Preparing a Dwelling Place for God

blcf: BeTheChurch

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

‘Preparing a Dwelling Place for God’

© January 29, 2017 by Steve Mickelson

Based on a Message Shared at BLCF on November 23, 2014

BLCF: bulletin-january-29-2017

blcf: dont_go_to_church_be_the_church

Announcements and Call to Worship; Prayer                                                                Opening Hymn #199: Brethren, We Have Met to Worship; Choruses             Prayer and Tithing; Hymn #572: Praise God from Whom All Blessings             Responsive Reading #620 (The Church – from Matthew 16, Ephesians 5 and 2, 1 Corinthians 12, Colossians 1)                                                                                   Message by Steve Mickelson: ‘Preparing a Dwelling Place for God ’    

                                                                     BLCF: being-the-church                                                                                                                            

Let us pray…

Welcome to Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship. And though most of you know your neighbors, I would like to invite each of you to take a moment to participate in the old tradition of shaking hands and saying hello to your neighbor, and become reacquainted with God’s Church in the heart of Toronto. His local church is composed of the body of believers, not the wood, brick and mortar that make up the building at 1307 Bloor Street West.

Now that we have reacquainted ourselves with the local church, let us begin today’s lesson, which is about God’s church. Let us first look at the word church, its definition and origins. For this, we shall look at Strong’s Concordance and find the following:

BLCF: Church_bounty_of_Christ

 

The English word “church” comes from the Greek word kyriakos, “belonging to the Lord” (kyrios). 1577 /ekklēsía (“church”) is the root of the terms “ecclesiology” and “ecclesiastical.”]

ekklésia: an assembly, a (religious) congregation

Original Word: ἐκκλησία, ας, ἡ Part of Speech: Noun, Feminine Transliteration: ekklésia Phonetic Spelling: (ek-klay-see’-ah) Short Definition: an assembly, congregation, church Definition: an assembly, congregation, church; the Church, the whole body of Christian believers.

1577 ekklēsía(from 1537 /ek, “out from and to” and 2564 /kaléō, “to call”) – properly, people called out from the world and to God, the outcome being the Church (the mystical body of Christ) – i.e. the universal (total) body of believers whom God calls out from the world and into His eternal kingdom.

http://biblehub.com/greek/1577.htm

This body of Christian believers is an assembly or congregation of believers, who when combined together comprise God’s church. Two of the Scripture verses, found in today’s Bulletin, describe the body of the church being composed of parts or members, which are of equal importance, with even those parts which seem to be weaker are indispensable to God’s purpose. And that the body needs all of its parts working in harmony, fulfilling His plan as one unified body.

This Scripture passage is summarized by the verses found at beginning and end               1 Corinthians 12:12-13, 27-32 (ESV): 

BLCF: after_church

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 or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit.

27 Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. 28 And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, helping, administrating, and various kinds of tongues. 29 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? 30 Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret? 31 But earnestly desire the higher gifts.

And I will show you a still more excellent way.

Together, as a body of believers, we are baptized into one body by God’s Holy Spirit. Remember no part of function of the church body that to God, no individual position is of greater importance than the others.  Remember the Lord stressed the importance of humility, when he washed the feet of his disciples, which applies to the work of the apostles in the church. If we were to read the next chapter of Ephesians, we would see that the “more excellent way”  is love, 1 Corinthians 13  (ESV):

 The Way of Love

BLCF: faith hope and love

13 If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned,[a] but have not love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;[b] it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. 11 When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. 12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.

13 So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

Footnotes: a. 1 Corinthians 13:3 Some manuscripts deliver up my body [to death] that I may boast b. 1 Corinthians 13:5 Greek irritable and does not count up wrongdoing

The body of believers, which is God’s church, is unified, functions and is expressed by love, which is the love of Christ.

The Bible gives us another description of the Lord’s unconditional love in Ephesians 5:28-32 (ESV):

BLCF: Love never fails

28 In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, 30 because we are members of his body. 31 “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” 32 This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.

Christ functions as the cornerstone of his church which has as its foundation  Peter and the other disciples, held together by the mortar of the Holy Spirit,  infused with Christian love, as we read in Ephesians 5:28-32 (ESV):

BLCF: Christ-head-of-church-body

16 Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” 17 And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. 18 And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock[a] I will build my church, and the gates of hell[b] shall not prevail against it.                                                                                                                   

Footnotes: a. Matthew 16:18 The Greek words for Peter and rock sound similar b. Matthew 16:18 Greek the gates of Hades

With Peter as the foundation for God’s church, you may recall that Jesus is its cornerstone, from today’s second Scripture passage from Ephesians 2:19-22 (ESV):

BLCF: Dwelling_Places_of_God

19 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, 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 the Spirit.

