Faith’s Reward: To Be Filled with God’s Steadfast Love

 BLCF: God_is_Love

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

‘Faith’s Reward: To Be Filled with God’s Steadfast Love

© April 26, 2015, by Steve Mickelson

BLCF Bulletin April 26 2015

BLCF: Gods Everlasting Love

 Announcements and Call to Worship: Call to Worship: Responsive Reading #665 (Love, The Greatest Thing – 1 Corinthians 13); Prayer

Opening Hymn #37 Great Is Thy Faithfulness; Choruses

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

Today’s Scriptures: Exodus 3:1-15 and Acts 9:1-19

BLCF: 1_John_4_7-8

Let us pray…

The title of this morning’s lesson is Faith’s Reward: To Be Filled with God’s Steadfast Love, describing the Christian’s assurance that the reward for faith is to be filled with a steadfast love from God.

Before we being the lesson, let us first take a brief look at the terms used in the title.

Faith is our hope, trust, and obedience to God. And most of us have some idea of the meaning of love, either having given or received love. God’s love is described as agape, which is a love given unconditionally. Jesus personified that love when he allowed himself to be crucified on the cross for the sins of the world.

But who is the giver of love? Here is what two children revealed about what God is like, while in prayer, (from ‘Our Daily Bread’ November 15, 2012):

 “Dear God, what does it mean that You are a ‘jealous’ God? I thought You had everything.”

“I didn’t think orange went with purple until I saw the sunset You made on Tuesday. That was cool.”

http://odb.org/2012/11/15/gods-description/

The Apostle John describes God as love, 1 John 4:16 (ESV):

16 So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.

John says that God is Love.  In this morning’s Responsive reading, which is taken from 1 Corinthians, Chapter 13,  the Apostle Paul gives us an idea of what our lives would be like both with and without love.

BLCF: faith-hope-love

Paul begins by describing what would God’s gifts be like without love. Since John told us that God is love, and if we accept the converse that love is an expression of God, then the same passage gives us an understanding as we read ‘love’, we substitute ‘God’.  The result would be a description of life without God: We see that without God, the speaking in tongues would be just noise. And what good would be having the gift of prophecy without God? What good would it be to possess the faith to move mountains without God? If we gave all that we had to the poor, were martyred for preaching the Gospel and did not have God to others, it would be of no value whatsoever.

BLCF: Love never fails

While Paul gives a good description of how our existence would be like devoid of love, he continues in 1 Corinthians 13 by giving us some characteristics of love. Let us continue our exercise by again substituting God for love in this passage:

God is patient and kind, never jealous or envious, never boastful or proud, never haughty or selfish or rude.

God does not demand His own way. He is not irritable or touchy.

God does not hold grudges and will hardly even notice when others do Him wrong.

God is never glad about injustice but rejoices whenever truth wins out.

If you are loyal to someone no matter what the cost is an expression of God. You will always expect the best of Him, and always stand your ground defending Him.

When all the special gifts and powers someday come to an end, God goes on forever.

There are three things that remain – faith, hope, and God – and the greatest of these is God.

The two Scripture verses that we featured in the bulletin today, Exodus 3:1-15 and Acts 9:1-19, describe two men who lived sinful lives but were transformed by God’s love.

BLCF: burningbush

                                                                                             

Exodus 3:1-15 (ESV): The Burning Bush

3 Now Moses was keeping the flock of his father-in-law, Jethro, the priest of Midian, and he led his flock to the west side of the wilderness and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. And the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush. He looked, and behold, the bush was burning, yet it was not consumed. And Moses said, “I will turn aside to see this great sight, why the bush is not burned.” When the Lord saw that he turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.” Then he said, “Do not come near; take your sandals off your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.” And he said, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God.

Then the Lord said, “I have surely seen the affliction of my people who are in Egypt and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters. I know their sufferings, and I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land to a good and broad land, a land flowing with milk and honey, to the place of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites. And now, behold, the cry of the people of Israel has come to me, and I have also seen the oppression with which the Egyptians oppress them. 10 Come, I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring my people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt.” 11 But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?” 12 He said, “But I will be with you, and this shall be the sign for you, that I have sent you: when you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall serve God on this mountain.”

13 Then Moses said to God, “If I come to the people of Israel and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what shall I say to them?” 14 God said to Moses, “I am who I am.”[a] And he said, “Say this to the people of Israel, ‘I am has sent me to you.’” 15 God also said to Moses, “Say this to the people of Israel, ‘The Lord,[b] the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you.’ This is my name forever, and thus I am to be remembered throughout all generations.

Footnotes: a. Exodus 3:14 Or I am what I am, or I will be what I will be b. Exodus 3:15 The word Lord, when spelled with capital letters, stands for the divine name, YHWH, which is here connected with the verb hayah, “to be” in verse 14

The first Scripture describes the encounter between the Prophet Moses and God. Moses was born a Hebrew but raised as a prince of Egypt by his adopted mother. Moses discovered his true heritage was Hebrew. After Moses killed an Egyptian while defending a Hebrew slave, he was sent by Pharaoh into the desert to die for the crime. But God had a plan for Moses and  He called to Moses from a burning bush. God answered Moses’ questions and doubts about himself by assuring Moses that He will accompany Moses,  providing the words and the means to free the people of Israel from their bondage. God also indicated to Moses, that after he delivered the people of Israel out of Egypt, Moses would return to Mt.  Horeb to worship the Lord.

How do we know that God loved Moses and the people of Israel? We find the answer to this question in the following passage, where the Lord describes himself, Exodus 34:6-7(ESV):

The Lord passed before him and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands,[a] forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children’s children, to the third and the fourth generation.”

