Dear BLCF Friends,
Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church and BLCF Café continue to remain closed effective March 16, 2020, 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 lessons stay safe, and keep the faith.
– Pastor Steve
Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church, 1307 Bloor Street West, Toronto, ON.
Message for Sunday:
‘God’s Love: It Makes the Intangible, Tangible’
© September 26, 2021, by Steve Mickelson
Based on Messages shared with BLCF Church, on October 28, 2018, and on June 12, 2016
Announcements and Call to Worship; Prayer
Opening Hymn #199: Brethren, We Have Met to Worship; Choruses
Prayer Requests and Tithing: Hymn #572: Praise God from Whom All Blessings; Prayers
Responsive Reading #594: God’s Commandments (-from Exodus 20 and Matthew 22)
Message by Steve Mickelson: ‘
God’s Love: It Makes the Intangible, Tangible’
Let us pray…
Welcome to BLCF Church on this, the first Sunday of Fall, 2021. There is a challenge to the Christian Church today, especially in completing Christ’s Gospel, unto the ends of the earth. It can be a challenge to demonstrate to other people who dwell in a tangible world, the reality of a God who may seem to have an intangible existence.
But before we begin today’s lesson: ‘God’s Love: It Makes the Intangible, Tangible’, let us check a definition of terms used within today’s lesson. The first is from dictionary.com:
Tangible – 1580-90; < Late Latin tangibilis, equivalent to Latin tang (ere) to touch + -ibilis -ible
- capable of being touched; discernible by the touch; material or substantial.
- real or actual, rather than imaginary or visionary: the tangible benefits of sunshine.
- definite; not vague or elusive: no tangible grounds for suspicion.
- (of an asset) having actual physical existence, as real estate or chattels, and therefore capable of being assigned a value in monetary terms.
- something tangible, especially a tangible asset.
- not tangible; incapable of being perceived by the sense of touch, as incorporeal or immaterial things; impalpable.
- not definite or clear to the mind: intangible arguments.
- (of an asset) existing only in connection with something else, as the goodwill of a business.
- something intangible, especially an intangible asset: Intangibles are hard to value.
Bookkeepers and accountants, must balance ledgers and deal with assets that are either tangible or intangible. Sometimes the intangible assets are called goodwill assets. The interesting aspect of a tangible asset is that it depreciates each year so that after several years, the tangible asset no longer has any book value. By contrast, intangible assets hold their value and very often grow in value over time. Consider the trademark for McDonald’s Restaurants, the double arches. The value of this intangible asset is far more valuable today than when the trademark was first adopted:
Q: What is the difference between goodwill and tangible assets?
By Investopedia | January 8, 2015 — 2:11 AM EST
A: Companies can own two type of assets: tangible and intangible. Tangible assets are assets that take physical form. These are made up of fixed assets, such as buildings, vehicles and machinery. They are also composed of current assets, which include cash and inventory. Goodwill is a form of intangible asset, along with the likes of contracts and patents. Although an intangible asset does not have a physical form, it still provides value to the company. Tangible assets are far easier to liquidate than intangible assets; machinery and buildings have a secondary market.
Goodwill is created as the result of the purchase of one company by another at a premium. It represents the difference between the price paid by the purchaser and the target company’s book value. It reflects the premium paid for a company’s reputation, technology, brands and other less tangible attributes.
Given that goodwill arises as a residual portion of the purchase price, it cannot be measured directly. It can be independently appraised on assumptions based on the excess value of the business being purchased.
For tangible assets, if there is an anticipated useful life of more than one year, then there is a requirement for the assets’ worth to be depreciated over their useful lives. Prior to 2001, accounting rules required goodwill to be amortized over a period of up to 40 years. However, in 2001, the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) issued an accounting pronouncement that ended automatic amortization of goodwill. As a result, goodwill is now measured annually to determine whether there has been an impairment loss. If there is no impairment, goodwill can remain on a company’s balance sheet indefinitely.
