Expressions of the Soul through Prayer, So that Your Joy May Be Full

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

‘Expressions of the Soul through Prayer, So that Your Joy May Be Full

© July 16, 2017 by Steve Mickelson

BLCF: Bulletin July 16, 2017

Announcements and Call to Worship; Prayer                                                     Opening Hymn #435: What a Friend We Have in Jesus                                             Prayer and Tithing Hymn #572: Praise God from Whom All Blessings             Responsive Reading #630: Christ Teaches Prayer (Luke 11 and John 16)         Message by Steve Mickelson:                                                                           ‘Expressions of the Soul through Prayer, So that Your Joy May Be Full

Let us pray…

Welcome to BLCF’s Sunday Morning Praise and Worship Service, which we just launched using prayer as our call to worship. As it happens worshipping God through prayer happens to be the subject of today’s lesson: ‘Expressions of the Soul through Prayer, So that Your Joy May Be Full’.

You may recall that last Sunday’s lesson dealt with the use of music and song in Christian Worship. Today, we have another key element of Christian Worship of the Lord, which is prayer.

Prayer has long been a part of a believer’s faith practice, where people call upon the name of the Lord, as we see in Genesis 4:25-26 (ESV):

25 And Adam knew his wife again, and she bore a son and called his name Seth, for she said, “God has appointed[a] for me another offspring instead of Abel, for Cain killed him.” 26 To Seth also a son was born, and he called his name Enosh. At that time people began to call upon the name of the Lord.

Footnotes: a. Genesis 4:25 Seth sounds like the Hebrew for he appointed

Unfortunately for those who are ‘seekers of God’ or who do not enjoy a personal relationship with the Lord, the Genesis 4 passage does not reveal specific details as to how the people expressed themselves when they prayed or  called upon the name of the Lord.

Last Sunday, we looked at the passage of 2 Chronicles 5:2-14, which describes the Ark of the Covenant, carrying the stone tables of the Law that Moses carried from his visit with God on Mount Horeb, in a ceremony that included music, song, and celebration to call upon God’s presence, which is described as being like a cloud.

The Hebrew Practice of prayer included the washing of the hands and feet, with men and women worshippers covering their head while in praying the Holy Temple or when reading the Holy Scriptures. You may recall that God instructed Moses to remove his sandals while in God’s holy presence.

In addition to the washing before prayer and the covering of the head, in the preparation for prayer would include wearing a prayer shawl, expressing prayer by singing from the Psalter, while rocking and bowing the body.  These practices of Hebrew prayer is echoed by Christian prayer, which not only includes actions that may range from the bowing of the head and closing of the hands to either the clapping or raising of the hands towards heaven, along with to singing, dancing, and shouts of: “hallelujah”, “praise the Lord”, and “amen”!

The difference between the Hebrew and Christian prayer is rooted in the Jewish belief that there is a physical separation between worshippers and God caused by sin. Prayer is an attempt to restore the communion enjoyed between God and Adam and Eve that existed before the fall in the garden. In order to even approach the altar of worship, strict rituals of cleansing, sacrifice, confessions, dress and decorum had to be observed before the prayer began.

Thanks to the gift of sanctification and the presence of the Holy Spirit given by our Lord and Saviour, Christ Jesus, we no longer have to go through a physical cleansing and purification routine in order to pray to God, as Jesus brings us sanctification before God. Here is a brief description of what prayer means to the Christian believer.From, The New Bible Dictionary:

 Prayers

 In the Bible prayer is worship that includes all attitudes of the human spirit in its approach to God. The Christian worships God when he/she adores, confesses, praises and supplicates Him in prayer. This highest activity of which the human spirit is capable may be thought of as communion with God, so long as due emphasis is laid upon divine initiative. A man/woman prays because God has already touched his/her spirit.

The Pauline Epistles

It is significant that immediately after Christ revealed Himself to Paul on the Damascus road it is said of Paul ‘Behold, he prayeth’ Acts 9: (ESV) 11 And the Lord said to him, “Rise and go to the street called Straight, and at the house of Judas look for a man of Tarsus named Saul, for behold, he is praying, (Acts 9:11). Probably Paul discovered what prayer really was, so profound was the change in his heart which conversion had effected. From that moment on he was a man of prayer.

But perhaps Paul’s greatest contribution to our understanding of Christian prayer is in establishing its connection with the Holy Spirit. Prayer is in fact a gift of the Spirit (1Corinthians 14:14-16). The believer prays ‘in the Spirit’ (Ephesians 4:18); hence prayer is a co-operation between God and the believer in that it is presented to the Father, in the name of the Son, through the inspiration of the indwelling Holy Spirit.