BLCF: love_never_fails

We see that the Lord’s description of Himself is very similar to Paus definition of love in 1 Corinthians, Chapter 13.                                                                                                

The second of today’s Scriptures, Acts 9:1-19, talks about the conversion of another sinner, Saul of Tarsus, a notorious persecutor of followers of Christ, who like Moses receives a Devine calling to be an instrument of the Lord.

BLCF: Sul'sconversion

Acts 9:1-19 (ESV): The Conversion of Saul

9 But Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. Now as he went on his way, he approached Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven shone around him. And falling to the ground he heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” And he said, “Who are you, Lord?” And he said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. But rise and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do.” The men who were traveling with him stood speechless, hearing the voice but seeing no one. Saul rose from the ground, and although his eyes were opened, he saw nothing. So they led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus. And for three days he was without sight, and neither ate nor drank.

10 Now there was a disciple at Damascus named Ananias. The Lord said to him in a vision, “Ananias.” And he said, “Here I am, Lord.” 11 And the Lord said to him, “Rise and go to the street called Straight, and at the house of Judas look for a man of Tarsus named Saul, for behold, he is praying, 12 and he has seen in a vision a man named Ananias come in and lay his hands on him so that he might regain his sight.” 13 But Ananias answered, “Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much evil he has done to your saints at Jerusalem. 14 And here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on your name.” 15 But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel. 16 For I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name.” 17 So Ananias departed and entered the house. And laying his hands on him he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus who appeared to you on the road by which you came has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” 18 And immediately something like scales fell from his eyes, and he regained his sight. Then he rose and was baptized; 19 and taking food, he was strengthened.

Like Moses, Saul heeds the calling, and as an Apostle of the Lord describes how the love of Christ transformed him, Galatians 2:20 (ESV):

20 I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

BLCF: Agape

If God is Love, how is it that we, as believers in the Resurrected Christ, are transformed? It is by the power of the Holy Spirit which is given to us as a reward for our faith, Romans 5:2-5 (ESV):

Through him we have also obtained access by faith[a] into this grace in which we stand, and we[b] rejoice[c] in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.                                                                                              

Footnotes: a. Romans 5:2 Some manuscripts omit by faith b. Romans 5:2 Or let us; also verse 3 c. Romans 5:2 Or boast; also verses 3, 11

Just as Moses and Paul were transformed into instruments of the Lord, we are gifted by God in reward for our faith, 2 Timothy 1:6-7 (ESV):

For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands, for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.

 By receiving God’s gifts of power, love, and self-control, we are transformed, through faith and by the power of HIS Holy Spirit into HIS instruments; expressions of God by the love we share with others. It is God’s desire that we shine as instruments of His love and His wisdom.    

 Let us pray…

Closing Hymn #39: God Is Love; His Mercy Brightens

Benediction – (Ephesians 5:2):  And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

BLCF: Gods-love

Dead to Sin, Alive in Christ, Baptized with the Holy Spirit and Fire

 BLCF: baptism_and_filling_spirit

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

‘Dead to Sin; Alive in Christ; Baptized with the Holy Spirit and Fire’

© April 19, 2015 by Steve Mickelson

BLCF Bulletin April 19 2015

BLCF: christianity_101

              

Announcements & Call to Worship: Responsive Reading #616 (Christian Baptism – from Matthew 3 and 28, Acts 2, Romans 6); Prayer

Opening Hymn #154 King of My life, I Crown Thee Now; Choruses                                                                                                                                                                          Tithing and Prayer Requests: Hymn #572: Praise God; Prayers                                                                                                                                                                         Today’s Scriptures: Romans 6:1-14; Colossians 2:6-15; Matthew 3:11                                                                                                 

Acts 2:36-41 (ESV) Peter’s Sermon at Pentecost

BLCF: worship-early-church

36 Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.”

37 Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” 38 And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.” 40 And with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them, saying, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation.” 41 So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.

BLCF: baptised into the body of Christ

Let us pray…

The expression “Terms of surrender” is a familiar one to anyone who is familiar with the history of war. These are conditions by which a party surrenders to the authority of an opposing army.

For our lesson today, I would like to examine the conditions by which a believer surrenders to the authority of the Lord. First, let us examine the conditions that we surrender to authority of Jesus.

On the day of Pentecost, Peter gave a sermon, which highlighted the terms by which we surrender to the lordship of Jesus, in Acts 2:38-39, we read:

38 And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.”

If we repent of our sins in the name of Jesus Christ, we see that we will be baptized with the gift of the Holy Spirit. This gift is not just for a single generation but is given all generations throughout the world. All who respond to the call from God, the Father. For Peter was no longer a disciple or student of the Lord, but now a messenger or apostle of the Gospel of Christ as we see in rest of the passage, Acts 2:40-41:

40 And with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them, saying, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation.” 41 So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.

BLCF: Pentecost

But one thing we have to bear in mind that our battle was not with God or Jesus, our battle is with sin. You may recall from last Sunday’s lesson, that all of us are sinners and fall short of the glory of God. It is a legacy handed down to every descendant of Adam and Eve. Our sin separates us from God and brings a death sentence upon us. The only way to commute that sentence is to accept God’s gift of salvation and redemption through Jesus Christ, by confessing our sins and accepting the lordship of Jesus. Otherwise, like the convict on death row, we face a death sentence from God. Canada may have abolished capital punishment for serious crimes, however, Parliament is powerless as far as being able to strike down the penalty for sin. All of us face the death penalty in the hereafter if we reject Christ’s gift of salvation. Christ did not die for us, but he died for our sins because he loves us. And with the Lord’s death, there is an expectation upon us as believers, to follow a new path in Christ, Romans 6:1-14:

Romans 6:1-14 (ESV) Dead to Sin, Alive to God

BLCF: Acts 2_19

6 What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.

For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self[a] was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free[b] from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. 10 For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. 11 So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.

