Faith like a Kite

Dear BLCF Friends,

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church and BLCF Café continue to remain closed effective March 16, 2020, and until further notice. Today we would like to share with you a Lesson in a virtual format. We pray after the advent of a COVID-19 vaccine and following the determination of Health Canada and other Health Authorities the danger of a pandemic has subsided, the Board of BLCF will be able to reopen worship and outreach activities without concern of infection to the vulnerable within our community. In the meantime, please enjoy the following lesson, stay safe, and keep the faith.

– Pastor Steve

BLCF: a Bird and a Kite

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

‘Faith like a Kite’

© January 31, 2021, by Steve Mickelson

Base on a Lesson Shared at BLCF on March 15, 2015

BLCF Bulletin March 15, 2015

BLCF: fly_a_kite

Announcements & Call to Worship: Responsive Reading #611 (Comfort from God – from Isaiah 40); Prayer

Opening Hymn #191: Spirit of God in the Clear Running Water; Choruses

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

 Scripture Verses: Leviticus 11:13-19, Mark 7:1-23, Ezekiel 10:8-22

BLCF: Red Hi-Flier Kite

 

Let us pray…

Welcome to Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship, where I would like to share with you a lesson entitled: ‘Faith like a Kite.’

January is a month frequented by clear, blustery days. Just the other day, as the wind picked up the paper and other debris, I was reminded of a day in my youth, well over fifty years ago in San Antonio, Texas.

My family lived in a house in a new subdivision, that bordered on some old ranch or farmland that seemed to have been neglected for many years, where the Prickly Pear cacti, Spanish Dagger, Live Oak, and Honey Mesquite had returned, growing over most of the landscape.

Our house was located on a corner lot, located on the border of the subdivision, called “Valley Hi”. To the east of the house was Lackland Air Force Base, which located west of the city of San Antonio. To the west of our house, was a field, beyond which was a six-lane highway that looped around the city. West of Loop 410, was the overgrown forest that was eventually to be developed into Phase 2 of the Valley Hi Housing development. With no apologies to composers Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II or to author James A. Michener, it seemed to me that the local Valley Hi Mall would constantly play, as background music for shoppers, the Soundtrack from stage play/movie South Pacific, including “Bali Hi.”

BLCF: boy_flying_kite

At this time of my life, my favorite activities included riding my bike, exploring the local overgrown woods, and on windy days, flying a kite. Often my mom would send me to the local ice house, the Texas equivalent of Ontario’s milk stores, to pick up any grocery items that she required for dinner that day. For my efforts, I was allowed to keep a dime or quarter of the change from the purchase, which I could use as I pleased. A penny would buy a stick of Double Bubble gum or two of Bazooka gum. Six cents would get me a Popsicle from a Cravy Ice Cream truck.

BLCF: Cravy Ice Cream Truck

With a dime, I could purchase a comic book. While a quarter was the price of a copy of Mad Magazine or a kite kit. I chose the kite. Now you may wonder why not make my own? Well to construct a kite, you would need to have paper for the kite, wood (like that found on the side of orange crates), string, and glue to secure the seam of a loop around the kite’s perimeter, through which string would be threaded and attached to a wooden cross that secured the frame of the kite.

BLCF: diamond_kite

A large grocery bag and string could easily be procured, but the orange crate would be more difficult to obtain. And a small bottle of Elmer’s glue would cost 15 cents. If I saved up a dime more, I could purchase a complete kite kit, which included a small plastic piece that held the two wooden cross pieces together. I would have to save an additional 15 cents to buy a spool of 100 yards of twine or string for the kite. The kites sold by the ice house came in only one color, dark red.

The simple diamond kit could be assembled in five minutes, but I learned early on that the kite needed a tail, made of cloth for stability. Otherwise, the kite would circle in ever-larger cycles, until it dove into the ground. Mom kept a bag of rags, made from worn shirts and blouses, for cleaning jobs around the house and provided the ideal material needed to construct a tail for the kite.

BLCF: Hi-Flier Kite 2

My dad worked six days a week at two jobs to pay the bills, including the medical expenses for my sister, Rhona, who was confined to a wheelchair, after suffering from a spinal injury when she was just three years old. Sunday was our family day, where we would have an evening bar-b-que dinner. Dad would serve as master of the grill or the grill meister.

It was on a warm windy afternoon that dad had invited  Malcolm, a co-worker over for dinner. Malcolm was a young man, about half dad’s age, but still, he was over twice my age.  On that blustery day, in order to pass the time while waiting for the Mesquite charcoal to burn white, I had decided to fly my new kite which I had assembled the day before.

When Malcolm had arrived, my kite was airborne and I had played out about a third of the 100 yards of twine. The strong wind, from the east, had caused the kite to rise up only 10 yards above the ground. Usually, the weight of the string prevented you from using more than a spool before the kite would fall to the earth. But this was not the case on this windy Sunday afternoon. Soon, I had reached the end of the spool of twine, but I had another spool inside the house. Malcolm has sensed that this flight was unusual and agreed to take control of the string while I retrieved the other spool of twine and tied it to the first.

BLCF: red-diamond-kite-10

Dinner was served, and rather than reel in the kite, Malcolm, my dad and I, each took turns manning the kite string, while the others ate. It was after supper, as we neared the end of the second spool that Malcolm offered to go to the ice house and purchase more twine, commenting that we might have the makings of a world record in the kite world.  And so the third spool of twine was added, and the red kite seemed like a dot in the late afternoon sky. Eventually, Malcolm made two more trips to get more twine, making the total length of the five spools some 500 yards. The twine ran west from the back yard, over 200 yards of the field, the six lanes of the highway, and far over the woods that lay beyond, disappearing into the red setting sun. But, at sunset, as often happens in that part of the country, the winds that chased the sun paused, as if to catch its breath, and suddenly the red kite, like the sun, fell down from sight, its four-hour flight had ended.

BLCF: KiteFlying

I realized that the kite was lost. It was dark, tomorrow was a school day, and by the time I came home in the afternoon of the next day, it would be difficult to find the remnants of the twine across the highway, as passing cars and trucks would have severed the string.

For a time, with the help of a stiff wind, the kite had overcome the force of gravity, the combined weight of five hundred yards of twine, and provided us with a flight to remember.

BLCF: how-does-a-kite-fly

As a Christian, I believe that, in some respects, flying a kite is like faith in God. In part, our faith relies upon the invisible Holy Spirit to lift us, spiritually, towards God in Heaven. Both the wind and the Spirit are invisible and without form, but are capable of doing something supernatural, beyond nature.

The kite, by design, provides lift in the presence of the wind, overcoming gravity, and rising above the earth. The string provides, by way of tension, the resistance required to facilitate the upward lift for the kite. The tail provides stability to the kite while keeping it in a vertical orientation.

The Holy Spirit acts as the wind with the kite, enables our faith to be lifted closer to God. The Bible, which is the Word of God, acts as the tail of the kite; keeping our faith stable and oriented towards Him. The string is like our belief in the Gospel of Christ and the truth in the Scriptures. All of these aspects of faith are necessary and work together to enable us to transcend the limitations of the world and climb towards that which is Spiritual.

After I wrote this message, I looked online for some graphics to illustrate today’s bulletin, when I post it on our BLOG. In my search, I found that several others had authored similar posts that compared flying a kite to some aspect of Christian faith, though with mixed reactions from readers. Many of the negative responses included comments that comparing faith to flying a kite was to trivialize one’s faith in God and the Gospel of Christ. After all , there is no mention of kites in the Bible, or is there?

Well, yes and no. One of our Scripture verses, used in today’s lesson, does mention a kite; in Leviticus 11:13-19 (ESV):

Clean and Unclean Animals

BLCF: unclean_food

13 “And these you shall detest among the birds;[a] they shall not be eaten; they are detestable: the eagle,[b] the bearded vulture, the black vulture, 14 the kite, the falcon of any kind, 15 every raven of any kind, 16 the ostrich, the nighthawk, the sea gull, the hawk of any kind, 17 the little owl, the cormorant, the short-eared owl, 18 the barn owl, the tawny owl, the carrion vulture, 19 the stork, the heron of any kind, the hoopoe, and the bat.

Footnotes: a. Leviticus 11:13 Or things that fly; compare Genesis 1:20 b. Leviticus 11:13 The identity of many of these birds is uncertain

But what kind of kite is described in Leviticus 14? We have three common definitions for a kite:

BLCF: scissortailedkite

Kite kīt noun: kite; plural noun: kites                                                                                

1. a toy consisting of a light frame with thin material stretched over it, flown in the wind at the end of a long string.                                                                              

2. Sailing informal – a spinnaker or other high, light sail.                                          

3. A medium to large long-winged bird of prey that typically has a forked tail and frequently soars on updrafts of air.

https://www.google.ca/search?sourceid=navclient&aq=&oq=kite+definition&ie=UTF-8&rlz=1T4RVEB_enCA601CA602&q=kite+definition&gs_l=hp…0l5.0.0.2.79948………..0.EdKQjgwemhg

Kite, as used in this Scripture, is a bird that is unclean and not fit to eat. I do not think it likely to have a flying toy or part of the watercraft on the menu! That is why many readers object to us saying faith is like an unclean bird. Is the kite really unclean, as stated in the old Mosaic Laws? We find our answer in Mark 7:1-12(ESV):

Traditions and Commandments

BLCF: dietary_rules

7 Now when the Pharisees gathered to him, with some of the scribes who had come from Jerusalem, they saw that some of his disciples ate with hands that were defiled, that is, unwashed. (For the Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they wash their hands properly,[a] holding to the tradition of the elders, and when they come from the marketplace, they do not eat unless they wash.[b] And there are many other traditions that they observe, such as the washing of cups and pots and copper vessels and dining couches.[c]) And the Pharisees and the scribes asked him, “Why do your disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders, but eat with defiled hands?” And he said to them, “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written,

“‘This people honors me with their lips,     

but their heart is far from me;

in vain do they worship me,     

teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’

You leave the commandment of God and hold to the tradition of men.”

And he said to them, “You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God in order to establish your tradition! 10 For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and your mother’; and, ‘Whoever reviles father or mother must surely die.’ 11 But you say, ‘If a man tells his father or his mother, “Whatever you would have gained from me is Corban”’ (that is, given to God)[d]12 then you no longer permit him to do anything for his father or mother, 13 thus making void the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And many such things you do.”

