A Few of the Hat Tricks in Christ’s Gospel

BLCF: John-11-25-header

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

‘A Few of the Hat Tricks in Christ’s Gospel’

© September 20, 2015 by Steve Mickelson

BLCF Bulletin September 20, 2015

BLCF: hat trick weather

Responsive Reading #635 (Comfort from Christ – John 14); Prayer                                       

Opening Hymn #365: I Am Weak but Thou Art Strong; Choruses

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

Today’s Scriptures: John 18:15-27, John 21:14-19, 2 Corinthians 12:1-18

John 18:15-27 (ESV) Peter Denies Jesus

BLCF: Peters-denial

15 Simon Peter followed Jesus, and so did another disciple. Since that disciple was known to the high priest, he entered with Jesus into the courtyard of the high priest, 16 but Peter stood outside at the door. So the other disciple, who was known to the high priest, went out and spoke to the servant girl who kept watch at the door, and brought Peter in. 17 The servant girl at the door said to Peter, “You also are not one of this man’s disciples, are you?” He said, “I am not.” 18 Now the servants[a] and officers had made a charcoal fire, because it was cold, and they were standing and warming themselves. Peter also was with them, standing and warming himself.

The High Priest Questions Jesus

BLCF: Jesus-trial

19 The high priest then questioned Jesus about his disciples and his teaching. 20 Jesus answered him, “I have spoken openly to the world. I have always taught in synagogues and in the temple, where all Jews come together. I have said nothing in secret. 21 Why do you ask me? Ask those who have heard me what I said to them; they know what I said.” 22 When he had said these things, one of the officers standing by struck Jesus with his hand, saying, “Is that how you answer the high priest?” 23 Jesus answered him, “If what I said is wrong, bear witness about the wrong; but if what I said is right, why do you strike me?” 24 Annas then sent him bound to Caiaphas the high priest.

Peter Denies Jesus Again

BLCF: Peter_denies_Christ

25 Now Simon Peter was standing and warming himself. So they said to him, “You also are not one of his disciples, are you?” He denied it and said, “I am not.” 26 One of the servants of the high priest, a relative of the man whose ear Peter had cut off, asked, “Did I not see you in the garden with him?” 27 Peter again denied it, and at once a rooster crowed.

Footnotes: a. John 18:18 Greek bondservants; also verse 26

John 21:14-19 (ESV) Jesus and Peter

BLCF: feed my lambs

14 This was now the third time that Jesus was revealed to the disciples after he was raised from the dead.

15 When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.” 16 He said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.” 17 He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep. 18 Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you used to dress yourself and walk wherever you wanted, but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go.” 19 (This he said to show by what kind of death he was to glorify God.) And after saying this he said to him, “Follow me.”

Footnotes: a. John 21:8 Greek two hundred cubits; a cubit was about 18 inches or 45 centimeters

2 Corinthians 12:1-18 (ESV) Paul’s Visions and His Thorn

BLCF: my-grace-is-sufficient-for-you-for-my-power-is-make-perfect-in-weakness

12 I must go on boasting. Though there is nothing to be gained by it, I will go on to visions and revelations of the Lord. 2 I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows. 3 And I know that this man was caught up into paradise—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows— 4 and he heard things that cannot be told, which man may not utter. 5 On behalf of this man I will boast, but on my own behalf I will not boast, except of my weaknesses— 6 though if I should wish to boast, I would not be a fool, for I would be speaking the truth; but I refrain from it, so that no one may think more of me than he sees in me or hears from me. 7 So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations,[a] a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. 8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Concern for the Corinthian Church

BLCF: 2Corinthians12-14

11 I have been a fool! You forced me to it, for I ought to have been commended by you. For I was not at all inferior to these super-apostles, even though I am nothing. 12 The signs of a true apostle were performed among you with utmost patience, with signs and wonders and mighty works. 13 For in what were you less favored than the rest of the churches, except that I myself did not burden you? Forgive me this wrong!

14 Here for the third time I am ready to come to you. And I will not be a burden, for I seek not what is yours but you. For children are not obligated to save up for their parents, but parents for their children. 15 I will most gladly spend and be spent for your souls. If I love you more, am I to be loved less? 16 But granting that I myself did not burden you, I was crafty, you say, and got the better of you by deceit. 17 Did I take advantage of you through any of those whom I sent to you? 18 I urged Titus to go, and sent the brother with him. Did Titus take advantage of you? Did we not act in the same spirit? Did we not take the same steps?

Footnotes: a. 2 Corinthians 12:7 Or hears from me, even because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations. So to keep me from becoming conceited

BLCF: hat-trick

Let us pray…

Welcome to Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship’s Praise and Worship Service. Our lesson today is entitled: ‘A Few of the Hat Tricks in Christ’s Gospel’

BLCF: hat_trick_a_brief_history

For those of you who do not follow sports, particularly hockey, a hat trick is a term that refers to when a player scores three goals during the course of a game. The fans of the player’s team will mark this rather rare event by throwing their hats onto the ice; hence the term “hat trick.” This hockey tradition has recently found its way to other sports. Those who follow baseball, and the Blue Jays quest to return to the post season after a draught of some 22 years, may recall recently that Toronto slugger Edwin Encarnación recently achieved the milestone of three home runs in one home game. The Canadian Blue Jay fan’s showed their appreciation by throwing hats onto the playing field. Encarnación, who hails from the Dominican Republic, could be excused for being puzzled by the hat trick accolade. But his team mates, familiar with hockey, filled Edwin in with the significance of the rain of hats. Later, the media posted a photo of Edwin proudly posing with a huge bag full of hats.