12 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. 13 Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. 14 For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.

Footnotes: a. Romans 6:6 Greek man b. Romans 6:7 Greek has been justified

When we confess our sin and accept Jesus as Lord and Saviour, we are no longer subject to the old Mosaic Laws but become believers governed by our faith, now considered instruments for righteousness.

Not only are we no longer subject to a worldly authority. And we discover another aspect of God’s unconditional love, for not only is available to all generations, with no geographic limits, as we had read before, but the gift of salvation is given to Jew and Gentile, alike:

Romans 10:5-13 (ESV) The Message of Salvation to All

BLCF: acts-great-commission

For Moses writes about the righteousness that is based on the law, that the person who does the commandments shall live by them. But the righteousness based on faith says, “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’” (that is, to bring Christ down) “or ‘Who will descend into the abyss?’” (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. 11 For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” 12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. 13 For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

The final condition placed upon the believer is to follow a new path, guided with the help of the Holy Spirit. We have the debt of our sin is paid in full, by the sacrifice that Jesus gave on the cross:

Colossians 2:6-15 (ESV) Alive in Christ

BLCF: Body of Christ

Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.

See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits[a] of the world, and not according to Christ. For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, 10 and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority. 11 In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, 12 having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead. 13 And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, 14 by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. 15 He disarmed the rulers and authorities[b] and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.[c]

Footnotes: a. Colossians 2:8 Or elementary principles; also verse 20 b. Colossians 2:15 Probably demonic rulers and authorities c. Colossians 2:15 Or in it (that is, the cross)

While Parliament is powerless to set aside the death sentence that we face for our sins, Christ alone has set aside our conviction for sin if we confess to God and accept His love and mercy through His son Jesus. And unlike the governance of the old law, where every sin mandated a new baptism in water and sacrifice for that sin, God’s New Covenant provided that Jesus be the final sacrifice for our sin, that we may receive God’s grace and baptism of the Holy Spirit:

Matthew 3:11 (ESV)

BLCF: the-holy-spirit

11 “I baptize you with water for repentance, but he who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.

We must pledge our obedience to God. As believers, we are given the gift of the Holy Spirit to help us keep our faith to the Lord on the right track and to keep us on the righteous path, by God’s grace, through our Lord Jesus Christ who paid for us all at Calvary. Let us show our faith through confession of our sin, keep the faith by living in His Word with the help of the Spirit and peach the faith by sharing the Gospel of Christ to fulfill the Lord’s Commission to all who follow the Way of Christ.

Let us pray…

BLCF: before_the_cross

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

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: baptised_with_fire

BLCF Cafe: Why Start A Community Dinner Instead Of Sandwich Run Or A Food Bank?

BLCF: whywedo

Why Did Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship Start A Community Dinner Instead Of Sandwich Run Or A Food Bank?

BLCF: it_is_not_what_but_why

Most of us have heard the Chinese Proverb: ‘Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.’

BLCF: no-sandwiches

Sandwich runs and to a lesser degree Food Banks offer scant opportunity to fellowship with or establish a meaningful dialogue with the homeless and marginalized. Both can make it awkward and embarrassing to those on the receiving end of a sandwich or food from a relative stranger. This can be a great stumbling block to sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ as the ‘volunteer’ may appear condescending or patronizing to a homeless or marginalized person.

BLCF: conesending_food_banks

It is extremely difficult to share how faith in Jesus’ sacrifice allows all to be equal in the eyes of God, especially if they find out that volunteers are paying a fee to give a sandwich to them! At the cafe, there are no fees required to volunteer.

BLCF Cafe Community Dinner guests, who are the homeless and marginalized, are treated with dignity and respect, served a warm meal with music, and fellowship. These conditions are perfect for meaningful dialogue and to establish friendships as a launching point to witness as equals at the same dinner table.

 BLCF: dinner-on-us

 

A short testimony and shared scripture are given as the dinner’s second course, served between the main and dessert. Over time, our guests develop an appetite and appreciation for spiritual sustenance as much as the dinner served at the cafe.

BLCF: what_we_do

Through the power of the Holy Spirit some of our guests now help to serve others at the dinner, giving of themselves, showing that they have learned to become fishermen/women and embracing the Mission Statement BLCF Cafe Community Dinner:

‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you did it to me.’

– Matthew 25:40.

BLCF Cafe volunteers

A number of our guests have made a decision to accept Jesus as Lord and Saviour, which demonstrates how marvelous and great the work of the Lord is when we trust him to transform a simple function as serving and sharing a community dinner into a meeting of faith and worshiping of our Lord. Many returning guests feel that the community is their church meeting. Jesus knew what He was doing when he fed the multitude as He shared His message on the mount.

BLCF: -blcf2bcafe2bsign
BLCF Café Contact Info: Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship 1307 Bloor Street West, Toronto, ON | Phone: 416-535-9578 | Email: blcfcafe@yahoo.ca | BLOG: blcfcafe.blogspot.com | Facebook: BLCF Cafe Facebook | Web Page: blcfchurch.ca

Deception, Disobedience and Destruction from the Mouth of a Serpent 2015

BLCF: Jesus_next

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

‘Deception, disobedience, and destruction from the mouth of a serpent’

© April 12, 2015, by Steve Mickelson

 Based on a Message Shared at BLCF on April 21, 2013 

BLCF Bulletin April 12 2015

 BLCF: Gods_fruit         

 

Announcements & Call to Worship: Responsive Reading 640; Prayer

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

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

Today’s Scriptures: Genesis 3:1-13, 19, 22; Philippians 2:5-8; Romans 6:20-23

BLCF: tree_of_life_bread_of_life

Let us pray…

Good morning. In the message last Sunday, we briefly reviewed the significant events that occurred in Holy Week from Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday, ending with the Resurrection of Jesus from the grave.  The message focused on the events that took place in the Upper Chamber or Room and last but not of least importance, the significance of Pentecost and the Great Commission.

