Honoring HIS Choices

 BLCF: header_lean_into_the_lord

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

Honoring HIS Choices’

© November 13, 2016 by Steve Mickelson

BLCF: Bulletin-November-13-2016

BLCF: Gods-covenants

Announcements and Call to Worship: Responsive Reading #641 (Christian Assurance – Romans 8); Prayer                 

Opening Hymn #317: Blessed Assurance, Jesus Is Mine; Choruses                   

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

Scripture Verses:  2 Peter 1:1-14, Romans 8:31-39, John 3:16-18

genesis-28_15

Let us pray…

Welcome to BLCF Church’s Sunday Morning Praise and Worship Service. For today’s lesson, we will talk about three aspects of our relationship with the Lord which some Christians casually use interchangeably: covenants, promises and contracts relating to God.

To understand the differences between the terms let us briefly look at the definition of each term.

Covenant vs Promise

 BLCF: God's_promises_rainbow

Although some people consider a covenant and a promise as synonymous, it is a wrong assumption because there is a difference between a covenant and a promise. First, let us define the two words. A covenant can be defined as a formal agreement between two or more parties where they agree to do or not to do something. This word is mostly used in religious backgrounds as well. On the other hand, a promise is an assurance that one will do something or that something will happen. The main difference between a covenant and a promise is that while, in a covenant, both parties have clear obligations and        responsibilities, in a promise, this characteristic cannot be observed. Instead, in a promise, what we can observe is the active role undertaken by one party while the other remains passive. Through this article let us examine the differences between these two words, covenant and promise.

http://www.differencebetween.com/difference-between-covenant-and-vs-promise/

Difference between Covenant and Contract

BLCF: covenant-vs-contract

A covenant is defined as an agreement or written promise between two or more parties that constitutes a pledge to do or refrain from doing something. Thus, an agreement that requires the performance of some act is termed an “affirmative covenant” while an agreement that restricts or refrains a person from performing something is called a “negative covenant.” In other words, a covenant is a type of contract and falls within the purview of contracts in general. The person making the pledge or promise is called the covenantor while the person to whom such promise is made is known as the covenantee. In addition, covenants are also included in a contract, thereby forming part of the contract. In certain instances, it may constitute a particular condition in a contract.

In simple terms, a contract is an oral or written promise that is enforceable by law. It is defined in law as a voluntary agreement between two or more parties, who intend to create legal obligations, in which there is a promise to do or perform some work or service for a valuable consideration or benefit.

http://www.differencebetween.com/difference-between-covenant-and-vs-contract/

Scriptures describe two Covenants; one is described as Old and the other as New:

BLCF: Covenant-of-Grace-chart

The Old Covenant

 The content of the Law is spread among the books of ExodusLeviticus, and Numbers, and then reiterated and added to in Deuteronomy (Deuteronomy is Latinized Greek for “Second reading of the Law”). This includes:

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

The New Covenant

The New Covenant is a biblical interpretation originally derived from a phrase in the Book of Jeremiah, in the Hebrew Bible. Generally, Christians believe that the New Covenant was instituted at the Last Supper as part of the Eucharist, which in the Gospel of John includes the New Commandment.

There are several Christian eschatologies that further define the New Covenant. For example, an inaugurated eschatology defines and describes the New Covenant as an ongoing relationship between Christian believers and God that will be in full fruition after the Second Coming of Christ; that is, it will not only be in full fruition in believing hearts, but in the future external world as well. The connection between the blood of Christ and the New Covenant is seen in most modern English translations of the New Testament[6] with the saying: “this cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood”.[7]

Christians believe that Jesus is the mediator of the New Covenant, and that the blood of Christ shed at his crucifixion is the required blood of the covenant. As with all covenants between God and man described in the Bible, the New Covenant is considered “a bond in blood sovereignly administered by God.”[8] It has been theorized that the New Covenant is the Law of Christ as spoken during his Sermon on the Mount.[9]

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Covenant_(religion)