The Apostle Paul, in his letters to the various churches, being Christ’s followers, acknowledges the expressions of unconditional love demonstrated by various individuals who worked together for the betterment of the church, as we read in his Personal Greetings expressed in Romans 16:1-15 (ESV):

 Personal Greetings

BLCF: great-church-definition

16 I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a servant[a] of the church at Cenchreae, that you may welcome her in the Lord in a way worthy of the saints, and help her in whatever she may need from you, for she has been a patron of many and of myself as well.

Greet Prisca and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus, who risked their necks for my life, to whom not only I give thanks but all the churches of the Gentiles give thanks as well. Greet also the church in their house. Greet my beloved Epaenetus, who was the first convert[b] to Christ in Asia. Greet Mary, who has worked hard for you. Greet Andronicus and Junia,[c] my kinsmen and my fellow prisoners. They are well known to the apostles,[d] and they were in Christ before me. Greet Ampliatus, my beloved in the Lord. Greet Urbanus, our fellow worker in Christ, and my beloved Stachys. 10 Greet Apelles, who is approved in Christ. Greet those who belong to the family of Aristobulus. 11 Greet my kinsman Herodion. Greet those in the Lord who belong to the family of Narcissus. 12 Greet those workers in the Lord, Tryphaena and Tryphosa. Greet the beloved Persis, who has worked hard in the Lord. 13 Greet Rufus, chosen in the Lord; also his mother, who has been a mother to me as well. 14 Greet Asyncritus, Phlegon, Hermes, Patrobas, Hermas, and the brothers[e] who are with them. 15 Greet Philologus, Julia, Nereus and his sister, and Olympas, and all the saints who are with them.                                                                                

Footnotes: a. Romans 16:1 Or deaconess b. Romans 16:5 Greek firstfruit c. Romans 16:7 Or Junias d. Romans 16:7 Or messengers e. Romans 16:14 Or brothers and sisters; also verse 17

But how do we as members of Christ’s Church discern and understand God’s purpose for the church? It is by way of the Holy Spirit that we may be enlightened in the knowledge of why we are called and how we may best fulfill God’s purpose to prepare the church as a dwelling place for God, to His glory, as we see in Ephesians 1:15-23 (ESV):

Thanksgiving and Prayer

BLCF: the_church_is

15 For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love[a] toward all the saints, 16 I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, 17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, 18 having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might 20 that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. 22 And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.

Footnotes: a. Ephesians 1:15 Some manuscripts omit your love

We, at Bloor Lansdowne Christ Fellowship, as Christ’s Church, receive a New Covenant, which is: the gift of salvation, the promise of the resurrection, and the guidance of the Holy Spirit – all through Christ Jesus, who fulfilled God’s plan, as an expression of His Way, the Way of God’s love.

Let us pray…

Closing Hymn #208: There’s a Church within Us, O Lord                          

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.

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship Church Bulletin May 15,2011

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Christmas Dinner in the heart of Toronto, at the BLCF Cafe Community Dinner, helped by Oakwood Wesleyan Church.

Christmas Dinner in the heart of Toronto, at the BLCF Cafe Community Dinner, helped by Oakwood Wesleyan Church.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gathered in the Spirit and Gifted with Understanding, Unity, and Blessing of the Lord

BLCF: Isaiah-11-_2-3

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

‘Gathered in the Spirit and Gifted with Understanding, Unity,  and Blessing of the Lord’   

© January 22, 2017 by Steve Mickelson

BLCF: bulletin-january-22-2017

BLCF: Holy_Spirit_Romans_8_11

Announcements and Call to Worship; Prayer                                                          

Opening Hymn #570: We Gather Together; Choruses                                              

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

Responsive Reading #634: (Christian Unity – John 10 & 17, Ephesians 4, 1 Corinthians 12)                                                                                                           

Message by Steve Mickelson: ‘Gathered in the Spirit and Gifted with Understanding, Unity, and Blessing of the Lord’  

 

BLCF: Holy_Spirit_Pentecost                                                                                                              

Let us pray…

Welcome to BLCF Church’s Praise and Worship Service for Sunday, January 22, 2017.