Today, we will take a look at both the reasons for, and the importance of, God’s Salvation Plan through Jesus Christ. And hopefully, see how His plan of salvation will restore access to Paradise to all who believe. Paradise is an Old Iranian term for a walled garden. It is a higher or better place than our current existence.

In order to better understand salvation, let us talk about sin in general, but specifically what is often described as the ‘original sin’.

When people talk about committing a sin, it is usually some reference to a violation of the Mosaic Laws, which we commonly call ‘The Ten Commandments’. These were the Laws God gave to Moses on Mount Sinai to people of Israel. Jesus later simplified the ten to two, loving God with all your heart, mind and soul; and loving your neighbor as yourself. But the ‘original sin’ happened back in the Garden of Eden and is described in the Book of Genesis.

We begin in Genesis 1:26-29 (ESV), with the creation, and how Adam was created and given dominion or charge over all creatures on the land, sea, and air:

26 Then God said, “Let us make man[a] in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”

27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.

28 And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”   29 And God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food.

Footnotes: Genesis 1:26 The Hebrew word for man (Adam) is the generic term for mankind and becomes the proper name Adam

 BLCF: creacion_genesis_ 1_26-29

So with the responsibility for the flora and fauna, God gave Adam one caveat; one item to beware of, which we might say one rule or law. We see this in Genesis 2:15-17 (ESV):

15 The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it. 16 And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, 17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat[a] of it you shall surely die.”

Footnotes: a. Genesis 2:17 Or when you eat

BLCF: dont touch wet paint

Because Adam’s descendants today know, or should understand what is good, from what is evil, or right from wrong, we could understand how a rule might be broken. If you doubt what I am saying, just put a ‘Wet Paint Do Not Touch Sign’ on a door or wall and watch how many people will touch it to see if it is actually wet. But, when God gave the commandment, Adam and Eve were innocent of this type of thought and had to be tricked or fooled into challenging the authority of God. That is where Lucifer, also known as Satan or the devil, the original rebel who fell from God’s Grace, by challenging His authority enters the picture, as we read in Genesis 3:1-13,19,22 (ESV), entitled appropriately, The Fall:

BLCF: temptation-karen-sirard

1Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” 2 And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, 3 but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’” 4 But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. 5 For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” 6 So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. 7 Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths.

8 And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool[c] of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. 9 But the Lord God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?” 10 And he said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.” 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: Eve and serpent Garden

___________________________________________________________________

19 By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”

________________________________________________________________________________________________________22 Then the Lord God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of us in knowing good and evil. Now, lest he reach out his hand and take also of the tree of life and eat, and live forever—” 23 therefore the Lord God sent him out from the garden of Eden to work the ground from which he was taken. 24 He drove out the man, and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the cherubim and a flaming sword that turned every way to guard the way to the tree of life.

BLCF: Adam_and_Eve

 

Satan had enticed Eve and Adam to break God’s rule, and in doing so challenging the Creator’s authority by telling Eve, as well as Adam who was with her, see verse 6, that by eating the fruit, they would become like God in understanding good from evil and by assuring them that they would not suffer death as God had warned. Because of the alluring appearance of the fruit and possibly because of a naive belief that being similar to God would bring them closer to God when just the opposite is true. Having eaten the forbidden fruit, Adam and Eve, being fully aware of the significance of breaking God’s rule, and likely now realize how Satan, disguised as a serpent, desires to have them to challenge God’s authority.

This is the crux, or central point, of the ‘original sin’ not so much the act of breaking God’s rule, but more the challenge to His authority. This sin causes a rift between Adam and Eve. And because God’s concern that this pair of rebels might eat from the ‘tree of life’ giving the power of eternal life to those who have already chosen to follow the directions of Satan to challenge God’s authority, Adam and Eve are evicted from Paradise.

But God loves his creation and desires that the human race have an opportunity to be reconciled to God’s Grace. Consuming the forbidden fruit lead to our fall from God’s Grace, and the knowledge of the difference between good from evil only brought pain and guilt for such actions.

God’s simple solution was to remove the judgment of sin, through Jesus Christ, who suffered for our sins, taking upon Himself the judgment and punishment of death, and providing through the resurrection, the assurance that God’s death penalty eliminated. And so believers, who confess their sins and decide to follow Jesus, are forgiven their sins and granted the promise of salvation, the gift of the Holy Spirit, as well as the assurance of their own resurrection from the grave, as we see in Romans 6:20-23 (ESV):

BLCF: 1st_Adam_2nd_Adam

20 For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. 21 But what fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. 22 But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

BLCF: Eden Fall Illustration

 

We see that Jesus’ resurrection assures us of Jesus’ power over death, but what about the sinner and our return to Paradise. Some scholars argue that Paradise or the Garden of Eden in the Book of Genesis is just a parable for the state of grace and not an actual physical place. I would argue that Moses, who most Biblical scholars agree, authored Genesis did not use parables in his writings. And we do see an example in the scriptures, not only asking for and receiving forgiveness but being given the assurance of the resurrection, the company of the Lord in Paradise, in Luke 23:39-43 (ESV):

