Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:
‘God Saved This Sinner’
© July 2, 2017 by Steve Mickelson
Announcements and Call to Worship; Prayer Opening Hymn #288: Amazing Grace! How Sweet the Sound; Choruses Prayer and Tithing Hymn #572: Praise God from Whom All Blessings Communion: Responsive Reading #626: The Last Supper (Mark 14) Responsive Reading #640: Redemption in Christ (Romans 5) Message by Steve Mickelson: ‘God Saved This Sinner’
Let us pray…
Good morning and welcome to our Sunday worship and Praise Service, here at BLCF. And as today happens to be the first Sunday of July, it is the day that we traditionally partake in Communion, where we celebrate the gift of salvation given us by our Lord and Savior, Christ Jesus.
Today’s lesson is entitled: ‘God Saved This Sinner’. But what does it mean when someone say that: “God has saved me”?
Let us look at some examples of circumstances where people believe that God had interceded in a life or death challenge, and where the survivors describe their being saved as an example of Divine providence. As it happens, these testimonials came from my father, grandfather, and great-grandfather.
Many years ago, while a child living in Texas, I recall our family visited my three year old sister, Rhona, at Gonzales Warm Springs Rehabilitation Center. Rhona had suffered a traumatic spinal cord injury and had to be taught as to how to use a wheel chair, walk with crutches, and others skills to overcome her disabilities. Warm Springs, built in 1937 during the polio epidemics and closed in 2001, was one of the few facilities equipped to address the needs of civilian paraplegics and quadriplegics in Texas at that time.
The distance from San Antonio to Gonzales was 74 miles, over an hour’s drive, and dad worked six days a week to help pay medical expenses, causing the family to be limited to visiting Rhona on Sundays. We often would pick up Rhona from Warm Springs and go for a picnic at the Palmetto State Park which was situated adjacent to the Rehab Center.
The park had volcanic warm springs, having many ponds with a high in Sulphur content, there were a number of picnic areas located along the banks of the San Marcos River which ran through the park.
The park itself was set in the Texas Hill Country, a region which, following thunderstorms and heavy rains, would be subject to flash floods. On occasions of severe floods, most of the park was below grade and would end up some 15-20 feet underwater.
It was on one such Sunday, following heavy rainfalls, the family embarked for a picnic in the park. The entrance to the picnic areas required driving over a fairly steep hill, which had a crown that prevented dad from seeing that the San Marcos on the other had flooded well above its banks. As we drove over the crest of the hill, dad stopped the car just above the raging river waters, where I recall seeing picnic tables being swept away, along with tree trunks and other debris. If dad had stopped a few seconds later or if he did not successfully engage the ’55 Chevy Nomad station wagon into reverse gear, both the car and our family would have been lost to the flooding waters. Fortunately, dad backed to car away from the danger.
Years later, I remember dad saying to me that, “God had saved us.” He then recalled two other life or death incidents where members of the family indicated that God have saved them from an untimely death.
The first involved his grandfather Knudsen, who was the lighthouse keeper near Skagen, Denmark. Located at the northernmost tip of both Denmark and continental Europe, the Skagen Grey Lighthouse jutted well into the North Sea.
Dad said that his grandfather remembered exactly how many steps he needed to climb, carrying barrels of lamp oil, up to top of the lighthouse. On one occasion, great-grandfather Knudsen recalled using semaphore, that is signaling by flag, to a ship that carried Britain’s Queen Victoria. In those days ships and lighthouses had no radios for communication.
Great-grandfather Knudsen’s other vocation was a fisherman. If the weather was threatening, he would have man the lighthouse in deference to fishing. It was on one such occasion, that many of the fishermen of Skagen were lost to a severe storm, while great-grandfather Knudsen operated the lighthouse. My dad said that great-grandfather Knudsen remarked that, “God had saved me.”
Dad indicated that his father, my grandfather, Niels Mickelson, was saved, while taking the family out on a Sunday outing, where he drove a car to the top of Pikes Peak in Colorado.
The mountain’s elevation is some 14,115-feet or 4,302.31 meters, above sea level, which is well above grandfather’s mile-high home town of Denver. A mile is 5,280 feet or 1609.3 meters. In those days, the route up to the summit of Pikes Peak was unpaved and had no guardrails or barriers. It was a challenge both to the skill of the driver and the soundness vehicle to make the trip to the summit and back safely.
It was on one occasion, while driving up the mountain, that a careless driver sped down the mountain had the bumper of his car catch the bumper of grandfather’s car, causing both cars to spin on the narrow roadway. Grandfather’s car ended up spinning over the edge of the mountain, only to be stopped by a small pine tree. My grandfather told my dad that that was the day that, “God had saved both me and my family.”
It is not uncommon for Christians to pray for travelling mercies and protection by God for those whose journeys may bring them into harm’s way.
Today also happens to be the day following Canada Day 150, which is the country’s Sesquicentennial or 150 Anniversary.
Yesterday, I watched watched a broadcast from Ottawa of the Canadian Sesquicentennial Celebration Ceremonies, which began with the singing of the British National Anthem, God Save the Queen. This singing of The Queen led me to think about the topic for today’s lesson: ‘God Saved This Sinner’.