Our lesson today, entitled ‘Gathered in the Spirit and Gifted with Understanding, Unity, and Blessing of the Lord’, will examine how the power and presence of God’s Holy Spirit is most effective when more than one believer is present. Remember the Lord’s promise found in Matthew 18:20 (ESV):

20 For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.”

You may recall that Jesus, after his resurrection and just before he ascended, to heaven, instructed his disciples to gather in the Upper Room so that together they may receive God’s Holy Spirit as one group on the Day of Pentecost.

But what was Christ’s reason for sending the Holy Spirit? The answer to this question is found in John 14:15-17 (ESV):

 Jesus Promises the Holy Spirit

BLCF: United by the Holy Spirit

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

Footnotes: a. John 14:16 Or Advocate, or Counselor; also 14:2615:2616:7 b. John 14:17 Some manuscripts and is

The Spirit is described as the Spirit of truth, sent as a Helper, a companion forever, to those who believe in the Gospel of Christ, Jesus.

The Power of the Spirit is expressed by way of Gifts  of the Spirit, which are described in 1 Corinthians 12:4-11 (ESV):

Gifts of the Spirit

BLCF: HOLY_SPIRIT_DOVE_ANIMATED_GIF

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.

You see that no one person receives all the possible Gifts of the Spirit, as collectively all of the gifts are empowers in everyone. That means that when the Spirit of God arrived in the Upper Room on the Day of Pentecost to the group of believers, each believer received a gift for the common good. The gifts were not intended for the benefit of individual and all are only effective together in a group or gathering of individual believers, acting together in harmony as a single group.

Our Lord intended the Holy Spirit’s Gifts to be distributed amongst a body of believers, gathered as His Church. Together, Christ’s Church becomes the unified expression of His love and power.

It is expected that Christ’s Church expresses the Lord’s Commandments, which Jesus described in Matthew 22:37-40 (ESV):

Commandments of Jesus

BLCF: 2_Commandments

37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”

The Holy Spirit’s presence helps the Church, the collective group of believers, to best express God’s Gifts.

It is Christian Unity that assures that all of its members are acting in harmony, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

This brings us to Paul’s letter to the members of the Church in Corinth, who demonstrated a disharmony or absence of unity of mind and judgment, expressed and quarrels  and disagreement between Church members, as described in  the verses in       1 Corinthians 1:10-31 (ESV):

Divisions in the Church

BLCF: Phillippians-2_2

10 I appeal to you, brothers and sisters,[a] by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment. 11 For it has been reported to me by Chloe’s people that there is quarreling among you, my brothers and sisters. 12 What I mean is that each one of you says, “I follow Paul,” or “I follow Apollos,” or “I follow Cephas,” or “I follow Christ.” 13 Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul? 14 I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius, 15 so that no one may say that you were baptized in my name. 16 (I did baptize also the household of Stephanas. Beyond that, I do not know whether I baptized anyone else.) 17 For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.

Christ the Wisdom and Power of God

BLCF: 1corinthians_1_26-31

18 For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written,

“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise,
and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.”

20 Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?21 For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach[b] to save those who believe. 22 For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom,23 but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, 24 but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.

26 For consider your calling, brothers and sisters: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards,[c] not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. 27 But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; 28 God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, 29 so that no human being[d] might boast in the presence of God. 30 And because of him[e] you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, 31 so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”

Footnotes: a. 1 Corinthians 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; also verses 1126 b. 1 Corinthians 1:21 Or the folly of preaching c. 1 Corinthians 1:26 Greek according to the flesh d. 1 Corinthians 1:29 Greek no flesh e. 1 Corinthians 1:30 Greek And from him

Paul implied that the disharmony of the Spirit in Church in Corinth resulted when the church’s members attempted to apply worldly standards and values to matters and actions related to the Spirit.

In this regard, Paul felt that this disharmony acted as a “stumbling block” to the church achieving full Spiritual health.

We see a similar expression of this Spiritual disharmonious  behavior among Christian churches today, when our attendance and activities within the church are focused on upon other people and not the Lord. Our service and commitment should be focused solely on Jesus, as we read in Ephesians 4:1-8 (ESV) :

Unity in the Body of Christ

BLCF: baptised into the body of Christ

I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift.Therefore it says,

“When he ascended on high he led a host of captives,
and he gave gifts to men and women.”[a]

Footnotes: a. Ephesians 4:8 The Greek word anthropoi can refer to both men and women

The other cause of ineffectiveness and disharmony within the body of the church miss attending gatherings or services within the church.