BLCF: edwin_hat_trick

Back to today’s lesson, in which I hope to talk about a few of the trios found in the gospel of Christ, by referring to the Scripture verses listed in today’s Bulletin. But, let me first direct you to the verses at the bottom inside of the Bulletin, just below the order of service:

John 13:36-14:4 (ESV) Jesus Foretells Peter’s Denial

BLCF: Number3

36 Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, where are you going?” Jesus answered him, “Where I am going you cannot follow me now, but you will follow afterward.” 37 Peter said to him, “Lord, why can I not follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.” 38 Jesus answered, “Will you lay down your life for me? Truly, truly, I say to you, the rooster will not crow till you have denied me three times.

In John 13:36-14, we read the Lord’s response to his disciple, Peter’s promise to lay his life for Jesus, in verse 38: 38 Jesus answered, “Will you lay down your life for me? Truly, truly, I say to you, the rooster will not crow till you have denied me three times.

In the second part of the Scripture passage, Jesus tries to assuage his disciples’ concern his prophecy of betrayal and absence, with a promise to return to them, in John 14:1-4, with the sub-heading, I Am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life:

14 “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God;[a] believe also in me. 2 In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?[b] 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. 4 And you know the way to where I am going.”[c]

Footnotes: a. John 14:1 Or You believe in God b. John 14:2 Or In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you c. John 14:4 Some manuscripts Where I am going you know, and the way you know

 

BLCF: grace-mercy

 

The Scriptures read today began with John’s Gospel account where Simon Peter denies knowing Jesus, not once or twice, but three times, (John 18:15-27). This illustrates, how well the Lord understands each of his children’s failings, even in the realm of our faith. In Matthew’s account (Matthew 26:75) we see Peter’s visceral reaction to how accurately the Lord perceived Peter’s weakness: And Peter remembered the saying of Jesus, “Before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times.” And he went out and wept bitterly.

Fortunately, Jesus loves us in spite of our weaknesses and failings, which is why he surrendered to the cross, to remove our judgement and to forgive us. We see this illustrated in our next Scripture passage, John 21:14-19, where Jesus revealed himself for a third time to the disciples, following his resurrection. The first time was in the Upper Room on the evening of his resurrection and the second was eight days later in the same Upper Room, for the benefit of the disciple, Thomas. And just as in the two prior revelations, Jesus revealed himself with the breaking of bread.

After eating together, Jesus had a conversation with Peter, where the Lord asked the disciple three times whether Peter loved him. And three times, Peter affirmed his love for Jesus. It was as if the Lord forgave his disciple for each of the three occasions that Peter denied Jesus. And after each affirmation, the Lord gave an instruction to the disciple:

First the Lord said: “Feed my lambs”, followed by: “Tend my sheep”, and then: “Feed my sheep”; all references to his flock who comprised the body of Christ’s Church. Christ concluded by telling Peter to “Follow me”, indicating that Peter would end up following Jesus and surrendering his life for the Lord, as prophesized in John 13:36-37:

36 Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, where are you going?” Jesus answered him, “Where I am going you cannot follow me now, but you will follow afterward.” 37 Peter said to him, “Lord, why can I not follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.”

BLCF: Peters death predicted

Our third triad in the scriptures is found in the third of today’s Scriptures, 2 Corinthians 12:1-18, which occurs after Pentecost; the Apostle Paul shares, in his letter to the Corinthian Church, his visions and his thorn. His vision speaks of a third heaven, a reference to Genesis 1:7-8, which you may find a graphic representation on the front of today’s Bulletin. The earth’s atmosphere is the First Heaven; above this is the vacuum of space, being the Second Heaven; then above this are the waters above the firmament; and finally above all is the Third Heaven, where God’s Throne is located. In addition to the privilege of having a vision of to harass the apostle and to keep him humble and not conceited by the importance of the revelation.

BLCF: My_Grace_is_sufficient

Three times Paul pleaded with Jesus to remove this affliction and we see the Lord’s answer in 2 Corinthians 12:8-10:

9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

As Christians, we are consoled that not only is the lord’s grace sufficient for our needs, but Christ’s power is made perfect in our weakness. Paul states when we are afflicted with the thorns of weakness, insults, hardships, persecutions and calamites, we are strong in Christ.

Paul shares that he will return to the Corinthian Church, for the sake of the people, willing to surrender himself to save their souls.

From Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, we understand the Lord’s expectation that his messengers have the same agape, or unconditional love, as Jesus had demonstrated for others. In return, the Lord promised never to leave or forsake us. This is faith’s reward to his flock that follows the Lord, in spite of the obstacles that are given to us, when we heed the calling of the Lord to follow him.
Let us pray…

Closing Hymn #232: I Hear the Savior Say

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: keep-calm

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Satisfy Your Righteous Hunger with the Bread of Life

BLCF; bread-of-life-communion

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

‘Satisfy Your Righteous Hunger with the Bread of Life’

© September 13, 2015, by Steve Mickelson

BLCF Bulletin September 13, 2015

BLCF: Christ-is-our-food_-We-eat-Christ-by-eating-His-word-which-is-Spirit-and-life

 

Announcements & Call to Worship                                                                     

Responsive Reading #632: God’s Redeeming Love (John 3 & 1John 4); Prayer

Opening Hymn #14: Rejoice, Ye Pure in Heart

Offering & Prayer: Hymn #572 Praise God from Whom All Blessings

Scripture Readings: Exodus 17:1-7 and John 6:22-59

BLCF: making-disciples-header

 

Exodus 17:1-7 (ESV) Water from the Rock

Blood from a Stone

17 All the congregation of the people of Israel moved on from the wilderness of Sin by stages, according to the commandment of the Lord, and camped at Rephidim, but there was no water for the people to drink. Therefore the people quarreled with Moses and said, “Give us water to drink.” And Moses said to them, “Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you test the Lord?” But the people thirsted there for water, and the people grumbled against Moses and said, “Why did you bring us up out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and our livestock with thirst?” So Moses cried to the Lord, “What shall I do with this people? They are almost ready to stone me.” And the Lord said to Moses, “Pass on before the people, taking with you some of the elders of Israel, and take in your hand the staff with which you struck the Nile, and go. Behold, I will stand before you there on the rock at Horeb, and you shall strike the rock, and water shall come out of it, and the people will drink.” And Moses did so, in the sight of the elders of Israel. And he called the name of the place Massah[a] and Meribah,[b] because of the quarreling of the people of Israel, and because they tested the Lord by saying, “Is the Lord among us or not?”

Footnotes: a. Exodus 17:7 Massah means testing b. Exodus 17:7 Meribah means quarreling

 

John 6:22-59 (ESV) I Am the Bread of Life

BLCF: i_am_the_bread

22 On the next day the crowd that remained on the other side of the sea saw that there had been only one boat there, and that Jesus had not entered the boat with his disciples, but that his disciples had gone away alone. 23 Other boats from Tiberias came near the place where they had eaten the bread after the Lord had given thanks. 24 So when the crowd saw that Jesus was not there, nor his disciples, they themselves got into the boats and went to Capernaum, seeking Jesus.

25 When they found him on the other side of the sea, they said to him, “Rabbi, when did you come here?” 26 Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you are seeking me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. 27 Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal.” 28 Then they said to him, “What must we do, to be doing the works of God?” 29 Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.” 30 So they said to him, “Then what sign do you do, that we may see and believe you? What work do you perform? 31 Our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’” 32 Jesus then said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. 33 For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” 34 They said to him, “Sir, give us this bread always.”

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. 36 But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe. 37 All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. 38 For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. 39 And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. 40 For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”

41 So the Jews grumbled about him, because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.” 42 They said, “Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How does he now say, ‘I have come down from heaven’?” 43 Jesus answered them, “Do not grumble among yourselves. 44 No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day. 45 It is written in the Prophets, ‘And they will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me— 46 not that anyone has seen the Father except he who is from God; he has seen the Father. 47 Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life. 48 I am the bread of life. 49 Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. 50 This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. 51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.”

52 The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” 53 So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. 54 Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. 55 For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. 56 Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. 57 As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever feeds on me, he also will live because of me. 58 This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like the bread[a] the fathers ate, and died. Whoever feeds on this bread will live forever.” 59 Jesus[b] said these things in the synagogue, as he taught at Capernaum.

Footnotes: a. John 6:58 Greek lacks the bread b. John 6:59 Greek He

 

BLCF: i_am_the_bread_of_life

 

Let us pray…

Good morning and welcome to BLCF Church Praise and Worship Service. For our lesson for the Sunday morning, we will discuss how to: ‘Satisfy Your Righteous Hunger with the Bread of Life.’

When we look at today’s Scripture verses, Exodus 17:1-7 and John 6:22-59, we see two accounts of the people of Israel not only dissatisfied with their lot, actually grumbling about it. I suppose the message could have been titled: “A Tale of Two Grumblers.” Still, grumbling and quarreling happen amongst members of His Church, though it is something born of the Spirit of God.

The first account, from Exodus 17, Moses as prophet and leader of the People of Israel, known later as Jews, has to deal with their complaints about how they thirst, as well as their demands to be provided with water. The People of Israel not only grumbled against Moses (Exodus 17:3), they questioned Moses about the presence of God (Exodus 17:7).

It seems that the People of Israel had lost their faith, in spite of all the miracles of God that they had witnessed: the 10 Plagues of Egypt, the Pillar of Fire, the parting of the Red Sea, and the manna God sent from heaven to feed them.

Rather than honoring God by prayer and trusting Him in faith, the people began to quarrel with Moses and questioned the presence of God in their midst.

