Commandments, as our Wiki bits describe:

BLCF: The-Bible-is-not-God-Gomes

The content of the instructions and its interpretations, the Oral Torah, was passed down orally, excerpted and codified in Rabbinical Judaism, and in the Talmud were numbered as the 613 commandments. The ‘Jewish Law given to Moses at Sinai‘ (Hebrew Halakhah le-Moshe mi-Sinai הלכה למשה מסיני) is a halakhic distinction.

The Law of Moses or Torah of Moses (Hebrew Torat Moshe תֹּורַת מֹשֶׁה, Septuagint Greek nomos Moyse νόμος Μωυσῆ) is a biblical term first found in the Book of Joshua 8:31-32 where Joshua writes the Hebrew words of “Torat Moshe תֹּורַת מֹשֶׁה” (translated as “Law of Moses”, meaning “instructions of Moses”) on the altar at Mount Ebal. The text continues “And afterward he read all the words of the teachings, the blessings and cursings, according to all that is written in the book of the Torah.” (Joshua 8:34)

  • Moral laws – on murder, theft, honesty, adultery, etc.
  • Social laws – on property, inheritance, marriage and divorce,
  • Forward looking instructions for time when Israel would demand a king.

 The Lord’s answer as to which was the Greatest Commandment is found  in Mark 12:28-33:                                    

The Great Commandment

BLCF: Love-God-others

  28 And one of the scribes came up and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, asked him, “Which commandment is the most important of all?” 29Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these.” 32And the scribe said to him, “You are right, Teacher. You have truly said that he is one, and there is no other besides him. 33And to love him with all the heart and with all the understanding and with all the strength, and to love one’s neighbor as oneself, is much more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.”      

 Footnotes: a. Mark 12:19 Greek his brother  

 BLCF: chan-on-loving-god-and-others

We see that the both loving God and loving our neighbor are keys following and worshipping GOD.

BLCF: love-God-and-others

Does GOD expect us to undertake a pilgrimage to Holy places such as Mt. Tabor, in order to meet HIS expectation of our expression of faith? Let us look at three places considered to be sacred to many of Abraham, The Wailing Wall, The Hajj in Mecca and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre:

The Wailing Wall in Jerusalem

The Western Wall, Wailing Wall or Kotel (Hebrew:  הַכֹּתֶל הַמַּעֲרָבִי (help·info), translit.: HaKotel HaMa’aravi; Ashkenazic pronunciation: Kosel; Arabic: حائط البراق‎, translit.: Ḥā’iṭ Al-Burāq, translat.: The Buraq Wall) is located in the Old City of Jerusalem. It is a relatively small western segment of the walls surrounding the area called the Temple Mount (or Har Habayit) by Jews, Christians and most Western sources, and known to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary (Al-Haram ash-Sharīf).

The Temple Mount is the holiest site in Judaism and is the place to which Jews turn during prayer. The original, natural and irregular-shaped Temple Mount was gradually extended to allow for an ever larger Temple compound to be built at its top.

BLCF: Jews-pray-at-the-Wailing-Wall-on-Yom-Kippur_

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

The Hajj in Mecca

The Hajj (/hæ/; Arabic: حجḤaǧǧpilgrimage“) is an annual Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca, and a mandatory religious duty for Muslims that must be carried out at least once in their lifetime by all adult Muslims who are physically and financially capable of undertaking the journey, and can support their family during their absence.[2][3][4] It is one of the five pillars of Islam, alongside Shahadah, Salat, Zakat, and Sawm. The gathering during Hajj is considered the largest annual gathering of people in the world. The state of being physically and financially capable of performing the Hajj is called istita’ah, and a Muslim who fulfills this condition is called a mustati. The Hajj is a demonstration of the solidarity of the Muslim people, and their submission to God (Allah). The word Hajj means “to intend a journey”, which connotes both the outward act of a journey and the inward act of intentions.