Believers in the Resurrected Christ should focus on the God’s New Covenant. Let us recap the important points of the New Covenant terminology:

 The New Covenant

  • A covenant is defined asan agreement or written promise between two or more parties that constitutes a pledge to do or refrain from doing something.
  • Covenants are also included in a contract, thereby forming part of the contract. In certain instances, it may constitute a particular condition in a contract.
  • In a promise, what we can observe is the active role undertaken by one party while the other remains passive.
  • Christians believe that Jesus is the mediator of the New Covenant, and that the blood of Christ shed at his crucifixionis the required blood of the covenant. As with all covenants between God and man described in the Bible, the New Covenant is considered “a bond in blood sovereignly administered by God.

 Now that we understand the differences between

2 Peter 1:1-14 (ESV) Greeting

BLCF: 2_Peter

 Simeon[a] Peter, a servant[b] and apostle of Jesus Christ,

To those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ:

May grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.

Confirm Your Calling and Election

BLCF: 2 Peter-Promises

His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to[c] his own glory and excellence,[d] by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue,[e] and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities[f] are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins. 10 Therefore, brothers and sisters,[g] be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall. 11 For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

12 Therefore I intend always to remind you of these qualities, though you know them and are established in the truth that you have. 13 I think it right, as long as I am in this body,[h] to stir you up by way of reminder,14 since I know that the putting off of my body will be soon, as our Lord Jesus Christ made clear to me.

Footnotes: a. 2 Peter 1:1 Some manuscripts Simon b. 2 Peter 1:1 For the contextual rendering of the Greek word doulos, see Preface c. 2 Peter 1:3 Or by e. 2 Peter 1:3 Or virtue f. 2 Peter 1:5 Or excellence; twice in this verse g. 2 Peter 1:8 Greek these things; also verses 91012 h. 2 Peter 1:10 Or brothers and sisters. In New Testament usage, depending on the context, the plural Greek word adelphoi (translated “brothers”) may refer either to brothers or to brothers and sisters i. 2 Peter 1:13 Greek tent; also verse 14

 Romans 8:31-39 (ESV) God’s Everlasting Love

BLCF: Romans-8_31-39

 31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be[a]against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? 33 Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.[b] 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36 As it is written,

“For your sake we are being killed all the day long;
we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”

37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Footnotes: a. Romans 8:31 Or who is b. Romans 8:34 Or Is it Christ Jesus who died… for us?

John 3:16-18 (ESV) For God So Loved the World

BLCF: John-3_16

 16 “For God so loved the world,[a] that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.

If we view Christ who has called us to his glory and excellence and by accepting the Lord’s sacrifice on the cross, we enter a spiritual contract.

Elements of a Contract. The requisite elements that must be established to demonstrate the formation of a legally binding contract are (1) offer; (2) acceptance; (3) consideration (price); (4) mutuality of obligation; (5) competency and capacity; and, in certain circumstances, (6) a written instrument.

https://contracts.uslegal.com/elements-of-a-contract/

So, let us examine the elements of this contract, that as Christians we are bound:

  • Offer – God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son

 (2) Acceptance – Whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life

(3) Consideration – God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him

(4) Mutuality of obligation – Whoever believes in him is not condemned, (saved) but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God

(5) Competency and capacity; and, in certain circumstances – Make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge,  and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness,  and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love

  (6) A written instrument – (written by the blood of Christ) As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers,  nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Let us pray…

Closing Hymn #225: Standing on the Promises

Benediction – (Psalm 121:7-8):

The Lord will keep you from all evil;
he will keep your life.
The Lord will keep
your going out and your coming in                                                                          
from this time forth and forevermore.

psalm-121_7-8

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The Blessing, the Pledge, and the Promise – of the Staff of Life

 BLCF: Bread-of-Life-Communion

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

‘The Blessing, the Pledge, and the Promise – of the Staff of Life’  

© November 6, 2016 by Steve Mickelson

BLCF Bulletin-November-6-2016

Announcements and Call to Worship: Responsive Reading #626 (The Last Supper – Mark 14); Prayer                             

Opening Hymn #220: Break Thou the Bread of Life; Choruses                                 

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

Scripture Verses: Hebrews 10:11-14, John 6:35, John 6:51-58, John 6:63  

BLCF: Presence-of-the-lord   

Let us pray…

Welcome to BLCF Church’s Praise and Worship Service for Sunday, November 6, 2016. As this is the first Sunday of the month, we will remember the sacrifice of our Lord and His New Covenant by way of Communion.

