Trusting the Lord, While Stepping Out of Your Comfort Zone

BLCF: Matthew 25_31-46 Paraphrased
Message for Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church:
Trusting the Lord, While Stepping Out of Your Comfort Zone’
© May 31, 2015, 2015 by Steve Mickelson
Based on a Message Shared with BLCF Church on February 27, 2011
BLCF: Christianity_101

Announcements & Call to Worship:

Responsive Reading #668: The New Life (from Colossians 3); Prayer

Opening Hymn #546: Sing the Wondrous Love of Jesus; Choruses

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

Scripture Verses: 

2 Kings 5:1-27, Luke 17:11-19, Mark 2:13-17, Matthew 25:31-46

                    

BLCF: get-out_of_the_boat

Let us pray…

Welcome to our Sunday morning Praise and Worship Service at Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship for the last Sunday of May 2015.

BLCF: praywalk

A reminder for those who missed the announcements, that this Tuesday evening, June 2, at 7:30 PM, will mark BLCF Church’s turn to host the monthly Prayer Walk in The City. For over a decade, a group of over half a dozen churches participates in a Prayer Walk, where the participants, usually in pairs, walk and pray in the local neighborhood community. We pray for the health and healing through the Holy Spirit’s presence among each and every person. We pray for the Spirit’s guidance and protection, and where needed, a faith revival in the community.

If you would like to participate in this Tuesday’s Prayer Walk right here in the heart of Toronto, please arrive at BLCF at 7:30PM, where we gather for music and prayer before commencing on our Prayer Walk and join other prayer warriors from local churches.

For our lesson today, we have three Scripture verses that describe three different accounts of people in need of healing or cleansing and restoration. The first two describe men afflicted with Leprosy. To better understand this disease, let us review a Wikibits description:

Leprosy – from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
BLCF: Leprosy Rates 2002 - WHO

Leprosy /ˈlɛprəsi/,[1] also known as Hansen’s disease (HD) is a chronic infection caused by the bacteria Mycobacterium leprae[2] and Mycobacterium lepromatosis.[3] Initially, infections are without symptoms and typically remain this way for 5 to as long as 20 years.[2] Symptoms that develop include granulomas of the nerves, respiratory tract, skin, and eyes.[2] This may result in a lack of ability to feel pain and thus loss of parts of extremities due to repeated injuries.[4] Weakness and poor eyesight may also be present.

[ Leprosy is curable with treatment. Globally in 2012, the number of chronic cases of leprosy was 189,000 and the number of new cases was 230,000.[2] The number of chronic cases has decreased from some 5.2 million in the 1980s. In the past 20 years, 16 million people worldwide have been cured of leprosy.[2] About 200 cases are reported per year in the United States.[8]

Leprosy has affected humanity for thousands of years.[4] The disease takes its name from the Latin word lepra, which means “scaly”, while the term “Hansen’s disease” is named after the physician Gerhard Armauer Hansen.[4] Separating people by placing them in leper colonies still occurs in places such as India,[9] China,[10] and Africa.[11] However, most colonies have closed since leprosy is not very contagious.[11] Leprosy has been associated with social stigma for much of history, which is a barrier to self-reporting and early treatment.[2] Some consider the word leper offensive, preferring the phrase “persons affected with leprosy”.[12]

While Wikipedia indicates that Leprosy can be cured, I believe it more accurate to say that the disease’s progression can be stopped, but nerve damage and disfigurement remain. The healing in the Scriptures indicates a full restoration of the individual’s body. Because it typically takes between 5 to 20 years for the infected person to show symptoms, damage to the skin, nerves, lungs, limbs, and eyes can only be arrested by treatment, not reversed.

The first of today’s Scriptures, from 2 Kings 5:1-27, is the account of Naaman who was a brave commander in the army of the king of Syria. Naaman was an effective commander, even being described as being given victory in battle by the Lord. However, the soldier was afflicted with Leprosy:

Naaman Healed of Leprosy
BLCF: Leprosy

5 Naaman, commander of the army of the king of Syria, was a great man with his master and in high favor, because by him the Lord had given victory to Syria. He was a mighty man of valor, but he was a leper.[a] 2 Now the Syrians on one of their raids had carried off a little girl from the land of Israel, and she worked in the service of Naaman’s wife. 3 She said to her mistress, “Would that my lord were with the prophet who is in Samaria! He would cure him of his leprosy.”

4 So Naaman went in and told his lord, “Thus and so spoke the girl from the land of Israel.” 5 And the king of Syria said, “Go now, and I will send a letter to the king of Israel.”

So he went, taking with him ten talents of silver, six thousand shekels[b] of gold, and ten changes of clothing. 6 And he brought the letter to the king of Israel, which read, “When this letter reaches you, know that I have sent to you Naaman my servant, that you may cure him of his leprosy.” 7

And when the king of Israel read the letter, he tore his clothes and said, “Am I God, to kill and to make alive, that this man sends word to me to cure a man of his leprosy? Only consider, and see how he is seeking a quarrel with me.”

8 But when Elisha the man of God heard that the king of Israel had torn his clothes, he sent to the king, saying, “Why have you torn your clothes? Let him come now to me, that he may know that there is a prophet in Israel.”

9 So Naaman came with his horses and chariots and stood at the door of Elisha’s house. 10 And Elisha sent a messenger to him, saying, “Go and wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh shall be restored, and you shall be clean.”

11 But Naaman was angry and went away, saying, “Behold, I thought that he would surely come out to me and stand and call upon the name of the Lord his God, and wave his hand over the place and cure the leper. 12 Are not Abana[c] and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Could I not wash in them and be clean?” So he turned and went away in a rage. 13 But his servants came near and said to him, “My father, it is a great word the prophet has spoken to you; will you not do it? Has he actually said to you, ‘Wash, and be clean’?” 14 So he went down and dipped himself seven times in the Jordan, according to the word of the man of God, and his flesh was restored like the flesh of a little child, and he was clean.

BLCF: naaman-healed
Gehazi’s Greed and Punishment

15 Then he returned to the man of God, he and all his company, and he came and stood before him. And he said, “Behold, I know that there is no God in all the earth but in Israel; so accept now a present from your servant.” 16 But he said, “As the Lord lives, before whom I stand, I will receive none.” And he urged him to take it, but he refused.

17 Then Naaman said, “If not, please let there be given to your servant two mule loads of earth, for from now on your servant will not offer burnt offering or sacrifice to any god but the Lord. 18 In this matter may the Lord pardon your servant: when my master goes into the house of Rimmon to worship there, leaning on my arm, and I bow myself in the house of Rimmon, when I bow myself in the house of Rimmon, the Lord pardon your servant in this matter.” 19 He said to him, “Go in peace.”