Both the title and the lyrics seem to plea to God to save the Queen. While Prince Charles was present at the ceremonies, I was curious about the criteria required for the use of the anthem In Canada. This led me to the following Wikibits:
God save the Queen in Canada
The sovereign and her or his spouse are saluted with the entire anthem, while other members of the Royal Family who are entitled to royal salute (such as the Prince of Wales) receive just the first six bars. The first six bars also form all or part of the Vice Regal Salute in some Commonwealth realms outside the UK (e.g., in Canada, governors general and lieutenant governors at official events are saluted with the first six bars of “God Save the Queen” followed by the first four and last four bars of “O Canada“), as well as the salute given to governors of British overseas territories.
“God Save the Queen” (alternatively “God Save the King”, depending on the gender of the reigning monarch) is the national or royal anthem in a number of Commonwealth realms, their territories, and the British Crown Dependencies.The author of the tune is unknown and it may originate in plainchant, but a 1619 attribution to John Bull is sometimes made.
The phrase “God Save the King” is much older than the song, appearing, for instance, several times in the King James Bible. A text based on the 1st Book of Kings Chapter 1: verses 38–40, “…And all the people rejoic’d, and said: God save the King! Long live the King! May the King live for ever, Amen”, has been sung at every coronation since that of King Edgar in 973. Scholes says that as early as 1545 “God Save the King” was a watchword of the Royal Navy, with the response being “Long to reign over us”. He also notes that the prayer read in churches on anniversaries of the Gunpowder Plot includes words which might have formed part of the basis for the second verse “Scatter our enemies…assuage their malice and confound their devices”.
Further information: Canadian royal symbols § Verbal and musical symbols, and Anthems and nationalistic songs of Canada
By convention, “God Save the Queen” is the Royal Anthem of Canada. It is sometimes played or sung together with the national anthem, “O Canada“, at private and public events organised by groups such as the Government of Canada, the Royal Canadian Legion, police services, and loyal groups. The governor general and provincial lieutenant governors are accorded the “Viceregal Salute”, comprising the first three lines of “God Save the Queen”, followed by the first and last lines of “O Canada”.
“God Save the Queen” has been sung in Canada since the late 1700s and by the mid 20th century was, along with “O Canada”, one of the country’s two de factonational anthems, the first and last verses of the standard British version being used. By-laws and practices governing the use of either song during public events in municipalities varied; in Toronto, “God Save the Queen” was employed, while in Montreal it was “O Canada”. Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson in 1964 said one song would have to be chosen as the country’s national anthem and, three years later, he advised Governor General Georges Vanier to appoint the Special Joint Committee of the Senate and House of Commons on the National and Royal Anthems. Within two months, on 12 April 1967, the committee presented its conclusion that “God Save the Queen”, whose music and lyrics were found to be in the public domain, should be designated as the Royal Anthem of Canada and “O Canada” as the national anthem, one verse from each, in both official languages, to be adopted by parliament. The group was then charged with establishing official lyrics for each song; for “God Save the Queen”, the English words were those inherited from the United Kingdom and the French words were taken from those that had been adopted in 1952 for the coronation of Elizabeth II. When the bill pronouncing “O Canada” as the national anthem was put through parliament, the joint committee’s earlier recommendations regarding “God Save the Queen” were not included.
It seems that my father, grandfather, and great-grandfather had all believed that they were delivered from certain death by God’s grace. However, the Royal Anthem has roots in a sentiment that is somewhat different, being rooted in the expression “Long live the King”, which is believed to have been taken from the Scripture passage from 1 Kings 1:38-40 (ESV):
38 So Zadok the priest, Nathan the prophet, and Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, and the Cherethites and the Pelethites went down and had Solomon ride on King David’s mule and brought him to Gihon. 39 There Zadok the priest took the horn of oil from the tent and anointed Solomon. Then they blew the trumpet, and all the people said, “Long live King Solomon!” 40 And all the people went up after him, playing on pipes, and rejoicing with great joy, so that the earth was split by their noise.
By contrast to the salvation described in the Royal Anthem, the accounts of four generations of the Mickelson family members being saved on three occasions, seem to be examples of God’s intervention to deliver them from death. My parents and sister, Rhona, are today with the Lord. For many in the family, the faith in God remains.
Neither the plea to God to preserve the life of a monarch, nor the apparent intervention to preserve my ancestors seem to describe the salvation described in Micah 7:7 (ESV):
7 But as for me, I will look to the Lord;
I will wait for the God of my salvation;
my God will hear me.
Neither the King, nor Queen, nor any of my ancestors appear to be waiting on God for deliverance. The type of deliverance or salvation the Scriptures describe being waited for by the author are of the spirit, not of the body, as we see in Romans 10:5-13 (ESV):
The Message of Salvation to All
5 For Moses writes about the righteousness that is based on the law, that the person who does the commandments shall live by them. 6 But the righteousness based on faith says, “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’” (that is, to bring Christ down) 7 “or ‘Who will descend into the abyss?’” (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead).8 But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); 9 because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. 11 For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” 12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. 13 For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
It seems that people consider salvation as God saving their bodies from death, when we know the Bible says that our bodies will wither and die. We are born again in the Spirit and that Jesus will intercede in God’s judgement for our sins, thanks to the grace given us by the sacrifice our Lord, Christ Jesus.
The fact that Jesus has been resurrected forever, means that Jesus is the eternal High Priest for all of humanity who have faith in the Lord for all time, Hebrews 7:22-25 (ESV):
22 This makes Jesus the guarantor of a better covenant.
23 The former priests were many in number, because they were prevented by death from continuing in office, 24 but he holds his priesthood permanently, because he continues forever. 25 Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost[a] those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.
Footnotes: a. Hebrews 7:25 That is, completely; or at all times
Let us pray…
Closing Hymn #413: God Is My Strong Salvation
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.