Thinking of the phrase “Peace on Earth to men of goodwill” makes me consider how the growth of believers or the faith of Christians, that is the growth of this goodwill or intangible aspect of Christ’s Gospel message, adopted by members of Christ’s Church, which continues to accumulate and grow over time, unaffected by the rules of depreciation that occur if these assets were tangible in nature.
We know that there is the promise, that where two or more are gathered in the Lord’s name, then He is there in Spirit. I believe this call indicates that two or more people are gathered together in His name, then He will be there in the Spirit, indicates how the Spirit rewards those believers who gather and call on the Lord, as we find in BLCF at each Sunday Morning Prayer and Worship Service, as well at Wednesday Prayer and Bible Study, and at other functions of BLCF Church. By definition, the Church is comprised of the believers who assemble together in this space. For the last 18 months, we see our faith in ourselves and each other challenged by a deadly COVID-19 Pandemic, which continues to test the bonds of our faith by the safety rules and restrictions necessary to protect others and ourselves from infection by a deadly virus that increases when people gather together in places of worship and while celebrating communion and dinner gatherings. We remain unified in the Holy Spirit of God, whether alone or assembled as a congregation.
Often non-believers, and some believers – remember Thomas, the disciple, seek tangible proof of the Gospel of Jesus, including Christ’s resurrection and the presence of the Holy Spirit. It is at times. because of health, travel, sickness, or a pandemic, Christians find that are not able to gather together physically in the same place as a congregation, that we are challenged to support each other and maintain ties that bind by way of phone, text, and email. While unable to pray for each other, we may support one another by prayer over the phone when we address our Father, in the name of His Son, by praying in the Spirit. We should consider that this Pandemic has placed the burden of physical isolation upon us all, but we remain united together in the Holy Spirit. Supporting others in the congregation who are unable to assemble in a tangible way, through the intangible means of prayer, by phone and message is a perfect example of expressions of the intangibles of love, faith, and prayer that are characteristics of the Holy Spirit!
Let us look at the first Scripture passage in today’s lesson, from Jeremiah 2:1-22, where the people of Israel forsake God, to worship tangible idols and non-existent gods such as Baal:
Jeremiah 2:1-22 (ESV): Israel Forsakes the Lord
2 The word of the Lord came to me, saying,
2 “Go and proclaim in the hearing of Jerusalem, Thus says the Lord,
“I remember the devotion of your youth, your love as a bride, how you followed me in the wilderness, in a land not sown. 3 Israel was holy to the Lord, the firstfruits of his harvest. All who ate of it incurred guilt; disaster came upon them, declares the Lord.”
4 Hear the word of the Lord, O house of Jacob, and all the clans of the house of Israel. 5 Thus says the Lord:
“What wrong did your fathers find in me that they went far from me, and went after worthlessness, and became worthless? 6 They did not say, ‘Where is the Lord who brought us up from the land of Egypt, who led us in the wilderness, in a land of deserts and pits, in a land of drought and deep darkness, in a land that none passes through, where no man dwells?’
7 And I brought you into a plentiful land to enjoy its fruits and its good things. But when you came in, you defiled my land and made my heritage an abomination.
8 The priests did not say, ‘Where is the Lord?’ Those who handle the law did not know me; the shepherds[a] transgressed against me; the prophets prophesied by Baal and went after things that do not profit.
9 “Therefore I still contend with you, declares the Lord, and with your children’s children I will contend.10 For cross to the coasts of Cyprus and see, or send to Kedar and examine with care; see if there has been such a thing. 11 Has a nation changed its gods, even though they are no gods? But my people have changed their glory for that which does not profit.
12 Be appalled, O heavens, at this; be shocked, be utterly desolate, declares the Lord,13 for my people have committed two evils:
they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water.
14 “Is Israel a slave? Is he a homeborn servant? Why then has he become a prey? 15 The lions have roared against him; they have roared loudly. They have made his land a waste; his cities are in ruins, without inhabitant.16 Moreover, the men of Memphis and Tahpanhes have shaved[b] the crown of your head. 17 Have you not brought this upon yourself by forsaking the Lord your God, when he led you in the way?