The New Bible Dictionary – Organizing Editor J.D. Douglas , WM.B. EERDMAN’S PUBLISHING CO. – © The Inter-Varsity Fellowship, 1962 ISBN 0-8028-2282-7   -Pages 1019 and 1022

Christian prayer requires no sanctification process or sacrifice, Jesus has done both once and for all, as Christ is now the Great high priest and Christians are now the temples, being vessels of God’s Holy Spirit, Hebrews 4:14-16 (ESV):

 Jesus the Great High Priest

14 Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

Thanks to Christ’s gifts of sanctification and the Holy spirit, we may ask anything in the name of the Lord, and expect Him to do it, John 14:12-16 (ESV):

12 “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father. 13 Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 If you ask me[a] anything in my name, I will do it.

Jesus Promises the Holy Spirit

15 “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper,[b] to be with you forever,

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

Today, there is a variation in the method of prayer, as it may made individually, by a group or congregation, spoken or silently, in song or by words, quietly or overtly, however the Spirit leads the person(s) who pray.

What about the expressions of the prayer? Should those around sense or understand the uttering of the Spirit?

1 Corinthians 14:13-19 (ESV)

 13 Therefore, one who speaks in a tongue should pray that he may interpret. 14 For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays but my mind is unfruitful. 15 What am I to do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will pray with my mind also; I will sing praise with my spirit, but I will sing with my mind also. 16 Otherwise, if you give thanks with your spirit, how can anyone in the position of an outsider[a] say “Amen” to your thanksgiving when he does not know what you are saying? 17 For you may be giving thanks well enough, but the other person is not being built up. 18 I thank God that I speak in tongues more than all of you. 19 Nevertheless, in church I would rather speak five words with my mind in order to instruct others, than ten thousand words in a tongue.

Footnotes: a. 1 Corinthians 14:16 Or of him that is without gifts

While one may be moved by the Spirit to commune with God through prayer, often the Spirit alone understands the expressions of the individual’s prayer yhat the believer cannot adequately put into words:

John 16:20-28 (ESV)

20 Truly, truly, I say to you, you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice. You will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joy. 21 When a woman is giving birth, she has sorrow because her hour has come, but when she has delivered the baby, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world. 22 So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you. 23 In that day you will ask nothing of me. Truly, truly, I say to you, whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you. 24 Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.

I Have Overcome the World

25 “I have said these things to you in figures of speech. The hour is coming when I will no longer speak to you in figures of speech but will tell you plainly about the Father. 26 In that day you will ask in my name, and I do not say to you that I will ask the Father on your behalf; 27 for the Father himself loves you, because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God.[a] 28 I came from the Father and have come into the world, and now I am leaving the world and going to the Father.”

Footnotes: a. John 16:27 Some manuscripts from the Father

We should be aware that there are false prophets, wolves in sheeps’ clothing, who seem on the surface to be Spirit-led in their prayer and worship, in order to gain a foothold within the church, the body of believers:

Acts 19:13-16 (ESV)

 13 Then some of the itinerant Jewish exorcists undertook to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who had evil spirits, saying, “I adjure you by the Jesus whom Paul proclaims.” 14 Seven sons of a Jewish high priest named Sceva were doing this. 15 But the evil spirit answered them, “Jesus I know, and Paul I recognize, but who are you?” 16 And the man in whom was the evil spirit leaped on them, mastered all[a] of them and overpowered them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded.

Footnotes: a. Acts 19:16 Or both

Let us pray what is in our heart, in manner that is fittingly honours the sanctification and the love that comes from by way of the sacrifice of our Lord, Christ, Jesus:

Romans 8:18-30 (ESV) Future Glory

 18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. 19 For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. 23 And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.

26 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. 27 And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because[a] the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. 28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good,[b] for those who are called according to his purpose. 29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.

Footnotes: a. Romans 8:27 Or that b. Romans 8:28 Some manuscripts God works all things together for good, or God works in all things for the good

Let us pray…

Closing Hymn #434: Sweet Hour of Prayer

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.

The Perfect FUNdraiser in the Heart of Toronto at BLCF Cafe!

 

 

U of T Student Volunteers

Thanks to all those who support the BLCF Cafe Community Dinner’s cause of feeding the homeless and marginalized in the heart of Toronto, including Cold Water Roots who definitely put the FUN in FUNdraising! 😉

BLCF Cafe FUNdraiser featuring Cold Water Roots – May 2017

  

A Cup of Cold Water Will Perform A Bluegrass Music Concert To Feed The Homeless In Toronto

Bluegrass Music Concert To Feed Toronto’s Homeless

  

  

 

Thumbs Up and Thanks to Our TEAM of  Volunteers at the BLCF Café!

Thumbs Up and Thanks to Our TEAM of

 Volunteers

at the BLCF Café Community Dinner,

in the heart of Toronto! 

 

    

Thanks to all our dedicated volunteers who helped serve meals at the BLCF Café  throughout 2016 and into 2017 which is the 9th year that the BLCf Cafe has served Wednesday evening dinner to  100 or more homeless and marginalized guests in the heart of Toronto. 