But when Naaman had gone from him a short distance, 20 Gehazi, the servant of Elisha the man of God, said, “See, my master has spared this Naaman the Syrian, in not accepting from his hand what he brought. As the Lord lives, I will run after him and get something from him.” 21

So Gehazi followed Naaman. And when Naaman saw someone running after him, he got down from the chariot to meet him and said, “Is all well?” 22 And he said, “All is well. My master has sent me to say, ‘There have just now come to me from the hill country of Ephraim two young men of the sons of the prophets. Please give them a talent of silver and two changes of clothing.’” 23 And Naaman said, “Be pleased to accept two talents.” And he urged him and tied up two talents of silver in two bags, with two changes of clothing, and laid them on two of his servants. And they carried them before Gehazi. 24 And when he came to the hill, he took them from their hand and put them in the house, and he sent the men away, and they departed.

25 He went in and stood before his master, and Elisha said to him, “Where have you been, Gehazi?” And he said, “Your servant went nowhere.” 26 But he said to him, “Did not my heart go when the man turned from his chariot to meet you? Was it a time to accept money and garments, olive orchards and vineyards, sheep and oxen, male servants and female servants? 27 Therefore the leprosy of Naaman shall cling to you and to your descendants forever.” So he went out from his presence a leper, like snow.

Footnotes: a. 2 Kings 5:1 Leprosy was a term for several skin diseases; see Leviticus 13 b. 2 Kings 5:5 A talent was about 75 pounds or 34 kilograms; a shekel was about 2/5 ounce or 11 grams c. 2 Kings 5:12 Or Amana

Naaman is convinced by his wife’s servant of how a prophet in-home Israel, could heal her master of his affliction. Naaman tells his lord, the King of Syria of the servant girl’s belief and asks for leave to go to Israel. The king sends Naaman, along with a letter, to the king of Israel. The King of Israel, upon reading the letter, tears his clothing as only God can heal a man of Leprosy and suspects that the request is a ruse by the King of Syria to start a war against Israel.

In 2 Kings 5:8 we see how the Lord responds to the faith of the servant from Israel, the Syrian Commander and His prophet Elisha:

When Elisha the man of God heard that the king of Israel had torn his clothes, he sent to the king, saying, “Why have you torn your clothes? Let him come now to me, that he may know that there is a prophet in Israel.

It is interesting that Elisha takes Naaman out of his comfort zone, by not greeting the commander’s entourage, accepting the monetary gifts, and by specifying that Naaman immerses himself in the River Jordan seven times. Elisha’s response to Naaman asks the commander for humility and trust from Naaman, while clearly disassociating the healing from any worldly influence so that credit would go solely to the Lord. Elisha, unlike some of today’s “fake faith healers” did not want, as Naaman had expected, make an overt show of the healing. The prophet refused a treasure of gifts in exchange for the miracle. Elisha wanted Naaman to be aware that it was the Lord and Nauuman’s trust in the Lord that brought the healing. Trust leads to belief, and belief leads to faith in God.

Naaman initially hesitates to obey Elisha’s instructions, angered by both the reception from Elisha and the unexpected method of the healing, is convinced to follow the directions from the prophet. Naaman is healed and acknowledges God, but tries to reward Elisha who reuses a wealth of gifts. Elisha tells Naaman that healing is a gift from God, not the prophet.

We should not forget that Naaman’s faith and healing from God were initiated by a nameless servant girl’s faith and testimony. This servant girl was abducted from her home in a raid by Syrian soldiers, loses all of her petitions and retains only her faith in God. She seems to have every right to allow her master to suffer from his affliction of Leprosy, after all, he is a commander of her captors responsible for her servitude. The servant could have offered to tell her master of healing from God in exchange for her freedom, but the account gives no indication that she was released after Naaman was healed. The servant’s sharing her belief with her master was based on her compassion for an oppressor and her faith in God.

Later, we see that Elisha’s servant, Gehazi, is tempted and accepts the gifts offered by Naaman by telling Naaman that Elisha had a change in heart. Gehazi hides the offering in his house and denies to Elisha that he went out. We see that Elisha is aware and disappointed in Gehazi’s actions as we see in 2 Kings 5:26-27:

“Did not my heart go when the man turned from his chariot to meet you? Was it a time to accept money and garments, olive orchards and vineyards, sheep and oxen, male servants and female servants? Therefore the leprosy of Naaman shall cling to you and to your descendants forever.” So he went out from his presence a leper, like snow.

We could almost call this passage “A Tale of Two Servants,” where the faith of one servant brings faith and healing to a Gentile, while another servant brings upon himself a harsh judgment for his greed and lack of faith.

Our second Scripture Luke 17:11-19 tells of how ten Lepers are healed by Jesus, but only one of the ten, also a Gentile, returns to acknowledge the Lord:

Jesus Cleanses Ten Lepers
BLCF: Jesus_Heals_Ten_Lepers

11 On the way to Jerusalem he was passing along between Samaria and Galilee. 12 And as he entered a village, he was met by ten lepers,[a] who stood at a distance 13 and lifted up their voices, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.” 14 When he saw them he said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went they were cleansed. 15 Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice; 16 and he fell on his face at Jesus’ feet, giving him thanks. Now he was a Samaritan. 17 Then Jesus answered, “Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine? 18 Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” 19 And he said to him, “Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well.”[b]

Footnotes: a. Luke 17:12 Leprosy was a term for several skin diseases; see Leviticus 13 b. Luke 17:19 Or has saved you

In Luke 17:19, we see that the Lord acknowledges the healed man’s praise:

“Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well.”

Based upon our first two Scriptures, one might conclude that Jesus first came to heal the world of their physical afflictions. Though the Lord did demonstrate compassion for the afflicted and healed them, this was not the reason why Jesus came to the world, as we see in Mark 2:13-17:

Jesus Calls Levi
BLCF: Mark 2_13-17

 

13 He went out again beside the sea, and all the crowd was coming to him, and he was teaching them. 14 And as he passed by, he saw Levi the son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax booth, and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he rose and followed him.

15 And as he reclined at table in his house, many tax collectors and sinners were reclining with Jesus and his disciples, for there were many who followed him. 16 And the scribes of[a] the Pharisees, when they saw that he was eating with sinners and tax collectors, said to his disciples, “Why does he eat[b] with tax collectors and sinners?” 17 And when Jesus heard it, he said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”

Footnotes: a. Mark 2:16 Some manuscripts and b. Mark 2:16 Some manuscripts add and drink

Jesus came not to heal us of physical ailments; instead, the Lord came to cleanse us of our Spiritual afflictions, which is sin. This is why the Lord sought to associate with tax collectors and sinners, described in Mark 2:17:

“Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”

Jesus came to minister and heal sinners, it is important to focus not on the fact that two Lepers were healed, but the faith of those messengers who brought healing.