This Friday is November 11, Remembrance Day, a day where we wear a symbolic poppies and observe, on the eleventh minute, of the eleventh hour, a moment of silence and reflection of the sacrifice given by soldiers, including those who surrendered their lives in order to protect Canadian lives and freedoms, in the First World War and the many subsequent wars and conflicts.

As believers in the Resurrected Christ, we remember a greater salvation that Jesus gave by paying for the penalty for our sins, through the observance of Holy Communion. The elements of Communion are juice and bread.

It is easier to understand what the Communion wine or juice represents than the meaning of the bread element. Wine represents the blood of Christ, but what about the bread?

Let us, first look at a special bread, known as Showbread, described in the Old Testament, and what this blessed bread represented in Smith’s Bible dictionary:                                                                                               

Shewbread or Showbread –  from Smith’s Bible Dictionary

BLCF: table-of-the-shewbread

(Exodus 25:3035:1339:36) etc. literally “bread of the face” or “faces.” Shew-bread was unleavened bread placed upon a table which stood in the sanctuary together with the seven-branched candlestick and the altar of incense. See (Exodus 25:23-30) for description of this table. Every Sabbath twelve newly baked loaves, representing the twelve tribes of Israel, were put on it in two rows, six in each, and sprinkled with incense, where they remained till the following Sabbath. Then they were replaced by twelve new ones, the incense was burned, and they were eaten by the priests in the holy place, out of which they might not be removed, The title “bread of the face” seems to indicate that bread through which God is seen, that is, with the participation of which the seeing of God is bound up, or through the participation of which man attains the sight of God whence it follows that we have not to think of bread merely as such as the means of nourishing the bodily life, but as spiritual food as a means of appropriating and retaining that life which consists In seeing the face of God.

Showbread

One of the central Temple vessels is the golden Table for the Showbread, which stands within the Sanctuary itself, on the north side. This table is constructed of wood overlain with gold, and the specific instructions for its design are described in Exodus Chapter 25.

The priests are commanded to see to it that 12 loaves of bread are constantly displayed on this table before the presence of G-d, hence the name showbread: “And you shall place showbread on the table before Me at all times” (Exodus 25:30).

“These 12 loaves were baked in pans which gave them a specific form, and when done they rested on golden shelves upon this table. The loaves were replaced every Sabbath with new ones.

It is said that bread is the staff of life, and represents man’s physical sustenance. This is certainly so, and it is important that G-d’s blessing for goodness and bounty be found in the bread which we partake of… for without His munificent blessing, all of man’s efforts would neither satisfy nor satiate. Thus we endeavor to fulfill His will throughout every aspect of our endeavors, and in so doing, we earn His favor and blessing… for each area wherein man fulfills the Holy One’s will becomes a channel receiving Heavenly blessing.

This was especially so in the case of the Showbread, and one aspect of its function was indeed to elicit Divine guidance and providence. The sages teach that since these loaves were in essence the vehicle for fulfilling G-d’s commandment, and they were used to accomplish His will, special blessing could be found in it, and indeed, the Divine blessing was seen and felt particularly in the context of the Showbread. The Talmud describes that a miracle took place every week: When the priests came to replace the breads with new loaves every Sabbath, they found that those of the previous week remained fresh and hot upon the table, like the moment they were baked. This miracle was seen as a clear confirmation that the Divine Presence indeed rested in this holy place.

https://www.templeinstitute.org/table_showbread.htm

We may take that the Showbread represented the Divine Presence of God, as the bread remained fresh and hot for a week, at which time the temple Priests would replace the Showbread. The old Showbread was not to be discarded; instead it was to be consumed by the Priests in a holy location in the Temple.