 

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BLCF: what we get
BLCF: volunteering at BLCF Cafe -012
BLCF: divine service
 
 
BLCF: volunteer--quality-of-your-life
 
 
  
BLCF: many_hands_volunteers
 

  

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 BLCF Cafe #43

 

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BLCF: calling_all_volunteers

BLCF Café needs volunteers to help feed the homeless and marginalized in the heart of Toronto. If you or your group is interested in helping at the BLCF Café Community Dinner, contact Sophie at blcfcafe@yahoo.ca or 416-535-9578. Here is a link to our info brochure: BLCF Cafe Info Brochure

 

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Expressions of the Soul through Songs of Gratitude and Joy

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

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

© July 9, 2017 by Steve Mickelson

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

 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 worshipping the Lord.

The main expressions of our Sunday Praise and Worship Service at BLCF include: prayer, song, and studying of the Word. When two or more members of the Body of Christ are gathered together in the name of the Lord, these 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.

For 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 what I refer to as the Wikibits, which yielded the following 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

BLCF Praise and Worship Service

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, in the form of a cloud, arrived in the temple after the worshippers played the 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.

BLCF: heavenly hosts sing

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 Choruses vs Psalm debate, we find that Christian believers are vessels filled with the Spirit or arks of the new Covenant, containing the presence of God’s Holy Spirit, encouraged 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 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)

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.

Let us pray…

Now, let us sing…

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

Benediction – (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.

God Saved This Sinner

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

‘God Saved This Sinner’

© July 2, 2017 by Steve Mickelson

BLCF Bulletin July 2, 2017

Announcements and Call to Worship; Prayer                                                           Opening Hymn #288: Amazing Grace! How Sweet the Sound; Choruses         Prayer and Tithing Hymn #572: Praise God from Whom All Blessings  Communion: Responsive Reading #626: The Last Supper (Mark 14)          Responsive Reading #640: Redemption in Christ (Romans 5)                         Message by Steve Mickelson: ‘God Saved This Sinner’

Let us pray…

Good morning and welcome to our Sunday worship and Praise Service, here at BLCF. And as today happens to be the first Sunday of July, it is the day that we traditionally partake in Communion, where we celebrate the gift of salvation given us by our Lord and Savior, Christ Jesus.

Today’s lesson is entitled: ‘God Saved This Sinner’. But what does it mean when someone say that: “God has saved me”?

Let us look at some examples of circumstances where people believe that God had  interceded in a life or death challenge, and where the survivors describe their being saved as an example of Divine providence. As it happens, these testimonials came from my father, grandfather, and great-grandfather.

San Marcos River flash flood in Palmetto State Park, Texas

Many years ago, while a child living in Texas, I recall our family visited my three year old sister, Rhona, at Gonzales Warm Springs Rehabilitation Center. Rhona had suffered a traumatic spinal cord injury and had to be taught as to how to use a wheel chair, walk with crutches, and others skills to overcome her disabilities. Warm Springs, built in 1937 during the polio epidemics and closed in 2001, was one of the few facilities equipped to address the needs of  civilian paraplegics and quadriplegics in Texas at that time.

The distance from San Antonio to Gonzales was 74 miles, over an hour’s drive,  and dad worked six days a week to help pay medical expenses, causing the family to be limited to visiting Rhona on Sundays.  We often would pick up Rhona from Warm Springs and go for a picnic at the Palmetto State Park which was situated adjacent to the Rehab Center.

The park had volcanic warm springs, having many ponds with a high in Sulphur content, there were a number of picnic areas located along the banks of the San Marcos River which ran through the park.

Texas Hill Country

The park itself was set in the Texas Hill Country, a region which, following thunderstorms and heavy rains, would  be subject to flash floods. On occasions of severe floods, most of the park was below grade and would end up some 15-20 feet underwater.

It was on one such Sunday, following heavy rainfalls, the family embarked for a picnic in the park. The entrance  to the picnic areas required driving over a fairly steep hill, which had a crown that prevented dad from seeing that the San Marcos on the other had flooded well above its banks. As we drove over the crest of the hill, dad stopped the car just above the raging river waters, where I recall seeing picnic tables being swept away, along with tree trunks and other debris. If dad had stopped a few seconds later or if  he did not successfully engage the ’55 Chevy Nomad station wagon into reverse gear, both the car and our family would have been lost to the flooding waters. Fortunately, dad backed to car away from the danger.

Years later, I remember dad saying to  me that, “God had saved us.” He then recalled two other life or death incidents where members of the family indicated that God have saved them from an untimely death.

Lighthouse Skagen, Denmark

The first involved his grandfather Knudsen, who was the lighthouse keeper near Skagen, Denmark. Located at the northernmost tip of both Denmark and continental Europe, the Skagen Grey Lighthouse jutted well into the North Sea.