We see that God provided for the needs of His people (Israel), by providing manna to eat and water from the rock at (Mount) Horeb. In honour of the bickering Moses received from his people, he named the place “Massah and Meribah”, the respective meaning of Massah being testing and Meribah being quarreling, as the people had quarreled with Moses and they tested the Lord by saying, “Is the Lord among us or not?”

Our second Scripture verse, John 6:22-59, gives us of another account of grumbling and testing by God’s Chosen People, at the synagogue which is found at the location of another spring, located in the village of Capernaum. Our Wikibits describes Capernaum as follows:

Josephus referred to Capernaum as a fertile spring. He stayed the night there after spraining his ankle. During the first Jewish revolt of 66–70, Capernaum was spared as it was never occupied by the Romans.                                                                                    

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Capernaum

 

Following the miracle that Jesus had performed, where he multiplied the bread and fish to feed the gathered multitude, a crowd had followed the Lord to Capernaum. Like their forefathers, these Jews sought not because of the miracles performed by God’s supernatural power, but because they hungered for more bread, as we see in John 6:26-27,

26 Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you are seeking me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. 27 Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal.”

BLCF: Bread-from-Heaven

 

Jesus uses his understanding that the crowds have followed him to Capernaum because of hunger for food to talk about feeding a spiritual hunger which is more important.

Jesus speaks of God’s desire to fill his children’s need for Spiritual through Jesus, who is described as being “the Bread of Life.”

And like their forefathers, the Jews grumbled. They grumbled about Jesus (John 6:41), refusing to believe or to have faith in the Lord being the true manifestation of the “Bread of Life.” Jesus continues to explain that the only path to God’s salvation and grace is by faith in Jesus as the Son of God. (John 6:55-57).

The anxiety that People of Israel exhibited in Exodus 17 and by their descendants, the Jews, in John 6, were hunger of a worldly and physical nature, for water and bread, respectively. Along with their hunger and thirst came anxiety. Even after being fed, they would eventually die when their physical lives reached their end,(John 6:58-59).

Those who believed and ate from the eternal bread and water that Christ offered would not die, but live forever, (John 6:53-57).

As believers in the resurrected Christ, if we grumble and complain amongst ourselves, we are not demonstrating to the world a love and joy that comes from faith in the Lord. Rather than complaining and grumbling, we should always rejoice in the Lord as seen in Philippians 4:4-8, which is printed on the back of today’s bulletin:

Philippians 4:4-8 (ESV) Rejoice in the Lord always

BLCF: Philippians-4-Scripture

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

This expression of prayer, supplication, thanksgiving, and joy leads to a peace which surpasses all understanding. Our focus should be on the positive aspects of faith: that which is pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, and worthy of praise. These are things are righteous pursuits, which we should be the focus of our attention and about which there is no fault for us to grumble. By seeking them we follow a righteous path and are promised to receive the Lord’s blessing, ():

Matthew 5:6 and 11 (ESV)

BLCF: blessed_are

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

11 “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.

Let our hunger and thirst be of a righteous in nature, for in this pursuit we cannot find fault in others, as such grumbling is not an expression of Christ-like love and an acknowledgement of the joy that comes from grace of God, by allowing Jesus to be our Lord, Saviour, an example in how we treat others.

 

Let us pray…

 BLCF: Rejoice_and_be_Glad

 

Closing Hymn #177: Rejoice, the Lord is King                                                                              

 

Benediction – (Romans 15:5): May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

 

BLCF: rejoice-in-the-Lord

Stewards of God’s Grace by Living for His Glory

BLCF: Stewardship-Banner

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

Stewards of God’s Grace by Living for His Glory’

© September 6, 2015 by Steve Mickelson

BLCF: Bulletin September 6, 2015

BLCF: 1 peter 4_10

 

Announcements & Call to Worship, Prayer

Responsive Reading #652: Divine Judgment (2 Peter 3)

Opening Hymn #317: Blessed Assurance, Jesus Is Mine

Offering & Prayer: Hymn #572 Praise God from Whom All Blessings

Scripture Reading: 1 Corinthians 12:1-11 and Matthew 20:1-14

 

1 Corinthians 12:1-11 (ESV) Spiritual Gifts

BLCF: 1Corinthians_12_1-11

12 Now concerning[a] spiritual gifts,[b] brothers,[c] I do not want you to be uninformed. You know that when you were pagans you were led astray to mute idols, however you were led. Therefore I want you to understand that no one speaking in the Spirit of God ever says “Jesus is accursed!” and no one can say “Jesus is Lord” except in the Holy Spirit.

Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. For to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, 10 to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. 11 All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills.