Well if the Lord said that, spiritually speaking, we are not defined by what we eat, which makes kites no longer unclean, what is it that does make a person unclean? Let us continue reading Mark 7, Mark 7:14-21(ESV):

What Defiles a Person

BLCF: defiles

14 And he called the people to him again and said to them, “Hear me, all of you, and understand: 15 There is nothing outside a person that by going into him can defile him, but the things that come out of a person are what defile him.”[e] 17 And when he had entered the house and left the people, his disciples asked him about the parable. 18 And he said to them, “Then are you also without understanding? Do you not see that whatever goes into a person from outside cannot defile him, 19 since it enters not his heart but his stomach, and is expelled?”[f] (Thus he declared all foods clean.) 20 And he said, “What comes out of a person is what defiles him. 21 For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, 22 coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. 23 All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.”

Footnotes: a. Mark 7:3 Greek unless they wash the hands with a fist, probably indicating a kind of ceremonial washing b. Mark 7:4 Greek unless they baptize; some manuscripts unless they purify themselves c. Mark 7:4 Some manuscripts omit and dining couches e. Mark 7:11 Or an offering f. Mark 7:15 Some manuscripts add verse 16: If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear g. Mark 7:19 Greek goes out into the latrine

But even though kite, the toy, is designed to imitate the bird having the same name, some continue to argue that we demean our belief in God by comparing our faith to an object that is just a toy and behaviour that is not serious. After all, we all understand the meaning of the phrase: “Go fly a kite!”

Go fly a kite! Verb See Go chase yourself! See also: fly

Go fly a kite!   (mainly American informal) – something that you say in order to tell someone who is annoying you to go away Go fly a kite! It’s just not funny anymore.

http://idioms.thefreedictionary.com/Go+fly+a+kite!

BLCF: kite warning

But flying a kite is not a trivial pursuit. In 1752, Benjamin Franklin used a kite, an iron key, a thin metal wire, and a Leyden jar to confirm that lightning was static electricity.

BLCF: Franklin Kite

Hargrave kites were used in the early 1900s to carry weather instruments aloft.

BLCF: Hargrave_weather-kite

The Nares Life Kite was used to save sailors from stormy seas.

BLCF: Nares Life Kite

The Wright Brothers Flyer, the world’s first heavier than aircraft was developed on a design based on a large kite that carried the first human aloft.

BLCF: WrightBrothers1900Glider

And the world’s first suspension bridge across Niagara Gorge began with a kite-flying contest.

The following kite article was posted on:

MEETING IN THE CLOUDS BLOG – by Angela (No Surname)

The Massive Bridge Started From A Kite String (Posted on June 27, 2014 )

 BLCF: Niagra_bridge_started_with_a_kite

Nearly 170 years ago, the mighty Niagara Falls, previously known only to the local Native Americans, was becoming the new tourism Mecca, but the only way to cross the imposing gorge was to go upstream and take a turbulent ride in a small ferry. A bridge spanning the gorge was envisioned to provide a highway over the gorge and allow commerce and people to pass more freely between Canada and the United States.

The Niagara Falls Suspension Bridge Company in Canada, and the International Bridge Company in USA were given the charter to build a bridge but leading engineers of Europe and North America quickly advised it could not be done.

Charles Ellet, Jr. was hired to construct the bridge. The building of a suspension bridge is commenced with stretching a line or wire across the stream. However, the turbulent roaring rapids, the 800-foot wide gap, and the 225-foot high sheer cliffs of the Whirlpool Gorge made a direct crossing impossible. Ellet and his colleagues held a dinner meeting at the Eagle Hotel in the Village of Niagara Falls, to brainstorm the problem. Ellet proposed the use of a rocket. A bombshell hurled by a cannon was also suggested. Local ironworker, Theodore G. Hulett suggested offering a cash prize to the first boy who could fly his kite to the opposite bank.

Ultimately the bridge engineer chose the idea inspired by Benjamin Franklin’s experiment with a kite. Organizing a kite-flying contest, he offered $5 to any boy who flew a kite across the gorge and secured the kite string to the other side. Youths from nearby towns flocked in to participate. 16-year-old Homan Walsh finally got his kite across the gorge and secured its line to a tree.

Using the kite line across the 800-foot chasm, Charles Ellet and his team tied a heavier line to the kite string and pulled the joined lines across. They pulled successive heavier and stronger lines across until the final bridge cable—7⁄8 inch thick—was hanging across the gorge.

He built a temporary suspension bridge as the first part of his plan. On January 31, 1848 the Buffalo Dailey Courier published this account; “We have this day joined the United States and Canada with a cord, and are making preparations to extend a foot bridge across by the first of June” 

Not long after, Ellet left the project after a bitter financial dispute with the bridge companies. A three-year hiatus followed before the companies hired John Augustus Roebling to complete the project. Roebling used Ellet’s bridge as scaffolding to build the double-decked bridge. By 1854 his bridge was nearly complete, and the lower deck was opened for pedestrian and carriage travel. On March 18 1855, a fully laden passenger train drove across the upper deck at 5 miles per hour and officially opened the completed bridge. This massive structure started with a kite string.

https://meetingintheclouds.wordpress.com/2014/06/27/this-massive-bridge-started-from-a-kite-string/

So while flying a kite may seem like a trivial pursuit, serving no practical purpose, we see that having faith in God is viewed by unbelievers in the same light.

Ezekiel 10:8-22 (ESV)

BLCF: ezekiel102

The cherubim appeared to have the form of a human hand under their wings.

And I looked, and behold, there were four wheels beside the cherubim, one beside each cherub, and the appearance of the wheels was like sparkling beryl. 10 And as for their appearance, the four had the same likeness, as if a wheel were within a wheel. 11 When they went, they went in any of their four directions[a] without turning as they went, but in whatever direction the front wheel[b] faced, the others followed without turning as they went. 12 And their whole body, their rims, and their spokes, their wings,[c] and the wheels were full of eyes all around—the wheels that the four of them had. 13 As for the wheels, they were called in my hearing “the whirling wheels.” 14 And every one had four faces: the first face was the face of the cherub, and the second face was a human face, and the third the face of a lion, and the fourth the face of an eagle.

15 And the cherubim mounted up. These were the living creatures that I saw by the Chebar canal. 16 And when the cherubim went, the wheels went beside them. And when the cherubim lifted up their wings to mount up from the earth, the wheels did not turn from beside them. 17 When they stood still, these stood still, and when they mounted up, these mounted up with them, for the spirit of the living creatures[d] was in them.

18 Then the glory of the Lord went out from the threshold of the house, and stood over the cherubim. 19 And the cherubim lifted up their wings and mounted up from the earth before my eyes as they went out, with the wheels beside them. And they stood at the entrance of the east gate of the house of the Lord, and the glory of the God of Israel was over them.

20 These were the living creatures that I saw underneath the God of Israel by the Chebar canal; and I knew that they were cherubim. 21 Each had four faces, and each four wings, and underneath their wings the likeness of human hands. 22 And as for the likeness of their faces, they were the same faces whose appearance I had seen by the Chebar canal. Each one of them went straight forward.

Footnotes: a. Ezekiel 10:11 Hebrew to their four sides b. Ezekiel 10:11 Hebrew the head c. Ezekiel 10:12 Or their whole body, their backs, their hands, and their wings e. Ezekiel 10:17 Or spirit of life

What does this passage, which describes a vision of a creature having the face of an eagle mean?

Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary on Ezekiel 10:8-22

BLCF: Ezekiel_10

Ezekiel sees the working of Divine providence in the government of the lower world, and the affairs of it. When God is leaving a people in displeasure, angels above, and all events below, further his departure. The Spirit of life, the Spirit of God, directs all creatures, in heaven and on earth, so as to make them serve the Divine purpose. God removes by degrees from a provoking people; and, when ready to depart, would return to them, if they were a repenting, praying people. Let this warn sinners to seek the Lord while he may be found, and to call on him while he is near, and cause us all to walk humbly and watchfully with our God.

http://www.christnotes.org/commentary.php?com=mhc&b=26&c=10

BLCF: kite_before_sunset

Let us focus on one verse from the above passage:

The Spirit of life, the Spirit of God, directs all creatures, in heaven and on earth, so as to make them serve the Divine purpose.

If we accept Henry’s observation that that Spirit of God directs all creatures in heaven and on earth  so that they serve the Divine, then kites being a creature of mostly the heavens is directed by the Spirit of God to serve the Divine, which is not a trivial existence.

Let us pray…

Closing Hymn #355: I’m Pressing on the Upward Way

Benediction – (2 Corinthians 13:14):   

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.

BLCF: go-fly-a-kite_header

David Over Goliath: A Victory of Faith

Dear BLCF Friends,

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church and BLCF Café continue to remain closed effective March 16, 2020 and until further notice. Today we would like to share with you a Lesson in a virtual format. We pray after the advent of a COVID-19 vaccine and following determination of Health Canada and other Health Authorities the danger of a pandemic has subsided, the Board of BLCF will be able to reopen worship and outreach activities without concern of infection to the vulnerable within our community. In the meantime, please enjoy the following lesson, stay safe, and keep the faith.

– Pastor Steve

BLCF: david-vs-goliath

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

‘David Over Goliath: A Victory of Faith’

 © January 24, 2021, by Steve Mickelson

Based on a Message Shared at BLCF on September 25, 2016

BLCF: September-25-2016

BLCF: God_Lord

Announcements & Call to Worship: Responsive Reading #602 (Divine Deliverance – Psalm 33) of Prayer; Prayer

Opening Hymn #255: Would You Be Free from the Burden

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

Today’s Scripture: 1 Samuel 17:1-54, (Additional Scriptures: Psalm 33:13-19, Matthew 4:1-11 and 1 Corinthians 1:18-31)

Let us pray…

Welcome to our Sunday Morning Prayer and Worship Service here at BLCF Church.

For our lesson today, we will discuss the contest between David of the People of Israel and Goliath the champion of the Philistines, described in today’s featured Scripture, 1 Samuel 17:1-54 (ESV). Because of the length of the passage, we cannot include the Scripture in today’s Bulletin and ask that you follow along in the pew Bibles.