Denmark Map

Dad said that his grandfather remembered  exactly how many steps he needed to climb, carrying barrels of lamp oil,  up to top of the lighthouse. On one occasion, great-grandfather Knudsen recalled using semaphore, that is signaling by flag, to a ship that carried Britain’s Queen Victoria. In those days ships and lighthouses had no radios for communication.

Semaphore – Flag Signal Chart

Great-grandfather Knudsen’s other vocation was a fisherman. If the weather was threatening, he would have man the lighthouse in deference to fishing. It was on one such occasion, that many of the fishermen of Skagen were lost to a severe storm, while great-grandfather Knudsen operated the lighthouse. My dad said that great-grandfather Knudsen remarked that, “God had saved me.”

Pikes Peak, Colorado ( in the Background)

Dad indicated that his father, my grandfather, Niels Mickelson, was saved, while taking the family out on a Sunday outing,  where he drove a car to the top of Pikes Peak in Colorado.

Pikes Peak, Colorado

The mountain’s elevation is some 14,115-feet or 4,302.31 meters, above sea level, which is well above grandfather’s mile-high home town of Denver. A mile is 5,280 feet or 1609.3 meters. In those days, the route up to the summit of Pikes Peak was unpaved and had no guardrails or barriers. It was a challenge both to the skill of the driver and  the soundness vehicle to make the trip to the summit and back safely.

Road up on Pikes Peak, Colorado

It was on one occasion, while driving up the mountain, that a careless driver sped down the mountain had the bumper of his car catch the bumper of grandfather’s car, causing both cars to spin on the narrow roadway. Grandfather’s car ended up spinning over the edge of the mountain, only to be stopped by a small pine tree. My grandfather told my dad that that was the day that, “God had saved both me and my family.”

It is not uncommon for Christians to pray for travelling mercies and protection by God for those whose journeys may bring them into harm’s way.

Today also happens to be the day following Canada Day 150, which is the country’s  Sesquicentennial or 150 Anniversary.

Canada Sesquicentennial Celebration in Ottawa

Yesterday, I watched watched a broadcast  from Ottawa of the Canadian Sesquicentennial Celebration Ceremonies, which began with the singing of the British National Anthem, God Save the Queen. This singing of The Queen led me to think about the topic for today’s lesson: ‘God Saved This Sinner’.

Both the title and the lyrics seem to plea to God to save the Queen.  While Prince Charles was present at the ceremonies, I was curious about the criteria required for the use of the anthem In Canada. This led me to the following Wikibits:

God save the Queen in Canada

Royal Anthem of Canada

The sovereign and her or his spouse are saluted with the entire anthem, while other members of the Royal Family who are entitled to royal salute (such as the Prince of Wales) receive just the first six bars. The first six bars also form all or part of the Vice Regal Salute in some Commonwealth realms outside the UK (e.g., in Canada, governors general and lieutenant governors at official events are saluted with the first six bars of “God Save the Queen” followed by the first four and last four bars of “O Canada“), as well as the salute given to governors of British overseas territories.

 “God Save the Queen” (alternatively “God Save the King”, depending on the gender of the reigning monarch) is the national or royal anthem in a number of Commonwealth realms, their territories, and the British Crown Dependencies.[1][2]The author of the tune is unknown and it may originate in plainchant, but a 1619 attribution to John Bull is sometimes made.

The phrase “God Save the King” is much older than the song, appearing, for instance, several times in the King James Bible.[17] A text based on the 1st Book of Kings Chapter 1: verses 38–40, “…And all the people rejoic’d, and said: God save the King! Long live the King! May the King live for ever, Amen”, has been sung at every coronation since that of King Edgar in 973.[18] Scholes says that as early as 1545 “God Save the King” was a watchword of the Royal Navy, with the response being “Long to reign over us”.[19][20] He also notes that the prayer read in churches on anniversaries of the Gunpowder Plot includes words which might have formed part of the basis for the second verse “Scatter our enemies…assuage their malice and confound their devices”.

Further information: Canadian royal symbols § Verbal and musical symbols, and Anthems and nationalistic songs of Canada

By convention,[64] “God Save the Queen” is the Royal Anthem of Canada.[65][66][67][68][69] It is sometimes played or sung together with the national anthem, “O Canada“, at private and public events organised by groups such as the Government of Canada, the Royal Canadian Legion, police services, and loyal groups.[70][71][72][73][74] The governor general and provincial lieutenant governors are accorded the “Viceregal Salute”, comprising the first three lines of “God Save the Queen”, followed by the first and last lines of “O Canada”.[75]