39 One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, 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.”

BLCF: Crucified_trio

And like God, we must forgive those who trespass against us, Matthew 6:14-15 (ESV):

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

Remember that the foundation of our faith in the power of God, and both trust and belief in His promises and abilities. To unbelievers, all this seems to be just nonsense, as we read in 1 Corinthians 1:18 (ESV) entitled: Christ the Wisdom and Power of God

18 For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

And if we choose not to turn away from Satan’s promptings to ignore God’s authority, we remain locked in to sin and doomed to suffering and death. Being beings, capable of knowing right from wrong, and therefore having the ability to choose the good, righteous path for ourselves, God has given us control or dominion over our destinies. We may choose to continue along Satan’s way of rebellion and with Satan suffer judgment and death. Or, we may choose the way of Jesus, confessing our sins, admitting to our sinful nature, accepting the gift and leadership of Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit to lead us on the righteous path, which we see in Philippians 2:5-8 (ESV):

5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus,6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

BLCF: the-lord-jesus-is-the-tree-of-life-kathy-clark

So by following Christ, we renounce the desire to be equal with God or to forsake His authority. We must choose to serve God as His servant, humbled, as Jesus had taught when he washed the disciples’ feet just before Christ’s crucifixion. We must pledge our obedience to God. As believers, we are given the gift of the Holy Spirit to help us keep our faith to the Lord on the right track and to keep us on the righteous path to Paradise and avoid the consequences of sin.

Let us pray…

BLCF: Revelation_2_7

Closing Hymn #350: Open My Eyes, That I May See

Benediction (1 Corinthians 15:20-22):                                                               

But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.  For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead.  For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.

BLCF: Proverbs 13-12

Easter Sunday – Walking with the Resurrected Christ

BLCF: Easter_Resurrection

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

‘Walking with the Resurrected Christ’

© April 5, 2015 by Steve Mickelson

 Based on a Message Shared at BLCF on September 1, 2013

BLCF Bulletin April 5, 2015

BLCF: christ_is_risen

Announcements & Call to Worship: Responsive Reading #623:’The Risen Lord’ (Matthew 28;John 20); Prayer                                                                         

Opening Hymn #163: Christ the Lord Is Risen Today; Choruses                                                      

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

Today’s Scriptures: Luke 24:13-49, John 14:15-26

BLCF: Augustine-Of-Hippo-faith-reward

Let us pray…

Good morning. I wonder how many of you have seen or heard of the reality TV program: “Undercover Boss”? For the uninitiated, “Undercover Boss” is a documentary style show where the head of a corporation, usually the owner or CEO, disguises him or herself and works alongside unknowing employees to understand any concerns with the boss, the organization and find out any needs of those under direction of the boss. Later, the boss removes the disguise and reveals the boss’ true identity.

BLCF: abiding in Christ

In this morning’s scripture lesson, Christ takes on a similar tact by not revealing himself to two of his disciples. The resurrected Christ approaches the two, Cleopas and a companion, to find out what they were discussing as they walked along. This encounter takes place on the third day after the crucifixion, now called Easter Day. Two disciples were going from Jerusalem to a village named Emmaus. Today, the location of Emmaus is not precisely clear. The name Emmaus may be derived from the Hebrew word hammat, “hot spring.” Luke places it about 60 stadia from Jerusalem. At about 607 English feet or 192 meters per stadion, this makes the distance about seven miles or eleven and quarter kilometers.

Jesus hears an accounting of his crucifixion, the empty tomb and rumours that Christ is alive! The account describes the two as being sad as they had hoped that Jesus was going to be the one to redeem Israel.  This demonstrated  a lack of understanding on the part of the two with the true prophesy of the scriptures, as well as a lack of faith in understanding how the redemption of Israel was to be accomplished. That Christ had to suffer on the cross to fulfill the prophecy of the scriptures.

Christ appears to be continuing on, when the two invite him to stay with them, as darkness is approaching. To which Christ agrees. It is not until Christ blessed and broke the bread at their supper, were the two disciples able to recognize the identity of their house guest. It was only then that the two understood   what Jesus was talking about as they were travelling along the Emmaus Road.

Shortly thereafter, Cleopas and his companion returned to Jerusalem, to share their experience with the 11 disciples. Their experience was validated by the fact that Simon Peter had also encountered the resurrected Christ. Their experience tells us about the importance of the Lord’s revelation to believers. I am not talking about the John’s prophetic epistle we call the Book of Revelation.Any book of the Scriptures is meaningless without the Holy Spirit’s presence to give understanding to those passages of the Bible.

BLCF: walking-to-emmaus

The Greek word for Comforter is “parakletos”. The most familiar translation of this Greek word is “Comforter,” another translation would be “Counselor” or “Advocate”.

Faith in Christ is not simply about our free will decision: it requires a revelation from God to understand the truth.  Please note the timeline of this encounter on the Road to Emmaus. Jesus had been crucified a few days previous. The Lord revealed himself soon after his resurrection from the tomb and prior to his ascension to heaven.  The day of Pentecost was still some 40 days in the future, so the Holy Spirit, as a spiritual guide and comforter was not gifted to believers. Prior to Pentecost Jesus was the comforter.  The Greek word for Comforter is “parakletos”. The most familiar translation of this Greek word is “Comforter,” another translation would be Counselor or Advocate, John 14:15-26 (ESV):

Jesus Promises the Holy Spirit

15 “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper,[a] to be with you forever, 17 even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be[b] in you.