David and Goliath

BLCF: david-and-goliath

 17 Now the Philistines gathered their armies for battle. And they were gathered at Socoh, which belongs to Judah, and encamped between Socoh and Azekah, in Ephes-dammim.And Saul and the men of Israel were gathered, and encamped in the Valley of Elah, and drew up in line of battle against the Philistines. And the Philistines stood on the mountain on the one side, and Israel stood on the mountain on the other side, with a valley between them. And there came out from the camp of the Philistines a champion named Goliath of Gath, whose height was six[a] cubits[b] and a span. He had a helmet of bronze on his head, and he was armed with a coat of mail, and the weight of the coat was five thousand shekels[c] of bronze. And he had bronze armor on his legs, and a javelin of bronze slung between his shoulders. The shaft of his spear was like a weaver’s beam, and his spear’s head weighed six hundred shekels of iron. And his shield-bearer went before him. He stood and shouted to the ranks of Israel, “Why have you come out to draw up for battle? Am I not a Philistine, and are you not servants of Saul? Choose a man for yourselves, and let him come down to me. If he is able to fight with me and kill me, then we will be your servants. But if I prevail against him and kill him, then you shall be our servants and serve us.” 10 And the Philistine said, “I defy the ranks of Israel this day. Give me a man, that we may fight together.” 11 When Saul and all Israel heard these words of the Philistine, they were dismayed and greatly afraid.

12 Now David was the son of an Ephrathite of Bethlehem in Judah, named Jesse, who had eight sons. In the days of Saul the man was already old and advanced in years.[d]13 The three oldest sons of Jesse had followed Saul to the battle. And the names of his three sons who went to the battle were Eliab the firstborn, and next to him Abinadab, and the third Shammah. 14 David was the youngest. The three eldest followed Saul, 15 but David went back and forth from Saul to feed his father’s sheep at Bethlehem. 16 For forty days the Philistine came forward and took his stand, morning and evening.

17 And Jesse said to David his son, “Take for your brothers an ephah[e] of this parched grain, and these ten loaves, and carry them quickly to the camp to your brothers. 18 Also take these ten cheeses to the commander of their thousand. See if your brothers are well, and bring some token from them.”

19 Now Saul and they and all the men of Israel were in the Valley of Elah, fighting with the Philistines. 20 And David rose early in the morning and left the sheep with a keeper and took the provisions and went, as Jesse had commanded him. And he came to the encampment as the host was going out to the battle line, shouting the war cry. 21 And Israel and the Philistines drew up for battle, army against army. 22 And David left the things in charge of the keeper of the baggage and ran to the ranks and went and greeted his brothers. 23 As he talked with them, behold, the champion, the Philistine of Gath, Goliath by name, came up out of the ranks of the Philistines and spoke the same words as before. And David heard him.

24 All the men of Israel, when they saw the man, fled from him and were much afraid. 25 And the men of Israel said, “Have you seen this man who has come up? Surely he has come up to defy Israel. And the king will enrich the man who kills him with great riches and will give him his daughter and make his father’s house free in Israel.” 26 And David said to the men who stood by him, “What shall be done for the man who kills this Philistine and takes away the reproach from Israel? For who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?”27 And the people answered him in the same way, “So shall it be done to the man who kills him.”

28 Now Eliab his eldest brother heard when he spoke to the men. And Eliab’s anger was kindled against David, and he said, “Why have you come down? And with whom have you left those few sheep in the wilderness? I know your presumption and the evil of your heart, for you have come down to see the battle.” 29 And David said, “What have I done now? Was it not but a word?” 30 And he turned away from him toward another, and spoke in the same way, and the people answered him again as before.

31 When the words that David spoke were heard, they repeated them before Saul, and he sent for him. 32 And David said to Saul, “Let no man’s heart fail because of him. Your servant will go and fight with this Philistine.” 33 And Saul said to David, “You are not able to go against this Philistine to fight with him, for you are but a youth, and he has been a man of war from his youth.” 34 But David said to Saul, “Your servant used to keep sheep for his father. And when there came a lion, or a bear, and took a lamb from the flock,35 I went after him and struck him and delivered it out of his mouth. And if he arose against me, I caught him by his beard and struck him and killed him. 36 Your servant has struck down both lions and bears, and this uncircumcised Philistine shall be like one of them, for he has defied the armies of the living God.” 37 And David said, “The Lord who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.” And Saul said to David, “Go, and the Lord be with you!”

38 Then Saul clothed David with his armor. He put a helmet of bronze on his head and clothed him with a coat of mail, 39 and David strapped his sword over his armor. And he tried in vain to go, for he had not tested them. Then David said to Saul, “I cannot go with these, for I have not tested them.” So David put them off. 40 Then he took his staff in his hand and chose five smooth stones from the brook and put them in his shepherd’s pouch. His sling was in his hand, and he approached the Philistine.

41 And the Philistine moved forward and came near to David, with his shield-bearer in front of him. 42 And when the Philistine looked and saw David, he disdained him, for he was but a youth, ruddy and handsome in appearance.43 And the Philistine said to David, “Am I a dog, that you come to me with sticks?” And the Philistine cursed David by his gods. 44 The Philistine said to David, “Come to me, and I will give your flesh to the birds of the air and to the beasts of the field.” 45 Then David said to the Philistine, “You come to me with a sword and with a spear and with a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. 46 This day the Lord will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you down and cut off your head. And I will give the dead bodies of the host of the Philistines this day to the birds of the air and to the wild beasts of the earth, that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel, 47 and that all this assembly may know that the Lord saves not with sword and spear. For the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give you into our hand.”

48 When the Philistine arose and came and drew near to meet David, David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet the Philistine. 49 And David put his hand in his bag and took out a stone and slung it and struck the Philistine on his forehead. The stone sank into his forehead, and he fell on his face to the ground.

50 So David prevailed over the Philistine with a sling and with a stone, and struck the Philistine and killed him. There was no sword in the hand of David. 51 Then David ran and stood over the Philistine and took his sword and drew it out of its sheath and killed him and cut off his head with it. When the Philistines saw that their champion was dead, they fled. 52 And the men of Israel and Judah rose with a shout and pursued the Philistines as far as Gath[f] and the gates of Ekron, so that the wounded Philistines fell on the way from Shaaraim as far as Gath and Ekron. 53 And the people of Israel came back from chasing the Philistines, and they plundered their camp. 54 And David took the head of the Philistine and brought it to Jerusalem, but he put his armor in his tent.

Footnotes: a. 1 Samuel 17:4 Hebrew; Septuagint, Dead Sea Scroll and Josephus four b. 1 Samuel 17:4 A cubit was about 18 inches or 45 centimeters c. 1 Samuel 17:5 A shekel was about 2/5 ounce or 11 grams d. 1 Samuel 17:12 Septuagint, Syriac; Hebrew advanced among men e. 1 Samuel 17:17 An ephah was about 3/5 bushel or 22 liters f. 1 Samuel 17:52 Septuagint; Hebrew Gai

BLCF: david-and-goliath-bible-story

I would like to make some observations with respect to the account of David versus Goliath. It is clear that Goliath was a very tall individual, over 6 cubits tall. A cubit being approximately 18 inches, which makes the Philistine warrior over 9 feet or 270 cm feet tall. To understand the size of Goliath’s frame, we read that the weight of his chainmail coat was some 125 lbs. or about 56.7 Kilos!

Goliath, acting as a champion for the Philistine army, challenged the army of Israel to provide a champion so that the two champions would fight to the death. The people of the victor would find the people of his opponent surrendering to enslavement to the side of the victor.

While members of the army of Israel, fled in fear from the Philistine giant, young David, a juvenile who was deemed to be too young and small to join the ranks of the army of Israel, was outraged by the offensive remarks made by Goliath against God. He sought to answer Goliath’s challenge to Israel by volunteering to his people’s champion in the contest.

BLCF: the-battle-belongs-to-the-Lord

The key part of this passage is 1 Samuel 17:31-37 (ESV), is where David acknowledges that God delivered him from the lion and the bear, and God will deliver him from the hand of Goliath:

31 When the words that David spoke were heard, they repeated them before Saul, and he sent for him. 32 And David said to Saul, “Let no man’s heart fail because of him. Your servant will go and fight with this Philistine.” 33 And Saul said to David, “You are not able to go against this Philistine to fight with him, for you are but a youth, and he has been a man of war from his youth.” 34 But David said to Saul, “Your servant used to keep sheep for his father. And when there came a lion, or a bear, and took a lamb from the flock,35 I went after him and struck him and delivered it out of his mouth. And if he arose against me, I caught him by his beard and struck him and killed him. 36 Your servant has struck down both lions and bears, and this uncircumcised Philistine shall be like one of them, for he has defied the armies of the living God.” 37 And David said, “The Lord who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.” And Saul said to David, “Go, and the Lord be with you!”

When King Saul heard of David’s remarks about the challenge, he had young David brought before him. But when the King saw the conviction of faith in young David, he granted the request, saying “Go, and the Lord be with you.” Saul’s comment about God going to battle with David reveals that both Saul and David shared a strong faith in the power of God to protect the champion for God’s chosen people, Israel.

We see that David refused the armor and weapons offered by Saul as he had not tested or trained with them, choosing instead to face his opponent armed solely with a sling, five smooth stones from a nearby brook, and confidence that the Lord will deliver him.

And after David arrived at the place of combat between the two armies, we see the two combatants exchange words, 1 Samuel 17:41-47:

41 And the Philistine moved forward and came near to David, with his shield-bearer in front of him. 42 And when the Philistine looked and saw David, he disdained him, for he was but a youth, ruddy and handsome in appearance.43 And the Philistine said to David, “Am I a dog, that you come to me with sticks?” And the Philistine cursed David by his gods. 44 The Philistine said to David, “Come to me, and I will give your flesh to the birds of the air and to the beasts of the field.” 45 Then David said to the Philistine, “You come to me with a sword and with a spear and with a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. 46 This day the Lord will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you down and cut off your head. And I will give the dead bodies of the host of the Philistines this day to the birds of the air and to the wild beasts of the earth, that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel, 47 and that all this assembly may know that the Lord saves not with sword and spear. For the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give you into our hand.”

David’s victory over an enemy of God’s chosen people, the People of Israel, was a victory of faith and trust in God. For it is only the supernatural power of God, given as faith’s reward, not any earthly weapon or tool, which enables us to defeat the devil, sin and death, as we see in Psalm 33:13-19 (ESV):

BLCF: keep_calm_power_in_name_of_jesus

13 The Lord looks down from heaven;
he sees all the children of man;
14 from where he sits enthroned he looks out
on all the inhabitants of the earth,
15 he who fashions the hearts of them all
and observes all their deeds.
16 The king is not saved by his great army;
a warrior is not delivered by his great strength.
17 The war horse is a false hope for salvation,
and by its great might it cannot rescue.