“God Save the Queen” has been sung in Canada since the late 1700s and by the mid 20th century was, along with “O Canada”, one of the country’s two de factonational anthems, the first and last verses of the standard British version being used.[76] By-laws and practices governing the use of either song during public events in municipalities varied; in Toronto, “God Save the Queen” was employed, while in Montreal it was “O Canada”. Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson in 1964 said one song would have to be chosen as the country’s national anthem and, three years later, he advised Governor General Georges Vanier to appoint the Special Joint Committee of the Senate and House of Commons on the National and Royal Anthems. Within two months, on 12 April 1967, the committee presented its conclusion that “God Save the Queen”, whose music and lyrics were found to be in the public domain,[77] should be designated as the Royal Anthem of Canada and “O Canada” as the national anthem, one verse from each, in both official languages, to be adopted by parliament. The group was then charged with establishing official lyrics for each song; for “God Save the Queen”, the English words were those inherited from the United Kingdom and the French words were taken from those that had been adopted in 1952 for the coronation of Elizabeth II.[66] When the bill pronouncing “O Canada” as the national anthem was put through parliament, the joint committee’s earlier recommendations regarding “God Save the Queen” were not included.[77]

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

It seems that my father, grandfather, and great-grandfather had all believed that they were delivered from certain death by God’s grace. However, the Royal Anthem has roots in a sentiment that is somewhat different, being rooted in the expression “Long live the King”, which is believed to have been taken from the Scripture passage from 1 Kings 1:38-40 (ESV):

King Solomon

38 So Zadok the priest, Nathan the prophet, and Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, and the Cherethites and the Pelethites went down and had Solomon ride on King David’s mule and brought him to Gihon. 39 There Zadok the priest took the horn of oil from the tent and anointed Solomon. Then they blew the trumpet, and all the people said, “Long live King Solomon!” 40 And all the people went up after him, playing on pipes, and rejoicing with great joy, so that the earth was split by their noise.

By contrast to the salvation described in the Royal Anthem, the accounts of four generations of the Mickelson family members being saved on three occasions, seem to be examples of God’s intervention to deliver them from death. My parents and sister, Rhona, are today with the Lord. For many in the family, the faith in God remains.

Neither the plea to God to preserve the life of a monarch, nor the apparent intervention to preserve my ancestors seem to describe the salvation described in Micah 7:7 (ESV):

 

But as for me, I will look to the Lord;
I will wait for the God of my salvation;
my God will hear me.

 Neither the King, nor Queen, nor any of my ancestors appear to be waiting on God for deliverance. The type of deliverance or salvation the Scriptures describe being waited for by the author are of the spirit, not of the body, as we see in Romans 10:5-13 (ESV):

The Message of Salvation to All

 For Moses writes about the righteousness that is based on the law, that the person who does the commandments shall live by them. But the righteousness based on faith says, “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’” (that is, to bring Christ down) “or ‘Who will descend into the abyss?’” (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead).But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. 11 For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” 12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. 13 For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

It seems that people consider salvation as God saving their bodies from death, when we know the Bible says that our bodies will wither and die. We are born again in the Spirit and that Jesus will intercede in God’s judgement for  our sins, thanks to the grace given us by the sacrifice our Lord, Christ Jesus.

The fact that Jesus has been resurrected forever, means that Jesus is the eternal High Priest for all of humanity who have faith in the Lord for all time, Hebrews 7:22-25 (ESV):

22 This makes Jesus the guarantor of a better covenant.

23 The former priests were many in number, because they were prevented by death from continuing in office, 24 but he holds his priesthood permanently, because he continues forever. 25 Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost[a] those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.

Footnotes: a. Hebrews 7:25 That is, completely; or at all times

Let us pray…

Closing Hymn #413: God Is My Strong Salvation

Benediction – (2 John 3):            

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

 

The Lessons of a Loving Father

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

The Lessons of a Loving Father

© June 18, 2017 by Steve Mickelson

BLCF Bulletin June 18, 2017

Announcements and Call to Worship; Prayer      

Opening Hymn #1: Holy, Holy, Holy! Lord God Almighty           

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

Responsive Reading #593:  God and the Family (Genesis 1, Deuteronomy 6, Ephesians 5 and 6)                       

Message by Steve Mickelson: ‘The Lessons of a Loving Father’

 

Let us pray…

Welcome to BLCF Church, on this Father’s day Sunday. For the lesson this morning, I would like to tell you a little bit about my dad and a couple of lessons that he taught me.

My dad would practice the art of “paying it forward” long before it was a popular term. He grew up in the Great Depression and served in World War II where placing the needs of other’s before your own desires was part of the fabric of society. People learned in those tough times, especially during WWII, that life was too precious and too short to be wasted doing malicious harm to others. I believe that is a big part of the reason why good prevailed over evil in that time of great evil throughout the world. This also gives us an explanation why most of the people who survived the hardships of the depression and war preferred afterwards to read and view media that might be considered today to be too innocent, comedic, or silly in nature. They did not need to see the stark realities of surviving, often in direct life or death conflict with others. They had LIVED that reality for years and wanted to spend the rest of their days doing acts of kindness and compassion to others.