Footnotes: a. 1 Corinthians 12:1 The expression Now concerning introduces a reply to a question in the Corinthians’ letter; see 7:1 b. 1 Corinthians 12:1 Or spiritual persons c. 1 Corinthians 12:1 Or brothers and sisters

 

Matthew 20:1-14 (ESV) Laborers in the Vineyard

BLCF: Laborers-in-the-Vineyard

20 “For the kingdom of heaven is like a master of a house who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. After agreeing with the laborers for a denarius[a] a day, he sent them into his vineyard. And going out about the third hour he saw others standing idle in the marketplace, and to them he said, ‘You go into the vineyard too, and whatever is right I will give you.’ So they went. Going out again about the sixth hour and the ninth hour, he did the same. And about the eleventh hour he went out and found others standing. And he said to them, ‘Why do you stand here idle all day?’ They said to him, ‘Because no one has hired us.’ He said to them, ‘You go into the vineyard too.’ And when evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, ‘Call the laborers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last, up to the first.’ And when those hired about the eleventh hour came, each of them received a denarius. 10 Now when those hired first came, they thought they would receive more, but each of them also received a denarius. 11 And on receiving it they grumbled at the master of the house, 12 saying, ‘These last worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat.’ 13 But he replied to one of them, ‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong. Did you not agree with me for a denarius? 14 Take what belongs to you and go. I choose to give to this last worker as I give to you.

Footnotes: a.Matthew 20:2 A denarius was a day’s wage for a laborer

BLCF: Matthew_11_28-30

Let us pray…

Good morning and welcome to BLCF Church, on this the first Sunday of the month, Communion Sunday, and the day before Labour Day.

Our Lesson today, entitled: ‘Stewards of God’s Grace by Living for His Glory’, where we will discuss the dilemma for Christians, who even though they are stewards of God’s grace, are often challenge to understand all that they think, say and do must be done solely to the glory of God. But what is meant a ‘steward of God’s Grace’? To find out more about a believer’s responsibility of stewardship of God’s Grace. Let us look at our Wikibits from gotquestions.org, to get a better understanding of the biblical definition of stewardship:

BLCF: 2Peter3-18

Question: “What is biblical stewardship?”                                                                               

Answer: In the New Testament, two Greek words embody the meaning of our English word “stewardship.” The first word is epitropos which means “manager, foreman, or steward.” From the standpoint of government, it means “governor or procurator.” At times it was used in the New Testament to mean “guardian,” as in Galatians 4:1-2: “What I am saying is that as long as the heir is a child, he is no different from a slave, although he owns the whole estate. He is subject to guardians and trustees until the time set by his father.” The second word is oikonomos. It also means “steward, manager, or administrator” and occurs more frequently in the New Testament. Depending on the context, it is often translated “dispensation, stewardship, management, arrangement, administration, order, plan, or training.” It refers mostly to the law or management of a household or of household affairs. Notably, in the writings of Paul, the word oikonomos is given its fullest significance in that Paul sees his responsibility for preaching the gospel as a divine trust (1 Corinthians 9:17). Paul refers to his call from God as the administration (stewardship) of the grace of God for a ministry of the divine mystery revealed in Christ (Ephesians 3:2). In this context, Paul is portraying God as the master of a great household, wisely administering it through Paul himself as the obedient servant of the Lord Jesus Christ. Also significant in what Paul is saying is that once we’re called and placed into the body of Jesus Christ, the stewardship that is required of us is not a result of our own power or abilities. The strength, inspiration and growth in the management of our lives must come from God through the Holy Spirit in us; otherwise, our labor is in vain and the growth in stewardship is self-righteous, human growth. Accordingly, we must always remember the sole source of our strength in pleasing God: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13 NJKV). Paul also said, “But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them—yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me” (1 Corinthians 15:10).

( http://www.gotquestions.org/biblical-stewardship.html

 

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This definition of a steward, by the Apostle Paul, of God’s Grace alludes to a sort of symbiotic relationship between the believer and the Holy Spirit. As believers in the Resurrected Christ, we act “as instruments of the Lord” as His hands and feet, where the focus of our actions is to share the Gospel of Jesus in truth with the help of the Spirit, in order to build God’s Church, to His glory! This goal cannot be achieved without the abilities gifted to us by the Holy Spirit to achieve God’s plan.

Which brings us to the first of today’s Scripture verses; 1 Corinthians 12:1-11, which has the subtitle: Spiritual Gifts. We understand from verse 3 of this passage that no one who is truly with the Spirit would ever criticize or curse Jesus. By contrast, one can only say Jesus is Lord, if it acknowledged in the Holy Spirit. The passage continues to state that there is manifest among believers a variety of gifts, service and activities that are respectively associated with the same single Spirit, Lord (Jesus) and God, collective called the Godhead or Holy Trinity. The gifts are associated with the Holy Spirit, while service is related to the Lord Jesus, and other activities that are associated with God.

Any gift comes by way of the Spirit of God, who empowers believers with gifts, the nature and size of the gift is apportioned by the Spirit alone. All believers in the resurrected Christ, who having confessed their sin and claim Jesus as Lord and Saviour, will receive the same gift of salvation. Either you are saved or you are not. And if saved, then all are baptized by the same Holy Spirit to the same degree. But the number of gifts apportioned by the Spirit varies among the believers, according to the will of the Spirit. Each believer receives one or a combination of the gifts for the common good of the church, the body of believers.

 

BLCF: list-of-spiritual-gifts

If you look at the bottom of the inside page of today’s bulletin, you will see a graphic chart that list Spiritual Gifts as described in four places of the New Testament: Romans 12, 1 Corinthians 12, Ephesians 4 and 1 Peter 4. Some gifts, (in Italics), are found in two or more of these passages.