We see this affect described in the following poem by an anonymous author poem someone wrote about people who miss church:

You missed the fellowship that’s there,                                                                                        

You missed the handshake, missed the prayer.                                                                        

You missed the Word of God when read,                                                                                    

You missed the things the preacher said.                                                                                   

You missed the worship’s wondrous hour,                                                                                    

You missed the Holy Spirit’s power.                                                                                                                    

Not only did you miss the chance                                                                                                       

Your life in Jesus to enhance,                                                                                                                                

You missed your chance to do your share,                                                                                                      

To build His church, the house of prayer.                                                                                   

And so the loss is yours indeed,                                                                                                                

God had no chance to meet your need.

–Unknown Author

We are reminded of both the importance and benefit of meeting as a church body in Hebrews 10:24-25 (ESV):

24 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works,25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

Let us pray…

Closing Hymn #204: There’s a Quiet Understanding

Benediction – (2 John 3):

Grace, mercy, and peace will be with us, from God the Father and from Jesus Christ the Father’s Son, in truth and love.

BLCF

Jars of Clay – Transfigured by Our Lord

Romans-9-21

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

’Jars of Clay – Transfigured by Our Lord’

© January 15, 2017 by Steve Mickelson

BLCF: bulletin-january-15-2017

BLCF: God transforms us

Announcements and Call to Worship; Prayer                                                           

Opening Hymn #288: Amazing Grace                                                                 

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

Responsive Reading #647: (The Return of Christ– 1 Thessalonians 4 & 5)    

Message by Steve Mickelson:  ’Jars of Clay – Transfigured by Our Lord’

BLCF: transformation-and-transfiguration

 Let us pray…

God morning and welcome to BLCF Church’s Praise and Worship Service.

For our lesson last Sunday we examined the Christian Church’s observance known as the Epiphany, where our Lord performed the first of many miracles during his walk on earth, giving proof to his identity as the only Son of God.

As there is some disagreement among scholars as to which was the first miracle, Epiphany observes three of Jesus’ miracles:

  1. Jesus’ birth which was observed by the visitation of three Gentile Kings
  2. Jesus’s baptism in the River Jordan where the Holy Spirit came upon our Lord like a dove and God spoke from heaven to acknowledge His Son
  3. The wedding at Cana, where Jesus responded to Mary’s request to provide wine for the dinner by transforming Jars of water into wine

Today’s Lesson is entitled: Jars of Clay – Transfigured by Our Lord’, we will examine the significance of Christ’s Transfiguration on Mt. Tabor described in Matthew 17:1-9, though we have descriptions of the Transfiguration described in Mark 9:2-8 and Luke 9:28-36.

Definition of Transfiguration

BLCF: tajemnice_rozanca_transfiguration-1

  1. 1a:  a change in form or appearance :  metamorphosis                                 b :  an exalting, glorifying, or spiritual change
  2. 2capitalized:  a Christian feast that commemorates the transfiguration of Christ on a mountaintop in the presence of three disciples and that is observed on August 6 in the Roman Catholic and some Eastern churches and on the Sunday before Lent in most Protestant churches

 https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/transfiguration

While the Roman Catholic Church as well as some Eastern Orthodox Churches observe Christ’s Transfiguration on August 6 and most Protestant Churches observe the Transfiguration on the Sunday before Lent. Depending on which calendar you use, Lent begins on either March 1 or March 14 of 2017.

Regardless of when the Lord’s Transfiguration is celebrated, it is understood that the Bible has the timeline for Jesus climbed Mount Tabor occurring sometime between Epiphany and the beginning of Lent.

To better understand the reason why our Lord performed this miracle, we must understand that Jesus had a short time to teach the disciples of God’s plan for redemption which involved His Son.

Jesus’s Gospel involved God’s plan for redemption, sanctification, and resurrection for all who believe and receive His gift through Jesus. We get a good idea of under Whose authority Jesus’ works were made, as we read in John 5:19-29 (ESV):

The Authority of the Son

BLCF: John-5_24

 19 So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father[a] does, that the Son does likewise. 20 For the Father loves the Son and shows him all that he himself is doing. And greater works than these will he show him, so that you may marvel. 21 For as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whom he will. 22 For the Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son, 23 that all may honor the Son, just as they honor the Father. Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him. 24 Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.

25 “Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live. 26 For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself. 27 And he has given him authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of Man. 28 Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice 29 and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment.