18 “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. 19 Yet a little while and the world will see me no more, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. 20 In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. 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.” 22 Judas (not Iscariot) said to him, “Lord, how is it that you will manifest yourself to us, and not to the world?” 23 Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. 24 Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father’s who sent me.

25 “These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. 26 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.

Footnotes: a. John 14:16 Or Advocate, or Counselor; also 14:26; 15:26; 16:7   b. John 14:17 Some manuscripts and is

Back to our Emmaus account, where we have two dejected, saddened disciples who are walking away from Jerusalem. After all, Christ who was expected to deliver the people of Israel from subjugation by Imperial Rome is now dead, as were their hopes of liberation. In that regard, the two had misunderstood Christ’s purpose and an inaccurate understanding of his teachings.  While Jesus corrects them by referring to the scriptures, it is only after he blesses and breaks the bread do they realize their companion’s true identity.

It is interesting that when we take the bread element of communion, we do it to remember Christ, as we read in 1 Corinthians 11:23-24:

 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] you. Do this in remembrance of me.”

BLCF: Walking With The Lord

I believe that Christ having ascended to Heaven has sent us the Holy Spirit to accompany us on our Christian walk. And we need the Lord’s revelation, too. Whatever our human skills and talents, whatever decisions we are capable of making, the life of faith does not start with us. It begins with God revealing himself to us. For us, as Christ has ascended to the Father’s right hand, that conviction comes by way of God, the Holy Spirit.

What implications are there here for us? It reminds us that for anyone to find faith in Christ there must be a revelation from God. Christian witness cannot be reduced just to us saying the right words or doing the right things so that people will come to faith.  So in our witness we rely on the Holy Spirit to reveal God’s presence and love to people.

This does not only apply to the call to conversion. It involves all aspects of the Christian life. We always need the revelation of God. However much we study a Bible passage, we need the Holy Spirit to reveal to us the truth of the scripture.

Just as Cleopas and his companion discovered the importance of a Christ-centered interpretation of Scripture, we too need to seek an understanding through the Spirit, to avoid misunderstanding what is read.

This brings us to the second part of this morning’s lesson, where Cleopas and a companion return to Jerusalem. Then, having heard of Simon’s encounter with the Risen Christ, the pair shares with the eleven disciples their Emmaus experience with Jesus.  Jesus, again, appears, this time to those gathered saying “Peace to you!”  And just like the two on the road to Emmaus, Jesus is aware that not only do the disciples have doubt in their hearts, they have fear thinking the Lord is a ghost or apparition.

You may recall that the disciples experienced a similar reaction as described by John’s account of Jesus walking on the Sea of Galilee. And those in the boat who first saw Jesus thought the Lord to be a ghost or apparition.

And as in the Emmaus encounter, Jesus continued on his way past the group, until the disciples call out to Him. And like the Emmaus encounter, he chastises the disciples for their little faith. Jesus said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts?  See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me, and see. For a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.” And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. And while they still disbelieved for joy and were marveling, he said to them, “Have you anything here to eat?” They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate before them.

Having offered to show his wounds as proof of identity, and just to reinforce the fact that he is not a ghost, he asks for food.  And as he had done to Cleopas and the companion, Jesus reminded the eleven of his teachings prior to his crucifixion:

Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.  You are witnesses of these things.  And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.”

These two accounts of the Resurrected Christ, teach us a number of lessons:

The first lesson is that it is possible for the disciples to forget what they have witnessed heard and read.

The next lesson is that all of understanding of God’s purpose depends upon how willing we are to allow the Holy Spirit to guide us. It is encouraging, to see that when we do go down the wrong path in our understanding, that through the Spirit, the Lord will guides back on the righteous way.

And last, but not least of the lessons, is that through the Spirit, we “are clothed with power from on high.”

And whether we receive the power of the Spirit depends not only upon a declaration of faith, but the manner by which we seek guidance from the Spirit:

Deuteronomy 4:29 (ESV) But from there you will seek the LORD your God and you will find him, if you search after him with all your heart and with all your soul.

BLCF: Emmaus Road Gospel

Let us pray…

Hymn #398: I Come to the Garden Alone

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

Benediction (1 Corinthians 15:20-22):

But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.  For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead.  For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.

BLCF: He-is-Risen-Indeed

Good Friday – Jesus: God’s Final Passover Lamb

BLCF: Jesus_Passover-cross-lamb

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

‘Good Friday – Jesus: God’s Final Passover Lamb’

© April 3, 2015 by Steve Mickelson

Based on a Message Shared with BLCF Church on February 1, 2015

BLCF Bulletin April 3, 2015

BLCF: jesus_the_christ_the_spotless_lamb_of_god

Reading #612 (The Lamb of GOD – Isaiah 53); Prayer
Opening Hymn #126: Amen, Amen!; Choruses
Prayer and Tithing: Hymn #572: Praise God from Whom All Blessings
Scriptures: Exodus 12:1-14, John 1:29-34, Hebrews 10:5-18, 1 Corinthians 5:7-8

BLCF: christ-our-passover

Let us pray…

Welcome to Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship and Toronto Vineyard’s combined Good Friday Worship Service, which is also a Communion Service.

Our lesson today is entitled: ‘Good Friday – Jesus: God’s Final Passover Lamb’, where with the help of the Scriptures and our Wikibits we will both explore and connect the dots between the first Passover in Egypt, the Festival of Passover or Pesach, and Jesus as the final Passover lamb.

It is hoped that our journey today will give us a better understanding and appreciation for the communion, by which we remember Christ’s sacrifice on the cross.

We begin our journey today with the first Passover, where Jewish People celebrate not only their liberation from enslavement under Pharaoh in Egypt and by the blood of a sacrificed lamb, avoided the judgment of death, which was the Tenth Plague rendered by God.