18 Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear him,
on those who hope in his steadfast love,
19 that he may deliver their soul from death
and keep them alive in famine.

The eye of the Lord was upon David, who came upon the field of combat, not as a king or might warrior, but a humble shepherd. David was chosen because of his great faith, not because of his physical strength, stature, or soldering experience. King Saul could have searched, and possibly found a giant warrior among his ranks to battle Goliath, electing instead to select a young warrior of great faith. A victory by a similar sized warrior of similar stature to Goliath would likely have been credited to human skill or weapons, but David’s victory would reveal God’s greater power at work.

Not only was David, a young shepherd, with no experience as a warrior, but with an abundance of faith in God, who deftly demonstrated how the Lord empowers the meek to defeat those who oppose Him.

Another example of God electing to demonstrate His power through a humble personage is our Lord, Jesus,  the Son of God, who was born in a modest stable, arrived in Jerusalem on a donkey, washed the feet of his disciples as an example of his ministry, and  surrendered his life in payment for the judgment of the sins of humanity.

As believers in the Resurrected Christ, we know Jesus was tested by the devil immediately after his baptism where he received the Holy Spirit, Matthew 4:1-11 (ESV):

The Temptation of Jesus

BLCF: even_Jesus_was_tempted

 Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. And the tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” But he answered, “It is written,

“‘Man shall not live by bread alone,
but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”

Then the devil took him to the holy city and set him on the pinnacle of the temple and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written,

“‘He will command his angels concerning you,’

and

“‘On their hands they will bear you up,
lest you strike your foot against a stone.’”

Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’” Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.”10 Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written,

“‘You shall worship the Lord your God
and him only shall you serve.’”

11 Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and were ministering to him.

Jesus fought the devil’s  temptation of both body and spirit, using the Word of God to defeat the devil.

Just as David used a faith in God, along with sling and a pebble, to defeat a mighty opponent, Goliath, which in turn led to the defeat of the Philistine army, Jesus used the Scriptures to defeat a greater foe, the devil. David used a sling to fire pebbles that were smoothed in a natural stream by the hand of God, not in the forge of man. The victory came from God’s supernatural power given in reward to David’s stalwart faith.

The Word of God has power, when spoken by a believer, but is perceived as foolishness to those lacking faith, 1 Corinthians 1:18-31 (ESV):

 Christ the Wisdom and Power of God

BLCF: Power-of-God

 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[a] 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: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards,[b] 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[c] might boast in the presence of God. 30 And because of him[d] 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 1:21 Or the folly of preaching b. 1 Corinthians 1:26 Greek according to the flesh c. 1 Corinthians 1:29 Greek no flesh d. 1 Corinthians 1:30 Greek And from him

Only God can enable a young shepherd armed with a sling and pebble and heart of faith defeat a giant opponent and ultimately an army.

In the same manner, God empowers his son, Jesus, to overcome the judgment of death for all believers, defeating the devil’s plan to bring death and destruction upon humanity. The key word in this statement is believers, who have unconditional faith in the unconditional love of God.

Faith in Christ gives us a victory over the devil, over the judgment for sin. Faith in the Lord rewards believers with the promise of the gift of the Holy Spirit and a victory over death by the promise of eternal life, our own resurrection, and life eternal on the day Jesus returns.

Let us pray…

BLCF: holy-spirit-as-power

Closing Hymn #225: Standing on the Promises

Benediction – (Ephesians 3:20-21):                                                                            

Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

BLCF: david-goliath

Four Blood Moons, a Sign from God: Prophetic Fallacy or Fact?

Dear BLCF Friends,

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church and BLCF Café continue to remain closed effective March 16, 2020 and until further notice. Today we would like to share with you a Lesson in a virtual format. We pray after the advent of a COVID-19 vaccine and following determination of Health Canada and other Health Authorities the danger of a pandemic has subsided, the Board of BLCF will be able to reopen worship and outreach activities without concern of infection to the vulnerable within our community. In the meantime, please enjoy the following lesson, stay safe, and keep the faith.

– Pastor Steve

Prologue

If you have arrived at this page as a result of using a search engine to find a publication on Blood Moons, eclipses, or other astronomical or heavenly phenomena as related to the end times or final days or end of the world, congratulations you are not alone. Perhaps the COVID-19 Pandemic has caused more fear resulting in more  attention being given to such heavenly events. Perhaps you have arrived here because of the Super Flower Full Moon and Red Blood Moon (Lunar) Eclipse, observable to only a portion of the world on May 26, 2021. People in Australia, parts of the western US, western South America, or in South-East Asia, saw the Super Flower Full Moon totally eclipsed and turn a shade of red for about 14 minutes during this total lunar eclipse. This is an updated revision of one the more popular lessons shared from this virtual pulpit.

Super Flower Blood Moon

The eclipse took place just a few hours after the Moon reached perigee, the closest point to Earth on its orbit, making it a Super Flower Blood Moon.

The second Super Full Moon of 2021 falls on May 26, 2021. The first one was on April 26/27. This eclipse also marks the beginning of an “almost tetrad” because it kicks off a series of four big lunar eclipses in two years. Three of these eclipses are total, while one of them, on November 18-19, 2021, is a deep partial eclipse. So deep that it is almost a total eclipse.

https://www.timeanddate.com/eclipse/lunar/2021-may-26

When the Eclipse Happened Worldwide — Timeline

Lunar eclipses can be visible from everywhere on the night side of the Earth, if the sky is clear. From some places the entire eclipse will be visible, while in other areas the Moon will rise or set during the eclipse

Contrary to Hagee and other self-proclaimed prophets who attempt to use NASA Charts to sell their books, we should remember the message of the Gospel of Jesus is intended to be shared freely, not purchased from a book. God’s wealth is spiritual. not intended to be commercialized.

It should be pointed out that contrary to the Bible, no eclipse (solar or lunar) and no Blood Moon (Regular or Super), found in NASA’s charts referenced by Yanover, Hagee, and Martin is visible to all people and locations around the world, at the same time. By contrast, the Bible verses referenced by these self-proclaimed prophets describes heavenly events visible to all of humanity at the same time. The claim that events such blood moons and eclipses predicted by NASA are portents of celestial events referenced in the Scriptures, signaling God’s Day of Judgment, known as the End of Days or Armageddon is near, is simply wrong.

14 for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says,

“Awake, O sleeper,
    and arise from the dead,
and Christ will shine on you.”

15 Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, 

16 making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.

Today is a time fraught with many potential dangers. such as a deadly Pandemic and political strife, making it easy to listen to warnings especially from those who claim a prophetic understanding of such events that give us pause. It is at such times the Lord wants us to view such circumstances with open eyes, by reading the Bible, through prayer, and listening to the guidance of His Holy Spirit, so that the devil is not allowed to lead us astray from God’s Word, as Satan always tries to do. Be skeptical of anyone who claims to be a prophet or spokesperson of God, but for the price of their book or a donation to their mission. The Lord intended His Gospel to be shared freely to people. unto the ends of the earth, not part of the Book of the Month Club.

Today’s lesson will challenge flawed prophetic assertions with Biblical truths. Please read the lesson for yourself and see whether their “scientific” facts presented as a prophetic explanation  of celestial events are actually just a case of conflating one thing for another, whether they be similar or not. You be the judge of what are Biblical truths and what are not and what is given with the intention of selling a book or promoting a lecture tour, and what is the Gospel of the Lord.

Blessings,

Pastor Steve

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

‘Four Blood Moons, a Sign from God: Prophetic Fallacy or Fact?

© January 17, 2021, by Steve Mickelson

Based on Messages Shared at BLCF, on April 22, 2018 and on February 2, 2014

BLCF Bulletin April 22, 2018

BLCF Bulletin February 2, 2014

 Romans 16:17-19

17 I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. 18 For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive. 19 For your obedience is known to all, so that I rejoice over you, but I want you to be wise as to what is good and innocent as to what is evil.

Announcements and Call to Worship; Prayer                                                            

Opening Hymn #358: We Praise Thee, O God                                                

Scripture Readings: Isaiah 47:1-15 and Galatians 2:11-21

Message by Stephen Mickelson:

‘Four Blood Moons, a Sign from God: Prophetic Fallacy or Fact?‘ 

 

First Scripture Reading: Isaiah 47:1-15 (ESV): The Humiliation of Babylon

47 Come down and sit in the dust,
O virgin daughter of Babylon;
sit on the ground without a throne,
O daughter of the Chaldeans!
For you shall no more be called
tender and delicate.
2 Take the millstones and grind flour,
put off your veil,
strip off your robe, uncover your legs,
pass through the rivers.
3 Your nakedness shall be uncovered,
and your disgrace shall be seen.
I will take vengeance,
and I will spare no one.
4 Our Redeemer—the Lord of hosts is his name—
is the Holy One of Israel.

5 Sit in silence, and go into darkness,
O daughter of the Chaldeans;
for you shall no more be called
the mistress of kingdoms.
6 I was angry with my people;
I profaned my heritage;
I gave them into your hand;
you showed them no mercy;
on the aged you made your yoke exceedingly heavy.
7 You said, “I shall be mistress forever,”
so that you did not lay these things to heart
or remember their end.

8 Now therefore hear this, you lover of pleasures,
who sit securely,
who say in your heart,
“I am, and there is no one besides me;
I shall not sit as a widow
or know the loss of children”:
9 These two things shall come to you
in a moment, in one day;
the loss of children and widowhood
shall come upon you in full measure,
in spite of your many sorceries
and the great power of your enchantments.

10 You felt secure in your wickedness,
you said, “No one sees me”;
your wisdom and your knowledge led you astray,
and you said in your heart,
“I am, and there is no one besides me.”
11 But evil shall come upon you,
which you will not know how to charm away;
disaster shall fall upon you,
for which you will not be able to atone;
and ruin shall come upon you suddenly,
of which you know nothing.

12 Stand fast in your enchantments
and your many sorceries,
with which you have labored from your youth;
perhaps you may be able to succeed;
perhaps you may inspire terror.
13 You are wearied with your many counsels;
let them stand forth and save you,
those who divide the heavens,
who gaze at the stars,
who at the new moons make known
what shall come upon you.