But what about the bread consumed by Christians during Communion? Let us examine today’s Scriptures, beginning with Hebrews 10:11-14 (ESV):

 11 And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. 12 But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, 13 waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. 14 For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.

BLCF: Jesus-Picture-On-The-Cross-It-Is-Finished-Crucifixion

Jesus’ death on the cross was made as a sacrifice to redeem the whole world, for all time for the condemnation and judgment of sins.

The Lord paid the price for our sins, forever, as long as we keep faith. We see the benefit of the Lord’s sacrifice in our next Scripture passage, John 6:35 (ESV):

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.

But how does Jesus act as bread? Let us look at the next Scripture passage, John 6:51-58 (ESV):

BLCF: Bread-from-Heaven

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.”

Footnotes: a. John 6:58 Greek lacks the bread

We receive Spiritual sustenance from Jesus, which is symbolically represented by the bread. Just as bread provides sustenance to the body, Christ gives sustenance to the spirit, as we see in John 6:63 (ESV):

63 It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life.

BLCF: Gods_presence

The Showbread which represents the supernatural presence of God, as well as His sustenance ended when the Temple was destroyed.

With the advent of Jesus and his crucifixion on the cross, God gave us the gift of His New Covenant through Christ. All who accept Christ’s gift are saved and sanctified as apostles of the Gospel of Christ. We receive God’s Holy Spirit, and vessels of the Holy Spirit, or Arks of the New Covenant.

Being sanctified through Christ, believers are expected to become his apostles or messengers of the good news which is the Gospel of the Lord.  Believers in Christ are expected to participate in the observance of Holy Communion until the day that the Lord returns.

This brings us to the Communion portion of the service:

1 Corinthians 11:23-26 (ESV)

BLCF: communion-when-your-children-ask-you-

 23 For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body, which is for[a]you. Do this in remembrance of me.”[b] 25 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.” 26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.

Footnotes: a. 1 Corinthians 11:24 Some manuscripts broken for  b. 1 Corinthians 11:24 Or as my memorial; also verse 25

http://www.bible-history.com/tabernacle/TAB4The_Table_of_Shewbread.htm

Let us pray…

Closing Hymn #212: According to Thy Gracious Word

Benediction – (Hebrews 13:20-21):

 Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant,  equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.

Resting with the Lord and the Spirit that Surpasses All Understanding

BLCF: Holy_Spirit

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

Resting with the Lord and the Spirit that Surpasses All Understanding’

© October 30, 2016 by Steve Mickelson

Based on a Message Shared at BLCF on August 31, 2014

BLCF Bulletin-October-30-2016

BLCF: What_the_Holy_Spirit_does

 

Announcements and Call to Worship: Responsive Reading # 670 (The Day of the Lord – 2 Peter 3); Prayer           

Opening Hymn #317: Blessed Assurance, Jesus Is Mine                                      

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

Scripture Verses:                                                                                                                 Matthew 3:11-17, Matthew 11:1-30, Genesis 3:4-7, and Exodus 33:14

 

Matthew 3:11-17 (ESV) The Baptism of Jesus

BLCF: Epiphany_Jesus_Baptised

11 “I baptize you with water for repentance, but he who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 12 His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing  floor and gather his wheat into the barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”

13 Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to John, to be baptized by him. 14 John would have prevented him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” 15 But Jesus answered him, “Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he consented. 16 And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him,[a] and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him; 17 and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son,[b] with whom I am well pleased.”

Footnotes: a. Matthew 3:16 Some manuscripts omit to him b. Matthew 3:17 Or my Son, my (or the) Beloved

Matthew 11:1-30 (ESV) Messengers from John the Baptist

BLCF: john-baptist-in-prison

11 When Jesus had finished instructing his twelve disciples, he went on from there to teach and preach in their cities.

Now when John heard in prison about the deeds of the Christ, he sent word by his disciples and said to him, “Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?” And Jesus answered them, “Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers[a] are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them. And blessed is the one who is not offended by me.”