18 And now what do you gain by going to Egypt to drink the waters of the Nile? Or what do you gain by going to Assyria to drink the waters of the Euphrates?[c] 19 Your evil will chastise you, and your apostasy will reprove you. Know and see that it is evil and bitter for you to forsake the Lord your God; the fear of me is not in you, declares the Lord God of hosts.
20 “For long ago I broke your yoke and burst your bonds; but you said, ‘I will not serve.’ Yes, on every high hill and under every green tree you bowed down like a whore.
21 Yet I planted you a choice vine, wholly of pure seed. How then have you turned degenerate and become a wild vine? 22 Though you wash yourself with lye and use much soap, the stain of your guilt is still before me, declares the Lord God.
Footnotes: a. Jeremiah 2:8 Or rulers b. Jeremiah 2:16 Hebrew grazed c. Jeremiah 2:18 Hebrew the River
The Gospel of Christ is filled with intangibles such as love, faith, hope, sin, guilt, worship, prayer, forgiveness, sanctification, and God’s Covenants. Then there are some of the tangible aspects of Jesus which include: the crucifixion, the Scriptures, providing for the needs of the poor, and the partaking of the elements of communion.
Now there is a third category, which I would like to describe as physical or tangible expressions of our intangible God: the miracles, including the Word, Made Flesh, the Resurrection of Christ, the gift and presence of the Holy Spirit to every believer, as well our promised resurrection and eternal life with the Lord.
Hebrews 12:18-29 (ESV): A Kingdom That Cannot Be Shaken
18 For you have not come to what may be touched, a blazing fire and darkness and gloom and a tempest 19 and the sound of a trumpet and a voice whose words made the hearers beg that no further messages be spoken to them. 20 For they could not endure the order that was given, “If even a beast touches the mountain, it shall be stoned.” 21 Indeed, so terrifying was the sight that Moses said, “I tremble with fear.” 22 But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, 23 and to the assembly[a] of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, 24 and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.
25 See that you do not refuse him who is speaking. For if they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, much less will we escape if we reject him who warns from heaven. 26 At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, “Yet once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.” 27 This phrase, “Yet once more,” indicates the removal of things that are shaken—that is, things that have been made—in order that the things that cannot be shaken may remain. 28 Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, 29 for our God is a consuming fire.
Footnotes: a. Hebrews 12:23 Or church
The Kingdom of God is not of this world and therefore not subject to the destruction that occurs to structures and other tangibles, today.
Matthew 22:34-40 (ESV): The Great Commandment
34 But when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. 35 And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. 36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”
Of all the Ten Commandments God gave to Moses for the People of Israel, the two that Jesus spoke about describe an intangible aspect of our relationship with God and our neighbor, which is love. Love is not subject to worldly influences. The other Eight Commandments deal with property, and physical tangible aspects of our relationships, which makes them of lesser importance than how we deal with our God and neighbor. If we apply love to any or all of the Ten Commandments, we would expect a positive outcome in our relationship with God, except for the issue of sin.
Sin inhibits our ability to successfully adhere to or follow the Ten Commandments. In this regard, all of us fail and fall short of God’s glory. However, God loved us so much, that He gave us His only Son, Jesus as a propitiation for sin. While Jesus’ sacrifice does not eliminate sin, it takes away the judgment of death for sin. In place of death of the death penalty, God makes provision for the final sacrifice by way of Jesus’ death on the cross. And the resurrected Christ, who ascended to heaven leads to the gifting of the companion of the Holy Spirit. We see that each stage of salvation and reconciliation has a tangible and intangible aspect. Christ was born, he ministers, then died, was resurrected from death, and ascended to heaven, all are tangibles. And all of these aspects of Christ’s Gospel are impossible without the intangible Godly attributes of love, compassion, faith, hope, and the Spirit’s influence.
John 1:14 (ESV): Word Made Flesh
14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.
Let us pray…
Closing Hymn #374: Take Thou Our Minds, Dear Lord
Benediction – (Romans 12:2): Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.