You may ask that the idea of paying it forward is nice, but is there a Scripture passage that supports giving to others with no expectations of receiving anything in return? And what about helping those whom we dislike? The answer to both of these questions is a definite, “Yes”, as we see in Luke 6:27-36 (ESV):

Love Your Enemies

27 “But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.29 To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, and from one who takes away your cloak do not withhold your tunic[a] either.30 Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back. 31 And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.

32 “If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. 33 And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same.34 And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to get back the same amount. 35 But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. 36 Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.                                          

Footnotes: a. Luke 6:29 Greek chiton, a long garment worn under the cloak next to the skin

Today, two generations later, there are many people in our society who believe that it is acceptable to waste their time by deliberately committing harmful and malicious acts towards others, both friends and family, alike. We see such behavior among those survivor reality shows, where participants endeavor to elevate their own status by harming and undermining others. Alliances are formed in order to subvert individuals, who are treated as opponents rather than as friends. It is not surprising that today we see a rise of politicians who promote a similar “me first” mantra. And strangely enough, there are large numbers of people who keep asking the question: “Why it is society seems to be on its way to Hades or Sheol in hand basket?”

The “me first” mentality is not only damaging to society, it is harmful to the soul, as we are admonished in  Philippians 2:3 (ESV):

Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.

Recently, I had observed someone who either had nothing better to do or just suffered from a personal lack of moral integrity, going out of his way to perform several malicious acts with the deliberate intent of being hurtful towards to others. It was at that time that the victims of this disturbed individual turned their collective “other cheek” to the miscreant and then going the “extra mile” by doing nothing to retaliate against their transgressor. The response of compassion and kindness towards such bad behavior may be considered a good example of “paying it forward” by doing good deeds with no expectation of receiving any kindness in return.

Does the Bible Jesus encouraging us not only to “turn the other check”, but also to “go the extra mile” in response to bad behavior? The answer again is, “Yes”, as we see in Matthew 5:38-42 ESV:

Retaliation

38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ 39 But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. 40 And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic,[a] let him have your cloak as well. 41 And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles.42 Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you. Footnotes: a. Matthew 5:40 Greek chiton, a long garment worn under the cloak next to the skin

Such kindness generates good will as it not only mitigates the harm intended by a malicious deed, it teaches both the bad actor and others how responding to malicious acts with an act of kindness can have a longer-lasting effect upon others and reinforces the lesson of “The Golden Rule”, described in Matthew 7:12 (ESV):

The Golden Rule

12 “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.

As a post script to this account, the reprobate in this account has recently suffered a few significant setbacks in his business and personal life, which seems to show that anyone who embarks on a lifestyle of doing harm to and hurting others, that is who refuses to pay forward acts of love and kind to others, may themselves become a proof of the adage: “what goes around, comes around” which the Scriptures warn us to avoid in, Isaiah 3:11 (ESV):

11 Woe to the wicked! It shall be ill with him,
for what his hands have dealt out shall be done to him.

How can we expect a just reward in heaven if a verbal testimony of “goodness” is contradicted by bad behavior? We must endeavor to always walk in the light,                    1 John 1:5-10 (ESV):

Walking in the Light

 

This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

Let us pray…

Closing Hymn #318: When We Walk with the Lord

Benediction – (2 John 3):                                                                                                         Grace, mercy, and peace will be with us, from God the Father and from Jesus Christ the Father’s Son, in truth and love.

 

Out of the Boat and Onto the Water

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

 Out of the Boat and Onto the Water

© June 4, 2017 by Steve Mickelson

BLCF Bulletin June 4, 2017

 

Announcements and Call to Worship; Prayer

Opening Hymn #350: Open My Eyes, That I May See; Choruses

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

Communion – (Matthew 26:26-29) Institution of the Lord’s Supper:

 

 

Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.” And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you, for this is my blood of the new covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you I will not drink again of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.”                         

Responsive Reading #635: Comfort from Christ (John 14)                                     Message by Steve Mickelson: ‘Out of the Boat and Onto the Water’   

                                                     

 

Let us pray…

Earlier in the Praise and Worship Service this morning, we celebrated God’s miracle and New Covenant through our Lord, Christ Jesus, when he died on the cross to atone for our sins; rose from the dead as proof that He is both the Son of God and the provider of eternal life for all believers; and in the meantime Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to guide us in the Way of the Lord.

For the Communion Observance, I selected Matthew 26:26-29 from a selection from one of several Scripture verses that describe the first communion which Jesus shared with his disciples during the Passover Supper before Christ was arrested and crucified.

This is not the only event in the Scriptures described in multiple places in the Bible. The same is true of the account describing the miracle of Jesus walking upon the Sea of Galilee, which is the subject of today’s lesson, ‘Out of the Boat and Onto the Water’. We will examine all three Biblical accounts of this miracle today in order to get a full appreciation of its significance.