14 Behold, they are like stubble;
the fire consumes them;
they cannot deliver themselves
from the power of the flame.
No coal for warming oneself is this,
no fire to sit before!

15 Such to you are those with whom you have labored,
who have done business with you from your youth;
they wander about, each in his own direction;
there is no one to save you.

Second Scripture Reading: Galatians 2:11-21 (ESV) Paul Opposes Peter

11 But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. 12 For before certain men came from James, he was eating with the Gentiles; but when they came he drew back and separated himself, fearing the circumcision party.[a] 13 And the rest of the Jews acted hypocritically along with him, so that even Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy. 14 But when I saw that their conduct was not in step with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas before them all, “If you, though a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you force the Gentiles to live like Jews?”

Justified by Faith

15 We ourselves are Jews by birth and not Gentile sinners; 16 yet we know that a person is not justified[b] by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified.

17 But if, in our endeavor to be justified in Christ, we too were found to be sinners, is Christ then a servant of sin? Certainly not! 18 For if I rebuild what I tore down, I prove myself to be a transgressor. 19 For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God. 20 I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. 21 I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness[c] were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose.

Footnotes: a. Galatians 2:12 Or fearing those of the circumcision b.Galatians 2:16 Or counted righteous (three times in verse 16); also verse 17 c. Galatians 2:21 Or justification

Let us pray…

We begin today’s lesson by reading an excerpt of a sensational Headline science news article published in the UK Daily Express online newspaper article published bearing the byline of  SEAN MARTIN , PUBLISHED: 15:00, Wed, Jan 31, 2018 | UPDATED: 15:21, Wed, Jan 31, 2018:

A BIBLICAL prophecy came true during the lunar eclipse as an earthquake struck as the blood moon rose – just as a Pastor had predicted. Blood Moon 2018 bible prophecy TRUE: Earthquake hits Papua New Guinea same time as eclipse

In the early hours of January 31, the moon began to turn red as it started coming out of the shadow of Earth.

Many had linked the super blue blood moon phenomenon to a sign from God, and none more so that Pastor John Hagee, whose book Four Blood Moons sparked worldwide interest in the event.

At 9.48 local time over the Pacific, the moon began to turn red.

However, just 60 seconds later, a strong 5.8 magnitude struck Papua New Guinea.

Pastor Hagee pointed to the Book of Joel, claiming that this was a sign from God.

Chapter Two of the Book of Joel says that the “sun shall be turned into darkness and the moon into blood” before the second coming of Jesus Christ.

Pastor Hagee said: “God is sending us a signal. Something huge is about to happen. Something is going to change, forever.

“It’s not just a single story. It’s in Genesis and repeated in Joel and again in Joshua and again in Luke and then, finally, in Revelation.

https://www.express.co.uk/news/science/912596/blood-moon-bible-meaning-eclipse-2018-prophecy-earthquake

One may ask the question “What is wrong with the above article, crediting natural events that link a pastor’s prediction with the Bible?” A better question might be: “Who does the Bible indicate can predict the second coming? Is it any person, or the angels of heaven,  or Jesus, or the Father in heaven?”

One may also ask: What is the relationship between today’s two Scriptures, Isaiah 47:1-15 and Galatians 2:11-21? One describes the ‘Humiliation of Babylon’; the other ‘Paul’s Opposition to Peter’. While the topics seem to differ, both describe conduct that is not in step with the Gospel and therefore in opposition to God.

We see in Isaiah 47, particularly Verses 12 to 14 the dangers of using cosmic events to predict the actions of God:

12 Stand fast in your enchantments
and your many sorceries,
with which you have labored from your youth;
perhaps you may be able to succeed;
perhaps you may inspire terror.
13 You are wearied with your many counsels;
let them stand forth and save you,
those who divide the heavens,
who gaze at the stars,
who at the new moons make known
what shall come upon you.

14 Behold, they are like stubble;
the fire consumes them;
they cannot deliver themselves
from the power of the flame.

The Prophet Isaiah compares using stars to create prophecies attributed to God as an act of sorcery, condemning the stargazer to a judgment of fire and ultimately death.

The practice of using the relative location of the stars and planets to predict God’s actions falls within the realm of astrology. Astrology focuses upon the position and relationship of heavenly bodies as an omen or portent to predict significant future events.

The Galatians 2 Scriptures describe how the Apostle Peter (Cephas) erroneously believed that in order to become a follower of the Way of Christ, the Gentiles must first convert to Judaism. The Apostle Paul, with the aid of the Holy Spirit, is able to convince Peter of the fallacy of the practice that required an individual’s conversion to one religion, as a prerequisite for the other. More significantly, the New Covenant through Christ eliminated many of the old Mosaic observances and practices that were mandated to become justified unto God.

Though the Lord did instruct the disciples to partake the elements of Communion at his ‘Last Supper’, which happened to occur at the Jewish Celebration of a Passover Supper, Jesus’ death on the cross removed many of the dietary rules and observances as a path to being justified before God. By the same token, circumcision was no longer necessary to qualify as a member of God’s chosen people. The New Covenant required confession of sin, faith in Jesus’s sacrifice for the sin of the world, a willingness to be baptized of the Spirit and to follow the Way of Christ. The feasts, sacrificial offerings, and governance of the Mosaic Law had given way to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Understanding the dangers of astrology and misinterpreting the Gospel of Jesus, it is surprising to see the rise in popularity, particularly in Christian circles, an attempt to predict the return of Jesus, through celestial events, such as the event described as the “Four Blood Moons”. According to some self-proclaimed prophets, four blood red moons are supposed to be a sign of the Lord’s return. This prophecy, just as the circumcision prerequisite for Christian conversion by Cephas in Galatians 2, makes the fundamental mistake of attempting to color events of God’s New Covenant in Christ, under the constraints of the old Jewish Feasts and practices. To understand what is meant by the four blood moons, let me refer to an article from the jewishpress.com, authored by Yori Yanover:

Messianic Blood Moon Rising on Passover Seder Night

By: Yori Yanover

Published: October 6th, 2013, Latest update: October 11th, 2013

There will be a string of four “blood moons” in the year 5775, and one of them will shine over the Passover Seder. Whenever this happened in the past, enormous events took place in Jewish history.

It starts with the Book of Joel, Chapter 3:3-4: “And I will show wonders in the heavens and in the earth, blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and terrible day of the Lord come.”

The verse about the sun turning dark and the moon turning to blood, is at the center of a new, hot, Christian bestseller titled “Four Blood Moons,” by Pastor John Hagee. It is based on a discovery by Pastor Mark Biltz, who runs a “Hebrew roots” ministry in Tacoma, Washington: Red Moons.

Biltz’s website declares: “We do not want to convert Jews to Christianity or Christians to Judaism,” which works for me. He based his observation on the verse in Genesis 1:14: “And God said, Let there be lights in the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years.”

God originally plans to use the heavenly lights as signs, and the prophet Joel foretells that a blood moon would mark the day of the Lord – then it stands to reason that some dramatic stuff should be taking place when a blood moon is up in the sky.

The science of the “blood moon” phenomenon is fairly simple. It is created by a partial lunar eclipse. When the Earth’s shadow covers the moon completely, we get a total eclipse. A partial lunar eclipse happens when the Earth’s shadow covers the moon only partially. The earth atmosphere bends light around its edge, and scatters out shorter-wavelength light (green through violet), leaving longer-wavelength light (red, orange, and yellow) in the Earth’s shadow. This is also why sunsets and sunrises generally appear red.

As is the case with most miraculous events that can be explained scientifically, the miracle is not in the natural phenomenon, but rather in its timing. So the Book of Joel describes solar eclipse, followed by a partial lunar eclipse, as precursors of the Day of the Lord.

The prophecy in Joel, like most prophecies, is surreal, beautiful, and open to many interpretations. But we can take away from it the notion of a blood moon as a sign, and check out the calendar for the next bunch of partial lunar eclipses.

That’s what Pastor Biltz did, he looked at NASA’s tables for solar and lunar eclipses and found a string of lunar and solar eclipses happening in 2014 and 2015 and then nothing like it for the rest of the 21st century. In 2015 there will be two solar and lunar eclipses two weeks apart (on the new moon and full moon) one in the spring and one in the fall. This could possibly produce four blood moon eclipses in a row, which is definitely something to write home about.

OK, now hold on to your seats, please: we’ve had the Tetrad phenomenon (a string of four moons partially or completely eclipsed,) twice in the last century, both times on the night of the Passover Seder: in 5710 (1949-50) and in 5728 (1967-68).

The year 5710 came right after the establishment of the State of Israel.

The year 5728 came right after the liberation of Jerusalem.

The next string of four blood moons is coming Passover Seder night, 5775 (2014-15) – a year from this Pesach.

Oh, and the last time this event had taken place before the 20th century was in 5654. That’s 1493-94 to you and me, one year after the exile from Spain.

Now the much better connected Pastor Hagee has picked up Biltz’s notions and authored a very popular book about the blood moons and what they mean – of course, the second coming of you know who.

No, Virginia, we don’t believe in this stuff, we really don’t follow anything up in the heavens except our Father in Heaven, but you have to admit, this is pretty curious.

It’s also interesting to note that those moon strings each appeared only after the miraculous events, like a kind of confirmation on the part of God: I did this. Which means the coming year or so should be very eventful.

Like you didn’t know this without the moon…

http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/messianic-blood-moon-rising-on-passover-seder/2013/10/06/

While researching this message, I observed one of the pastors named in this article on a Huntley Street interview posted on YouTube, (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oK4O0um1gwo ), as he pleads with viewers to buy copies of his book from amazon.com for family and friends in order to get his message out. The other pastor promotes his message on a BLOG which solicits donations. I find it difficult to imagine that the Holy Spirit would allow God’s prophecy to be distributed in such a commercial way. No disciple of Christ offered to share the Gospel Message for fee made by purchasing a book or donating to a BLOG page.