As they went away, Jesus began to speak to the crowds concerning John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind? What then did you go out to see? A man[b] dressed in soft clothing? Behold, those who wear soft clothing are in kings’ houses. What then did you go out to see? A prophet?[c] Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. 10 This is he of whom it is written,

“‘Behold, I send my messenger before your face,
who will prepare your way before you.’

11 Truly, I say to you, among those born of women there has arisen no one greater than John the Baptist. Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. 12 From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven has suffered violence,[d] and the violent take it by force. 13 For all the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John, 14 and if you are willing to accept it, he is Elijah who is to come. 15 He who has ears to hear,[e] let him hear.

16 “But to what shall I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling to their playmates,

17 “‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance;
we sang a dirge, and you did not mourn.’

18 For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon.’ 19 The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look at him! A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Yet wisdom is justified by her deeds.”[f]

Woe to Unrepentant Cities

BLCF: isaiah-5_20-woe

20 Then he began to denounce the cities where most of his mighty works had been done, because they did not repent. 21 “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. 22 But I tell you, it will be more bearable on the day of judgment for Tyre and Sidon than for you. 23 And you, Capernaum, will you be exalted to heaven? You will be brought down to Hades. For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. 24 But I tell you that it will be more tolerable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom than for you.”

Come to Me, and I Will Give You Rest

BLCF: I-will-give-you-rest

25 At that time Jesus declared, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; 26 yes, Father, for such was your gracious will.[g] 27 All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. 28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

Footnotes: a. Matthew 11:5 Leprosy was a term for several skin diseases; see Leviticus 13 b. Matthew 11:8 Or Why then did you go out? To see a man… c. Matthew 11:9 Some manuscripts Why then did you go out? To see a prophet? d. Matthew 11:12 Or has been coming violently e. Matthew 11:15 Some manuscripts omit to hear f. Matthew 11:19 Some manuscripts children (compare Luke 7:35) g. Matthew 11:26 Or for so it pleased you well

Genesis 3:4-7 (ESV)

BLCF: Adam Eve Serpent

But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise,[a] she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths.

Footnotes: a. Genesis 3:6 Or to give insight

Exodus 33:14 (ESV)

BLCF: my-presence-will-go-with-you-and-i-will-give-you-rest

14 And he said, “My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”

Let us pray…

Welcome to Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship on this, the last Sunday of October 2016.

For this morning’s message, I would like to talk about a type of labour among the faithful, just prior to when Jesus gave the world his gift of salvation by way of his sacrifice for our sins on the cross. Before Calvary, sinners sought to be cleansed of their sins by sacrificial offerings at the temple and immersion in water, in an effort to be cleansed of their sins, as we read in following history from bible.ca:

Baptism: A Pre-Christian History

Baptism Spirit 

When John the Baptist came to the deserts of Judea “preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins” he was met with great success. Matthew 3:5 says, “People went out to him from Jerusalem and all Judea and the whole region of the Jordan. Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River.” Luke adds that crowds were coming out to be baptized by him. And, “When all the people were being baptized, Jesus was baptized too.” (Luke 3:7, 21).

The Jewish people to whom John’s ministry was directed were familiar with the concepts of repentance and forgiveness of sins (1 Kings 8:33-34; Isa 55:6, 7) even though complete forgiveness was not possible apart from the shed blood of Christ (Hebbrews 9:15). But what about baptism? What familiarity did the Jews of the first century have with the practice of baptism?

The New Testament clearly points out that the baptism of John was from God. It came from heaven (Matthew 21:25). It was administered for the spiritual purpose of proclaiming repentance and receiving forgiveness of sins (Mark 1:4).

http://www.bible.ca/ef/topical-baptism-a-prechristian-history.htm

BLCF: Hebrews-8-7-Old-and-New-Covenants

So prior to baptism of the Holt Spirit after Pentecost, Jews practiced the rituals of circumcision, sacrifice, and baptism in an effort to cleanse themselves of unrighteousness. As John the Baptist expressed the futility of these rituals in Matthew 3:11:

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

As believers in the Resurrected Christ, we know that our salvation comes as a gift from God, not from ritual works, so that we may not become prideful and boast. This brings us to our second set of Scripture verses found in Matthew 11.