Footnotes: a. John 5:19 Greek he

We see in John 5, that all humanity will face a Day of Judgment for their sins and only those who choose to accept that Christ died to pay for all sins, but only those who choose to accept our Lord’s sacrifice will be forgiven. These believers will receive God’s Holy Spirit, and promised a resurrection from death, just as Jesus was raised from the death, as we read in 1 Corinthians 15:35-49 (ESV):

The Resurrection Body

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35 But someone will ask, “How are the dead raised? With what kind of body do they come?” 36 You foolish person! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. 37 And what you sow is not the body that is to be, but a bare kernel, perhaps of wheat or of some other grain. 38 But God gives it a body as he has chosen, and to each kind of seed its own body.39 For not all flesh is the same, but there is one kind for humans, another for animals, another for birds, and another for fish. 40 There are heavenly bodies and earthly bodies, but the glory of the heavenly is of one kind, and the glory of the earthly is of another. 41 There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for star differs from star in glory.

42 So is it with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable; what is raised is imperishable. 43 It is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness; it is raised in power. 44 It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. 45 Thus it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being”;[a] the last Adam became a life-giving spirit. 46 But it is not the spiritual that is first but the natural, and then the spiritual. 47 The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven. 48 As was the man of dust, so also are those who are of the dust, and as is the man of heaven, so also are those who are of heaven.49 Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall[b] also bear the image of the man of heaven.

Footnotes: a. 1 Corinthians 15:45 Greek a living soul b. 1 Corinthians 15:49 Some manuscripts let us

The Resurrection described in 1 Corinthians 15 indicates that those who believe in Christ’s sacrifice and resurrection, will undergo a transfiguration from people who were made from clay, the dead now existing as earth or dust, into people transformed into spiritual beings.

To get some idea of the nature and appearance of the resurrected, let us look at the description of our Lord’s Transfiguration  found in Matthew 17:1-9 (ESV):

 The Transfiguration

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 17 And after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James, and John his brother, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became white as light. And behold, there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him. And Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good that we are here. If you wish, I will make three tents here, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah.” He was still speaking when, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my beloved Son,[a] with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.” When the disciples heard this, they fell on their faces and were terrified. But Jesus came and touched them, saying, “Rise, and have no fear.” And when they lifted up their eyes, they saw no one but Jesus only.

And as they were coming down the mountain, Jesus commanded them, “Tell no one the vision, until the Son of Man is raised from the dead.”

Footnotes: a. Matthew 17:5 Or my Son, my (or theBeloved

The disciples did not fully understand the full significance of Christ’s resurrection until after Jesus’ resurrection. And to receive fully the gift of our own resurrection, we must allow Christ to transform us, just as he transformed ordinary jars of water in the best wine at the wedding at Cana, as we see in 2 Corinthians 4:7-18 (ESV):

  Treasure in Jars of Clay

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 But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; 10 always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. 11 For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. 12 So death is at work in us, but life in you.

13 Since we have the same spirit of faith according to what has been written, “I believed, and so I spoke,” we also believe, and so we also speak, 14 knowing that he who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and bring us with you into his presence. 15 For it is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God.

16 So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self[a] is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. 17 For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, 18 as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.

Footnotes: a. 2 Corinthians 4:16 Greek man

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Some people believe that our bodies, made from the elements of the earth eventually age, wear down and when we die return to dust.

But Jesus tells us that all who have died will be raised from death on the Day of Judgment, which is the day returns. Depending on whether or not we have chosen to believe Christ’s Gospel and to follow the Way of the Lord, will determine what happens to us on that Judgment Day, Matthew 13:40-43 (ESV):

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40 Just as the weeds are gathered and burned with fire, so will it be at the end of the age. 41 The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will gather out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all law-breakers, 42 and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 43 Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear.

For our closing prayer, I would like to prayerfully recite the lyrics from our opening hymn, Amazing Grace.

Let us pray…

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Amazing grace! how sweet the sound,
  That saved a wretch; like me!
I once was lost, but now am found,
  Was blind, but now I see.

’Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
  And grace my fears relieved;
How precious did that grace appear
  The hour I first believed!

The Lord hath promised good to me,
  His word my hope secures;
He will my shield and portion be
  As long as life endures.

When we’ve been there ten thousand years,
  Bright shining as the sun,
We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise
  Than when we first begun.

Closing Hymn #40: To God Be the Glory

Benediction – 2 John 3 (ESV):

Grace, mercy, and peace will be with us, from God the Father and from Jesus Christ the Father’s Son, in truth and love.