The other obvious flaw in both Tetrad and Blood-Moon theories is the erroneous assumption that these celestial events are God’s way of announcing Christ’s Return to the entire world at the same time. Their mistake is in believing that the events will be visible to everyone around the globe simultaneously. No way! According to one false prophet the time lines, obtained from NASA, Europe and the Middle East (Jerusalem) will not see the first of these celestial events, as the charts and their book is written for readers in North America (USA and Canada) not Asia, Africa, including Jerusalem. So the bad news is no Tetrad for Zion! Here is Space.com’s explanation of what happened at the most recent blood moon and the next lunar eclipse:

From Space.com, Dateline January 31, 2018: Skywatchers around the world were treated to a rare Super Blue Blood Moon today (Jan. 31). While this was the first time in over 150 years that this particular type of eclipse has happened in the U.S., Americans can look forward to another “blood moon” eclipse coming on Jan. 21, 2019.

This next immediate total lunar eclipse — when the moon appears to turn red as it passes through Earth’s dark inner shadow, or the umbra — will occur later this year on July 27. But that eclipse won’t be visible from North America. However, much of the rest of the world — South America, Europe, Africa, Asia and Australia — will have a great view of that eclipse.

https://www.space.com/39557-next-blood-moon-eclipses-2018-2019.html

Contrary to the Scriptures, we must acknowledge that note that none of the blood moons or eclipses predicted by astronomers at NASA are visible everywhere on earth. In other words, the self-appointed prophets’ suffer a common flaw by citing celestial events which are visible only to a fraction of the population of the world. By contrast, the final days described in the Scriptures are events that will be visible to all of humanity. The authors’ common flaw seems to reveal that they more interested in selling books by promoting their own inaccurate prophecies at the expense of the truth found in God’s Word.

If we are truly living in the end times, with the return of Christ imminent, would it not make more sense from a Christian standpoint, to freely distribute the information to the world as a free eBook or file? Imagine Jesus’ disciples offering to the world the path to salvation and redemption from sin offered by God, but for a price. And if you have no money to purchase the information, you are out of luck! Sorry, but is not the way my God works! For my salvation, only one individual had to pay, that was Jesus Christ:

1 Peter 1:17-19 (ESV)

17 And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one’s deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile, 18 knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.

The final debunking of these self-appointed prophets is that they have the arrogance to claim to be able to determine the time our Lord Jesus returns from celestial events. But what does our Saviour say to any man’s ability to use the position and alignment of heavenly bodies to predict the day Christ, Jesus will return:

Matthew 24:29-42 (ESV): The Coming of the Son of Man

29 “Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 30 Then will appear in heaven the sign of the Son of Man, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. 31 And he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.

The Lesson of the Fig Tree

32 “From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts out its leaves, you know that summer is near. 33 So also, when you see all these things, you know that he is near, at the very gates. 34 Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place. 35 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.

No One Knows That Day and Hour

36 “But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son,[a] but the Father only. 37 For as were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 38 For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, 39 and they were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 40 Then two men will be in the field; one will be taken and one left. 41 Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken and one left. 42 Therefore, stay awake, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming.

Footnotes: a. Matthew 24:36 Some manuscripts omit nor the Son

The important part of the passage from Matthews’s gospel was not his description of how the heavens look, but Verse 36:

36 “But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son,[a] but the Father only.

And Jesus repeats the warning again in Verse 42:

42 Therefore, stay awake, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming.

In my estimation, any person who claims to know that which only the Father in heaven knows is standing on dangerous grounds! No one means no man, woman or child! Even the angels of heaven and Christ, Jesus are not privy to date that Lord returns!

While some manuscripts omit nor the Son, all of the Scripture sources indicate that God the Father alone; which means not the angels or even Jesus the Son, knows the day that Christ will come again. This means that the authors of the “Four Blood Moon” prophecy seem to claim knowledge that is strictly the within the domain of God. Does this claim sound a little familiar? I seem to recall an encounter with a fallen angel, in the guise of a serpent that offered the knowledge of God for the price of defying the Father’s single commandment:

Genesis 3:4-5 (ESV)

4 But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. 5 For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

Temptation in the Garden

Adam, Eve and the Serpent

You may recall a message that we shared concerning the crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus, all three, playing important parts in God’s plan for his beloved children. Jesus died in our stead, paying the price for everyone’s sins. Christ was resurrected from the dead, which is part of God’s New Covenant to all who trust and obey the message of the Gospel. And the Lord ascended to Heaven to sit beside the Father, intercede as an advocate for all believers, and to send the Holy Spirit of God, in order to bring a rebirth through Christ. But at his ascension, what did the disciples do? Let us review the account from the Book of Acts, Chapter 1, starting with Verse 6:

Acts 1:6-11 (ESV): The Ascension

6 So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” 7 He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” 9 And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. 10 And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, 11 and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.”

So Jesus reminds the disciples, in Acts 1, Verse 7, they are not to know the time of his return, we see in the following verse, his Great Commission which is Christ’s command to the disciples to go witness throughout the world, the gospel of Christ: “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

And we see how the disciples responded, Acts 1, verse 9-11: 9 And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. 10 And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, 11 and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.”

Some translations describe the men in white robes as angels of the Lord, who speaks to the disciples, addressing them as “men of Galilee” asking them why are they staring at heaven, say that the Lord would return from heaven, the same way that he left.

The disciples were having what I like to call a “Ferris Bueller moment”. For those of you unfamiliar with the film, Matthew Broderick appears after the final credits on screen and asks the audience: “You’re still here? It’s over! Go home! Go!” ( See Bueller clip starting at 3:40 https://youtu.be/jDfbWDLNjjE?t=220 )

The disciples having just been commanded by the Lord to go forth and minister, are still peering into the heavens as if they have nothing else to do. People who focus on events in the heavens for signs of the Lord’s return, be they blood red moons or any other sign, are not doing what he commanded. Remember his words, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority.”

But playing the devil’s advocate, as if he needs more advocates in the world, one might claim that the “Four Blood Moons” only describes signs of God, that is found throughout the Scriptures, including the Book of Revelations:

Revelation 12:1-12 (ESV): The Woman and the Dragon

12 And a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. 2 She was pregnant and was crying out in birth pains and the agony of giving birth. 3 And another sign appeared in heaven: behold, a great red dragon, with seven heads and ten horns, and on his heads seven diadems. 4 His tail swept down a third of the stars of heaven and cast them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was about to give birth, so that when she bore her child he might devour it. 5 She gave birth to a male child, one who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron, but her child was caught up to God and to his throne, 6 and the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, in which she is to be nourished for 1,260 days.

Satan Thrown Down to Earth

7 Now war arose in heaven, Michael and his angels fighting against the dragon. And the dragon and his angels fought back, 8 but he was defeated, and there was no longer any place for them in heaven. 9 And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world—he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him. 10 And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers and sisters has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God. 11 And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death. 12 Therefore, rejoice, O heavens and you who dwell in them! But woe to you, O earth and sea, for the devil has come down to you in great wrath, because he knows that his time is short!”

When reading the Revelation 12 passage, we see that there is no urgency to focus on the time Christ returns. The only urgency to act due to time constraints described in this Scripture passage belongs to Satan:

Revelation 12: 12

12 Therefore, rejoice, O heavens and you who dwell in them! But woe to you, O earth and sea, for the devil has come down to you in great wrath, because he knows that his time is short!

But those stubborn proponents of the “Four Blue Moons” prophecies might direct us to Genesis 1: 14-15, saying that God intended for us to use the signs from the heavens for prophecy:

Genesis 1:14-15 (ESV)

14 And God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night. And let them be for signs and for seasons,[a] and for days and years, 15 and let them be lights in the expanse of the heavens to give light upon the earth.” And it was so.

Footnotes: a, Genesis 1:14 Or appointed times

While God provided that there be signs in the heavens, did He intend them to enable us to predict the return of Christ? If you read the first paragraph of Luke 21:25-35, you might say “yes indeed”. Let us read this passage all the way through, and we see otherwise:

Luke 21:25-35 (ESV): The Coming of the Son of Man

25 “And there will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the earth distress of nations in perplexity because of the roaring of the sea and the waves, 26 people fainting with fear and with foreboding of what is coming on the world. For the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 27 And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. 28 Now when these things begin to take place, straighten up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”

The Lesson of the Fig Tree

29 And he told them a parable: “Look at the fig tree, and all the trees. 30 As soon as they come out in leaf, you see for yourselves and know that the summer is already near. 31 So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that the kingdom of God is near. 32 Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all has taken place. 33 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.

Watch Yourselves

34 “But watch yourselves lest your hearts be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and cares of this life, and that day come upon you suddenly like a trap. 35 For it will come upon all who dwell on the face of the whole earth.

On the day that our Saviour returns, he will come suddenly upon those who dwell on the face of the earth, including the prophets of the “Four Blue Moons”, assuming they are around when the Lord returns. In other words, no one knows the day or time, except only God. And those who claim that knowledge are not God!

The final Scripture passage that “Four Blue Moons” advocates use to justify their prophecies, comes from the sermon by the Apostle Peter from the second chapter of the Book of Acts:

Acts 2:14-24 (ESV): Peter’s Sermon at Pentecost

14 But Peter, standing with the eleven, lifted up his voice and addressed them: “Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and give ear to my words. 15 For these people are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day.[a] 16 But this is what was uttered through the prophet Joel:

17 “‘And in the last days it shall be, God declares,
that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh,
and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
and your young men shall see visions,
and your old men shall dream dreams;
18 even on my male servants[
b] and female servants
in those days I will pour out my Spirit, and they shall prophesy.
19 And I will show wonders in the heavens above
and signs on the earth below,
blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke;
20 the sun shall be turned to darkness
and the moon to blood,
before the day of the Lord comes, the great and magnificent day.
21 And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord 
shall be saved.’

22 “Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know— 23 this Jesus,[c] delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. 24 God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it.

Footnotes: a. Acts 2:15 That is, 9 a.m. b. Acts 2:18 Greek bondservants; twice in this verse c. Acts 2:23 Greek this one

The key part of this passage from Acts 2 is found in Verses 22 -24, indicating just Who is responsible for mighty works, wonders, and signs; with the events that occur according to Whose plan and foreknowledge; and these events are by way of Whose power: God and God, alone! Let us read Acts 2:22-24 again:

22 “Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know— 23 this Jesus,[c] delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. 24 God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it.

So let us not desire, as did Adam and Eve, to have the knowledge of God, especially with respect to events such as Christ’s return. That, alone, is the sole purview belonging to our Father in heaven. Remember, that Jesus said that neither he nor the angels know the time when he returns, only God the Father knows. As long as we follow the Lord, we have nothing to fear. Let us keep the faith in the task to which he gave us when he ascended to heaven; to return on a day and time known to our Father in heaven. So by claiming that the Blood moons are a sign from God of His final judgment, we claim to know something only God knows, we are misleading others and ourselves, and when He does not come, we have turned people away from God. Only Satan would like that, for his time, and that of his followers is short!