It is interesting that while Naaman came out of his comfort zone by trusting and obeying the instructions of God’s prophet, Elisha, the Syrian commander came to faith-based upon the testimony of a nameless servant girl. A servant who took compassion upon a commander of a foreign nation that had taken her into a life of servitude. She left her comfort zone by sharing her faith with a leader in the country in which she was held captive.

Remember that the only one of ten Lepers’, who were healed by the compassion of Jesus to acknowledge the Lord, was a foreigner, a Samaritan.

We are reminded that we are commissioned as apostles or messengers of the Lord to share the Gospel of Christ not with whom whose company we feel comfortable, but with those whom we may avoid or whose company we like. We see this in the Scripture passage that we have adopted as our Mission statement for our BLCF Café Community Dinner, see Matthew 25:31-46:

The Final Judgment
BLCF: Matthew 25_31-46

31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. 34 Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’

37 Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38 And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39 And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’

40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers,[a] you did it to me.’

41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ 44

Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ 45 Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ 46 And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

Footnotes: a Matthew 25:40 Or brothers and sisters

Finally, may we accept that while the Lord, and later the Apostles, did perform many miracles of physical healing, Jesus came solely to heal the world of sin? The Apostles’ were given the Great Commission by Christ: to spread the good news, the Gospel, that Christ died for our salvation from the spiritual affliction of sin. We are challenged to step out of our comfort zone and associate with those who are untouchable and disenfranchised, considered unrighteous by others.

Let us pray…

Closing Hymn #318: When We Walk with the Lord 

Benediction – (2 Corinthians 13:14):

May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.

BLCF: are-you-committed-or-merely-involved

Join Local Community Churches In a Prayer Walk in the Heart of Toronto at BLCF this Tuesday June 2, at 7:30PM

BLCF: Prayerwalking -taking prayer to the streets

Join BLCF’s Prayer Walk in the Heart of Toronto

Tuesday, June 2, at 7:30 PM

Bloor Lansdowne Chrstian Fellowship – BLCF Church

1307 Bloor Street West, Toronto

1 block south and 1/2 block west of Landowne Subway Station

Toronto 416-535-9578

BLCF: Prayer_Walk

Tuesday evening, June 2, at 7:30 PM, will mark BLCF Church’s turn to host the monthly Prayer Walk in The City. For over a decade, a group of over half a dozen churches participates in a Prayer Walk, where the participants, usually in pairs, walk and pray in the local neighborhood community. We pray for the health and healing through the Holy Spirit’s presence among each and every person. We pray for the Spirit’s guidance and protection, and where needed, a faith revival in the community.  If you would like to participate in this Tuesday’s Prayer Walk right here in the heart of Toronto, please arrive at BLCF at 7:30PM, where we gather for music and prayer before commencing on our Prayer Walk and join other prayer warriors from local churches.

BLCF: prayer-changes-everything

 

BLCF: praywalk

Ministers of God’s New Covenant, Sufficient by Way of the Spirit

BLCF: Proverbs_9_10

‘Ministers of God’s New Covenant, Sufficient by Way of the Spirit’

© May 24, 2015 2015 by Steve Mickelson

BLCF Bulletin May 24, 2015

BLCF: fires_of_pentecost

 

Announcements & Call to Worship: Responsive Reading #639                                                      (The Holy Spirit Given – Acts 2); Prayer

Opening Hymn #204: “There’s a Quiet Understanding”; Choruses

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

Today’s Scriptures:

Deuteronomy 4:32-40, 2 Corinthians 3:4-11, Acts 1:1-5, Acts 2:1-13

BLCF: Pentecost

Let us pray…

Today is Sunday May 24, 2015, which according to scholars of the Bible is Pentecost Sunday. So it is not difficult to understand that our lesson today at Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship is on the subject of Pentecost.

Let us begin by understanding what is meant by Pentecost. Let us begin by a definition via Wikibits:

Pentecost

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

BLCF: PENTECOST_SHAVOT

Pentecost (Ancient Greek: Πεντηκοστή [ἡμέρα], Pentēkostē [hēmera], “the fiftieth [day]”) is the Greek name for Shavuot, the Feast of Weeks, a prominent feast in the calendar of ancient Israel celebrating the giving of the Law on Sinai. This feast is still celebrated in Judaism as Shavuot. Later, in the Christian liturgical year, it became a feast commemorating the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles and other followers of Jesus Christ (120 in all), as described in the Acts of the Apostles 2:1–31.[1] For this reason, Pentecost is sometimes described by some Christians today as the “Birthday of the Church”.

In the Eastern church, Pentecost can also refer to the whole fifty (50) days between Easter and Pentecost, hence the book containing the liturgical texts for Paschaltide is called the Pentecostarion. The feast is also called White Sunday, or Whitsunday, especially in England, where the following Monday was traditionally a public holiday. Pentecost is celebrated fifty days (i.e. 49 days with the first day counted, seven weeks) after Easter Sunday, hence its name.[2] Pentecost falls on the tenth day after Ascension Thursday (which falls 40 days after Easter).

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

Perhaps a shorter definition would be, that for Christians, Pentecost is the day upon which the Lord Jesus sent to those believers in the Resurrected Christ the Holy Spirit. The arrival of the Spirit also is generally considered to be the moment that the Christian Church was born.

Before the advent of Jesus, the Word Made Flesh, who: died on the cross for all the sins of humanity, was resurrected from the grave, and then ascended back into heaven, humanity had to rely solely upon God’s Laws which were given to Moses, along with His Covenant under those Laws, as we see in Deuteronomy 4:32-40 (ESV):

The Lord Alone Is God

BLCF: Obedience

32 “For ask now of the days that are past, which were before you, since the day that God created man on the earth, and ask from one end of heaven to the other, whether such a great thing as this has ever happened or was ever heard of. 33 Did any people ever hear the voice of a god speaking out of the midst of the fire, as you have heard, and still live? 34 Or has any god ever attempted to go and take a nation for himself from the midst of another nation, by trials, by signs, by wonders, and by war, by a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, and by great deeds of terror, all of which the Lord your God did for you in Egypt before your eyes? 35 To you it was shown, that you might know that the Lord is God; there is no other besides him. 36 Out of heaven he let you hear his voice, that he might discipline you. And on earth he let you see his great fire, and you heard his words out of the midst of the fire. 37 And because he loved your fathers and chose their offspring after them[a] and brought you out of Egypt with his own presence, by his great power, 38 driving out before you nations greater and mightier than you, to bring you in, to give you their land for an inheritance, as it is this day, 39 know therefore today, and lay it to your heart, that the Lord is God in heaven above and on the earth beneath; there is no other. 40 Therefore you shall keep his statutes and his commandments, which I command you today, that it may go well with you and with your children after you, and that you may prolong your days in the land that the Lord your God is giving you for all time.”                                             

Footnotes: a. Deuteronomy 4:37 Hebrew his offspring after him

God sent His Son, Jesus to establish a New Covenant, not of Law, but of the Spirit, as we see in 2 Corinthians 3:4-11 (ESV):

BLCF: 10 Commandments

Such is the confidence that we have through Christ toward God. Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God, who has made us sufficient to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.

