Help from the Lord is Just a Prayer Away

BLCF: Psalms121-1,2

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

‘Help from the Lord is Just a Prayer Away’

© October 4, 2015 by Steve Mickelson

BLCF Bulletin October 4, 2015

BLCF: Psalm-121-2-My-help-comes-from-the-LORD

 

Announcements and Call to Worship: Responsive Reading #638 (The Holy Spirit Promised – John 14 and 16); Prayer                                                                  Opening Hymn #44: Unto the Hills Around; Choruses                                             Tithing and Prayer Requests: Hymn #572: Praise God; Prayers                           Today Scriptures: Psalm 121:1-2; Genesis 2:18-24; John 14:25-27; and Hebrews 4:14-16       

Let us pray…

Welcome to BLCF Church, on this first Sunday of October, a Communion Sunday. Our lesson today is entitled: ‘Help from the Lord is Just a Prayer Away’.

BLCF: look-to-gods-roadmap-for-directions

Through a series of verses, we will find how the Lord answers humanity’s collective cry for help: for companionship,  guidance, understanding, peace, mercy, grace, the Holy Spirit, love, the Lord’s testimony, baptism, and unity of faith, to enable us to implement the “Great Commission’ of Sharing the Gospel of Christ.The Scripture verses which we may use as a roadmap to guide us on the path as apostles or messengers of the Gospel are found in your bulletin.

BLCF: Gods-word-needs-to-be-the-roadmap

We need faith in the Lord, and acknowledge Whom will guide us on our journey, as we see in Psalm 121:1-2 (ESV):

My Help Comes from the Lord   

A Song of Ascents.

BLCF: Psalm_121_1-3

121 I lift up my eyes to the hills.     

From where does my help come?

My help comes from the Lord,     

who made heaven and earth.

Our help comes from our creator, our Lord who made heaven and earth. The Lord knows where help is needed among His creation. The first need was Adam’s need for a companion or helper. And so, God created Eve, Genesis 2:18-24 (ESV):

BLCF: Creation_Of_Eve

18 Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for[a] him.” 19 Now out of the ground the Lord God had formed[b] every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens and brought them to the man to see what he would call them. And whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name. 20 The man gave names to all livestock and to the birds of the heavens and to every beast of the field. But for Adam[c] there was not found a helper fit for him. 21 So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. 22 And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made[d] into a woman and brought her to the man.

23 Then the man said, “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.”[e]

24 Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.

Footnotes: a. Genesis 2:18 Or corresponding to; also verse 20 b. Genesis 2:19 Or And out of the ground the Lord God formed c.Genesis 2:20 Or the man d. Genesis 2:22 Hebrew built e. Genesis 2:23 The Hebrew words for woman (ishshah) and man (ish) sound

God created woman not just as a helper, but a wife to man, so that the husband and wife may physically be one in the eyes of the Lord.

We know the story of how the first man and woman fell from God’s grace by the sin of disobedience. This disappointed Him and brought separation of the man and woman from His grace, as well as the judgment of death.

God continued to have love and compassion for His creation, and so he sent His only begotten Son, Jesus, as a final sacrifice to bring forgiveness, grace and a New Covenant to humanity. We acknowledge this sacrificial gift and Covenant, as a united body of believers, every time we partake in Communion.

This New Covenant from the Lord includes not only the promise of our resurrection from death, but also the gift of the continuous presence of God’s Holy Spirit, John 14:25-27 (ESV): 

Jesus Promises the Holy Spirit 

BLCF: Holy_Spirit_Pentecost

25 “These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. 26 But the Helper[a], the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.

Footnotes: a. John 14:26 Or Advocate, or Counselor; also John 14:16; 15:2616:7

Just as the Lord provided for man’s need for companionship, by creating woman as a physical helper; He sends men and woman, grace through Jesus, and Spiritual companionship by way of a Spiritual helper, the Holy Spirit.

Christ’s answer’s humanity’s need for grace and mercy from the Lord. Jesus sends his helper, the Holy Spirit, to provide the faithful with companionship, guidance, understanding, and peace.