Deuteronomy 4:19 (ESV):

19 And beware lest you raise your eyes to heaven, and when you see the sun and the moon and the stars, all the host of heaven, you be drawn away and bow down to them and serve them, things that the Lord your God has allotted to all the peoples under the whole heaven.

Let us pray…

Closing Hymn #313: My Hope Is Built on Nothing Less

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.

Expressions of the Soul through Songs of Gratitude and Joy

Dear BLCF Friends,

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church and BLCF Café continue to remain closed effective March 16, 2020 and until further notice. Today we would like to share with you a Lesson in a virtual format. We pray after the advent of a COVID-19 vaccine and following determination of Health Canada and other Health Authorities the danger of a pandemic has subsided, the Board of BLCF will be able to reopen worship and outreach activities without concern of infection to the vulnerable within our community. In the meantime, please enjoy the following lesson, stay safe, and keep the faith.

– Pastor Steve

BLCF Praise and Worship Service

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

‘Expressions of the Soul through Songs of Gratitude and Joy’

© January 10, 2021, by Steve Mickelson

Based on Messages Shared at BLCF on October 27, 2019 and on July 9, 2017

BLCF Bulletin October 27, 2019

BLCF: Bulletin July 9, 2017

Announcements and Call to Worship; Prayer                                                          

Opening Hymn #408: I Will Sing of My Redeemer; Choruses

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

Responsive Reading #599: The Majesty of God (Psalms 24 and 97)                

Message by Steve Mickelson: ‘Singing to Express the Joy of the Soul’            

Let us pray…

Psalm 100:1-2 (ESV): His Steadfast Love Endures Forever (Read as today’s prayer)

            A Psalm for giving thanks

100 Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth!
    Serve the Lord with gladness!
Come into his presence with singing!

This passage, from Psalm 100, encourages us to make a joyful noise to the Lord”; and to: ”serve the Lord with gladness”; and last but not least to ”come into his presence with singing.”  Each of these actions could be classified as expressions of praising and worshiping the Lord.

The main expressions of our Sunday Praise and Worship Service at BLCF include prayer, song, and studying of the Word. Hopefully, the expressions of worship are infused with the presence of the Holy Spirit. Other aspects include evangelism, fellowship, meditation, and celebration of the Gospel of Christ, Jesus.

Our lesson today, entitled: ‘Expressions of the Soul through Songs of Gratitude and Joy’, we will focus on the importance song in our Worship Service. But what was the importance of music and song to the worship in the Holy Temple? I found an answer to the question in the Wikibits research results:

History of Music in the Biblical Period

– from Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia

 Knowledge of the biblical period is mostly from literary references in the Bible and post-biblical sources. Religion and music historian Herbert Lockyer, Jr. writes that “music, both vocal and instrumental, was well cultivated among the Hebrews, the New Testament Christians, and the Christian church through the centuries.”[1] He adds that “a look at the Old Testament reveals how God’s ancient people were devoted to the study and practice of music, which holds a unique place in the historical and prophetic books, as well as the Psalter.”

Psalter consists of the Book of Psalms used for liturgical or devotional portions of the worship service.

The music of religious ritual was first used by King David, and, according to the Larousse Encyclopedia of Music, he is credited with confirming the men of the Tribe of Levi as the “custodians of the music of the divine service.”[2] Historian Irene Hesk notes that of the twenty-four books of the Old Testament, the 150 Psalms in the Book of Psalms ascribed to King David, have served as “the bedrock of Judeo-Christian hymnology,” concluding that “no other poetry has been set to music more often in Western civilization.”[3]

The study of ancient musical instruments has been practiced for centuries with some researchers studying instruments from Israel/Palestine dating to the “biblical period.”[4]:145 Archaeological and written data have demonstrated clearly that music was an integral part of daily life in ancient Israel/Palestine. Figurines and iconographic depictions show that people played chordophones and frame drums, and that the human voice was essential as women and men sang love songs along with laments for the deceased. Data also describes outdoor scenes of music and dancing in sometimes prophetic frenzies, often with carefully orchestrated and choreographed musicians and singers within specially built structures.[4]:106

According to ancient music historian Theodore Burgh, “If we were able to step into the . . . biblical period, we would find a culture filled with music . . . where people used music in their daily lives.”[4] “Such music was capable of expressing a great variety of moods and feelings or the broadly marked antitheses of joy and sorrow, hope and fear, faith and doubt. In fact, every shade and quality of sentiment are found in the wealth of songs and psalms and in the diverse melodies of the people.

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

In many Christian Churches today, the Psalter has been expanded to include the Book of Praise or Hymnal Songbooks which contain songs inspired by the Book of Psalms, as well as other passages in both the Old and New Testaments.

And then we have choruses, composed by contemporary authors, with lyrics that are not just restricted to paraphrasing the Scriptures, but may include Spiritual feelings or emotions experienced by Christians. These Christian songs and ballads are often presented to the congregation by way of projectors and may be distributed by electronic sources.

While purists may complain that only the original Psalms should be used in Christian Worship Services, the modern Christian view which holds that every Christian is a vessel of God’s Holy Spirit, and that a modern Christian Chorus could be as much the product of Divine inspiration as were the Psalms.

We get an idea of the use of music and song in Temple Worship in a passage taken from the second Book of Chronicles, 2 Chronicles 5:2-14 (ESV):

The Ark Brought to the Temple

BLCF: temple music 2 solomon-dedicates-the-first-temple

Then Solomon assembled the elders of Israel and all the heads of the tribes, the leaders of the fathers’ houses of the people of Israel, in Jerusalem, to bring up the ark of the covenant of the Lord out of the city of David, which is Zion. And all the men of Israel assembled before the king at the feast that is in the seventh month. And all the elders of Israel came, and the Levites took up the ark. And they brought up the ark, the tent of meeting, and all the holy vessels that were in the tent; the Levitical priests brought them up. And King Solomon and all the congregation of Israel, who had assembled before him, were before the ark, sacrificing so many sheep and oxen that they could not be counted or numbered. Then the priests brought the ark of the covenant of the Lord to its place, in the inner sanctuary of the house, in the Most Holy Place, underneath the wings of the cherubim. The cherubim spread out their wings over the place of the ark, so that the cherubim made a covering above the ark and its poles. And the poles were so long that the ends of the poles were seen from the Holy Place before the inner sanctuary, but they could not be seen from outside. And they are[a] there to this day. 10 There was nothing in the ark except the two tablets that Moses put there at Horeb, where the Lord made a covenant with the people of Israel, when they came out of Egypt. 11 And when the priests came out of the Holy Place (for all the priests who were present had consecrated themselves, without regard to their divisions, 12 and all the Levitical singers, Asaph, Heman, and Jeduthun, their sons and kinsmen, arrayed in fine linen, with cymbals, harps, and lyres, stood east of the altar with 120 priests who were trumpeters; 13 and it was the duty of the trumpeters and singers to make themselves heard in unison in praise and thanksgiving to the Lord), and when the song was raised, with trumpets and cymbals and other musical instruments, in praise to the Lord,

“For he is good,
for his steadfast love endures forever,”

the house, the house of the Lord, was filled with a cloud, 14 so that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud, for the glory of the Lord filled the house of God.

Footnotes: a. 2 Chronicles 5:9 Hebrew it is

Did you notice that God’s presence happened after music and songs of praise and thanksgiving. For those of you who are connected to the Web, the cloud in the Temple describes the presence of God, not an online virtual storage place.

Even the angels gave vocal expressions of Praise and Joy when announcing the birth of the Christ child to the shepherds in the fields.

Getting back to the chorus vs Psalm debate, we find that Christian believers are instructed to be filled with the Spirit, which is the presence of God, and to address “one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs,” as we see in Ephesians 5:17-21 (ESV):

17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. 18 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, 19 addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart,20 giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, 21 submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.

We are instructed to make melody from the heart, giving thanks to God the Father in name of and with reverence to Christ, Jesus. This tradition of singing praises accompanied to music is in the same manner and tradition  not unlike that described in Psalm 98:1-7 (ESV):

Make a Joyful Noise to the Lord

A Psalm.

98 Oh sing to the Lord a new song,
for he has done marvelous things!
His right hand and his holy arm
have worked salvation for him.
The Lord has made known his salvation;
he has revealed his righteousness in the sight of the nations.
He has remembered his steadfast love and faithfulness
to the house of Israel.
All the ends of the earth have seen
the salvation of our God.

Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth;
break forth into joyous song and sing praises!
Sing praises to the Lord with the lyre,
with the lyre and the sound of melody!
With trumpets and the sound of the horn
make a joyful noise before the King, the Lord!

Let the sea roar, and all that fills it;
the world and those who dwell in it!

And the songs and music of praise is not restricted to the sanctuary of God, but in the heavens as well, as we see in Psalm 150 (ESV) :

 Let Everything Praise the Lord

 

150 Praise the Lord!
Praise God in his sanctuary;
praise him in his mighty heavens![
a]
Praise him for his mighty deeds;
praise him according to his excellent greatness!

Praise him with trumpet sound;
praise him with lute and harp!
Praise him with tambourine and dance;
praise him with strings and pipe!
Praise him with sounding cymbals;
praise him with loud clashing cymbals!
Let everything that has breath praise the Lord!
Praise the Lord!

Footnotes: a. Psalm 150:1 Hebrew expanse (compare Genesis 1:6–8)

BLCF: heavenly hosts sing

We see that music and song should come from our heart or soul, where the indwelt Holy Spirit in each of us demonstrates the Godly virtues which allow us to live peacefully by the Grace of God, through his Son, Christ Jesus, Colossians 3:12-17:

 Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.  And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Let us pray…

Now, let us sing…

Closing Hymn #51: I Will Sing of the Mercies of the Lord

Benediction – Colossians 3:12-17:

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 

Epiphany: Celebrating the Manifestation of Christ

Dear BLCF Friends,

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church and BLCF Café continue to remain closed effective March 16, 2020 and until further notice. Today we would like to share with you an Epiphany Lesson in a virtual format. We pray after the advent of a COVID-19 vaccine and following determination of Health Canada and other Health Authorities the danger of a pandemic has subsided, the Board of BLCF will be able to reopen worship and outreach activities without concern of infection to the vulnerable within our community. In the meantime, please enjoy the following lesson, stay safe, and keep the faith. – Pastor Steve

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

‘Epiphany: Celebrating the Manifestation of Christ’

© January 3, 2021, by Steve Mickelson

Based on Lessons Shared at BLCF on January 1, 2020, December 29, 2013, and December 28, 2014

BLCF Bulletin December 28, 2014

BLCF Bulletin December 29, 2013 

Welcome and blessings of the New Year to all on this, the first Sunday of 2021, the Sunday closest to January 6, which is the day that many churches observe the Epiphany, marking the manifestation of the Christ or Messiah, who is our Lord Jesus.