The second of our Scripture verses, Matthew 20:1-14, entitled: ‘Laborers in the Vineyard’, we have an account whereby Jesus shares a Parable to help understand the nature of labour and the type of reward paid to those who chose to work in a vineyard. We see that idle workers are called by the Lord to work in a vineyard at various times of a twelve-hour day: 6AM, 9AM, 3PM, and 5PM. At the end of the day, the workers are called in to be paid in reverse sequence to when they began; those who started last being paid first, ending with first hired being paid last. All receive the same day’s wage of one denarius, regardless of how many hours they worked. When those who labored the longest grumble or complained that they received the same payment as those who were hired the last, the master reminds them that they had received the agreed payment, and master has the choice to pay all the workers the same wage, regardless of the number of hours worked.

We must remember that the Parable is not intended as a literal description of a worldly situation where laborers are hired to work in a vineyard. Instead the Vineyard Parable is intended to help us understand the nature of the spiritual labour performed by a body of workers or believers, who as members of the Church work for the common good of the Church. As workers, we should not preoccupy ourselves with how much labour we have performed or how long we labored, especially when compared to others. When we are called by the Lord and how long we work, and the conditions under which we labour, is determined by the Lord.

Salvation is the payment to those who honor and glorify the Lord. The goal of sharing the gospel of Christ is the same for the Body of Believers or the Church, even though the timing and distribution of the workload among the individual members of the Body varies according to the will of the Spirit, as does the number of gifts the Spirit given to each member of the Body. If we complain about not having the same amount of work or become jealous of the gifts of the Spirit given to another member of the Lord’s Church; the complaint is not of the Spirit. As stewards of God’s grace, how do we ensure that our actions and behavior honors and glorifies Him? We find an answer to this question in 1 Peter 4:1-11, found printed on the back of today’s bulletin:

1 Peter 4:1-11 (ESV) Stewards of God’s Grace

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4 Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh,[a] arm yourselves with the same way of thinking, for whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, so as to live for the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for human passions but for the will of God. For the time that is past suffices for doing what the Gentiles want to do, living in sensuality, passions, drunkenness, orgies, drinking parties, and lawless idolatry. With respect to this they are surprised when you do not join them in the same flood of debauchery, and they malign you; but they will give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead. For this is why the gospel was preached even to those who are dead, that though judged in the flesh the way people are, they might live in the spirit the way God does.

The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers. Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. 10 As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: 11 whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.

Footnotes: a. 1 Peter 4:1 Some manuscripts add for us; some for you

At this time of the service, let us partake the elements of Communion together.

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

BLCF: Communion Sunday

 

Let us pray…

 

Closing Hymn #40: To God Be the Glory                                                                                

 

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

 

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The Parables and the Miracles of the Ministry of Jesus Christ

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Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

‘The Parables and the Miracles of the Ministry of Jesus Christ’

© August 30, 2015 by Steve Mickelson

BLCF Bulletin August 30, 2015

Based on Messages shared with BLCF on December 30, 2012 and September 22, 2013

Christ is the foundation

 

Announcements and Call to Worship: Responsive Reading 664: About Spiritual Gifts (1Corinthians 12); Prayer

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

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

Today’s Scriptures: Matthew 13:10-16; Mark 6:30-44; John 10:37-38

Matthew 13:10-16 The Purpose of the Parables:

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10 Then the disciples came and said to him, “Why do you speak to them in parables?” 11 And he answered them, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. 12 For to the one who has, more will be given, and he will have an abundance, but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. 13 This is why I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. 14 Indeed, in their case the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled that says:

“‘“You will indeed hear but never understand, and you will indeed see but never perceive.” 15 For this people’s heart has grown dull, and with their ears they can barely hear, and their eyes they have closed, lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their heart and turn, and I would heal them.’

16 But blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear.

Mark 6:30-44 (ESV): Jesus Feeds the Five Thousand:

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30 The apostles returned to Jesus and told him all that they had done and taught. 31 And he said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.” For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat.  32 And they went away in the boat to a desolate place by themselves. 33 Now many saw them going and recognized them, and they ran there on foot from all the towns and got there ahead of them. 34 When he went ashore he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. And he began to teach them many things. 35 And when it grew late, his disciples came to him and said, “This is a desolate place, and the hour is now late. 36 Send them away to go into the surrounding countryside and villages and buy themselves something to eat.” 37 But he answered them, “You give them something to eat.” And they said to him, “Shall we go and buy two hundred denarii[a] worth of bread and give it to them to eat?” 38 And he said to them, “How many loaves do you have? Go and see.” And when they had found out, they said, “Five, and two fish.” 39 Then he commanded them all to sit down in groups on the green grass. 40 So they sat down in groups, by hundreds and by fifties. 41 And taking the five loaves and the two fish he looked up to heaven and said a blessing and broke the loaves and gave them to the disciples to set before the people. And he divided the two fish among them all. 42 And they all ate and were satisfied. 43 And they took up twelve baskets full of broken pieces and of the fish. 44 And those who ate the loaves were five thousand men.