Now if the ministry of death, carved in letters on stone, came with such glory that the Israelites could not gaze at Moses’ face because of its glory, which was being brought to an end, will not the ministry of the Spirit have even more glory? For if there was glory in the ministry of condemnation, the ministry of righteousness must far exceed it in glory. 10 Indeed, in this case, what once had glory has come to have no glory at all, because of the glory that surpasses it. 11 For if what was being brought to an end came with glory, much more will what is permanent have glory.

God’s Old Covenant included a judgement and death for sin or transgressions against any of God’s Commandments which were written laws that no one could hope to keep. If a person violated a law under the Old Covenant, they were expected to bring a sacrifice, usually a lamb or dove, to the Temple Priest. Every time a sin was committed, a sacrifice had to be made. If a person committed a sin and did not make to the temple to offer a sacrifice, say they died before getting to the temple, then they would be considered in violation of the Law which brings the judgment of death.

Then there is the possibility of violating a Commandment in a manner that seems unintentional. Breaking any of the ten without confession and sacrifice brings the same judgment of death.

The Tenth Commandment is: “Thou should not covet.”  Now take the case of parent who wants to provide the best for his or her children. We all want to provide for their needs. After all, children deserve the best that we as parents are able to provide. That is what I wanted for mine. But suppose my son or daughter wants something that is the latest, greatest and most popular item. After all, everybody, all of their friends and peers want it; desire it; covet it. So by purchasing such an item, are we not in danger of facilitating covetous behaviour? We may rationalize the “keeping up with the Jones” as not violating God’s Law, just as Adam and Eve ate forbidden fruit because it was “appealing to the eye” and would “give God’s knowledge of good and evil”, which are aspects that they coveted.  Regardless of the rational, if we covet, we sin. And if we sin, under the law, we die. So it is under the Covenant of the Law.

Jesus came to establish a New Covenant, a Covenant of the Spirit, which is also a Covenant of Life. Christ was the last and final sacrifice. It is no longer necessary to bring sacrifices to the temple’s high priest. Through the Lord, we are forgiven of our transgressions, sanctified, under the new Covenant. After he ascended to Heaven, Jesus sent to all believers the Holy Spirit to bring understanding to our testimony of the Gospel to whomever we witness. It is not by our ability, but by the power of the Spirit that a non-believer becomes convicted in faith.

The New Covenant from God was of Salvation and Life, by faith in Jesus Christ, Acts 1:1-5 (ESV):

The Promise of the Holy Spirit

BLCF: JESUS IN THE UPPER ROOM_

1 In the first book, O Theophilus, I have dealt with all that Jesus began to do and teach, until the day when he was taken up, after he had given commands through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom he had chosen. He presented himself alive to them after his suffering by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God.

And while staying[a] with them he ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, “you heard from me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with[b] the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”                                                                                      

Footnotes: a. Acts 1:4 Or eating b. Acts 1:5 Or in

The description of the arrival of the Holy Spirit to the believers in Christ is found in Acts 2:1-13 (ESV):

The Coming of the Holy Spirit

BLCF: pentecost1

2 When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested[a] on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.

Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven. And at this sound the multitude came together, and they were bewildered, because each one was hearing them speak in his own language. And they were amazed and astonished, saying, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each of us in his own native language? Parthians and Medes and Elamites and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, 11 both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabians—we hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God.” 12 And all were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” 13 But others mocking said, “They are filled with new wine.”               

 Footnotes: a. Acts 2:3 Or And tongues as of fire appeared to them, distributed among them, and rested

It is not surprising that some of those non-believers who observed the behavior of the disciples’ of Christ, who through the Great Commission had become Apostles or Messengers of Jesus, misunderstood what they observed when the Spirit arrived. For the spectators were wise in the world, not the Spirit, 1 Corinthians 2:11-16 (ESV):

Wisdom from the Spirit

BLCF: Ephesians-1-17

11 For who knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. 12 Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. 13 And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual.[a]

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. 15 The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one. 16 “For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.                                             

 Footnotes: a. 1 Corinthians 2:13 Or interpreting spiritual truths in spiritual language, or comparing spiritual things with spiritual

Let us pray…

Closing Hymn #225: Standing on the Promises

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: Pentecost_header

Trust and Faith in the Lord: Our Keys to Hope, Joy and Peace

BLCF: faith_in_God

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

‘Trust and Faith in the Lord: Our Keys to Hope, Joy and Peace’

© May 17, 2015 2015 by Steve Mickelson

BLCF Bulletin May 17, 2015

BLCF: hope_joy_peace 

Announcements & Call to Worship: Responsive Reading #601(Faith and Confidence – Psalm 27); Prayer

Opening Hymn #235:  “What Must I Do?” Choruses

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

Today’s Scriptures: Psalm 91:1-6, Matthew 13:53-58, John 20:19-29

BLCF: i_believe

 

Let us pray…

For our lesson today May 17, 2015, with Pentecost Sunday just one week away, I would like to discuss the disciple of Jesus who, thanks to a short passage of the Scriptures, been tagged with the unfortunate moniker of a doubter or skeptic. As you have likely guessed, I am talking about Thomas or Didymus, which means “the twin”, who we more commonly refer to as: “Doubting Thomas.” Thomas comes from the Hebrew or Aramaic root which means “the twin.” Didymus is from the Greek and also means “the twin.” It is likely that Thomas was born as a twin hence the unusual nickname.

But the skeptical response by Thomas to the his fellow disciples, as described in the following Scripture in John 20, verses 19-29, helped to earn him the unfortunate title as doubter:

John 20:19-29 (ESV) Jesus Appears to the Disciples

 BLCF: resurrected

19 On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews,[a] Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” 20 When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. 21 Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” 22 And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.”

Jesus and Thomas

BLCF: Incredulity of St Thomas

24 Now Thomas, one of the Twelve, called the Twin,[b] was not with them when Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.”

26 Eight days later, his disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.” 28 Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” 29 Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

Footnotes: a. John 20:19 Greek Ioudaioi probably refers here to Jewish religious leaders, and others under their influence, in that time b. John 20:24 Greek Didymus

To be clear our terminology, I will refer to what I commonly “Wikibits.” So what is meant by the term “skeptic,” often applied to Thomas?