2 Corinthians 4:7

The Manifestation of the Light and Glory of the Lord

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Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

The Manifestation of the Light and Glory of the Lord

© January 8, 2017 by Steve Mickelson

BLCF: Bulletin-January-8-2017

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Announcements and Call to Worship; Prayer

Opening Hymn #358: We Praise Thee, O God                                             

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

Scriptures: Isaiah 60:1-3, John 2:1-12, John 3:31-36, Ephesians 3:1-12

Responsive Reading #667: (Humility and Exaltation – Philippians 2; Matthew 23)

Let us pray…

Welcome to our Praise and Worship Service at BLCF Church, for Sunday January 8, 2017.

Our lesson today is on the topic of the significance to Christians: Epiphany. But what is Epiphany. For the answer, let us look at our Wikibits for a definition of Epiphany. Oxford Online Dictionary gives the following definition:

epiphany – NOUN

BLCF: Epiphany

  • 1 The manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles as represented by the Magi (Matthew 2:1–12).
    1. 1The festival commemorating the Epiphany on 6 January.
    2. 2A manifestation of a divine or supernatural being.
  • 2A moment of sudden and great revelation or realization.

Origin – Middle English: from Greek epiphaine in reveal. The sense relating to the Christian festival is via Old French epiphanie and ecclesiastical Latin epiphania.

https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/epiphany

And for those who seek a little more detail on the subject, the Encyclopædia Britannica online briefly gives a historical background as follows:

 Epiphany – RELIGIOUS FESTIVAL

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WRITTEN BY: The Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica

LAST UPDATED:  12-9-2016 See Article History

 Epiphany, ( Greek epiphaneia, “manifestation” ) also called Feast of the Epiphany,Theophany, or Three Kings’ Day, Christian holiday commemorating the first manifestation of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles, represented by the Magi, and the manifestation of his divinity, as it occurred at his baptism in the Jordan River and at his first miracle at Cana in Galilee. Epiphany is one of the three principal and oldest festival days of the Christian church (the other two are Easter and Christmas). Roman CatholicsLutheransAnglicans, and other Western churches observe the feast on January 6, while some Eastern Orthodox churches celebrate Epiphany on January 19, since their Christmas Eve falls on January 6.

The festival originated in the Eastern church, where it at first included a commemoration of Christ’s birth. In Rome, by 354 Christ’s birth was being celebrated on December 25, and later in the 4th century the church in Rome began celebrating Epiphany on January 6. In the Western church the festival primarily commemorates the visit by the Magi to the infant Jesus, which is seen as evidence that Christ, the Jewish Messiah, came also for the salvation of Gentiles. In the East it primarily commemorates the baptism of Jesus and celebrates the revelation that Christ was both fully God and fully man.

In the West the evening preceding Epiphany is called Twelfth Night. The time between December 25 and January 6 is known as the Twelve Days of Christmas.

https://www.britannica.com/topic/Epiphany

On January 5th  or 6th, depending on how you mark the days as beginning on the evening or morning, marks the 12th Day of Christmas, which is known in the church as Epiphany. The Epiphany celebration marks one or all three events in the earthy walk of our Lord, Jesus Christ: the arrival of the Wise Men or Magi to visit the newborn Jesus at Bethlehem; the Miracle performed by Jesus to convert water into wine at a wedding in Cana; and/or the Baptism of Jesus in the Jordan River by John.
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Two Sundays’ ago, on Christmas Day, our lesson included a reading from Matthew 3:16-17 (ESV): Jesus is Baptized and last Sunday, our lesson included a reading from Matthew 2:1-15 (ESV): The Visit of the Wise Men.

The birth of Jesus, the Messiah, the son of God, in the town of Bethlehem is an event that marks the fulfillment of God’s promise, an event foretold by the prophets, through visits by angelic messengers, and marked by a heavenly star, Isaiah 60:1-3 (ESV):                                                                                            

The Future Glory of Israel

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60 Arise, shine, for your light has come,     

and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you.

For behold, darkness shall cover the earth,    

 and thick darkness the peoples;

but the Lord will arise upon you,     

and his glory will be seen upon you.

And nations shall come to your light,     

and kings to the brightness of your rising.

 The next manifestation of the Lord takes place at a wedding considered to be either the first or second miracle performed by Jesus. If you consider the birth of the son of God to the Mary, a virgin, a miracle, then this wedding would be the second performed by the Lord which we find in John 2:1-12 (ESV):

The Wedding at Cana

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

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

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

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

The miracles and manifestation of our Lord give us a supernatural proof and affirmation of Lord’s power and presence. These miracles give testament to the true identity of Jesus, as the Son of God, and yet the miracle at the wedding at Cana, Jesus responds to a request from his mother in a miraculous way.