You may recall the Baptism of Jesus account that we read from Matthew 3, verses 16-17, where God acknowledges his son, Jesus, saying:

16 And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him; 17 and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”

BLCF:Jesus_Baptism

Even though God acknowledges Jesus as His son, John the Baptist, who is now in prison, sends messengers to the Lord asking if he is the Christ, Matthew 11:1-6 (ESV):

11 When Jesus had finished instructing his twelve disciples, he went on from there to teach and preach in their cities.

Now when John heard in prison about the deeds of the Christ, he sent word by his disciples and said to him, “Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?” And Jesus answered them, “Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them. And blessed is the one who is not offended by me.”

The next verses, Jesus speaks of how several cities have not responded to or accepted the good news and miracles of Jesus, as a Gospel from God, (Matthew 11:11-24):

11 Truly, I say to you, among those born of women there has arisen no one greater than John the Baptist. Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. 12 From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven has suffered violence, and the violent take it by force. 13 For all the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John, 14 and if you are willing to accept it, he is Elijah who is to come. 15 He who has ears to hear, let him hear.

16 “But to what shall I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling to their playmates,

17 “‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance;
we sang a dirge, and you did not mourn.’

18 For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon.’ 19 The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look at him! A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Yet wisdom is justified by her deeds.”

Woe to Unrepentant Cities

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20 Then he began to denounce the cities where most of his mighty works had been done, because they did not repent. 21 “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. 22 But I tell you, it will be more bearable on the day of judgment for Tyre and Sidon than for you. 23 And you, Capernaum, will you be exalted to heaven? You will be brought down to Hades. For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. 24 But I tell you that it will be more tolerable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom than for you.”

Salvation comes not by way of mighty works of the Lord, but by  way of repentance or a change in attitude and a desire to stop a life of sin, as expressed in the last part of this Scripture passage, (Matthew 11:25-30):

BLCF: Matthew_11_28

25 At that time Jesus declared, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; 26 yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. 27 All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. 28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

What did the Lord mean by his comments, which were are couched in a prayer to the Father in Heaven, where he thanked the Father for revealing Himself and His Son, Jesus to children, but not to the wise? For the answer, let us look at Matthew 11:25-26 (ESV):

25 At that time Jesus declared, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; 26 yes, Father, for such was your gracious will.

The answer to this question as to who is wise mentioned in Matthew 11:25, let us look to our next Scripture, Genesis 3:4-7 (ESV):

But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths.

The problem of eating from the forbidden fruit from the tree of knowledge, which was desired to make one wise described in Genesis 3:6, is that resulted in a sin and separation from God.

Through Jesus, the judgment of sin has been removed from all who repent and approach God with the faith of a child and we are given rest from our futile toils made to remove sin’s stain. Hopefully, we have a better understanding of the rest from labour, as described in the Scripture verse written as banner along the wall behind me, Matthew 11:28 (ESV):

 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

And by trusting Jesus, by repenting our sin and seeking God by faith, we receive the gift of the presence of God’s Holy Spirit, to comfort, console and guide us on the righteous way of the Lord. And by receiving the rest and peace of the Spirit, we may walk in a manner like that which God promised to Moses in Exodus 33:14 (ESV):

14 And he said, “My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”

With our surrender to the Lord, we are gifted a rest in God’s Holy Spirit, as Jesus has taken upon himself the burden of our sins, giving us salvation as a free gift, and removing the burden of labouring in vain for our salvation. Living for God begins with resting in Him.

Let us pray…

Closing Hymn # 373: All to Jesus I Surrender

Benediction: ( Philippians 4:7):

 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

BLCF: Philippians-4_7