Dictionary.com: skeptic – noun

  1. A person who questions the validity or authenticity of something purporting to be factual.
  2. A person who maintains a doubting attitude, as toward values, plans, statements, or the character of others.
  3. A person who doubts the truth of a religion, especially Christianity, or of important elements of it.

 

Both the secular and Christian community, make frequent use of the term “Doubting Thomas,” in reference to Jesus’ disciple. Another idiom associated with Thomas, is “Seeing is believing.”

 

Wikibits: Seeing is Believing

BLCF: Augustine-Of-Hippo-faith-reward

Seeing is believing is an idiom first recorded in this form in 1639 that means “only physical or concrete evidence is convincing”. It is the essence of St. Thomas‘s claim to Jesus Christ, to which the latter responded that there were those who had not seen but believed. It leads to a sophistry that “seen evidence” can be easily and correctly interpreted, when in fact, interpretation may be difficult.

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

The Scripture Verses, featured in today’s lesson and printed in this morning’s bulletin, talk about how important belief, trust and faith are, in our faith walk, as believers in the Resurrected Christ.

The first Scripture, taken from Psalm 91, verses 1-6, we see that trust and faithfulness used interchangeably, describing a mutual regard between a believer and God. Just as we are faithful to God, He is faithful to us:

Psalm 91:1-6 (ESV) My Refuge and My Fortress

BLCF: Psalm_91_1-6

91 He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High     

will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.

I will say[a] to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress,     

my God, in whom I trust.”

For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler     

and from the deadly pestilence.

He will cover you with his pinions,     

and under his wings you will find refuge;     

his faithfulness is a shield and buckler.

You will not fear the terror of the night,     

nor the arrow that flies by day,

nor the pestilence that stalks in darkness,     

nor the destruction that wastes at noonday.

Footnotes: a. Psalm 91:2 Septuagint He will say

The next Scripture passage in the bulletin is Matthew 13, verses 53-58, describes how our Lord was rejected, in spite of his wisdom and miracles, because of the “unbelief” among many of the people in his hometown of Nazareth:

Matthew 13:53-58 (ESV) Jesus Rejected at Nazareth

BLCF: Jesus-preaching-at-synagogue-at-nazareth

53 And when Jesus had finished these parables, he went away from there, 54 and coming to his hometown he taught them in their synagogue, so that they were astonished, and said, “Where did this man get this wisdom and these mighty works? 55 Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not his mother called Mary? And are not his brothers James and Joseph and Simon and Judas? 56 And are not all his sisters with us? Where then did this man get all these things?” 57 And they took offense at him. But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his hometown and in his own household.” 58 And he did not do many mighty works there, because of their unbelief.

While John 20:19-29 does describe the doubts of Thomas, who was absent when Jesus first appeared to the other disciples in the Upper room on the day of his resurrection, the Lord did show the disciples the very same wounds that Thomas asked to see, as well as breathing the Spirit into the disciples, to help them understand the significance of what they were witnessing.

While Thomas was skeptical of the Lord, when he first encountered Jesus, he was by no means the only disciple to have doubts on that day. Let us look at a passage of Scripture, not found in some of the earlier manuscript’s:

Mark 16:9-20 (ESV) Jesus Appears to Mary Magdalene

[Some of the earliest manuscripts do not include 16:9–20.][a]

BLCF: Jesus_appears_to_Mary_Magdalene

[[Now when he rose early on the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, from whom he had cast out seven demons. 10 She went and told those who had been with him, as they mourned and wept. 11 But when they heard that he was alive and had been seen by her, they would not believe it.

Jesus Appears to Two Disciples

BLCF: road_to_Emmaus

12 After these things he appeared in another form to two of them, as they were walking into the country. 13 And they went back and told the rest, but they did not believe them.

The Great Commission

The Great Commission Matthew 28:16-20

14 Afterward he appeared to the eleven themselves as they were reclining at table, and he rebuked them for their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they had not believed those who saw him after he had risen. 15 And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. 16 Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. 17 And these signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; 18 they will pick up serpents with their hands; and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover.”

19 So then the Lord Jesus, after he had spoken to them, was taken up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God. 20 And they went out and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the message by accompanying signs.]]

Footnotes: a. Mark 16:9 Some manuscripts end the book with 16:8; others include verses 9–20 immediately after verse 8. At least one manuscript inserts additional material after verse 14; some manuscripts include after verse 8 the following: But they reported briefly to Peter and those with him all that they had been told. And after this, Jesus himself sent out by means of them, from east to west, the sacred and imperishable proclamation of eternal salvation. These manuscripts then continue with verses 9–20

In Mark 16, verses 9-20, the remaining eleven disciples demonstrated the same level of doubt and skepticism towards Mary and the two disciples on the Emmaus Road, when they had reported seeing Jesus on the day of his resurrection. And like, Thomas, the eleven were rebuked for their unbelief.

Our previous Upper Room account of the Resurrected Jesus appearing before the Eleven Disciples in John 20:19-29 does not give a reason why Thomas was absent. The diciples had cloistered themselves in the Upper Room because they feared that the angry mob would crucify them as they had the Lord. Whatever the reason for Thomas’ absence, whether it was to get food for the disciples or to attend to the needs of others, it was important enough for him to risk his own personal safety while the other disciples chose to stay behind a bolted door. We do know that the reason Thomas left the the safety of the Upper Room, it was not for doing something nefarious, as was the case of Judas Iscariot, who betrayed Jesus for thirty pieces of silver. The Mark 16 account has the Lord returning specifically for the assurance of Thomas, so that the disciple would believe. In the John 20 account Jesus gave a mini-Pentecost, breathing upon the eleven the Holy Spirit which gave them the power of the Spirit and to understand the Lord’s purpose.Thomas being absent did not receive the Spirit at that time. The Lord’s prerequisite to receive the Holy Spirit is that a convert demonstrates faith in the Jesus, which Christ ensured by his returning to the Upper room to reveal himself to Thomas. This was an act of both compassion and faith by the Lord, and shows us that he would not leave any of his sheep behind.

Unfortunately, Thomas bears the brunt of the blame for his skepticism towards the others’ news of the Lord’s resurrection, which overshadows the ministry that Thomas performed in spreading the Gospel of Christ, which is the “The Great Commission” given by Jesus to all the disciples. In the sharing of the Gospel, the disciples became apostles or messengers of Christ. Here is a brief summary of work of the Apostle Thomas, which is really germane to his work:

BLCF: St_Thomas_Apostle

Thomas the Apostle (called Didymus which means “the twin”) was one of the Twelve Apostles of Jesus Christ, according to the New Testament. He is informally called doubting Thomas because he doubted Jesus’ resurrection when first told, (in the Gospel of John), followed later by his confession of faith, “My Lord and my God”, on seeing Jesus’ wounded body.