Having been forgiven by faith in Jesus as our Lord and savior, and gifted as vessels of the Holy Spirit, we may draw closer to God’s throne of grace in the time of need, with Jesus being our intercessor, the Great High Priest, Hebrews 4:14-16 (ESV):

Jesus the Great High Priest

BLCF: elizabeth-adams-jesus-depicted-as-the-advocate

14 Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

Having received mercy, grace, and the gift of the Spirit, we may gather together, as a Body of Believers or Christ’s Church, where we may ask and receive from God anything according to His will, Matthew 18:19-20 (ESV);

19 Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. 20 For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.”

Salvation is a gift of God, given to us as an expression of His love, 1 John 4:10 (ESV):

10 In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

Having accepted the gifts of salvation and grace from the Lord, we are equipped to share the Gospel of Christ, which is his testimony of love, and our testimony of faith, John 5:6-10 (ESV):

Testimony Concerning the Son of God

BLCF: statememt_of_faith

This is he who came by water and blood—Jesus Christ; not by the water only but by the water and the blood. And the Spirit is the one who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth. For there are three that testify: the Spirit and the water and the blood; and these three agree. If we receive the testimony of men, the testimony of God is greater, for this is the testimony of God that he has borne concerning his Son. 10 Whoever believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself. Whoever does not believe God has made him a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony that God has borne concerning his Son.

Part of our testimony of faith is expressed through the observance of Communion as a single body of believers, where we eat and drink the elements of Communion to acknowledge the lord’s sacrifice on our behalf, 1 Corinthians 12:12-13 (ESV):

One Body with Many Members

BLCF: the_Body_of_Christ

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

As we partake in eating and drinking the tangible elements of Communion, we acknowledge our faith in the intangible gifts of mercy, grace and the Holy Spirit. These gifts allow us to embark on the Great Commission of being sent out to share the gospel unto the ends of the earth, John 20:21 (ESV):

21 Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.”

Let us pray…

Communion: Matthew 26:26-29 (See Below):

Matthew 26:26-29 (ESV) Institution of the Lord’s Supper

BLCF: Communion_Remember_Me

26 Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.” 27 And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you, 28 for this is my blood of the[a] covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. 29 I tell you I will not drink again of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.”

Footnotes: a. Matthew 26:28 Some manuscripts insert new

Closing Hymn #13: Sing Praise to God Who Reigns Above  

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: God_will_provide

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Honoring HIM Most, by Serving the Least

least_of_my_brothers_and_sisters

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

‘Honoring HIM Most, by Serving the Least’

© September 27, 2015 by Steve Mickelson

BLCF: Bulletin September 27, 2015

BLCF: called by example

 

Announcements and Call to Worship:Responsive Reading #633 (The Good Shepherd – John 10); Prayer                    

Opening Hymn #182: Marvelous Message We Bring; Choruses                       

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

Today’s Scriptures: Mark 10:35-45, John 13:1-20, Matthew 25:31-46

 

BLCF: God qualifies the called              

Let us pray,

Welcome to BLCF Church, on this the first Sunday of fall, 2015.  For those of us who live in Toronto, Canada, fall officially arrived last Wednesday, September 23, at 4:21 A.M. EDT. If you did not hear it through the media or from your calendar, you may have not been aware of fall’s arrival.

For our lesson today, ‘Honoring Him Most, by serving the Least’, we will examine what initially seems to be a contradiction in terms, where the disciples of Christ had to be taught on more than one occasion, in more than one way, to empty themselves of their personal selfish ambitions and tendencies towards conceit, seeking to live a life of humility and compassion to others.

The disciples knew that the Lord was the Son of God, anointed with the Spirit, and able to demonstrate the supernatural ability to perform miracles. However, they did not grasp the fact that Jesus came in the likeness of humanity having emptied himself of his godliness to serve as the vessel of humanity’s judgement for sin, and thereby raising us above death and sending us with the Holy Spirit of God. We receive these gifts of God’s love, by our faith, to be reconciled as new creatures reborn in the Spirit.