Mary’s earthly request is answered in a non-earthly way, which is what one might expect from the Word of God made flesh, which is explained in the Scripture, John 3:31-36 (ESV):

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31 He who comes from above is above all. He who is of the earth belongs to the earth and speaks in an earthly way. He who comes from heaven is above all. 32 He bears witness to what he has seen and heard, yet no one receives his testimony. 33 Whoever receives his testimony sets his seal to this, that God is true. 34 For he whom God has sent utters the words of God, for he gives the Spirit without measure. 35 The Father loves the Son and has given all things into his hand. 36 Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.

While many see the sacrifice of Christ on the Cross and focus on the death of Jesus, the Lord wants us to remember the reason for the sacrifice which transformed all who believe into sanctified recipients of God’s most precious gift, which should be the focus of our witness and testimony, the transformation Christ which the Apostle Paul describes in Ephesians 3:1-12 (ESV):

 The Mystery of the Gospel Revealed

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 For this reason I, Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus on behalf of you Gentiles— assuming that you have heard of the stewardship of God’s grace that was given to me for you, how the mystery was made known to me by revelation, as I have written briefly. When you read this, you can perceive my insight into the mystery of Christ, which was not made known to the sons of men in other generations as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit. This mystery is[a] that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.

Of this gospel I was made a minister according to the gift of God’s grace, which was given me by the working of his power. To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in[b] God, who created all things, 10 so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. 11 This was according to the eternal purpose that he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord, 12 in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through our faith in him.

Footnotes: a. Ephesians 3:6 The words This mystery is are inferred from verse 4 b. Ephesians 3:9 Or by

So let us embark on this new year, with a conviction and determination to share not only the miracles that the Lord performed as a proof of his supernatural identity as the Son of God, but our transformation from the punishment of death for sin and gift of eternal life, granted through Jesus, who granted us proof of God’s New Covenant given as a free gift to all who believe in Christ’s name.

Let us pray…

Closing Hymn #560: Another Year Is Dawning

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.

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Anticipating the Return of Christ

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Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

Anticipating the Return of Christ

© January 1, 2017 by Steve Mickelson

BLCF: Bulletin-January-1-2017

Announcements and Call to Worship:

Responsive Reading #645: Christian Conduct (Galatians 5 and 6); Prayer      

Opening Hymn #126: Amen, Amen!   

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

Scripture Verses: Matthew 2:1-15, Jeremiah 23:16, 1 Peter 2:1-11

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Let us pray…

Welcome to Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church’s first Sunday Praise and Worship Service for 2017, which happens to be Communion Sunday.

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That said, I would like to wish everyone in the congregation, a healthy, happy, and prosperous 2017, blessed by our loving Lord.

BLCF: Noah-Movie

Over the holidays, I watched a documentary on Noah’s Ark which began by stating that since the people of Israel did not have a written language, they adopted a Cuneiform language adapted from that used by the Babylonians. While Daniel and others were captives of Babylon, they were taught Babylonian. The show takes a leap to an ancient scroll written in that same language, apparently by a student regarding a Great Flood, where a Babylonian was inspired to build a great ark which contained two of every available animal. In other words, Daniel or some other scribe apparently took the Great Flood story from his Babylonian teachers so that it ended in the Book of Genesis.

The documentary jumped to India, where another individual had a team both engineering and building an enlarged Babylonian vessel, but according to the build of materials described by Noah used in Genesis.

It seems strange that credit for the ark described in the Scriptures was taken away from Noah and given to an unknown Babylonian, and yet the linguist does not deny whether or not there was a flood. It seems that he is more determined to show an inclination to believe that a Great Flood did occur and ark was built by a Babylonian implying that Noah was a fictional character created in a Jewish retelling of a Babylonian historical event. Even Hollywood attempts to change the Bible’s account of Noah and the ark.

Regardless of whether the ark was built by Noah or some Babylonian, the “giant elephant in the room” is an acknowledgement that an ark was built, populated by the last of humanity and large assortment of animals.

We may conclude from either the Genesis account or the Babylonian scroll, that a Great Flood took place destroying all life and humanity, save for those who survived the deluge inside a giant Ark built especially for that purpose.

Considering the fact that the people of Babylon attempted to elevate themselves to God and heaven, by building a tower, (sounds like when Adam and Eve were temped by the devil to acquire the knowledge and understanding of God by eating forbidden fruit of the Tree of Knowledge), I would be more inclined to accept  Holy Scripture over a Babylonian student’s notes inscribed on a scroll.