Traditionally, he is said to have travelled outside the Roman Empire to preach the Gospel, travelling as far as India.[2][5][6][7] According to tradition, the Apostle reached Muziris, India in AD 52 and baptized several people, founding what today are known as Saint Thomas Christians or Nasranis. After his death, the reputed relics of Saint Thomas the Apostle were enshrined as far as Mesopotamia in the 3rd century, and later moved to various places.[citation needed] In 1258, some of the relics were brought to Abruzzo in Ortona, Italy, where they have been held in the Church of Saint Thomas the Apostle.[8] He is often regarded as the Patron Saint of India,[9][10] and the name Thoma remains quite popular among Saint Thomas Christians of India.

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

I feel that by focusing on an account which describes Thomas as having some doubts, which were no more severe than that exhibited by the other disciples, instead of his service in spreading the Gospel as far east as India, we do the apostle a disservice.

The New Testament is full of accounts describing the disciples as having doubts or lapses of faith, particularly before receiving the Holy Spirit. But the work that the disciples, now as apostles or messengers of the Gospel, was accomplished by them, even to the point of their own deaths, is far more significant to the Christian Church of believers, The Apostle Thomas is included as an important contributor to the Great Commission  given to all believers in Jesus, as Lord and Savior.

Let us pray…

Closing Hymn #317: Blessed Assurance, Jesus Is Mine

Benediction – (Romans 15:13):  May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.

BLCF: believe-without-seeing

 

Mother’s Day Message – Divine Miracles to Satisfy: A Wedding, a Widow, and a Multitude

BLCF: faith_thanking-God_in_advance

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

Divine Miracles to Satisfy: A Wedding, a Widow, and a Multitude

© May 10, 2015, by Steve Mickelson

BLCF Bulletin May 10, 2015

BLCF: God_I_need_a_miracle

 

Announcements & Call to Worship:

Responsive Reading #603 (Divine Providence – Psalm 34);Prayer

Opening Hymn #417: What a Fellowship, What a Joy Divine; Choruses

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

Today’s Scriptures: John 2:1-12, 2 Kings 4:1-7, Matthew 14:13-21    

 

BLCF: bread-of-life 

 Let us pray…

Good morning and welcome to BLCF Church’s Praise and Worship Service  on this Mother’s Day, Sunday May 10, 2015. I pray the Lord will bring a special blessing to our mom’s attending the service, today.

For our lesson this morning, I would like to examine how the Lord supplies for the needs of those who serve Him faithfully. Today’s lesson, ‘Divine Miracles to Satisfy: A Wedding, a Widow, and a Multitude, began with the reading of three accounts in the Bible, where the Lord responded to needs of His faithful servants by way of a Divine miracle.

The first Scripture, John 2:1-12, describes the miracle at the wedding at Cana:

John 2:1-12 (ESV) The Wedding at Cana

BLCF: thefirstmiracle

2 On the third day there was a wedding at Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Jesus also was invited to the wedding with his disciples. When the wine ran out, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.” And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what does this have to do with me? My hour has not yet come.” His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”

Now there were six stone water jars there for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons.[a] Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water.” And they filled them up to the brim. And he said to them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the feast.” So they took it. When the master of the feast tasted the water now become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the master of the feast called the bridegroom 10 and said to him, “Everyone serves the good wine first, and when people have drunk freely, then the poor wine. But you have kept the good wine until now.” 11 This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory. And his disciples believed in him.

12 After this he went down to Capernaum, with his mother and his brothers[b] and his disciples, and they stayed there for a few days.

Footnotes: a. John 2:6 Greek two or three measures (metrētas); a metrētēs was about 10 gallons or 35 liters b. John 2:12 Or brothers and sisters. The plural Greek word adelphoi (translated “brothers”) refers to siblings in a family. In New Testament usage, depending on the context, adelphoi may refer either to brothers or to brothers and sisters

In this passage, Jesus was asked by his mother, Mary, to help provide more wine for wedding. The wine had run out and, though Jesus told his mother that his hour had not yet come. Jesus obeyed his mother’s wishes by changing six stone jars of water into wine.

This was the first of the miracles Jesus was to perform as a sign to his disciples of his manifested glory.

The second Scripture, 2 Kings 4:1-7, tells of how widow of one of the sons of the prophets has died, and that a creditor has come to make the widow’s two children his slaves, as payment for the dead man’s debts. The widow asks Elisha to help save her sons:

2 Kings 4:1-7 (ESV) Elisha and the Widow’s Oil

BLCF: widow-oil

4 Now the wife of one of the sons of the prophets cried to Elisha, “Your servant my husband is dead, and you know that your servant feared the Lord, but the creditor has come to take my two children to be his slaves.” And Elisha said to her, “What shall I do for you? Tell me; what have you in the house?” And she said, “Your servant has nothing in the house except a jar of oil.” Then he said, “Go outside, borrow vessels from all your neighbors, empty vessels and not too few. Then go in and shut the door behind yourself and your sons and pour into all these vessels. And when one is full, set it aside.” So she went from him and shut the door behind herself and her sons. And as she poured they brought the vessels to her. When the vessels were full, she said to her son, “Bring me another vessel.” And he said to her, “There is not another.” Then the oil stopped flowing. She came and told the man of God, and he said, “Go, sell the oil and pay your debts, and you and your sons can live on the rest.”

In our second Scripture, Elisha asks the widow, what does she have in the house? Her reply is a single jar of oil. The widow is instructed to acquire as many empty vessels as possible, from her neighbors, close the doors and to fill the empty vessels from her single vessel of oil. When all of the empty vessels were filled, the oil stopped flowing. Elisha instructed the widow to sell the oil from the vessels in order to pay off her debts, and that she and her sons live off the rest.

These two accounts, show how the Lord takes care of the needs of the faithful, providing wine for a wedding and oil for an indebted widow.

The third Scripture account, Matthew 14:13-21, describes how Jesus multiplies five loaves of bread and six fish to feed some five thousand men, plus their women and children:

Matthew 14:13-21(ESV)

BLCF: feeding-the-multitude

13 Now when Jesus heard this, he withdrew from there in a boat to a desolate place by himself. But when the crowds heard it, they followed him on foot from the towns. 14 When he went ashore he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them and healed their sick. 15 Now when it was evening, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a desolate place, and the day is now over; send the crowds away to go into the villages and buy food for themselves.” 16 But Jesus said, “They need not go away; you give them something to eat.” 17 They said to him, “We have only five loaves here and two fish.” 18 And he said, “Bring them here to me.” 19 Then he ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass, and taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven and said a blessing. Then he broke the loaves and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. 20 And they all ate and were satisfied. And they took up twelve baskets full of the broken pieces left over. 21 And those who ate were about five thousand men, besides women and children.