Before we proceed, I would like to share the answer that was posted on the Web site, lavistachurchofchrist.org, in response to the question:

Is there a reason why the Bible has many repetitions, e.g. the gospels of Luke, Mark, Matthew, etc., and also repeated verses found throughout the Bible? Do the verses mean they (are) more important (when they are) repeated more often throughout the Bible, compared to a single verse? Is there a Divine reason why there is repetition in the Bible, instead of it being a concise book?

Answer: There are a variety of reasons why the Bible contains repetitions.

Repeated Accounts

If I bear witness of Myself, My witness is not true” (John 5:31). A single person’s word is not a witness to truth because you have no means of verifying the validity of what he stated. The Bible is the collection of about forty different writers who came from a wide variety of backgrounds and across a time period that exceeds 1,500 years, yet they state a single message. The statements, seen from different viewpoints, give us credible witness to the events they record.

Some, like the coming of the Son of God, is incredibly important and needs solid testimony. Even with the eyewitness accounts recorded by four different authors, we still have people today trying to undermine the truth they presented. It is the fact that the accounts come from different viewpoints that makes them difficult to pull down. Matthew wrote to a Jewish audience from a Jewish point of view. In a way, it is ironic because as a tax collector for the Romans, he was an outcast in Jewish society. Mark wrote for a Roman audience; yet, he was a very young man when the events happened and it is agreed that he was recording Peter’s account of the events. The Romans weren’t impressed by the Jews, but the witness aimed at their viewpoint was the apostle to the Jews. Luke wrote for a Greek audience. He was meticulous in getting details and interviewing eyewitnesses. His account is not a single viewpoint but a composite of many witnesses pulled together. John wrote for Christians. He focused on the discourses and teachings of Jesus. Each account gives us a good view of Jesus, but together we get a more complete view. Each account varies slightly in the details recorded, not in a way that contradicts, but because they were looking at the same events from different views. Between them they support the facts of what happened.

The Old Testament also has something similar, the records: I Samuel, II Samuel, I Kings and II Kings are repeated in I Chronicles and II Chronicles. The first set is told from a historical point of view. The second set is told from a religious or priestly point of view.

http://lavistachurchofchrist.org/LVanswers/2011/11-11a.html

Back to today’s lesson, let us read the first of today’s Scripture passages,  Matthew 14:22-33 (ESV):

 Jesus Walks on the Water

 22 Immediately he made the disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. 23 And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, 24 but the boat by this time was a long way[a] from the land,[b] beaten by the waves, for the wind was against them. 25 And in the fourth watch of the night[c] he came to them, walking on the sea. 26 But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, “It is a ghost!” and they cried out in fear. 27 But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.”

28 And Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” 29 He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind,[d]he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.”31 Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” 32 And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased. 33 And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”

Footnotes: a. Matthew 14:24 Greek many stadia, a stadion was about 607 feet or 185 meters b. Matthew 14:24 Some manuscripts was out on the sea c. Matthew 14:25 That is, between 3 a.m. and 6 a.m.d. Matthew 14:30 Some manuscripts strong wind

Matthew’s account of the events that occurred just after the Lord had performed the miracle of the ‘Loaves and Fishes’, sending his disciples to sail ahead of him on the Sea of Galilee while he went upon the mountain to pray that evening.

Observing that the disciples had struggled against a headwind overnight, Jesus decided to walk upon the sea to them during the fourth watch, which would be sometime between 3AM and 6AM.

Not expecting to see Jesus, to be walking to them on the wind-swept water, the disciples became fearful as they mistook the Lord for a ghost. And though the Lord had given his reassurance to the disciples of his identity, they were still uncertain whom they saw. This doubt was in Peter’s statement in Verse 28, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water”.

Then, following Jesus’ invitation to “Come”, Peter decides to get out of the boat and join the Lord, walking to Jesus on the water. Unfortunately the walk is short, as the disciple allows the conditions of the wind and sea to make his doubts and fears to overcome his faith; and Peter sinks.

Jesus takes Peter’s hand and comments in Verse 31, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”

When Jesus and Peter go into the boat, the wind ceases and the disciples aboard acknowledge the Lord saying in Verse 33, “Truly you are the Son of God.”

Matthew’s account of Jesus walking on the water, the Lord had intended to address some glaring faith and trust issues among the disciples with respect to their teacher’s identity.

As the disciples embarked on the wind-swept sea, they soon seemed to have forgotten who had sent them, as they mistook their Lord for a ghost. They were so involved in going through the motions of sailing their boat they had seemed to have forgotten why and by whom they had embarked on their journey.

You may recall that Peter had first identified Jesus as the Christ, the prophesized Messiah of God. Jesus indicated because of Peter’s faith, the Lord would build his church. However on the boat, Peter expressed doubt, even after Jesus had told the disciples in the boat, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.”