When I talk about Epiphany, we should not confuse it with the secular use of epiphany, such as the ‘Eureka!’ moment experienced by the ancient Greek scholar Archimedes, when he stepped into a bath and noticed that the water level rose and he suddenly understood that the volume of water displaced must be equal to the volume of the part of his body he had submerged, known today as the Archimedes’ principle.

By contrast, the Epiphany which is the subject of today’s lesson is spelled with a capital “E”, a term Christians use to describe when the supernatural powers of Jesus, the Son of God, became manifested, or expressed to all. We find a little more background on Epiphany from the Web site sharefaith.com:

Epiphany Observances

Observed on January 6th, the Epiphany celebration remembers the three miracles that manifest the divinity of Christ. The name “Epiphany” comes from the Greek word Epiphania, and means “to show, make known, or reveal.” The celebration originated in the Eastern Church in AD 361, beginning as a commemoration of the birth of Christ. Later, additional meanings were added – the visit of the three Magi, Christ’s baptism in the Jordan River, and his first miracle at the wedding in Cana. These three events are central to the definition of Epiphany, and its meaning is drawn from these occurrences.

For many Christians, the definition of Epiphany is a reminder of God the Father’s unlimited love and mercy, which He has extended to all of mankind through the revelation of His Son, and of the hope of salvation that is now manifest for all who come to him in faith.                                                       

http://www.sharefaith.com/guide/Christian-Holidays/definition-of-epiphany.html

Author Johann Roten posted the the following about Epiphany in the East and West, posted on the University of Dayton Web site:

Epiphany

The feast of the Epiphany, as we presently understand it—the adoration of the Magi—is found very early in Gaul, where it probably predates Christmas.  The Council of Saragossa in 380 decreed a three-week fast before Epiphany.  The feast existed in North Africa in the time of Augustine.  Several of Leo the Great’s sermons witness to the feast’s observance in Rome.  The principal object in the Roman liturgy is the adoration of the Magi.

However, the feast of the Epiphany most certainly originated in the East, where it is mentioned by Clement of Alexandria.  It may have been assigned its date in reference to a pagan feast.  In the Egyptian calendar, the winter solstice and the feast of the Sun-god were observed on January 6.  On the previous night, pagans of Alexandria commemorated the birth of their god Aeon, supposedly born of a virgin.  It was also believed that the waters of rivers, especially the Nile, acquired miraculous powers and even turned into wine on this night.

This may be a partial explanation, why it is difficult to circumscribe the original object of this feast in the East.  By the fourth century Epiphany could embrace the birth of Christ, His baptism, the adoration of the Magi, and the miracle at Cana.  According to some liturgists (cf. C. Mohrmann), Epiphany was an idea feast (as opposed to an event feast) from the beginning and admitted any manifestation of the divine power of Christ. As a matter of fact, in classical Greek epiphany and theophany designate the manifestation of a divinity and, later, important events in the life of a king.  Epiphany is first used in a Christian sense by St. Paul for both the first and the final comings of Christ (Titus 2:11-13).  The word epiphany was soon used to describe the miracles of Christ as manifestations of divine power.

St. John Chrysostom explains the eastern meaning of Epiphany with these words: “We give the name Epiphany to the Lord’s baptism because he was not made manifest to all when he was born, but only when he was baptized, for until that time he was unknown to the people at large.”  In similar fashion, St. Jerome, drawing upon his Palestine experience, declares that the idea of showing forth (Epiphany) belonged not to the birth in the flesh, for then he was hidden and not revealed, but rather to the baptism in the Jordan, when the heavens were opened upon Christ.

According to oriental ideas it was through the divine pronouncement “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased,” that the Savior was first manifested to the great world of unbelievers.  The western tradition of this feast lies more along the line of what we are used to call fides quaerens intellectum (faith seeking understanding).  There is no overwhelming Epiphany or divine manifestation on the path of the Magi.  The Magi were wise men who saw the star and its unusual brightness.  Steadfast in the resolution of following the divine call and fearless of danger, they traveled, inquired, explored, and let themselves be conducted by the star to the place where they were to see and worship their Savior.  But again, no divine pronouncement thundering from open skies, only a poor babe in a manger.  As St. Leo the Great put it, “When a star had conducted them to worship Jesus, they did not find him commanding devils or raising the dead or restoring sight to the blind or speech to the dumb, or employed in any divine action; but a silent babe, dependent upon a mother’s care, giving no sign of power but exhibiting a miracle of humility.”

Eastern theology has always been eschatological in thrust, eager and anxious to show the unabridged Godhead in all its splendor and majesty, beyond and in spite of its manifestation in human condition and according to human categories.  Western theology in turn develops according to a different religious sensitivity: it is more incarnational, amazed by and preoccupied with the miracle of humility, God’s being in the flesh and becoming one of us.  The spirituality of the East is a spirituality of vision, based on “ta phota” (what is visible) or illumination, the Jordan experience; the spirituality of the West is the spirituality of journey, originating in God’s call and transformative power, it is the “Magi-experience.”

Yet, both traditions are but two different and complementary facets of the same reality, just as ear and eye are dependent on and complement each other.  In a similar way, the Feast of the Epiphany manifests the comprehensive reality of God’s encounter with humanity: it shows not only God’s self-giving presence in the miracle of humility, but also his authoritative self-disclosure at the baptism of Christ. Epiphany manifests not only God’s gratuitous and hidden presence to us, it also reminds us of our personal and active role in this encounter with God, made explicit through the acts and gestures of the Magi.

The Magi offer to Jesus as a token of homage the richest products their countries afforded – gold, frankincense, and myrrh.  Gold, as an acknowledgment of Christ’s regal power; incense, as a confession of his Godhead; and myrrh, as a testimony that he has become man for the redemption of the world.  But even more important than gold, frankincense and myrrh were the dispositions the Magi cherished in their souls: their fervent charity, signified by gold; their devotion, figured by frankincense; and their unreserved sacrifice of themselves, represented by myrrh.      

In the Middle Ages it was customary on this day (January 6) to bless homes with the newly-blessed water, and with incense.  Later the initials of the names of the Magi (Caspar, Melchior, and Balthasar) were written with blessed chalk on or above the doors of homes.  CMB stands also for Christus, Manisionem, Benedocal (May Christ bless this home).  May these initials be carved on the doors to our spiritual homes, too, as a reminder, that each one of us is called upon by God’s Epiphany to the world to assume a threefold role: that of the child, the disciple and the steward. 

As a child we receive and cherish God’s Epiphany to us; As a disciple we follow God’s call to crib and cross; and As steward we are accountable to God and the world of what we did to his Epiphany, understood as vision and journey.

 Johann Roten    

http://campus.udayton.edu/mary/meditations/epiphany.html

Depending upon which scholar that you talk with, the passage in the Bible that describes the event of Epiphany of our Lord could be any or all of three different events in the earthy walk of our Lord, Jesus Christ.

1) The first is the arrival of the Wise Men or Magi to visit the newborn Jesus at Bethlehem.

2) The second is the Miracle performed by Jesus to convert water into wine at a wedding in Cana.

3) While the third is the Baptism of Jesus in the Jordan River by John.

The first of today’s Scripture verses gives the only account of the visit of the Magi or Wise Men who came from the east, beyond the borders of the Roman Empire, as unlike Joseph and Mary, they came to Bethlehem to worship and bear gifts to the newborn king as foretold by prophecy and guided by a star, and not in response the Census mandated by the Edict of Caesar.

The fact that the Magi were unaware that Jesus was born in Bethlehem, indicates that the three were Gentiles, being ignorant of the prophecy known to the scribes and chief priests, only that a star will mark the location of the birth of the Christ Child as we see in Matthew 2:1-12 (ESV):

The Visit of the Wise Men

2 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.

Footnotes: a. Matthew 2:1 Greek magi; also verses 7, 16 b. Matthew 2:2 Or in the east; also verse 9

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

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

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, his brothers, his sisters 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

The changing of water to wine by our Lord is considered by many Biblical scholars to be symbolic how faith in Jesus Christ transforms the believer into a new creature.

Our third Scripture verse for today describes how the spirit of God came upon our Lord, after he was baptized in the River, Jordan, which is found in Matthew 3:13-17 (ESV):

The Baptism of Jesus

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

Epiphany  marks three events and aspects of the walk on earth by Jesus: his birth as prophesized in scripture, supported by the visitation by the Magi; the power of the Lord being manifest by his transformation of water to wine; and alighting of the Holy Spirit upon Jesus after His baptism supported by words spoken to John by God.

All three Epiphany Scripture verses demonstrate how our Lord manifests or expresses his Divine power and presence: by his birth, his miracles and by way of the Holy Spirit. All three accounts take place between the birth and crucifixion of Jesus, while he walked on the earth as a man who the angels called the son of God, but who chose to refer to himself, more modestly, as the son of man.

The birth of Christ in such humble circumstances, as in a stable, with a manger as a crib, first announced by angels to shepherds, reveals that Jesus came as child to serve all men and women, not to rule from a palace, as he Magi had mistakenly expected. This child, Jesus, grew to become the Savior and Lord, not by power and conquest of battle and destruction, but by an act of love and surrender on the cross at Calvary.

Before he died on the cross, Jesus lived and experienced the world as a man, died a human death, but was resurrected from the tomb, and then ascended into heaven in order to bring Divine forgiveness and sanctification by taking upon himself our judgment for our sins. And Jesus continued to assure that we would have Emmanuel or the presence of God with us by way of the Holy Spirit.

Benediction – (2 Corinthians 13:14): The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all

Have a blessed and safe New Year 2021, filled with hope in God’s love, grace, and fellowship.