In these three miracle accounts, we see that the Lord provided an abundance of wine, oil and food to take care of his faithful servants. Not only do these miracles demonstrate the ‘Glory of God’, they provide food from the earth and wine to gladden the believers’ hearts; oil to make his face shine and to gladden their hearts, as well.

It is appropriate that on Mother’s Day, we see that the first two miracles are in response to requests from His faithful servants, who are mothers seeking the Lord’s help for the needs of others. It is just like a mother, who is faithful to the Lord, to put the needs of others ahead of her own!

In the three Scripture accounts that we studied, we have miracles of the Lord providing an abundance of wine, oil and food, all staples and necessities of life. These miracles demonstrate how God provides for the needs of His own, which the Psalmist acknowledges in, Psalm 104:13-16 (ESV):

13 From your lofty abode you water the mountains;     t

he earth is satisfied with the fruit of your work.

14 You cause the grass to grow for the livestock     

and plants for man to cultivate, that he may bring forth food from the earth 15     

and wine to gladden the heart of man, oil to make his face shine     

and bread to strengthen man’s heart.

16 The trees of the Lord are watered abundantly,     

the cedars of Lebanon that he planted.

BLCF: God_blesses_those

Our righteousness, as demonstrated by our obedience to God, gives us His reward of wine, oil and food, to gladden our hearts. In the same manner, when we honor and obey our parents, we provide joy to our parents. For when we honor our parents, we honor His commandment, Proverbs 23:22-25 (ESV):

22 Listen to your father who gave you life,     

and do not despise your mother when she is old.

23 Buy truth, and do not sell it;     

buy wisdom, instruction, and understanding.

24 The father of the righteous will greatly rejoice;     

he who fathers a wise son will be glad in him.

25 Let your father and mother be glad;     

let her who bore you rejoice.

BLCF: God Listens

When we are not obedient to the Lord, by not serving God and following His commandments; worshipping other gods, we face His wrath and judgment, Deuteronomy 11:13-17 (ESV):

13 “And if you will indeed obey my commandments that I command you today, to love the Lord your God, and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul, 14 he[a] will give the rain for your land in its season, the early rain and the later rain, that you may gather in your grain and your wine and your oil. 15 And he will give grass in your fields for your livestock, and you shall eat and be full. 16 Take care lest your heart be deceived, and you turn aside and serve other gods and worship them; 17 then the anger of the Lord will be kindled against you, and he will shut up the heavens, so that there will be no rain, and the land will yield no fruit, and you will perish quickly off the good land that the Lord is giving you.

Footnotes: a. Deuteronomy 11:14 Samaritan, Septuagint, Vulgate; Hebrew I; also verse 15

And just as a servant of the Lord may look to Him to provide for the physical needs, Jesus promises to provide for our spiritual needs, John 6:35 (ESV): 

BLCF: I_Am_The_Bread

                                                 

35 Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.

The Divine Miracles shared in today’s lesson are: wine, oil and bread, all multiplied by the power of the Lord. The three  are not just staples of our physical life, providing for the physical needs, when blessed, they are also used as elements of spiritual worship; wine and bread when we remember the Lord as elements of communion and oil to anoint those who seek His healing.

Just as the ordinary elements of these staples of life are transformed to elements of spiritual worship, when blessed through faith, by faith, ordinary people are elevated to a place of sanctification when they accept, by faith, the gifts of the bread of life and living water, given by our Lord and Saviour, Jesus.

The provision of the Devine, both physically and spiritually, is faith’s reward, which gladdens our hearts and glorifies His name. Let us praise His name and share the Gospel of the Lord Jesus unto the ends of the earth and until the end of our days.

Let us pray…

Closing Hymn #408: I Will Sing of My Redeemer

Benediction – (Philippians 4:19-20):  And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. To our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen

BLCF: believe

BLCF Café Fundraiser featuring A Cup of Cold Water to Benefit the Homeless and Marginalized right in the Heart of Toronto May 20

BLCF CAFE Community Dinner Fundraiser at the Café Wednesday, May 20, 2015 at 6:30PM in the heart of Toronto at Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church,  featuring Cup of Cold Water. Join us at the Café and bring a friend. See BLCF Café Info Brochure:

BLCF Cafe Info Brochure

BLCF: COCW_2015

Rendering Heavenly Treasures: Sanctified in His Truth and Unified by His Spirit

BLCF: Jesus_Savior

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

‘Rendering Heavenly Treasures: Sanctified in His Truth and Unified by His Spirit’

© May 3, 2015 2015 by Steve Mickelson

BLCF Bulletin May 3, 2015

BLCF: enemy_of_greed

Announcements & Call to Worship:                                                                                                            

Responsive Reading #618(Heavenly Treasure – Matthew 6); Prayer 

Opening Hymn #484: It Only Takes a Spark: Choruses

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

Today’s Scriptures: Mark 12:13-17, Matthew 6:19-20, John 18:33-40, John 17:1-19

BLCF: Caesar_Coin__Tiberius 

Mark 12:13-17 (ESV) Paying Taxes to Caesar

13 And they sent to him some of the Pharisees and some of the Herodians, to trap him in his talk. 14 And they came and said to him, “Teacher, we know that you are true and do not care about anyone’s opinion. For you are not swayed by appearances,[a] but truly teach the way of God. Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not? Should we pay them, or should we not?” 15 But, knowing their hypocrisy, he said to them, “Why put me to the test? Bring me a denarius[b] and let me look at it.” 16 And they brought one. And he said to them, “Whose likeness and inscription is this?” They said to him, “Caesar’s.” 17 Jesus said to them, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” And they marveled at him.                                                                                                                                                               

Footnotes: a. Mark 12:14 Greek you do not look at people’s faces b. Mark 12:15  A denarius was a day’s wage for a laborer

BLCF: HEAVENLY-TREASURE

Let us pray…

Good morning and welcome to BLCF Church’s Praise and Worship Service for the first Sunday of May, 2015, which is also Communion Sunday.

Sometimes, the toughest part about writing a lesson is to remember that while I may struggle to clarify a verse or some aspect of the Gospel, I must remind myself that help is available from both the Holy Spirit and fellow members of the Body of Believers. Just as Moses and Paul succeeded in their respective missions, when they allowed the Lord to guide their path, rather than depending solely on their own strengths. While, as believers in the Resurrected Christ, we share the Gospel Message; it is the power and work of the Spirit is responsible to convict, transform and grow the faith conversion of the non-believer.

At times, Christian believers struggled to heed the guidance of the Spirit, as had both the prophets and the disciples at times. An example of this challenge was given by Pastor Charles Stanley, writing his Tips for Being Led by the Holy Spirit, as appeared in the online Charisma Magazine:

 

BLCF: F-Stanley-

Pastor Charles Stanley shares how to walk in step with the Holy Spirit’s promptings.