While the disciples did not benefit from understanding that comes by way of the Spirit, as the day of Pentecost, and the Holy Spirit, had yet to arrive. Perhaps this is why the Lord had to demonstrate to the disciples the need to be humble not just before God, but before others. We see examples of the challenges the Lord encountered in today’s Scripture verses:

Mark 10:35-45 (ESV) The Request of James and John

BLCF: Jesus_James_and_John

35 And James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came up to him and said to him, “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.” 36 And he said to them, “What do you want me to do for you?” 37 And they said to him, “Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory.” 38 Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or to be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?” 39 And they said to him, “We are able.” And Jesus said to them, “The cup that I drink you will drink, and with the baptism with which I am baptized, you will be baptized, 40 but to sit at my right hand or at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared.” 41 And when the ten heard it, they began to be indignant at James and John. 42 And Jesus called them to him and said to them, “You know that those who are considered rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. 43 But it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant,[a] 44 and whoever would be first among you must be slave[b] of all. 45 For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Footnotes: a. Mark 10:43 Greek diakonos b. Mark 10:44 Greek bondservant (doulos)

BLCF: Jesus_Glorified

I believe the answer to the question in the preceding graphic is: “None of the above”.  The two disciples, James and John, assumed that Jesus would be glorified in heaven. We see that the Lord was truly glorified by surrendering himself as a humble sacrifice for the sins of all of humanity. By seeking to share with the same glory of Jesus, they would have to endure the same death as Christ.

Before surrendering himself to judgment on the cross, the Lord took time to again teach his disciples a lesson in humility by washing their feet, assuming the humble station of a house servant.

John 13:1-20 (ESV) Jesus Washes the Disciples’ Feet

BLCF: Jesus-washing-the-disciples-feet

13 Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. During supper, when the devil had already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray him, Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God, rose from supper. He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him. He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, do you wash my feet?” Jesus answered him, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but afterward you will understand.” Peter said to him, “You shall never wash my feet.” Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no share with me.” Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!” 10 Jesus said to him, “The one who has bathed does not need to wash, except for his feet,[a] but is completely clean. And you[b] are clean, but not every one of you.” 11 For he knew who was to betray him; that was why he said, “Not all of you are clean.”

12 When he had washed their feet and put on his outer garments and resumed his place, he said to them, “Do you understand what I have done to you? 13 You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. 14 If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. 15 For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you. 16 Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant[c] is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. 17 If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them. 18 I am not speaking of all of you; I know whom I have chosen. But the Scripture will be fulfilled,[d] ‘He who ate my bread has lifted his heel against me.’ 19 I am telling you this now, before it takes place, that when it does take place you may believe that I am he. 20 Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever receives the one I send receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me.”

Footnotes: a. John 13:10 Some manuscripts omit except for his feet b. John 13:10 The Greek words for you in this verse are plural c. John 13:16 Greek bondservant d.John 13:18 Greek But in order that the Scripture may be fulfilled

Our third Scripture passage, is where the Lord describes The Final Judgment by the example of separating the sheep from the goats.

 

Sheep anf Goats

                                      

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 and sisters, 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.”

The description of goats and sheep attributed to those being judged, where goats are stubborn, defiant and often tend to wonder away from the flock. By contrast, sheep stay in the herd, obediently following their master, listening to his call.

Obedience is illustrated in today’s verses can be described by servant humbly washing the feet of others; by sheep obediently heeding the voice of their master and helping others of the flock; and by the sacrifice of the Son of God by surrendering his life as a testament to his love for us.

 

BLCF: Mark_10_45

We know that God created men and women in His image, but He sent His Son, Jesus, to serve humanity, not as a king or emperor, but to surrender his life to pay the price for the judgement for the sins of humanity. Like the rest of humanity, Christ suffered death. However Christ died to pay the debt for all the sins of humanity.

We see that Jesus was raised from death, being resurrected from the grave. In death, Jesus gave us redemption. With Christ’s resurrection, we are given the promise of our own resurrection. And with his ascension to heaven, the Lord sent us the Holy Spirit to be our companion and comfort, until the day that the Lord returns.

Philippians 2:1-7 (ESV) Christ’s Example of Humility

BLCF: obedience-humility

2 So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus,[a] who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant,[b] being born in the likeness of men.

 Footnotes: a. Philippians 2:5 Or which was also in Christ Jesus b.Philippians 2:7 Greek bondservant

 

BLCF: Matthew_25_40

We find that in our own humility, we may receive gifts of the Spirit to enable us to demonstrate Christ’s love and compassion to others, particularly serving the Lord by serving the least of our brothers and sisters.

Let us pray…

BLCF: Love-all-serve-all-Mark

Closing Hymn #508: I Gave My Life for Thee                                             

Benediction – (1 Thessalonians 5:23): Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

 

BLCF: Who_do_you_serve