The Hajj is associated with the life of Islamic prophet Muhammad from the 7th century, but the ritual of pilgrimage to Mecca is considered by Muslims to stretch back thousands of years to the time of Abraham. During Hajj, pilgrims join processions of hundreds of thousands of people, who simultaneously converge on Mecca for the week of the Hajj, and perform a series of rituals: each person walks counter-clockwise seven times around the Ka’aba, the cube-shaped building and the direction of prayer for the Muslims, runs back and forth between the hills of Al-Safa and Al-Marwah, drinks from the Zamzam Well, goes to the plains of Mount Arafat to stand in vigil, spends a night in the plain of Muzdalifa, and performs symbolic stoning of the devil by throwing stones at three pillars. The pilgrims then shave their heads, perform a ritual of animal sacrifice, and celebrate the three day global festival of Eid al-Adha.

BLCF: Eid-kabaa-circle_The_Hajj

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

The Church Of The Holy Sepulchre

The Church of the Holy Sepulchre (sometimes spelled sepulcher; Arabic: كنيسة القيامة kanīssat al Qi’yāma; Hebrew: כנסיית הקבר הקדוש Knesiyat HaKever HaKadosh) also called the Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre, or the Church of the Resurrection by Eastern Christians, is a church within the Christian Quarter of the UNESCO World Heritage-listed walled Old City of Jerusalem. It is a few steps away from the Muristan.

The site is venerated as Calvary (Golgotha),[1] where Jesus was crucified,[2] and also contains the place where Jesus is said to have been buried. Within the church are the last four (or, by some definitions, five) Stations of the Cross along the Via Dolorosa, representing the final episodes of Jesus’s Passion. The church has been an important Christian pilgrimage destination since at least the 4th century as the purported site of the resurrection of Jesus.

BLCF: the-church-of-holy-sepulchre-during-a-holy

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

But does the Gospel of Jesus agree with the idea that a pilgrimage to any or all of these sites is an important expression of our faith in GOD? When we worship GOD, is all that matters is: location, location, location? We find the answer in today’s third Scripture verse, John 4:19-26 (ESV):

The Woman of Samaria

Samaritan_Woman

19 The woman said to him, “Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet. 20 Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you say that in Jerusalem is the place where people ought to worship.” 21 Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. 22 You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23 But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. 24 God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” 25 The woman said to him, “I know that Messiah is coming (he who is called Christ). When he comes, he will tell us all things.” 26 Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am he.”

BLCF: learn_to_worship

Jesus responded to the woman of Samarian’s question where was more important: to worship GOD on the mountain or in Jerusalem? Jesus answers that it does not matter, whether you worship GOD upon a mountain top, in Jerusalem, or any other place.

BLCF: true worshipers of God

What is important is  how we worship HIM, in spirit and truth. The best expression of this worship is love.  I have listed a series of verses on the back of today’s bulletin, where the Lord spoke GOD’s Great Commandment over and over again:

BLCF: to_love_receive_a_glimpse_of_heaven

John 3:16 (ESV)

 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.

 John 13:34-35 (ESV)

34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. 35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

  John 15:12-14 (ESV)

 12 “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. 14You are my friends if you do what I command you.

  John 15:17 (ESV)  

17These things I command you, so that you will love one another.

BLCF: abiding-in-the-true-vine

 John 15:4-5 (ESV)

4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. 5I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.

John 3:16 (ESV)

 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.

 John 13:34-35 (ESV)

34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. 35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

  John 14:21 (ESV)

21 Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.”          

  John 15:10 (ESV)  

10 If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love.

BLCF: abiding

Let us review the key points of today’s lesson: Our GOD is a loving GOD  who exits in spirit and truth. We are to worship GOD in spirit and truth, through expressions of love to both GOD and to our neighbours. Through GOD’s son Jesus, we a provided a path to our own salvation and resurrection, by the power of the Holy Spirit. As believers in the resurrected Christ, we are comforted and guided by the Spirit, until the day of Resurrection, where we will be transformed into a glorious, luminous form.

Until that day, GOD expects us to love HIM and others, in spirit and truth, sharing the Gospel of Christ, until the day the Lord returns.

Let us pray…

Closing Hymn #484:  It Only Takes A Spark (Pass It On)

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: great-church-definition

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