Passover – from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

BLCF: passover_seder

Passover or Pesach (/ˈpɛsɑːx, ˈpeɪsɑːx/;[4] from: פֶּסַח in Hebrew, Yiddish; Tiberian: [pɛsaħ] ( listen), Modern Hebrew: [ˈpesaχ] Pesah, Pesakh; Yiddish: Peysekh, Paysakh, Paysokh), is an important biblically derived Jewish festival. The Jewish people celebrate Passover as a commemoration of their liberation over 3,300 years ago by God from slavery in ancient Egypt that was ruled by the Pharaohs, and their freedom as a nation under the leadership of Moses. It commemorates the story of the Exodus as described in the Hebrew Bible especially in the Book of Exodus, in which the Israelites were freed from slavery in Egypt.

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

While Passover celebrates the liberation the Jewish people, from life as Hebrew slaves under the rule of Pharaoh, but how did GOD effect their release from bondage?

The Tenth Plague of Egypt

BLCF: 10_plagues

The Plagues of Egypt (Hebrew: מכות מצרים, Makot Mitzrayim), also called the ten plagues (Hebrew: עשר המכות, Eser HaMakot) or the biblical plagues, were ten calamities that, according to the biblical Book of Exodus, Israel’s God inflicted upon Egypt to persuade the Pharaoh to release the ill-treated Israelites from slavery. Pharaoh capitulated after the tenth plague, triggering the Exodus of the Hebrew people. The plagues were designed to contrast the power of Yahweh with the impotence of Egypt’s various gods.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plagues_of_Egypt#10._Death_of_the_firstborn_.28.D7.9E.D6.B7.D7.9B.D6.B7.D6.BC.D7.AA_.D7.91.D6.B0.D6.BC.D7.9B.D7.95.D6.B9.D7.A8.D7.95.D6.B9.D7.AA.29:_Ex._11:1.E2.80.9312:36

Let us now review our first Scripture Passage, which gives us the account of the first Passover, from Exodus 12:1-14 (ESV):

The Passover

BLCF: the-passover-instituted-by-cf-vos

12 The LORD said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, 2 “This month shall be for you the beginning of months. It shall be the first month of the year for you. 3 Tell all the congregation of Israel that on the tenth day of this month every man shall take a lamb according to their fathers’ houses, a lamb for a household. 4 And if the household is too small for a lamb, then he and his nearest neighbor shall take according to the number of persons; according to what each can eat you shall make your count for the lamb. 5 Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male a year old. You may take it from the sheep or from the goats, 6 and you shall keep it until the fourteenth day of this month, when the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill their lambs at twilight.[a]

7 “Then they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and the lintel of the houses in which they eat it. 8 They shall eat the flesh that night, roasted on the fire; with unleavened bread and bitter herbs they shall eat it. 9 Do not eat any of it raw or boiled in water, but roasted, its head with its legs and its inner parts. 10 And you shall let none of it remain until the morning; anything that remains until the morning you shall burn. 11 In this manner you shall eat it: with your belt fastened, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand. And you shall eat it in haste. It is the LORD’s Passover. 12 For I will pass through the land of Egypt that night, and I will strike all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and on all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments: I am the LORD. 13 The blood shall be a sign for you, on the houses where you are. And when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and no plague will befall you to destroy you, when I strike the land of Egypt.
14 “This day shall be for you a memorial day, and you shall keep it as a feast to the LORD; throughout your generations, as a statute forever, you shall keep it as a feast.

Footnotes: a. Exodus 12:6 Hebrew between the two evenings

GOD instructed the people of Israel to celebrate Passover throughout generations. It is interesting that the Passover Feast begins the day before as a fast, for some people, as we see in this posting from chabad.org:

The Fast of the First Born (chabad.org) – by Eliyahu Kitov

BLCF: Death_of_the_Pharaoh_Firstborn_son_Lawrence_Alma-Tadema

It is an ancient and widespread custom for the firstborn to fast on the day before Passover. This commemorates the miracle which spared the firstborn Jewish sons from the plague which struck down the firstborn sons of the Egyptians.

By right, this fast should be held on the anniversary of the day on which the miracle occurred: on the night of the fifteenth of Nissan. However, since the fifteenth is already Passover, and we do not fast on Festival days the fast is pushed back to the fourteenth.
There is an additional reason why we fast specifically on the fourteenth. The firstborn of the Jews were saved in Egypt because they humbled themselves before GOD, admitting and declaring that all greatness, power, and sovereignty are His alone.

This stood in contradistinction to the Egyptians who, filled with foolish pride and egotism, declared: “I am, and besides me there is none other.”

http://www.chabad.org/holidays/passover/pesach_cdo/aid/1678/jewish/The-Fast-of-the-First-Born.htm

If GOD instructed the people to celebrate Passover as a statue forever, are Christians obliged to observe Passover? Let us go back to our Wikibits:

Passover (Christian holiday)

BLCF: chart_7_feasts_of_israel

The Epistle to the Hebrews states that the sacrificial killing of animals could not finally take away sin, but awaited the atonement of Christ. (Hebrews 10). It proceeds to explain that Jesus Christ offered the one sacrifice that was acceptable to God, and that he lives forever as the believers’ intercessory high priest, replacing the Jewish sacrificial system and its sacerdotal priesthood. Most Christians consider the external ritual of sacrifice instituted in the Old Testament by God to be a precursor of the self-sacrifice offered by Jesus. For this reason, Jesus is called the “Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29).