Several years ago during a photographic trip, my group had been traveling up a trail for almost three hours, and I began to have a funny feeling that we were going in the wrong direction. I asked the guide about it, and he assured me that everything was fine. Not wanting to be presumptuous, I kept walking. After a few minutes, I noticed that my sense of uneasiness persisted; in fact, it was growing stronger. I pulled out my compass and looked at the map. Sure enough, we were headed away from our intended destination.

It took us close to an hour and a half to return to where we had taken the incorrect turn off the trail. Sadly, this meant that by the time we got to the site, our window for taking photographs was cut short.

The event helped me to realize two valuable lessons. First, when we sense an internal witness encouraging us to take a certain course of action, we should listen. Second, when you and I choose people to guide us, we must be certain they know the path ahead better than we do.

Have you ever felt something alerting you to pay attention or pulling you in a particular direction? Perhaps you were listening to a sermon and you sensed God telling you to follow Him in obedience. Or maybe you walked into a restaurant and were filled with dread, as if you should leave quickly.

If you are a believer, then most likely these feelings were the prompting of the Holy Spirit, who always guides you to understand and accept the Father’s will. He is the One speaking to your heart, warning you about danger and encouraging you to submit to God’s purposes.

Unlike the fellow who accompanied us on that photographic trip, the Holy Spirit is a trustworthy guide who will never lead us astray and knows the path ahead much better than we do. Apart from Him, you and I cannot live a godly life. Galatians 5:16 instructs, “Walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh” (NASB). The Holy Spirit empowers us to resist sin and obey God. But He does so much more: He also helps us to understand Scripture and enables us to fellowship with the Lord. He will never advise us to do anything that contradicts Scripture.

http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/spiritual-growth/15418-guided-by-the-spirit

BLCF: render_unto_Caesar_Malczewski_Jacek_Grosz_czynszowy

Today’s first Scripture verse, Mark 12:13-17, gives an account where Jesus was challenged by a group of Pharisees and Herodians, who hoped to snare the Lord into speaking out against taxes, by asking, (verse 14): “Teacher, we know that you are true and do not care about anyone’s opinion. For you are not swayed by appearances, but truly teach the way of God. Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not? Should we pay them, or should we not?”

We see that the Spirit allowed the Lord to discern their motives and give an answer which satisfied both their faith values, while not being subversive to authority of Rome,(verses 15-17): “Why put me to the test? Bring me a denarius[b] and let me look at it.” 16 And they brought one. And he said to them, “Whose likeness and inscription is this?” They said to him, “Caesar’s.” 17 Jesus said to them, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” And they marveled at him.

The stumbling block for many Christians is living in a world that based upon a completely different set of values from those held by our Lord, Matthew 6:19-20:

BLCF: Heavenly_Treasures

 Lay Up Treasures in Heaven

19 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.                   

We find that the proponents of both the Empire of Rome, represented by Pilate and Pharisees, or chief priests, struggled with the truth of God as was taught by Jesus, John 18:33-40:

BLCF: Jesus_and_Pilate

My Kingdom Is Not of This World

33 So Pilate entered his headquarters again and called Jesus and said to him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” 34 Jesus answered, “Do you say this of your own accord, or did others say it to you about me?” 35 Pilate answered, “Am I a Jew? Your own nation and the chief priests have delivered you over to me. What have you done?” 36 Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.” 37 Then Pilate said to him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.” 38 Pilate said to him, “What is truth?”

After he had said this, he went back outside to the Jews and told them, “I find no guilt in him. 39 But you have a custom that I should release one man for you at the Passover. So do you want me to release to you the King of the Jews?” 40 They cried out again, “Not this man, but Barabbas!” Now Barabbas was a robber.[a]  

Footnotes: a. John 18:40 Or an insurrectionist

The Pharisees and Herodians, not being guided by the Spirit, understood neither the purpose nor the truth brought to them by Jesus. Their lack of understanding came as a result of the absence of faith and trust in powers of Heaven.

While Pilate, the Pharisees and Herodians may have failed to accept or understand the truth of the Lord, those disciples and others who believed were the focus of the High Priestly Prayer that Jesus prayed just before his crucifixion, John 17:1-19:

BLCF; Jesus Prayed

The High Priestly Prayer

17 When Jesus had spoken these words, he lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you, since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do. And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.

6“I have manifested your name to the people whom you gave me out of the world. Yours they were, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. Now they know that everything that you have given me is from you. For I have given them the words that you gave me, and they have received them and have come to know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me. I am praying for them. I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours. 10 All mine are yours, and yours are mine, and I am glorified in them. 11 And I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one. 12 While I was with them, I kept them in your name, which you have given me. I have guarded them, and not one of them has been lost except the son of destruction, that the Scripture might be fulfilled. 13 But now I am coming to you, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves. 14 I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 15 I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one.[a] 16 They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 17 Sanctify them[b] in the truth; your word is truth. 18 As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. 19 And for their sake I consecrate myself,[c] that they also may be sanctified[d] in truth.                                      

Footnotes: a. John 17:15 Or from evil b. John 17:17 Greek Set them apart (for holy service to God) c. John 17:19 Or I sanctify myself; or I set myself apart (for holy service to God) e. John 17:19 Greek may be set apart (for holy service to God)

We know that Jesus often left the disciples in order to pray. John 17 gives us an insight of not only whom the Lord prayed for, but reveals to us the nature of his advocacy on behalf of Christian believers after he ascended to heaven.  We note the difference between those who heeded the words of the Lord and those who rejected it, (verses 6-11):

6“I have manifested your name to the people whom you gave me out of the world. Yours they were, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. Now they know that everything that you have given me is from you. For I have given them the words that you gave me, and they have received them and have come to know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me. I am praying for them. I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours. 10 All mine are yours, and yours are mine, and I am glorified in them. 11 And I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one.

In John 17, Jesus continues to pray for the believers’ sanctification (in the truth), protection from Satan (the evil one), and Christ’s determination to set himself apart so that the believers may continue to remain sanctified in the truth – all implemented by the companion in the Holy Spirit which was sent in place of Christ after his ascension into heaven.

For all believers are united by Holy Spirit, given as a reward to confession of their sins and faith that Jesus died for those sins. Believers are instructed to share the Gospel of Jesus and to gather together in the name of the Lord and observe the sacrifice and Lordship, until the day that he returns.

Let us pray…

BLCF: Communion

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

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.

Closing Hymn #505: Out in the Highways and Byways of Life

Benediction – (Romans 12:1-2):                                                                                                                        

I appeal to you therefore brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. 

BLCF: he-prayed-for-you