Both the Babylonians and the People of Israel, (as the rest of humanity), can trace their lineage to Noah’s sons, who survived the Great Flood aboard the ark, as described in Genesis 9:18-19 (ESV):

Noah’s Descendants

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 18 The sons of Noah who went forth from the ark were Shem, Ham, and Japheth. (Ham was the father of Canaan.) 19 These three were the sons of Noah, and from these the people of the whole earth were dispersed.[a]

Footnotes: a. Genesis 9:19 Or from these the whole earth was populated

BLCF: Noah

What impressed me with this documentary was the author by giving credit to a Babylonian over Noah based on an ancient scroll he ignores an array of alternate explanations.

While the Cuneiform language used by the Babylonians may predate the Hebrew language used to write Genesis, the Babylonian account could have been dictated by a Jew to a Babylonian scribe, where the latter changed the name of the main character from Noah to some Babylonian, rather than the other way around. If the Jew who dictated the Noah account could not read Babylonian, he would have no way of knowing that his account had been altered.

BLCF: Know-Christ-Know-Christmas

Unfortunately, this Noah documentary seems to be one of the numerous documentaries that crop up every Christmas and Easter, filmed with the sole intention to debunk the existence of God, his son Jesus, or the Holy Spirit, and therefore negate that the Bible is the inspired Word.

Today’s Bible lesson, Anticipating the Return of Christ , and today’s Communion observance, will give the opportunity to celebrate the promise of the birth of Jesus, fulfilling the prophecy,  the Nativity of Jesus, completing one Advent and our Lord’s return, the Advent that Christians observe.

The tough part of challenging the birth of Jesus  associated with the Magi, is  the fact that in this account Jesus’ birth is expected by Magi who come from other nations and are not of the People of Israel. Such is the case in the account described in Matthew 2:1-15 (ESV), entitled:

 The Visit of the Wise Men

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 Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men[a] from the east came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose[b] and have come to worship him.” When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him; and assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for so it is written by the prophet:

“‘And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for from you shall come a ruler
who will shepherd my people Israel.’”

Then Herod summoned the wise men secretly and ascertained from them what time the star had appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child, and when you have found him, bring me word, that I too may come and worship him.”After listening to the king, they went on their way. And behold, the star that they had seen when it rose went before them until it came to rest over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. 11 And going into the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh. 12 And being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed to their own country by another way.

The Flight to Egypt

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13 Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you, for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.” 14 And he rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed to Egypt 15 and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet, “Out of Egypt I called my son.”

Footnotes: a. Matthew 2:1 Greek magi; also verses 716 b. Matthew 2:2 Or in the east; also verse 9

BLCF: King-Herod-and-Magi

King Herod, like some rulers today are so insecure of their own authority that they resort to extreme measures such as genocide to removed perceived threats. Herod’s mistake was a lack of faith in manifestation of prophecies from the mouth of only true God.

Whether listening to false prophets or defying the Word of God, there is a great danger the body and soul of those who seek in vain to change the visions that come from God, a warning expressed in Jeremiah 23:16 (ESV);

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16 Thus says the Lord of hosts: “Do not listen to the words of the prophets who prophesy to you, filling you with vain hopes. They speak visions of their own minds, not from the mouth of the Lord.

But what motivates King Herod, as well as all the false prophets today, who seek to displace God’s visions with their own self-serving theologies? We get some idea of the answer to this question and how to keep God at the centre of our faith in 1 Peter 2:1-11 (ESV):

 A Living Stone and a Holy People

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 So put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander. Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation— if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good.

As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For it stands in Scripture:

“Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone,
a cornerstone chosen and precious,
and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.”

So the honor is for you who believe, but for those who do not believe,

“The stone that the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone,”[a]

and

“A stone of stumbling,
and a rock of offense.”

They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do.

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

11 Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul.                                                          

Footnotes: a. 1 Peter 2:7 Greek the head of the corner

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The Holy Spirit helps us to recognize and to understand God’s word which is testimony of His only Son, Jesus, John 3:31-36 (ESV):

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31 He who comes from above is above all. He who is of the earth belongs to the earth and speaks in an earthly way. He who comes from heaven is above all. 32 He bears witness to what he has seen and heard, yet no one receives his testimony. 33 Whoever receives his testimony sets his seal to this, that God is true. 34 For he whom God has sent utters the words of God, for he gives the Spirit without measure. 35 The Father loves the Son and has given all things into his hand. 36 Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.

Let us pray…

BLCF: communion-sermons

Communion Observance: Responsive Reading #663 (1 Corinthians 11)            

 Closing Hymn #204: There’s a Quiet Understanding

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

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