The main Christian view is that the Passover, as observed by ancient Israel as well as Jews today, was a type of the true Passover Sacrifice of God that was to be made by Jesus.[3] The Israelites’ Passover observance was the commemoration of their physical deliverance from bondage in Egypt, whereas Passover represents for most Christians a spiritual deliverance from the slavery of sin (John 8:34) and, since Jesus’ death, a memorial of the sacrifice that Jesus has made for mankind.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Passover_(Christian_holiday)

As Jesus died on the cross, as a final sacrifice for all of our sins, as Christians we celebrate not only GOD’s passing over our judgment from sin through Christ; we are given the assurance of our salvation and resurrection from death, as well as the gifting of the Holy Spirt, until the day the Lord returns. For that reason we see the celebration of an annual Passover Feast, replaced by Communion, as instructed by Jesus, at the last Passover.

Where Passover gives celebrants pause to reflect upon the liberation of the Israel Nation from the bondage of enslavement and the judgment of death to all first born in Egypt, Communion observance gives Christians an opportunity to celebrate the freedom of all of humanity from bondage and judgment for sin through the sacrifice of our Lord Jesus, which is a gift to all from GOD.

Let us look at the Scriptures account of the Lamb of GOD, from John 1:29-34 (ESV):

Behold, the Lamb of GOD

BLCF: john-baptist

29 The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! 30 This is he of whom I said, ‘After me comes a man who ranks before me, because he was before me.’ 31 I myself did not know him, but for this purpose I came baptizing with water, that he might be revealed to Israel.” 32 And John bore witness: “I saw the Spirit descend from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him. 33 I myself did not know him, but he who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ 34 And I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God.”

Although John, also known as John the Baptist, does identify Jesus as Lamb of God, the Apostle Paul gives us a more complete understanding of the significance of this final sacrifice, in Hebrews 10:5-18 (ESV):

BLCF: when-i-see-the-lambs-blood-Jesus-on-the-cross

5 Consequently, when Christ[a] came into the world, he said,
“Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired,
but a body have you prepared for me;
6 in burnt offerings and sin offerings
you have taken no pleasure.
7 Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come to do your will, O God,
as it is written of me in the scroll of the book.’”

8 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), 9 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[b] 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.

Footnotes: a. Hebrews 10:5 Greek he b. Hebrews 10:12 Greek this one

Looking closer at this Scripture passage, we see that the sacrifice of Christ does away with all other sacrifices, including that performed at Passover, Hebrews 10:8-10:

BLCF: jesus-passover-lamb

“You have neither desired nor taken pleasure in sacrifices and offerings and burnt offerings and sin offerings” (these are offered according to the law), 9 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.

In final portion of this Scripture passage, not only do we need to stop following the traditional observances of the Mosaic Law of Feasts, we now come under GOD’s New Covenant, through our Lord, Christ Jesus, Hebrews 10:15-18:

BLCF: jesus_lamb_of_god

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.

There is no need to observe the old laws under the OLD Covenant, as Christians, are freed from the judgment for all sin by our Passover lamb, who is Jesus. The Lord instructed all apostles, to continue as messengers of his Gospel and remember his sacrifice by way of partaking in the elements of Communion, until the time that he returns. We must continue to worship the Lord in Spirit and in Truth, as we read in 1 Corinthians 5:7-8 (ESV):

BLCF: yeshuapassoverlamb

7 Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. 8 Let us therefore celebrate the festival, not with the old leaven, the leaven of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.

Let us pray…

BLCF: communion

At this point in our worship service, we will observe Communion, which we reflect and remember the final sacrifice made by our Lord, Jesus, which saved not just the people of Israel from a single threat and judgment, as had happened in Egypt, but the Passover of all believers in the Resurrected Christ, potentially of humanity, from the death judgment of all sin, for all time, until the day Christ returns.

Communion differs from Passover, which celebrates a single miracle, at a single point in time. We have Communion celebrate a miracle that is more global in scale, for everyone who believe, not just at one time, but for all time.

Passover is an observation for all generations, under the Mosaic Law and Old Covenant; where Communion is an ongoing observation celebrated more frequently, as salvation after Jesus’ sacrifice and New Covenant comes at any time a believer makes a faith decision to accept Christ’s gift of salvation and agrees to accept his Lordship. Salvation and the New Covenant may occur for anyone, at any time, and in that regard is not limited to a single day or time. That is why Christian Churches celebrate the “New Passover” more frequently, in the spirit and truth the Lord intended.

We have the following description of the Words of Institution or Consecration spoken while we observer Communion:

Communion: Words of Institution

BLCF: mysteries-of-the-holy-eucharist

The Words of Institution (also called the Words of Consecration) are words echoing those of Jesus himself at his Last Supper that, when consecrating bread and wine, Christian Eucharistic liturgies include in a narrative of that event. Eucharistic scholars sometimes refer to them simply as the verba (Latin for “words”).

Protestant denominations

Protestant denominations generally, with the exception of the Anglican Communion and Lutheranism, rely exclusively on the words of St. Paul as recorded in 1 Corinthians 11:23-26. 

Protestantism has typically utilized the words of institution as a central part of its Communion service, though precise traditions vary by denomination. The debate over the force and literalness of the words of institution underlies the arguments between consubstantiation and transubstantiation. Most of the established churches in the Protestant tradition employ a mirroring of Paul’s words surrounding the words of institution, while Congregationalist and Baptist churches use the words themselves without the full citation of Paul’s wording.

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

Blessing and serving of the elements of Communion.

1 Corinthians 11:23-26

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“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, and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, ‘This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.’

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.’
For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.”

Let us pray…

BLCF: Hebrews10

Closing Hymn #248: And Can It Be That I Should Gain

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: good-friday-isaac-watts