The disciples suffered from an abundance of doubt and a shortage of faith. The root of this deficiency was within the disciples’ hearts, as we see when we read our next Scripture passage, Mark 6:45-52 (ESV):

Jesus Walks on the Water

45 Immediately he made his disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side, to Bethsaida, while he dismissed the crowd. 46 And after he had taken leave of them, he went up on the mountain to pray.47 And when evening came, the boat was out on the sea, and he was alone on the land. 48 And he saw that they were making headway painfully, for the wind was against them. And about the fourth watch of the night[a] he came to them, walking on the sea. He meant to pass by them, 49 but when they saw him walking on the sea they thought it was a ghost, and cried out, 50 for they all saw him and were terrified. But immediately he spoke to them and said, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.” 51 And he got into the boat with them, and the wind ceased. And they were utterly astounded, 52 for they did not understand about the loaves, but their hearts were hardened.

Footnotes: a. Mark 6:48 That is, between 3 a.m. and 6 a.m.

Our second verse gives us additional elements of the account:

  1. We learn that the disciple’s destination was Bethsaida
  2. Jesus had intended to pass by his disciples, but paused when he had observed that they were terrified
  3. The disciples reaction of being astounded that Jesus walked on the rough sea confirmed that they did not fully understand the supernatural nature of Jesus feeding the multitude of 5,000 with 5 loaves of bread and 2 fishes

And this leads us to John’s account of the events, John 6:16-21 (ESV):

Jesus Walks on Water

16 When evening came, his disciples went down to the sea, 17 got into a boat, and started across the sea to Capernaum. It was now dark, and Jesus had not yet come to them. 18 The sea became rough because a strong wind was blowing. 19 When they had rowed about three or four miles,[a] they saw Jesus walking on the sea and coming near the boat, and they were frightened. 20 But he said to them, “It is I; do not be afraid.” 21 Then they were glad to take him into the boat, and immediately the boat was at the land to which they were going.

Footnotes: a. John 6:19 Greek twenty-five or thirty stadia; a stadion was about 607 feet or 185 meters

We find additional information from John that the disciples had only rowed only 3 or 4 miles over about 8 hours’ time against strong headwinds and rough seas. And once Jesus boarded the boat, it was immediately brought across the sea.

In this account John indicated the destination of Capernaum, which is the nearest seaport to Bethsaida, which was the final destination indicated by Mark.

In conclusion, we find that the disciples had to not only overcome headwinds and rough seas to reach their destination, but they faced the bigger obstacle of hearts hardened by a lack of faith.

The faith obstacle would cause Peter to deny Jesus three times on the day of his arrest and have the disciples to lock themselves in the upper room and doubt the Lord’s resurrection until Jesus physically appeared before them.

Jesus not only delivered the disciples safely to their physical destination, he provided a companion of the Holy Spirit to ensure that the disciples reach their heavenly destination.

Some scholars believe that Jesus’ walking on the water is the only miracle involving our Lord as the focus of the miracle. What about the Nativity, (his birth), the Transfiguration on Mt. Tabor; the Lord’s Resurrection, or the Ascension of Jesus to heaven? While it could be  argued that  the focus of all of these miracles, plus the Lord’s walk on the waters was Jesus alone, we must look at the larger picture that the ultimate focus was to bring faith and salvation to humanity, who were condemned to a death sentence for their sins.

As Christian witnesses, professing the Gospel of Christ, we often encounter similar obstacles to sharing the Good News. Again, we see the Lord gives us the Spirit so that we may open eyes and ears, and soften hardened hearts, just as he had helped the Apostle Paul as described in Acts 28:23-28 (ESV):

Paul in Rome

 23 When they had appointed a day for him, they came to him at his lodging in greater numbers. From morning till evening he expounded to them, testifying to the kingdom of God and trying to convince them about Jesus both from the Law of Moses and from the Prophets. 24 And some were convinced by what he said, but others disbelieved. 25 And disagreeing among themselves, they departed after Paul had made one statement: “The Holy Spirit was right in saying to your fathers through Isaiah the prophet:

26 “‘Go to this people, and say,
“You will indeed hear but never understand,
and you will indeed see but never perceive.”
27 For this people’s heart has grown dull,
and with their ears they can barely hear,
and their eyes they have closed;
lest they should see with their eyes
and hear with their ears
and understand with their heart
and turn, and I would heal them.’

28 Therefore let it be known to you that this salvation of God has been sent to the Gentiles; they will listen.”[a]

Footnotes: a. Acts 28:28 Some manuscripts add verse 29And when he had said these words, the Jews departed, having much dispute among themselves

Let us pray…

Closing Hymn #284: Yesterday He Died for Me

 Benediction – (1 Corinthians 15:56-57):                                                                                   The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.