Footnote: a. Mark 6:37 A denarius was a day’s wage for a laborer

John 10:37-38 (ESV):

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37 If I am not doing the works of my Father, then do not believe me; 38 but if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me and I am in the Father.”

Let us pray…

As a church, composed of a body of believers in the resurrected Christ, we are gifted with salvation from God’s judgment of sin, the promise of a resurrection from death, and gifts through the Holy Spirit. These gifts empower us to demonstrate as one unified body, the supernatural manifestation of the Spirit as a witness to the Gospel of Lord, as we see in 1 Corinthians 12:1-12 (ESV) :

Spiritual Gifts:

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12 Now concerning spiritual gifts, brothers, I do not want you to be uninformed. 2 You know that when you were pagans you were led astray to mute idols, however you were led. 3 Therefore I want you to understand that no one speaking in the Spirit of God ever says “Jesus is accursed!” and no one can say “Jesus is Lord” except in the Holy Spirit.

4 Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; 5 and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; 6 and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. 7 To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. 8 For to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, 10 to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. 11 All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills. . One Body with Many Members 12 For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ.

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Every Wednesday since January 2008, at the BLCF Cafe Community Dinner, we have been challenged to prepare for, serve to, minister upon, and clean-up after a gathering of to as many as 150 to 200 guests. Many of our volunteers, though attending post-secondary schools are ESL students. That is to say that they grew up speaking another language and have volunteered at the cafe to hone their English skills as well as to serve a compassionate cause. I have observed some of the tricks used by Sophie to communicate how to run the dinner a complex set of activities in a short period of time. To help develop the ESL student’s English skills, Sophie will have an experienced volunteer brief the new volunteers regarding the operating and safety procedures at the café.

Sophie will demonstrate to the volunteers how to prepare; serve each guest, in what order; how to demonstrate friendship and respect; how to deal with unacceptable behavior from guests; when to take breaks; what to do or not do during the message portion of the dinner; when we serve dessert; how to avoid serving a guest twice, before all guests have been served; and even the manner by which the dinner is served. To avoid misunderstanding, Sophie will demonstrate the process by example and often will pair experienced volunteers with new ones so that the new volunteers may observed and learn by following the example of their respective assigned partner. Sophie uses a simple, but effective approach to both acquainting new volunteers with the processes involved with the running the dinner, while forging a team bond among the volunteers.

For our lesson today, we will compare how the actions of the volunteers at the BLCF Café relate to Jesus’ miracles and parables as a living testimony to Christ’s Gospel.

Prior to his crucifixion on the cross for our sins, Jesus ministered for some three and a half years. Jesus was challenged with teaching matters of a spiritual nature to people who have yet to experience Pentecost and before they had received the gift of the Holy Spirit to understand God’s expectations and plans for His people.

To meet this challenge, Christ’s performed a number of miracles and parables to help them understand God’s expectations, promises and plans for His children. To emphasize God ‘compassion for our needs and teach how He can overcome the seemingly impossible, He would perform a miracle.

The miracles of Jesus are the supernatural deeds of Jesus, as recorded in the Gospels. A miracle, being supernatural by definition, is action which defies the laws and rules of nature and is beyond the abilities of the common person. The miracle demonstrates the fact that the power of the Lord exceeds the laws and rules of science and of the world. However, in the Synoptic Gospels (Mark, Matthew, and Luke), Jesus refuses to give a miraculous sign to prove his authority. That is to say, the Lord refused to perform a miracle as a stunt or to entertain those incapable or unwilling to appreciate the Spiritual Power of God.

In John’s Gospel, Jesus is said to have performed seven miraculous signs that characterize his ministry, from changing water into wine at the start of his ministry to raising Lazarus from the dead at the end. We find a good example in the miracle of Jesus feeding the multitude in the Gospel of Mark 6:30-44.

Over the centuries Christian scholars have reviewed, discussed and analyzed the miracles attributed to Jesus in the Gospels. In most cases, authors associate each miracle with specific teachings that reflect the message of Jesus. These scholars view the miracles of Jesus, not merely as acts of power and omnipotence, but as works of love and mercy that are performed not with a view to awe witnesses with a sense of the Lord’s omnipotence, but as a sign of Christ’s compassion for a sinful and suffering humanity. Each miracle involves a specific teaching or lesson.

According to the Gospel of John, it was impossible to narrate all of the miracles performed by Jesus, the miracles presented in the Gospels were selected for a twofold reason: first as a manifestation of God’s glory, and then for their evidential value to the faith of a witness. Jesus referred to his “works” as evidences of his mission and his divinity, and in John 5:36 (ESV), he declared that his miracles have greater evidential value than the testimony of John the Baptist:

BLCF: John_6_57

36 But the testimony that I have is greater than that of John. For the works that the Father has given me to accomplish, the very works that I am doing, bear witness about me that the Father has sent me.

And our Lord challenges those who witnessed his miracles as a validation of the presence of God in Christ, as part of the Godhead or Holy Trinity in the Gospel of John 10:37-38(ESV):

BLCF: who-is-Jesus-Christ

37 If I am not doing the works of my Father, then do not believe me; 38 but if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me and I am in the Father.”

BLCF: Gifts-of-Grace

We see the miracles of the Lord helped teach us Jesus’ plan and the supernatural manner by which it would be achieved. While the miracles were self- evident, the Lord made use of the parable as an aid to teach his purpose and plan.

The parables of Jesus can be found in all the Canonical Gospels as well as in some of the non-Canonical Gospels, but are located mainly within the three Synoptic Gospels (Mark, Matthew, and Luke). They represent a key part of the teachings of Jesus, forming approximately one third of his recorded teachings. Jesus’ parables are seemingly simple and memorable stories, often with imagery, and each conveys a message.

Scholars have commented that although these parables may seem simple, the messages that they convey are deep, and central to the teachings of Jesus. Christian scholars view them not as mere similitude’s which serve the purpose of illustration, but as internal analogies where nature becomes a witness for the spiritual world. In other words the miracle gives the world a glimpse of the supernatural aspects of God’s Spiritual realm.

Many of Jesus’ parables refer to simple everyday things, such as a woman baking bread (parable of the Leaven), a man knocking on his neighbor’s door at night (parable of the Friend at Night), or the aftermath of a roadside mugging (parable of the Good Samaritan); yet they deal with major religious themes, such as the growth of the Kingdom of God, the importance of prayer, and the meaning of love.

Still, the disciples had a problem understanding the purpose of the Lord’s use of the parable, which Jesus explains the Gospel of Matthew 13:10-16 (ESV):

The Purpose of the Parables

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10 Then the disciples came and said to him, “Why do you speak to them in parables?” 11 And he answered them, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. 12 For to the one who has, more will be given, and he will have an abundance, but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. 13 This is why I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. 14 Indeed, in their case the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled that says:

“‘“You will indeed hear but never understand,     

and you will indeed see but never perceive.”

15 For this people’s heart has grown dull,     

and with their ears they can barely hear,     

and their eyes they have closed, lest they should see with their eyes     

and hear with their ears and understand with their heart     

and turn, and I would heal them.’

16 But blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear.

 BLCF: actions_louder_than_words

The parable helped the non-believer to understand the Lord’s spiritual purpose to his miracles. A full understanding only comes by way of the faith of the witness, with help from the Holy Spirit. Belief in the supernatural aspect of a miracle, can lead the observer to supernatural character of the Lord, and in turn to faith in the Lord and belief in the truth of his Gospel.

BLCF: Community-Dinner

Let us now return to our outreach ministry at Wednesday’s BLCF Cafe Community Dinner. To non-believing guests and volunteers, our actions of serving and fellowship are a living parable of the love and sacrifice of Christ. And by the miracle of the power of God’s Holy Spirit, those who accept action of love that are given without any expectation in return, can relate to the gift of God’s unconditional love for His children. This understanding, through the power of the Holy Spirit, helps non-believers understand and accept by faith, God’s unconditional gift of grace, salvation and love, through the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross at Calvary. It is by conviction of the Holy Spirit that believers may preach and teach others the Gospel love of God through Jesus, our Lord and Saviour. It is by acts of unconditional compassion and love, we become a living parable and testimony to the power of the Holy Spirit.

In that regard, Wednesday’s Community Dinner is viewed, by many of our guests and volunteers, as their church. After all, is the Church, God’s holy temple, not a building composed of mortar, wood and bricks located at 1307 Bloor Street West, but the people who gather here to study His word, sing and praise His name, and to glorify their God, as a body of believers’. It is the people who are God’s Holy Temple or Arcs of His New Covenant: Ephesians 2:19-22 (ESV):

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

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

The church or temple of God is not a building that contains a body of worshipers, but rather it is the body of believers that contain the Holy Spirit with Christ as the foundation, 1 Corinthians 3:11 (ESV):

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11 For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.

By sharing the gospel of Jesus in word, thought and deeds to others, we invite them to join His church and share grace of his gifts of salvation and the Holy Spirit through faith, and thus becoming a part of His Church.

I would like to conclude today’s lesson by reciting, as our closing prayer, the following poem, Moments, by author Violet Turner:

Let us pray…

In moments of my deepest sorrow

When I’m tempted to despair

You remind me that you love me

Proving that You’re always there.

And,

In moments when life feels empty

As I’m drowning in the rain,

You reach out to save me

Healing my deepest pain.

And,

In moments when I feel lost

As the waves crash over me,

You cling to me with all Your might

Protecting me in the raging sea.

 

And,

In moments when I want to quit

You help me to believe,

You open my blind eyes

That I may truly see …

 

That,

In a moment of great love

You sacrificed Your perfect Son,

Redeeming me from sin’s grasp

 

So,

In moments of pain and sorrow

I will not give up, nor despair,

Because in Your might love

You’ve proven You’re always there.

 http://christianity.about.com/od/membersubmittedprayers/qt/Moments-Poem.htm

Amen…

Closing Hymn is #12: Praise the Lord, His Glories Show

Benediction – (Romans 15:5-7):

May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.

– Go in Peace of the Lord!

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